I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday – 9/6/17

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Leadership

Imagine that you find yourself in a position of leadership at work.  Not only do you have people who report to you, you have people who report to the people that report to you.  You’re the boss!

What kind of boss will you be?

Maybe you’ll be a positive feedback type of leader; someone who sees the potential in each member and offers authentic, positive feedback to encourage that potential.  You won’t be threatened if they complete tasks differently than you might have chosen to complete those same tasks.  You see the value in empowering your employees to put their creativity and problem-solving skills to work.

Maybe you’ll choose to be a cynical micro-manager.  You’ll assume the worst of your employees, burden them with stacks of paperwork in the hope that they will do the job in EXACTLY the same way you would.  Assuming the worst of your employees, you’ll caution them against certain actions or choices simply because they MIGHT try to do something that is against policy.  You side-step those that work under you, moving directly to correct those who report to those who report to you and thus making those individuals skeptical of everyone in the business – you and those who report to you.

When deciding what type of leadership to offer on the job, there is only one question you really need to answer – what type of boss would you want to work for?

Education and Creativity

Going a different route with today’s blog post.  A new school year is getting ready to start which means I’m revisiting some favorite educational TED talks as a motivation for the new year.  This is a long one but it’s worth the watch!  So click the link, save it as a favorite or bookmark it so you don’t have to watch it all in one sitting!

Time to Dust Myself Off

Someone once told me that it was okay to pout a bit as long as you admitted you were doing it, ended it, and moved forward.  Indulge me a bit as I do just that right here.

This past April I hit the 40th anniversary of my first piano lesson.  Somewhere soon here will be the 40th anniversary of my first piano recital.  I taught my first private piano student almost 30 years ago and it’s been nearly 2 decades since I taught my first private voice student.

I don’t tell you this to brag.  I tell you this to lay the groundwork.

Three times in the past three weeks, I have heard colleagues make statements like the following –

“I’m glad that the kids will still have music, art and p.e. during the standardized testing.  The real teachers need a break from the stress.”

“Standardized testing gets the kids wound up.  Good thing that they get to go to specials so the actual teachers get a breather.”  

I get it.  I’m a music teacher and according to those statements I am neither “real” nor “actual”.  Apparently I am more accurately described as “fake” or “virtual”.

*sigh*  Three times in three weeks I’ve been told by my colleagues that I am not a real teacher.  My degrees are real.  Both the Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (major in Music Education) and my Master’s Degree in Education.

I get it.  Being a classroom teacher has unique challenges that I do not face in the music room and I have nothing but respect for those in the classroom.  But four out of five days each week, I go from teaching elementary general music in the morning to college freshmen and sophomores in the afternoon.  That large an age jump brings some unique challenges as well.

The final insult came today when one student said to another “I don’t know why she (meaning me) is so picky about the rules.  It’s not like music is a real class.”  Interestingly enough, that child’s classroom teacher is one of the one’s who has made a derogatory statement recently.  She was number 2.

So what do I do?

I get up tomorrow morning, grit my teeth, and head back into a work place where a handful of my colleagues are willing to belittle what I do and where I get virtually no positive feedback (with the exception some of the parents who spoke to me after the holiday program back in December!) and I do it all again.  I signed a contract and will honor the requirements of that contract because it’s the right thing to do.

More importantly, I will NEVER refer to the work that other teachers do as not being real.  I know from first hand experience just how lousy that feels and would never do that to another human being.

Education

As I look at the current stated of education – specifically the meddling of government in education – I’m more than a little distraught.  Education is the only field I personally know of where we use untested, unproven strategies and have no idea if they will actually work or not!  From the way the day is structured to the way students are divided by age even to the time of day that school starts, none of it is based on any reliable research.  And yet amazing educators are called to persist in a system that is very broken.  If only there was some way to allow educators to do what was truly best for the students instead of what was most convenient for the money people.

Chasing a Goal!

The first step toward becoming a certified Google Educator. After that, I can focus on becoming a Google Trainer!!

View on Path

Thus Far . . .

There is an old hymn entitled “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that contains the line “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come.”  As a child, I did not understand what the cranky old man from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” had to do with faith.

Then I found the word Ebenezer in scripture and was even more mystified.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a little more about the usage of that word and what part it plays in faith.  After a series of battles between the nation of Israel and the Philistines ended when God caused confusion among the Philistines which allowed the people of Israel to defeat them, Samuel raised a huge stone as a memorial to God’s provision.  The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words Eben ha ezer which means “stone of help” (check here for even more details!)  In I Sam. 7:12 we read, “Then Samuel took the stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.  He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

Ever since I discovered what “raising an Ebenezer” meant, Ebenezers have become a significant part of my faith walk.  No, I’m not running around putting stones down everywhere!  Most of my personal Ebenezers are in the form of jewelry (ask me about my thumb ring sometime!) or tattoos.

I discovered today, that there is a place in my life that serves as a HUGE Ebenezer.

Hubby and I had the chance today to go back and visit our Alma Mater, Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  My dear husband was especially excited to visit the campus.  The baseball program was stopped a couple of years after we graduated (hubby played for three years) and needless to say, he was disappointed.  The program will start back up with the 2013/2014 school year and due to a VERY generous gift (something in the neighborhood of $5 million) a brand new stadium has been built for the program!  Hubby wanted to see the stadium and, if possible, meet the coach.  He not only got to meet the coach, he was gifted with an official team hat! To say he was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning would be an understatement!

Everywhere we went on that campus, we found fond memories joining us on our walk.  From memories of the old baseball field – I spent many hours in the stands! – to the dorms we lived in, the memories were everywhere and quick to find us!

In the Faculty Hall of Honor, I found pictures of three of the music profs I studied with.

Doc StewartDoctor Richard Stewart (“Doc Stewart” as he was affectionately known) was the director of Chorale, the vocal ensemble I was in, but he was so much more than just a director.  He was a surrogate father, a mentor, and a teacher who understood the importance of investing in the young adults he was working with.  So much of who I am as a musician and director is due in large part to that man and his instruction.  My Sophomore year started on a really lousy note and this man was one of a few professors who took a vested interest in helping me walk through the issue and come out stronger on the other side.  He was, hands down, my favorite teacher ever.

I was very involved in the theater world on campus.  Dr. Orpha Galloway was Doctor Gallowaythe music director for each production I was involved with.  She not only gave me the chance to be onstage, she also took a chance on a college junior with a passion for musical theater and allowed me to serve as assistant vocal director for a production of Sound of Music (I worked with the nun’s chorus!).  She definitely possessed the skill to handle the job herself and it meant the world to me that she allowed me to stretch my own talents in such a way!

Joyce HornIn the fall of 1991, I had one class and a directed reading (think independent study with LOTS of reading!) and Joyce Horn had agreed to be my faculty supervisor.  I was trying to juggle college, marriage, and being a mother of a newborn during that semester and Joyce insisted that I bring my newborn daughter to our twice monthly meetings.  The actual academic discussion only took a few minutes so she spent the rest of the time loving on my daughter.  As a young wife and new mother living 2 hours from her own parents, this “adoptive grandmother” touched my heart and did much to keep my sanity intact.  I doubt she knows just how much her willingness to love on my daughter touched a young mom’s heart!

We saw the building where we went on our first date to an on-campus concert, our first apartmenttook a picture of our first apartment (over there to the right!), reminisced about the various places that were significant to our relationship and experiences, and marveled over how much has changed.  As we wandered all over campus, faces of friends kept running through my mind.  Many of them I have stayed in touch with (thank you Facebook!) and I am blessed to still call them friends.  As we prepared to leave, I was overwhelmed with how deeply I was affected by my time on that campus.  So much of who I am as a musician and a theater “geek” is due to the experiences I had on that campus and the leadership I worked under.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, we have spent some of our time in Grand Rapids driving past the homes we lived and the place where the girls took dance class.  Our conversation has been full of “I remember . . . “, “Oh my gosh, that’s where we . . . ” and we’ve spent a couple of days with dear friends who were neighbors for a few years and we’ve reminisced about our shared experiences more than 10 years ago.

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a HUGE “Ebenezer” in my life.  It was in that city that I met my husband, had all four of my children, “found myself” as a musician and theater performer, made lifelong friends and took my first steps into becoming who I am supposed to be.  Spending time remembering all that happened here has shown me so clearly just where and how God has led.  I’m reminded of how blessed I am and excited to see what is yet to come!

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