Monday, November 12, 2012

Change . . . and Monday's Prayer

 The four photos are of a property before and after the huge 'non-tornado' that swept through our area this past summer.  The last two photos show that the dilapidated house is no longer. It's gone--crumpled into the ground.  This is near Seneca Lake in southeastern Ohio.

Change.  I've been experiencing it at work and at home; in my professional life and my personal life. I didn't do well with change for years; then, I was drug through a horrendous change: a divorce and a dismantling of much that was familiar, safe, certain.
I learned to adapt, flex, change.
I leaned on God some, but more so on my parents' prayers, especially that direct line I believed my dad had with God--a privilege or more to the point a discipline I didn't have.

When my nephew suffered a devastating, life-changing stroke at the age of 31 in Malaysia (five years ago) and my brother told me on the phone that he needed Dad---he needed Dad to pray, I heard the helplessness and fear in his voice.
Dad was nowhere we could phone, drive, fly. . . go to.  He was with God.
I emailed my brother later that I had come to realize that Dad didn't have an exclusive, direct line to God;
he just used the one that we all had.  And that he and I simply needed to utilize it.
I got better at being in touch with God and turning to Him. But inevitably, I go through periods when my body weakens; exhaustion sets in, and I permit depression to make me feel alone.

Chicago city teachers went on strike awhile back. I found it interesting and somewhat amusing that one of the key issues they were fighting was the connecting of teachers' evaluations to students' scores.
I sat watching the news and said under my breath, "Welcome to my world."

I wished them luck, but wanted to tell them that eventually they will lose the fight.
After all, someone has to be held accountable for the lousy state of education in the United States
and who better to blame than the teachers and their 'misusing of power' unions?

Ohio is there.  Next school year-the 2013/2014 school year--fifty percent of our evaluations will be based on our students' tests scores. Half.
I won't bog you down with all the situations we deal with like the parents who don't even make their kids come to school on a regular basis--who write sickness on excuses when they know it was really the latest X-box game or being out too late with the college boyfriend or at a party where of course there wasn't alcohol (yeah, right, and I'm Queen Elizabeth).  That's just a sample.
Yet those same kids will help determine how good I am at my job.

Our school district is part of the Race to the Top initiative and another one that has an acronym
I can rarely remember and can never remember what it stands for.
So we have been working steadily towards this day for several years.

But working towards it and having it looming over you are two different things.
I have deadlines now that must be met or I will be called on the carpet.

One such deadline is a 23 page booklet in which I account for how I am teaching every required standard.
23 pages.
So the kids' essays will sit and wait while I write down just exactly what I am teaching and how I am teaching it.  I thought that was what we do in lesson plans in which we state the standards we are meeting.

They (the board) can't not non-renew me yet, but they can have a looong memory.

That is what is weighing on my heart, mind, soul. There is a new test "a'comin" that has mostly nonfictional writings in the reading test.
Since when did literature become solely nonfictional?
How do I justify To Kill a Mockingbird
or Of Mice and Men?
And poetry?  That is being fazed out in the new tests.

Also all units have to have a pretest and posttest,
and there will be an SLO (Student Learning Objective) that will be a major part of the final measurement
of my students' learning and thus my evaluation and worth.
But I cannot create that SLO myself. Noooo.  
 I must do it with my team of one other English teacher--the young woman who believes her way is always right and who does not want to work with anybody.
(I'm not sure she'd collaborate with Jesus were He to walk in her room and sit down. ----I'm not joking.)

So I spend my day off due to our Veterans' sacrifices
trying to wade through the red tape that is due this week.
Change.  I was getting fairly good at it.
Not so good any more.

Today's devotional in 100 Days of Grace for Women
"Every day that we live, we mortals encounter a multitude of changes----some good, some not so good.
And on occasion, all of us must endure life-changing personal losses that leave us breathless. When we do, our loving Heavenly Father stands ready to protect us, to comfort us, to guide us, and in time, to heal us. . . God is far bigger than any problem you may face.  So, instead of worrying about life's inevitable challenges, put your faith in the Father and His only begotten Son: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13:8).  And rest assured: It is precisely because your Savior does not change that you can face your challenges with courage for this day and hope for the future."

Ahhh, if it were as easy as it sounds.

Here's Monday's Prayer from the same book:

Dear Lord,
Our world is constantly changing.
When I face the inevitable transitions of life, I will turn to You
for strength and assurance.
Thank You, Father, for love that is unchanging and everlasting.

Blessings to you as you go through this week
and thanks for listening.


  1. red tape is interesting in its history of meaning. tape, i gather, used to be a strip of cloth.

  2. Just to clariy, I do not mind being held accountable for my teaching, I just do not want it to be on standardized test scores. I don't have tenure and won't have it. I think tenure is something that no longer exists in other fields and has been a hindrance to getting rid of truly poor performing teachers in the field of education. So I don't have a problem with it disappearing.
    I am really struggling with the 10 paragraph nonfictional excerpts that then have multiple choice questions that measure how much my kids know.
    It is becoming more and more like English or Language Arts' main job is to help kids understand what they are reading in science and to some extent, history. If we as a nation, turn our back on literature, then we will truly dumb down our kids and rob them of their culture. That's my opinion.

  3. There's that nasty word CHANGE... Our world is changing...Our country is changing... Parents don't 'parent' anymore --nor do they care enough about their children to help them get a good education... Everything falls back on the poor teachers these days... Kids are being raised not to respect anyone. They are rude and self-centered. I admire teachers. I couldn't do it these days.

    Red-tape just seems to be a part of "government" control over us... Small businesses are having to jump through hoops... Farms are closing due to the restrictions and 'red tape'... Why does our Government think that more paper work is the answer..... Duh!!!!!

    God Bless You, my Friend.

  4. I don't know how teachers keep their sanity these days in this country. I have several friends who are teacher here and to listen to what they have to go through on a daily basis - esp as to "uninvolved" parents, the inability to discipline the students and the massive paperwork they have to submit... I truly respect what you do!

  5. First - I really like that old house. Sorry it's gone now!
    I'm not a fan of change or of red tape. I can understand the reasoning behind lots of these things, but common sense seems to fly out the window. We, in the medical community also deal with state rules and inspections that seem to worry more about crazy things that a good outcome.

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  8. Oy. I'm overwhelmed just reading about this. Sometimes it's really hard to hold onto hope, isn't it? How about you hold onto it for me, and I'll hold onto it for you?

  9. i listen in my own possible way.
    and i love your barns. beth!

  10. what a nightmarish situation, Beth! I hope you find some fulfillment in your job.

  11. I was just talking with a school administrator about these issues. The benchmark for acceptable standards continues to rise at unrealistic levels. Puts the teachers under ridiculous stress. He was explaining that this started under Pres Bush. He feels that our current president isn't for this at all, it is unfair. And that hopefully things will now change.

  12. Lots on your plate, can use some prayers...coming your way from Florida :)

  13. Thinking of you and praying, Beth.


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