Fear: One Emotion Every Child Brings to School

This post is a follow up to “The Three Emotions Every Student Brings to School”

Which Fear is for You?

There are two forces we can choose to fear.

The first choice is the disappointments and devastations of the sinful world. The nature of our flesh magnifies every uncertainty, the not knowing breeds fear.

The second option we can choose to fear is the almighty goodness and 

power of God. 1 Samuel 12:24 says, “Only fear the LORD and

 serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”

The tricky thing about fear is that we have to constantly choose between these two forces. Fear is a continued tactic of the enemy. It simply locates one’s weaknesses an

d insecurities and latches on with the squeeze of a vice. Even now, as I consider the debilitating affect fear presses on us, I experience an honest worry for the future path our students face.

Helping Our Children Overcome Fear

1. Help the studentknow their worth.

What are the truths we show the students about themselves? Do they hear that they are valued and worthy of love?

This takes constant effort in removing judgement and inserting grace. I know there are days I’ve failed my students in this. I’ve acted out of frustration and irritation causing the children to view themselves as a nuisance rather than a person of great worth.

In his book The Heroic Path John Sowers wrote, “The enemy knows if he can separate us from our true name, our identity, and our place, we will derail. Often times his work is finished after that, we destroy ourselves.” We must help our students identify their identity and hold t

hem accountable to that. Are they being the best version of themselves?

2. Help the student know they’re not alone.

Are we fostering a community that supports and comforts every member? Not one should feel isolated, not one should journey alone. We were created to journey life together. The community should bring joy to the experience.

 

Fear can either be found in the horror of this world or one can fear the almighty power of the creator of this world. The latter being a much healthier option.

3 Emotions Every Student Brings to School

Prepare to be uplifted and encouraged for I am about to reveal the three emotions every student is feeling at any given moment! Just think how this information will allow you to support and connect with your kids!

And the three emotions every child feels every day are: (drumroll…)

fear, grief, and yearning.

What? Not what you were hoping for? I know, it’s a real knee to the nuts! How encouraged are we feeling now?

On the surface these three appear to be paralyzing, debilitating. When actually fear, grief, and yearning are our formula for moving forward and growing. Let’s take a moment to recognize the truth in this.

I’m no psychologist, so I’ll first allow you to validate the three emotions in yourselves.

Find These Three In You

Fear: Simply think of your goals. Now reflect on the reasons they haven’t been met. You’ll probably find fear being a major culprit. Fear’s job is to protect us from any suffering, pain, or distress. Too often Fear works overtime and pummels us into a submission of worry.

Grief: Reflect on your personal well of loss. You can dig up the heavy sludge of deep sorrow related to family brokenness or death. Yet still, you can find grief in the day-to-day annoyances or troubles where a personal privilege or joy has been taken away.

Yearning: I hope you can find a longing for something inside you because this is the only emotion of the three with a touch of positive connotation. How is your yearnings connected to the grief and fear you’ve experienced? Closely, I’d guess.

We first must recognize fear, grief, and yearning in ourselves and others before we suddenly have a moment like this:

-Is this similar to exchanges you’ve had with students?

What’s a Teacher to Do?

  1. Recognize the emotion and develop an awareness of the overwhelming sources for their emotions. Compassion will ensue. You will like your students so much more when you identify the three roots of their behaviors.
  2. Offer mercy and grace because the child is experiencing fear, grief, and yearning.

Teaching’s a daunting task, breathing intimidation in every moment. But when we recognize the fears, griefs, and yearnings in every child the intimidation is suffocated. You have great reason to be compassionate, merciful, and a giver of grace. It’s not easy, but it is worth it!

 

Stay tuned or subscribe because there’ll be posts to come focused on each of these three emotions!

Mystery: Our Chance to Grow

Today I’m really just asking questions and exploring as I’m facing some mystery in my life. We’re repeatedly handed incomprehensible situations, both intellectually and emotionally and I don’t get it. How are we supposed to respond? Are we to tirelessly seek answers and dive head first into informational research? Or, are we to “Be still” and hope understanding is revealed? Evenmore, are we to put on a gritty smile and be alright without full understanding? Mystery can only be brewed with an intricate complexity. Through mystery we gather perspective. Through mystery we clarify the truths of this world. As a result, a long term result, a refined belief system is gained. I hope.

Talk about a practice of critical thinking! Talk about developing a state of mindfulness!

More Feelings, Ugh

I do know that we’re given emotion and it shows up in times of mystery. So when we’re talking about learning through inquiry and wonder, there emotion will be. Usually it’s not a gentle, calm peace that shows up either. I’m not feeling a quiet peace when I struggle to find answers and can’t even determine a purpose in a situation. Instead rushing in unannounced is betrayal, anger, frustration, and resentment. We must not judge the emotional response of the learners around us. Honest emotion is always legitimate. For me judgement is a real temptation that I try to fend off daily. How appealing does learning through conflict appear now?

Treasure the struggle, for we’re sifting the clutter while revealing truths. While sifting, emotional intelligence is developing, at least I hope it is. How uncomfortable it is to be in the sifter. The coarseness of each gritty grain chafes. A new fresh foundation of skin is revealed through the soreness. Those humans who have chosen to grow from the deconstruction in their lives are the beautiful ones. Mysterious circumstances can blow over our house of cards in a moment. That same house we spent years constructing. The best learners have found their foundational truths through conflict and continue to lay bricks upon it. Bricks are not made out of the question “Why?”. We judiciously mold our bricks by selfless listening and claiming a lack of understanding.

Sitting In Struggle

The progressive student maintains the same solid approach to learning. Humility and reverence for the sovereign creator is our path forward. Whether trudging through a murky swamp of fog or basking in a sunrise with 25 miles of visibility. Here lies the beauty of a community of learners, being exposed to a variety of terrains in a moment. I’m also realizing we don’t have to be ready to move forward on the path. It doesn’t mean we’re stagnant. At certain points on our journey it’s necessary to stop and take in everything around us, to listen and respond to the perspective and feelings of others. This is the humility that allows God to determine our path. I’ve tried to bushwhack a path of my choice using only my dull machete. After clearing a narrow trail for my own selfish desires, I found it leads to an impassible dead end filled with isolation and offering no available resources nearby. Humility offers the trail of insight, connections, and resources.
Attempt to embrace the struggle and the emotions of others in love, for we are mercifully loved!

Human Growth: A Simple Process

Since the fall of man, God has used mystery to draw people to himself. Every conflict or failure is a chance to either move toward him, or away. I think few find this to be a fun way to learn, though I I learn the most when my curiosity is piqued with wonder. These are the times when the easy answer is the wrong answer. When faced with uncomfortable circumstances the progressive learner didn’t ask why. Instead he looked around, reflected, and considered the path of humble inquiry. Socrates had this figured out a long time ago when he said something like, the more I know the more I don’t know.

Eureka! The power of knowing how we learn   

We’ve been designed to learn, develop, and grow in every way: socially, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. I feel like our culture is beginning to grasp how we learn. Smart people are revealing ideas like “The Growth Mindset” and “Event + Response = Outcome”. The growth mindset is the idea that dedication and working through struggles is critical to growth, and talent is just a starting point. It’s obvious to me now that it wasn’t Carol Dweck who came up with this mindset theory, but this is the perspective God has intended for our life ever since the existence of sin. I mean, he does tell us to consider it pure joy when facing trials because he is developing perseverance and maturity in us through circumstances (James 1:2-4). Could he be more clear about the perspective we are to have when given the chance to learn? Don’t avoidingly sidestep anything because anxiety, worry, and fear cripple our ability to learn.

Our time on Earth has been designed to be filled with purposeful conflicts and problems so I suppose we should teach our children how to deal with those problems. After all we’re to “Train up a child in the way he should go,” (Proverbs 22:6).  Our response to those issues determines how we grow. In this place there is a growing sense of entitlement. Many hold the perspective that the events that happen to them are controllable. The myth of “Because of who I am, bad things can’t happen to me” is a very dangerous stance. Look at the story of Job and imagine if his response to problems was from a point of entitlement!

Entitlement is just our Earthly desires on display. One of the most unattractive attributes is a puffed out chest filled with pompous disposition. This is grown from a complete misunderstanding of the truths and reality of our life. Thank God for his pure plan, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 8:28

It’s a battle we all fight, everyday.

Tools for Learning

Sorry to break it to you, but please consider this news with pure joy! When we need to develop in an area, we are given conflict. Yes, we are asked to embrace the struggle, hurt, grief, and frustration that comes with conflict. I think a great example of this is marriage. The first couple years of my marriage was littered with purposed conflict. We worked in it and responded to it and it made all the different. I must say, I tried to avoid it but thankfully my wife is much smarter than me and she helped me realize the process of growth takes effort and intention. Or if you’d prefer a much different example, let’s look at Lebron. The greatest basketball player on the earth has conflict too. Other teams got smart and decided to double team him or punish him with fouls every time he got close to the basket. So Lebron didn’t just continue to practice. He knew if he wanted to enjoy a long successful career he had to work on an alternative to going to the basket and getting beat up. He developed his outside shot and is now even more difficult to guard. (I love sports analogies and have a baseball one that applies as well, but I’ll spare you the boredom).

So you see you will not go through life unscathed, if you claim to, you’re an infant in every way.

I find Isaiah 43:19 very encouraging. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

The path of development is filled with challenging elements. Each element has been divinely designed.

 

May you take joy in your wilderness or desert

 

Why Routine and Boring Stuff Matters

The Flu Revelation

I didn’t realize the importance of routines until I came down with the flu and was out of commission for about a week. I had lost all momentum. While sick I had a difficult time even reading. Now feeling better all I had to do was hop back in the routine. Problem was I didn’t have a strong routine established. I didn’t have a solid personal morning routine, I’m realizing more that I didn’t have a good classroom routine established. Now here I am navigating a sea storm with a battered ship and torn sails. No reference points and limited controls.

Don’t completely blame me yet, I had thought I had routines, but they had never been tested. After laying around and following only the schedule of my nausea for a week and was now expecting to hop back on the productivity train without a hiccup. For some, this might be a simple task, but without setting strong routines my train had stalled to a stop. It takes a lot to get a locomotive going from a still position.

I had so much I wanted to get done but I didn’t have a starting point. Missing school a few days, my students had forgotten any idea of expectations that had been set for the class. I see what was lacking. When I was there, I kept it together, but it wasn’t set-up to keep moving without my input. The same was true for my mornings. Did I feel like getting up early today? Oh well, I’ll just hit snooze six times. I’ve allowed excuses to creep in and feelings to manipulate.

I don’t get giddy when shown a schedule and I’ve never found calendars to be particularly sexy. These have more of my attention now.

Establishing Routine

We’re rhythmic beings. Our Sabbath should be just like our heartbeat, consistent and reliable. We must have a rhythm if we’re expected to weave together a career, personal interests, family engagement, and spiritual growth. I’ve begun to have set times of the week for these but I didn’t have it instilled prior to getting sick.

Having specific times for writing and personal hobbies makes me more reliable to my family, no longer sporadically saying, “Hey, I have an idea I want to write about, is it alright if I go write for a bit?”

The same is true for my teaching. I think I apply effective strategies for learning in my classroom. Although I’ve yet to instill them in an organized manner. To the students, these different strategies show up unexpected.

I’ve been given a needed opportunity to reevaluate the organization of my classroom and my life. This time of year is always busy for me. It seems like requirements and obligations keep coming at me in the spring, but I now have specific places to put them.

Instilling My Routine

5:30am: Devotion and then write

Work: Get in early and get out on time

4-8pm: Commit to family

8-10pm: Personal commitments (read, woodworking, the occasional tv show with my wife). My readings and activities I do at night often relate to my teaching and writing.

This is not written in stone but I have specific places to put certain obligations. I feel more in control and reliable for my family and students and there is still room for occasional spontaneity.

 

Where is your life on the tidy to chaos spectrum?

I’m far from a productivity guru but my last post was also on this topic.

Finding Productivity in Serving Others, Not a To-Do List

Find Productivity in Serving Others, Not a To-Do List

As you well know, for me writing is my process of discernment. Here is the current battle.

How do I knock away at my to-do list while still giving others the attention and service God calls me to?

I’m a Slow Learner

I first wrote this question down a few weeks ago. Now I see the answer lies in the question. If my to-do list revolves around me and doesn’t exist to serve others, then I am not being productive. Lately I’ve been struggling to find the time to fulfill my hobbies. The problem is that each of my hobbies are self-serving and done in isolation. I believe these hobbies do contribute to my happiness and well being but I’m realizing they may be carrying too much priority.

My first awareness to this whole productivity vs. service issue came in the classroom. Am I existing as a teacher to work through a set curriculum or am I conscientiously serving the students in attention to their individualized needs? I’ve been searching for a clear cut answer but I’ve only discovered more questions. (This is another testament to why I believe there’s power in inquiry-based learning).

Questions like: Do I sit here and continue refining my lesson or go assist a coworker who I know is in need? Should I stop to talk to the student in obvious frustration or push through with my whole class instruction.    

The questions don’t stop there, it appears that every single situation and decision could become a conflict between productivity and service. I’ve finally discovered this doesn’t have to be the case. The two can smoothly meld together!

See Service in Every Task

I have written down on a notecard, “How is this serving others?” I’ll be keeping that card in my pocket daily until it disintegrates into a lint ball or to the point when I don’t remember why there is a notecard in my pocket. This card will give me a tangible reminder in my daily actions to intentionally spend my time fulfilling tasks that serve. It will also give purpose to the tasks that might be mundane but at the root serve.  

In the posture of service I give students valuable feedback when I’m grading instead of simply putting a grade. In this posture I’m motivated to pack my son’s lunch instead of leaving it for my wife. I’m a better person to converse with. Instead of numbering my to-do list in my mind while you talk at me, I’m engaged and invested in the exchange. When I do need that me-time hobby, I’m trying to do it in time that doesn’t take away from others. Like writing this blogpost at 5:00am the last two days. Moreover, my wife and son are pleased that I chose the quiet hobby of writing instead of using power tools for woodworking in the basement at 5:00am. So you could say I’m even serving my family while they sleep!

I can’t believe it took me several weeks for me to begin to attack my issue of productivity versus service. This also proves the importance of journaling and coming back to previous ideas. But that is another post for another day.

 

If you are serving someone you are being productive!

 

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” -Henry David Thoreau

 

Posts like this:

“Data vs. Story” The Debate is Everywhere

Why My Class Will Not Be Effecient

The Need to Read

How can I be happy and productive at the same time? Well since being a professional golfer is off the table, option two is to read. One sounds much more glamorous than the other.

Reading to Move Forward

I have so much more to say when I’m actively reading something. Part of the reason I’m writing this is to convince myself to continue to read. I think about why I haven’t been writing and I find that I haven’t been reading. When I read at night I wake up with thoughts and responses, reflections, and revelations. My battle isn’t so much about whether my words are important to write down. It’s more about am I doing enough to stimulate a response or am I just achieving new levels on games on my phone. Don’t get me wrong, that IS stimulating but it’s difficult to blog about.

I love the feeling I get when I take in an artistic movie or a touching memoir, or even a thoughtful commercial. What do all these have in common?

They make me think and feel. I’m aware that games on my phone do cause me to think and feel but there’s never an important response. Just a glaring void on the back end of it.

A Transforming Power

I could not agree more with the following words I read in Mary Oliver’s book Upstream.

“I did not think of language as the means to self-description. I thought of it as the door—a thousand opening doors!—past myself. I thought of it as the means to notice, to contemplate, to praise, and, thus, to come into power.”

I realize I’m nothing special but reading and writing move me to special thoughts.

I don’t consider myself an intellectual, just ask my family how I act around the house! Although I love to feel like an intellectual. Literature and art make me feel smart and they make me feel creative. When reading, listening, and contemplating I become like Clark Griswold’s Christmas lights. There is so much power coming in but all I can produce is a brief surge of brightness that ultimately just drags people out in the cold to be disappointed. (Don’t worry, that will be the only Christmas movie reference.)

How I Read

Now there are so many ways to take in stories and I utilize most of them. I listen to books on my phone using apps called Hoopla and Overdrive. Both offer an abundance of audiobooks for FREE through the library! I usually pick the audiobook if I just want to take in an overall interesting story. If I’m looking to pull information from a text then I use the kindle app on my phone because I can highlight and store notes in it. Plus, Amazon gift cards are my favorite. I’ll still pick up a physical book occasionally but that’s usually saved for casual reading on the couch or in bed.

Help Me

Could we spur one another on to read, observe, and listen intently to the important content we’re taking in. This is the ultimate goal I have for my students. It’s a goal I have for myself but I’m going to focus on the intently portion. You see my output here at my blog. You can tell when I’m not reading, observing, and listening intently because my writing is either non existent or it sucks.

Please spur me on if you don’t find me here often or if I’m plainly and obviously sucking.

 

What I’m Taking In

Almost daily devotions currently in the book of Acts.

Upstream by Mary Oliver and a couple other little books she has on poetry

Switched On by John Elder Robison. A Memoir of brain change and emotional awakening. I’m looking forward to this one as it’s on the topic of autism.

Peace as we attempt to live intently

 

Sensitivity Extremes: Connecting with the Whole Spectrum

A Common Scenario

One child has arms crossed while he shouts back short defensive remarks. The other is wailing with huge tears flooding his cheeks. Fingers are being pointed while other students arrive to back their chosen party. Both of the initial kids are offended, past the point of reason, and a long way from a solution.

 

Part of the reason I love teaching is the unique dynamics found in each class. (I often need to remind myself that this is a good thing.)

This year is no different. This group carries with it a wide range on the sensitivity spectrum. I’ve witnessed moments of oversensitivity opening an onslaught of tears. There’s also been the impulsive stance of insensitivity. How does one even relate to both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between? How do we connect and meet the needs of every individual? Especially when a student’s needs and sensitivity could change from one week to the next. (This definitely happens in sixth grade!)

 

So my choices are:

  1. I can authoritatively shut down the situation without connecting with either child involved.
  2. I can affirm each child’s stance and emotions. Sort and set apart the truth in the scenario from the presumptions and misconceptions.

One of these takes listening, patience, and a balance of sensitivity and reason.

Why It’s Not That Easy

The first understanding I had to reach before affectively approaching this issue was that No One desires either extreme. No One wants to be overly sensitive or insensitive. Of course I’m never reminded of these important revelations in the moment, this reflection happened days after while cutting the grass on a Saturday. Another reason I should cut the grass more.

I then began to consider, “What causes one to be on either extreme of this sensitivity spectrum?” There has to be a cause to one bawling due to a peer’s single spoken word. Or why one wouldn’t anticipate the effects of his/her insensitive actions. I wrongly started speculating causes to be factors such as homelife, unhealthy relationships, poor self-image, and so on.

Then I looked inward.

The second realization of the matter came a day after cutting the grass. This type of reflection doesn’t happen quickly for me but thanks to God it did happen.

My mind reeled in my personal bouts of oversensitivity. Then the insensitive moments came rushing to my recognition.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19

Wait, I’m broken too. I embody both extremes of this spectrum? Yes, and so do you. This is the reality of being human…

Insensitivity equals a lack of grace

Oversensitivity grows from needing the approval of others, or validation of self.

Both ends of the spectrum is a result of one attempting to please their own flesh.

I must be a better model of selflessness and servanthood for my students. “Is my response pleasing my flesh or pleasing the Spirit?” A questions I can’t ask myself enough.

Galatians 6: 7-8

 

The Exchange

I’m a great consumer.
I buy with no questions asked. I read a lot,  without discussion about it. I’m easy to please and I accept anything that’s given to me.
I’m a natural consumer but not so comfortable with interaction or exchange. My anxiety heightens when I’m asked to simply state my name in front of others, let alone having to share thoughts or ideas.
Problem is, consuming can only take me so far. There is much beyond the ceiling of consuming.
I’m learning to not just consume or just create but to exchange. Here is where the power is.

 

The exchange offers a deepness and richness that fulfills.
I want to do this well.
I’m far from it.

 

I’ve felt satisfaction and inspiration from a productive exchange with others.
These exchanges could cover any realm: emotion, information, beliefs, etc.
The human being is intrinsically rewarded for sharing and receiving.
If I only share, I’m left with self-doubt. If I only receive, emptiness lingers. This doesn’t go for giving or getting gifts, I’m purely talking about interacting and learning with others.  
The joy of learning is found in the EXCHANGE!
Fulfilled and empowered individuals contribute to the learning and development of the community. The broader the community, the fuller the empowerment.

 

Obtaining Wisdom

It’s so easy to only consume. Our culture preys on the consumer. “Netflix Binge!” It sounded like a wonderful idea while I repeatedly clicked “play next episode”. Then I woke up the next morning on 3 hours of sleep and realized my over-consumption had descended me into a pit of darkness. “Pit of darkness” may be a bit heavy, but I was far from satisfaction and/or inspiration.
Wisdom requires an experience and a response. Knowledgeable and wise are quite different.    

 

Where we fail is attempting to drink from the firehose of consumerism. Often consumerism drapes on a prideful and competitive front! I know, I can browse enviously as I scroll through every product on Amazon. I can also make a strong argument to my wife for why I must own every one of those items! In this moment I am realizing Amazon Prime is the devil! (For the record I’m keeping my Prime account – 2 DAY SHIPPING!)

 

Of course I have many more examples of personal bouts with consumerism. Although I’ll stop because it’s obvious I’ve been transparent enough.
 
In the Classroom
Today the student says, “Show me the video, lend me the book, hand me the paper, give me the grade.”
I’m doing my best to lecture less and give feedback more. I hope to start a conversation and spark an exploration. May we experience together and contribute to the conversation!

 

 
“The Exchange” is the only route to rich education.
 
 
 
 
 

Have We Developed?

Eating and Teaching Are on the Same Track

I was listening to the book At Home: A Short History of Private Life and something struck me about the human race. Development does not come natural.
A section of the book discusses the history of the kitchen and how our diet and food preparation has changed throughout time. It said something like 95% of our diet today is based on the same 12 main foods that were grown and used in ancient times. How is this? Did the first farmers, hunters, and gatherers have a timeless knack for nutrition? Or did generation after generation just accept Grandma’s recipes, never daring to tamper with them and disgracing the ancestry. I know they didn’t have Kale smoothies in the 1800’s but it seems to me that there were too few George Washington Carvers in the world. Far too few people enact development and progress in their lifetime.
Sadly this trend is not isolated to the facet of food. There are two main reasons I was alarmed by the 12 main foods statistic:
  1. I believe it parallels the history of education.
  2. I realized I’m getting jipped when it comes to food! I love food and to find out I’m basically eating the same lame meals as my great-great ancestors is highly disappointing.
Much better can be offered. Which is exactly how some feel about our children’s education.(To see other connections I’ve made between food and education read “Does Production Match the Purpose: The Food and Education Industries”)

So What’s the Difference Between Progressive and Stagnant?

Recently my mind has been dwelling on what separates the dynamic life from the static. I’m finding the answers in my daily decisions. Why do I choose a Netflix binge over connecting with my wife? Why do I let my son play with my phone instead of playing with me? Why do I choose to wake up and delete Spam emails instead of enriching my life with a morning devotional?
Reading and listening to the whole productivity platform gets old real quick. Still I am fascinated with the “Why” underneath these decisions we all make.  I got to take in a timely message on discernment recently at church. While it’s not a direct quote, an analogy like this was made: If you’re not intentionally paddling against the currents of the culture and discerning, you will not become the person God has equipped you to be (sorry Pastor Tom, you said it much better).
I’ve encountered this battle in my desire to write. I can’t even really call it a desire because I allow so much clutter to get in the way of it. But if you’ve listened to any top writers talk about what it takes to develop your craft, every single one says you have to sit your butt in the chair and write. And write over and over again. The same answer is found as I attempt to move forward in my walk of faith. The ultimate requisite is reading God’s word daily. Yes there are other factors in both these cases but it is the consistent decision to do the thing that matters. If you think being busy is the key, you’ve already been pulled under by the current.
So what are we using to fight the currents of culture? What tools are we using to progress and what essentials are necessary in this development?

 

Are you being challenged or pushed forward socially and intellectually? I’m actively working through these questions and would love to hear the strategies you utilize.

 

Peace in your paddling