My classes held a host of interesting students. I don’t ever remember being bored teaching any of them. Early teens love to dream big. The world is before them and nothing appears to block the path ahead. I love their optimism.
One vibrant young lady was fascinated with Prince Charles; then a young, eligible bachelor. Her dream was to meet and eventually marry him. While she was waiting for just such an opportunity; she collected pictures, stories, newspaper articles, anything at all pertaining to him.
As most of my students will recall, a research speech was a feature of my classes. She, of course, chose to present a speech featuring Prince Charles. Because she was so enthusiastic about her topic, her speech was animated and excellent. As a class, we loved her portrayal of a young, handsome prince of fairy tale proportions.
Alas, Prince Charles married Dianna, and my lovely young lady married someone else. Time and distance were not advantageous for her. But her lively interest in royalty is well remembered by me, and I’m guessing by several of her classmates.
Fairly recently, after a gap of many years, we re-connected. I found my lovely student had grown into a lovely lady and it was a joy for me to catch up with her life.
I mentioned to her that I saw that she had changed her name to Camilla. She laughed and said, “I can’t believe you remembered that!” Then in that fun, mischievous way I remembered so well, she said, “If I had married Charles, there wouldn’t have been a Camilla.”
As I write these stores, most of the students featured so far have long since passed out of my sphere of contacts, but this one will read this story, and I hope she laughs with me!
So to you, my unnamed student of the day, know that you are loved and my memory of you as a student is a precious one. I pray that the rest of your life will be filled with every good gift that comes from above, from the Father of Lights.
I love this story!
In my early days of teaching, each year during Education Week, one afternoon was set aside for parents to visit the classrooms and sit in on a lesson. This was my first year teaching Grade 8, and it was early in the year.
I prepared my Literature lesson well, striving for interest and excitement. We were in the poetry section at the time, and some of the students needed to be convinced that poetry can be fun (or even tolerable!)
The walls of the classroom were lined with chairs for our visitors and it was full! Perhaps the parents were checking out the new teacher; the new teacher who was a little nervous teaching before parents. I wanted to make a good impression.
I can’t remember the title of the poem, but it described a wooded area during and after a gentle rain. I enthusiastically went through my carefully prepared introduction, read the poem with good expression, and then moved into the discussion. To begin the discussion, I asked a question to get them thinking.
My question was, “What do you think the woods were like after the rain?”
Hands quickly flew into the air. They, too, wanted to impress their parents. I was pleased; they were with me. I looked around making my choice of the student who would answer the question. I passed over the ones that I knew would have imaginative answers, because I saw a hand go up that was usually not up.
I loved this girl dearly. She was quiet in class; not often volunteering answers, but had answers when I prodded her. Her mother was sitting there and I thought what a great opportunity to give her a chance to present her answer.
So I answered her hand. I repeated the question; “What do you think the woods were like after the rain.”
She quickly answered; “Wet.”
The room, including the parents, burst into laughter. She laughed, too. So what else could I do except join the fun!
I’m not sure how I got through the rest of the lesson; but I somehow passed parental inspection and learned some valuable lessons, as well. I must admit, I’m smiling as I write. It was a memorable moment!
I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives. Revelation 2:13 NIV
Ah Pergamum; beautiful Pergamum, you have allowed Satan to make his home in your city.
One day as I read this verse, Antipas caught my eye. “Who are you?” I asked. A search of Scripture found no other mention of him. There is some historical information, but even that is not extensive.
I was impressed that Christ would mention him by name when addressing the church of Pergamum. When Antipas was martyred, I’m sure he heard, “Well done, faithful servant.” Not only is he mentioned as a martyr, but also as “faithful witness.” Even under extreme persecution, he stood firm and no one could still his voice. He witnessed to the people of Pergamum until the end.
What a contrast: a beautiful but corrupt city and a faithful witness, one who was willing to witness until death.
There are places in the world today where Christians are martyred for their faith. We only hear a trickle of stories coming out of these countries. I believe that many more are standing firm for Christ, even in the midst of persecution, even with the threat of death.
Search your heart to see if your spiritual condition is strong enough to withstand the ravages of persecution. If not, it’s time to study the word of God and labour in prayer for this kind of faith. I call it persecution faith. Do you have it?
I am incredibly interested in politics. I’ve always had a secret wish to sit as a member of the House of Commons in Ottawa. Every evening I can’t wait to listen to the National News to see what has transpired during the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews with Peter Mansbridge and the leaders of the four major parties.
I don’t usually blog about issues of this nature because I don’t like controversy, but this election is just too interesting to let pass. I have already decided where my vote will go; I decided long before the election call as I prefer to vote on party lines. I have moved from this position a few times over the years, but for the most part I’m loyal to my party of choice.
Some of you like to vote on issues, or on packages offered by one party or the other. That is also an excellent way to vote. The main thing for me is that you get out and vote! We are so fortunate to live in a country that allows voting, and our wishes as a nation are the final answer as to who forms the next government. This is a privilege not enjoyed by a large portion of our world. If you have decided not to vote, please rethink that decision and vote.
I have heard some say that one vote doesn’t matter, but if a percentage of the population make that decision, it matters. In the last federal election, a little over 61% of the eligible voters actually voted. That means that almost 39% of the eligible voters did not have a say in the formation of the next government. You may say, but I don’t like any of the leaders or their platforms. That may be the case, but take a look at the candidates running in your riding, acquaint yourself with their positions, and vote.
I have become a poll watcher! It’s so interesting to see what is happening with public opinion. Today, the three main parties are in a dead heat. I’m anxious to see the next polls coming out to see if any leader has broken away from the pack and captured the lead. Where will it end? It’s an interesting campaign.
Looking at the issues, as I see it, the voter has three distinct choices; stay the course, take a sharply different course, or follow a modified course. The issues at the forefront are the economy, the refugees, the war on terrorism, and the environment. There are plenty of side issues as well. Each party has a “plan” which may or may not be successful. Listening to the pundits will throw some light on the plans, but even they don’t agree.
My favourite discussion panel is the At Issue group which airs on the Thursday night CBC National news led by Peter Mansbridge with Andrew Coyne, Chantel Hebert, and Bruce Anderson. I find they bring a balance to the current events of the day and are well-versed in the topics under discussion.
One thing I don’t like is the negative advertising. It is done by all the parties and in my opinion lessens the message. However, they do seem to work, but I personally would rather each party tell me what they are going to do, not if a leader is ready, or if his policies are old traditions, or he is too far to the left or right.
The incumbent seems to get it from all sides. He is the person to beat. I, for one, am tired of the hate I see for Mr. Harper. You may or may not agree with all of his policies, but that is no cause to fill the internet with hate messages about him. Nor do I like the message that Mr. Trudeau isn’t ready. Who can say?
To the political parties I say; please tell me what you will do for our country if you are elected, and tell me how you plan to pay for it.
To the citizens of Canada I say; check out the issues, make an informed choice, and VOTE on October 19, 2015.
I love Junior High students. I love their awakening sense of the wider world around them. I love their off-the-wall sense of humour. I love their mood swings as they work out relationships and as they cope with changing and developing bodies. I love their argumentative approach when they are passionate about a topic. I love the creativity that is beginning to show real talent. I love teaching them and have never regretted my decision to teach that age level.
Today my mind is in a grade 8 classroom and it’s speech time! I’ve always told my students that this is my favourite time of year. They thought I was crazy as it certainly wasn’t their favourite (at least for some of them.)
I felt it was important for them to be able to stand before the class and present a speech that they had researched and prepared. It was important on so many levels. They needed to stand before an audience as many of them would be in careers that would demand speaking before their peers or before a wider audience. Even if they never gave a speech again, it gave them the self-confidence to know that they could.
It was important because they were sharing their ideas; putting themselves out there for others to see. This is always a risk as everyone will not agree with your ideas. A classroom is a great place to develop this skill where you are protected by the teacher from any adverse reactions.
It also involved research. For many, this was a new thing and taught them skills for effective research. They also learned how to prepare and work from a proper outline; a very useful tool.
And the lessons learned were not only on the speaker’s side, but also on the listeners. Everyone should know how to listen respectfully and learn from the speaker. No wonder it was my favourite time.
Back to the classroom where nervous students were awaiting their turn to present their speech. I knew that one girl in particular was very nervous. When her turn came, she walked to the front where I had placed a podium. The students had been instructed to use cue cards; however this nervous young lady had chosen to ignore this piece of advice and arrived at the front with several sheets of loose-leaf paper.
With a deep sigh, she spread them out in front of her. And oh no, the “merry little breezes” chose that moment to sweep through the open window and scatter her papers on the floor. She looked at the scattered sheets with tears and dismay. I was instantly at her side. Fortunately the class did not laugh which would have made the situation so much worse for her. We gathered the sheets and to my dismay, they weren’t numbered! But eventually she got them back in order, I closed the window, and the speech went on.
We made the best of a situation that was traumatic for her, and my guess is that she has never forgotten that day! I comforted and encouraged her, and I hope she can now look back and smile.
A teacher’s job is so much more than teaching curriculum. As the students return to classes this week, remember that the person in front of the classroom will be teacher, nurse, comforter, counsellor, mentor, peace-maker, discipline enforcer, love dispenser, encourager, and so much more.
Perhaps you could encourage a teacher today!
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4 NIV
John the Baptist intrigues me. I am drawn by his passion and dedication, his message of repentance, his removal from society, and his lifestyle contrary to the norm of first century society.
Jesus captivates me. In contrast he was loving and caring, in the centre of society, teaching a new way to live, contrary to the accepted beliefs of the religious Jews.
John was totally human and knew that he was the voice preparing the way for the Christ. I think by removing himself from society, he was able to focus on the task God had set before him. When he had completed his purpose, in a cruel twist of a woman’s mind, he was arrested and beheaded.
But here all comparisons end: Jesus is the Son of God. He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, interceding on our behalf. What a thrilling message for us today!
Do you have Jesus interceding for you? Today is a good day to accept him as your Saviour and this amazing provision will be yours, too.
In that first year of Junior High, my teaching schedule was very diverse. I taught Music from Grades 1-9 (such a huge span of ages), and English subjects to Grades 7-9. It was challenging and exciting to move from class to class and adjust to the different ages and interest levels.
One of my most interesting classes that year was composed of all boys from two of the grade 9 classes. First thing Friday morning, two classes of Grade 9 boys had Phys. Ed. while the girls from their classes had Music with me. The Music room was directly across from the gym.
When first period was over, the girls left for their gym session and the boys came to me for Music. I’m smiling as I write this, the memories coming clearly to my mind. I hope you can imagine the setting.
Our gym did not have showers, so the boys came sweaty and fragrant! The first thing we did was open all the windows, even on the coldest days. The next challenge was to get them seated and quiet – they’d just spent 45 active minutes in the gym and were still running on adrenaline.
How interested do you think they were in Music at this point in their day? I knew I needed to be extremely creative to make this class successful. I came up with a plan that worked perfectly all year. Music theory was not going to be welcome, so I decided that we could dispense with it unless something came up where it was needed. The boys who were musicians already knew theory, and the others would probably never need or use it. Besides, they had been taking Music as a subject since Grade 1.
My goal was to give them a love for Music; all different types of music. We worked out a compromise that made all of us happy. My proposal to them was this; if they would accept my lessons for three weeks, the fourth week would be music of their choice (pre-approved by me, of course.) The idea was that I would plan fun and interesting things for them so my three classes would not be boring, and they would bring in their choices the fourth week. They loved the idea and we had a great year.
I worked hard to come up with interesting classes and they brought in some amazing music. I soon discovered that many of them had great signing voices, as well. From time to time I would bring in a musician to perform for them. One time it was a friend I had met at University who was a superb guitarist. He was still in University and the guys thought he was cool. They also loved his music. This class that could have been a disaster for them and for me, turned out to be one of my favourite times during the week. Well done, boys! You couldn’t have pleased me more with your willingness to compromise, accept, and contribute.
The pressure is on to move into my Junior High years. I softly and sadly close the lid on the box of memories of my first little class. You taught me so much; gave me a love of teaching; helped me develop compassion; and gave me such love in return for my love of you.
Although the year holds such precious memories, it also holds pain and anguish as I made the decision to return to University to complete my degree and never teach again. I do not want to walk the path of my apprenticeship under very difficult leadership. From other staff members I heard the story that the principal deliberately chose to “make or break” first year teachers. I’m ashamed to say that I was almost broken. But upon completion of my education degree, and a promise from the school board of my district that I could now have a placement in a Junior High classroom, I made the decision to try one more time. This happily led to twenty-seven more years in school!
My first placement was in the school where I had been a student for my primary, middle, and junior high years. I had always loved the school and I entered with great joy and anticipation. It proved to be everything I desired and much more! The rollicking, fun-loving, mischievous, mood-swinging, intelligent, thoughtful, gracious, forgiving, loving junior high students burst upon my life! From day one, I knew I was in the right place; a place that would hold my love forever. When I entered my classroom with my early teen students, I was totally at home.
And oh the stories! I’m smiling as I write. What’s even more fun is that several of them are friends on Facebook and although I won’t use names, or even locations, they’ll recognize themselves! But dear students, each memory is sweet and I trust you’ll see that I tell the little stories because I love you, and found such fun recalling them.
I, once again, learned so much from my students. My first story centres on a young boy who did not have some of the advantages taken for granted by others. He was charming and my heart was lost to him right from the beginning. On this occasion, the class was working on an exercise at their desks; I was at my desk helping students having trouble with the assignment, and marking answers as they were completed. At one point, I managed to bump a stack of assignments that quickly spread over the floor.
I was dismayed and upset with myself as I bent to gather them. He was instantly at my side, helping. He could see that I was upset and he looked up at me. I’ll never forget his words, “Miss Galbraith, don’t sweat the small stuff.”
He was so right! I’ve recalled his words so many times over the years when the “small stuff” threatened to swamp me. Then his voice would sound in my ears, “Miss Galbraith, don’t sweat the small stuff.” It always brings a smile to my face and a little visit with this awesome boy.
I’ve completely lost track of him. If any of you recognize the story and know where he is, I’d appreciate an update. Someday, I’d love to be able to thank him in person.
And thus began my “learning” in Junior High.
People are asking when I will move to the Junior High stories! Soon, soon! I thought I was ready today, but I remembered two more stories I’d like to share. Patience, dear readers, those awesome Junior High kids with their off-the-wall sense of humor, will be right along!
In my little class, there was one adorable little guy who always seemed to be happy and upbeat; a real joy to have in my class. During the spring, he appeared on several days with beautiful bouquets of tulips. I was always happy to receive his gift and put them in a vase where they graced my desk and added a special charm to our room.
It wasn’t until tulip season was over that I had occasion to drive down the street where he lived. I saw his house up ahead and to my surprise there was not a flower garden to be seen! I had supposed the tulips had come from their garden, but not so!
Then it hit me! Between his house and the school was a large bakery. Outside the bakery were lovely beds of tulips! And I remembered that they were the same type and colour as the ones that found their way to my classroom!
What should I do? How should I handle it? I made a decision; I’m not sure if it was the right one or not, but I decided that I would not challenge him on this. I had no proof that they had come from the bakery garden, and I would have crushed a little boy’s joy in bringing flowers to his teacher.
My sweet little one, I loved the flowers and you brought great joy to my heart in so many ways.
Have you ever felt the pulse of a city? The first time I experienced it was in Saint John, New Brunswick, many years ago. I was uptown for an appointment and standing on a street corner, mid-morning, I felt the pulse. It’s a nebulous thing, a feeling akin to joy and excitement, a living city on the move, awakening to a new day.
I’ve also experienced it in Toronto and most recently in Guelph. From my balcony, on an early morning, I love watching the city awaken. Cars swish by taking their occupants to destinations unknown to me. Seniors walk their dogs on leashes, the dogs straining to sniff each new thing in their path; kids on bikes welcome the day with shouts of laughter. I hear the thunk of tennis balls hitting rackets in the park nearby; a train rushes past behind the trees. I can just see the tops of the rail cars as they pass through the city.
This morning a plane thrusts into the air from the Airport in Breslau. Birds twitter in the pine trees just off my balcony. Squirrels chatter and chase each other along the fence, up the tree trunks, through the grass, in play or anger, I cannot tell. Voices of children playing reach my ear as I rock in the shade, quite private amid the bustle around me.
I love these early morning sounds and sights. I love the feel of the awakening city. I love to experience the pulse of a living, active, busy city. I love to feel a part of the awakening.