A Time To Teach

Reaching Every Student

Before this school year, there were many days that left me smiling in appreciation for a career where I got to spend time with hundreds of precious teens and work with them to achieve their potential and much more. The days where corruption and deception tried to take hold of the youth in my care were few and far between. What a blessing! This school year has brought out the worst in most of us at one time or another. The mountain of problems in education that needs attention is so high that we feel like we are scraping ice from our windshield with a toothpick.

Today was a much needed relief to my very soul! I could still find plenty of things to be grumpy about, if I tried; my dog eating yet another piece of my couch when I wasn’t looking, finding out that the only cookies left were the burnt ones that nobody wanted, many students still not wanting to do assignments no matter how easy we have made it, change number 532 in our school procedures…etc. But today I saw success, at least in my eyes. We are trying out a new messaging system that will allow for easy translation when getting important messages to parents. This is huge! Bridging the language gap is something I beg for on every end of year survey for the district. Don’t misunderstand, there are efforts being made to strengthen connections with our students and parents who don’t speak English. However, I find that we are still in desperate need of help in that area.

When I am delivering science instruction, I know that some will find it challenging to absorb, even if English is their first language. I can only imagine how it must feel to sit in a science class and be one of only a few who have no idea what the teacher is saying. After my first year of teaching and seeing my English Language Learner (ELL) students watch the clock in agony, I teamed up with two loving teachers to try offering some alternative instruction that included more pictures, was easier to translate, or was written in Spanish (that is the primary second language I encounter, but I am sure we could also have success with other languages too). Right away, we experienced a positive change. Some students were making more effort to understand and even attempting to talk more in class (just like we tend to be nervous about trying to say new words we have learned, they are too).

This inspired me to work toward meeting them part of the way by learning some Spanish. I know I am not expected to, but I see it as a skill that would serve me well in all of life. Sometimes it is easy to forget how many different and beautiful languages there are on this planet because we only hear or use one most of the time. But why wouldn’t I just stick with the text with pictures and translations? Three words…Parent Teacher Conference. My students will find a way to fit in and adjust because that’s what kids do. But when a caring parent comes in and truly wants to be a part of their child’s education, I do not want language to defeat them. We need those kinds of parents so badly. Well, after two years of sporadic lessons in my spare time, I have made little progress. Perhaps this year the Spanish conversation will start flowing. I have attempted some phrases that made for some entertainment with my ELL students. They just politely giggle and shake their heads. I may not have said it right, but the respect I earned opened the door to willingness to try these new and difficult science concepts. I call that a success!

My hope is that my district will start to see so much success with this new message translating service that they will be encouraged to offer language training to their teachers and other staff. They have, in fact, offered Spanish classes in the past, but there were only a few short sessions and there wasn’t near enough time to learn it well. I can see two immediate benefits to teaching language to the staff. First, the district would spend less money hiring a few teachers to teach many teachers (we are good at learning in large groups) than they spend on this messaging service. Yay, more money for learning enrichment for our students. Second, they would be increasing the knowledge, skills, and confidence of their staff. When every student can be reached, it is truly a blessing! Oh wait…I just thought of one more reason. The students would know that even though they are new in town they are loved, valued, and respected.

In Mark 10:17, Jesus said, “…let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus didn’t put any conditions on this command. He didn’t say, “…but only if they speak proper English.” ALL the little children are precious to Jesus. They all deserve the chance to learn and discover their purpose. We, the teachers, have the position and ability to carry out this important task for God. Are you ready? Time to roll up our sleeves and do better. The children are counting on us. We CAN reach them all!

The Curriculum

The Big Whisper

I read an article years ago about symbolism in our dreams and how to decode them. It was just some fun reading and I didn’t put much stock in it at the time. The article said that any snakes in the dream suggested someone in your life was lying to you or would lie to you in the near future. Your reflection could be an angel, but blue eyes could represent yourself. The symbol that stuck out the most to me was the lions. A dark lion represented Satan and a light lion represented God. I don’t know if there is actually any merit to that person’s analysis of dream symbols, but I do believe that God uses dreams as a way to whisper important messages to us. Look at the visions Joseph had in the Old Testament.

Joel 2:28 says, “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” But the same message reappears in Acts 2:17. God is still using dreams in His plan, so we should certainly pay attention. Warning: God does not like false statements of dreams, so always pray for discernment when hearing one. Ever since my first memory, I have had many vivid dreams. Sometimes the dreams would come daily and would keep me deep in thought the next day, especially when I was a child. I always wanted desperately to make sense of them, but never could. I have written some of them down over the years at the advice of my husband. Lately, I have been hearing more and more testimonies of dear ones around me having dreams and visions. As much as I would like to have an amazing vision to share, I don’t want it unless God sends it.

Well, I finally had a possibly prophetic dream. It wasn’t lengthy and it wasn’t odd or complicated. But before I had the dream, I was invited by my student’s parent to a recent dinner with the Tulsa City Elders. First, let me just say, “Wow!” This group is committed to reclaiming the city for God and carefully guarding the “city gates” with “elders”. I didn’t know such a group existed, but they are great in number and growing in strength. My husband accompanied me to the dinner and we spent the evening praying for our city and meeting brave people from different careers who are standing for God at their work. Rhonda, the parent who invited me, was eager to introduce me to different people who had heard about the letter I wrote about the hidden corruption in our public schools. One of the people Rhonda introduced me to was a lady representing the Republican GOP in Tulsa. She asked for my information and was very interested in hearing more. I look forward to speaking and meeting with her in the near future.

The speakers that night called for courage and action. They pointed out the level of corruption in our country and its exponential growth. They encouraged and empowered us to stand up and fight in God’s army. You know that scene in Coming to America where Eddie Murphy is at the rally and suddenly stands up and yells, “I am so happy to be here!”? I honestly felt like that. Their words were convicting and powerful. I was sitting there becoming more full of purpose by the second. There was this sense of urgency welling up in me, and when they mentioned what is happening to our youth and the influence teachers can have over that, I almost cried. God was calling me loud and clear. One of the final images on their giant screen that night was a beautiful light golden lion, standing majestically and fearlessly. I stared at the image and was full of hope and bravery.

Back to my dream…That night, I dreamed of a blonde lion with a full mane and muscles rippling as he walked slowly and confidently forward across the land. Flanking each side of this lion were several lionesses as beautiful as the lion. They were walking confidently by his side. As I looked at their feet, I noticed that the lionesses were trampling the people in society who represent evil; the greedy, the liars, the murderers, the deceivers. All of these people were being crushed as if they were delicate twigs.

At the City Elders dinner, one speaker had declared that we have not just “awoken a sleeping giant”, but that Christ’s bride (the church) is set to conquer the enemy, and Christ will not be satisfied until the enemy is crushed beneath His bride’s feet. Powerful! Perhaps my dream was simply confirmation that what I heard was valid, but I am confident it was from God. I am also confident that it is time for the church to rise up and walk confidently beside God. It is much harder to trample the enemy sitting down. So rise up! Rise up and join the battle! We already know how it ends!!!

A Time To Teach The Curriculum

The Perfect Parent

I would like to meet the perfect parent. I would truly like to sit down to lunch with them, my treat. I would ask them how they did it…how they duped everyone into believing that there is any such person as the perfect parent. Please forgive my snarky tone, but I am constantly dismayed at the inference from society that the perfect parent is out there somewhere and if you are not striving for it, you are not worthy to be called parent. The pressure is almost unbearable for some and they drive themselves and their children crazy trying to attain that status. We have all seen that parent who seems to have actually gotten there…or at least they would have us believing it. I’m not talking about the parent who loses sleep because they have volunteered for everything at their child’s school, done all the research, attended all the sporting events with the personalized jersey, and carefully chosen a gift for each teacher. No, I am talking about the parent who belittles any other parent who doesn’t work as hard, do as much, or get seen as often as they do.

Grab onto something plastic because this next statement could be quite shocking. (Ahem, a little science humor.) The public school is attempting to become the picture of that perfect parent. What?!?! But Mrs. Cook, you are part of the public school? This is true. However, I am speaking of the worldly part of public school that is not representative of the heart of a teacher…the part driven by politics, bought by the highest bidder for curriculum, and determined to mold your children into a generation of lazy, entitled, God-hating toddlers. Okay, time to take a deep breath before I get carried away. Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh………………..Lord may my words be your wisdom and truth and nothing more.

So, what exactly do I mean by that statement? Until this year, when so much truth was revealed to me about the corruption in our public schools, I was honestly under the delusion that schools actually expected parents to take their role seriously. The truth is that more and more public schools are hiding their intentions and curriculum from parents. I know because I have tested it and found it to be true. When something is hidden by humans, you should always wonder why. I always tell my students and my own children that if you have to hide it, you are probably doing something bad. Why would you have to hide it if it is honorable and good? The answer is right there if you look a little deeper. Public schools hide things because they know the content is bad and parents would most likely object. The message this sends to parents is clear and effectively defeating…you are not a good enough parent, so we will just do it for you; we will decide what your student should learn, speak, and think and WE will raise them for you. How many parents receive that message and believe it? How many parents are simply giving up? Even one would be too many.

Let me tell you what God thinks about your parenting skills. Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” It doesn’t say, “…but only if your parent is perfect”. God considers parental teachings to be the mark of a truly beautiful adult. But what happens when we allow someone else to take over our God-given authority over our children?

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

I know this is a hard question to answer, but who is training up your child? That’s who your child will default to when they are grown.

You may be sitting there thinking, “Yeah, but she doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a single parent or disabled or uneducated…” I imagine there are many types of parents I can’t relate to. But, every parent has this in common…you were chosen by God to be your child’s parent. In God’s infinite wisdom, He chose you to trust with the upbringing of one of his beloved and precious souls. As if that isn’t enough of a reason to stand tall with confidence, God already knew what kind of person you would be when He chose you. You didn’t surprise Him with your mistakes and bad decisions (by the way, we all do those things often).

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV

Just like God carefully crafted you, He carefully chose you to carry one of His great designs. YOU are enough! YOU are God’s perfect choice for a parent! And YOU have the highest authority over your child, not the schools or the government or society…YOU! I have met parents who discounted their abilities because they were doing it alone or because they had experienced some failure. Here is your truth, dear parents. If you strive to do better when mistakes are made, if you give your child your very best, if you put your child’s needs above your own, if you teach them to love God you are a good parent and you are just what God wants for your child. One of the best parents I have ever known (and one of my dearest friends) raised a beautiful, respectful, responsible, compassionate boy despite doing it all by herself. She will be the first to admit she made many mistakes and was not able to do half the things she wanted to do for him. But, she gave her very best and that’s exactly what God wanted from her. By the way, I don’t want to leave out one of my favorite categories of parents, adoptive and foster parents. I believe God chose them too. I have had the pleasure of teaching next to one adoptive mother of two little girls. She is not any more perfect than any other parent, but she is God’s perfect choice as their parent. When she talks to them, you can see the pure love pouring out and the girls know who will be there by their side, guiding them through life.

If you are sitting there right now thinking God made a mistake asking you to be a parent, STOP IT RIGHT NOW! God doesn’t make mistakes. You can do this! Do not give up. God will carry you if you accept His help. It will be difficult, messy, and even painful sometimes, but see it through. Your child is counting on you. Trust me, you don’t want to see who is waiting to steal that role from you. Hang on tight and don’t let go. I will leave you with this statement of Truth:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:3 NKJV