Archive for the 'reality' Category

T.E.S.T.ing Week

standardized testing funnyAs an educator, the Spring semester can become difficult and instructional time becomes precious and limited. My ELL students have to take the district, state, and national tests, along with language acquisition tests. These required tests seem to dictate our schedules and energies during the spring semester. I find myself planning quick, self-standing lessons that can be implemented at any time because only the Lord Himself knows how much time I’ll ACTUALLY have.

Testing is part of our educational system – like it or not. So here’s what I tell my kids about standardized testing. I hope it helps you and our students gain some perspective and maybe find hope in the midst of the craziness.

Taking a test isn’t the goal here. It really isn’t. Yes the scores matter. Yes I will hear about it if my students don’t do well – but I’m not here to make sure they do well on the test. I’m here to help them learn the skills it takes to prioritize information, manage their anxiety and apply what they know. Each of those skills will help them in life and that’s what matters.

Every job requires you to pass a test. It’s not fun to admit – but it’s true. If I want to work on your car, replace your roof, or repair your broken limb – I have to pass a test. It might not be a multiple-choice test, but I will be trained and I will have to show someone else that I can apply my skills in a manner that is not only acceptable, but perhaps exceptional.

Scores don’t define you. I tell my students they are more than a number – they should never let scores define or limit them. Now, at the exact same time, I work to help them use numbers to evaluate their growth. Have you ever watched a student chart their progress and smile at the upward movement? It’s awesome! Some students consistently score high and if that score drops they begin to panic. This is where the emphasis and importance of grades and scores (see ABCs of Grades post) should be put into perspective . Kids need to have permission to be kids and to be unique in their learning and their performance. Tests don’t provide those opportunities, but we can remind students that there’s more to life than the test and the score it produces.

Talk to me. Typically I run a controlled, fast-paced classroom and my students know I have an agenda that takes priority over their social needs. However, during testing week things begin to relax a bit. I ask my students to talk to me. I ask about life outside of school. I want to know if anything is happening in their social or emotional world that might be weighing them down. I feed them, I let them go the bathroom…I am compassionate to their plight. My students with high anxiety levels let me know when they need a break and I trust them. I’ve never had a student try to “get out” of taking the test – they know this is happening – but I think they truly appreciate the understanding from the adults in their lives.

I’ll end with this well-known political cartoon:

testing cartoon

Many people use this illustration to undermine standardized testing and yes – it has a good point – but let’s be careful in our assumptions. Our students are failing. It kills me to even type that sentence – but it’s true (PEW Research).

Are the national/state/district tests truly representative of student ability? No.

Are they truly reflective of a teacher’s instructional abilities or classroom management? No.

But each time I’m tempted to complain, I ask myself what I have a BETTER way to assess ability throughout the country and I can’t think of anything.

So until I’m in a position to change things for the better I’ve decided to focus on making my classroom better and helping my students compete on the national stage.

No matter what test life might throw at my kids I want them to know how to use their gut, their knowledge, and their reasoning skills to make the best choice they can and pass that test.

I will ensure my students know their value. From there I hope they will become thirsty for knowledge because they feel confident in their abilities. For many of my students they don’t see education as valuable (see Welcome to America post) – I want to change that. I want them to revel so much in the learning process that they resist the temptation to reel against the testing.

Systems aren’t perfect – they are flawed and sometimes broken. The children in my classroom are broken and flawed and so am I. So before I shake my finger at the system, I’m going to take a hard look at my students and at myself to make sure we are growing and becoming better each day. That way we can face the test as a unified front, and when the test is done we just keep moving forward.

T.E.S.T.

Yep – it’s a four-letter word.

How we interpret this word is what matters and our kids need us to guide them along the way.

Happy testing!

Kasey

 

Letting Go

pathI’ve never sat down and simply written a post.

God brings topics, burdens, even challenges to my mind at some of the most random times but I know they are from Him. Usually I’ll sit with those thoughts for quite a while, applying them to my life, seeking out scripture and listening to see what else God has to say and THEN I write.

But friends, my heart is about to burst.

I can’t even begin to count how many times this blog, all the moms I’ve met over the years and all the writings I’ve been blessed to put into the Universe have come to my mind over the last 6 months. I find myself praying for all the moms, grandmas, children, and pastors I’ve met over the years.

It’s a kind of yearning I find difficult to describe. I miss writing to you. I miss hearing from you. I miss being with you –

Two years ago I was so excited to see a three-year journey become a reality when Mom Essentials was published. I read the pages today and weep at God’s faithfulness. I could have NEVER come up with those words. I could have NEVER thought up those concepts and applications – NO WAY!

I still believe God called me to write that study and I believe His hand was in it – but here’s the honesty behind it all.

I am constantly at war with Satan as he tries to breathe doubt into my mind, sew feelings of failure into my spirit and burden me with the weight of unmet expectations.

Satan works that way doesn’t he? He knows what is precious to us. He knows what God intended for good and he works so very hard to turn those things into evil.

Here’s the thing. I am NOT interested in selling books – I’m interested in encouraging and connecting with people. I’ve been called to teach and I’ve been blessed to see that calling played out in classrooms, sanctuaries, conventions, even my own home. But somehow I had an expectations for how God would use that study and how it would be an awesome resource for MOPS and Bible Study groups of all ages…

But those were MY expectations and that’s not how ministry works.

So I’m letting go. I’m letting go of all my dreams that this Bible study would reach moms of all ages, bring churches together, and help women reconnect with God.

I’m not giving up, nor am I giving in – I truly believe God ordained that Bible Study to be written, I just don’t know exactly what God has planned for the study or for me – and that is okay.

I DO know that God moves in His own way and in His own time. So I’m letting go of the guilt, fear, and pressure Satan continues to try to place in my life.

I’m doing the best I can – I’m focusing on my essentials and my faith is growing each time I push aside the temptation to think that the essentials in my life aren’t “enough”.

This morning I read these words in Jesus Calling: “A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.” – Sarah Young

I’m continually discovering what it means to get rid of the “extras” in my life and accept that while the “essentials” will change with the stages of life I experience – my one constant, ever-present, life-giving essential is my Jesus.

I’m holding tightly to His hand – everything else I am letting go.

God you are in control. Help me obey you without doubt or fear. I trust You are bigger than my circumstances and You alone know how all of this is working for my good.

Kasey

Anyone else need to let go of something or someone? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on our Facebook page. You bring me such joy – thank you for being so patient and so wonderful!

Thanksgiving 2.0

thankful posterBeing thankful is something we all work on, but what we’re thankful for can change – and that’s okay.

Today I boarded our plane and saw a sweet couple sitting with their 6 month old baby boy. I asked if the seat next to them was taken and they looked shocked that I’d be interested. The dad even said, “You’re awfully brave” as I sat down.

I couldn’t help but smile, because these two had no idea how thankful I was to sit next to them and just be near this precious boy. I miss those days and yet I am so very, very thankful that they had the baby and not me. I love sitting next to, holding and even caring for babies – but I’m THRILLED to not have one of my own. I’m just being honest. My version of thankful has been “updated”.

Don’t get me wrong – having a teenager and a pre-teen in the house isn’t a walk in the park – but it’s a different kind of exhaustion and stress. I’m so thankful to have memories of my boys as they grew up and explored the world. I’m even more thankful to know who I am so I can discover what it means to have a relationship with my children when they have their own thoughts, priorities, and ambitions.

I’ll be writing more about teenagers in future posts, but today I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and reflective. I remember being thankful for 3+ hours of sleep, when their teeth finally broke through their gums and the suffering stopped, when they played together in their own imaginary world I got to watch….such wonderful, precious times of truly being THANKFUL.

Today I’m thankful that my teenager thinks I’m the most strict, controlling mom ever. I’m thankful I can laugh with my teenage boy and appreciate his sense of humor, even when I find it completely ridiculous.

I’m thankful for friends who are ahead of me and behind me in this journey called parenting. They remind me to be thankful for today…for every single bit of today.

I love my yesterdays, but I don’t mourn them.

I love my todays, but I don’t let them overtake me.

I love the thought of tomorrow, but I’d never pretend to know what will happen next.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace and the gifts He has so graciously given me. My scripture for this season in life is from the Message:

Ephesians 2

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Wherever God has you right now is the RIGHT place.

You and I are JOINING God in His work , we don’t have to do it alone – that’s what allows us to be thankful – even when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed.

You are a blessing to me!

Thank you for sharing and following this blog and for being so very patient as I manage this crazy life of mine and rely on God to do the making and the saving – I’ll just keep “doing” the work in front of me – to God be the glory – he is doing GREAT THINGS!!!

Leave a comment and let us know what you are most thankful for these days…

Kasey

Full Circle Moments

full circleI’m entering into the phase of life when I can see things happen in their complete cycle.

Sometimes those full-circle moments come as a shock while others are anticipated.

A few weeks ago I sat in a crowded gymnasium with hundreds of gawking parents, waiting for our 6th graders to perform in their first music concert of the year.

As I peered through my phone’s camera, it hit me.

Twelve years ago I stood in front of my own choir, students and their parents and announced that we were expecting our first child. Now, here he was singing with his choir and I couldn’t stop smiling.

 

Today I drove to the airport to pick up my parents. They were able to catch an early flight in hopes of seeing my grandmother before she leaves this earth.

I’ve spent hours with my grandparents as they manage this final phase of life.

I’ve listened to my grandpa say “she’s leaving me” and “I just want the Lord to let me go with her”.

We come into this world completely dependent on others and my grandmother is now lying in a bed, completely dependent on her caregivers.

 

75 years ago my grandparents said, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”. Their full circle moment has come and the strength of their love is almost tangible.

The hospice nurse delivered the news that grandmother has 3-5 days left on earth. I have a strong feeling their love will ensure they aren’t separated for long. I hope they are dancing in the streets of heaven together soon.  For now, grandmother will get the party started and she’ll have the best full circle moment of all – from the day she gave her heart to the Lord until she sees Him face to face. She has lived a life committed to Christ and God has been faithful.

 

What about you? Are you experiencing a full circle moment? Are you hoping a situation comes to an end?

We’re all at a different point in our journey. Each of us taking the next step and hopefully having time to look back long enough to appreciate where we’ve been and enjoy where we’re going.

My dad said it best this evening as we prayed together: “Sometimes it’s difficult to truly pray ‘Thy will be done'”… but we can trust God and His timing.

His ways are not like ours and that’s a good thing.  God loves us and is with us from beginning to the end – each moment along the way. :o)

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…

I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

Ecclesiastes 3

 

Stop Talking, Start Walking!

kid yelling at momPlease excuse me while I vent.

I don’t mean to offend…but folks, this is getting ridiculous.

I am tired of watching children yell at their mothers.

I don’t care if they are 2, 12 or 21.

When did we decide that our children’s feelings are more important than our dignity?

When did it become okay for children to yell, scream, hit and throw a complete tantrum while their mother sits in front of them asking 101 questions, enduring the abuse!?

We would never allow an adult, another child, or our spouse to treat us that way, so why is it okay for our children?!?!

 

One of the best, most empowering and invigorating things I can do when my kid is losing his mind is to keep mine clear and calm.

The best way to kill drama is with the a quiver full of quiet and calm arrows, ready to be released at just the right time in order to regain control.

 

There’s a difference between refusing to be insulted and refusing to join the chaos. I’m not saying it’s easy – but I think it’s easy to forget why the difference matters so much.

Drama only grows when it is successful in dominating the situation and our attention.

I’ve talked to so many moms who say they “talked” with their child for hours – they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Maybe NOTHING was wrong – maybe that child is very intelligient and has figured out they can keep their parents devoted to their irrational and sometimes imaginary issues by inviting them to join the chaos.

If something really is wrong we should be patient and listen. But I hope we’d know the difference between a child in distress and a child in drama mode. My kids can feel any emotion they’d like but they don’t get to insult me with their actions in the process.

 

We live in a noisy world, but if our phone makes a slight ding – we give it our full attention.  Oh the power we give to technology.

I don’t believe yelling and screaming shows power.

That’s why we work hard to not yell at our children and I would hope we hold our children to the same standard.

What do our children have to do to get our attention? Do they make a slight “ding” or have they learned to yell, scream and throw a fit so we will pay attention?

 

Don’t let your children make you a slave to their emotional outbursts.

Teach them how to manage their emotions without draining your energy.

Model how to express emotions without dominating everyone’s attention.

Allow them to have emotions without allowing them to punish you with their feelings.

Hold them accountable. Even if it takes a while, REFUSE to become a slave to your children’s emotional outbursts and above all things…

REMAIN CALM!!!

 

You’ve got this. Stay strong and think about the future. Let’s walk away from the drama and teach our children how to manage their emotions NOW. If we don’t our kids could grow into young adults who lash out at a world that simply doesn’t care to listen to or respond to their drama. Take the following Bible verse to heart. It was meant to encourage the Jews during battle. I think it also works for moms who are battling the drama that tries to sneak into their home. Whether on the battle field or in our home, we are not alone. God will never forsake us or leave us – AMEN!

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Mommy Brain

calenderA while back I wrote a post titled “When Their Brains Turn Off”.  The post was about children and yet, as so often happens in my life, God humbled me with my own words.

{Read the post about kids if you haven’t already – it will help this story mean more!}

You see, I thrive on organization. Without it my world begins to crumble. Now, don’t misread the previous statement – I need to feel organized, but that doesn’t mean everything in my house is always clean. If you come to my house just don’t look in the cabinets under the butler’s pantry – it’s where stacks of papers are hidden when people come over. I apologize if any of you are disappointed with me – it’s just how we roll.

Last weekend we had a WONDERFUL surprise – Matt’s parents came up from Oklahoma to see the boys play their football and soccer games. It was a fantastic weekend. Any time they come to town we eat amazing food, watch lots of movies and literally hang out at the house the entire weekend.

We aren’t normally such “home bodies” so a weekend with my in-laws is a welcomed break. It’s also a shift from our normal routine.

I headed back to work on Monday and was proud of myself for being fairly productive.

{pause for back story}

My children have been raised on schedules – literally. Even before they could read they knew certain pictures/colors/timers dictated their day. I loved that my boys couldn’t argue with a schedule and honestly, it helped ME stay sane.

Many times I would find them standing in front of the calendar, preparing themselves for what was happening next in our busy days and lives. The little boys who pointed at the picture of our swing set, anticipating going outside to play are the same boys who now have their sports gear ready and by they door BEFORE we have to leave for practice. They are sending ME text messages to remind me of their lessons and activities. It’s a beautiful thing to empower our kids to take control of their environment in healthy and realistic ways.

{back to our story}

As I loaded up my grade book and planner I glanced at my phone and saw that I had missed 3 phone calls from our oldest son.

My mind raced as I realized it was 5:00. It was 5:00 on a Monday.

I called my son back and immediately began apologizing to him. He has drum lessons at 5:00 on Mondays! How could I forget!? We’ve had drum lessons on that same day and time for over 2 months now – I was so frustrated with myself!

He graciously replied that he really didn’t want to go to lessons anyway … which was nice of him … but all I could think about was the money we were losing – but what could I do? I had dropped the ball.

My son also reminded me that he had football at 5:45. He went on to let me know that he was dressed, had his water bottle and had eaten some protein….I had to smile.

{If you think things are working out…keep reading}

As we were talking football and drums my middle son beeped in. Why was he calling me?  I tried to click over but missed him.

I immediately called the drum teacher, apologized profusely and continued on my way home.

Then my husband called. It was now 5:10.

I answered, filled him in on my lack of prompt parenting and he was oddly quiet.

I asked if everything was okay. He simply asked, “Have you talked to Tyler? Do you know if he made it home?”

This is when I felt the tears forming.

Our middle son, Tyler, is part of a robotics club that meets after school (you guessed it) on Mondays from 3:30-5:00.

Apparently when he couldn’t get ahold of me he called Matt. They agreed that Tyler would begin walking home.

I immediately called Tyler, again apologizing for not being there to pick him up.

His response? “It’s okay mom – it’s really pretty out here and I don’t mind”

{Cue tears flowing down my face}

I arrived home at 5:25 to 3 little boys who ran to me and gave me hugs – just happy to see mom at home.

I went to the calendar and even though every activity was written down in the correct color, with the correct time, all the information had left my mind for some reason.

I continued apologizing to our older boys (who were now playing on their devices and had forgotten the whole thing) when our youngest came up to me and hugged me again – telling me that he loved me (three cheers for the babies of the family!!).

I thanked him for loving me even when I make mistakes to which he replied,

“Did your brain just turn off for a little bit?”

I laughed and agreed with his accusation.

Oh that I might have the capacity to forgive, accept and support my children as much as they do the same for me.

After our conversation I took a minute to write an update on our calendar (see picture at beginning of post)- because Mommies AND kids have rough days – I just hope I’m not the only one.

When was the last time your brain “turned off”? Were you able to bounce back?

Leave a comment and help us all feel a little bit better about our “off” days.

You are doing an amazing job…take it one day at a time and keep focusing on the essentials – family first!

Kasey

 

 


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