Posted tagged ‘high school students’

The Power of a Substitute With Skittles

September 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          September 3, 2016

                               

My journey into the world of substitute teaching (“guest teaching”) wrote a new chapter this week when I subbed for a high school social studies teacher for three days. What an experience!

World History for the partially motivated…Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History for the more motivated, or, for some, more stressed…and a classroom full of freshmen for Foundations of Learning, a sophisticated academic way of saying “study hall!”

The school I subbed in, two blocks from our house, operates on a “block system”, which means the classes are ninety minutes long and meet every other day.

The Foundations of Learning Class was the first class I had my first day. It consisted of freshmen who want to study, freshmen who pretend to study, and freshmen who could care less about studying. The conversation was continuous, but I let it go. I had brought a book with me, Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick, but I found it hard to concentrate on the words. Back in my seminary days I would have to read some of the pages of theological writings out loud to hep me try to stay focused. I needed that as in the midst of the classroom conversations. When I read I either have ear buds in listening to music or I like it quiet. Being the teacher, it seemed that ear buds might be a bit risky.

Two days later I began the day once again with that study hall. I pondered how the ninety minutes of torture might go better. What might I do to change the culture of the classroom?

And then it hit me! Skittles! I emptied my piggy bank and bought a bag of Skittles for each of the students in the class. Yes, it set me back $10 of my already minimal guest teaching pay, but what an experience!

The class began with the regular suspects present. I took attendance and then showed the class the book I was reading, went into a brief excited explanation about how much I enjoyed reading history, but then explained how I either needed ear buds or quiet to comprehend what the pages were saying to me.

“I would really love to get twenty pages in my book read during class this morning, and, you know something, if I get twenty pages read I will be in celebration mode. I will be so happy…so, so happy that I think I’d like to give each of you a gift of celebration. So if you can help me concentrate and get twenty pages read…I want to give each of you a bag of Skittles at the end of class.”

Shock! Dismay! Confusion! Delight! Wondering if they heard me right! Open mouths of temporary astonishment!

“But, mind you, I can’t concentrate in the midst of a lot of noise, so you’ll have to help me out here.”

They dug in, but I noticed a few of them were looking at me to make sure that I was starting to read. I had instantly created the Skittles Security Guard , making sure I was on task with what I was suppose to be doing.

A few minutes later, a teacher at the school, and a friend of mine, stopped by to speak with one of the students, but when he saw that I was there we got into a conversation about basketball, his sons, and coaching. Talk about eyes of consternation being upon me. When our conversation had hit five minutes one of the students reminded me that I should be reading. I felt chastised and my teaching friend felt chased.

Back to the reading. Every few minutes someone would come by the desk and ask me how many pages I still had left to read? I was now the student in a room with twenty teachers.

At the end of class the Skittles became a reality for each one of them. Perhaps they were all sugared up for their next class, but in the process I hoped they discovered that Foundations of Learning could be ninety minutes of study and discovery on a regular basis.

The power of Skittles, a new tool for educating young minds!

What Do You Say To High School Students Who May Have Heard It All?

June 24, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                             June 24, 2015

       

In about ten days I’ll head to camp…church camp, that is! Church camp for about six and a half days with high school students. High school students, many of whom have heard it all…or believe they have!

So what do I say to them that won’t cause a rolling of eyes or the closing of eyelids? What do I say to them that is truth without the hint of parental guilt? What do I say to them that will encourage them to the futures and purposes that God has for their lives?

I’ve been pondering and praying these questions for a while, but even more since a young lady I had coached passed away about three weeks ago. Just two years out of high school she lost some of her sense of purpose. Her death has caused me to ponder a tremendous amount each day.

So I’ve tried to come up with things that need to be said to a young man or woman who has sixty to seventy years of life ahead of them. Here’s what I’ve got so far…and I would love to get your ideas and suggestions!

    1) Know that the world is broken…and so are you! We live in the midst of fallenness. Remember that when people, systems, and mindsets try to convince you of their perfection. Part of maturing is coming to grips with the fact that you will never have it all together. Don’t use that as an excuse, but rather as a clarifier of your environment and your life. Wholeness can come only after there is an admission that a person has some cracks in their life.

2) Accept forgiveness and be forgiving! Know that everyone makes mistakes…and you will too! Be willing to let it go- your mistakes and the errors of others that affect you- and move on!

3) Embrace your purpose! Discover it and pursue it with passion because it is this purpose that God will use to bring glory to him and some form of healing to the world. Your purpose doesn’t have to be something that is headline-grabbing, although it may be noticed when you least expect it!

4) Identify who it is who will “go to the wall” for you! “Go to the wall” means they would be willing to lay down their life for you. Know that your list will be very short, but also take note of who you wouldn’t put on that list. Who are the people who would jump on a plane and fly across the country at a moment’s notice because you need them? Would you be on their list?

5) Seek joy more than the pursuit of happiness! Joy doesn’t leave; happiness is a temporary feeling. Put another way…happiness is a seasonal visitor, but joy is a resident. Incorporate practices in your life that keep you in the stream of joy.

6) Know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves you unconditionally! Most of what happens in our lives is conditional, but nothing you do or don’t do will negate the love that God has for you. The doubts you experience in regards to that are simply deceiver-driven or self-imposed.

7) Embrace a Community of Faith! A church or gathering of Christ-followers needs to be intimately connected to your life. They need you and you need them! Don’t try to go on a spiritual journey by yourself. You’ll fall and there will be no one to pick you back up! Going to church camp one week a year is not a fulfillment of your spiritual nutrition and need!

8) Identify a mentor and walk with him/her! Joshua had Moses, Timothy had Paul. Who is it in your life that already has the wisdom and experience with the potholes of the journey? Who can steer you in the right direction, but will also be there to encourage you after you’ve screwed up?

9) Just because everybody is doing it doesn’t make it right! As my grandfather used to say, “If everybody else jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump off, also?” Sometimes my answer was yes…and I fell hard! Don’t buy into everything that our culture says is the way or the truth, or where life is! If you do you’ll end up either disillusioned or dysfunctional!

I’ll stop at 9! Perhaps I’ll add to the list later…maybe you’ll help me! But make it fast! Camp starts in ten days!

Oh…I’ll add this one for the parents! 10) Clean your room!