Thursday, September 26, 2013

Last day of class--in photo

Well, today was my last day of class at the YMCA this year. We'll fly back for furlough soon (more about that later!), and these ladies are gearing up for their practicums at local schools. Two of the kids came with me; J. was so disappointed I couldn't take more, and made me promise to tell the ladies about the Mickey Mouse hat he was wearing that day. The kids add a palpable energy to the classroom, and help with demonstrating some of the techniques.

The students presented their creative teaching strategies--not stellar, per se, but a big step up from last term in many senses. And more importantly, they're getting it. Slowly, and in small ways, I am seeing the light come on. They seem to grasp the need, and even more, to want their classrooms to be like this: full of grace, engaging, energized. They seem to want to make the playdough for themselves, craft the games, visit the websites as opposed to me wondering whether any of this would be actually utilized in one of their classrooms.

Later, I shared more ideas for teaching math (er, "maths"), and again allowed the ladies to try out learning centers spread around the perimeter of the room. They seem to eat this up, and I love that they can experience each idea and examine it.

I think I will remember for awhile the moment when, as I slid the last games into my basket after class (the students simply remain there for the next teacher), one of them came before the class and asked for a round of applause for such wonderful material. After a year of various questions of failure, it meant a great deal to experience that sound and those smiles. It reminded me of the verse B. and I talked about over lunch, when I explained to him I didn't have a teaching degree: The leaders saw that Peter and John were not afraid to speak, and they understood that these men had no special training or education. So they were amazed. Then they realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus.

And...I didn't update you on my prayer request for my talk about grace and the Gospel, because I felt the jury was still out. I'd started the talk as I usually do--"how many of you think we can earn our way to heaven?"--and was set back on my heels a bit when every single person, nuns included (I have three, and also a few Muslims), raised their hand. Later I wondered if I'd taken more of a tack of proving my point in a more Western manner rather than just speaking out of my own sheer delight at this incredible gift that has so wholly altered my existence. The English barrier--pointed out to me by a student after class, who subtly indicated I might be talking too fast for students coming from the village--was no help.

But I revisited the topic next week, and was encouraged by a few nods--which turned into a few smiles this week as I elaborated, and continued to point to how grace changes us. Then, how grace turns our classrooms from places of shame and fear to places of courage, confidence, and creativity.

I really don't know what the result of these devotional times are. But I felt like I was finally able to communicate relatively clearlynd like everything else, I find myself praying that God will turn a few crusty loaves and a couple of dead fish into a meal for more than my little mind grasps.

Tossing, counting, and adding balls of newspaper

Introducing science and math concepts with file folder games (

Exploring phonics taught with "word slides"

Using "word wheels" to teach word families

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