In the vein of ‘whistle while you work,’ they spice up chores and transport me out of the sardine can of a marshrutka ride home. They set me on new quests for learning, soothe the melancholy of the day, enliven the tedium of a Monday, fuel understanding by challenging my preconceptions, and regale my wit (see what I did there?).
They are the chief way I satisfy my curiosity for a multitude of topics. Some are quite lengthy and others are short and to the point. I can delve deep into one topic or pick up several ideas in quick succession. Continue reading “Favorite Podcasts of 2017”→
My friend, allow me to encourage you by relating my own story. The questions you asked were the same ones I asked of myself at your age. In middle school, I endured daily ridicule, exclusion, taunting, pranks, and physical abuse at the hands of my peers. Continue reading “Dear Keaton Jones,”→
Though I had been mulling over the information for some time, once the trigger was pulled, one week was all it took. While visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Illinois, I brought up some changes I had been considering. In the safety and comfort of their home, we spent the week discussing different ideas, posing and answering various questions, and considering the long-term plan at stake.
For about a year I had been considering a change of career. Though I loved being a teacher, it just wasn’t paying toward my goals and aspirations. Further, the last year of teaching had proven quite difficult; challenges to my integrity, mounting stress under exceeding demands, and unresolved conflicts with the powers that be. (I was also quite worn on the windowless office I inhabited…”Don’t Fence Me In” comes to mind.)
After a week of deliberation, conversations, and phone calls, I was thrust into a new world. By weeks end, I had three prospective jobs with different companies and was enrolled in CDL school. After four years of teaching, I was about to embark on a career as an Over-the-Road Trucker (OTR). (I will pause as you recover from choking on your drink or cleaning up now spattered food.)
Why on earth would I leave the prestigious position of teacher and stoop to a trucker? (One trucker, after learning of my previous career, put it this way: Why are you dumbing yourself down?)
Quite simply put, it is one more step in my pursuit of a simple life.
You can blame Joel Salatin. After graduating college and struggling to find work, I stumbled upon a lecture he gave at Google. From there, it was a landslide of books, documentaries, and discussions with other farmers that an acute desire for a simpler, agrarian based life began to well up. Ever since that initial encounter, I have been on a quest to simplify and work towards a future homestead/farm.
I must seem like a lunatic to many. Indeed, I have received several reactions to verify that notion. A college educated, gifted and successful teacher upending his comfortable, white-collar life in the pursuit of the earthy and agrarian. Why?
It will take several posts to explain all of the facets that culminated in the sudden change of careers, but I hope that through my writings, you will understand my convictions and the reasons this change was necessary. Further, I hope that my life and writings will serve as an impetus for soul-searching, stock taking, and perhaps even a similar change in your own life.
From time to time, I will post from my collection of writings I have amassed while on the road, as well as quotes from readings I am undertaking. When the next change comes, I will chronicle my journey into homesteading.
Though the type of desk may have changed, I am still writing.
If you had previously followed this blog, I thank you. Though it was temporarily hidden because I did not anticipate needing it again, I am back and with a pretty exciting journey to chronicle. The last several years, I have been working with Learning Disability students through the Discovery Program. This year, I have been given the privilege to work with gifted students in what we call the STEWARDS program; a student environment for arduous studies.
This pull-out program for 3-6 grade students, works through differentiated enrichment units. The purpose of these units is to foster the gifts the students have and to train them to be good stewards of those gifts. This year the topics are as follows: Conservation, Architecture, Constellations, Circulatory System, Bizarre Animals, Aerodynamics, Culinary Arts, Inventors/Inventions, and Travel/Touring.
This blog will primarily chronicle the journey that will make up the architecture unit. Why you ask? Because we are not going to be talking about bridges or the history of architectural design. No toothpicks and marshmallows here!
For about three years I have extensively research a growing movement within our country – the Tiny House. Though I am certain I will not live in a house that is a mere 117 sq ft., I might just own one for traveling the country. My vision for this unit consists of briefly covering the history and impact of the movement as well as contrasting the benefits and drawbacks of such houses. Along with that, I thought this unit would prove the ultimate platform for HANDS ON learning.
How would I accomplish this? Why not build one as a class and auction it as a fundraiser?
I laid out this crazy idea, not thinking it would legitimately take hold, and am now at the stage where plans have been purchased, the trailer is being ordered, and timelines are in place. Here is the outline of how it happened…in one weeks time.
Monday – Topic Ideas were given to my boss.
Tuesday – Upon inquiring what project I would consider for the Tiny House unit, I cast the vision for building a house.
Wednesday – Next came the question of cost – a mere $25,000. I thought the project would stop here, but momentum kept building.
Thursday – By this time, the Administration was behind the idea. Now we had to be about finding a donor.
Friday – I participated in a 45 minute meeting with a Lees Summit Plans Examiner, Project Manager, and Planner where preliminary approval was granted!!! (The City is stoked and wants to watch what happens.)
I am completely blown away. We went from concept to preliminary approval in 4 days.
After approval was granted, the search for a donor commenced. Though it was a short time, it seemed to drag on. My hope waned and I began to draw up lesson plan B. The donor deadline came and went without funds. Yet, three days after the deadline, through a providential conversation, a donor stepped forward and is gladly putting forth the whole amount for the project.
I was sitting at home after back-to-school night, pondering what would be taking place in “lesson plan B” when my boss called me and informed me of this incredible provision. I was stunned to say the least. I don’t think I said anything during the conversation except an emotionless OK. I hung up the phone and let the news sink in. I had given up hope, but now I was back in the midst of the project! I raced back to the school at 10pm and began to collect all the material I had shelved and to produce parent letters, schedule spreadsheets, and project timelines.
Since then, many details have fallen into place, and I’m ecstatic to announce the following:
During the 2014-2015 school year, Summit Christian Academy’s Stewards class will be building a Tiny House and auctioning it off as a school fundraiser!
For the last week and a half, I have been pouring over material lists and blue prints. Little by little, I am seeing this grand dream come into reality. Yet, I am still completely blown away that this is actually taking place. (I also have the occasional “What have I gotten myself into” moment). Never did I think it would move beyond a crazy idea! The Lord has already worked in incredible and unexpected ways. What a year this will be!
Professionalism weighs heavy upon me in the midst of anything I do. This attitude was instilled in me by my father who has been a top-notch salesman for over 20 years; often standing within the top 5 sales persons in his company from year to year. Further, professionalism has been in my recent deliberations concerning my career due to a recent survey I embarked upon regarding the doctrine of vocation (perhaps summed up best by Martin Luther when he said: God does not need your works, your neighbor does). Since I have been placed in the field of educational therapy, I am to glorify God in every aspect; one of those aspects involves professionalism and integrity.
It is important for Christians to practice with integrity and professionalism in the midst of a world, especially in special education, that looks down on Christians. However, if Christians are to practice with integrity there must be goals and plans in place for it to occur; professionalism does not occur overnight. Further, I believe that in order to maintain a professional practice, you must always be learning from colleagues and adapting your practice to ensure best practice methods. Professional practice requires ardent work, self-sacrifice, and faithful application of conviction and practice. Accordingly, when reflecting upon my own practice, there are two areas I wish to work on in the coming year in an effort to improve my professional practice.
First, I must be empathetic. I am not naturally empathetic when it comes to educational expectations. I frequently battle the temptation to chalk up a student’s shortcomings to conscious and willful laziness or a failure to apply one’s self adequately (though this does happen from time to time). When reading the chapter entitled “Empathic Intelligence” from The Clinical Practice of Educational Therapy, I was convicted of the role empathy is to play in our educational practice. Though there was much I learned this year regarding empathy and the practice thereof, there is still much I could do: daily practice patience when frustration is evident, continue to provide a safe, encouraging, and personable environment for therapy, and go out of my way to provide positive feedback and encouragement in progress throughout the year.
Second, I resolve to zealously learn my students. My students are made in the image of God and inhabit more than figures on a page; it is imperative that this never leave the forefront of my mind in my practice. As I learned this past year, interaction with my students extends beyond the therapy walls. Moving forward, it is my earnest goal to learn the academic desires, wishes, passions, ambitions, temperaments, study practices, and family dynamics of my students in order to fully accommodates their needs in a manner that involves them and is not merely about them.
What about you? Do you have thoughts regarding professionalism in your vocation? Share them in the comments below and let us begin a dialogue!