In Class

Right now my 8th graders are working on model volcanoes and earthquakes so I thought I would take this time to update my blog again.  I realized that in order to update this regularly I needed to take any time I could!  So here we go! : )

Lot’s goes on in the day-to-day life of a teacher but it’s hard sometimes to put it into words or to see how it all fits into the “grand scheme” of being in Bethlehem.

Today is our last day of school before Thanksgiving break and the Eid Al Adha.  I think the teachers are more excited than the students about this 5-day weekend!  I’m finally going to get to see the tourist sites in Jerusalem – the garden tomb, the ramparts of the old city, and enshallah the Dome of the Rock!

This is what I see everymorning from my bedroom window!

Every day I get up at 6 am and watch the sunrise.  I don’t get up just for the sunrise, but it is beautiful and worth watching.  From there I check my facebook (which usually has no activity) and my email (which has even less activity).  Then I get dressed for school and start collecting my books and papers or finish any last minute planning I may have for the day.  I’m downstairs by 7 each morning.  I organize my classroom – straighten the desks, get my books in order, pick up any trash – before going outside to greet the students and other teachers as they come in for the day.  Some students get hugs, some get high-5s.  Some I talk to in my broken Arabic.  Most get English!  The bell rings at 8 and the day officially begins.

My first period class is probably my favorite to teach.  Not necessarily because I love them more but because the combination of subject matter, time of day, and personalities of students creates a fun environment to teach in.  This is the 8th grade class that is with me right now.  They seems to enjoy learning more than any other class I teach and they seem to enjoy me more regularly than any other class I teach.

They also include some of my closest students and some who make me laugh a lot.  There’s Lucy (because she treats her little brother like Lucy treats Charlie Brown) who was the first “student-friend” I had here.  She is a sweetheart and I enjoy talking to her.  Sometimes she’s dark in her humor but that just adds to her charm and character.  She thinks differently than most of my other students (and most of the people I know) – deeper, more complex – and this gives her an air of maturity that other kids her age just do not possess.  Plus she’s super cute!  Then there’s Zac (because he’s the Zac Efron of the 8th grade class).  He makes me laugh a lot because he’s so completely random and carefree.  And that’s just two of them!  I have one student in the 8th grade who has a baby face and he’s fun to smack (a very Arab thing).  And the girl whom I think is the smartest person I have ever met (and one of the hardest workers too) is in this class.  She and I have had a few deep conversations about life and education and things like that.

My second period is my only prep period but instead of using that time for school stuff, I attend the 9th grade Bible class.  This is fun because I’m seen differently in this class as I am in the classes I teach.  They also like to comment on their science during Bible just for my benefit!

Third period is my 10th grade class.  What I like about this class is they are older so I can trust them with more responsibility.  So they get to eat in class and sit wherever they want and things like that.  This is, unfortunately, my least favorite subject to teach.  : /  But this class also has some great students whom I enjoy hanging out with.  This is considered the basketball class since half of the class is on the basketball team (both boys and girls).  One student in particular did not like me at first, but we have since become “friends.”  She still isn’t ready to admit that but I do and I tell her that as often as possible.  She and I talk online most every night for a few hours (or more).  She is an amazing girl who has a bright and beautiful future ahead of her.  God has something extra special planned for this one because she is trying so hard to derail Him and failing in most cases.

After that we have break (kind of like lunch without a cafeteria).  We sell snacks in a canteen and play basketball or soccer in the courtyard.

Fourth period is my first of two classes with 6th grade.  They are a … lively bunch of students but mostly good kids.  There are a few of them that really make me laugh and there are a few who really make me yell.  This class does not enjoy learning and are already trying hard to get out of everything they can.  They are also the class with the most amount of “Miss, somebody did this to me” whining.  It’s annoying!  I’ve been taking their desks away when they get in trouble (that’s their first warning) and if they get kicked out of class they miss their break.  I have also scolded them often enough for their whining that now all I have to say is, “Are you whining?” and they stop and say, “No Miss!”

Then I have afternoon break with the elementary school.  More snacks and much more playing and running!

Fifth period is … *sigh* 9th grade.  These are the laziest kids I have EVER worked with!  Instead of studying and using their time wisely, they scheme and manipulate to get out of things.  Today they have a BIG test over the entire periodic table of elements.  Most of this class is already failing and this test will just put the final nail in their coffins.  7aram!  Well actually, I don’t feel that sorry for them because I’ve done everything I can to help them learn it, but they refuse!  I can’t MAKE them do it … all I can do is give them the opportunity.

There are a few students in this class that aren’t like this.  Baby Sister is my adopted sister (her and her two older sisters … and their parents are my adopted parents).  She is a leader in the classroom and a caring friend to her classmates.  Baby Sister acts very different at home and school … which is fun for me.  I also (since I’m the oldest sister) get to ground her and give other punishments if I feel they are fit.  Right now she’s grounded from facebook and MSN/email for three weeks (I even changed her passwords)!  Then there’s Roxanne (because she looks like the character from A Goofy Movie).  She is a sweet girl of about 5 feet 2 inches who is a great ball of obsession.  She obsesses over boys and movies and music and … school (but it’s different).  She’s a great student but her voice is almost always a perpetual whine.  She gets mad easily and quickly at me but we can usually work it out in a day or less.  But she’s a dear sweet girl who makes me giggle!

Sixth period (always makes me think of the song from the Evens Stevens Musical Episode) is my second class with 6th grade.  They are … worse in this class than in the previous one with them.  They enjoy the subject though and bombard me with answers to questions I haven’t even asked yet.

In all my classes I have a system.  The students earn brownie points when they impress me (they are kind of like the points on Who’s Line Is It Anyway … they are arbitrary and almost pointless).  These points can be earned by treating each other with kindness, helping someone, getting good grades, standing up for “the underdog,” good behavior – really anything can earn you points.  But points can be lost by the opposite of all those things.  Once a class gets to 1000 points they have a party.  So far my 8th and 10th graders have had a party and are well on their ways to party #2.

After school I have tutoring, drama, basketball, or small group depending on the day of the week.  These last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.  All (except tutoring – which I call Teacher Detention) bring joy to my heart and ache to my head.  But I love them!

After this my day involves individual time with students (usually on MSN), time with my adopted family, and time working on the next day or grading that days work.  All in all about 75% of my time is spent doing something school related.  And I wouldn’t change it for all the riches in the world!

You may wonder: How is God moving here?  My answer would be, “How is He not?!”

God moves and stirs in these kids hearts every day.  I have students who have gone from troublemaker to sweetheart.  In some classes the kids who were failing are now succeeding.  And in others I have found new ways to interact with the tough kids to get them out of their shell.

One student loves Jesus but is in a very powerful Muslim family but he can’t help himself from participating in Bible class and talking about Jesus!

One kid can’t stop smiling because Jesus lives inside him (he, too, is from a Muslim family) and it is Jesus’ sweetness that permeates from him.

One girl can’t stop asking questions about God and the Bible.  She’s extremely curious saying that she wants to make sure she believes the right thing – the Truth.

One girl (whom I don’t teach) came up to me just yesterday to tell me that she wants to talk to me.  When we briefly spoke she told me how she feels about herself and then said, “No one knows this Miss Laura but I knew you would care.”  I just hugged her and told her we needed to get together soon to talk more.

I could continue telling stories of students like these who may not recognize God moving in their lives but know that something is changing.  It’s AWESOME to see!

Well I think that’s about it for today!

Prayer Requests – 1. That my students desire to learn! 2. SLEEP 3. More creativity in the classroom to pick up the students who are falling behind 4. Even more love! 5. More supporters both praying for me and financially sustaining me.

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