Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Rubber is Hitting the Road

This is the time of the teaching year when things start getting great, stressful, frustrating, gratifying, or any other type of emotion or feeling that you can throw in there. I've taught for 5 weeks and it's starting to get to the point where I figure out what kids are learning and what they're not learning. I'm now coming to the realization about how far behind my kids actually are. The majority of my kids are two years behind in reading and all by 5 or 6 are behind in mathematics. It's frustrating. Who's to blame? Do parents not help with homework? Did they have teachers before that didn't care? Is it the school districts fault? What is going on?

If you were to hang out in my classroom you wouldn't see a group of 5th graders that are behind. You'd see smiling faces and a group of students ready to learn. I guess my point is that who cares why they're behind. The point is that they're behind and somebody needs to help close the gap between the kids that are on grade level and the ones that won't make it through high school. It's so funny, when I talk to people about teaching and my classroom they say something along the lines of, "I bet your students love you," and I got to be honest, I don't think a single one does. Am I okay with that? Absolutely. My kids are from rough home lives, poverty, and, in a lot of cases, people have given up on them whether they've realized that yet or not. They don't need to like Mr. Schaefer. They don't need Mr. Schaefer to be their friend and comforter. They need a teacher. They need a teacher that gives a damn about whether they are able to move onto 6th grade and accomplish the goals they have for their lives.

The next few months are going to be tough. I'll need to teach like my hair is on fire. Some kids are going to progress and grow while others will stay on the sidelines, complacent about their education and where their short-lived life is heading. How am I going to continue to get students to believe in the attitude that says, "I can"? Not only "I can" but "I want". Keeping the motivation and growth moving will be put to the test these next few months.

A quick note...between working 60-80 hours a week, getting my apartment broken into, and still being in a stage in my life where I have class and homework, I have become exhausted. So much of the past few months of my life has pushed me to a state of brokenness and humility. Amongst the busyness and stress I have found God in a completely new light. I couldn't be doing any of this without the love, comfort, grace, and power of Christ Jesus. His grace renews my life and keeps me humble on this journey. The growth I've experienced in my spiritual walk has been astounding. Those that have been around me have seen my joy, smiles, and laid back demeanor during the stress of the work week. I have Jesus and I desperately crave to know him more. When I am the most weak that is when Christ is the strongest in my life. When there is nothing else for me to do or say, I can rest in His peace knowing that his grace is enough.

Sorry, that was probably scatterbrained.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Nate Utesch, a friend of mine from Fort Wayne, started a band a few years ago. I absolutely love their sound and the creativity that it stems from. If you get a chance you should go to their Myspace page and take a listen. Or, better yet, go see them live some time.