Did you know that teachers have back-to-school nightmares? Yup, it's true. For me, I've been having these nightmares about this upcoming school year since the first day of summer (and I'm no even joking).
This school year has brought a ton of changes and a wide range of emotions. Let me outline just a few of them from this first week of school:
Love might be a strange feeling to write about right from the start, but it is true. One of my old co-workers, Spencer Campbell, wrote in his blog about telling his students that he loves them from day one. I really enjoyed reading his post about both the short and long term effects of stating this straight out to your students, so I decided I wanted to try it. I can't lie, I was nervous. But once I said it I realized that I truly do love my students. In fact, I think that is why I have been having back-to-school nightmares all summer; I care so much about them that my anxieties about being a good enough teacher for them spill over into my dreams.
The day before school started, I got a Facebook message from a college friend telling me that a mentor I had once had at another school had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This came to as a total shock for me. Alisha Adams was only a few years older than me and was such a gem. Just this summer I had emailed her to ask for advice for my upcoming adventure of teaching honors. She had responded with a lengthy email providing detailed responses to my questions and offering to share all of her school materials with me.
Her death really shook me, and I cried for a long time. It lead to a deep conversation between Andrew and me about how important it is to cherish life and live worthy of eternal covenants. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to watch Alisha teach. She has always been a great example to me of how to teach with love, energy, and passion. She will be missed.
Alright, while I am excited to be teaching a new grade this year, I think I forgot how stressful it is to start all over from scratch and create brand new curriculum, unit plans, common assessments, etc. It is honestly like going back to my first year teaching (and in case I need to remind you, that year included a lot of tears). I think one problem I have is that in the last few years I have been able to start the school year knowing what to expect throughout the entire year, but now I obviously don't have that. Maybe I need to learn this year to be ok if I have at least the next 2 weeks planned out. I just have so much on my plate that I start to stress about the details, but I can't let myself do that.
Also, I have 2 new teachers working with me. They are awesome, but that still doesn't change the fact that we all are new to this subject and have to create
Alright, now moving past all those heavy emotions, I really did have a great week with my students. I love meeting them and seeing how each class interacts. It's awesome. On Thursday we had Back to School Night, and I did something rather embarrassing.
(PS: this story is best experienced out loud, so read it aloud to get the whole effect). To preface, I am trying to learn my students names, but with 200 kids it is difficult to learn them all in the first few days. So whenever a student would walk up to my table during Back to School Night, I would ask them to give me the first letter of the name and then I'd try to remember from there. This one young woman walks up with her mother and when I ask her for the first letter she says, "M", to which I reply with gusto, "Emily!".....Uhhhh, seriously?! Haha. We laughed about it and then I tried to guess her name again. "Emma!" I said. At this point it was just terribly embarrassing and I felt the need to reassure both mother and daughter that I am qualified to teach high school English. Sheesh.....One this is for sure. I wont forget that girl's name ever! (It ended up being Mariah).
So, yes, this week I have been filled with love for new students, grief at the passing of a friend, nerves at teaching a new subject with new teachers, and laughter at each new crazy experience. I think this is be a roller coaster of a year, but I am excited for all the ways I learn and grow throughout it.
I was blessed to be called as the girl’s camp director and was able to accompany the young women of our ward and stake up to Heber Valley Girl’s Camp in July.
This year’s Youth theme is: “Press Forward with a Steadfastness in Christ”. Piggybacking off this youth theme, the stake chose “Be Brave” as our camp theme this year. We decorated in all things Scottish (like the movie Brave) and our stake YW president even spoke with a Scottish rogue.
Girl’s emulated this theme of “Being brave” every single day at camp. I saw girls being brave as they were strapped into harnesses to go tightrope across two tall trees that led to a zip line. Girls faced their fear as we traversed across wilderness on 3 and 5 mile hikes. They were brave in presenting skits to the rest of the stake YW. The bravery continued as they practiced first aid skills in case of an emergency. I was even pretty brave when I had to leave the safety of the cabin at 3 am to go to the restroom. (I was pretty sure a bear was going to eat me). Luckily, all our bravery was met with success. We learned a lot, made friends, and had a fabulous time at camp.
But are the examples I just gave you the true meaning of the word: Brave? Yes, maybe in a worldly way (and that’s not a bad thing). But I think the church leaders and the Lord wanted us to learn a spiritual aspect of being brave. It takes bravery to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ”.
My favorite part of camp was actually our morning ward devotionals, where I feel we were best able to learn about this theme. Each girl prepared a little thought based on scriptures she was supposed to study during camp. Then a leader or SYCA (one of the older girls camp participants), taught about someone from the scriptures/Gen.Conf talks/Church history who was brave and how we could emulate that bravery in our own lives. Finally, we also enjoyed a little personal scripture study and journaling surrounded by the peace of nature. Through out devotionals, we learned about Esther’s bravery as she went before the king to plead for her peoples’ lives. She was armed with faith and with the fasting and prayers of the Jews, but her calling was still a dangerous one. We studied young David, who although taken from his home at a young age, continued to live the commandments of God and was blessed to be able to interpret Nebikinezer’s dream. I studied about the Mormon pioneers who courageously left their homes and families to follow a prophet everyone said was crazy, but who they knew was called of God. They courageously faced terrible and heart wrenching trials on their journey to the Salt Lake valley, and yet many of them stood fast to their faith and dedication to do what they knew the Lord wanted them to do.
With all of these examples, I learned 3 important characteristics about bravery:
1. Bravery more easily comes with preparation.
… In President Uchtdorf’s Priesthood address in the Oct 2015 conference, he expounds on the story of Daniel interpreting Nebikinezer’s dream. He acknowledges how much easier it would have been for Daniel if he had simply gone along “with the ways of Babylon. He could have set aside the restrictive code of conduct God had given the children of Israel. He could have feasted on the rich foods provided by the king and indulged in the worldly pleasures of the natural man. He would have avoided ridicule. He would have been popular. He would have fit in. His path might have been much less complicated. That is, of course, until the day when the king demanded an interpretation of his dream. Then Daniel would have found that he, like the rest of Babylon’s wise me had lost his connection to the true source of light and wisdom.” (end quote) Yes, in our lives there are many times when it seems too difficult to stand up for truth and righteousness, but we will be grateful we kept the commandments, especially when we can count on the blessings of the Lord through the most difficult trials.
I love the idea of seeing this preparation as arming yourself with the armor of the Lord (read D&C 27:15). If we have his whole armor, we are promised that we will be able to withstand ALL the evils that come our way. And so bravery can certainly come more naturally when we are prepared.
2. Bravery in a higher purpose is easier and sacrifice becomes more meaningful.
…In the scripture examples I mentioned before (Esther, David, pioneers, etc.) they were all faced with possible death. Why then were they still willing to do what they did? Why would they be ok with possibly losing their own lives? It was because they knew what their task was and who was supporting them: God. In the Book of Mormon, I’ve always found it interesting the different ways it describes the Lamanites style of fighting compared to the Nephites. At one point, it says that the Lamanites fount like lions. They were fierce, blood thirsty, and they desperately wanted to win so this fueled their passion in war. However, not long after the Nephites are described as fighting like dragons. If you ask me, dragons trump lions every time. So what was the difference that made the Nephites so much more powerful? It was their purpose. The Nephites fought for their families, and their freedoms, and their God. These much more noble purposes helped them have greater bravery and strength.
For us, if we are familiar with the plan of salvation. If we listen to the instructions God gives us through he appointed prophets and apostles. If we know his voice through the scriptures and personal revelation, then when he asks us to do something that seems difficult we can bravely reply as Nephi did “I will go and Do”. Why? Because we it is God’s will and he will lead our paths. Once again, we can be filled with an added measure of bravery.
3. We don’t have to be brave alone.
… The Lord will always support us as we do righteous actions. Even Christ told his disciples that he must leave them, but that he would leave the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to teach and provide peace. As baptized members of the church, we have been given this gift: The gift of the Holy Ghost.
Not only that, but the Lord has also provided us with other good people to support us. We have friends, family, and church members/leaders who are there to listen to us, bouey us up in times of trial, provide inspired council, and love us. Yes, the Lord is definitely mindful of us. He knows that mortality will require great courage and bravery to live his gospel and one day return to live with Him. But he has not left us to move through our trials alone.
Here I was thinking that I would be a dedicated blogger during the summer months, and the truth of the matter is the summer is almost over and my blog has been left desolate. Life has been busy....but it hasn't been THAT busy.
So forgive me while I try to go back into time to recount some of the summer festivities.
Our 4th of July festivities were rather tame this year (especially when compared to last year when we almost died on the treacherous "floating" of the Provo River). The afternoon was spent with some family at the pool. Bobby and Heidi as well as Ben and Olivia came over to enjoy a cool swim in the warm July sun. We later went to get shaved ice with Ben and Olivia. And the highlight of the day was when I taught Charlotte how to balance a spoon on her nose. We ended up going to the West Jordan Rec Center park to see the fireworks. They were wonderful, but I fell asleep before the ended.
And that was the end of our patriotic celebration.
The Beach House
Our week in Newport was incredibly relaxing and fun. It is the perfect vacation where people can do whatever they need to throughout the day. We had a tent set up by the water all day, a volleyball net hung in the evening. delicious food, bike rides the the pier, ferry ride to Balboa Island,
Some highlights from the week include:
Girl's Camp in Heber
Girl's Camp is the last big summer activity I need to report on. This year our stake was able to have camp at the Heber Valley Girl's Camp. It is a camp especially dedicated to serve the young women of the church. There are missionary couples up there who manage the various camp sites, and they told us multiple times how this was a sacred mountain that fulfilled President Hinkley's vision of a special space especially for the young women.
I was grateful for the opportunity to go to camp. I felt like it was a strengthening experience for me as well as for the young women in my ward. Getting up early to start the day with a devotional and personal scripture reading was really refreshing. It brought the spirit into my day right from the start. Then throughout the day we were able to participate in a myriad of activities to strengthen us both physically as well as spiritually. We made crafts, suffered together on hikes, found nature-related scriptures, rowed in canoes on a lake, sang songs together, participated in team-building ropes course games, made and presented skits, learned survival techniques in certification classes, cooked and ate together, roasted marshmallows by a campfire, and shared our thoughts and feelings during a testimony meeting. It was a great week and I felt so privileged to get to know many of the girls in our stake. They are some choice young women. I was rejuvenated by the spirit I felt at camp, and I hope to live so that I can keep that spirit in my life.
So that's that, a quick overview of our summer. Hopefully this blogger wont go MIA once the craziness of school starts in just a few short weeks.
Andrew and Maichael
Check out our About page to learn buckets about us.