Middle School Update
March 18, 2016
Are you tired?
The last two weeks before spring break always seem to last forever. It's the end of the quarter, we're tired, it's hot, the kids are irritable, and the list goes on. One thing that helps is to focus on gratitude. Try to look for the good things and cling to those. For example, I was dealing with a bullying issue this week. One girl came to me to talk about it. She said that she wasn't involved and didn't want to take sides, but her commitment on her "because I said I would card" was to "stand up for people who are being bullied." That's awesome. An SAT leader asked for advice in dealing with two boys who have questions about baptisms but come from Buddhist homes. God is good! After dealing with a couple of sets of angry parents and several other meetings, I spent 30 minutes with a group of girls making craft projects to sell as a fundraiser. What joy! Next weekend is Easter Sunday. Remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf is certainly a reason to be grateful. So in the midst of this difficult season, I challenge you to find things to be grateful for. I also found a great devotional on not growing weary in doing good, which I'm sharing below. Hang in there!
Do Not Grow Weary In Doing Good
There is a certain type of Chinese Bamboo that is extremely unique in its process of germination. In fact, it is a process that takes over 4 years before its growth is visible to the farmer. Can you imagine planting a seed and having to wait years before you even begin to see so much as a sprout? Somewhere along the way wouldn’t you just give up and find another way to spend your time? Apparently this bamboo is well worth the wait. Paul says our willingness to do good and wait for the harvest we will reap is a very similar process to the growth of this bamboo.
Paul says that we might fool ourselves into thinking that somehow if we sow seeds of our flesh we are going to miraculously reap a harvest of the Spirit, but we surely will not fool God. He knows exactly what we are sowing and where we are sowing it. His expectations are that we would sow seeds of the Spirit, and as Paul mentions specifically here in Galatians – seeds of doing good.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
If Paul warns that we should not become weary in doing good, the implication there is that it is very possible we could become weary in our efforts to do good. Why? What would cause us to become weary? Well, what might cause us to walk away from the Chinese bamboo in the second year of germination after we have nurtured it every day since we planted it? I can only speak for myself but I would seriously question my efforts if after that period of time, I saw that my efforts had produced nothing. I would grow weary because I wasn’t receiving some sort of gratification and my gratification could only come by seeing a sprout coming from that little bamboo seed. In the same way, I believe we could grow weary in doing good if we didn’t get the results we expected. Maybe someone didn’t say thank you, or maybe they were unappreciative in their attitude, or even worse – maybe they were taking advantage of us. If we set our hearts on receiving the accolades of man in our efforts of doing good, we will surely become hurt, disappointed, and weary.
On the other hand, if we set our hearts on doing good to honor God, we will experience a different outcome completely. In fact Paul says that in the proper time we will reap a harvest from the seeds we have sown; on one condition. That condition is that we must not give up. We can not become weary and quit. I believe that is because continuing in our efforts without immediate results helps us to examine our motives and keep our pride in check. If we will meet that condition and not give up, God promises us that we will reap a harvest when His time is right. Mark it down, it is coming.
So what are we to do then? Paul says:
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
When God presents the opportunity for us to do good, as He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10), we are to fulfill our calling. In fact, we are to be committed to a lifestyle where we are ever open to such opportunities. Paul says we are to do good to all people, but especially those who are among the body of believers. Above all else, we are to care for each other. Jesus gave a command to his disciples saying that they were to love one another as he had loved them. As other people saw that deep compassion in their lives they would immediately identify them as Jesus’ disciples. Isn’t that what we are striving for as well? I certainly don’t want other people to identify me as a Christian because I am wearing a John 3:16 T-shirt but rather because they see a compassionate heart within me that motivates me to care for other people. Therefore, I need to be committed, all-in, to watching for those opportunities to display that compassion.
The Chinese Bamboo
After four to five years of constant nurturing a sprout with finally pop through the surface of the dirt. When it does, you better stand back. According to some reports, when the sprout breaks the dirt the bamboo can experience a growth rate of approximately 15ft per week, for six weeks, until it tops out around 90ft tall. That’s nearly 2ft of growth per day! Well worth waiting for wouldn’t you say? Just imagine if the farmer had become weary and given up. Nobody would have been able to see the glory of God’s creation through the amazing growth of a little bamboo seed.
I hope you have found this week’s time in Galatians rewarding, relevant, and have applied something from God’s word to your life. It’s time to pack up camp and head off from the book of Galatians and onto our next destination along The Journey.
March 18: PTO International Food Fair and Jr. for Hire
March 21: Grades due by 8 AM
March 21-25: No X Blocks for MS
March 22: Divisional Meeting, 4 PM: Q4 dates; learning expectations rubrics
March 23: 1/2 day for students; parent-teacher conferences from 2-6; BBQ lunch for MS Teachers!
March 25: No Uniform Day
March 26-April 2: Mid-Semester Break
March 27: Easter Sunrise Service, 7 AM
April 6-8: 8th grade trip
April 15: Service Learning Day.1/2 Day/Organize Dalat Depot/JSB
April 18: No School
Top 10 Active Learning Structures: Turn and Talk/Partner Share
When I went to the Kagan conference in Singapore, my biggest take-away came in the form of this active learning structure. Though I don’t remember much of the technical vocabulary we were taught at the conference, I remember a story that one of the presenters, Rob Jutras, shared. He described consulting at a school in Texas where a history teacher would bore his students to tears with 45 minutes of dry lecture each day. The history teacher, though steeped in his traditional form of lecture, welcomed Rob’s input. Rob decided to start small and asked the history teacher to use a timer to help himself to remember to speak for 7 minutes and then ask a question and give the students time to turn and talk about the question. The history teacher faithfully executed this strategy, and when Rob returned the following year, he could not believe the difference. The students were engaged and enthusiastic. Just the simple act of giving them time to reflect had made a dramatic shift in the whole atmosphere of the classroom.
I took this story to heart and have committed to pausing for reflection at key intervals throughout my class time if I am doing direct instruction. I have learned, though, that the strength of this strategy lies in asking good questions for students to process. If the question is too simplistic or is unclear, students don’t take the discussion seriously. (The best scenario is to have the question up on a slide so that students are clear about what they’re discussing.) Also, I’ve learned that I need to walk around as they’re discussing the question(s) to give accountability to staying on task. It is always so gratifying to hear students discussing and debating together! In summary, this strategy is one of the easiest to use and yet has an incredible amount of potential to help students engage with what they’re learning. I encourage you to keep experimenting with the best way to use it in your context.