Sunday, April 24, 2011

Have I Ever Said That I Hate SPD?

Have I ever said that I hate SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)?

It breaks my heart to watch Bryson become overwhelmed with emotion for relatively trivial occurrences.  Here are two examples of what I mean; they both happened in the last two days

While playing outside, I decided to put the basketball up that was in the street. Instead of picking up the ball though, I kicked it to the house.  Before it landed in the desired spot, the ball knocked over my glass of tea.  Upon seeing the ice and tea saturate the driveway, Bryson put his hands to his ears and began to cry hysterically.  I asked him what was wrong and he explained that my tea was knocked over and now I would not have any tea to drink.  Why did he get so emotional over my tea? I tried to explain to him that it didn't bother me, but that didn't relieve his emotional battle.

After building two churches with his blocks, Bryson called mommy and sister to come admire our creation.  The girls stayed in the room for a little while and then the church was knocked over. Bryson's world fell apart.  He didn't understand why the church was knocked over and why I was cleaning up the blocks before bedtime. His hands went to his ears and he continued to cry. He was deeply hurt that the building was knocked over and that I was putting the blocks away.  We rarely play with the blocks, and he has never really cared about them this much.  Why did he care so much this time?

I can tell when the emotional response is an SPD response because he puts his hands to his ears.  I guess he is trying to crawl inside himself for protection like a turtle.  I want to protect him...but I can't.  I want to cry when I watch him hurting so badly.

I love my son so much, and I hate what SPD does to his responses and emotions.  

Use Bryson's SPD for your glory and keep him safe while you do please.  Give me the wisdom to know how to comfort him in these emotional times...

Christmas-Easter Christians

I have the tendency to say things that are different or against the grain. It’s nothing new; I don’t know why my mind and mouth work that way. Sometimes I find myself arguing a point I don’t believe in simply to argue and debate. I love the mind workout that it gives (that is not what I am doing here!). With Easter here, I have made a few comments about the pagan ritual, as I do at Christmas.

My real issue is the worship of Jesus Christ. I do not get excited for holidays like Christmas and Easter because I think that the celebration of Christ’s birth and resurrection should be a daily outpouring of praise and worship. God’s word commands us to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) and I think that celebrating his incarnation is important too.
Eggs, trees, lights, etc. can all be connected to with a Christian analogy, and I do not have a problem with those analogies. My only concern is that our celebration of God on a “Holy Day” or a “Holy Week” detracts from his worship the rest of the year. Are we gathering with believers in homes and in corporate places to celebrate Christ throughout the weeks and months that are not “Holy,” or are we going through the motions the rest of the year?
My family dyes eggs, hunts eggs, puts up lights, and decorates a tree, but we are mindful to celebrate Jesus daily in life and often with other Christians. We talk about Jesus year long and seek to see Jesus lifted high throughout the year. If you take offense to me trying to lift up Jesus and downplay the rituals, so be it. However, ask yourself why you are taking offense to my words (John 15:18).
My goal is to bring the idea up and have people reexamine their hearts because I believe that Jesus expects and deserves more from us than a holy week and Christmas. Let us give him our entire calendar! Jesus is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Student Personalities

While I was mowing this morning, I was contemplating the students in my classes and their specific motivations. In college and seminary I worked as a youth minister in two different Southern Baptist churches for three years each (one in Texas and one in North Carolina). Now that I am into my second year teaching middle school students, I am noticing many similarities between the actions and motivations of youth group members and students. Here are a few ‘types’ of students that I have noticed. For the sake of the students that I have taught, none of the names that I use will be real name.

1. Sold-Out Samantha
Samantha is the child that is always on time and able to answer any question with a logical and thoughtful answer. Samantha is not always right, but will learn, grow, and take the initiative to find out information that is difficult.
2. Questioning Quinn
Quinn is always waiting for someone to mess up. He plays the Devil’s Advocate in almost every situation and wants to exploit the exception to the rule. Quinn keeps the teacher on his/her toes and is never satisfied with black and white answers.
3. Go Along Ginny
Ginny will agree with and defend the last idea that was presented. It is easy to persuade Ginny, but she won’t stay faithful to the idea if another comes along. Ginny is fun to be around but is not very reliable. There is no investigation for Ginny; she has very few probing questions. Everything is about the answer for Ginny.
4. Tag Along Taylor
Taylor loves to be involved. He will go along with everything but will not invest in anything. Taylor will be a part of the group unless there is something more fun to do. He is always entertaining and loves to be the center of attention.
5. Filler Frank
Frank is the person that you are always forgetting their name. They do not talk much or do much but are simply a number in the room. Frank is usually day dreaming and usually has a parent or other influence making them attend.
6. Corrupter Kristine
Kristine loves to get the group off task. She takes personal responsibility to try and steer students away from productive activities. Kristine is usually a fairly popular kid who knows how to interfere just when a genuine connection with the subject matter is reached.
7. Testimony Tim
Tim rarely talks about anything except his own personal experience. Every comment (his or others) is followed by a story about when something happened to them. Only occasionally does the story stay on topic with the discussion.
8. Periodic Paul
Paul is unpredictable. He is usually well liked but rarely shows up two days in a row. Paul catches on quickly, and when he is present, joins the group like he is never gone.
9. Poor Me Patricia
Patricia usually has the hurt puppy dog look and waits for someone to ask her how she is doing or why she is sad. She feeds off of sympathy and others feeling sorry for her. Except for special cases, Patricia comes from a good home and loves to be catered to and babied. There is rarely anything substantially wrong in her life.
10. Bounce off The Walls Ben
Ben will never sit still. He is always moving and finding an excuse to leave the room during a quiet time. Ben shows up late, stays late, and is always being asked to calm down and listen. Ben asks many questions after the directions are given because he was not listening to the directions.
These are just a few thoughts I had. Students are all different and can be a combination of any of these descriptions, but thinking about these personalities leads me to thinking about each of their motivations to be that way. What is their motivation to act that way? What is their motivation to learn? What outside motivation do they have? What sort of outside support do they have for their learning and growing? I hope to answer these questions over the next few days.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Cartoon by

I got this in my email today. More cuts and less pay.

Wow...I think I am going to be sick. We are already drowning.

Deep budget cuts proposed in the N.C. House Appropriations Education Subcommittee will greatly harm public education in this state!!! Below is a news release from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction with comments from the N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Chairman of the N.C. State Board of Education opposing these suggested cuts. Public school employees and public school parents are urged to contact their legislators! Spread the word!

Terri Hedrick
Public Information Officer

have received this last night, so this is a resend. I apologize if you
receive this twice. Thanks, Vanessa Jeter

News editors: Please see the following news release from the NC State
Board of Education and NC Department of Public Instruction. If you need
to schedule interviews or need additional information on this, please
reply to this email or contact the NC DPI Communications office at 919-
807- 3469 (Vanessa Jeter); or 919- 807- 3475 (Lynda Fuller). Additional
budget- related information resources also are online at under the 2011- 13 Biennial Budget link.

For immediate release
April 12, 2011
Subcommittee Education Budget would Cut Public Schools, Turn Back
Deep public schools cuts totaling nearly $1 billion announced today as
part of the House Appropriations Education Subcommittee*s budget would
push the state*s public schools backward and closer to the bottom of
the nation in per pupil funding, according to State Board of Education
Chairman Bill Harrison and State Superintendent June Atkinson.
Harrison said that the State Board of Education had expected cuts
during this very difficult fiscal time, but that they had held out hope
that the cuts would not move the state backward.
*This budget would push our schools to a level of very bare- bones
opportunities for students and for educational innovation,* Harrison
said. *I am concerned for local superintendents who will have to find
ways to meet students* educational needs with fewer school- based
staff, without appropriate diagnostic tools for students and with limits
regarding where they can make cuts to meet the state*s $305 million
*discretionary* cut that local schools are already required to
The 8.8 percent cut to public schools is in addition to the existing
$305 million discretionary cut built into the recurring budget.
Together, these cuts would total a 13.28 percent or a nearly $1 billion
cut for public schools in 2011- 12. Because of limits to what school
districts are allowed to cut by the General Assembly under proposed
special provisions, this leaves districts with few choices about where
to make cuts to reach their spending reduction targets. This is the
third consecutive year of public school budget cuts although student
enrollment continues to grow.
As anticipated, the budget presented today would continue larger class
sizes in grades 4- 12; would cut personnel who support students and
teachers; would end teacher assistants in second and third grades; and
would trim assistant principals by one- fifth.
The budget also would eliminate funds for student diagnostics, a key
tool for teachers to address student- learning problems as soon as they
arise. The proposed budget would move the successful More at Four
education program for disadvantaged 4- year- olds from the education
arena to the Department of Health and Human Services. Transportation
funds, already short by nearly $18 million because of increasing fuel
prices, would take an additional $20 million hit. The discretionary
reduction would be increased by nearly $42 million in 2011- 12 and
increased again by $106 million in 2012- 13.
*This budget positions North Carolina schools to operate in only the
most limited fashion,* said State Superintendent June Atkinson.
*Taken together, all of these cuts would severely limit what local
schools will be able to offer to students and will jeopardize more than
25 years of progress in our state.*
The budget also includes a 25.58 percent cut to the NC Department of
Public Instruction, just as the Department has added significant duties
and responsibilities including management of the state*s competitive
Race to the Top federal grant, intervening in 213 low performing schools
and 12 school districts, managing the residential schools for the blind
and deaf that were once managed by the NC Department of Health and Human
Services, and providing support and oversight to charter public schools,
a group that is expected to grow significantly in coming years. The cuts
would completely eliminate the Teacher Academy and the NC Center for the
Advancement of Teaching. Cuts of this magnitude would alter the services
provided by NCDPI to local school districts, forcing districts to assume
some of these duties themselves.
Harrison, who served for 18 years as a local school superintendent in
North Carolina before becoming State Board of Education Chairman, said
that his districts had depended on many of the services provided by
NCDPI, including teacher licensure, school business and information
technology support and curriculum development. *But once I came to
Raleigh and saw first- hand the complexities of running a statewide
system of public schools, I recognized how important the services of the
Department of Public Instruction were to small and medium- sized school
districts in our state.*
Currently, North Carolina ranks 46th in per pupil funding for public
schools and 45th in teacher pay. The two are closely linked because
teacher pay is a large percentage of the cost of running public schools.
Student performance, in fact, outpaces funding rankings for North
Carolina schools. North Carolina ranks 37th in SAT scores; 12th in ACT
scores; and 12th in fourth grade mathematics, 31st in 4th grade reading,
26th in 8th grade math, 38th in 8th grade reading, all according to the
National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I got sick today…

I got sick today watching the HMS baseball team give away our baseball game. The players (with the exception of three or four) were not playing baseball very well. There was very little hustle, enthusiasm, and focus. While watching the game, I noticed so many areas of the game that need addressed, but I know that there is too little time to address all of the issues in practice. As I drove home, I could not stop thinking about all of the work that needs to be done.
The issue is not that our players are bad. We have a good, athletic team, but most of the players have not been around quality baseball in the past. Some of them have played in the sub-par rec. league and others play on their gaming systems, but very few of them have ever seen good baseball modeled for them. Therefore, we must teach or re-teach correctly every aspect of the game.
After acknowledging this fact, I started to think about the classroom. It seems that at the 7th grade level, my students are very similar to the baseball players. They have not had very good reading and writing modeled for them. I feel like I am having to teach and re-teach every aspect of reading and writing which is keeping us from moving onto critiquing literature and critical thinking.
Without a core knowledge of baseball and a core knowledge of reading and writing, it feels impossible to have the students or athletes excel in their respective environments. We are fighting against years of neglect and bad habits. It makes me sick to see the struggles that my athletes and students have to perform average and even less than average work. However, I know that my passion to see the change is what the student and athletes need to begin the process of producing quality and meaningful work.