Pity Party's Over - Time to Flush

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Do you ever just mentally wake up one day and realize enough is enough?

I've slowly come to this point in my life.

Things have been downright sucky these past two years. I could go on and on about how sucky. I could give explicit detail, down to the nitty gritty suckiness of it all. But I won't.

I won't because it doesn't do you (or me) a bit of good to dwell on how sucky things are and how much we can't control them. Sometimes, it just is. I could easily wax philosophic about the meaning of it all. Why we struggle the way we struggle? Why some people seem to struggle more than others? And most importantly, why some people seem to come out of their struggles stronger, while others come out strangled (figuratively, speaking)?

I could address this now, but I'm not going to. I don't feel qualified right now to even begin to theorize these questions. Because when it comes right down to it, I'm currently in the middle of my struggle and I cannot make sense of it all - and to do so would be arrogant, if not, presumptuous.

I'd rather approach this subject at a later time, when I feel more equipped to give you the I-was-down-and-out-but-God-saw-me-through speech. I have no doubt that I'm going to come out the other side of this struggle stronger and wiser.  (I already did it once before.) I do trust God. I don't know His timing. I don't know His purpose. And I don't know what He wants me to learn in all of this.

But I've recently come to a conclusion. I need to be present in the journey.

In the past, when I've come through struggles, I only reflected after I was through the valley. While I was in it, I kicked and screamed wanting out of it as quick and as painless as possible. I feel my response to trouble is very, very human. After all, who enjoys struggle? Who enjoys pain? No one.

But maybe part of trusting God and His timing is to attempt to see the 'Why' in everything?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you"

  • Truth: God not only has a plan for you, he knows His plan. In other words, He's not flying by the seat of His pants thinking, "Let's see what happens." No. He knows. 
"Plans to prosper and not harm you"

  • Truth: God is not out to 'get you'. I don't believe we are punished by God. I think the plans He has for us are good. He is not out to hurt you. He wants the best for you.
"plans to give you hope and a future"

  • Truth: Our hope is in Him. Our future is in Him.
So, knowing these truths, can we ask ourselves why we go through trials and tribulations? We surely can.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance. Perservance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
"No only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perservarance; perserverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."  Romans 5:3-5 
If we want to be completely honest with ourselves, when we reflect back on our hard times, those are the times when we grew - in our faith, withinin our relationships, and closer to God. And at the very least (as has been my experience), in my deepest and darkest moments when I wasn't walking closely with God, looking back, I can I see that He never left me. What an awesome truth!

I say all this to say that I've had a little pity party with myself for quite some time. I call it the Pity Pot. And I say it's time to flush. (Yes, it's a little crass - but is the visual not perfect?)

Nothing much has changed in my situation. I don't foresee anything changing tomorrow. Or next week. Or quite possibly, next month. My situation is going to take time to get through. I've been kicking and pouting, wanting it over for awhile now. I want my situation over. I want things better. Of course I do. I'm only human.

But much of my situation is out of my direct control. I can't "fix" it. And maybe that's a good thing. If there was a problem and I was able to fix it, would I learn anything from it? Would I grow?

Probably not.

Instead, I'm going to pause and think: "What am I to learn from this experience?" (Full disclosure: The idea was not my own. I've been talking to some very wise and God-fearing women. Or more likely, the Holy Spirit has been talking to me through them.) And if we subscribe to the idea that life has purpose (I believe it does) and that life is a journey (I'm starting to believe it is), then the purpose is in the journey. It's not the end game. It's the game itself.

I'm going to embrace my journey - embrace my race - and watch and see how God is going to use it for His glory.

Until next time,
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Life as a Paraprofessional vs. Life as a Teacher: Part 3

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This is the third part to a 3-part series chronicling my take on the differences between a job as a paraprofessional and a job as a teacher. (View Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Let me preface this list by saying that I believe that paras and teachers have the potential to equally rock the education world. They can love and nurture students in a way that only an educator can. They can help students become great.

That said - there are some definite differences between paraprofessionals and teachers. This list is not to say one is better than the other. Rather this is meant as a tongue-in-cheek comparison of how I perceive the differences of a paraprofessional's job and a teacher's job. (And any teacher who has worked as a para or vice versa should be able to relate to my list.)

Calendar Reduction Days – “Yay! I get another day off. Yeah, it kind of stinks that it’s a Calendar Reduction Day, but hey – a day off is a day off!”

Calendar Reduction Days – “Another day of instruction lost! Sure, I get a break…but getting these kids back on schedule is going to be quite the challenge come {insert day of the week, here}.
Pay Days – “I worked all month for this?”

Pay Days – “I worked all month for this?”
Relationship with Students – “Good Cop” As a para, I was able to be “nicer” and more of a friend. When I had to discipline students, it was because it was Classroom Teacher’s Rules (as I would tell the students). This supported the classroom teacher, but looking back, it probably put her in worse light with the students that what was necessary.

Relationship with Students – “Good Cop w/ Bad Cop”  thrown into the mix. As a teacher, I make the rules and all of them are in the students’ best interest.  As a result, I’m not seen as lenient as a para might be because I’m looking at the big picture: What do I want to teach this student? What do I want this student to get out of an experience? And in the case of social skills, how can I teach this student proper skills? Nine times out of ten, it is through routine and consistency. Oftentimes, it is black and white with no grey in between.
Summers – 10 weeks of not thinking *anything* about work and enjoying some fun in the sun

Summers – Down time is important for teachers, and we’ll get it. But we’re also thinking about next year, planning for next year and gearing up for next year.   
Responsibilities – “What do you want me to do?” As a para, even if you take the initiative, you always refer back to your lead teacher – what does she want done, how does she want it done, etc.

Responsibilities – “What needs to be done?” As a teacher, you run the show. There is no one to refer to – you’re it. You’re calling the shots. It’s a whole different ball of wax. (How many clich├ęs can I fit into one bullet point?) The long and short of it is: You are responsible for every single human being in your room, whether they are a Little or a classroom helper.
Duties – Hands-on, deep in the trenches. Yes, paras do a lot of the dirty work, often more than the teacher. As a para, I didn’t quite understand why.

Duties – Hands-on, deep in the trenches PLUS the bookkeeping side of things. Take care of the student. Teach the student. And please turn in 23, 654 reports/forms by the end of the week.

This first year as a teacher (which I'll delve into at a later date), has been an eye-opening experience. Viewing teachers from a para's eyes, you're not always sure why teachers do what they do. You're not sure why the act the way they act. You don't know why they make the choices they do. But as an educator, I look back at the times I saw an educator do something, say something, or make a decision I didn't understand and I understand now. There is a whole slew of things that go into a teaching profession that I didn't realize as a para (and they certainly don't teach it in any college course I ever took!).

Most of the things I reflect back on are of a serious nature, but overall, this post is meant to be lighthearted. I value my job as a teacher and am so glad I made the decision to go back to school and become certified in my field. However, my years working as a para were invaluable to me and I would not trade my time in someone else's classroom for anything.

Regardless of whether a para or a teacher, I believe if at the end of the day, you can still say you love your job (and more importantly) your students, you're right where you need to be.


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