On January 4, 2015, the Lynchburg News and Advance published a letter from their Editorial Board called, Religion, public schools a bad mix. In this letter they submit their opinion that students graduating from Liberty University should not be teaching in the public school system. In fact, they say that, "beliefs [held by LU grads] alone should make LU grads incompetent to teach in any schools at all, but especially public ones."
I am a graduate of Liberty. I earned my undergraduate from Liberty Baptist College and my masters from Liberty University. I state that proudly! I also state proudly that I am a public school teacher!
I cannot separate my faith in God from who I am. I am a Christian! I believe that Jesus Christ is God. He came as a baby born in Bethlehem of the virgin, Mary for the purpose of dying on the cross to save me from my sin. He rose again the third day and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is preparing to call for me to be with Him. This may occur at my death or it may occur at the Rapture.
As a Christian who teaches in the public school system, I would like to address the concerns about my disturbing beliefs numerated in the editor's letter.
1. Creationism is Good Science while Evolution is Junk Science-I do believe that God created the world in a literal 6 days. Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." However, when in the classroom I do not push my beliefs on my students. The highest grade I have taught in a classroom setting was fourth. We never got into Evolution or Creationism. There was one year that a student outright asked me what I believed about God creating the Earth. I deflected the question but I do have to admit that I inwardly smiled when another student-who happened to be a Christian-told the questioner that he would answer him at recess. Although I have the right to answer directly if a student asks I prefer to pass the inquiry about such matters to the parents. If I were to ever teach in a grade that does deal with the Theory of Evolution, I would state it just as it is: a theory.
2. The Earth is 6,000 years old-Yes, I do agree with a young Earth. In Genesis 2:1-3 we read, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation." I love talking to a friend of mine who is an Agnostic. He is forever bringing me evidence of an older Earth. I am not a scientist and cannot argue with him but it's okay. I listen and offer up my faith as a debate. I will admit that because of my lack of knowledge there are some things I cannot explain. That has more to do with my understanding than science. Again, as an elementary teacher I don't have to deal with this concept in the classroom but as I stated before, if a child were to ask me I would refer them to their parents. If I did have to teach this as part of my course, I would teach both sides of the coin without inserting my opinion.
3. Humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time- The Bible says this is true, yes I believe it. LOL! In my daydreams I often wonder if the dragons killed in stories were actually dinosaurs. My belief in this fact has never come up.
4. Environmental destruction is of no concern as Rapture is around the corner- the Rapture could occur at any moment but no one knows when it will happen. The Millerites were the followers of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the second coming of Jesus Christ around 1843. But God cautions us "that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36. New Living Translation). In Genesis 1:28 God said, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (American Standard Version) We were to hold a position of command over Earth; we were placed in a superior role and were to exercise control over the earth and its flora and fauna. Mankind was set up as the ruler of this world. All else was subjugated to us. With the authority to rule comes the responsibility to rule well. We are to be good stewards of the earth for as long as God waits to return. That means we are to care for the environment.
5. Global warming is a hoax- I believe in global warming. The natural climate has cycled between warm periods and ice ages for thousands of years. I believe I read that our last ice age was in the early 1900s. Is there a difference between the natural cycle and a man-made period of global warming? Not being a scientist, I can't say. Although, if we consider that these cycles probably resulted from the flood (Genesis 6:5-9:17) then all cycles of warming and icing are man made because our of our sin. It does stand to reason that as the population grows so does the sinful impact on our environment. As I read the "science" behind the current theory of global warming it does seem that this cycle is different. Perhaps it is time for us to consider whether or not we are being good stewards of our planet. Hey, even if global warming proves to be a hoax, can it hurt to take better care of what God has blessed us with?
6. The Bible contain all that is needed in one’s life-The Bible is totally true and is my blueprint for my life. However, it would be an exaggeration to say that it is all I need. The Bible is all truth but not all truth is found in the Bible. A very simplistic example would be that my car takes gas in order to run. No where in the Bible does it say that I must fill my tank when it runs out. The Bible alone is all one needs to know how to follow Christ. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states, "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (Revised Standard Version).
7. Guns are welcome on campus [at Liberty]-the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms. Of course, there should be no reason to bear arms on a school campus. This is one area that Liberty and I disagree with. As a teacher I want no part of arming myself in front of students. There was an article based on an interview with a Bedford sheriff about the dangers of letting students carry weapons on campus. Guns and weapons of any kind are forbidden on public school property and for that i am thankful. Just because i disagree with LU on this account does not mean that I feel all their beginning educational professionals should be excluded from teaching.
8. There is nothing wrong with torture and war (according to recent surveys of evangelicals/fundamentalists)- The editor does not quote the survey so I cannot refute it. I do believe that war is a terrible thing and should not be entered into lightly. I also believe that Romans 3:10-18 teaches that all war is a result of sin. We do live in a fallen world. I hate the idea of war but sometimes some wars are more “just” than others. In a world filled with evil people, sometimes war is necessary to prevent even greater evil. If Hitler had not been defeated by World War II, how many more millions would have been killed? If the American Civil War had not been fought, how much longer would African-Americans have had to suffer as slaves? I am very proud of the service my father-in-law gave for serving in the Navy during World War II, while at the same time I pray that my son and grandson never have to serve and I give thanks that my husband never got called to duty. War is wrong but even more so are many of the reasons we go to war. Torture is another story. Here is an online article I read about the Bible and torture. It defines torture as “the infliction of intense pain to punish, to coerce, or to derive sadistic pleasure.” I do not believe in torture; this article does give some instances that are worth considering but I could never inflict pain or uphold the infliction of pain. And once more, this would definitely not be a topic that I would bring up in a classroom of any grade level so should not impact my instruction.
Liberty University can sometimes make me madder than a hornet. It needs a "customer service face lift". Still, as I get to work with new teachers from around the area because, in addition to my daily classroom duties, I am a mentor for my division I have found that Liberty has caring, hardworking, dedicated teachers. Yes, we believe in God. We believe we work for Him and not merely for the school. We value our students because we know that each of our students has a special place in God's heart. I am thankful for the training I received at Liberty. And I am proud of all my colleagues that trained at Liberty and chose to represent their Savior by caring and teaching the students in our wonderful public school systems throughout the area!
With all the mud thrown at public education these days, how can you dare throw out dedicated professionals that desire to work in a field that has so little respect from the media and the governmental policy makers?
Two years ago I was challenged to journal each month about an educator that had an impact on me. Then at the end of the year I am to let them know. I have done this now for two years in a row. This is my third year of purposely watching and learning. There are so many people I could write about so it was hard to choose sometimes but here are the folks that I journaled about this year, in no particular order except the last one. These are the amazing educators I was blessed to learn from this year and each has helped me to become a better teacher myself. Thank you for all for the lessons I learn from you daily!
1, As a mentor I have been blessed to work with some amazing new talent in Amherst County. Kristy is one of my mentees from a while back. On the Amherst County webpage she credits me with being the reason that she survived her first year but in reality she is the one that has taught me a great deal about never giving up. We stick with it and persevere. Kristy is still with ACPS teaching 2nd grade and now has three beautiful daughters. I love you Kristy!
2. Christie is a fifth grade teacher in one of our buildings. WOW! I wish I had half of her patience. She always seems so calm and the relationships that she builds with her children are awe-inspiring. I know that if I had to work with 5th grade hormones all day long that I would be pulling my hair out by the end of the day. Christie thrives as a fifth grade teacher. Too, I have witnessed Christie as a teacher of kindergarteners and as a third grade teacher. She is multitalented!
3. Kennon is a LMS in one of my buildings. As an ITRT, I know lots about technology and (I'm sorry) often when teachers send me links I usually have already evaluated them. However, I have learned so much from Kennon. I like talking to him because every time I do I learn something new. Maybe he and I should change jobs.
4. Sandy is another LMS in one of my buildings. Sandy and I have worked together for many years. She is one of the most knowledgeable people I know. I have a lot of "book-sense" but sometimes I think I lack "common-sense". Sandy has both plus she is one of the most organized people. The thing I love the most about Sandy is her honesty. I know if I go to Sandy with an issue she will tell me the truth about how she sees things. There is no sugar coating.
PS: Between Sandy and Kennon I am seriously thinking of pursuing an endorsement in library media.
5. Kandy is an amazing third grade teacher in one of my buildings. I have never seen a teacher work as hard as Kandy does with her students (and I have seen a ton of hard working teachers). I have never seen a child misbehave in her room-she has a way of keeping them engaged so much they don't think about misbehaving. Even if they do misbehave I can't see where it would faze her. Nothing seems to faze Kandy.
6. Carmen is a second grade teacher in another of my buildings. This lady has SPUNK! I love her purple hair-oops I mean blue-no it's pink, wait. . .no yellow. UGH! Back to purple. Yes, Carmen is as hyper as her kids. Maybe that's why her kids love her so much. Carmen is also a strong advocate for her profession. She is a tiger when she needs to stand up for herself as a teacher, her colleagues, or her students.
7. Dr. M is a new building administrator with ACPS this year. OMG! I love working with this man! He has the most positive attitude of anyone I have ever met. Being a teacher is hard these days. However, Dr. M has made coming to work a pleasure. Yes, we still have to work hard but he makes it fun. He genuinely cares about his staff and his students. He knows how to encourage teacher autonomy in a climate of such intense accountability that you almost feel the need to document every time you sneeze.
8. Karen is a TA. She is rising through the ranks of education. I knew her first as a mom and then as a sub. While trying to complete her educational degree, Karen has taken a position as SPED TA. Disney may be the happiest place on Earth but I have my doubts. How can it be when they are missing the happiest person on the planet. Karen is never seen without a smile.
9. Another TA that really impresses me is Caroline. Daily she sends out emails to her colleagues that are so uplifting. I greedily look forward to reading anything that she sends out. It's soul refreshing!
10. Kathy is a SPED teacher in one of my buildings. She is another never-complaining soul. And so patient with the many severe needs she has to deal with. When I was attending Liberty Baptist College many many years ago I was forced to take part in a practicum at the Central Virginia Training School. I was not prepared for what I was thrown into and the experience left me jaded and scared of working with special needs. Watching and working with Kathy has changed that. I have learned a great deal from this lady!
11. Joe is my supervisor. His job is to oversee both the instructional and informational sides of technology. The problem is, Joe is not a teacher so he does not know anything about instruction. It's okay. He tries. He asks questions. He reflects. He considers the needs before he makes a decision. And when he does make a decision, he breaks down the reason into an explanation that everyone can understand. He may not be a teacher but he is a mighty fine educator.
12. The last person I want to mention has nothing to do with my school system; it's my daughter. Sara started off her college life with the intent of coming into education but that was not the calling God has for my daughter. Years ago Sara told me that she really didn't want to go to college. She wanted to be a stay at home mom like her Aunt Wanda. With the way the economy is, she doesn't get to stay at home but she is still an amazing mom! I watch her with my grandson and am touched by the love and care I see her putting into teaching him about the world. I use to wonder what type of mom my daughter would make. Her dad and I spoiled her rotten and she had the notion that she was some type of princess. I use to wonder how this spoiled rotten kid would react to having to put herself second. I shouldn't have worried. She knows what she is doing. Anyone who needs to know what a child's first teacher should look like needs to pay attention to my daughter. I am very proud of her and can't wait to see the results of all the time she puts into my grandson.
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend
by the name of Common Sense
who has been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure how old he was
since his birth records were long ago lost
in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated
such value lessons as knowing when to come
in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and
that life isn't always fair.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies
(don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting
strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge).
His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well
intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment
for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for
using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for
reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
It declined even further when schools were
expected to differentiate instruction so that every student was
was expected to receive a perfect score on a standardized test
but not funded to provide the resources to carry out the instruction.
Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live as
the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches
became businesses; and criminals received
better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a
woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of
coffee was hot, she spilled a bit in her lap, and was
awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his
parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his
daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by two stepbrothers; My Rights
and Ima Whiner.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was
gone. If you still know him please tell others about his passing
if not join the majority and do nothing.
Here is a interesting article on sexting that I shred with my Tech colleagues.
It suggests that adults overreact a lot and perhaps that is true but still! I don't think it helps to ignore the situation either. It shares an example about a huge case that was in Lousia County.
I am an ITRT and I will admit that I do not have the stress of classroom teachers. However, lately I have wondered about going back into the classroom. I love teaching and it is lessons like what went on during 3rd grade computer lab today that make me realize how much I love teaching! We did a circle Thinking Map on what we do at school. Next time the kids are with me we will turn the circle maps into flow maps. Now as an ITRT I am not supposed to be the computer lab teacher but just like Scarlet O’Hara never felt like she belonged unless she was at Tara, I feel like my place in in the classroom. Every year the tug to go back into classroom teaching gets stronger. I wonder if this year will be the year I succumb?
For a period of about 10 years the term 21st century skills has been evolving. It is generally understood that teaching 21st century skills is a very important task but when pushed to define what it means to teach these 21st century skills most educators believe that merely allowing students to work on a computer, a tablet, or other technology device is providing the students with 21st century skills. This cannot be farther from the truth. Twenty-first century skills are not new to the 21st century but rather a set of skills that have been valued by educators for many centuries. Twenty first century skills are divided into three types: Learning, Literacy, and Life skills.
Learning skills include the needs to think critically and creatively, "out of the box" thinking. Students need to be able to communicate and collaborate with each other. Literacy skills combine information, media, and technology literacy. Life skills mean developing leaders who are productive and can take initiative. Students must have strong social skills and be able to be flexible.
These skills have always been important to students but have not been as valued in practice in the schools. When schools were preparing students to hold jobs in industry, the key skills were knowing a trade, following directions, getting along with others, working hard, and being professional—efficient, prompt, honest, and fair. Schools have done an excellent job of teaching these skills, and students still need them. However, jobs students need to be prepared for are information-age jobs. These types of jobs still depend on students knowing how to follow directions, get along, work hard, and be professional but now they also need to think deeply about issues, solve problems creatively, work in teams, communicate clearly in many different media, adapt and learn ever-changing technologies in order to deal with a flood of information. The rapid changes require students to be flexible, to take the initiative and lead when necessary, and to produce something new and useful.
Unfortunately, schools have been pushed to deal with the new and evolving age of information in a very antiquated manner and have moved into a teach to the test paradigm. We as educators, have forgotten that students are children and because the bottom line is getting the answer right on "THE TEST" schools have been forced to to take away the one best learning strategy a child has to make sense of this new information packed world. We no longer allow a child to learn by doing.
John Dewey was the most significant educator of the 20th century, for that matter, the 21st century as well. Dewey's concept of education put a premium on meaningful activity in learning and participation in the classroom. Rather than the concept of authoritarianism and rote learning which a teach to the test classroom demands, John Dewey believed that students must be invested and engaged in what they were learning. Dewey argued that learning tasks should be relevant to students' lives. He saw learning by doing and development of practical life skills as crucial to children's education.
John Dewey would have most definitely not been a fan of high stakes testing that takes away a child’s creativity and forces them to give just the right answer. On the other hand he would have loved and been a huge supporter of the technology integrated classroom. He would have said that if we want children to succeed as students preparing themselves for jobs that require them to fail and then pick themselves up and try again, to be able to communicate with individuals from across the globe even though they have never left their own backyard, to work with a multitude of different people, we need to teach the 21st century skills as they are meant to be taught. Nowhere could this be done better than in a computer classroom by a teacher trained to integrate technology into a variety of subjects and not just as a separate add on. We need to put away canned drill and kill technology programs and allow students to experience what it means to work on a project that may take a period of time. Students need to be able to think through and solve problems and to realize that sometimes problems may not be able to be solved. We need to build "out of the box thinkers" that can do more than answer a test question.
If the motivation is to build 21st century skills in order to close the achievement gap by focusing on 21st century skills we need to find a way to reach all students. These learning experiences need to be provided to the gifted and talented as well as the struggling learner. Even more imperatively, we need to find a way to get greater computer access because no matter what incredible programs we use, a half hour with technology a week, which is what is standard in many classrooms, is not nearly enough time. Ten years ago Virginia thought that by mandating one ITRT, or instructional technology resource teacher, per every thousand students they could solve the issues of teaching those missing 21st century skills. The ITRT was to work with the classroom teacher helping to plan and co-plan lessons with effective technology integration. There are several problems with this thought. First, there were still some teachers who did not want to use the ITRT at all and of course those students went without the needed instruction. Secondly, since the ITRT was so spread out trying to accommodate the needs of 1000 students (even though the work was done with the teacher) long term projects were not engaged in often. This means the students did not have time to try again or figure out a problem if the project failed the first time.So, rather than attempt project base learning tasks, teachers turned to learning game websites.
A better idea would be to fund one ITRT per elementary building and allowing the ITRT to also man the computer lab. By hiring a full time ITRT we could schedule blocks of time several times a week for the students to visit the computer lab under the tutor-ledge of a highly qualified teacher who knows how to plan and carry out project based learning activities which focus on 21st century skills and incorporate integrated technology. If the teacher would rather, the ITRT could push into a classroom to help with integration ideas that focus on the needed 21st century skills. During the week the ITRT should have time to plan with grade levels built into his/her schedule. Finally, a full time ITRT could, and should be expected to work with students to provide them with ways to use their 21st century skills in real life situations to benefit their communities. This would show students that education has a reason, a purpose.
In my job as an ITRT I am supposed to provide professional development. In fact, the state of Virginia says that ITRTs are professional development specialists. For the past few years as the school budget has shrunk, I have been called upon to do more and more that is really outside the scope of my job. True, the state of Virginia says in my job description that I am NOT to be a computer lab teacher; but, with the loss of resources I must fill in where ever the schools need me. Besides, I really, really LOVE working with the kids and working with the kids gives me an idea of what will work with the teachers.
However, now that the testing season is upon us teachers are in the midst of simulation testing in order to see how the kids will fare on the real test that will be given in just a few weeks from now. Ha Ha, we are testing to see how they test. SO STUPID! Still, this leaves me with lots of free time which I have not had recently and I believe that I have used that time well. I have scoured the internet and read up on various online tools that I will be highlighting in either my upcoming workshop this weekend for the SVEA or those I will present on for the division's Summer Tech Academy. I am so happy to have my presentations planned and can't wait to present!!! Check out the link to the left to visit the online flyer about my workshops. Check back shortly for the link to sign up.
Years ago I read this poem and loved it! I was working with preschool children at that time and although they weren't yet kindergarteners, I thought this poem fit them as well. This poem no longer fits early childhood. It seems that more and more our legislators and policy makers are wanting little people to enter kindergarten (or preschool for that matter) ready to take on Harvard. Why is it that we want to throw away years of research which says young children learn best by play? This year my own division started nine week benchmark testing for kindergarten. When did testing and learning become synonyms? I am angered, and saddened, and horrified at news like this that seem to be posted daily. (A very Scary Headline). And I am no fool. I will adamantly declare that this is a bipartisan problem and it all comes down to which big business is lobbying/blackmailing/bribing which politician.. Why is the almighty dollar more important than children? I weep for the children.
All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ~by Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school. These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day.
Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK . Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology and politics and sane living.
Think of what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
Several years ago Gail and I went to a one day tech conference at Smith Mountain and were exposed to an awesome site called Trailer Mashup. The site is a repository of YouTube movie trailers that have been re-worked to suggest a different genre of movie. For example, The Shining is no longer a horror story. It is a sappy drama. My favorite is Scary Mary. This is a remake of the Mary Poppins trailer. When I was in the classroom, a former vice-principal told a parent that I reminded her of Mary Poppins. That has always stuck with me and on my bad days it helps me remember why I went into this profession. Of course, on my bad days, I could still be Mary. . . .It just depends on the day and what has happened as to what Mary you can expect. Today the Mary below is the Mary you will find in me.
Mikhaila says that she wants adults to know that digital life is not her whole life, it’s a very small part of it. She acknowledges that teens do tend to look at their phones more often than they should but that adults who didn’t have this much technology when they were teens themselves believe current young peoples spend their entire lives online. She insists that is not the reality. Read more about what teens are saying about their online lives in this article composed by the NEA.
_Hi, my name is Melanie Lewis. I am an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for Amherst County Public Schools,
located in the beautiful state of Virginia. I LOVE my job! I get to
work on my hobby, anything that has to do with computers. I get to work
with teachers and students, and I am definitely a people person. Plus,
I DO NOT have to give grades. Wonderful, huh? Let me know how I can help you better integrate technology into your classroom.
ACPS' 1st computers
I know only one thing about the technology that awaits us in the future: We will find ways to tell stories with it. ~Jason Ohler