Friday, July 18, 2014

Fuel Your Faith for Teachers and Leaders

Howdy All!

Before I being, I have to say thanks to all my followers!  Compassionate Teacher now has...

254 Bloglovin Followers!!!

I was so excited when I got the e-mail the other day that I hit 250.  I appreciate everyone's interest in my escapades.  Though I will no longer be in the classroom, I hope that you will stick with me as I begin my full time work with World Orphans.  

I am still a ways away from starting my new job, but I am almost ready to begin the process of raising support.  I plan to really dive into that process after Mission2India is "over."

For those that don't know or know just  a little, Mission2India is a mission trip to India this August that I am helping lead.  The trip is sponsored and co-led by World Orphans and supported by my local church.  Most of the 14 team members go to my church and/or live near me in New Jersey.  

My amazing team and I have been fundraising and preparing for a few months now, but I have been living and breathing this trip for almost a year now.  In fact, by the time I go to India, I will have been planning this trip for exactly 1 year and 3 weeks.  That's insane to me.

 Now that it's July 18th, I am having a hard time believing that I will be back in India in less than a month!!!  I cannot wait to be back with the beautiful orphans of Hyderabad that I met last year and to share the experience with the team.
  
All of this being said, I want to share something that I have been trying to hold on throughout this whole process of leading a team to India:

It's not about me.

It's all about Him.

At times it's been hard to remember, but God nudged me this week as I read through Matthew. 


As you consider your leadership roles (teacher, parent, boss etc.), I hope that you will remember to keep your eyes fixed on the one who ultimately leads you and to humbly serve those who He has placed in your care.

Have a great weekend everyone!





Saturday, July 5, 2014

I'm Alive in July!!

Well, that was quite a long blogging hiatus.  I certainly did not intend to skip an entire month of blogging, but life left me with no choice.

This past month and 4 days since my last Currently has been one of the most insane times of my life.  Actually, I think it's safe to say that all of 2014 has been quite a roller coaster.

Since too much has happened to go into great detail, here are some highlights of what has been happening:

  • End of the year school stuff: assessments, field trips, celebrations, assemblies etc.
  • Packing up my entire classroom (8 crates full of books, plus tons of other stuff!)
  • Starting my summer camp job
  • Planning for and actually tutoring 3 clients
  • India trips fundraisers, meetings, and visa applications
  • Two doctor appointments
Plus, I found out last Saturday that my landlord found someone to lease my apartment cause I wanted to move out sooner.  That was great news as far as saving money goes, but crazy because I was told I had only one week to move out!!

Basically, this past week, I felt like/actually was working 3 jobs, plus working on India trip stuff, going to appointments, and preparing to move (packing, changing address info, recruiting help etc.)

I have rarely been so exhausted in my life!  When I finally had a chance to slow down briefly yesterday, I kept falling asleep.

Anyways, enough of that.  Life is crazy, but God is good.  I can see how all of this is in His plan and how He is providing for me.  I am very thankful for Him and the support system he has given me.

Now, let's get on to the Currently!  Better late than never!



Listening

To be honest, the show changed to Guy's Grocery Games.  I just didn't feel like changing the template.  :-)

Loving

I am so thankful to have just a few minutes to breathe and blog.  The big move is tomorrow, but I am mostly ready and I am temporarily putting other things on hold, so I can rest up.

Thinking

If any of you remember, my word for the year was "surrender."  If I had know that daily praying to surrender my life to God would have led to all of these major changes, I do not think I would have had the faith to do it.  I am so thankful that God gives us faith and strength as we need it and even when we feel weak and terrified, He is holding on to us.  Though I would not mind if life settled down a bit more, following the Lord down totally new paths has been such a blessing.  He is stretching me WAY out of my comfort zone and showing me more and more that I cannot do anything on my own.  My life is not about me, it is about Him.  He has the plan and deserves all the glory.  I'll keep on following Him, even if that means a lot more major changes.

Wanting

Full disclosure, there is never a time when I do not want ice cream.  It is my vice and I have no problem with that.  I might have to make a last walk to Carvel down the street tonight before I move away from it.  :-(

I could also use another nap, but will try to stay up, so I can sleep tonight.

Needing

My stuff is all packed and ready to move tomorrow.  However, I have not yet cleaned every surface.  My excuse is that it will be better to clean after everything is out.

4th Plans

Considering the 4th was yesterday, I guess I'll share what I actually did, regardless of what my plans were.  I actually enjoyed my first day "off" in a while.  I got to work on my support raising course for my new job, send some e-mails, pack the rest of my stuff etc.  Then, in the evening I enjoyed watching fireworks and playing cards with some friends.  I love playing cards, but not many people I know do, so it was a treat to discover some fellow card sharks.  We enjoyed Nerts, Spades, and Scum.  Next time, I am determined to teach them euchre!  It's about time it spread to New Jersey!

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Currently- BIG NEWS!!

It's June!!!

Don't know how that happened, but it might have something to do with how busy May was.  June is looking about the same, so I bet I'll blink and then be doing the July Currently.  :-)

This month's currently holds some big news that I am very excited to announce.  Hope you enjoy!


Listening


Oh, the sound of a sledge hammer hitting an ugly restaurant wall.  It's so comforting.  Gotta love some Robert Irvine action.  He is hardcore, but only because he cares passionately.

Loving

What an amazing God we serve!  My life has been turned upside down in more ways than I can explain over this last year.  A lot of what has happened has been painful and hard.  I have been consumed by fear, exhaustion, and utter helplessness.  Yet, through it all, God has been drawing me closer to Him and answering prayers.  He is teaching me to trust Him more and showing me that He is enough no matter what happens.  He is showing me that my life is not about me.  I was created to give Him the glory.  He doesn't need me, but chooses to use me.

That being said, I have a big announcement to make.  It is incredibly exciting, yet bittersweet too.

Next year, I will no longer be teaching first grade.  

In fact, I will no longer be a classroom teacher at all.

That is because I will be working full time for...


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is not time now to tell the whole story of how God led me to this new position, but all I can say is that after going to India last year, God made it clear that He was calling me to do something more for orphans and vulnerable children around the world.

As I sought His will and direction, He provided confirmation every step of the way.  Then, He opened the door for me to become the Director of Rescue Teams for World Orphans, the very organization I went to India with last year and am going back with this year.

I can tell you for sure that when I went on that trip last year, I never expected that one year later, I would be joining the World Orphans staff.

There is still the long journey of raising support for my salary ahead of me.  It will also be hard to leave teaching because I love it, my school, my colleagues, and my kiddos, but God has clearly called me to this job at this time, so I know He will provide and I can't wait to see how He works next!

Thinking

The challenge with accepting this new position has been trying to figure out what to focus on and do with my time.  This past week and the coming one have been filled with schoolwork, preparation for India, and training calls for my new job.  It's been hard to balance these three big things.

Wanting

Though it will be hard to leave school, I am chomping at the bit to get started on my new job.  I think it's safe to say that come next fall, I will have entered a totally different chapter of my life.

I still plan to blog and actually don't plan on changing my blog name, since I will still be a teacher of sorts.  I will be teaching others about the plight of orphans and empowering them to make a difference through raising awareness and funds.

The only thing is, I will need a new tagline for under my blog title.  Let me know if you have any ideas!

Needing

The better question is what do I not need to do?  I am trying to learn to say "no" to what I cannot handle because I already feel overwhelmed by end of the year needs, India plans, job training calls etc.  

Summer Bucket List

In addition to what I've already said a lot of what I need to do now and will continue to do into the summer to prepare, I also plan to move out of my apartment, to get some tutoring jobs, and to...

GO TO THE BEACH!!!

So, that's my big announcement.  I appreciate your prayers and continued support as I enter this new phase of life. 

Happy June!


Friday, May 23, 2014

5 for Friday Math Center Style

Good Evening!

I write to you with a belly full of Chinese food.  I attended a very nice graduation party for a friend of mine.  There were way too many yummy foods I had to try: shrimp dumplings, beef lo mein, fried rice, spring rolls, and much more.  Yum!

School was chill today.  It was actually supposed to be Field Day, but it got postponed due to rain.  When I found out the festivities were canceled, I had no plans.

What do teachers do when they have no plans?  Centers of course!!!

Actually, it was the perfect time to do centers because we are in a Mental Math unit where I am pushing addition and subtraction fact mastery like crazy.  Parents received a letter and facts practice log sheet, so they can be accountable for practicing with their kids 5-10 minutes a night.  Many of my kids have their facts to ten, but struggle up to 20.  A few still need their fingers for facts to 10, which is only going to make things harder moving into second grade.

For 5 for Friday, I will share the 5 math facts centers, I whipped out today.


Lakeshore Puzzles


To be honest, I don't buy much from Lakeshore, but I can't deny their puzzles are pretty great.  I have some for phonics and math.  This set is their reversible addition and subtraction puzzles.  

Addition and Subtraction Color by Number


Subtraction Flash Cards


They recorded their work on this cute sheet from First Grade Fanatics.


Part-Whole Card Fact Families



Students drew Part-Part-Whole or Number Bond cards and wrote out the fact families.

Fruit Splat


This is a great differentiated game from Sheppard Software.  It has multiple levels as well as timed vs. un-timed versions.

All in all, it was a fun and fact-filled Friday!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sparking Motivation with a Freebie and Where My Heart Is


It's that time of year again!

26 days left!!!!

That's 1 day for every letter of the alphabet, which means...

...it's time for the ABC Countdown to Summer!!!

I can't think of a better way to Spark Motivation at the end of the year than to have a fun, alphabet themed events for the last days of school.

I tried doing an ABC Countdown for the first time last year and fell in love.  It was the most fun time of the year for me and my students.  At the time when they should have been begging for summer, they were all excited to come to school each day to celebrate the letter of the day.

Pick up the ABC Countdown and parent letter I use by clicking the picture below.  If you are already at less than 26 days left (I'm jealous), put two letters together or just save the idea for next year.


For those of you who have been following me for awhile, you probably know that my heart is missing a big piece.  No, I did not have major heart surgery or anything and I do not mean to make light of that at all.  What I mean is that a piece of my heart is in Hyderabad, India and will stay there forever.

Last summer, I spent two life-changing weeks in Hyderabad after never having wanted to go to India in my life.  There is not time to recap the whole journey of how I got there now, although you can read about it here.

There is also not time to share about all my experiences in India, although I blogged about them all.  Just click the "India" link on the list of labels to read those posts.

All there is time to say is...

I'M GOING BACK!!!!!!!

To say I'm excited is an understatement.  As I look forward to going back, I want to share with you the new journey that led me to this point.

As many of you know, if you had looked me in the eye last year and said, “You will go to India, love it, come back, and then lead a team there,” I would have laughed and rolled my eyes.  I had my plans made and my bags packed for a trip to Uganda.  When God threw my plans up in the air and called me to India, I was shocked and upset.  However, I could not deny the almost audible voice telling me “come and see the people I love.”

One year later, God has shown me that His heart is bigger than mine.  Now, I am beyond excited about the opportunity coming up in August – I will be co-leading a team with World Orphans on a trip to Hyderabad, India from August 14-24, 2014.

There are millions of orphaned and abandoned children around the world with no one to care for them. As a follower of Christ, I believe that it is the church’s place and responsibility to care for these children.

World Orphans is a non-profit ministry committed to strengthening the local church around the world to rescue and care for these children. World Orphans takes the time to identify churches in the developing world that are already caring for orphans and could do more with support and encouragement from an American church. By partnering with World Orphans, our team will get to see how God is working through churches to rescue children.

On my trip I will get to work alongside the local churches who run various orphan related ministries and outreaches to the community. The specific details of our trip will be determined as we get closer to the trip. My prayer is that God uses this experience to further reveal to me how both my team and I can serve as advocates for orphans when we return home from this trip.

There are a few ways I would invite you to be involved. First, you can share this information. The more we talk about the problem of orphaned children and the ways that God is at work caring for them, the more people will be involved and the more children will be cared for. Visit the Journey117 website: http://www.journey117.org/ to learn more.

Secondly, you can pray. If you are interested in supporting me and my team in prayer, please contact me and I will add you to my e-mail list and keep you updated on how you can be praying.

Finally, you can make a gift to The Crossing Church to assist with my expenses. I am responsible for raising $3000 on behalf of World Orphans to help cover the cost of the trip.  I would be grateful if you wanted to give. You can donate through The Crossing Church.  Checks or cash should be set to the following address. 

The Crossing Church
222 Laurel Ave.
Livingston, NJ 07079

Please label all donations with Mission2India2014.  Please also include my name on the donation if you want to give specifically to me.  Otherwise donations will be shared with the team.  Either is greatly appreciated.

If you prefer to donate online, please use the following link or the widget on the top right of my blog to contribute to my GoFundMe account.


Please let me know if you have any questions. I would love to tell you more about this opportunity and why I am so excited!

Thanks for reading my story.  To be honest, I did not want to have to ask for support this year.  I was so thankful for everyone's generosity last year, that I did not feel right asking again this year.  I did my best to save and prepare for this year and I plan to pay as much of my way as possible.  However, God has changed many things in my life lately including my financial situation, so I am in need of some support to be able to go to India this summer.  My team would also be grateful for your help, so please consider contributing to the whole group by donating to The Crossing Church.

Thank you for your understanding and support.  I cannot wait to share more stories of what God is doing in India with all of you when I get back.

Love,


Friday, May 9, 2014

All Things Friday and Two Freebies





Oh my poor lonely blog.  How I have neglected you over the past few weeks.  Will you ever forgive me?

Actually, taking a blogging break was a necessity due to the many things going on in my life.  I have been very busy and have had a lot of big changes going on in my life.  Some scary.  Some unexpected.  All good because God is good and His plans are better than mine.

Anyways, where should I begin to get caught up?  I am going to share for several linkys, but first, I can't help but share a few pics from my AMAZING, fun, relaxing, refreshing, laid back, sunny spring break in San Diego.

Vena Cava Winery near Ensenada
The beautiful valley and mountains of Valle de Guadalupe
Starting the hike to Potato Chip Rock
Climbing higher.
Potato Chip Rock!!
Gorgeous sunset from Sunset Cliffs
It was such a nice break full of food, fun, epic fails at surfing, major blisters from hiking, and just being sisters.  Seems like a long time ago now....

Back at school, I have been busy with the "It's Almost the End of the Year" tasks.  We start our ABC countdown for the last 26 days on the 19th.

Meanwhile, we've been busy every day.  Here's a look for 5 for Friday.


Teacher Appreciation Week

I felt very appreciated this week as I enjoyed tons of sweet and savory treats provided in teacher's lounge.  I also got some cute notes from my kiddos, which I always love.  Plus, my class captain brought me an orchid on behalf of all the parents.  It's so beautiful.  I hope I don't kill it.


Plants

Speaking of plants, we wrapped up our plant unit in science.  Though are seeds are still growing (hopefully), it was time to asses.  Since the actual test was so easy, I told the kids to invent their own flower on the back.  I did a bigger project like that last year, but did not have the time to do it this year.  Still, their drawings turned out pretty crazy and cool.


 

Persuasive Writing Publishing

Writing partners worked together to edit their persuasive letters using this checklist.  Click the picture to download the freebie for yourself.  I wish I had taken pictures of their persuasive letters.  Some of them were so cute.  


Character Changes

We also wrapped up our character study unit by discussing character changes and they lessons they learned in the story.  I found that my students needed support to connect the events of the story to the changes and the lesson.  They were not using what they knew about the problem and solution to understand how the character reacted.  Therefore, I made up this graphic organizer to help them make the connection.  I modeled how to use it with some Kevin Henkes books and then the class practiced for several days with the No David books, Rainbow Fish etc.  Here are some of the results.



You can grab the graphic organizer for free by clicking the picture below.


Fuel Your Faith Friday

My fifth thing for the week is something that God really used to comfort me this week.  Though I have known these verses for awhile, it is true that the Word is living and active.  It speaks exactly what we need to hear when we need to hear it.


Hold that promise as you finish the year strong.  





http://www.teachingblogaddict.com/2014/03/the-first-freebie-friday-in-march.html

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Letter Plates

It's Saturday and I'm on spring break!!!

I am so glad to have some time off.  Last week, was too insane with finalizing the team of people coming to India with me this summer, going to meetings after school, having a post-observation conference on Thursday etc.  I was sad not to have any time to blog.

Now, I am home for a few relaxing days in Ohio during which I will celebrate my birthday and more importantly the resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Then, I'm heading to San Diego to visit my sister and brother-in-law.  Can't wait to get away from it all in the California sun.  Aaahhhh...

Anyways, I'm popping in to share a simple trick for phonics/spelling for Spark Student Motivation.


This really is a very simple activity, but it makes practicing phonics sounds, sight words, and spelling patterns much more engaging.  At grade level meeting this week, another first grade teacher shared this idea with us and by that afternoon, I was trying it with my kiddos.

All you have to do is write the letters, glued sounds, suffixes etc. on the back of paper plates.  Then, each student gets 2 or more plates.  

When I called out words, the whole class had to pay attention to what letters they had, so they knew whether or not they had to get up.  If their letter/sound was in the word, they got up and arranged themselves with the other students until they made the word.

This is a bad picture, but the word is "batches."
I knew the students would enjoy this, but didn't realize how engaging it would be.  Every student was calling out and giving instructions about how to spell the word and they were all so excited when they got to get up to be part of it themselves.

Definitely a fun break from regular dictation.  So cheap and easy too.

Hope it works for you too!  

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!!