Monthly Archives: April 2017

Stations of the Cross and Update to my Faith

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I learned something new at work the other week. And, honestly, I quite like it. For those of you who are not Catholic, just try to follow along.

Each Friday, the kids travel to the church to participate in what they call Stations. It is actually the practice known in Catholicism as “Stations of the Cross.” Not being a Catholic myself, I did not understand that first day what stations were or why they were important. After my second day of participating (today), I have realized that this is a pretty unique process that truly means a lot.

Basically, there are 14 stations, or images, depicting the last few days of Jesus’ life and his resurrection. The priest, along with three students holding the cross and candles, walk around the church and stand under 14 different “stations”. These are statues on the wall that depict Jesus being nailed to the cross, Jesus carrying the cross, Simon helping Jesus, etc.

Along with this practice, there is a book. Each student has a copy of the book. As the priest names the station, the students kneel. They then say a short response, followed by a reading of the situation Jesus was in at that station. The priest follows with a prayer, followed by a congregational prayer. Then, a three-line hymn is sung while the processional moves on to the next station.

It sounds really boring, pretty long, and not very important if you don’t know the details. But what has been the biggest impact to me about this practice is the prayers that the students and congregation recite. At points they thank Jesus for dying for their sins. At other times, they are praying that they will never take for granted their ability to go outside on a sunny day when Jesus couldn’t even leave the cross. For each station, there is a prayer that the students hope will help them to lead better, purer lives. But these prayers are simple and truly connect to the children’s actual lives. I too find myself wishing for many of these prayers to be heard in regards to my own life.

Anyway, as I continue to work in the Catholic schools and attend church each Sunday in my own Lutheran church, I find that God is an important part of my life. I have found myself praying during my days at the public schools, and hoping that even my future plans will all work out okay. My faith truly is strengthening as it did a few years ago when I first started this blog. I hope it continues to do so.

In the meantime, if you are interested in more details about Stations of the Cross, try this website: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/station.php

~B

The End of a Really Long Week

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Just an update to my most recent post about starting my job at a public school district…

I completed three days in the district this week, with Wednesday off, and today (Friday) in one of the Catholic schools. I can now honestly say that I would give anything to be a teacher in that Catholic school rather than in the school district.

On Thursday, I had a half decent day. Students still tried to fall asleep in class and some were extremely disrespectful towards me and the class aide, but it was better than the beginning of the week. Until the end of the day… I was on my way out of the building and stopped by the office to say thank you and that I was heading out. The next thing I know, a uniformed officer, the assistant principals, and a secretary walk in with kids who are muddy, drenched, and bleeding. Apparently these students couldn’t even hold in their anger and rage for the five minutes from the classroom to the bus stop.

I again want to reiterate the fact that some of the kids in these schools say they hate the place because of all of the “crap” that goes on. I feel like these are the students who are being most overlooked as all of our focus goes to those students who try to rebel against the system. For the first time in my life, I question whether it is truly beneficial to force every kid to attend a school. Or, as crazy as this sounds, maybe there needs to be different kinds of public schools; those for kids who wish to be there, and those for kids who just need to get an education but will ruin everyone else’s focus every few minutes in a classroom.

In any case, I know after these three days that I do not have all of the answers. I’ve never punched anyone and couldn’t tell you the amount of rage it must take to lay your hands on someone in such a way. I have never fallen asleep in a class and cannot tell you how it makes sense for a student to fall asleep, not because they are tired, because they don’t care.

Is it parental upbringing? I’d like to think so.

But I’d also like to question why administrators, teachers, and heck… even the state, would allow such actions to continue with hundreds of students every day. While parents do have the most control over a students’ attitude and life, the kids also spend a lot more time in school than at home. So how come no one in authority seems to have any ounce of influence?

Maybe I will never know. Maybe we will never get these answers. Maybe Trump was right to nominate someone who is so intent on changing almost all aspects of the school systems. I’m just really not sure anymore…

What I am sure of is the fact that I love taking a pay cut to work in the Catholic schools. I am sure of the fact that I do not care to have a full-time job next year. And finally, I am sure of the fact that three little kindergarten girls made my day today when they ran up to me with hugs and said:

“Will you come in here and be with us again tomorrow?”

“I love you.”

and

“I hope you have the best weekend ever!”

Thank you kids, and thank you to the Diocese for giving me a place to go where such interaction can still exist with these students who are some of the kindest, smartest, and most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. I will be forever grateful.

 

~B

The First Day of a Long Week

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Well yesterday I did it! I had many firsts yesterday, including:

  • My first day as a teacher in a public school.
  • My first day as a teacher at an inner city school.
  • My first day as a SUBSTITUTE teacher in the above settings.

So yeah, a pretty big day. I know that I have said this before (whether on my page or not), but I have truly been spoiled by my teacher upbringing; from a small Catholic school to a private prep school, I have been showered with mostly students who have an almost angelic nature compared to some of their counterparts.

Now let me first say that I am not complaining about the job I had yesterday. In fact, I went back and subbed again for that same teacher today. I think the point of this whole post is more the fact that things are so extremely different. I wonder how many people have seen that and yet do nothing about it?

You see, I am young and can still relate to students in some ways. So I know how stressed students at the prep school used to be about the huge amounts of homework they were assigned every day. They were made to cram work for 80 minutes straight 4 times a day during their block schedule. And then, on the other side of things, I see an 80 minute block period being used in a public school for texting on cell phones, sending pictures on SnapChat, and blatantly sleeping in front of the teacher. I don’t care whether I am a substitute or not, the amount of concern that I have for our children right now is more extreme than I can detail.

So I’ve decided to keep trying. I’m going to keep working at those public schools, at those inner city schools. From my point of view (or maybe it was just this one circumstance) the kids aren’t super needy. But it is apparent that they need a firm hand and someone who will hold them responsible for whatever their future may be, even if it does not include a higher education. When I tried to discipline, they laughed in my face and acted as though they didn’t have to listen to me, as if I wasn’t an adult just like their usual teacher. Whether this is the stigma around substitute teachers or whether it is just their defiance against authority, I want to know! I want to try to find some way to make a difference in just one of these classes, to just one of these kids. I’ve been told I have positively influenced other students before. While those accomplishments may not have been as hard to achieve, I feel like this is more important.

So now my goal, regardless of whether I take a full-time job anytime soon or not is this:

  • Teach some students how respect can truly benefit them in the future, regardless of their circumstances.
  • Try to reduce the awful stigma surrounding substitute teachers, especially in the eyes of these students who are old enough to know that we are just humans doing a job like everyone else in this world. And, regardless of whether this is true across the board, subs have a lot of education under their belt and could probably teach the lessons their teachers had originally planned. It’s not our fault we are given meaningless activities and lessons as “busy work” so that their teacher can make sure their plans work for any sub, whether they know the material or not!

*End rant for now* Sorry, this just suddenly seems like a really bitchy post. But I’m so upset and uncomfortable with these past 2 days that I don’t know how else to let off some emotion!

 

~B