Thursday, March 26, 2009

Class Report

It keeps me connected to elementary education. I have been a substitute teacher for over four years, since moving to Tennessee. This year I have not been to my school often, but I was there several weeks ago. As a certified and experienced teacher, I am sometimes asked to cover classrooms with unique needs. One of those is the CDC classroom, or Comprehensive Development Classroom. Students mainly have cognitive disabilities there, and their unique needs take on a wide variety of expressions. The teachers are patient, compassionate, intuitive professionals who are flexible, creative, and peaceful. The days are never the same or predictable; I always have opportunity to extend Christ's love and a measure of peace to the children there.

I've learned a lot from the groups of children there through the years. Each student has to decide on a simple goal to practice each week and write on the board and in their notebook. Throughout the day, the teacher reminds them of the basic expectations for success, and any failures are marked on a chart divided into half hour increments for the whole day. At the end of the day, there is a class meeting. Each child opens their notebook and awaits their turn. The teacher will call their name and ask, "Do you know your goal?" Then, they read their goal aloud, and then the teacher asks them to report on how they progressed. Next, the rest of the class is given an opportunity to "report" any observations of how that student grew or struggled with the goal that day. At the end of the reports, the class votes, giving 1-3 points by a show of fingers in the air. The teacher announces the average. Finally, the teacher reads the points of every half hour of the day aloud, and the student marks their points; a total is given, and the result determines what their privileges will be for the following day. When there's been a hard day, the teacher encourages that, "Tomorrow is a new day. You can choose to accomplish your goal and make it different." Obedience brings blessings, and poor choices bring disappointing consequences.

When I first covered this classroom, I was just glad that no one asked me if I knew my goal for the week! Do you know YOUR goal? I was happy that I was just a substitute, and I could leave without exposing myself to the accountability the youngsters all accept and seem to enjoy. I'd be afraid to get points for every half hour of my day, and I don't want anyone to "vote" on my faithfulness and effort.

It's human nature to hide, and yet we are encouraged not to shrink from the truth. Knowing goals, understanding consequences and rewards, and being held accountable by other growers seems to give these uniquely wise children a sense of relief and comfort. It's almost … Biblical. James 5:16, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each so that you may be healed." "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever renounces and confesses them finds mercy," Proverbs 28:13.

I won't pretend that I'm going to get rich substituting with the CDC students, and I usually come home wiped out. It's not for the faint of heart. But I've found that every day I spend there, God uses those precious children to teach me wonderful lessons about Him … and His goals for me.

This week looks like a very busy one at our house, so my goal is going to be that I will spend unhurried, undistracted time with each member of my family, including the Lord, my husband, and our kids.

Do you know your goal this week?

1 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Patty Fortner said...


You have such a tender and teachable spirit. I know the Father delights in you, and so do I. Thank you for sharing from your life and from your heart. My goal this week is to be outside as much as possible - enjoying the beauty of spring. : )