Becoming a Teacher

By Lori Michelle

(I’m an award-losing author…and here is yet another edition.  In the attempt to get my writing “out there” I enter contests from time to time, and this is my latest award-losing entry.  But having my own blog means I have my own little forum for growing in my writing.  Hope you enjoy reading about how God taught me about being a REAL teacher.  If you would be so kind as to comment, or ask questions, I’d be so grateful.  Thanks.)

Two months after I graduated college with my BS in Elementary Education, I got my first job.  I became a professional educator, as in I was finally getting paid to do the job for which I received my formal education.

But I didn’t become a teacher until years later.

And my guru in the art of learning would be my own son.

Warren* was a feisty, friendly, full-of-life five-year-old the year we enrolled him in kindergarten.  When I dropped him off at school in the morning, I would watch my little toe headed boy with his yellow jacket and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack bound into the school building without looking back.

After a few weeks, he began to change.  His exuberance and excitement about school diminished. He was overstimulated when came home from school.  He was grumpy and overactive and even sometimes violent towards his little sisters.  I noted the change, but felt it was simply an adjustment to school.

A few months went by and suddenly I began getting phone calls from the teacher concerning his behavior.  Warren had hit a student over the head with his lunchbox.  Warren had pulled down a girl’s pants in the lunch line.  Warren had spent yet another afternoon in the “time out” corner.

I began to wonder to myself, “There must be a pattern here.  There must be a reason.”  So I began marking on the calendar every time I got a call from the teacher or principal.

At the parent-teacher conference, I brought my calendar with me.

The teacher began to show me evidence outlying her concerns for my son.  It was March of his kindergarten year, and Warren could not write his name, much less any other letters of the alphabet.  Warren could not tie his shoes.  Warren spent more time in “time out” than out of it.

I brought out my calendar and pointing to the pattern that had emerged, I asked, “What happens every 10 days?”

The teacher surveyed my notes and exclaimed, “I change out the centers every 10 days!”

So every time my son had finally began to learn a new skill, the centers were changed and he had to start over again.  My son was frustrated.  Even though he was bright, he wasn’t learning at the pace of the other students.  The constant change and struggle to keep up was making him feel defeated and incapable and angry.  He acted out his exasperation the only way his five-year-old emotions knew how.  His behavior was communication…my son had unmet needs and required my advocacy, my voice, and my intervention.

So, I made a radical move.  I quit my job as a professional educator and decided to home educate my son.  That was in 1993 and homeschooling was not yet a “movement.”  At least not in the area of North Carolina where I lived.   (There were only a handful of homeschooling families in our entire county, and my resignation caused quite a ruckus in my church and among my teacher friends…but that’s another story)homeschooling

I said I will only homeschool for a couple years…just until I get him caught up.  After all, I had taught many children to read as a professional educator!  I knew just how to help him!

Except I didn’t.

I tried everything I knew from my years of being a professional educator.  I tried every curriculum or method I could find.

I read to him scads of books on all kinds of topics.  We did science experiments.  We took nature walks.  We spent hours at the library or at the museum.  He spent ages building, inventing, playing, and climbing.  Anything that stimulated his interest, we explored, from rocks to medieval castles to cooking.

Yet, in the fourth grade, my sweet son said to me, “I just want to go to the library and pick out a book and read it!”

Nothing I tried worked to help my sweet, bright, fun-loving, feisty son learn how to read!

I reached out to a Doctor of Education for help.  He performed a full battery of psychological and educational tests on my son.  On the day that I was to find out the results, I arrived full of hope and faith that this man would finally have the answer to my son’s learning difficulties.

In a nondescript room with only a small table between us, the professional educator labeled my son’s learning disabilities one by one.  He attempted to communicate to me the severity of the situation.  I kept asking him what could be done, but obviously, I simply wasn’t grasping the immensity of the problem. He finally burst out, “Your son is NEVER going to read!  Why don’t you just give up?”

I drew in my breath slowly and forced back hot, angry tears.

“Sir,” I began shakily, “I will not give up on him because I am his mother!  You are wrong.

  1. SON. WILL. READ!”

I collected my purse and my papers and I stood to leave.

I became a teacher that day.  I decided that I would do whatever it took to teach my son to read.

And I did.

By the end of 5th grade, Warren could read on the 2nd grade level.  By the end of 7th grade, he was on the 5th grade level.  When Warren was in the 8th grade, he decided he wanted to go back to formal schooling.

He graduated from high school when he was 16, and graduated from college with a B.S in Business at age 19.

Today, he is an Assistant Vice President for a major financial company in New York City.

When Warren went back to school, so did I.  I renewed my teaching credentials and went back to the classroom, too.

But this time, not as a professional educator, but as a teacher.  My years outside of the formal classroom with my son had taught me more about the true nature of education than all of my college courses and years of experience combined.

I now teach special needs children who have difficulty learning in the traditional way.  I believe in them until they can believe in themselves.

I treat my students as if they were my own son or daughter…looking for that unmet need that calls for my advocacy, my voice, and my intervention.  I utilize my knowledge as a professional educator, but I devote my heart as a teacher.

From the Bin in the Basement

Last weekend, I dug through an old box in my basement and found some of my old writing.

Before my divorce, I had a dream of becoming a published author, and I really went for it for a while.  I lost some writing contests and collected a file of rejection letters.  Yet, along the way I did manage to get around 10 articles published and got very close to a book deal a couple of times.  I spoke at some Ladies Days events as well, and I found the CD’s of the talks I gave back then!  (I didn’t realize I had such a southern drawl…EWW!)

journal writing

During my divorce crisis, I lost my interest in writing altogether and for a long time I thought it might never return.  I missed my muse, but could not seem to summon her.  Over the years, she has slowly reintroduced herself by drips and drops.

I found some old rejections letters with my rejected manuscripts attached.  I also found the old magazines in which my articles were published.  I haven’t seen any of these items in years, and it is hard to describe my joy at finding them.

But then I started reading some of them…and I hated them!

I didn’t hate all of them.  Some aren’t so bad.

But others are so embarrassing!

Some of my old articles…published ones…sound like some of the books by Christian authors that I chucked over the last few years.  Books from authors like Elizabeth George and Willard F. Harley Jr. and John and Stasi Eldredge.  I know these are popular, Christian authors…mainstays in the circles I used to hang with.  But I just can’t stomach them anymore.  They are so…so…so…

SURE OF THEMSELVES!

That’s what I hated when I read my own writing.  How I wrapped up very complicated and difficult concepts into pretty wrapped and ribboned bite-sized black-and-white packages.  Gag me with a spoon!!

And then I lived a crisis that made me learn again everything I thought I already knew.  At one time I had all the answers…all you had to do is ask! Until the day I finally understood that I didn’t know much about anything at all.

That is when I became willing to learn and ready to listen to other voices…and maybe even willing to question and willing to open my mind to possibilities and grace that I had never even considered before.

So, I have a new bevy of material to share.  I’m so thrilled to have found it. Some of it I will be reworking to reflect my current understanding…or admitting that I still don’t understand.  Its probably the closest I’ll ever get to time traveling…of righting some wrongs (or rewriting some wrongs, whatever the case may be).

And some of it I’m kinda proud of.  God did give me some talent and some zest.  He has hailed me with an undeniable avocation to use these gifts and talents and passions for His Kingdom and for His pleasure.

So over the next for weeks and in no particular order…I will be presenting you with B.C Lori Michelle (Before Crisis).

What about you?  Do you have a bin of old writing sitting in your basement..or attic…or computer?  What would it be like to rework some of it to reflect the person you have grown to be through your crisis?  I’d sure love to hear your thoughts.

Telling My Story

I’m going to write it.  I will.  I’ve already started, but its hard.  I’m scared.

There is much I need to say that I’ve never said before…to anyone.  People will be surprised. What will my parents think?  What will my children think? Or will anyone even care?  All of the potential answers make me sink in my sandals and busy myself with housework, and schoolwork, and Facebook.

But I HAVE to tell it.  Because I cannot live if I don’t.  Because writing it is part of letting it go, of healing the wounds, of putting the clutter on the curb.  It is finally finding a voice after so many silent years; it’s part of moving forward.

Satan has always wanted to silence me.  I’m not sure why.  Because he dwells in silence, and secrets, and darkness.  He abides in clutter, and clatter, and in unforgiving hearts.  And because God has given me this voice…this gift of storytelling…this gift of teaching, so Satan has conspired to silence me with coercion, with guilt, and with shame.

My story is also a story of redemption.  Of God’s remarkable ability to create beauty from ashes.  He restores.  He heals.  He reconciles.  He Loves.  If my life and my journey mean anything, it means this: God is Redeemer!

This post from SheLoves Magazine resonated with me.  I love how she starts it with a quote from one of my favorite authors, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” ~Anne Lamott

That’s right, Anne, they should’ve behaved better.  They should’ve paid attention.  Some, maybe most, knew not what they were doing.  Some do not know that I know.

So here is fair warning.  If you love me…you don’t know everything. We will talk.  I will tell you the things I’ve never said.  And maybe you will read my truth and hear my voice and listen to my story of love.

 

Relaunching My Blog: “One Wounded Heart” is Now “ReLoriMichelle”

I decided a complete re-imagining of my blog will cure my “blogger’s block.”

I originally created One Wounded Heart to explore my journey through divorce and the subsequent reinventing of my life.  I had my heart wounded, therefore, I felt the name was appropriate. My divorce was the fulcrum upon which the underpinnings of my life was swept away. However, God promises that He is close to the brokenhearted, and I have experienced His grace, His care, His provision, His healing, and His faithfulness.

I want to talk about more than just one pivot point. I have much more to say about who I am now…the people and concepts I love, concerns that make me angry, stuff that makes me laugh, what I stand for, and what I’m passionate about.  Overall, I have a deep need to let my unique voice be heard, and for now, this blog is my 2 cents, my soap box, my mountaintop from which to shout.

So, I required a redo.  ReLoriMichelle is my blog’s new name.  I still hope to impart help, hope, and grace from one wounded heart to another.

 

 

Christmas Day 2007

I’m feeling quite lazy, a little bored, a little discontent, a little melancholy.  It seems the old things that used to give me pleasure are empty now.  I used to dream of writing and even being published someday.  The physical act of writing still comforts me but I don’t have much desire for publishing or writing anything out just now.  I don’t think I have much to say or much to offer.

Lord, emotionally I feel stale and I feel that way spiritually, too.  I feel exhausted both emotionally and spiritually.

Lord, this single woman business is so hard!  It like I have no resources to draw from.

There is one thing I liked about being married, and that was that Rick did balance out a lot of areas of weakness for me.  He took care of the money which was big!  He kept me on top of things like the housework and we did have a lot of fun.  We laughed a lot, really.  We didn’t have a lot in common, but when he was in a good mood, he could be fun to have around.

I also miss cuddling and kissing and sex.  I miss going out on a date with someone – getting dressed up and flirting, it was fun.

Now, when I go out on a date the guy is a stranger.  If I dressed up and flirted it would be inappropriate.  Mostly I miss belonging to someone and I miss the security of marriage.  I also miss having someone interested in me.

So, wanting a relationship is hard.  A new relationship is time consuming and intense.  I kind of like the adventure of meeting new people – but at the same time it can be an unnecessary waste of time sometimes, too.  It eats up time I need to devote to my kids and to teaching and to my new business.  Then on the other hand, not having anyone is boring and I feel like one day just slips into the next – like I’m waiting for something and just getting nowhere.

I simply cannot merge the two halves of my being right now, Lord.  I feel so disjointed and disconnected.  A part of me feels really good being alone.  That part wants to be a big girl, to depend on myself and You and focus on my kids, my goals, my business.  That part of me doesn’t have room or time for any other thing.  That part of me loves my independence, loves my freedom, and is happy to be divorced from Rick.

The other part of me want to yell and scream and cry and beg you to bring me that one special, God-loving, attractive man who will be my husband.  That part of me is hurting, mad, sad, disbelieving, discouraged.  That part of me is scared that I will never be loved.  I don’t like to admit that this part of me exists.  I want people to see the that I am strong and able, Lord, and sometimes I am, but sometimes I am so weak.

How long, Lord? (Journal Entry dated May 12, 2007)

Question – Lord, will I ever find a man who will value me? 

Will I ever be loved for my true and authentic self?  Or am I going to die and never know real love? 

Is it possible for a man to love me? 

Am I too damaged now to have any hope?

And, if I am going to be loved, how long will I have to wait?  Because I’ve waited an settled for less for almost 41 years now.

I love you, Lord, and I trust you.  I’m just so heartbroken and sad – not for losing Rick – but for not being loved by him.  I have been the brunt of his selfishness, his entitlement, his abuse [emotional and verbal], and his emotional dishonesty for 20 years.  And for the effects it has had on the children.  I’m not sad for losing him…I’m glad and relieved…I know you are rescuing me from bondage.

The question is – how long?  How long will I be in this wilderness?