Tag: Teaching

Confessions of a Rookie Novelist #2

Meet my pink piggybank!

When I was born, my dad quit smoking and deposited his cigarette quarters in Miss Piggy. Eighteen years later, those quarters were well on the way for paying for my undergraduate degree.

            A novice at life, I began my career teaching eighth graders language arts at Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville. After four years, I left to dabble in journalism. After the kids were born, I taught English night classes at IUPUI. Later I taught eighth graders at Greenwood Middle School, enjoying the fun staff and memorable but sometimes quirky students.

            As God often does, He transplanted me from my comfort zone and opened a door to work in nonprofit communications, first at my church Mount Pleasant Christian, and then at Center for Global Impact. For the first time, I received a paycheck for writing instead of teaching. It felt good to practice what I’d taught.

            Fast forward to 2019. I wanted my third book to be about the importance of legacy since God had blessed us with three amazing and beyond-cute granddaughters. I thought a Bible study researching the Old Testament’s emphasis on legacy would be interesting. Yet when I sat down that March morning and prayed, my soul heard a still, small voice, “Joyce, what do you know about your legacy?”

            My faith journey had begun.

When I Teach, I Learn. . .

On Valentine’s Day I wrapped up a promised Christmas gift, one that my goddaughter requested. Since I had been a middle school teacher and because they were studying Southeast Asia, Miss Lain invited me to share about my trip to Cambodia in 2013.

I began cramming for my presentation by reviewing facts about Cambodia and designing a worksheet for students to fill in the blanks as I talked. To my surprise, I didn’t need to use PowerPoint but instead loaded the pictures into Google Photos where she could remotely access them.

Arriving at 7:45am, I reported to the office, signed in, and then waited in the classroom for her to return from a meeting with parents. That brought back my memories from the 1990’s of early morning meetings.

Most of the classes were well-behaved, but it was Valentine’s Day and a few teachers were handing out candy with Skittles, as always, the favorite. In contrast, Miss Lain’s surprise for her students was a 65-year-old, white-haired guest speaker.

Here’s what I learned or remembered from teaching 7 forty-seven-minute classes:

  • Thirteen-year-old student behavior hasn’t changed much since the 1990’s.
  • Approximately 5 students in each class were not born in the U.S.
  • Silence works well in regaining their attention.
  • They loved the photos and accompanying stories.
  • Today’s seventh graders ask good and sometimes difficult-to-answer questions.
  • Teachers must find ways to involve students to make a point, such as asking them to stand if they wore glasses and then explaining how they would have been arrested for that in Cambodia during the late 1970’s.
  • Six hours of constant talking and standing in front of teenagers is still exhausting!

God bless those of you who teach. Its rewards are priceless. In today’s mail, notes from each of Miss Lain’s classes thanked me for the presentation.

Gratitude is still alive and well in the hearts of our children even if it takes a special teacher to extract it! Perhaps that’s one of the more important things teachers teach.

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