28 October 2011

Incredibly Blessed

This evening I am feeling incredibly blessed. It's a fact that I am incredibly blessed anyway. Here are just some of the reasons why am incredibly blessed every day:
  • a comfortable, safe, secure, dry (well mostly) place to live;
  • plenty to eat (too much in fact sometimes);
  • a comfortable bed to sleep in;
  • airconditioning;
  • a great job working with delightful kids;
  • a family that loves me;
  • friends; and
  • above all, a God who cares about everything that happens in my life, knows me through and through, and loves me beyond anything you can imagine!
So why, today, am I particularly feeling incredibly blessed. Well, it's like this ...

Earlier this week, two of the girls in my class came to me and said, "Ms Karen, we didn't give you a birthday party last year, so we want to have one for you on Friday. Please can we do it?"
"But my birthday's not until January!" I replied.
"But we didn't have a party for you last year, so please can we do it on Friday?" was their passionate plea.
How could I say no? Actually it was reasonably easy to say yes, because I knew two of my students had birthdays coming up - one today and one tomorrow, and having taught them both last year, I suspected a cake would arrive for him sometime during the day, so it made sense to have a party this afternoon. So I said yes, and they gathered some support from their friends and this afternoon they had their party.

After lunch we packed up the classroom, and headed downstairs, since I don't think it's fair on the cleaners to party in the classroom. The children collected their goodies, and I collected Vitu's cake from the office and we started to get organised. First of all, I organised the children for a game of "Cat and Mouse", which they just love, starting off with the birthday boy and girl as the cat and mouse. Then we gathered around and tried to light the candles, failing miserably, so sang "Happy Birthday" anyway, then cut the cakes. Here's some snaps of the cakes before we cut into them.

So Vitu and Whattey enjoyed a special treat for their birthdays, and I was privileged to be so loved by my students. They had also made some cards for me, which I unfortunately left on my desk at school, but they were equally precious and I'm looking forward to reading them again sometime soon. So I had an extra birthday this year, but I refuse to become another year older until the end of January 2012!

Now that's enough to make a teacher feel pretty special, but then something else happened this afternoon which was equally blessing. The postal system here in Cambodia is somewhat different to that in Australia. If something is addressed to a post office box there is a fairly good chance that it will arrive (although that's not always the case). In the event that a parcel is sent, several things might happen. First it might just get put in your box (if it's small enough), and you get to discover it when you open the box. That has happened. Alternatively, it may just get sat on the counter, and you need to check the counter regularly just in case something has come in. Sometimes there will be a slip in your box to tell you it's on the counter, sometimes not. Then, they might decide that they need some revenue, and in that case, you will get a yellow slip, with a price on it that you have to pay, in order to collect the parcel. That's what happened to me this week.

The guy whose box we use found a yellow slip in the box, and so he dropped it into the school office so I could go and claim the parcel. I finally managed to do that this afternoon. Well, it took them a while to find the package, and when she finally handed it to me, it was alive! Yep, it was crawling with ants. I'm not sure whether they were Cambodian ants or Australian ants, but they were definitely alive!!! The parcel was addressed simply to Karen K, and since I'm the only Karen who uses the box we were fairly sure it was for me. Well, I opened it in the Post Office to do my best to get rid of the ants. What I discovered was a card in an envelope and a small package of crystallised ginger! Unfortunately in ridding the package of ants, I inflicted further damage on an already injured finger, accidentally bursting a lovely big blood blister on my first finger of my right hand. That's OK. It was messy, but I found a packet of tissues and a bandaid to solve that problem, found a zip lock bag to put the package of ginger into (I was fairly sure I'd got rid of all the ants by that time but I wasn't going to risk it otherwise), put the card and envelope in my backpack and headed out to meet two of the Khmer staff from school, so we could check out a field trip possibility for the students. From there, I headed off to my tutoring job, and finally got home around 6pm.

While I was eating dinner I finally had a chance to open the card. I should mention that when I got the package, the senders details were limited, but I thought I knew who it was from. Well, when I finally opened the card and read it I was blessed to discover that this sweet package, and note had come from someone I don't actually know. This person has been reading my blog, courtesy of a mutual friend, and had taken the time, and effort, to put together a special package for me. Sharon B., I discarded the post pack at the Post Office because of the ants, so I don't have your address, but please know that your thoughtfulness was greatly appreciated, and gave me a special thrill! I will enjoy the ginger! Thank you!

What a blessing this was. It may seem like a small thing, but the thoughtfulness of it was a big thing for me. We do not know how the little things we do impact on other people, but doing small acts of kindness can bring big blessings! Who can you bless today? I'm not asking you to bless me. I've been blessed beyond imaginings. Now I'm thinking about who I might be able to bless in a similar way! Thanks again, to Sharon, and also to our incredible God for his awesome blessings every day.

26 October 2011

Parent-Teacher Conference Fun

Today was the first day of our first set of Parent-Teacher conferences for the year. At East-West we do a conference around the end of the first quarter and sometime in the third quarter, and then formal report cards at the end of each semester. The conferences are a great time to meet parents, explain a little of how things work in the classroom, and answer any questions they have. Each conference is just 15 minutes long, and I'm a little proud to say that we were only running 15 minutes late at the end of 10 conferences. Not bad going.

This year I decided to get some input from the children into the conferences. Some children attend with their parents and others don't. I'm easy either way, although I think it's really good when the kids do come. Anyway, back to the children's input. Each week on Friday we have a journal writing time. Sometimes we use the Six Thinking Hats to guide the children's writing, and other times I give them a prompt. For the conferences, they had six questions to answer.
  1. What have I done really well?
  2. What have I discovered I really need to work harder at?
  3. What is the best thing that has happened in class this year?
  4. What is the worst thing that has happened in class this year?
  5. What do I really want my parents to know about me in class?
  6. Is there anything I don’t want my parents to know about me in class? What is it? Why?
This proved to be a really interesting exercise, providing me with some useful information to inform my planning, and also providing some great material to discuss with parents. Last weekend I typed up the students' responses, and then at the bottom of the page I added a section titled "From the Teachers". In that section I have four items to comment on:
  • Strengths
  • Progress Made
  • Things to Work on
  • Something I enjoy about "student's name" ...
I then printed each student's page out, and they could take it home at the end of the conference. All the parents seemed very happy to receive this. I think it was especially useful where only one parent came, because they have a written record that they can take home and share with the other parent. Unfortunately they are only in English, but I know the children can read it even if the parents can't read the English, so they still have something to talk about at home. 

And now for something totally different! The title of this post was "Parent-Teacher Conference Fun" for a reason. During the second last conference the heavens opened, and the wind blew, and we had a huge storm. The wind was blowing so hard and it was raining so heavily that the water was literally flowing down the hallway. The water was actually flowing into my classroom, which is more than 10 metres down the hall from the open end of the building. Yes, I mean flowing into the classroom. It came 2-3 metres into the classroom. We literally paddled to the table for our last conference. In fact I did that one alone, while Mr Dy graciously attempted to keep the water from invading any further. He was scooping it out, but as fast as he scooped it out, it came back in. Eventually the rain lessened and the wind eased, and we were able to make some headway. I went home and got my mop (which is easier to squeeze out than the school mops), and headed back. By the time I left, after doing a little prep for tomorrow's lessons, the classroom floor was almost dry, except where it continued to trickle in under the door. Looks like it's going to be an early start for me finishing off the cleaning process and getting the classroom set back up again. I love rainy season!!!!

Well, having share that little adventure, I've still got 10 more conferences tomorrow and that means I have ten more sets of comments to finish off, so I'd better get on with it! Goodnight.

22 October 2011

Children's Fears

In Grade 4K, each week, on Friday, the students have time to journal. Sometimes they use a variation on the Six Thinking Hats to prompt their writing, and other times I give them a question to answer or a topic to write on. One of the topics that I chose was telling about the funniest things the students have ever seen, and another time it was about the kindest thing they have ever done. A couple of weeks ago I asked the children to write about what they were afraid of, and also to think about whether this fear was helpful or not. Today I finally made it a priority to catch up on reading their journal writings, and it was really interesting.

Some of the kind things the children had done were precious. Like the child who, in the absence of her older brother, set up the dinner table in a special way to make her mum and dad feel special, or the child who did all she could to help her older sister feel better when she was sick, or the boy who cared for his younger sister. I love these kids. They are so precious, and they so much want to do well.

As I read the stories of some of the things the children feared, I found it sad to repeatedly find stories of fear of ghosts, scattered among fear of big dogs, and snakes, and other more usual things. For me, it was a reminder of the "reality" of ghosts in the belief systems of many of the children I teach. We recently had the Pchum Ben holidays, and that is a time when people make special efforts to appease the spirits of the dead. On top of that, many of the children have access to cable television, with what seems to be an abundance of television shows that features ghosts or people coming back from the dead. These fears are very real to the children, especially to the Cambodian children.

Please pray for me as I work with the children. I cannot specifically talk about my faith with them, but I know that God is using me here. I also praise God that I know that, in Jesus, I have the greatest power possible to protect me from the whiles of the evil one, who loves to attack those who are sharing God's love. I praise Him that I have no need to fear, because his perfect love casts out fear. Pray for the children too, that they will come into contact with others who know and love Jesus, and that they will also come to know and love Him.

Remembering Dad - Part 2

In my first post, I focused largely on Dad's professional life, and that was an important part of who Dad was, but I think that the most important part of my Dad's life, and one which I'm glad he shared with me, was his love for Jesus.

From as early as I can remember, we shared family devotions at a mealtime each day. A Bible reading, a comment, and a prayer time. We also acknowledged God's provision each time we ate a meal, as together we said grace.

As far as I know, Dad was a member of his local Baptist church from his youth. During my life, I remember attending church as a family. Prior to their marriage, Mum and Dad both attended West Preston Baptist Church. The first church I recall attending as a family was Regent Baptist Church, and then, after we moved to Glenhuntly, we attended Ormond Baptist Church, both in Melbourne. After the move to Townsville, we attended first Central Baptist Church, and later Currajong Baptist Church. I recall Dad being actively involved in church life, including being a part of the diaconate, and church treasurer. For a time he was also involved in the management committee of the local children's family group home. As a teenager, and before my sister attained that status, I remember attending the occasional evening service with Dad, although I know he regularly attended both. After the move to Brisbane, Moore Park Baptist Church was their church home until the move to Armidale, and finally to Coffs Harbour. In each church family, Dad was no "pew-warmer", but an active participant in church family life. Over the years he continued to take on the role of both deacon and elder, and I know his Godly wisdom was appreciated by many who came into contact with him. In fact, I think that the last thing Dad did before he was admitted to hospital just prior to his death, was a prayer meeting with the other elder from Boambee Baptist.

Dad's faith wasn't just about going to church though. His faith was an integral part of who he was, and I have no doubt that the principles he learned through his growing years as a Christian led to his being the patient, principled, perfectionist, planner that my sister took delight in describing at his funeral.

Particularly during our years in Townsville, I remember our family hosting visiting missionary speakers. My parents actively supported missionaries as much as they were able to, and when I choose to move to Cambodia, to serve my Lord here, I knew it was with their support. I will never forget Dad's words when I asked how they felt about me continuing to serve as a teacher here in Cambodia beyond the first six months. Dad said, "We just want you to be doing what God wants you to do." How much more support than that can a person ask for. Thank you Lord for Christian parents who were willing to let me go.

In fact, the letting go occurred much earlier than that. It was during our teeinage years in Townsville, we developed our non-denominational attitude to worship. While my home church in Australia is still a Baptist Church, I am grateful that my growing years enabled me to experience worship in other denominations (Anglican and Methodist/Uniting), as well as the interdenominational atmosphere of Scripture Union camps. When our own family church didn't have a suitable youth group, Mum & Dad were very happy for us to attend another group that had more young people in our age group, Central Uniting Church. A while later, when I felt I didn't really fit in at Moore Park (our family church), Mum & Dad again allowed me to stretch my wings and find my niche at Kenmore Baptist.

There is so much more I could share about Dad, and maybe there will be another post in the days to come. Meanwhile, I hope that those who read this will remember a godly man, who loved his family, and taught them to know and love the only true God. What greater legacy can a man leave than a family that knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Thanks Dad!

Thank you God for taking care of me

Owning a moto, and riding one is never without risks. This morning when I headed downstairs I could smell fuel. Hmmm. That could be ominous. I didn't want to look but did and noticed that my moto was sitting in a puddle of dubious colour. My first thought was, "I do not need this". Anyway, I did my first couple of errands, and then returned to the house, and was greeted by a somewhat concerned tenant from upstairs. OK, thank you. I dropped off what I was carrying, picked up my helmet and moto keys and headed back downstairs. This has happened before, and it is usually a perished hose between the fuel tank and the engine, so I thought I'll see if I can get to a servo where they have helped me with a similar problem before. Moto started OK, and I made it safely there. When I got there, I was fortunate to find someone who spoke a little English, and discovered they would not be able to help me there. I pleaded for help and this young man offered to help me find a mechanic, hopefully just across the road.

We set off, with him pushing the moto and me walking along beside, and after 3 false stops, he managed to locate a moto shop who were able to repair the problem. We had had to walk quite a way, but he did not seem concerned at all by the time I was taking out of his morning. Having found a mechanic, they wouldn't give a price until they made sure they knew what the problem was, so this very pleasant young man, concerned that they might try to rip me off, stayed until he was sure the problem was fixed and he was able to get a definite price for me. As we waited, he asked if I was a Christian, and when I said yes, he told me that he was also a Christian, and told me the church he attended. I couldn't help but think how gracious God was to me this morning, in providing me with an unknown protector. When I offered to pay him for his help, he politely said no, and, having assured himself that all was in order, headed off to visit his sister and her new baby (born in such a hurry the baby was delivered in a tuk-tuk on the way to the hospital).

Isn't it just awesome to know that God cares about the little things as well as the big things. The other amazing thing, was God's protection as I rode to the servo. The fuel was actually dripping across several electrical connections! That could have been nasty. Thank you God for your daily protection in all aspects of my life.

15 October 2011

Remembering Dad - Part One

Born on 30th May 1938, Malcolm Donald Kimber was the third child of Robert Ernest and Gladys May Kimber. On 15th October 2007, he went home to be with His Lord, joining his parents and both his older siblings. He was survived by his beloved wife Lesley, two daughters - Karen and Jennifer, and his younger sister, Beth.

Each year, around this time, I find my thoughts turning even more frequently to my Dad. Many of the people who are now part of my life never met my Dad, and that makes me a little sad, so let me share with you a little bit (or maybe a long bit) about my Dad.

Dad was born in the middle of the Second World War, and so grew up in those post war years when so much change and development happened in Australia. His father worked for the railways all his life, while his mother fulfilled home duties as much as she was able. I want to share an edited version of what Dad wrote, in November 1980, about his early years.

He was raised in West Preston, a suburb about 5 miles north of Melbourne. Preston was a dormitory suburb, with some light industry. Preston's main claim to fame was the black soil in the flood plain of the Mary Creek, which was found most suitable for test cricket pitches at the MCC and other Melbourne grounds. Fortunately the family home was above the flood area, but Dad remembered several quite severe floods in the 1940s which changed a minor creek into a raging torrent for 2-3 weeks at a time.

Malcolm started school at the age of 5½ at the local state primary school. After 6½ years of primary school, he took what he considered the logical family step toward an engineering profession and started a four year course at the Preston Technical School. He completed the course with a Diploma Entrance Standard Intermediate Certificate, which allowed him to move on to senior technical college. At that point, he discovered that he would actually have to do some study in order to pass exams. After 10 years of full-time and part-time study, marriage, and the birth of their first child, he eventually graduated with a Diploma of Electrical Engineering. Well done Dad!

There are many family stories about the young Malcolm, including the fact that he was Grandma's favorite, and it couldn't possibly have been him who swung on the clothes line, giving it it's characteristic lean. Nor could it possibly have been Malcolm who, having raced his billy cart down the driveway across the street, crossed the road, sped his own driveway, negotiated the corner of the garage, and continued speeding down the path until he collided with the wash house door! Not Malcolm. He would never do a thing like that. "Not fair Dad! We only got half the run you did. We had to stay inside the front gates."

On 19th January 1963, Dad married his sweetheart, Lesley Nancy Buzacott, and together they moved into a brand new 3-bedroom AV Jennings home in the fast developing suburb of Bundoora. A year later they were joined by their first daughter, Karen Joy (me), and two years after that Jennifer Dawn came along.

Dad's first job in the electrical/electronics industry was as a laboratory technician, with a  company called Trimax Transformers, manufacturers of magnetic components for the then infant electronics industry. From their he moved to the Commonwealth Government Aircraft Factory where he spent 5 years in the missile trials section, discovering that the electronics industry was developing so quickly that technology would be out of date in less than five years. During that time he largely worked on the Ikara anti-submarine missile program. Observing the pace of development in the electronic industry, Dad made a choice to move sideways into an alternative field of engineering where his knowledge would have greater longevity.

In June of 1968 he joined the Melbourne office of WE Bassett and Partners as a Project Electrical Engineer. During the first five years with the company, he rediscovered the usefulness of much of his previous studies, as he work on major projects such as the development of both Monash and Latrobe Universities, being involved in the design of teaching, library and laboratory buildings with associated back up services, power distribution, telephone systems, etc.

One special project (in my memory anyway) that Dad was involved with during that time was the water jet that is an integral part of the Captain James Cook Memorial at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. In recognition of his involvement with that project, Dad was invited to attend the official opening, and so, on 25 April 1970, he met Queen Elizabeth II (we've got photos to prove it!). Mum joined him for the trip, although she didn't get to meet the Queen.

In late 1972, Dad was invited to go to Townsville, to join the new office being opened to service major projects in the sugar industry. A year later, he was made Manager of the Townsville office, and in July 1975, an Associate of the company. In addition to sugar industry projects, Dad was also involved in projects with various shires, harbour boards, hospitals, a large hotel building affectionately known as "the sugar shaker" and the James Cook University.

In 1980, the time came for transfer to the Brisbane office, where he worked for the remainder of his time with Bassetts. During that time, Dad and Mum had an opportunity to spend 3 months in China, where Dad was involved in development of the Shanghai Environment Liquid Waste Project. In the middle of that visit, things happened in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and I clearly remember several anxious days during which I was unable to contact Mum & Dad. They were fine, but in those days, long before Skype, and even widespread e-mail, it was a little disconcerting to see the news and not be able to contact your parents. At a time when many were leaving, Mum chose to stay alongside Dad, and I know she has some interesting memories from that time. Dad also had the opportunity to travel to the USA for work as well. During his time in Brisbane, I have strong memories of going to visit his office in Old Parliament House. Yes, Dad was one of the engineers involved in the refurbishment of Old Parliament house, and once again was privilege to attend a function involving Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

After 25 years faithful service, Dad was asked to retire early, at just 55 years of age, during a time of downturn in the construction industry. This wasn't easy, but Dad retired gracefully. This was not to be the end of his working life though. He was not ready to retire!!!

After a break, and a battle with prostate cancer, Dad and Mum made the decision to move to Armidale, NSW, where Dad opened his own consultancy business, M.D. Kimber and Associates. He was widely respected for his professional work, and continued to work on a variety of projects. After a number of years, and with more and more of his work being on the coast, the company was moved to Coffs Harbour, where Dad continued to work as a Consulting Electrical Engineer until shortly before his death.

To be continued ...

09 October 2011

70 years young!

On the 10th October 1941, somewhere in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, a beautiful baby girl was born. Lesley Nancy Buzacott was the first of seven children in the family of Richard Norman and Nancy Isobel Buzacott. Growing up during the post-war years, Lesley completed her Intermediate Certificate and went on to employment in clerical positions.

On 19th January 1963 Lesley entered a new phase in her life when she married Malcolm Donald Kimber at Balwyn Baptist Church. What a beautiful bride she was! On the 29th January 1964 Lesley and Malcolm became parents for the first time. Karen Joy was joined on 21st February 1966 by Jennifer Dawn, and as years passed it became clear that the two girls were to be the whole of their family. Lesley was a stay-at-home mum for many years, supporting her husband as he continued to study, and doing those multitudinous tasks that mothers in the 20th century did. She washed, ironed, cooked, cleaned, helped with homework, volunteered at the girl's school, and even made many of the girls' clothes, especially their special "Sunday" outfits, and even school uniforms. She also sewed gymnastics display costumes; special curtains and matching desk chair covers, and pillowcases; cushion covers; took classes to learn patchwork and applique; and was a Girls' Brigade officer.

Sometime after moving to Townsville in January 1972, with the girls both at high school, Lesley refreshed her clerical skills, including updating to use an electric typewriter, and did some part-time work at the W.E. Bassett & Partners office. She was a great typist, and became adept at preparing "spec's". Lesley also did some part-time work with Scripture Union, in their office in Townsville, and helped out with preparing church bulletins etc. I can still remember Mum "cutting stencils" on her typewriter, then printing off copies using the Gestetner machine. It was a sometimes messy and physically demanding process (I remember her handcranking the first copies through), but one she did well.

In January 1979, the time came to move the family to Brisbane, so Lesley headed of with Jenny, in the little Morris 1500, loaded to the roof, so Jenny could start school at St. Peters. Malcolm joined them in May, and Karen at the end of her year 12 studies. Throughout their married life, Lesley and Malcolm were active members of their chosen local Baptist Church, providing hospitality to visiting missionaries, and to others in the fellowship. Lesley has been a dedicated Girls Brigade officer at various times, and often served outside her comfort zone.

Over the years, I find it hard to remember a time when Mum didn't have a veggie garden. In Armidale it was often a battle with the rabbits as to who would actually get to eat the produce, and there was more than one close encounter with a snake! Mum still has a large garden, entailing much hard work, and providing yummy produce, although it is hard sometimes when the local kids pinch the fruit off her trees before it has a chance to ripen.

During their time in Brisbane, Lesley discovered the joys of card making using rubber stamps. When she moved to Armidale, she became the local agent for Print Blocks, and enjoyed teaching others the joys of card-making. She continues to make beautiful cards to celebrate special events for family and friends.

Some years ago, Mum and Dad moved from Armidale to Coffs Harbour, into their "retirement" home. They shared several happy years there, before Dad went home to be with the Lord almost 4 years ago. Having worked in a nursing home for several years (partially fulfilling a long-held dream of becoming a nurse by working as an AIN), Mum was able to make Dad's last days more comfortable, by caring for him in the living room of their home. THANKS MUM!

After almost 45 years of married life, (and more than 47 years in relationship with each other) Mum was alone. I'm proud to say she has made a wonderful success of living alone, and while I wish it wasn't so, and I know she misses Dad badly, she is doing a great job of getting on with the life that God has given her.

In July of 2008, Lesley made the long journey to Cambodia, to get a taste for herself of my life here. We travelled over together, and enjoyed a trip to Siem Reap as well as keeping busy with back-to-school activities. I hope she can return again sometime in the future. This wasn't her first trip overseas, but it was her first since Dad died, and she made the return 12 hour journey alone. Previous adventures included China for 3 months (they were there during the 1989 Tianamin Square protests), Norfolk Island and New Zealand). She has since managed a trip alone to New Zealand to visit one of her sisters. Onya Mum!

These days, Lesley has a busy and fulfilling life. She continues to be an active member of Boambee Community Baptist Church, serving the church family by producing the weekly bulletins, operating the computer & data projector, and (until very recently) helping maintain the church grounds. Mum also enjoys playing golf and is an active member of the Sawtell Golf Club, playing with the veterans, and "doing the handicapping". She also plays socially with some other senior ladies, rides her push bike, and does lots of walking (weather permitting).

Mum, this one is for you! I'm proud of you! I hope that your 70th birthday is a very happy one, and I'm sorry I can't be there for it. I also hope that God blesses you with many more very happy birthdays!

02 October 2011

Post Number 200

What do I do with auspicious post? It's hard to believe that I have written that much, but I hope it has helped those who read it to know me a little better, and given some glimpses of my life as a primary school teacher here in Cambodia.

Actually, this post is going to be a reflective one. Sometimes it's good to reflect, especially if it helps us to move on to better things. Being a reflective teacher is important.

I've heard it said many times that "the teacher who fails to plan, plans to fail", and I definitely agree with it. The longer I've been teaching the more I see the importance of planning. I've learned that the plans don't have to be in great detail, but they do need to have enough detail for me to know whether my students have learned what I hoped they would learn. At the same time, planning is not enough.

Once the plan has been executed, it's extremely valuable to take some time to reflect on the plan. It doesn't have to be documented in great detail, but it does need to be done. Some questions I've learned to ask as a reflective teacher are:
  • Did the lesson work?
  • If not, why not?
  • Was the content appropriate?
  • Did I start from the known, or did I jump straight into new material?
  • What could I do next time to make it work, or make it work better?
Often our reflections will not be about the content, although sometimes that does need to change, but about how the content was presented.
  • Could I have done this in a different way?
  • Would doing it differently have made it easier for the children to grasp?
Then, there are the reflections about ourselves as teachers. Our children learn so much in our classrooms, and much of what they learn is not academic but emotional and social. We also need to think about how the children think and see the world, and how this might be different to how we see the world.

Consider the whole concept of telling the truth. I don't know about you, but people who lie to me really annoy me. Yes, they get under my skin. Yep, I get angry. I'd rather tell the truth and face the consequences than lie (well most of the time anyway), and that's what God wants me to do. At the same time, I live in a country where the culture places a great deal of importance on saving face. Culturally, it is acceptable to tell a lie and save face, or to tell a lie to avoid hurting others, or to tell a lie to protect someone else. This is really hard for me to deal with, but it is something I need to work on. Someone said to me that these motivations, in the context of love, should be stronger than telling the truth. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I'm thinking it over. A thought that I'm finding easier to work with, but still not easy to do, is to consider these questions:
  • "How can I make it easier for someone to tell the truth?".
  • "How can I make telling the truth a safe thing to do?"
  • "How can I be sure that a person is confident enough of my love for them that they will tell the truth?
For my own truth telling, maybe I need to consider these questions:
  • How can I say this so it does not hurt the other person?
  • Do I really need to say it at all?
As I reflect on these things as a teacher, I'm also reflecting on them as a person. I thank God that I am a work in progress. One day, some great day, I will be as He truly intended me to be.

In the meantime, consider the words of Paul in Colossians 4:2-3a, 5-6.
Continue praying, keeping alert, and always thanking God. Also pray for us that God will give us an opportunity to tell people his message.
Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.

I pray that I will remember this throughout the day tomorrow and every other day as well.