Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.


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Choose to Be Brave and Perhaps Different!

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Anais Nin

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Push Into The Throb

I know the pain slices through your hope, it casts your eyes toward the darkness, thinking it is bigger than the light,
But it’s NOT!
Feel the pain,
Push into the throb,
Hold onto it until you navigate its rapids because if you numb out, medicate, and avoid it, it will stay there, buried, still aching.
Numbing seems safe, but it just delays healing.
Healing comes through feeling, weeping, cleansing, and releasing.
Be free
to heal,
to live.

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Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell


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Throwing Teddy Overboard: The Human Tendency to Hit Back

Humans just want to hit back; even babies show this trait. For example, my 14-month old nephew, Jack, is getting sleep trained right now, and he desires to be held until he is in a deep sleep. He thinks that is what is best. His parents know that he needs to learn to comfort and sooth himself, and if he learns that, he will be a more emotionally capable person. So when he gets put down to sleep, he has been held for a while, just not until he’s fully asleep; he riles himself up and howls for a while. He throws his blanket out of the crib. He lays back down (his parents and I can watch him via baby video camera), rests a bit, then stands up again wailing. He grabs teddy by the leg and tries to stuff him through the crib’s bars. Eventually teddy is thrown out of the crib, followed by Wolfgang, the bear. He takes out his anger on his comfort items by throwing them out! Eventually he curls up and falls asleep. Seeing Jack act like this made me reflect on my own actions recently and think about anger, grace, and forgiveness.

Grace…forgiveness…are words thrown around especially in the religious culture; however, when confronted with really having to walk in these attitudes, it is impossible to do by yourself.

God is even more compassionate than my brother and his wife (who are amazing and this sleep training really is stretching them). He comforts us for a while, but then puts us in situations where He wants us to learn to comfort ourselves and rest in Him even when we don’t like what is happening. I, for one, have cried and wanted to “throw my blanky out of the crib”—frustrated for what is happening in my life. I do not have grace and forgiveness on my own. I howl inside and want to hit back.

Seeing my nephew has helped me see how ridiculous I have been recently. God is not watching me via video camera—He is right next to me, walking with me through pain and betrayal. He understands and has given me the ability to extend grace and forgiveness. It’s Him! I still have some anger to work through, but when I stop “wailing” and just curl up and rest, God gives me the grace needed for right now. AND He is a good father, so if He let something good leave my life, He must have something better up ahead.

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A Grueling Team Workout

Catch the medicine ball and throw it back
Sprint to first base
Push-ups
Lunges to second base
Burpees
Bear crawl or third base
Spider-Man Leg pumps
Jumping back and forth across the line to home base.
Then do it
Again
And again
And one more time.

I was the last one to get done
I had never been through a drill like this before.
I almost was the oldest teacher to do it, and the PE teacher came along side me at the end and did it with me.
Being part of a team and having a coach come along side me to finish met a need in my heart.
As I become an assistant coach this year, I will remember this part of professional development and remember the power of coming along side someone to help them finish a grueling work out.

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Children Testing the Limits: Thoughts on Watching Students Adjust to a New Teacher and the Importance of “No!”

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Watching the children handle change is fascinating. This week our school welcomed a new Spanish teacher! The old teacher had introduced the new teacher to the kids last week, but now the new Spanish teacher took over. Watching how a change in leadership influences kids intrigued me.

Here’s some of what happened: I tried to prepare the students to do well in the first class with the new teacher by reminding them how to act, but once we were in the classroom, I was the supporting teacher, and she’s the main teacher.

The period started out well with the students practicing what they had learned in the last class: saying “Buenas tarde!” when they entered the room. They sat down at their tables, then the new Senora played them some music and started teaching them different Spanish words that were in this song about a wooden doll. At first the students followed along, but then there was more talking and subtle goofing off (the new teacher may not have noticed it, but I did and was not happy!)

About half the class was engaged, while half of the class (the more active, less able to transition well half) was testing the new teacher. Some students were being extra silly, while others were apathetic. I tried to keep them engaged, but I couldn’t make them completely focus because I wasn’t leading the class.

This makes me think back to when I took over four English classes mid-year at a private school in Costa Rica a few years back. The first six weeks it seemed like it was going so smoothly, then problems started popping up. I had wanted to be sensitive and supportive as we all went through the change of teachers, but I’m seeing that I should have been lovingly tough from the start. Now I have learned that knowing how you want the students to act, clearly stating it, giving consequences if they choose to not follow directions, and then plow ahead into learning is a great way to function in a classroom. When a student even does something a little different than how you want it done, quickly correct them and then get back to work. The students want you to keep your word and create a safe place to learn.

In Costa Rica I didn’t clearly know how I wanted them to act, and then I didn’t confront things quickly, so they got away with disrespect and things they shouldn’t have done. I shouldn’t have let them. Once this got away from me, it got harder to manage the students, and then it was even harder to get the classes back on track. I was able to bring a couple of the classes around, and one finally came around on the last day when I finally said a clear “No!” to one junior high boy who had been getting away with murder. I made it through that season of teaching, but now I see how important it is to be able to say “No!” to kids.

Now back to yesterday’s Spanish class. After we got back to our class, I started talking with the kids about it, but I wasn’t sure how firm to be or what exactly to say, so my fellow teacher jumped in and helped me clearly tell the kids, “That is NOT how you act in Spanish class!” They got a consequence they didn’t like, and tomorrow they will have another chance to do well in Spanish. Children need guidance and support through a transition of leadership, and I’m interested to see how the kids will act tomorrow.

Kids want you to stand up to them. They want to know you will protect them and guide them through learning. Saying “No” to children is sometimes the best way to love them.


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Adjusting to Expectations: Why some people seem to “have it” and can managing kids well…and others are still developing that skill!

School has been in session for over a week, and it’s amazing to behold how fast children learn. Students are learning subjects, such as the continents in social studies, but they are also learning how they should act in the classroom.

Recently I was reading a Boundaries book by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend, and I can sum up one section of what they were talking about through saying, “You get what you tolerate.” In this context they were talking about dating, but I’ve been thinking about it in regards to the classroom.

I’m noticing that students need affirmation and want to please adults who give them authentic praise, and we do get what we tolerate! If we let students be disrespectful, they well be.

My fellow teachers and I expect the students to listen to us the first time, we praise them when they do it, and if they choose not to listen, we don’t let them get away with it (through either correcting them or giving them a consequence for their actions). No one likes getting threatened or shouted at, and those actions do not foster lasting change. Lasting change comes from relationship.

I had thought it was just some people had more charisma and authority than others and could manage students better, but everyone can learn the skills of having high expectations, keeping people accountable for their actions, and giving positive reinforcement! It just takes having the courage to be consistent with your standards, confront negative behavior quickly, and knowing when to reward and encourage.

Yesterday a student that has had trouble keeping control of his body showed me how he was changing: Another student had forgot to bring a spoon in order to eat the meal her parents had sent. The boy offered the other student one of the spoons he had brought for himself. Seeing this action showed that this student was living up to higher expectations!

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