Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.


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Full Circle: Seeing Students from Over the Years

“Do you remember me? You used to teach at Hope, right? Your sister-in-law came and spoke to us…” The high school senior smiled at me as she paused while I went back a couple of years in my brain to remember her face, and I did. She used to be a bubbly freshman when I helped lead the girl’s camp and taught for a short stint at the private school in Chicago that she attends; now she stood next to her boyfriend at the carnival on the south side that the last school I taught at has every summer. Seeing her reminded me that I am glad I tried teaching at that school…I did influence a few students…

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Painting Beside My Students 


Teaching students who want to learn from you and are painting with you is invigorating. Today I started my arts and crafts club at school. A few months ago, when I was showing students how I wanted them to do a demonstration speech, I showed my students how to crochet. Several students were very interested in learning; those are the students who showed up to my arts and crafts class! 
This week we started out with watercolor painting. I taught them how my mom taught me: just start painting and figure it out. I gave them a few tips such as more water for lighter colors and less water for darker colors, but I just let them explore and do what they wanted. We had four unique and cheerful paintings done at the end of the hour! I was able to also paint some Easter pictures to decorate our classroom.
Sitting next to the students painting is a great way to connect with them. I have three 6th graders, one 7th grader, and one 8th grader. I am so happy to just to talk with them about what they enjoy, what kind of art they are interested it, and a little bit about their family. I left work today feeling happy and satisfied. Art brings people together.
-Mary Hope
Copyright 2017


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Coach Campbell has Arrived

Me? An assistant cross-country coach?!? Late Friday afternoon two weeks ago, I had just been sitting there in the tutoring center, when a guy walked in and asked, “Do you know anyone that would be interested in helping coach the cross county team?”

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Homeschooling Gray: Being Homeschooled, and Then Trying to Teach in a Traditional School

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Homeschooling’s Black, White, and Gray Series 1 Episode 10
Who was your favorite teacher? Someone lively? Hands-on? Or someone serious? Probably that teacher, whatever their traits, loved teaching you and your classmates, their students, and loved teaching their subject. Think about your own teaching…What is your teaching style? Do you like to teach one-on-one, but prefer not to do it in front of a classroom? Or do you like lecturing, but do not enjoy getting students up and moving around in group activities? There are different styles of teaching that work well with certain people, and it’s good to admit what type of teacher you are (it might be similar to the favorite type of teacher you liked while you were in school).

The direction my parents modeled for my siblings and I while they homeschooled us pointed us toward knowing how to be a Jack-of-all-trades verses being a specialist. This has had its disadvantages and advantages as I’ve entered and worked in the field of education.

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A Mother-Hen Hug

The students looked back and smiled when they saw me sitting in the back of Friday chapel time. Yesterday I attended worship at the school where I teacher assisted last year, and when I walked into the room where last years’ students were writing, I got mobbed! “Miss Campbell!!”

A red-headed girl got up first, threw her arms around my waist, then a boy, and in the end probably 17 kids were all around me hugging me and each other. Arms interlocked, jumping, hugging happiness expressed through smiles and saying the words, “Miss Campbell!!” with such joy. This brought more healing to my heart. I have taught students well, and will teach them again.

Picture a mother hen surrounded by her many chicks. The teacher soon had the kids back in their seats, writing again, and I stopped and talked with the kids at each table. Their bright eyes bring happiness, and it was so satisfying to see the progress they are making. Investing in children’s lives is SO worth it!

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This is an example of an Aunty hug 🙂

By M. H. Campbell Copyright 2014


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A Cranky Teacher: Seeing Myself Through My Students’ Eyes

Substitute teaching is harder than it looks.

“Miss Campbell, are you married?” The junior higher asked. “No,” I said as they continued. “Are you engaged?” “No,” I responded.

Then a junior high boy made a comment that I didn’t fully hear: “Maybe that’s why…” I looked sternly in his direction and didn’t hear the rest. I had had enough battles for that day of substitute teaching.

My imagination added the rest: “Maybe that’s why she’s cranky and unreasonable sometimes.”

Or “Maybe that’s why she’s quiet and doesn’t laugh much.”

Taking the time to consider myself from my students’ perspective is helpful, sobering, and a little funny (I shouldn’t take myself so seriously!)

Cranky teacher

Did I really need to let one student get under my skin so that she started shouting when I asked her to leave the room?
How could have I made it more fun to transition instead of just repeating the same instructions several times?

The life of a substitute teacher flows with newness and lots of challenging students. Students go on their worst behavior when a substitute comes; why is that?
It’s human nature, so I guess they just have to test the limits.
I’ve done okay, but I’m not an amazing sub. However, I’ve learned a lot from subbing:

I’m a grouch sometimes. Period. And a little chocolate helps.

Students can’t read my mind, so I need to give them clear directions and then if they choose not to follow then they get a consequence.

I forget to smile and am nit-picky.

My processing speed in new situations is slow at times when I’m stressed out, and I need space to figure out what to do next.

I need to know my high expectations for my students, have fun getting there, and not let them get away with being sloppy.

My teaching voice needs work (maybe voice lessons?).

Assume I’m right and don’t argue with students!

Be confident; I am the teacher, even if I’m grouchy sometimes, and students must have an okay attitude or if there’s a bad attitude, work through it with me.

Apologies help with everyone.
Be confident enough to admit I was wrong and humbly apologize when needed.

Be observant. Students are sneaky!

Students want the sub to be strong and not let other students push him or her around.

Don’t nit-pick; save the correction for important times, but you can be establishing your standards in a fun way. I’ve been unsure of correction, so I’m nice until I need to confront someone, then I come down hard to show who is boss, then students take offense because I didn’t have a connection with them and emotional capital to use. Students are not machines!

I saw a friend over-do correction recently and then it clicked in my head why I had been offending some students. There is a relational balance, and I had been over-doing it. They had just been talking when they should have been studying, but I came on full-force; adjust to the situation.
I’m learning to build rapport and trust with my students.

Teaching is worth the hassle! Do it.

Be yourself and teach well.

To all the substitute teachers out there: My hat is off to you. Continue teaching and serving those students! You have a hard, but rewarding job.

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