Sunday, January 17, 2010

Life Goes On, Without the Weight

I'm always surprised when someone comes up to me and compliments me on losing weight. I forget what a shock my appearance is to people, especially if they haven't seen me for a while. If they ask me how I lost the weight, I tell them about the lap band, but I always make sure they know its just a tool; I tell them if I don't eat right it won't work. In fact, if all I ate was ice cream it would slide right through and I could eat enough to gain all the weight back and then some.

I find being honest publicly helps me be honest with myself. I'm 3 lbs. from goal and slowing down on speed of weight loss. Trying to ease into maintenance. I'm scheduled for another fill Feb 2, which I can tell I'm going to need. I can eat a lot now at a sitting. Not good. Means if I do that, then I've got to really be careful for several days after in order to maintain or continue to lost. However, I can't manage a life of weighing and measuring and writing everything down. So I need the band filled to limit the quantity I can eat and then make good choices most days with occassional treat days.

One big relief is that Roseland Christian where I work is doing much better. The money has come in to keep us running despite the IRS freezing and then taking the money in our account. We are meeting all our current obligations, including to the IRS, for this year. We are working on paying past obligations, with the help of donors who believe in us. And we seem to be getting some good help in place for future fundraising.

I don't think I can tell you how much I love teaching at Roseland. I am not a textbook teacher. Probably no effective teacher is. I no longer even attempt to write lesson plans. The material I cover from year to year is basically the same. The workbooks my assistant puts together from the materials we have may come from new materials but I have kids working through them at their own pace and ability levels like before. As they finish a page I check it, reteach as necessary and have them correct it or I do it with them. They constantly circle around me and sit back down and get back to work. They love working in my classroom because they're working at their own level and pace and because my assistant and I are available to help them.

Flexibility is the key and rigid lesson plans don't work. I work through reading the same novels as in past years but the questions I ask have to be so flexible because the children's abilities are so varied and their responses are so different. I have to ask the questions in totally different ways for different children.

What worked one year might not work the next year. For example, my fifth grade class is mostly boys. They all have very poor attention spans. Boys are competitive, so everyday I split them into their teams and start with review questions on what we've read previously. Their team gets points for what they are able to answer. They hate when I stop the game to continue reading the book, but they have also really gotten into the book so they hate when the bell rings, too.

I make things up on the fly while I'm teaching that I would never think of if tied down to a detailed lesson plan. My most recent memory device is a song set to the old Mounds/Almond Joy jingle. I sing to the kids who are learning to carry or trade numbers, "Sometimes you carry the number (or 10), sometimes you don't."

Every year I get better at teaching. I get better at handling the kids and building relationships with them. This past week a fourth grade boy said while he was doing his math, "I love Mrs. Flory. I love math."

Man, that's worth all the other hassles that go with teaching. I love these kids at Roseland. I'm so connected with them. And I might not get to teach them next year. I have begun to realize what a privelege teaching these kids is.

But its all in God's hands. I believe Roseland will still be there another year. The help is coming in. That's one hurdle. Now I need to hear from Chicago Public Schools if they're still going with an outside vendor, then that vendor has to agree to subcontract with Elim who is the vendor for my services at Roseland for me to keep my job. Meanwhile I'm signing up for two graduate courses next summer. I'll only need one after that to be endorsed in Special Ed and I'll be able to keep taking Master's courses after that. Possible that I'll have my degree by the end of the following summer.

So I'm doing the footwork to continue my employment. I might become a consultant for one of the programs I use in my classroom, or I might connect with homeschoolers who have kids with learning problems. I really don't like the way special ed is handled in the public schools. These teachers seem to be testing kids, filling out paperwork, writing ieps, and sitting in meetings a lot more than they're teaching or helping the kids. That's not what I want to do. So we'll see.

God has his plans for me. He's brought me safe thus far. And whatever my future holds, I'm going into it a lot healthier and with a lot less weight to hold me back.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

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