With a new school year upon us, a range of emotions swells in the hearts of teachers and students everywhere. What will this year be like? What if...? Will everyone like me? How will I get by?
I've spent the past eight years teaching English and drama, mostly to high school freshmen. Ninth grade is a tough transitional year. Then again, so are the other three. It seems like once you figure out how to "make it" in high school, it's time to graduate. So, here's some advice on getting the most out of those four years from a high school teacher who remembers being a high school student, herself:
1. Be prepared.
Come to school on time, well-rested, and with something healthy in your stomach. Bring something to write with, something to write on (or your fully charged approved electronic learning device)and any other materials your teacher has requested. Don't forget to bring a positive attitude.
2. Make a good first impression.
Dress for success. Your clothes reflect how seriously you take yourself and your environment. Be polite and pleasant when meeting your teachers. It goes a long way. (When I think about former students, I almost always recall the first time we met.) Always behave as though you are on camera. You never know who is watching - or filming.
3. Take notes.
Keep an organized notebook or binder. Write down everything important your teacher says, using shorthand as needed. Many students find it helpful to learn a structured note-taking format, such as the Cornell method. Taking notes also keeps you from getting bored or distracted. (Translation: time goes by much faster.)
4. Hold your questions, but remember to ask them when it's time.
Wait until a teacher has finished giving directions or delivering material before asking questions. Write your questions down while you wait. The answers might be a few sentences away. But when the teacher says, "Are there any questions?" ask away. Wait until a quiet time of independent work to request permission to go to the restroom or nurse.
5. Do your homework.
Use an agenda book or an electronic program (like myhomeworkapp) to track assignments. Get started as soon as you get home. Read any assigned literature, even if there's no worksheet involved. Study your notes from every class every night.
6. Get involved.
Find a sport, activity, or organization to be a part of. It will make high school a more meaningful experience and will help you make new friends. (I actually met my husband during our high school play.) Most schools offer something for everyone, but if not, consider starting a club. And remember: there are often college scholarships associated with extra-curricular activities.
7. Eat right.
You really are what you eat - and your school performance will reflect it. It's easy to get sucked into the typical teenage junk food diet, but it will wear on your physical and mental health. Load up on fruits and vegetables instead of pizza and fries. Drink lots of water. Your body and brain will thank you. (So will your skin, hair, and overall appearance.)
8. Be honest.
When you fail to tell the truth, people begin to doubt your integrity and lose respect for you. Your teachers are no exception. We've heard every excuse you could possibly imagine. But, all we want to hear is the truth. We understand that our students are human. If you are late because you were socializing with friends in the hall or forgot your homework, admit your mistake without providing a backstory. Accept the consequences, and don't let it happen again. (Do provide documentation to account for any excused absences or latenesses due to illness, doctors' appointments, etc.)
9. Choose your friends wisely.
Whether it's intentional or not, we tend to assume the habits and attitudes of the people around us. Surround yourself with positive, motivated people who respect you for who you really are. Steer clear of people are overwhelmingly negative, have no dreams or goals, or want to change you. Avoid at all costs those who are involved in bullying, drugs, crimes, and other nefarious activities. You will be judged by your circle of friends, so place yourself among people whose reputations will bring you pride, not shame.
Your teenage years will be loaded with uncertainty, but know that you are never alone. When your world feels like it's falling apart, all you need to do is pray. Ask for wisdom when a daunting test looms before you. Ask for peace after a fight with a parent or a friend. Ask for the courage to approach that girl or guy you like. Ask for the strength to say "no," and for forgiveness when you wrongfully said, "yes." And when you get what you've been hoping for, don't forget to say, "thanks."
August 08, 2013 12:51
By Robyn Barberry
After a series of traumatic events collided with a post-partum hormonal imbalance, I found myself struggling to cope with my circumstances well enough to stay afloat.
Prayer and family guided me to seek treatment at Sheppard Pratt. I used my time there to heal, grow, and form relationships with other people. I was also blessed with a number of opportunities to evangelize a few lost souls, yet surprised by the number of other Christians I met along my journey.
My guest blogger, Preacher Pam, is one of those angels. Her piece, “Flying with One Wing,” tells a story not unlike my own.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health condition, please do not hesitate to seek professional help, and above all, pray. It worked for Preacher Pam and me.
Flying With One Wing
Friday, October 19, 2012, my life was suddenly changed forever. I was instantly plunged into a world of darkness, fear, confusion, and panic. I had no idea what was happening to me. When I went to bed I was fine (or so I thought), but somewhere between the time I laid down to sleep and the time I was awakened by a leg cramp my world was turned upside down.
For weeks, I lived in a fog of fear, panic, confusion, and a struggle with my faith in God—not being able to pray, to write, or to concentrate on reading His word. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t continue school. It seemed my life had stopped! What had happened to me? Had I done something wrong? Was this an attack of the devil? Or was this something sent by God—a thorn in my side to humble me and teach me valuable lessons I had not yet learned?
For weeks, I sought help from the medical and psychiatric community only to have every door shut in my face. Meanwhile, family and friends tried helping me by reminding me to trust in God or quoting Scriptures or forcing me to do familiar and necessary things that had become more fearful to me than anything I had ever experienced. I began to feel isolated from family and friends and even strangers on the street as I watched everybody living their lives and going on as if nothing had happened to me. I was lost. I was lonely. I was on an island all by myself with nobody to care. Thoughts swirled in my head that may not have been true or made sense but they were my thoughts. I lived each day with the fear that I would lose all my faculties again and fall. I was snatched from the comfortable place because it was felt I was giving up and being pampered and babied and that’s why I couldn’t get better.
The truth was that nobody really knew what was wrong and nobody really knew how to help me, except a few who had experienced firsthand what I was now going through and a daughter who refused to allow my weakness to get the best of me.
Finally, God sent relief. When things just got increasingly worse, I found myself willingly going to Sheppard Pratt. How had I gotten here? Am I “crazy?” No, I’m NOT “crazy.” I have an illness like any other illness, except it’s mental. It was there that God had a place of healing and restoration for me. After talking to the psychiatrist one time, she diagnosed me with depression and anxiety and agreed that I was a perfect candidate for the Sheppard Pratt Adult Day Hospital. For the first time in my life, I found myself in a situation I had never been before but wanting help so much I was willing to try anything.
On November 27, 2012 I was admitted. The Adult Day Hospital is an outpatient program for people like me who are struggling with a mental illness but who have progressed beyond or do not need inpatient care. For two weeks every day, I went to the facility from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm and went from one group therapy session to another facilitated by knowledgeable, caring, and helpful professionals. I saw my psychiatrist everyday (except when she had to attend a 2-day conference), saw a nurse every morning and reported to her how my night was and how my day was beginning, and met with a social worker (whom I absolutely adored). I listened to other folks’ problems, cried my own tears and some for them, felt a sense of guilt for even having to be in a place like this. But little by little and day by day God showed up and strengthened me and helped me through therapy and medication to get back up on my feet.
Am I completely whole now? NO! But I am learning how to FLY WITH ONE WING! I am learning that God doesn’t need us to be perfect in order to be used by Him. I am learning that even with one wing God still loves me and He cherishes me and He thinks I’m the “cat’s meow.” I am learning that even with one wing I have value and worth, I am still intelligent, I am still God’s child, I can still live in this world and make a contribution and a difference in it.
Yes, I have one wing but with this one wing I will fly and soar like an eagle and I will continue to trust God and wait on Him because it is true “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall run and not get weary; they shall walk and not faint. Wait, I say on the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31).
Reverend Pamula D. Yerby-Hammack is the Visionary, Founder, and Executive Director of Wind of Change Ministries, Inc., a God-owned and operated 501(c)3 ministry: by women, to women, for women. She believes that the Lord has birthed this unique ministry for the purpose of spiritual renewal and refreshing and to meet the needs of women & girls worldwide.
Reverend Yerby-Hammack preached her acceptance sermon on January 30, 1994 and became an ordained minister on December 8, 1995.
She holds a Certificate of Religious Studies and a Bachelors Degree in Theology from the Eastern/Maryland Theological Seminary. She currently attends Faith Theological Seminary and is working on her Masters of Divinity.
Reverend Yerby-Hammack also mentors women and helps to groom them for ministry, in addition to preaching and teaching throughout the country.
She is a member of Saint Abraham Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
Reverend Yerby-Hammack is married to Van Hammack. They have one married daughter and two grandchildren.
December 13, 2012 11:42
By Robyn Barberry
Collin was just seven months old when the 2010 Winter Games were held in Vancouver. Now, at the age of three, I feel obligated to explain the Olympics to him. So, I let him take a long nap on Friday so he could stay up to watch the opening ceremonies with me. (Relax – it’s only every two years!)
I’ve only ever played on one sports team in my life (a disastrous tale for another time) and visited two countries other than my own (though I hope to change that). But, you don’t need to be an athlete or a globetrotter to appreciate what the Olympics symbolize.
In explaining the meaning of these international games to Collin, I discovered some truth for myself.
Truth 3: Good sportsmanship takes effort
The Olympics have also been a great opportunity to teach Collin about the importance of eating right and exercising. I point out the muscular physiques of the Olympic athletes and tell Collin that he can grow up big and strong like them.
Fortunately, he loves all fruits (especially bananas) and vegetables (except lettuce). Unfortunately, like most 3-year-olds, he has a thing for macaroni and cheese and was recently introduced to candy. Showing him positive, athletic role models may help him to choose healthier foods as he grows.
Exercising has never been my favorite activity, but I know that if I want my children to be physically fit, they have to see me incorporate regular work-outs into my life. Like Phelps, I’ve found the pool to be a great place to leave my troubles behind. After my cardio and strength training, I unwind by splashing around with Collin, and soon enough, Frank.
Toddlers get plenty of exercise playing actively during the day. Yesterday when I picked Collin up from my parents, my dad said that he had been running around the basement chasing a ball for almost an hour.
As children get older, and school dominates their lives, their physical fitness needs change. Team sports are the route many parents take to ensure their kids stay active, but playing together as a family at home, outside, at a park or at the gym is a good way for families to reinforce fun fitness.
Our bodies are a gift from God. Maintaining our health is an obligation we have to Him. We certainly don’t need to be Olympians to take care of our bodies, but we can look to many (though not all) of them as positive role models for taking care of our bodies in the right way.
My husband is the athlete in our household. If our boys take after him, I’ll be delighted to cheer on their teams. A little competition is a good thing, but it’s more important that Collin and Frank learn to be “good sports.”
Glory and defeat should be shared amongst teammates. We shouldn’t celebrate the ball-hog or chastise the kid who missed the big play. We should shake hands with our opponents the same kind way after beating them or being beaten by them. We should apply the ideals of 1 Corinthians to our love for the game and for our teammates.
If Collin and Frank are the clumsy, artistic type like me, we will still ensure they have some physical routine and plenty of opportunities to learn the value of being a team member.
Being a part of a goal-oriented group teaches kids the value of cooperation, communication, and overcoming obstacles together. Collin used to like a show called “Wonderpets” about three classroom pets who work together to save animals around the world. They sang a little song which went as follows:
“What’s gonna work?”
Now, Collin sings the song whenever we work together to solve a problem. He may have even belted it out during the 200 meter relay …
Anyone who knows me will tell you that following the rules is not my greatest strength. I think it’s partially because I never chose to play sports, where the importance of obedience is often learned.
In sports, there are immediate consequences if a rule is broken during the game. More often than not, disobedience impacts the entire team. Foul shots in basketball can help your opponent earn points. Losing yards in a football game means negative progress for the team. If a player or a coach is carded or ejected, everyone else must adjust accordingly.
Sports rules also have many positive aspects. Rules are what make games worth playing. If every player is operating under the same parameters, anyone can win. Cheating happens, but seldom goes unpunished.
God’s rules for us are what make life worth living. If we don’t follow His rules, we are punished. If we obey his Commandments and teachings, we always win.
August 09, 2012 02:37
By Robyn Barberry