Personal Blog by Rhonda Crowdis Hardisty

Archive for April, 2012

Peaceful Heart

All too often I receive a call from one of my daughters, hysterical about something.

Most of the time it is for little more than her sister took her mascara, but on occasion it is something more; a car accident, an unpaid speeding ticket followed by another speeding ticket and the threat of a trip to the city jail, etc.

At this point, my heart stops every time my phone rings and one of their names is on the screen.

On days when there are multiple hysterical phone calls I seriously think I am going to have a heart attack!

As a mother, I really am thankful that they all feel safe enough to call me for every little thing going on in their lives. I love that after years of asking them to call me when they reach their destination or change plans, that they have finally learned how to call me.

However, there are times when I wish they would just handle things for themselves and call me after they have resolved the crisis.

When they were younger I had daily heart failure due to lack of phone calls from them. I just could not sleep or focus on my day unless I knew they were all safe and sound somewhere, even if they were not at home.

I know that God is in control in every one of these circumstances. There is no reason for me to ever fear what might be going on at the other end of the line when my daughters call me.

It’s just something I am going to have to work on.

Philippians 4: 6-7 says,

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

My prayer today is that the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard their hearts and minds as well as mine. I will praise God for my children and their willingness to contact me in every situation. I will praise Him for being all that we need in every situation. I will remember that He is in control.

Do you need prayer in this same area of your life?


A Teachers Heart

As a parent, one of my biggest pet peeves regarding teachers is when they think they are teaching students something by being hard on them. I have had my share of parent-teacher conferences with teachers who thought they were motivating my child by either comparing them to their sibling or by treating them harshly.

I believe that there are students for whom these strategies work, and there are students for whom they do not.

I have a daughter who suffers from bi-polar disorder, and has for many years. However, this is typically not diagnosed until adulthood. Now that she has the diagnosis I understand so much more of her behavior as a child. She is a very bright and talented young lady, but had her share of struggles in middle and high school.

Every student is an individual and should be treated as such. No two students are the same. I believe that as a teacher it is my responsiblity to be flexible to the needs and learning styles of individual students; to use differentiated instruction, not just expect them all to benefit from my one-size-fits-all method of teaching.

I have been taught that when a student fails my class, it is not just because the student didn’t try hard enough, though that may be part of the equation, but it is because I, as a teacher, did not meet that student where they were educationally. It is my job to pull that student up to meet my expectation for their success, not wait for that student to find their own way up. Some students will find their own way, but others need more work.

I almost feel as if teachers who have the one size fits all mentality are being lazy. I understand that they hold a high standard and work hard putting together lessons that are challenging and meaningful, but if that is all they bring to the classroom, they have failed their students.

Differentiated instruction has been used by good teachers for many years, though it is just recently coming the to the forefront of education. It consists of three primary components:

1. Brain-based research which studies parts of the brain used for learning

2. Learning styles and multiple intelligences; every student is very different. Some learn best with their hands, other through reading, some through hearing. Some students are good with words while others are artistically creative.

3. Authentic Assessment of what they have learned, not just what was taught.

Students are also culturally, ethnically and socially diverse. Few teachers know where their students come from every morning before school and where they go every evening after school. Even if you know the socio-economic make-up of your school, you still do not know each individual student.

1. How many of your students ate breakfast this morning?

2. How many of them live with one parent? How many have two parents?

3. How many of them have a medical condition that affects their ability to learn or focus at school?

4. How many of them have social or learning disorders that have not been diagnosed?

5. How many of them look like they are one ethic mixture, but are actually another?

6. Have you ever assumed that a student was hispanic, when in reality they are caucasian and african american?

Do you know enough about your students to make the decision that your one-size-fits-all approach is the right approach for every one of them? Do you know why it matters?

In my experience, a teacher can never know enough about their students. A teacher can never assume that a student is giving their all, and they can never assume that they are not. Until you walk a day in your students shoes, you cannot take anything for granted. They let you know what they are willing to let you know, and you only accept what you are willing to accept.

How many of your former students that you thought you were reaching never learned a thing from you and thought you were the worst teacher they ever had? How many thought you disliked them because you were unwilling to be flexible? How many disliked themselves because they were not good enough for you?

A teacher’s heart must be open to everyone and everything. A teachers heart must be as willing to learn as they want their students to be. A teacher who believes they are helping their students by being tough and equally firm on all rules and expectations with all kids needs to re-think what they are doing and why they are teaching.

I know that I cannot reach all of my students, but with a teacher’s heart and willingness to be allow each student to be different, I can sure try. I know that not every student will like me, but most will know that I wanted what was best for them. What are you doing to reach them all at their level, in their learning-style?

God’s Heart Shaped Mold

As a parent and an educator my role is often to mold young minds to certain criteria set forth by others who may have never met my children or students and some of whom may have never spent any time molding young minds. A problem I see with this is that no two children fit into the same mold.

My three biological daughters have very distinct personalities though they have grown up in the same home in the same circumstances and very close in age; three years and three days between my first daughter and my third daughter. I have often refered to them as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry after driving through McDonald’s for shakes one time and literally ordering them each a different flavor.

My chocolate child is a peacemaker at heart, though she often turns into a bully in an effort to keep the peace. Lol. She wants to make everyone around her happy just like chocolate makes us happy.

My vanilla child is very “girl-next-door”  with straight light brown hair, and prefers to be barefoot or in flip-flops without make-up or a special hairdo. She actually prefers plain vanilla ice cream!

My strawberry child is a fashionista; she has a more exotic look with dark brown curly hair, as the Costa Rican gene’s are more prominent in her than in her sisters.  She is shy, but there is a little something special hidden inside that you don’t know until you spend time with her, kind of like finding the frozen strawberries hidden in your ice cream.

Each one is special in her own way and I would not change that for the world.

As I try to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, I occasionally find myself trying to fit them into one mold; the mold that my heart would have them be. I am reminded again and again that this is not what the Lord would have for them. He reminds me in gentle ways that each of them is their own person and must each walk their separate path.

One of my daughters got her feelings hurt when she heard me say that she was my “different child”. She felt that I was slighting her and saying that this was a bad thing.

What I actually meant was that she has chosen a different path, she is from a different mold than the other two who seem to be following somewhat in my footsteps. I actually think this is a positive thing, not a negative. She is very much her own person with her own thoughts and opinions. She is so creative and has so much potential in ways that the other girls and I do not have.

We each have our own unique identity, but God has molded us in His image and that is what is important. It’s not my place to mold my children to be mini versions of myself. It is important that I give them opportunities to be themselves and follow after the heart of God. That’s the only mold I care about them fitting into, the mold of God’s own heart.

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Foolish Heart

Have you noticed how some conversations get out of hand very quickly when one person makes a comment that upsets another and it just snowballs out of control?

This is especially true of social networking sites. People don’t seem to realize that they are justifying the other persons point by responding flippantly or dismissing the persons opinion or facts.

In Proverbs there are several verses that were written long before the Internet was ever though of by mankind, that speak to these issues:

Proverbs 26:4 says, “answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”

By responding to posts and comments by others in a manner that stirs things up, even if that was not your intent, you are putting yourself on the same level as the original thought. Even knowing this is a possibility, some people just cannot help but respond, then many find themselves regretting it afterwards. Those who do not regret it are often foolish for believing that their words made a positive impact on the situation. Those who were not trying to make a positive impact, are just foolish for meddling in another persons business.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “a fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

Those who hold their responses and keep their thoughts and facts to themselves for the time being, are wise in the eyes of God. I have a friend who says something like, “the person who says the least has the most power” in a given situation. People in sales know that letting the client think it’s their idea by allowing them to do the majority of the tallking will win the sale in the end. They wait until all has been said, all objections have been made, then they jump in and close the sale. They do not show their hand at every step of the transaction. By doing this, they are showing wisdom in the situation.

I have made the mistake of opening my mouth and speaking my mind at the wrong time, and regretted it later. We all have. The fool is the one who does not learn from this mistake and choose more wisely the next time. I will admit that it took years to learn this lesson myself.

Now as I try to teach this lesson to my children and students I feel helpless at times in trying to make them understand they are better off not responding. I have learned that the best way to teach them is to be an example. I believe being an example for my children is the reason I finally began to walk away and not try to make others understand my side every time.

Not everyone is going to see it your way every time. This is a hard lesson to learn and a hard lesson to teach.

If you struggle with this or with teaching your children this lesson, just realize that God is in control. Only God can shed light on the situation for everyone involved to see the truth. Your truth is most likely not the whole truth. Only God can make us understand and see the full impact of a situation and our actions in regard to the situation. He is the only all-knowing and all-powerful. Only He can change the situation with His wisdom.

Once again I find that the best way to avoid showing our foolish heart in a post or comment for all to see is to just let go and let God have it. Walk away with your dignity and your heart intact.

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