Personal Blog by Rhonda Crowdis Hardisty

Posts tagged ‘Teacher’

Thankful Heart 2013: Day 10 – Personalities


My three daughters look so much alike that even though they are 14 and 22 months apart, when dressed alike for pictures, people often think they are triplets.  However, they are very different on the inside. Each has their own unique personality.  I found that this required different parenting styles as they were growing, which they tended to see as favoritism. However, I believe that even the Bible calls us to treat each one with the level of care and discipline they require as an individual in I Thessalonians 5.


As a teacher, the same is true. I need to approach each student as an individual and not only treat them, but teach them, according to their individual need. Raising children who are each so different has prepared me to be a better teacher. I am thankful that they taught me how to teach and nurture children with not only various learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses, but also very different personalities.


Thankful Heart 2013: Day 4 – Co-workers


Special Education Staff at NRES

I am so thankful for the team of people who make up the Special Education staff at North Riverside. They are some of the most talented and amazing teachers, para-professionals and specialists with whom I have ever come in contact. They make my job so much easier because I know they are taking care of their pieces of this puzzle so that I am not picking up the slack. Just a few of the things that make them awesome are:

Mrs. D is a certified teacher working as an Aide in my classroom, but acting like she is in her own classroom and taking responsibility to the educational needs of our students in every aspect imaginable.

Mrs. R is also a certified teacher, working as an Aide in our Resource classroom. Her compassion for all the students at NRES is clear from the way she greets students in the hallway each morning, to the way she takes some of my more difficult students aside to work with them exactly where they are on a given day.

Mr. C is a longterm substitute teacher in our district, who we will be very sad to lose at the end of this week. His positive attitude and smiling face will be greatly missed. He has filled in several times over the past two years, covering two teacher maternity leaves, and a couple of shorter term Aide positions with complicated student situations. He is always upbeat and happy. We cannot wait for another opportunity to have him on our campus.

Mrs. K is the newest member of our staff and what a great addition is she! Her dedication and respect for our students are unsurpassed. She takes pride in her work and wants our students to be successful in everything they do. I cannot imagine a better person to fill the second aide position in my classroom this year!

Mrs. B is a specialist who respects the opinions of the teachers on campus and takes them into consideration in everything she does. She cares about the progress each student is making and takes her time to assure they are learning at their own pace and level.

Mrs. C is a reading specialist with the heart to see students through even rough times. She knows what it takes to help students pull themselves up from below grade-level and support their confidence through it all.

Mrs. H is the spiritual center of our group. Not only is she also a certified teacher working as a classroom Aide, but she keeps us all grounded in our faith and reminds us that our Father is in control of it all. I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with her for the past year and a half, and will miss her greatly when she retires in the Spring.

There cannot be a more qualified group of teachers and staff joined on one campus anywhere. I am very thankful to be part of this team and pray our relationships and common goal for students to be successful are solidified even more in the coming years.

5 Minutes from the Heart: Worship

worship-700x273(1)Every week a group of people join together in connection with to write for just 5 minutes on a common topic, straight from the heart, no editing, no pre-writing and re-writing. Today’s topic is worship. So, here goes:

Start: 7:42 AM

Just last week I read in my morning devotional about how parenting should be treated as an act of worship. That got me to thinking about how teaching should also be performed as an act of worship.

So I pledge to teach every day of this school year as an act or worship. To give everything I have to the children with whom I am working in a way that is holy and acceptable to God.

The Bible says this is my reasonable service to Him.

I am not to be conformed to teaching the way others teach: gossiping about my students in the teacher’s lounge, wishing I had different kids in my classroom, praying that June come quickly when it’s not even September.

Rather I should be transformed by renewing my way of thinking and performing His perfect will for my life and for these children: praying over them daily, believing that God will provide for our every need, having faith that they will learn what I am trying to teach them.

I want to be an example to my students and my co-workers of what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

Stop: 7:47 AM I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

5 Minutes from the Heart: View

935741_627204340640703_547424500_nLinking up with this morning for the first time in a while. The topic caught my eye and made me feel like writing. Here goes my addition to her 5 Minute Friday flash mob of writers all talking about the prompt “view”.

Start: 6:25

From the beginning of this school year until now my point of view has made drastic changes. It actually started a few weeks before the first day when I was offered a position on a new campus that was quite a bit different from what I had done for the past three years. I moved from a medically fragile life skills classroom of high school students to an all autism classroom of elementary students. I felt sure there would be some challenges, but I also felt sure that my graduate academic certificate in applied behavior analysis as well as my previous 6 years of teaching experience had prepared me for this challenge. To say that I was wrong is a huge understatement. My intent was to learn and grow, but I had no idea how much learning and growing was ahead of me. Over the past year I have gone from 8 students to 6 and back up to 8. I have gone from one classroom aide to two, back to one plus a different substitute every day. I have gone from wondering what I was thinking to really enjoying my choice to become a teacher of such wonderful little people who learn and grow so quickly. Then on to wondering what the district was thinking and if I would survive the school year. I never imagined that my point of view could change so drastically in the span of 10 months. I am thankful for the experience and know that God’s plan to grow me and mold me has not been completed. God is good and He never puts more on us that what he has designed us to handle. Just when you think you have come to your wit’s end, allow Him to change your point of view and show you just what wonders are in store.

Stop: 6:35 (with a phone call in the mix)

Thankful Heart: Day 28 – Snow

Today was another rough day in my classroom, but at the end of it I had a spur of the moment idea to skip plans for the afternoon and just enjoy my students. So, I gave 5 of them a piece of black construction paper and a tub of sidewalk chalk. I simply asked them to draw snow; whatever that meant to them. What I received was a great opportunity to just sit down and talk to each one of them; soaking in their knowledge and their innocence. One student in particular is a real handful, but on rare occasions like this he opens up and does something I have never seen or heard him do before. Today he spelled out the letters of his name verbally as I wrote them on his paper. This is a fairly non-verbal student who, prior to today, has never shown any sign that he knew more than the first letter.  This is a huge things for a special ed teacher because for us progress is measured in inches rather than feet. Following are the pictures they drew, which are now hanging in the hallway outside my room. It was the best snow ever and I am very thankful for every moment of it.

First grade student

Kindergarten student

First grade student

3rd grade student

Kindergarten student

Thankful Heart: Day 27 – The Process

There have been times when I have had a need in my classroom for more staff to provide a better student-teacher ratio for my unique student dynamic. This is never something that will just be given to me because I have asked for it. A need must first be established. This includes drafting an outline showing where my students spend their time during the course of the school day and which staff members are responsible for them at each point of the schedule. Next, this information will be reviewed by administrative staff who will forward it to other administration staff and so on. Then someone will come visit my classroom and assess the need for themselves, making suggestions on how to better use the current staff before changes will be considered. At some point more questions will be asked and if there is funding available, or maybe if I have enough student parents involved in the situation, a requisition will be processed for the additional staff and the position will be posted on the job board for the district. It’s a long process and at times seems to be never-ending; definitely a test of endurance.

I have spent many days and nights crying over the fact that I was not equipped to teach a class just the available staff. I have felt as if I were asked to paint a picture, but  have been restricted from using paint or a brush. I have said many times that I forgot how painful growth can be, but I also find it painful to be stagnant and lacking in opportunities to become a better teacher, a better parent, a better employee, a better Christian, and even just a better person.

I am reminded tonight that just like the school district has a process, God also has one. He does not just give us the things that we ask for without requiring something of us. Something like a relationship with Him, faith in Him, hope in Him, love for His people. God expects us to be faithful and follow His direction; move through the process so to speak. It is during this process that we learn to trust in Him. It is also during the process that we realize He is always with us, even if it does not seem like things are going our way. He has a plan. He is in control.

It’s time to start enjoying the process and asking God what He would have us learn through it. Today I am thankful that He teaches us through His process and in teaching us makes us better equipped for the future.

Thankful Heart: Day 23 – Students

So, I thought I was finished with my Thankful Heart series until I received an e-mail. On the side, I do in-home training and parent training for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Today I received an e-mail from one of my parents. She started by explaining that yesterday started as a difficult day, but at some point her child realized that going to eat at a family members home was not optional. Mom thought as long as no one got hurt, it would turn out to be a decent day, but she did not have high hopes beyond that.

They made it through the usual pleasantries and just before dinner the family began their traditional round of comments on why they were thankful on this Thanksgiving Day. Following a few comments, my student stepped into the room and spoke up; something completely out of character for this child. The words that followed brough joy to Mom’s heart and caused me to cry as a read the e-mail out loud to my mother. It was a simple statement.

“I am thankful. I am thankful for my family, for my teachers, for my brother, and for my cousin.”

Mom was so proud and e-mailed the classroom teacher and me to let us know that we had made the list of things for which this student was truly thankful. Mom continued to say that she is thankful as well because our help brought her child to this point and provided the support necessary to speak out in public for the first time. Mom finished by telling us that in helping her child we have provided her the greatest gift she has ever received.

With everything I have been through this school year and with some dread as I looked toward the long Spring months until June, this was just what I needed today.

This e-mail made my day, even my week. In general education you see changes and improvement in your students on a daily basis, but the same is not true in special education. As much as we do for our students on a moment by moment basis it is a rare month that something like this happens and you see how truly effective you are as a teacher. God is good. I pray that He continues to work through me in the lives of these precious children as well as in the lives of their parents.

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