finishing the semester and getting started with job applications


Yesterday, I turned in my last book review. So now I just have one more Hebrew chapter to translate, and I have to show up for two more weeks of class discussions. Well, I do have chapters to read and quizzes to take for my leadership class and some field hours left to do. I might actually be able to get it done meaningfully... Then I will move into the summer rouitne of internship and Greek, which I suspect will be more manageable. And somehow, I have a clean house on top of all this! Ideally, I would like to maintain that. It makes me feel good, and I could have guests in...


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He has borne our griefs...


Today in Hebrew, we read in Gen. 50 where Joseph's brothers tell him that God commands him to "lift up the transgression of your brothers." I mistranslated it; and this led my professor and me into a discussion of the fact that sacrifices could be offered for sins but not for transgressions (rebellions). The only way for the rebellion to be cleared was for the person who had been wronged to "lift up" the transgression and carry it on his back. The wording for this is also used in Isaiah 53, which is a text that is often interpreted as prefiguring Christ. Christ, then, takes the place of the person who is wronged, carrying ourtransgressions... I will be studying this deeply in the future--in the Hebrew and Greek. It has great significance for how I think and act in faith. There is so much that is lost in our Anglicized readings of the Bible!

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news

I applied for a writing fellowship... I had applied for it last year and someone else got it. It occurred to me this year to be a bit more bold and propose a specific project instead of thinking that they had something in mind to assign me. It worked. I was accepted and will be writing about the historical, cultural, theological, and philosophical issues that have shaped and continue to shape the way that education is delivered at Church of God-sponsored colleges. The monograph will be published online this summer, and I will also present my research at our national convention in June. It is a very exciting opportunity.

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thoughts on my career path

As I think about what might be a mission of sorts in my work with theological education, it boils down to making theological study possible for people with a variety of limiting situations. For some people, the limiting situation might be a disability. Blindness is a prime example; and my work with Hebrew and Greek addresses this directly. For other people, the need is less obvious: they don’t have the advanced vocabulary needed to read theological works or the understanding of theological concepts needed to connect effectively in the church.

This is part of the reason why I have had difficulty narrowing down an interest in a particular subject area. I am a generalist at heart—not because I am not good enough but because I recognize that these problems affect student performance in all areas. I also believe that the content in all of these areas cannot function alone. It is bound up together; and part of what I care about is helping people to make connections between subject areas. I know that everyone does this to some extent; but the connection is something so deep in my soul that I feel that I could do damage to my faith and my teaching if I devoted too much study to one area, if I failed to dialogue with others and understand how that one area participates in the fabric of what the Church is and does.

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first teaching experience

So far my technology is serving me well. In the past I have suffered major breakdowns at the worst times. I am faithfully backing up every couple of days, so we will see what happens. I had my first classroom presentation on February 17: a 30 minute presentation on suffering and loss. I thought that I would use hardcopy and generate handouts for the students as well. I have known technology to fail the sighted professors as well, and I thought that for my first teaching experience it might be wise to eliminate one source of potential anxiety.

Things didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped. I got my handouts made, but the printers at the school weren't working. The person I spoke with suggested I go to Kingco's. I don't get paid for this, and I'm not spending $10 on handouts unless they are crucial. They weren't. So I talked with the professor, and we decided to project the handout. This went fairly well. He let me know how uch was showing on the screen, and I had a hard copy in front of me and was able to tell him when to advance it.

I had planned to use some Internet content in the presentation; but the Net connection on the classroom computer was down. So I scrapped that aspect of the presentation and improvised something in its place. I had planned informally for this kind of problem; so it was not a deal breaker.

I got a few very nice comments from students who said that I appeared poised, kept them engaged, and had obviously put a lot of work into the presentation. My volume was low, though one person said she could hear me better than she can hear the professor. Projecting has always been a weakness for me, partially because of breathing problems and partially because I am afraid of screaming at people. I need to remember that what might seem like screaming to me is probably just right for a classroom. It is significant that the professors with mild hearing impairments lean closer to hear me, sometimes even in a quiet setting.

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teaching assistantship update

I've been taking a lot of notes in class about who is contributing and what they are saying. After four class sessions, I am recognizing most of the regular speakers. Considering the fact that we did not do anything about asking them to identify themselves when they speak, this is not a bad rate of recognition. I think that if I was in a more active teaching situation, I would either ask students to self-identify for the first two or three weeks or else schedule initial meetings simply so that I could become acquainted with each student. I like the second option better; but if my classes were too large and my time too limited, this would not work well.

Paper grading is uneventful. I treat them like my own papers that need proofreading--but a much more careful proofreading than I tend to do on my own papers. There are no significant disability-related problems here.

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class descriptions

I appear to be disappearing again. So... I'm going to start documenting very small things to help me track my memory loss. Academically I seem to be holding my own--I am scoring 9/10 on quizzes so far. This is good. But I am forgetting strange things, like why I missed class last Thursday. It was a class I was looking forward to... I really enjoyed the chapter readings and thought we would have extremely lively discussion. Oh, hmm... I remember now. I emailed the professor about it. My peak flows were 250 to 300, and I was in extreme pain. Ok, that is worth noting. I also missed teaching a good Sunday school lesson yesterday because of pain and chills that never did develop into fever. Last Tuesday I was stuck here waiting on a delivery of antibiotics instead of attending my afternoon class. The good news is that I am not in so much sinus pain. The bad news is this doesn't make my attendance streak look good so far.

I am taking five classes this semester. It is an extremely heavy load. This is how it looks.

Ethics for the vocation of ministry: This is the practical side of ethics. I took the theoretical side last semester. I had no idea what to expect in this class. We have very lively discussions, and I am keeping up well.

Leadership: This is basically a course in group dynamics. There are only six people in the class. The book is a very basic group psychology text, and most of the material is derivative of stuff that is very second nature to me. A lot of it is redundant fromn early psych courses. My undergraduate degree is in psychology, and I really have to work to stay motivated to do the exercises. The one aspect of the course which I will enjoy is that I get to work with a local food pantry (actually the one where I had difficulties a couple of years ago) doing some grant research and writing. The idea is for me to develop skills that I have not yet had an opportunity to develop. I am hoping that grant writing might serve me in some very practical ways.

Hebrew: This is technically 4th semester, but I am behind in some respects. We are still working through the first-year grammar which I never finished because of technical issues during my first year. During last semester, we spent part of the time doing an inductive study of Jonah. I enjoyed this a lot more than what I'm doing in the grammar book. I could probably learn a lot more from pure inductive study. I'm working on not being discouraged with myself. It's not really my fault that I had to teach myself how to use technology in addition to doing Hebrew.

Christian witness in a pluralistic world: This is not what it sounds like (and we have been reminded of this repeatedly). It is not a course in how to evangelize people of other faiths. It is a course in how to work alongside them. I like it. A lot. But it is really a drop in the bucket--we're learning about Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. There is a lot more to being pluralistic than this!

Foundations of pastoral care: This is the course in which I am a TA. My credit is three hours of internship credit. I am doing a variety of things. I will be presenting/leading three class discussions and grading some papers. I am doing writing workshops this month for new students. I am also helping to facilitate discussion on the online forums. (This also gives me a chance to observe writing styles.)

I am hanging on the edge wwith church choir. I'd really like to get off the edge and back into the groove. I need a lot of energy and time that I don't seem to have.

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experimenting with seating and hearing

Quiz went well this morning: I scored 19/20. This is encouraging. Of course, the questions were easy. I don't know whether they will always be easy.

Either I'm having a very bad hearing day, or where I sit in the room matters. I moved to a different corner. I think I will move during the break and see how much difference it makes. Right now I have my aids in and up most of the way, and what I am hearing sounds "normal." Before I put them in, I was missing about 30 percent of what was being said. It is impossible to take notes that way, and I really do not have time to go back and listen to hours and hours of lectures plus read 500 pages/week. So I am working on braille output only, and I am accustomed to using the braille output only as a secondary medium. This is not because of my discomfort with braille but because I spent 16 years as a speech-only user before getting my braille display. This is truly challenging. I cannot wear my aids and earbuds at the same time.

It is worth noting that I have a low-grade migraine this morning. I didn't consider it worth treating--they are so frequent lately that I don't have enough Imitrex to cover them. Must remember to track hearing loss and migraine relationship...

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first class day

I made it to my first class today--in the sub-zero temps. Loretta wore her booties and pranced around like she was entertaining the world. She was a big hit!

I have a feeling this semester is going to be quite emotionally draining for me, though it has the potential to be a good growth experience spiritually. I was totally unprepared for what we did in class this morning. Teaching on Tuesdays may be the least of my worries if this kind of intensity continues!

I will write about it at some poine. I am rather sleep-deprived at the moment. There were snow plows going through here at 4:30 in the morning, and Inca was quite distressed by them. It sounded like so much thunder! I'm going back to sleep for now.

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ssetting goals

General goals for the semester:<

I need to establish and maintain healthy eating patterns. This is the first thing to go down the tubes when I am busy.

I need to keep up with housework so that it doesn't become overwhelming. This is less of an area of concern than nutrition; but the busier I am the more important it is.

I need to maintain a reasonable study schedule so that I can stay ahead and have time for other things. This means also keeping a calendar of things going on.

I would like to establish one or two more local friendships. This means finding a way to eat on campus occasionally or do something else that involves getting together with people. Ideally, I would like to have company a few times, even just for a study session.

Track medical progress: what I'm taking, illnesses and severity of symptoms, and how I feel I'm responding to treatment.

Teaching goals:

I would like to have enough classroom experiences so that I am able to identify potential difficulties and evaluate solutions. Feedback from students would be extremely helpful in this process. Some of my concerns: how much material to present, how much to rely on technology during presentation, making sure that use of technology isn't slowing me down, getting visual helps to students if appropriate, managing classroom discussions effectively. Somewhat related is the issue of how I present myself emotionally to the group, particularly concerning nonverbal communication.

Grading papers seems to be a crucial experience, though I am less concerned about it than I am about classroom experience. The primary challenge seems to be getting comments available in a manner that works for students. I think this can easily be done with Word. I just need to work with the process.

I need to keep close track of how I am changing emotionally through this experience. I want to write a reflective journal by the end of day following each teaching experience. This is challenging because often I am tempted to put it off due to being tired. I'd really like to do it while it is fresh. There is a point to being respectful of my body's needs at times; but I need to maintain the discipline as much as I can.

I would like to start building my resume. I would also like to look for some publication opportunities so that I can work toward achieving a publication goal.

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