Confessions of a CVC Teacher: The Best Lesson

Compiled by Marissa Carpenter, Director of Marketing and Enrollment

Wow! we joke. I wish I had two weeks off at Christmas, one week off at Easter and a whole summer off! Those teachers have the best schedule!

I used to say the same sorts of things. Well, here’s a fun (short) story.
This past weekend, when my husband and I were leisurely strolling through downtown Visalia with our bundled-up 16-month-old, we popped into a local coffee shop to grab a hot latte and an iced coffee (to each his own, but I need some warmth in my life when I’m walking outside in December.) Back to the point. When we walked in, there was one of our own CVC teachers, hard at work with a cappuccino rapidly cooling off in her mug, her earbuds in, focused on her computer screen. She wasn’t reading a DIY blog or a political article about the latest world news—she was spending her Saturday afternoon grading. Doing WORK. Making sure that all of her 5th grade students got enough feedback on their burgeoning writing skills so they could improve in the future. (And here I was perusing trinkets and tchotchkes.)

And I bet she wasn’t the only teacher putting in hours that afternoon. Or any weekend or school night, for that matter.
We’re so thankful for our dedicated faculty at Central Valley Christian School. They put in extra time–not because they get paid overtime, but because they want to make sure their students understand what they’re learning. They want to instill a love of learning, inspire love for neighbors, and ignite a love for God.

To that end, I’ve collected just a few examples of the lessons these teachers have put together for your children. Welcome to Confessions of a CVC Teacher — the Best Lesson edition.

Mrs. McCutcheon, Kindergarten

In Kindergarten, we talk a lot about how to treat our neighbors. We are to be patient and kind. We are to wait our turn and help those around us. If someone falls down, we are to check in on them, and see that they are okay. We are to use words that only uplift and if we have nothing nice to say, we are to say nothing at all.

During my first year of teaching Kindergarten, I felt like this was easy to say, but the students could not connect with just being told these things. They needed something more. It struck me that when we find ourselves not being good friends, our hearts get sad.

I picked out some pink construction paper and I fashioned a heart. I had my students gather around and had them take notice of my heart: smooth, flat. I started crumpling up the paper bit by bit. With each crumple I mentioned something we can work on. Unkind words, pushing, taking things that don’t belong to us…they all wrinkle our hearts.

Now, we just need to mention “wrinkly hearts” when we aren’t being the best friends we can be. Slowly, ever so steadily, we are caring about others, and working toward developing Christ-like character.

Wrinkly Hearts

Mr. Branderhorst, 6th Grade

Students were asked what resources do we commonly use to build our places of shelter–responses like cement, steel, glass, wood, tile, etc. were shared.  These are resources that are widely used in our buildings, and they do come with a cost, both economic and environmental.  In our efforts to obtain this “American dream”, and to acquire the resources needed,  many strive to earn a college education, marry, raise children, build their own home, in hopes of living happily ever after.  Most agreed that this was reality in our culture.  Next, they were asked, is this American dream biblical?  We all agreed that these American cultural dreams are not really biblical and that we do spend much of our time and resources in order to make these dreams reality.  We decided that it is okay to have these dreams. However, we must not forget what our biblical mandate is: To go and make disciples.

African Yurt

An African Yurt.

Students were then assigned a different area of the world, were asked to find out what material resources they use in building their homes, and finally were asked whether or not they themselves could live in such a home.  After seeing homes built from animal skins, mud and earthen homes, bamboo, tapestries, and more, it was good to hear students sharing that they could live in such homes if needed.  Many of these shelters around the world belonged to nomadic people, who could pack up their homes and move on.  It is my hope that this lesson will remind my students to think locally and globally when they carry out the mandate of making disciples for our Lord and Savior.

Ms. “Brooke” Barton, Elementary P.E. and Middle School Athletics Director

I love teaching the kindergarteners how to skip.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually quite difficult to teach skipping, but the end result is amazing.  It comes naturally to some, they just get it.
But for others, skipping is hard and it takes a lot of practice. Those who don’t know how to skip go through a few different emotions.  Most start out clueless and think they’re skipping.  Next, they go through a stage of embarrassment because they need extra help. And finally, they go through a stage of frustration because it’s taking them so long to grasp the concept. My favorite part is when the entire class is cheering for the kids who need extra practice, chanting their name as they “skip” and cheering wildly when the get to the blue line.
But when they finally start skipping, like real skipping, it’s such a beautiful sight to see.  I’m usually dancing around and yelling “yes, you’re skipping…..keep going…keep going” which then messes them up because I’ve distracted them so much with my craziness.
But the joy that exudes from their face when they “get it” is priceless.  They’re so proud of their accomplishment. But what’s even better is that their entire class is so proud of them as well, cheering, high-five-ing, hugging and congratulating them. If that’s not Christ-like character, I don’t know what is!

Mr. Hiemstra, Middle School Principal and English Teacher

The best lesson I taught this year, or at least the most memorable and the most fun (for me) is the lesson I teach to introduce our reading of the book The Giver. I’ve done it for many years, but it’s always a favorite.  We spend the class focusing on non-conformity, from the way I dress (eclectically) to the way I act (randomly).  We go outside to do a Dead Poets Society simulation and then I ask plenty of simple questions to kids for which I offer candy for those willing to conform to a given standard.

It’s wild fun, but more than that, it’s a perfect lead-in to the topic of conformity, which is called “Sameness” in the book.  In an effort to Connect biblical truths to everyday living, we talk about whether conformity is a good thing or a bad thing.  The answer that we come back to is that it’s both.  The Bible advises us against it: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”  But it also exhorts for it: “. . . to be conformed to the image of His Son.” More than anything, it’s one simple but effective way of generating excitement for a book but also swimming in the deep end of the pool instead of just dipping our toes in the shallow end.

Mrs. Bons, Kindergarten Teacher

I read the read aloud book called “The Pine Tree Parable”.  Before reading it we had to review what a parable was and how this would be a story that can teach us a lesson, or that it had a special meaning for us to learn from.
The Pine Tree Parable:
A farmer’s wife plans to save the most beautiful Christmas tree on the farm for her own family, but a young child who was unable to purchase a Christmas tree teaches the woman about love as a perfect gift to give for Christmas.  The woman finds enough love in her heart to give the child and her family the favorite tree free of charge. This gift blessed that family more than the woman could have ever imagined and she in turn was blessed by their thankfulness and joy.
This heartwarming story of a child’s hope and a woman’s unselfish gift shows children what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself”.  This not only added more discussion and understanding to our theme this year of “Others”, but it also led to discussion of how Jesus is our Greatest Gift of Christmas.
There are so many parallels that we were able to talk about with the pine tree by way of this book. If you ask a kindergartner in my class some of the things they can remember when they look at or see a Christmas tree they would respond by saying:
1. The tree points up to God in heaven (ruler over all)
2. The evergreen tree stays green all throughout the year. It doesn’t lose its leaves or change colors (God’s love is always with us and never changes).
3. The Christmas tree has lights–Jesus is the light of the world, and we can be light to others.

4. The cross was made with wood from a tree, helping us to remember that the greatest gift of Christmas is that Jesus came to the world as a baby, as our king, as our Savior, to later die on that cross to save us, because he loved us so much. It was the ultimate gift, free of charge, just like the tree in the story was given free of charge.

Christmas Tree paintingSix different subjects are covered in this lesson!

Science: growth and characteristics of the pine tree
Math: other trees on the farm were for sale, but the special tree was given free of charge
Literature: read aloud with a Christmas theme, along with the lesson taught by way of a parable
Social studies: some families are not able to afford gifts, or buying a tree.  We can be lights to others by sharing love and sharing what we have with others around us
Bible: our theme of OTHERS, and the true meaning of Christmas being that Jesus is our greatest gift, the gift of salvation!
Art: drawing the pine tree with Christmas decorations
It is my goal and my hope that the children will always know and understand what Christians can remember when they look at the decoration of the Christmas tree!

This holiday time and every time of the year, we’re thankful for teachers who take extra time to ensure their students are receiving an education that will continue to guide them for years to come.

Inspired by our teachers’ dedication to furthering Christian education and teaching the next generation? Inquire today! | 559-734-2684

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