Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Believe in God... Am I Unintelligent?

Today I had someone question my intelligence because I believe in God. According to them, the mark of true intelligence is in not confusing "fact" with "fiction". This honestly made me quite angry. I do not understand how someone can think me less intelligent for believing in a higher power and belonging to an organized religion. Personally, I think religion says a lot about a person's character, but not necessarily anything about their intelligence. In my opinion intelligence is seen in one's responsibility, formal schooling, and ability to make important life decisions.

Rather than a lack of intelligence, I think the fact that I believe in God shows that I am capable of having hope. I have strength enough to believe in the unseen forces at play in my life, and I am informed of what comes after this life. I do not see what portion of that makes me less intelligent than anyone else. My faith in God is not due to lack of information, but rather studying and seeking to find out for myself. As you all may remember from a previous post, it was only through dilligence and hard work that I was able to come to this belief in the first place. If anything, I believe that I am more informed about life than those that don't believe in God or His works. Regardless of these feelings of mine, I do not think that it is ever acceptable to personally attack another person for something as personal as their religion.

I don't mean to rant and rave; I guess all I am trying to say is that people are different, and that is respectable. Intelligence does not lie in one's ability to believe that there is something bigger out there. If my friend is an Atheist I won't look down on them or think them stupid, I will love and respect them for their beliefs. I would love it if others could do the same for me.
♥, Meagan

Monday, September 17, 2012

When I'm a Teacher...

I wrote this for one of my practicum classes this semester in response to what kind of teacher I want to be, and what 4 things I find particularly important to meeting this goal. I think it is good to reflect on where I am now and where I am trying to end up. :)
Meagan Jardine
El Ed 321
Professor Korth
September 18, 2012

Becoming a Teacher

            Throughout the course of the Elementary Education program I feel that I have learned a lot about myself and my beliefs about teaching. I have grown immensely, and learned so many things about how to become a caring and effective professional. Some of the traits that stick out to me as particularly imperative that a teacher exhibit include: Christ-centered teaching, patience, a passion for learning, and maintaining a positive attitude about life in general.

            I think that the single most important aspect that I can hold in the forefront of my teaching is that of having a Christ-centered classroom. I do not mean this in the sense that religion will be prevalent in my teaching, just that I want to always have the spirit with me, and that I can only be fully effective when I remember to do so. I want to teach with the attitude that each student in my class is a child of God. I know there will be times where I will be frustrated or feel inadequate, but at times like these I just need to remember what a divine responsibility I am being entrusted with (educating His precious children), and that the Savior knows my capabilities better than I do. When I remember and invite Christ into my classroom, then I will be reminded that I can also lean on him for strength. I definitely plan on praying for inspiration and guidance to meet each individual child’s needs, as well as those of the class as a whole. I don’t know how I would survive, let alone thrive in this profession without the knowledge that Christ is there to guide me through.

I feel like one thing in particular that it would be beneficial for me to work on is developing more patience. This has never been my strongest virtue, and it is something that I am constantly reminded that I need to work on. I think that it will be good for me to remind myself consistently that children do need extra help and scaffolding, as well as repeated directions – sometimes many more times than we, the teachers, feel like they need to be given. Instead of getting frustrated, I want to be able to remind myself that children simply cannot be expected to perform at the same level as adults. They are capable of amazing things, but if we have unrealistic expectations, then we are going to quickly become discouraged and impatient. It is important to remember that each child has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and that we need to tailor our teaching to those specific needs. I know that there will be plenty of moments where my future students will try my patience, and push me to my limits, but I hope to be able to control my emotions and respond lovingly, or at least calmly, rather than losing my patience or snapping at them. I do not want to ever make my students feel like I do not care for them, or that I do not believe that they can succeed and thrive.

One thing that I think it is very important for a teacher to exhibit for her students is a deep passion for learning. I think that a teacher needs to be passionate about what she does in order to effectively reach out to her students. Unless it is evident to the students that you love learning and that you love teaching, then they will not feel the need to soak in the messages you are trying to portray. I have had teachers before, even here in college, whom I can tell are not passionate about what they are doing. This can be very frustrating for the students, because when the teacher is not excited about the material, then it is really hard for the students to feel motivated to learn it. I want to show my future students that learning is exciting, and that there is a whole world of knowledge out there to discover and explore. I want to motivate my students to learn for fun, and for their own benefit, not just for a grade. I want to inspire a curiosity in my students that will not be satisfied simply by doing the bare minimum to complete an assignment. I want them to want to learn. That, I think, is the mark of an effective teacher.

            Another concept that I have been hearing a lot about lately, and which I think goes right along with passion for learning is the trait of optimism. I think that this is an essential characteristic for teachers to display for their students. When a teacher promotes optimism about school work and their students’ abilities, as well as just a good attitude in general, it can be incredibly effective in promoting a love of school and of learning in their students. I think that this is also helpful in fostering a positive self-efficacy in their students, as the students are constantly encouraged to look on the bright side and recognize what they are capable of accomplishing. I have noticed over the years that if the teacher is in a bad mood, or loses their temper with even one person, then the whole class feels it. It reflects negatively on everyone. I think that it is very important for the teacher to always have a good attitude and to try to encourage this in their students as well. I want to always portray to my students that I think life is wonderful; and even when it is hard, we are lucky to be living each day. I want to show my students that they are capable of doing hard things, and that they do have the strength to overcome life’s challenges.

            As I get closer to completing the program and becoming a professional, I am constantly encouraged to reflect on my beliefs and values pertaining to practices in education. I think that my eyes have really been widened about what types of traits I need to embody in myself before I can become an effective teacher. Those that I have found most important are always remembering Christ, and relying on His guidance, developing patience, displaying a passion for learning, and always encouraging my students to have a positive attitude about life. I believe that if I remember these things and apply them to my future classroom that I can be successful and inspire my students to accomplish great things.

♥, Meagan

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Path to Truth. :)

I don't know if I'll publicly post this or not, or if anyone will even want to read it if I do. (Obviously I did, but this was written about a month and a half ago.)

Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I've been wanting to journal about this ever since I was told months ago in Sunday School that I should. The teacher suggested that we journal about when we said "yes" to God. I thought that was a very interesting way of putting things, and it got me thinking... When did I decide what I truly believed? When did I come into myself and sort out my inner feelings on life and religion?

I always claimed to believe in the church and all of its teachings. I had a few very close friends in high school who, at the time, did not believe in a higher power of any sort. Life was the here and now, so why try to get all philosophical about it... right? Often, they would try to get me to talk about my point of view, but sometimes they would be critical, and I didn't always feel as if they supported me in it, so I generally shyed away from any religious discussions. I was Mormon in a small town where that wasn't necessarily the cool thing to be, and everybody knew you for it. I was a good Mormon though. I followed the church, and did everything that I should to live parallel to the teachings of the church. I knew that the public eye was on me, and I wanted to prove to people that I knew what I was doing, and that I could be true to it, even while I was struggling internally.

It was very hard for me to decide for myself whether or not I truly believed in this Gospel. I know that I have always grown up being told that it is true, and that I truly did love the values instilled by this church. However, it was sometimes hard for me to know that there was a higher power; that there was a God who was watching over me, and extending His love unconditionally. I wanted to believe so badly, and I went to church faithfully every week hoping that someday I would just magically have that rock-solid testimony that I'd always wanted.

I had heard, growing up, that it is ok to lean on someone else's testimony until you have one of your own. My inspiration in this regard was always my older sister, Amanda. She has always had such a sweet spirit about her, and was always true to what she believed. She always prodded me to do the right thing and was just an amazing example of living a good life. However, I feared that I would never have a testimony of my own; that I would never be able to get up in church and say with 100% certainty that "I know this church is true."

I think that I started to sort out my own beliefs when I turned 18 and moved away from home. I needed to get out on my own (sort of- I was living in an apartment with Amanda and 2 other roommates). However, I was away from the pressures of any of my previous friends, and those of trying to lead a particular life because that's what was expected of me. It was a fresh start, and I was surrounded by people who had the same values, and belonged to the same church as me. It was exciting to be around people that I had so much in common with, but I quickly realized that it also made me feel inferior spiritually. These people knew who they were, what they believed, and what they wanted out of life. I had no idea. I wanted to be just like them; I wanted to know these things for myself. Over the course of the year, I went to church every single Sunday and participated in each and every side activity. I still struggled, but I felt like more a part of the church than I ever had before, and I was definitely making more of an effort to belong.

One thing that I have come to realize - for me at least, is that truth comes with knowledge. My sophomore year at BYU I was called as a Gospel Doctrine teacher, and this calling scared me to death. Who was I to teach others about the Gospel? You know... that one thing I have struggled my whole life to fully commit myself to? I was terrified of being a hypocrite, and this was a time-consuming calling. I was so nervous at first. However, through the course of the year I feel like I got a lot better at it. Lessons did not take me as long to prepare, and my voice didn't shake when I talked in front of a room full of people. I felt like I was contributing. I was an integral part of the ward, and I was actually important. This calling helped me to grow immensely, and I learned so much about this Gospel. I learned more through studying and teaching than I ever did through just plain listening. Once I was more informed, I was able to actually apply it into my daily life, and I quickly began to see how the Gospel was literally present in every aspect of my life. That year I did a lot of soul searching. I had a couple of hard moments, but throughout those various struggles, and the frantic and searching prayers that followed, I was able to draw closer to God than I ever had before. I came to realize that I did need Christ in my life, and that His Gospel was the best source for the comfort that I was so desperately seeking. I read 2 Cor. 1:3-6 so many times that year, and many times since. Whenever life starts to feel like too much to handle, I still read over it and pray for that comfort that it promises. Try it, it works! :)

The revelations didn't end there. The experience that has most recently reaffirmed these beliefs and how imperative the Gospel is to my way of life happened just this past week when a friend stayed with me for a few days. I did not know this friend very well when I invited her into my home, but she needed a place to stay and I knew she was going through a difficult time. As we talked long hours into the night and learned more about each other, I was very happy I had been given the opportunity to get to know her better. Her life up to this point has been incredibly difficult. She had to make many decisions that someone of her age should not even have been exposed to yet. She had made a lot of mistakes- things that I could not even imagine having to go through, and in turn had fallen far from the ideals of the church. However, she is now making the effort to come back. This truly amazed me. She is a strong and inspirational woman. It was also a much-needed reminder to me of the gratitude that I should feel every second of every day for the opportunity to be a part of something so amazing; to have the knowledge that I do of this church, and for the contribution it has undeniably been to the person that I have become.

I never magically grew a testimony, but bit by bit I came to know that my Father in Heaven does indeed exist, and that He loves me and wants me to be happy and successful. I know that God will always be there for me, and that I am never alone. I am so grateful for the scriptures and the comfort that they are to me, as well as for the knowledge that when all else fails I can turn to them to calm my troubled heart. I do believe in this Gospel, and I am so incredibly grateful for its constant presense and the guiding force that it has been in my life. I know that it makes up a huge part of my values and beliefs and that it is the single biggest contribution to the person that I am today. I am glad that I never had to question moral issues. I grew up knowing right from wrong, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be born into this church, to grow up with it always being a part of my life. I am so grateful for modern-day revelation, and latter-day prophets. I don't know where I would be without their constant guidance in my life. This is the true church. I know that now, and I am going to do all in my power to strengthen that resolve and solidify my testimony. I have just been called as a Gospel Doctrine teacher (again- best calling ever!) and I am so excited to learn even more about this beautiful Gospel!

I love you all, and thanks so much to those of you who have been such shining examples to me. :)
♥, Meagan

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Great Moments"

     I went to a devotional about 2 months or so ago and the speaker asked about how we record our "great moments." This got me thinking... How do I? Or do I at all? I don't think that I do. I take pictures sometimes, but I think that mostly I just live in the moments and then let them pass. I desperately need to work on this. Life is amazing, overwhelming, exciting, stressful, and many other things, but most of all, it is precious. I don't want to forget everything that led to who I am today. I want to remember those "great moments;" every detail of them, every bit of my life that contributed to the me of today.
     I want so badly to get to the point where I am writing about things in the moment rather than after the fact. I want to get the excitement and the giddiness over every crush, and relationship, and activity, rather than the cool facts afterwards. I want to remember that life is exciting, and I have these multitudes of feelings. I am far more honest with myself in writing, and knowing this, I want to be able to see the truest me that there is.
     I know that I love reading back over old journals and seeing where I was a year or 5 ago. It shows me how much I have changed; how I have grown and progressed, and best of all, how I maneuvered the similar problems that seem to be recurring constantly in my life. So, to reiterate, life is crazy, but keeping good records of it will aid me incomprehensibly in the long run. Hopefully I will actually be able to work on this over the summer and make it a habit. It's been on my New Year's Resolutions list for years, so obviously I realize how important it is, it is just so hard for me to keep up! Once again... Here's to improvement! (Hopefully) :)
♥, Meagan

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Life is So Good. :)

Sorry for the long delay, folks! But I am back, and with lots to say. Hopefully I'll remember to update this a bit more frequently.

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is self-improvement. I think that no matter how good we are, we still get down on ourselves about the way we are living our lives and those certain obstacles that we just can't seem to hurdle. However, I recently had an experience that made me look at life's challenges in a whole new light.

I went to institute with Sam a couple of weeks ago and the guy that was teaching the lesson, Paul, kept saying that "my life is way better than I deserve." And in that moment it hit me how true that statement really was, and that it is quite applicable to my life as well. I wonder if maybe God has decided to try a new approach with me. Rather than trying to refine me by challenges, maybe he is giving me everything that I want and hoping that I will rise to the occasion. When my life is good, I think that I try harder to be a good person. In essence, I want to live worthy of the blessed life that I lead. I really do love my life and those in it, and I am so incredibly grateful to have such a kind, loving, and watchful Father in Heaven. Here's to becoming better, and to working hard to live up to the wonderful life He has given me. :)
♥, Meagan