My Truth . . .

My truth: Last year’s Time to Graduate Princess retreat was part healing and part misery for me. Fairly new to Everglades Community Church, I didn’t know many of the other princesses, and the ones I knew well enough to be comfortable with were busy putting on the retreat. My usual trick of hiding behind service to cover up my deficient small-talk skills didn’t work at this Christian function because I was there as a princess. Any offer I extended to help was rejected because princesses were to be ministered to. (Darn it, Girl Friday, are you sure you couldn’t use an assistant? Ms. Saturday, perhaps?) Making matters worse, one of my princess friends said something insensitive to me. I was hurt, but the thought of confronting her tied my insides into ginormous granny knots. The longer the day went on, the worse I felt. My kids were starting to get annoyed by all of my calls – the nerve! So when they stopped answering the phone, I overdosed on chocolate, catapulting myself into a migraine. Not a perfect princess. My graduation: Finally, I knew I had to stop wallowing in self-pity and talk to the princess who’d trampled on my toes. Through plenty of tears and a few stammers, I told her I felt she had given me the responsibility for something that was partly hers to bear. I spoke the truth in love to her. In response she told me she liked me. Not exactly what I was expecting, but on the other hand, I really don’t know what I was expecting. Later, I mustered the nerve to...

A Lesson On Teaching

In the spring of 1997 I was finishing my last semester of a bachelor of arts in linguistics at Indiana University. My studies included a research project that set out to find which instructional activities best achieved mastery of the target language in a high school foreign language class. I observed a first-year Spanish class twice a week for nine weeks to gather data for my project. The teacher, Mrs. Diaz, wasn’t much old than I, and we had similar ethnic backgrounds – one parent from Mexico, the other melting pot American. However, she was fluent in Spanish, and I still am not. Toward the end of the nine weeks I realized that it wasn’t the daily homework, carefully laid lesson plans or vocabulary drills that helped these 14 and 15-year-olds learn Spanish best. It was one of Mrs. Diaz’s classroom policies. Anytime a student blurted out something in English, she had to repeat the phrase in Spanish. In addition to the Spanish she already knew, the student could use a dictionary, her textbook, help from another student, anything. Having to apply the language in a meaningful, everyday circumstance gave the student purpose for her studies and thus helped her learn better. A novice in this area, I was shocked by my findings. Mrs. Diaz, on the other hand, either had a really good poker face or was too busy maintaining order in her classroom to reveal any surprise. These days the only students I see on a regular basis are my 12-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, and they speak even less Spanish than I do. But the principle...