Jenny's blog

Alma 32 plus disaster recovery

Well.  This was not the best Seminary lesson.  I was so excited, too.

I have to say that I’m not quite sure what went wrong. I have two new students, one of whom is testing me, another student who is trying to get the new student to notice her at any cost, another whose feelings I must have hurt but who wouldn’t talk to me about it, and I let myself get hijacked by kids who had no idea what they were talking about and who were speculating or guessing about their friend’s motives and feelings.  Plus, it later turned out TesterKid did not understand the difference between accountability and consequence, and so that added to the confusion.  I should not have let him get away with assigning feelings to his friends, and I should not have followed any mode of thinking that started with “I assume they are …”  I tried to talk with offended girl during class and again after class, but she refused and then went outside and went sort of kamikazi on everyone.  I still don’t know what I did, but I feel confident I could have fixed it immediately…  anyway, I texted her mom and let her know she went home upset.  Mom later said they went over the Proclamation to the World (not remotely related to our conversation), and so I have no idea what went on.  This girl does hear things that aren’t said sometimes — kind of like she hears things through a filter.  Usually it’s good, apparently that day it wasn’t.  Anyway, she came in the next morning upset, but grew visibly calmer throughout the lesson, even adding some comments, and by the end she seemed much better.  I gave her a hug and asked if we were still friends.  She said yeah, so I told her I loved her.  I think that’s over. 

Anyway, I thought about what could have gone better most of the day, and decided not to prepare a lesson for the next day, and rather, rely on the kids to determine where we went.

I started class by explaining that we’re all getting used to each other and I’m definitely still learning and mentioned some of the things that I thought had gone wrong yesterday.  I told the kids that I was sorry, and to come talk to me if I say something that’s wrong or upsetting.  I will always take care of it — I’m a let’s face it and get past it so it doesn’t fester kind of person.  I handled it perfectly.  Frankly, I am AMAZING at handling problems like this in a way that defuses the issue and acknowledges my faults.  I try to be honest in all I do, and I think that honesty makes the biggest difference in dealing with problems effectively.

Anyway, I told the kids I could continue with yesterday’s discussion or I could move on to last night’s reading.  They all wanted to keep going with the previous discussion, which had stopped part way through a discussion on immorality where it became painfully clear that I’ve got some Seniors who really do not understand agency or accountability.  I was surprised that’s where they decided to go, honestly, but I was glad we’d have a chance to flesh out the problems.

What followed was one of our best discussions all year.  I started out with a breif reminder of where we were (had cf’d the word light using the TG to Romans 13:12–13), and I had been explaining that the word of god is light/armor that protects us, with v13 showing some examples of what we are protected from by the light, when we spun out of control.  (It really didn’t seem that way to me, but apparently to some of the class it did, but that’s neither here nor there, and really my perception doesn’t matter — I have to address theirs.)  So I started out by having my two most confused, or at least the most vocally confused, seniors explain some of the things they had argued strenuously for yesterday.  Interestingly, both had magically changed their positions. :)  However, when I asked a little more, it was clear that they still didn’t believe what they were saying, or at least didn’t fully understand why those who sin without understanding the law are still accountable for their actions and will face consequences.  I began to explain the light of Christ and how there are varying degrees of accountability — all off the cuff.  I explained that all have the light of Christ.  Some may have light of Christ plus they’ve been taught the law.  Some may have the light of Christ plus and understanding of the law and the gift of the holy ghost.  Others may have all of those plus temple covenants.  Each is progressively more accountable for their actions because they have more understanding.  Somewhere lower would be light of Christ plus an incorrect understanding of the law, or being taught wrong rules. I don’t know where you get beneath that to where you are no longer accountable for your actions.  One student said the Lamanites weren’t accountable for their actions because they had been taught incorrect principles.  I used the example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis who had to repent of their murders, suffering greatly — murders commited while they were taught to hate/kill the Nephites.  We can understand that even though they were taught incorrect things, on some level they knew they were doing wrong; otherwise, they would have no need to repent because if you’re not accountable, you don’t need to repent.  All of us have the light of Christ and know right from wrong.  We can ignore it, or not know how to recognize it, but everyone has it.  At this point, I was starting to get through.

A surprising number of kids joined in this discussion, asking questions to clarify accountability.  One said non-members are like children before they are baptized, not accountable for their actions at all.  No, and I explained why.  I used an example of being pulled over by the police.  My dad is a prosecutor, and the whole time I was growing up he ground into me the idea that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Even if you don’t know the law, when you break a law, you are accountable.  The cop/judge has some leeway for the consequence, but you must be held accountable.  I was pulled over for speeding years ago on the way from my grandma’s house in Spanish Fork back to my apartment at BYU.  I had gotten lost, was feeling anxious, and I was speeding.  When I saw the blue lights, I immediately thought, “I’ll tell the cop I didn’t know the speed limit!”  But by the time I got the car  stopped I was right in front of a speed limit sign.  And the truth is, I may not have known the exact speed limit, but I knew I was speeding.  Anyway, I decided to tell the truth, and the cop didn’t give me a ticket, but I did get a written warning.  Even though there were extenuating circumstances and I did not know the speed limit, I had broken the law and was accountable.  My consequence was adjustable because of my situation, but not my responsibilty to be accountable for my actions.  It’s the same for us.  Even if we don’t know or understand the law, we are still accountable because the law has been broken, but our Judge can adjust the consequences.

Anyway, this was a crazy perfect discussion.  One kid spoke at a time, they all stayed on the topic of agency and accountability, waited their turn to talk, and just as I had answered the last question, TesterKid said he had realized that “we” (meaning “me”) had been using accountability and consequences interchangeably.  There’s no doubt that every kid left with a better understanding of agency and accountability — from a lesson intended to be on the Holy Ghost and faith.  So, I lost a skirmish, but triumphed in the end. TesterKid came up to me and told me I was “so patient” during that discussion — apparently a compliment :) Also hugged offended girl as I said above. 

I gave the students their valentine’s gifts, a box of conversation hearts and a little tube of bubbles.  They were most excited about the bubbles.  Conversations hearts — why can’t they print straight on those?  Someone needs to update the manufacturing process. They’ve looked horrible since I was a kid.

I was feeling pretty good about it and dropped off a Valentine’s gift for the lady I visit teach at the school she works at and had Jared take me to breakfast.  We stopped in at Ray Humphries’ garage to ask him to keep my aunt’s driveway open during the storm so that her caregivers can get in and out.  And then the texts started coming in.  My class’s ScandalGirl had been talking with other kids in the other class trying to make a big deal about everything.  Of course, by the time it got back around it was all distorted.  The mommas who texted me were good and had defended me.  Every possible reaction seems to have happened.  One was angry that I had been “ambushed”.  Hm.  If there was a concerted or planned effort, I missed it. But really, the whole thing was just not a big deal.  It annoys me when people talk around/about a problem instead of just dealing with it.  Handle it with the person.  Move on.  Seriously, I know this attitude calls my Girl Card into question, but come on ladies.  Let’s learn some directness from our boys.  It’s saves a lot of angst and silliness. 

So I felt like everything was fine before the texts, and then I did start getting anxious — AFTER everything was fixed.  Gawrg.  Anyway, I’ve not minded Seminary was cancelled for the past few days. :)  We ended up with about 11 inches of snow at my house, with drifts up to 1.5 feet.  The temperature has gone above freeing now, so the roads are looking much better in most cases, as long as they got plowed.  We’d have no trouble getting out. VDOT learned during the Snowpocalypse to get the plows out earlier in these big events instead of trying to push it all after the snow has stopped.  The first time, Poplar Road had 3 inches of ice/snow on it for almost a week after the storm.  This year, the roads were passable yesterday and clear today.

DD has made snow cream and I mostly bummed around yesterday.  I’m hoping to get some things done on the website, but I’m having trouble getting motivated.  Maybe I just should have sold to MGF when they offered…..  I did get most of the Seminary reading done for next week, and that ought to make it easier to plan lessons.  I’ve not been able to get ahead on lessons except two or three times this year.

The Olympics have been fun.  It was nice to see a Mormon mother take gold in skeleton (which I saw live at the Salt Lake Olympics).  Last night Jeremy Abbott fell down super hard during his short program just after Ploshenko had to drop out of the skate due to (obvious) extreme pain from his back problems.  After the fall, he got up and kept skating.  It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen.  Wow. He’s scheduled to compete again in the free skate, and gosh, I hope he can do it.  I’m sure he’s in a lot of pain — the fall looked terrible.  Abbott said , “I think my personal story has always been about perseverance and always getting up when you fall. So maybe I’m not Olympic champion, but if nothing else, I can teach the world that.”  Win.

I am taking a Coursera course on leveraging student thinking.  So far I’m really excited about it.  Some random person on the FB group said he was taking it and asked for a partner, so I volunteered.  So far it’s good.  I hope to get some ideas that I can take straight into the Seminary classroom.  Right now it’s mostly geared at school teachers.


Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I blog about life on the 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where I live. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs while trying to find my life's meaning. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.