Not What You Think

By day I function as a spasmodic journalism teacher, intent on encouraging my students to change the world with their words. By night I throw on my writer’s cloak and hang out with adventurous characters who teeter on the edge of suspense and comedy.

Somewhere in between, I write my blog.

Lately the latter has been a challenge because I have been literally away from my computer. What time my laptop and I convene. I devote to the craft. I am polishing my novel before I send it to a potential agent.

But still…I miss being able to connect with my buds through my blog.

Tonight I will be busy meeting parents at our school’s annual parent-teacher conference. Even though I’m usually exhausted by the end of the evening, I look forward to meeting my students and their parents because I genuinely want to meet their needs.

But sometimes these conferences don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, try as we might, we teachers don’t always project the image we want to convey.

There’s always a little apprehension, as well as hopeful expectation, that every teacher feels on PTC night. We don’t want to leave a bad impression.

Being a Christian teacher in a public school sometimes complicates matters, especially when there are so many denominations and beliefs. I don’t want parents to think I’m overstepping my bounds. I don’t want them to think I’m pushing my beliefs or brainwashing their children just because I am who I am.

My goal is to teach and to reach. I try to live my faith through my acts of kindness. I don’t want to “turn off” my students because we don’t share the same faith. When God orchestrates my abilities to lead my students toward Him, I am pleased to be his vessel, his tool.

I guess you might say I am a Christian teacher, but my audience is the general market…I mean the children of the public school. I teach from a Christian worldview.

I remember one PTC night a few years ago. I spent hours cleaning my desks. I wore a nice professional outfit. I wanted to look my best. My dance card was full, and I had a long list of parents.  I eyed the door nervously as I waited for my first visitor.

I don’t recall the name of my first parent, but she eyed me suspiciously even though I did my best to be as amiable and positive as possible.

The next parent and the next parent did the same. In fact, every parent was a repeat performance.

I was baffled.

I also couldn’t figure out why my co-worker repeatedly stuck his head in my door. He laughed and waved each time he walked by. I was a bit annoyed. I couldn’t concentrate on my conferences because I kept trying to figure out why he was harassing me.

By the end of the evening after all my parents had gone home, I figured out the source of my trouble. Above my head behind my back was a huge painting with words that read “Welcome to Hell.”

That painting was the first image all the parents saw when they walked in my room.

I guess I don’t have to explain how the painting got there. My laughing co-worker took it upon himself to help decorate by using a project one of his British literature students had painted. It was a tribute to Dante’s Inferno. He must have hung it on the wall while I was in the restroom. I don’t know how I missed it.

I can only imagine the perceptions of my visiting parents—all because my crazy co-worker “labeled” my classroom.

I guess that just goes to show that labels and images can change people’s perceptions even if they haven’t actually taken time to get to know the product—or the person.

Tonight I’ll be careful to portray a positive image. I have one goal in mind—to let my students and their parents know I really do care.

For more information about 3D chalk art, click on the following website:


16 thoughts on “Illusion

  1. I am a fan of this chalk artist but I wanted to let you know that I have confidence in you and your ability to portrait Christians as loving, concerned, and caring people. Just be yourself and remember who you are in Christ and let that overflow into your conferences.

  2. I love this kind of art. It’s SO amazing.

    You and Josh (and another one of my good friends) have kind of helped me take the leap into reaffirming my faith. I am reading a Daily Reading Bible, and it will take me a year to finish. I just finish Moses getting out of Egypt and currently in John (in one day’s read you read bits from both Testaments).

    I turned to you for help because we are both Baptists, and I know you are more familiar with New Testament as well as an absolutely awesome English teacher. 🙂

    (I did find a book in the library today on Jesus’ brothers. I did a happy dance…in my head :P)

  3. I am SO SO SO SO SO happy. I am doing happy dance right now. In my sunroom. In front of my dog. I sure do embarrass my dog a lot.

    You must keep me updated on this assignment. It really sounds interesting.

    Nathan and Katie found the art in newspaper today, and I thought, “Hey, this gives me an idea.” I stole their idea and ran with it.

    You always make me feel happy. If I could give you a gold star for being the best encourager ever, I would do it right now!

  4. Wow the chalk art you shared is amazing! I love art in all forms. Visual, musical, performance, written, abstract, modern, the list really goes on and on. I can’t narrow myself to liking just one type of art. Art has a way of showing you something from someone else’s perspective. Really no two perspectives are every identical. Each perspective is unique as is the person who creates it. Everyone doesn’t take the time to realize that though. Thats what makes those of us who do realize it special.

    You are a very talented and amazing person! I am so lucky to have had you as a teacher. Even a ‘spasmodic’ one… Geeze I love that word! I’ve come to the conclusion that we all have our quirks. Just think of how boring we’d be if we didn’t have them!

    I also love that you titled this blog Illusion. As an amature magician I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. Illusions are a distortion of reality. While the audience is watching one hand something might be happening with the other. They can see one picture then a second later see something completely different. Or they can read something that evokes an emotion that has the power of altering thoughts and point of view. Indeed all are very powerful in what they can evoke and do.

    Continue to write, share the passion, create the magic.

  5. I want to see you perform. I know you are amazing! Please let me know your performance dates. I have a crazy, crazy schedule, but it would be wonderful to see you.

    And Chris, you really do inspire me!

  6. He teaches at Tullahoma now. That should be a pretty good clue. A co-worker and I got him back though. We sneaked a baby monitor in his ceiling. We would go to another room and make meowing noises. He was convinced that a cat had crawled up into his ceiling. Whenever he’d ask one of us to come listen, the other would go to the other room and meow. It was hilarious. We never told him the truth. 🙂

  7. This was great. I have a son starting high school next year. I hope he is so blessed to have you for a teacher like I did. God bless!!!

  8. That is too funny!!! I don’t ever remember your classroom being anywhere close to “hell” I loved every minute of your room!!!! But how come the funny stuff like the Meowing Cat never made an appearance there???? LOL

  9. Oh, my goodness, I hope not! 🙂 I’ll have to tell you about some of my crazy Halloween pranks. This is my favorite time of year. We used to have kids roll our yard (all in fun, no harm intended), and some of our defense tactics were just too funny. I’ll have to remember those stories for October posts. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s