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Having Done in Room 1501 (Week 18) Walk a mile in their shoes…

FullSizeRenderRoom 1501 is preparing to close down for the semester.  I cannot believe how fast it has gone by.  It seems like only yesterday that I walked into Room 1501 and met it’s students for the first time.  This past week…inside Room 1501…has been pretty uneventful as we wrap up a great semester.  My “having done in Room 1501” and lessons learned, came once again, outside of my room.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this read…

I didn’t take the time to look up who originally said it, but it has been said… “YOU CAN’T REALLY UNDERSTAND ANOTHER PERSON’S EXPERIENCE UNTIL YOU’VE WALKED A MILE IN THEIR SHOES.”

I personally think that every American should have to do a job swap for a two week period, once a year.  The entire USA workforce should have to do this.  For example…I think every American should have to be a teacher for 2 weeks.  It would be transformational.  On the TV show called Family Feud, 100 people were asked to rate between a 1 and 10 if they felt they could do their boss’s job better than he/she could.  A majority of the people polled answered with a 10.  Meaning…nearly everybody thinks they can do their boss’s job better.

Not only am I professionally teaching for the first time ever, I am also taking on Basketball coaching for the first time ever.  I have always played  basketball, and I like to think I was pretty good at it.  It’s been 18 years since I played basketball for Manhattan Christian College, where I earned the National Bible College Athletic Association Division I All American Award.  Since then I have been in the stands cheering on my kids and yelling at referees and thinking ridiculous thoughts about the coach’s abilities, decisions, and plays.  I have been a critic.  I have thought many times that I would be a way better coach than “that guy coaching that team.”

And…now I’m coaching.  I’m walking in a coach’s shoes…for more than a mile!  Already…just the other day…as I’m sitting on the bench and the team is out warming up for the game about to start… I had a parent walk up behind me and say, “That is not a very intimidating warm up routine for our basketball team.” Frankly…it ticked me off.  Then I remembered how critical I could be from the stands.  It actually made me laugh.  I deserved this comment from the parent.  “What goes around, comes around.”   But…here’s the truth…

It is so easy to be a critic.

It is so easy to watch the slow motion replay for your favorite NFL team and yell at the coach about how stupid that play call was, or how the running back should have cut right, not left.

It is so easy to criticize the Sunday preacher for his misquote of a passage.

It is so easy to think you can do it better.

I really wish…now that I’m a coach and a teacher…when I was being critical…that someone would have had the courage to say, “Shut up Renner…if you think you can do it better, then get your butt out there and do it.”

I love the quote from Theodore Roosevelt about Critics…  Theordore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

You and I need to fully acknowledge that ^T.R.^ was right and still is right.

What have you been criticizing?  Here’s my advice to you.  It is spoken with loving boldness…

“Shut thy mouth!” 🙂  “Being a critic is easy.  If you think you can do it better, then get out there and go for it.”

I love the example of Jesus.  When we…His prized creation…messed up and sinned…He didn’t complain and criticize.  He took on our skin.  He became one of us.  He didn’t just walk a mile in our shoes, He put on our shoes and wore them for 33 years….and He did it perfectly.  He put on our shoes and wore them way better than we ever could.  And still, He is not a critic.  He is love.

I pray we will not criticize others………ever again.  That will be difficult, but possible.

What good does criticism do?  Does it accomplish anything…I mean…other than make us look like a jerk?

Let’s end with a great Bible passage to put us all in our place and direct us to become the kind of people we really want to be.

“3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”  

Philippians 2:3-8

My first semester as a teacher, and now, as a coach at Joy Christian School has taught me a lot.  I can now say, after walking a mile in the shoes of a teacher and coach, how arrogant I must have sounded when I criticized the teachers and coaches of my past.  Oh…I didn’t criticize so much publicly to other people, but for sure God heard it.  I wonder what my words and heart made Him think?

I will try to do all I can to zip my lips when they try to get critical.  It will be a challenge.

If, after reading this post, you have been convicted about being critical towards anybody or any profession, I hope you will have the courage to at least volunteer in that area and see for yourself that it is not as easy as you think.

It will be an adventure that will humble you and make you a better person.

Thanks for reading this…I’m honored by you taking the time to do so, and for not criticizing this blog post. 🙂


Having Done in Room 1501 (Wk 16-17) :) Color outside the lines! :)



I am at the end of my 17th week of being a first time professional teacher.  I’ve been on Thanksgiving break all week…which is officially week 17.  I haven’t blogged on week 16 until now…well…because I’ve been on T-Giving break!

Last week, as we closed down our 16th week to get ready for this great break I’ve been on, we had an all School Thanksgiving Chapel service.  The chapel service is how Friday ended.  We were done by 10:30 AM that Friday and everybody was so excited to get off campus and begin our full 9 day break!!

Before I talk about what I learned from the All School Chapel Service, I simply want to say, it is a true challenge to try to teach the Students of Room 1501 the entire week, when they know they have a full 9 days of break coming up.  ADD, ADHD, SPASTIC KIDS, TROUBLE MAKERS & RULE BREAKERS come out of the cracks and push any adult irritation button they can find. 🙂

I didn’t mind.  I was one of those students too.  In fact, I’m going to guess that you have trouble focusing at work when you know a big vacation is coming up.   So, I planned for it.  I prepared for the week to be of a lighter subject in Room 1501.  It made for a good week. “If you can’t beat em…join em!”  And when I say “beat em”…I mean it in all senses.  LOL

On Friday, this Chapel service was really great.  See Pic. TGiving Chapel pic

We sang songs, watched video footage of different people saying what they were thankful for.  Played some silly games, prayed, listened to a great message from Pastor Patrick Youngs and then we ran for the parking lot to begin our Thanksgiving Vacation.

I was reminded of something at this chapel service.  Again, it was an all School Chapel Day.  This means that ALL students K-12 were in attendance.  As the chapel service progressed, there was great excitement coming from the 4th Grade and below age groups.  When the speaker asked for a response, this age group complied enthusiastically.  When the worship leader was leading us in song, this same age group sang at the top of their lungs!  They laughed out loud when things were funny. They were fully engaged.

I think this age group is special.  I wish this age group’s carefree and uninhibited demeanor is how we all behaved for the rest of our lives.  I think this type of Child is what Jesus meant when He said, 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”  Luke 18:17 NLT

These kids were inspiring to watch and listen to.  They were fully engaged and they obviously didn’t care about the High School and Middle School Age Group’s potential of making fun of them for such “silly behavior.”

I think you know what I mean.  These young kids would do about anything.   They have great courage and are unrestrained.  Some of the sophisticated types might call them, undignified.

That word, undignified, is found in a great Bible story of King David…He came dancing into town in front of the Ark of the Covenant after a great battle.  His wife saw him  and didn’t just roll her eyes but scolded him for such undignified behavior that was not befitting of a king.  I love King David’s reply….In fact…here is the story… It is found in 2 Samuel 6:16-21

16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.17 They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 18 When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes.20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord.22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

When was the last time you were undignified in an honorable child-like pure way?

When was the last time you rolled down the windows of your car and sang the song on the radio as loud as you could?

When was the last time you struck up a conversation with a total stranger?

When was the last time you made a mud pie or played in the dirt?

Run through a sprinkler?

When was the last time you giggled so hard, your stomach hurt?

Built a sand castle?

Play with play-dough?

Build a fort using only blankets and couch cushions?couch fort

Finger paint using only pudding?

Jump on a trampoline?

Watching the young kids at the All School Thanksgiving Chapel reminded me of how cool it is to be a kid.  Something happens in us when we “grow up”.  I’m not sure its a good thing.  In another passage of scripture Jesus said, “”Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 NIV

If I were Jesus I would have had the Apostle Paul add another Spiritual Gift to the lists found in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 … I would have had Paul add… “The Spiritual Gift of Immaturity.”

I have this gift.  Just ask the students in Room 1501.  I say things that the average Bible Teacher doesn’t say.  I say things the typical preacher doesn’t say.  It has gotten me in trouble with the people I like to call, “Old Grumpy Pants!”  It will continue to get me in trouble. I’m really okay with that fact.

Life is so short.

We all need to lighten up.

Go get the crayons out.  Color a picture.  Color outside the lines.  Then…bring it to me or send it with your student.

I’ll tac it on the wall of Room 1501. color outside the lines

It’ll inspire others to be child like.

It will brighten someone’s day.

It will give me a story to tell.

I’ll bet God will use it to change a life.


Having Done In Room 1501 Wk 9 (Need a Substitute?)

Room 1501 pic

Sometimes you just have to be out of town.  This week, I had the privilege of being invited to speak at my University Alma Mater; Manhattan Christian College (MCC) in Manhattan KS…The Little Apple 🙂   They have a chapel service every Thursday and it was great to be able to speak at it.  My oldest Child, Madison attends there too, and it was great to see her.  It had been 2 months since I saw her last. We had fun together.  Winter came early to the midwest.  It was 40 degrees when I woke up the first morning I was there.  It was a great break from the heat.  I’m ready for a PHX Winter!

Joy Christian High School has a graduate that is attending MCC (Riley Corbin) and I made sure to capture a picture of him leading worship so I could send it to his mom…who is also on the Joy staff!  So, in reality…Joy Christian High School led the chapel service on Thursday at MCC.  Riley did a great job…I hope I did a great job following him with my message.  I think I did…but I’m biased.

So…knowing I was headed to Manhattan Kansas on Wednesday night…I had to submit a request for a Substitute Teacher.  The substitute teacher request process at Joy High is pretty thorough.  I let them know 2 weeks in advance, filled out the short paper work, and submitted it.  It was approved!

My wife has just started subbing at JCS.  So…I requested her to fill in for me.

I’m writing this a few days late…I know how the sub did.  🙂

She did great.

Having a substitute teacher, in my place, is a little nerve racking.  It made me feel vulnerable.  I wondered if the students would behave.  I wondered if I would look disorganized.  Now, some might say that I should not have worried because it was my wife stepping in for me. Trust me…that made it worse.  My wife would be honest with me.  I think a total stranger subbing for me would be a little less threatening…they substitute teach for me, and then they leave.  My wife subbing for me…well…it’s called “pillow talk” and I was worried about what she might say.  A stranger that subs for me might simply do what I requested, and go home.  But, if it’s my wife…well…she’ll let me know areas that I could improve, or areas that are out of control…and also…areas she thinks are great!

As I type this…she has already subbed for me and we had fun talking about the different students, their personalities, and the impact that we get to have every day being apart of their lives.  I think having my wife sub for me, helped us have something more to talk about.  I’m not sure it taught us anything we didn’t already know about each other.  We have been married for 23 years.  But, it put us on the same page of discussion in this case.  All too often I think I go to work and do my thing and come home and talk about it with my wife.  My wife would do her thing and come home and talk about it with me.  It is good.  But what is great is when we both have been able to enter Room 1501 at different times and yet encounter the same people and experiences…and now when we talk about it…we know the names, place, and environment, because we have both experienced it.

She is subbing for someone else tomorrow.  So, I’m excited that we will be on the campus at the same time.

I’ll try to keep it professional!  🙂

Have a good week.  Week 9 in Room 1501 was short for me this week.  But excellent.



Having Done in Room 1501 Week-8 (1st bad day)

JCS Crest 2014Room 1501 pic



Week 8?  No way, that’s crazy.  I can’t believe how fast it has gone by.  Are you humming, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” yet?   I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to decorate Room 1501 in Christmas Decor or not.  My gut says that I’m not going to decorate…don’t call me a grinch….if that bothers you…then come on in to Room 1501 and decorate it!  🙂  

8 weeks in and it is clear that Room 1501 students are getting comfortable with me as their Bible teacher.  This is good and not so good. This is the first week I’ve gotten frustrated with one of the classes in room 1501.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get control of the class to the point where they were all listening and engaged. They were talking over me, and simply not engaging in what I was trying to teach.  I don’t fully blame the students.  I’m learning that classroom order is multi-faceted.  

I have to acknowledge as a teacher, that it is not just the students job to keep the classroom in order. Is it not true, in any situation where order is needed, that all parties are responsible to maintain order?  The person up front must be teaching in an engaging way…AND…the listeners must accept responsibility to practice the discipline of sitting still and engaging in the material being taught.   On this specific day, I was revisiting some material we had already gone over, and it was clear the students were tired of the subject.  I kept trying to capture their attention.  First, I simply asked the few who were talking to please “listen up.”  Secondly, I raised my voice tones a little more to try and make it obvious that I was trying to get them to listen.  Third, I added a little drama to my teaching by pacing and walking around the classroom….all to no avail!  

Room 1501 classes are only 40 minutes long.  In my many failed attempts to get the class to tune in…I actually used 30 minutes.  I’m pretty sure nothing was learned, but it was 30 minutes of pure effort on my part.  So…with only about 10 minutes left I told the class how frustrated I was.  I told them that when I was a student, the teacher would throw chalk and erasers at us when we behaved like this.  I told them I was so frustrated that I wanted to throw dry erase markers and erasers at them…but since I couldn’t do that…I told them all to get out of my class.  I told them that if I got in trouble for kicking them all out of room 1501 with 7 minutes of class left…that they were all busted too!

As the class nervously and quickly exited the room, many of the students walked by me with heads down, saying, “Sorry Mr. Renner.”  It made for a long night for me.  I went over and over in my head what I could have done differently, and this one silly incident caused me to wonder if I’m any good at teaching.

As I type this, I now find it somewhat humorous that I can have 7 weeks of great teaching with great student response, and then only one bad class nearly causes me to believe I’m bad at teaching.  LOL.  I’m becoming more dramatic as I age.  I’m going to assume that most of you have experienced something similar.  We all have great gifts that God has blessed us with and we can have so many great responses…but ONE BAD RESPONSE nearly does us in!  Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to??

Fast forward 24 hours…and nobody got in trouble, and everybody came in the next class day with a great attitude…even me.

As I shared the experience with a few teachers, they simply rolled their eyes at me and said…”Please…Welcome to teaching!”  Not all days are a good day.  I suppose I should just say, “duh.”  I know this, but for some reason that day really got at me.

There was good that came from it all…that specific class of students in Room 1501 were amazing the rest of the week.  I especially smiled, when the worst culprits from that bad day…were now the ones who asked the class to quiet down when it started getting rowdy.

I guess the moral of the story is this.  It takes all parties cooperating for peace to exist and thrive.

I suppose, if I’m really admitting to my own past behavior as a student, I deserve to have some days where the students in Room 1501 cause me some gray hairs.  That is exactly what kind of student I was… too often.   Some people call it Karma.  I call it, God’s sense of humor!”

I suppose it would do me well, right now,  to remember what I have preached so many times.  “Our battles are not flesh and blood.”  To quote the exact Bible passage…

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” –Ephesians 6:12

You and I are going to have a few bad classes.  Bad days.  Bad jobs. Bad relationships days.  Those days are not the norm.  Those moments do not define who we are.  They are just life. The Bible challenges us to focus on the good.  Even after watching some 10 O’clock news channel, I still believe that there is way more good in this world than there is bad.  The bad just hurts more and thus feels more real and prevalent.  The 10 O’clock news usually only focuses on the bad, and that tends to be all that we see, causing us to think the world has gone to hell in a hand basket.

It has not.  You are good.  I am good.  God is great.  You and I will become what we are focused on.  I think it is fitting to quote the Bible verse that is resonating in my head right now about this topic.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Philippians 4:6-8.

There are so many things happening in Room 1501 that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable!  I know the same it is true for you and your workplace, your home, and your life!  Don’t give the bad so much credit.  It doesn’t deserve that much attention.

Tomorrow is a good day.  When you get up in the morning, get on your knees for just a moment and give God thanks for what you are about to encounter.  Invite Him into every decision that you are about to make, every meeting you are about to attend, and every action you have yet to do…Then the God of peace will be with you.

That will be a good day…no matter what happens.

Here comes Monday!