Posted in Mental Health

Panic Attack Helpline

These things do happen… I may be able to cope with my anxiety but I still have panic attacks from time to time. I have found three things that help me in those moment.

  1. Manage my breathing – this is my first go-to strategy. Try to slow your breathing. Do the stereotypical, “breathe in… breathe out.” It takes practice and time but it helps me slow everything down and feel more in control.
  2. 5 senses – think of things for each of the 5 senses. It’s a bonus if you can do something with them. For example, I think of my sense of touch – petting my dogs. It’s a mental bonus if I can actually pet my dog as I think of the sensation. Go through every sense and really think about them. It takes your attention away from the attack and helps you ground yourself in the present.
  3. Rule of 3 – think of 3 positives, 2 deep breaths, and 1 goal or thing you can work on related to your current anxiety. This is something I made up for myself and especially works when I have anxiety resulting in overthinking or negative self talk.

What helps you when you have a panic attack or high anxiety?

Dealing with an attack or anxiety? Try the strategies above or below in the comments. If you haven’t already, consider talking with a doctor or family member about your anxiety.

Posted in Mental Health

Anxiety Manifesting in Reality

There’s still stigma attached to mental illness. I feel there’s only one way to combat that stigma – education.

As someone with anxiety, I feel the more I know about it, the more power I have over it. Anxiety is irrational and will be with me my entire life. It’s a friend who doesn’t know when they’ve overstayed their welcome.

Below are ways anxiety has manifested in my life.

Disclaimer – I am not a doctor or medical professional. Do not use this post as a diagnosis but rather to open a dialogue between yourself, your family, and your doctor if you feel you are struggling with mental illness.

Stereotypical symptoms (the true ones) –

  • Panic attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Overthinking

The not as talked about symptoms –

  • Feeling awkward (especially socially)
  • Wanting to be alone
  • Canceling plans
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Weight on chest
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Procrastination
  • Snapping at others
  • “Laziness”
  • Forgetfulness
  • Over/under eating
  • Feeling rushed or out of control
  • Heart palpitations
  • Eye twitching
  • Hands shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Flare up (if you have skin problems like psoriasis)
  • Leg shaking/foot tapping
  • Stumbling over words
  • Stutter
  • Repeating myself
  • Clenching teeth
  • Heart racing
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Finger or pencil tapping
  • Difficulty standing or staying still
  • Difficulty falling asleep and waking up
  • Pushing people away

And more. I’ve had all of these symptoms at times. But what they don’t tell you about anxiety?

If you are able to “control” or understand your anxiety, it can be a strength (at times).

Now that I have gone through therapy and medicine and research and soul searching and… you get the picture… I’m able to use my anxiety to reflect and plan.

I ask myself these questions:

  • What is causing me to feel that way?
  • Is that a valid thought or not?
  • If it’s a valid thought, what can I do about it?
  • If it’s not a valid thought, then what is the truth?

I’ll give you an example.

Earlier today, I was feeling a little antsy, irritable, forgetful, and had a difficult time taking a deep breath.

What was causing me to feel this way? Well, spring break is quickly coming to a close and I still have to finish grading, planning, copying, teacher of the year (t.o.y.) paperwork, new t.o.y video, prepare for the t.o.y interview, and housework. I also realized that I’m almost broke until tomorrow.

Is it valid? Absolutely.

What can I do about it? I spent three hours in my classroom today and finished 2/3 of the grading, all of the planning, and a chunk of the t.o.y paperwork. I have a plan to finish the rest tomorrow except the copies since I have planning first on Monday. As for the no money situation, it’s a valid feeling but I had to remind myself that I already paid my bills, bought groceries, and get paid tomorrow with no need of buying anything today.

This thought process made me feel more in control, validated, and even successful because it enabled me to make a reasonable plan and diminish some of my current stressors.

Knowledge is power. The more we learn about mental illness, hopefully, the more normal it will be to have and talk about.

Powerfully yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

The Truth about Anxiety

I was diagnosed with anxiety in my early 20s. I wish it had been sooner. It would have saved me a lot of… well, anxiety! Not to mention, depression, self-esteem, and more. Putting a name to this invisible monster actually made me feel validated and normal (my relative normal).

Anxiety is real. Don’t let someone else’s ignorance or lack of understanding diminish your self worth.

You are important. You are worth understanding. What you are experiencing is real!

I talked more about this in my first post but my negative experiences changed my life.

It took college for me to get diagnosed with anxiety. It took two crappy jobs and a terrible principal along with irrationally irate parents (of one of my students) to get me to go back to the doctor. It took heart palpations, daily panic attacks, almost constant eye twitches, lack of appetite, and decreased social interaction to get me to admit and realize how physical anxiety is and to talk to my doctor about medicine. It took a year on medicine and a change of schools to get me to call a therapist. It took me 6 months, my doctor, therapist, and friends to get off the medicine and be released from my therapist.

Sometimes life’s hardest moments are the moments that will change your life. My life is not perfect (I mean, no one is really!) but my life led me to teaching back in my home district and married to a man who loves me with friends who accept me for who I am.

Don’t give up! Allow your experiences to lead you to the best parts of your life even when they feel like the worst.

You are enough. You are important. What you are experiencing is real and yes, there will be people who don’t or won’t understand. Give them time, space, or kick them to the curb. If they’re worth having in your life, they’ll find you worth understanding.

Anxiously yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Transform Your Classroom One Day at a Time (in 10 steps) – Part 2

Here are the rest of my tips to transform your classroom (all of which I employed Thursday)!

6. Grab their attention.

Attention getting strategies are a life saver!!! Grab their attention with a sound (like a chime or clapping), call and response, do something unexpected or silly, or the classic, just get quiet and still.

Extra tip: if you have an extra talkative or squirrelly group, get their attention and then release it within a minute or so. I like to give directions and then have students turn and talk to review them. I have them do one direction at a time every 10-30 seconds so I ask for and release their attention every 30-60 seconds.

I also use an acronym from Teach Like a Champion– STAR. Check the image on this post for more.

7. Provide choices.

Choices are everywhere! Give your students choices in how the complete an assignment, the topic they write or research about, partners, seats, and more!

My most common choices include project choices (essay or a creative option), seating options or partners (when I’m especially brave), consequences/warnings (do this or – don’t do this and), timing (do this before or after), and voting (lights on or off).

8. Add music.

This is flippin’ magic. I tested the theory last week. My class was getting louder as they worked on projects. I turned on instrumental music and just watched… it worked! I expected them to be talking but they were too loud! When the music came on, they started to decrease in volume throughout the room. This also helps during silent independent work. It fills the theoretical space and makes some students feel more comfortable.

Know your students! This can have the opposite impact on some students.

9. Trust them.

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents but have you heard of bulldozer parents? These parents clear obstacles for their children. Don’t be that teacher. Let them struggle a little. Guide them in how to persist in difficult moments. As teachers, we also need to help students feel trusted. They know when you don’t trust them. Give them opportunities to do the right thing, learn a lesson, or turn it around. They may just surprise you!

10. Reflect and teach them to reflect.

I have found that my best moments come after asking, “what went well and what didn’t? What did I do that benefited my students and what did I do that caused something to not go well?” Be honest with yourself. Usually, when I have issues in my classroom, it’s because I did something wrong. For example, waiting too long or short between responses, not planning effectively for transitions, or not addressing a behavior quickly or privately. We all make mistakes! Own it! Learn from it!

It’s equally important to teach your students how to reflect. Help them reflect on behavior, learning, grades, effort. This is a lifelong skill! And one too many of our students don’t learn at home.

And that’s all folks!!!

Kidding! There’s lots of tips to transform your classroom! The key is wanting to be your best for your students. Be honest with yourself and your students. Pick one new thing to focus on and try it! A sure fire way to fail is to either refuse to admit your mistakes or to try to fix too many things at once.

What is your best tip for a new or struggling teacher?

Admittedly yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Transform Your Classroom One Day at a Time (in 10 steps) – Part 1

This year our spring break felt like it would NEVER get here! April 18th was our last day of school before break.

We had just finished state testing for 7th and 8th grade ELA and Math and 6th grade ELA. Each week we test, our schedule changes so students test in the morning and have electives at the end.

THEN! We had one week of crazy schedule to make it fair to elective teachers but no testing.

THEN! We had a book fair and community event! Not to mention all the other crazy events leading to break. Needless to say, we were all feeling the struggle, students and adults alike.

My students were a little squirrel-y Thursday (you know… the day break is about to start, testing is over for the week, some students are checked out for the day…….. ). I can’t say I blamed them for being a little out of whack. So, I did everything in my power to help the day run smoothly, positively, and with a spark of fun.

Here are ten tips to transform your classroom (all of which I employed Thursday)!

1. Be consistent! and 2. Set high and clear expectations.

This should be employed at the start of the year and continued every day. If you didn’t start this year with high and clear expectations, it’s not too late! Start NOW! It will be an uphill battle but you can win!

One way I do this in my classroom is when explaining work time expectations. We have a brief class discussions about the assignment and what it should look or sound like when they are working and HOLD THEM TO IT! There’s a consequence for everything we do – positive and negative. You’re asking your students to misbehave if you have said to be silent during work but allow them to talk or said to work independently but allow them to work together. Say what you mean. These students have enough instability in their lives. They don’t need an easy teacher. They need a consistent one.

During an observation earlier this year, my VP heard me say, “you have 10 minutes to read your example essay, correct it, and grade it using our rubric. Go!” We had already gone over what it should look and sound like and how to accomplish the task. She told me later that she didn’t think they could do it in 10 minutes. They did it in 9 and a half minutes. My students accomplished the task by being held to a reasonable yet high and clear expectation.

3. RELATIONSHIPS!

This is the number 1 strategy you should have in your pocket. Students need to feel connected. When you have a positive relationship with your students, they will do almost anything for you and be the best versions of themselves. See my post, “Real Talk… the Secret to Teaching,” for more about relationships.

4. Be funny!

Don’t force this. It has the opposite impact if you try too hard to be funny. Look for moments where you can insert humor naturally. This could be a conversation with a student, the class, in the hallway, in a lesson, etc. I’ve gotten better at this over the years and it’s gotten easier.

I have students who just get me. They get my humor and sarcasm. Some students don’t so I’m careful to watch which kind of humor I use around them. These students though, I will sit at my desk for attendance and shoot a glance at them. If they’re looking at me, I make a face or sigh dramatically and they lose it! They find it soooooo funny!

Yesterday, I used humor to get my way. I asked students to clean up and only one followed directions. Instead of arguing, yelling, or any number of strategies, I decided to use humor. I turned on my class microphone and started singing the clean up song, we all know it. “Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!” AND THEY JOINED IN! SIXTH GRADE STUDENTS! And they did what I wanted – cleaned up.

5. Take a break.

When you work out, you’re supposed to give your muscles a break and rest. Your brain is a MUSCLE! So, why not give your brain a break? It’s important to know your students here. Some students need a brain break that gets them moving and energized but others need a rest and quiet. I use both to accommodate my students. Not sure what this looks like? Check out some examples below.

Energizers – Jumping jacks, Simon says, four corners, fake Simon says (do the opposite), heads up 7up

Rechargers – (I’m sure there’s a name for it but I don’t know it) quiet time, 1 minute nap, 20 questions, silent reading break

Check in tomorrow for part 2!

One day at a time,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

10 Things Teachers Need to (or SHOULD) Hear

I’m a tad biased but… teachers are underestimated, underpaid, and under-appreciated. I have no piles of money laying around so I can’t begin to touch the underpaid problem BUT I can teach others how to appreciate teachers!

Here are 10 phrases you need to, or should, say to teachers in your life (plus my snarky comments).

1. Thank you.

Seriously. I can’t believe I have to put this here. If a teacher does something that gives you a feeling of gratitude, gratefulness, happiness, or any strong positive emotion, let them know! We can’t read your mind! We are severely under-appreciated! Just say thank you once in a while!

2. Please.

Don’t assume we will do whatever you want (you know what you get when you assume right?).Use your flippin’ manners! When you don’t, all I think is, “I see where you student learned it from.”

3. I don’t know how to… Could you teach me so I can help my child at home?

Sometimes parents want to help their child on projects or homework but don’t know how! Instead of saying, “this isn’t how I learned!” ASK!!!!!!!!!! We. Will. Help. You!

4. Can I help you?

I’ve noticed a trend. As students get older, less parents get involved. Offer to help!!!!! You could chaperone, make copies, help struggling students, help run a school activity. The possibilities are almost endless! We have so much on our plates and we give so much of ourselves to our students. Giving us some help means we can give more, too.

5. I support you.

When I call you saying your child received a consequence, that’s all I’m trying to communicate! I don’t need your support or say so to enact an appropriate consequence but it goes a long way to show or say your support in those circumstances. It communicates that you trust the teacher and that you see them as someone your child should respect.

6. You are a professional.

Not a babysitter! We are there to educate your child, not just watch them. I would gladly accept a babysitter pay rate since it would be exponentially more than I am paid now.

When I call you and explain that your child refused to learn or made learning difficult for others, LISTEN!!!! It’s YOUR job to parent, not mine. I will discipline your child in an appropriate manner, when necessary, but if you do NOTHING at home to reinforce those lessons and teach your own, then you are failing your child.

7. I won’t call, email, or message you over the weekend, before 7am, or after 9pm.

Please don’t. We have lives outside of the classroom. Your child’s grade, issue, or whatever can wait until a decent hour.

Didn’t your mama ever teach you that it’s rude to call before 8am? My mom also told me that nothing good happens after 10pm. Some teachers have their emails connected to their phones for emergencies (like closings, delays, etc). Either it can wait or you need to wait. Don’t be THAT parent. Trust me, we complain about you to other teachers.

8. Here’s some coffee.

This is like saying, “I hope you have a good day but, just in case, here’s some go-juice.” This is such a cliche but a lot of us reallllllllllllllllly like coffee. Then there’s the strange people…. the teachers who can be perky without caffeine. I don’t understand how……………..

9. Here’s some wine.

Or beer. Or gift cards so we can buy our own. I think we all know why some of us like to occasionally drink after work.

10. I’m sorry.

Seriously, this means SO much! We all know that your child is special. Every child is special. But hearing, “oh no, not my baby!” is equivalent to, “liar, liar, pants on fire!” Stop undermining teachers! This is made even worse when you say it in FRONT OF YOUR CHILD! Seriously, you don’t call your partner a liar in front of your child do you? I hope not. So, if you make a mistake, be a big enough person to own up and apologize. This goes hand in hand with #5.

Now, go make a teacher smile! Especially the ones that haven’t started spring break yet (it’s April 15th). We are not okay.

Sarcastically yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Real Talk… the Secret to Teaching

Money…….. 🤣 yeah right! Time off…. 😂 no way! Pleasant parents, administrators, and perfectly behaved children…… 😂🤣😂in your dreams!

So, what is the “secret” to teaching?

Relationships.

I LOVE Rita Pierson’s Ted Talk… “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Now, not every child will like or love you! I’m certainly not every persons cup of tea! Heck, I have kids who don’t even like metaphorical tea!

BUT

Teachers should, and need to, treat every child as if that child likes them. Kids know when someone doesn’t like them! (I mean, don’t we all? At least most of the time.

Build relationships with students. Go out of your way to take an interest in them as human beings, not scores or evaluations.

I have an unspoken rule… well, it’s spoken at the beginning of the year and THEN unspoken. “If you want me to attend, you have to invite me. I will do my very best to go.”

I have students I wouldn’t expect invite me to games, plays, concerts, church! I have students who come back the year after to invite me to events!

But also, ask how they are doing. Ask about their friends and family. Be human! Make connections! Tell them about your awkward younger self. Share stories of when you made a mistake. Be there for them.

Story time…. (for the nonbelievers and empathetic people, like me)

Last year, I had one of THOSE students. I mentioned her in yesterday’s post. Here’s a few examples of her behavior from last year:

  • Calling out all. The. Time.
  • Talking during instruction, silent work, tests…
  • Rude to almost everyone
  • Said shut up to classmates and teachers
  • Would almost get in fights all. The. Time.
  • Started drama
  • Cut class
  • Low grades
  • “I don’t care” attitude
  • Refused to reflect, regroup, or accept responsibility
  • Cursing
  • Got in arguments with substitutes
  • Got into a “shut up” match with a substitute
  • And so. Much. More.

She was headed down the wrong path with no way out.

BUT

Every day I greeted her with a smile. I told her how happy I was she was in my class (“yeah right!” She always said). I still offered my help on assignments and took an interest in her friends and life.

At the end of the year, she started to break down her wall… just a tiny speckle of her wall cracked. She asked for my advice!!!!!!!

Someone was saying mean things about her… so she wanted to fight them. I told her,

Don’t let someone else’s stupidity define who you are.

I asked her a few rapid answer questions after that, “Are you (insert what thy said about her here)?” She said no to every single one. So I finally asked her,

Then why does it matter what they say? You know who you are, what you are, and what you’re not. That’s what matters. Maybe by changing your actions to match how you feel inside, you can make them realize that they’re the ones who are wrong.

She said I made sense. Honestly, I didn’t put much faith in her answer. She seemed to be listening but she had NEVER acted on my advice before, so why now?

At the beginning of this year, she blew me away. She came to visit and said,

Do you remember what you said to me last year? It changed my life. I started seeing things differently after that. I saw my younger brother doing what I did and getting in trouble. One of my aunts went to jail. My mom sat me down and talked to me too. She asked me if I wanted to be like my aunt or cousins that get in fights and get arrested a lot. All I could think about is what you told me. I know who I am and that’s not how I’m acting. This year is going to be different.

(I’m not crying… you are!)

Fast forward to today. This SAME child participated in the national day of silence in support of the LGBTQ community through our Gay Straight Alliance club. Yesterday, I told her that all of her teachers had complimented her. Last night, she told her mom about her grades (2 Fs and multiple Cs and Ds). She also told her mom about what I said. Today, she told me about the conversation and that her mom was proud of her and that they could work together on her grades. (She told me before I remembered she was participating in the day of silence. The rule at our school was you could be silent but if an adult asked a question, you needed to answer.)

Relationships.

Every classroom success you experience will be:

  • 10% luck
  • 20% education
  • 20% experience
  • 50% relationships

Obviously, this is not scientific data BUT a majority of your success will come from building relationships with your students.

Nostalgically yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education, Journey, Mental Health

Reflecting isn’t just for Mirrors

Big news here…. I won Teacher of the Year for my building!!! Woo! I’m honored to have won (especially now that I know I won based on a rubric score and not a popularity contest). In my state, private and charter schools don’t participate in TOY so I couldn’t be nominated until I changed schools.

As honored as I am, and truly I am, I’m not sure I like the attention. I’m not a “toot your own horn” type of person. I’m more of a “you need to prove yourself” kind of person.

I frequently feel like I need to prove my worth as a teacher, or at any job. Having this award shows me I am worthy but also gives me anxiety, irrationally, that they made a mistake and will take it away when they notice.

The truth – They didn’t make a mistake. The award isn’t going away. I have a LOT of work to do for the district level competition. I AM a good teacher and I AM worth the time it takes to do all that work.

When I finally let that sink in, I felt a little relieved and have moments of clarity where I can work on the paperwork required.

Each piece of the paperwork is a different type of reflection. I have to reflect on a lesson, how I connect students, a project I’m involved in, my experience, my message as Teacher of the Year, why I became a teacher, a major problem in education, and more. Not to mention the panel interview and class observation. (Ah!!!!!!!!! Talk about stress!)

I’ve felt a little overwhelmed and anxious about the amount of work. That being said, as I’ve started to dedicate time to each portion, I’ve realized they are all asking me to reflect on what makes me… me.

Each time, I’ve realized that reflecting has actually made me more confident and sure about my ability and next steps in the process. It’s helped me realize how far I’ve come from the teacher I used to be to who I am today.

Reflections help me see things differently, good and bad. It’s something I have been told I’m good at but something I don’t always initiate on my own. Reflecting can be a good thing if you’re using it to inform and improve.

So take a moment and think… how have you changed over the years? What’s something positive in your life? What’s something you could improve? Take the moment to reflect and strengthen your relationship with your self.

Positively yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

What Your Students Need is… You!

Over my few years of teaching I have noticed a trend. We ALL have that one kid who drives us crazy. You know the one. The kid who is NEVER absent, always seems to be in trouble, and it acts like they hate you. So what do they need?

I’m sure we could all come up with a few things like more discipline, a steady home life, respect for others… we could come with tons to fill this blank!

What they REALLY need is YOU. We can’t control their home lives, their friends, or the choices they make. We CAN control the teacher we become around them.

There’s one thought that clears my mind when I’m frustrated and ready to snap back at this student – if I was dealing with the things they are… what would I need?

The answer is different for each situation even if it’s the same student! Thinking that question will ensure that your reaction to their misbehavior is because you want them to learn versus be punished.

This idea comes up in parenting when people talk about appropriate discipline. It’s not appropriate because the parent decided to discipline that way. It’s appropriate because the parent isn’t disciplining out of anger, frustration, revenge, or to diminish the child in any way. They’re reacting with the goal of teaching the child right from wrong.

This sounds crazy simple (and super hard) but it’s not! When you understand why a child is misbehaving or how to help, it’s easier to see that the misbehavior isn’t personal.

Disclaimer: there are children who fall outside of this norm.

Still don’t believe me? Not sure what this looks like? Here are three examples of students who were really in my classroom –

  1. DRAMA QUEEN – The drama queen of the ENTIRE grade was in my class and she had a friend who followed in her footsteps. They both had the same problem – they felt unheard, unseen, and unimportant. So I thought… if I was feeling that way, what would I need? I would need to feel heard, seen, and important. To fix the misbehavior, I gave each student a journal. They wrote in it during our bell ringer about whatever was on their mind. The journal stayed in my class and I would not read it unless they left it on my desk and I wouldn’t write in it unless they asked me to write back. I had two journals on my desk every day after that. They still misbehaved but it rarely happened in my classroom because it was a safe space for them. The next year, they had moments of feeling overwhelmed and asked if they could write their teacher a note about it. Not only did they get what they needed in my class, they learned a coping skill for life.
  2.  Low academics = high misbehavior – I was teaching elementary grades and one student would have full tantrums when… I asked her to work, she didn’t understand, she was in a mood, I mean you name it! One was during an observation!!!!! I finally figured out why – she felt unimportant, unintelligent, and lacked materials for school. So I thought… if I was feeling that way, what would I need? I would need to feel important, intelligent, and have supplies I need. To fix the misbehavior, I gave the student books to keep before winter vacation and told her to ask me anytime she needed school supplies. I also called home for positives more often and had her volunteer in class more when I knew she would succeed. The student still misbehaved but a LOT less. Slowing the misbehaviors due to needs being met helped the parents narrow down when the behavior could and could not be controlled to later realize the student needed medicine as well.
  1.  I-do-what-I-Want-Kid – this student has gotten by on athletic ability and being so irritating and irrational that people push him on to get rid of him. No one has done this child any favors. The mom has older children that are even worse and have been terrible role models. This student lacks limits, consistency, choice, and someone who believes in their ability (non-athletic). When this student tests, they usually click through without reading anything because of the sustained effort. Knowing that the student needs consistency, choice, and limits, we made a deal. During the state test they could pause when they finish an entire page of questions then take a walk to the office and back. On the essay section we changed it to every 10 minutes. He had the choice to take the break. The first day of testing he took every. Single. Break. The second day he only took half and the third day he finished testing. He went from testing in 5 minutes to 3 days.

Students have needs that must be met. I’ve had students with all sorts of needs from the ones listed above to lacking food, feeling worthless, and feeling pressured to be perfect.

Each one has improved, some more than others, when I have successfully thought out why they were acting that way and how I would want to be treated in that situation.

Try it! Think about your tough kid. Why do they act that way? Really think and try to pin it down to one or two reasons. Do they feel important? Do they feel smart? Do they feel like they matter? Do they have enough school supplies? Do they feel helpless? Help your growing humans to learn how to be their best selves.

Thoughtfully yours,

Teaching In Public

P.S. below are a list of things I’ve done/used for THOSE students:

  • Journaling
  • Timed breaks
  • Giving school supplies
  • Positive comments or phone calls
  • Emotional check-ins
  • Direction check-ins
  • After school tutoring
  • Helper (deliver a note, help a student, be the teacher to explain a concept)
  • Relate to them (share something that you have in common like a sport or difficult situation)
  • Give them a compliment unique to them
  • Greet them at the class door by name
  • Dismiss at the class door by name (—– hope you have a great day!)
  • Be consistent with deals or breaks or whatever they end up needing
  • Help them find a mentor
  • Go to their games or events
  • Write them a positive note
  • Give them (or help them get) good during the day, after school, or weekends
  • High five them
  • SMILE when you see them

There’s more! We need to change our thought process from “what’s wrong with them?” To “what do they need?”

Posted in Education, Mental Health

I Give Myself Permission to Feel… Annoyed.

That’s right. Annoyed. Today begins the week from hell. A week of not being allowed to do my job. There will be another week that is just the same in another month.

State testing.

A week of no instruction, just testing. A week of not being allowed to help my students, just testing. A week of practically cruel and unusual babysitting.

“What is this word?” “I’m sorry I can’t answer that. Just do your best.”

“What does this mean?” “I’m sorry I can’t answer that. Just do your best.”

“I don’t understand the question. Can you rephrase it for me?” “I’m sorry I can’t answer that. Just do your best.”

“Did I write enough?” “I’m sorry I can’t answer that. Just do your best.”

And even though the students know to expect the same answer, the still look hurt or surprised every time I say it. It is, by far, the worst and most annoying week of my entire school year. AND I HAVE TO DO IT TWICE (Math and ELA)!

It gets worse! When students are finished they can read (no textbooks), draw, write, color, and put their head down (can’t sleep or snore) BUT anything they write, draw, or color HAS TO BE SHREDDED at the end of the session.

Not only is this a terrible week for me but the following things also irritate me about this week:

  • I have to fake that I don’t hate state testing
  • Students with ADHD or other attention/focus issues have to test for HOURS throughout this week
  • Our lunch was switched to accommodate testing
  • Some of my kids just don’t test well
  • I have to walk around to make sure no one cheats
  • Walking around makes students more likely to ask for help that I CAN’T GIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • among other things

Some may think, oh test week! It’s like a mini vacation. Yes! It is! A mini vacation where you can’t relax, you can’t waste time on social media or socializing, and you can’t have all you can eat at a breakfast buffet by the beach.

Even though I STRONGLY DISLIKE this week, I need to make it a positive environment for my students so they can feel successful and positive. To help I have purchased cheerios for snacks, gum, mints, and plan to take breaks for the bathroom and maybe one or two outside breaks, if it’s nice out.

As you go about your week, say a prayer for my sanity.

Temporarily sane,

Teaching In Public