Posted in Mental Health

End of the school year! Yay! But what about THOSE students… and teachers?

The end of the school year is messy. It’s not all Pinterest perfect with countdowns, perfect behavior, presents galore, and tears in everyone’s eyes.

To students with trauma, it’s a deadline, a dreaded end of security. Somehow, in all the countdowns and year in review activities, some forget about the kids who act out but don’t really want the year to end.

My husband was one of those kids. He was a capable student who purposely failed classes so he could attend summer school or after school programs. He was the kid who went from house to house until both parents gave up and he was raised by an equally crazy relative who wouldn’t drive him places, but him things, or listen when school called. He’s the kid who went into the military as a getaway.

We forget about those kids.

But.

We also forget about those teachers. The teachers who struggle with mental health, who get depressed or feel useless over the summer, who get overwhelmed with all the paperwork and end of year expectations. Those teachers aren’t the first to pack their room or leave for the summer.

They sometimes sit in their room not knowing what to do next… the class diagram? Inventory? Check out paperwork? Purge outdated materials? Sign observation forms? Make phone calls? Lock up materials? Wipe down surfaces? Clean out binders? Check over lockers? Label furniture? Roll-up posters?

It can be overwhelming to go from having a clear purpose every day to having time off where you don’t need to grade or plan or communicate… and even though the entire year builds to this point, it still feels sudden. Like you’re walking forever and then there’s nothing under you.

They make plans, lists, use their coping skills, tackle the problems at hand, try to remain calm, try to not spiral, and smile through it.

The end of the year is already so stressful but students and teachers with trauma and/or mental illnesses are having an even tougher time right now. Not to mention, those who deal with new trauma or stress outside of the normal chaos that is the end of the year.

I am one of THOSE teachers and I am not okay. (I will be okay but I’m not there yet.)

One of those teachers,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Story Time: a Bittersweet Day in Middle School

Today all started with running late… again. Mornings have been rough newly pregnant. I won’t go into details.

Classes go on mostly as planned, I mean 9 days left…

Then. My one class comes in and I get a note. A note saying I’m bullying their child because their child heard me tell the sub to keep an eye on them as my sub pushed me out the door for my first sonogram appointment.

The note said that every time they felt their child was called out and others were not, they are going to tell on me to our vice principal… apparently I’m 12 again.

I showed the note to my principal asking if he would sit in a meeting with this person and I. Thankfully, I have a super supportive admin who said absolutely. So, now I have to call this person tomorrow because they don’t have an email. 🤦‍♀️

Continue to the… same class. I give three students lunch detention so I can talk to them about their behavior with the substitute. One couldn’t make it due to a health issue. Although that was terrible, it worked out so I could have a more honest conversation with the other two.

Fast forward to… the same class where one of my ELs starts crying. When I found out why, it was a huge miscommunication. I was able to have a real conversation with two students and explain why it hurt the other students feelings and get them to start to befriend the new EL.

Finally! Fast forward to my last class of the day. This class goes a little like my social media status…

Several weeks ago:

A- are you okay? You look like you don’t feel well.

Me- no, I’m okay. I think I have a stomach bug.

A- did you eat ice cream?

Me- you know what? I did! I bet it was expired!

A- are you going to have ice cream tonight?

Me- why would I eat ice cream if it just made me sick?

A- but is it the sick like you’ll be better tomorrow or the sick like you’ll be sick for a few months?

Me- look if I have food poisoning that long, I’m going to the hospital.

Today:

B- I know you’re secret.

Me- you do? Can you tell me because I don’t know.

Student walks away with a group. They come back when we line up for dismissal.

B- I know you’re secret!

Me- I still don’t know. What is it?

A- I know! Come here I’ll whisper it to you!

I bend down and she says…

A- you’re pregnant!

Then!!!!!

I go to a meeting after school and have an issue with a colleague who disrespected one of my student helpers. They grossly overstated the school rules on students using copiers AFTER hours… it was so bad that they got into it with two other colleagues and I had to call admin for assistance. I mean, can’t we all just be polite and a little understanding? Please! Needless to say, this isn’t the first issue I have had with this person. 🤦‍♀️
And now I’m home taking a bath because dinner was awesome and then made me nauseous 🤰🤷‍♀️

Pregnantly yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Movie Day Win

We have been testing all day!!! It’s exhausting for all of us!

And I still have one class to “teach” at the end of the day. There’s no way I’m going to maintain their attention during instruction or a new concept.

So I tricked them! I told them that I wasn’t supposed to “just” watch a movie.

To get around it, I made an activity to go with the movie. Then we could all work and relax at the same time.

They bought it! 😂

They even thanked me!!

Now, why did I do this instead of JUST watching the movie? Because without a clear activity or direction, they are CRAZY at the end of the day. Not to mention, unwilling to work with me (not all) and more concerned with being social than their academic success.

I now have a class of students who are actively watching the original Jumanji and completing academic questions to match! Win!

Rolling the dice,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

A Day Teaching Middle School in 25 Doggo Pictures

It’s teacher appreciation week! If you have no idea what teachers go through on a daily basis… you’re probably making decisions for all educators 🤦‍♀️ kidding! But only sort of…

Here’s a look at my day today in middle school (made more understandable by way of doggo photos).

  1. “Do I have to be up this early? I’m comfy with cuddly doggos. Snooze button!!!”
  2. “wait… I can’t be late! I’M THE TEACHER!!!!”
  3. “Must eat quickly!”
  4. “Oh! Hello students! I am wide awake and smiling even though I haven’t finished my coffee! I was almost late today. I was told about a student schedule change 5 minutes ago. I was told about a spec Ed observation in my worst class ten minutes ago. I know you need a smile and to feel important! I am trying my best to be everything you need regardless of my own state of mind or needs.”
  5. “Good morning! It’s time to work on your bell ringer! Please try each challenge and work for the next 5 minutes. We will go over it when time is over. If you are finished before time, please read.”
  6. My face when someone says, “what am I supposed to do?” “I don’t have a pencil.” “They won’t stop looking at me!” “Can you tell him not to touch my paper?” I can continue but, yes, these are SIXTH graders… in flippin’ MAY who don’t have a PENCIL!!!!!!! 🤯
  7. “I’m loving the participation but we need to remember to RAISE OUR HAND so everyone can be heard and be respected.” It’s. Flippin’. MAY!!!! 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️
  8. Start instruction… “why are you out of your seat?” Oh sorry, I’m not supposed to phrase it that way, “I feel disrespected when you get up to sharpen your pencil as soon as I begin instruction. Please go back to your seat and sharpen it at a more appropriate time.”
  9. Mixed emotions when I announce, “here is your notes page. We are going to go through this instructional video and take notes. I will pause the video as we watch so everyone can take notes and discuss the information. Please put your name, block, and date on your paper before we begin.” “Omg! Notes!?!” “Omg! We have to work?” “Can’t we have a free day?” “Why do we have to take notes?” 😳
  10. “So much writing! Why do I have to take notes again?” “Is this a grade?” “Can’t I just start the writing piece without taking the notes?”
  11. “someone is at the dooooooooor!” Even knowing the expectations… at least two students try to answer the door at the same time.
  12. “I’m bored. I mean, I have to pee. Can I go to the bathroom? … what do you mean not now? Ugh!!!!!!”
  13. “Pleas put your chair completely on the floor. I don’t want you to fall.” (I said it four times in ten minutes to the SAME student) “OMG! LEAVE ME ALONE!” (I couldn’t resist saying calmly and without emotion…) “I will if you’re sitting correctly.” And then moved on with instruction.
  14. The same student mentioned above crumples their paper because I won’t let them leave the room. I give them an extra copy. They crumple this copy because they are already behind and think I’m moving too fast because I didn’t go back for them to catch up. So, I give them a third copy and plan to assign them lunch detention. The student visits the counselor then returns.
  15. My face when that student catches up faster than any student who has been there the entire time. 🤦‍♀️ Why couldn’t you do that in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. Raised hand, “Yes! What does this mean?” “What time is it? I’m hungry.” 🤦‍♀️😳
  17. My face as I say, “Thank you for raising your hand but that is an off-task question.”
  18. “What’s that in the window!?” My sanity FLYING away!
  19. “Let’s move on! Now that we are finished with notes, you have 20 seconds to put it in the notes section of your binder. (Counting) okay! You should now have your notes away! Let’s change gears to a group project!”
  20. “Group what!”
  21. “Do I get to pick my group?”
  22. “Nope!” 🤪
  23. This is the face I see… them hanging on every word as I explain the project… now that I FINALLY have their attention.
  24. “Wait… it’s that easy?” “Yes!! It is!” They had 15 minutes to plan a presentation for their class about 1 class rule. They were assigned groups and rules. They had to explain one example of following that rule and why it’s important for you to follow it, for your classmates that you follow it, and your teacher that you follow that rule. They present tomorrow!
  25. Bell rings! That means it’s time to go! MUAHAHA! Except!!! I intercept them at the door and make sure they leave one by one so they don’t sprint down the hall and fall on their face.

This is a shortened snippet of my daily life as a middle school teacher.

If you know a teacher, had a teacher, or are human… thank teachers! Check on them too because it’s May and most of us are not okay. We need a break. We need pencils. We need our sanity back!

Appreciatively yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education, Mental Health

TV Wisdom and Teacher Reality Check

I won! Sort of.

I won Teacher of the Year (TOY) for my building. I continued and competed against the other TOYs in the district. They then had to pick the top few to continue before picking an ultimate winner.

After doing a lot of writing, agonizing, video taping, editing, revising, and sole searching… I completed an interview in front of nine people.

I ended up knowing half of them, which actually made it more nerve racking. I stumbled my words. I bounced my leg. I did everything in my power to not have a panic attack in the room. I smiled. I looked at everyone even though only one person asked the questions. I tried not to over analyze what their head nods or note taking meant. My brain shut off as I answered a question. When I thought I had answered it, I still had to ask, “can you repeat the question? I want to make sure I answered all of it.” I tried to continue eye contact even thought I wanted to stare at the ceiling.

I. Tried. Everything. I could think of to do my best.

It wasn’t good enough. I got the call saying thanks but you didn’t win. It was worded more elegantly but the main message came loud and clear.

The worst part? I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to win until I was no longer in the running.

I wanted something I could figuratively wave in the faces of anyone who told me I couldn’t, wasn’t good enough, fired me, looked down at me, threatened me, and more. Something that says, “you were wrong! I AM a teacher! And a damn good one too!”

Then, it hit me – tv wisdoms. A few sentences from a tv show turned me around.

Fixed? That’s not a thing. … My job is to give you the tools to get through the day.” -Dr. Iggy Frome, New Amsterdam s1 ep20

I didn’t need fixing. I needed to use my tools.

One of the best tools MY therapist gave me was like a reality check. I’m sure there’s a name for it but I’ve since forgotten.

I’m in a spiral of negativity. In my mind, not winning at the district negated winning at my school. Those people were right. I shouldn’t be a teacher. I should have been fired. They were right to give me an improvement plan. I deserved to have kids that cause me to evacuate my class and then be judged when I had to protect my students.

Reality check.

What’s the truth here? I WAS nominated and chosen as TOY for my building. I had FIVE different students nominate me. I had TERRIBLE school leaders that did not treat me with the appropriate amount of respect and seriousness deserved. I am currently working for school leaders who DO respect me and treat my needs and questions seriously. I won TOY in my second year in my district and my fourth year as a certified teacher (which is SUPER early to win in my area). I did something out of my comfort zone because my school leaders, students, and colleagues believed in me.

The other truth?

I feel like I may have been overlooked for some reason other than qualifications or qualities. BUT part of winning at the building level is interviewing the candidates the following year. SO that means I can help pick the next candidate based on honesty and integrity and influence others to do the same (if it isn’t already).

Oh, the irony… as if my mental health could pick a better time to take a roller coaster… during mental health awareness month. (Yes, I know that’s unfair of me but still not untrue)

Speak out, speak up, and love yourself!

Happy mental health awareness month!

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