A matter of hours: Challenge accepted

Recently, I participated in Aaron Hogan’s Teacher Myth (#teachermyth) twitter chat and it got me thinking. Not just about writing but about the impact every one of us have on lives that walk into our school buildings, our hallways, and into our classrooms. The lives that walk into our classroom are vulnerable, tenderhearted, and real. They challenge us to be better, to do more, and to make a difference.

Every day, we have an opportunity to impact others. Whether it is in conversation, in the classroom, or through typed words. It’s about the intent and the power to stop your day to converse with someone. Every day, we have a matter of hours with our students to truly make a difference. Every interaction, every teachable lesson, every hour, we make a difference. Taking the time to instill good, heartfelt conversations mean the world to our students. Sometimes, it’s all it takes for our students to change their day and sometimes those interactions change ours too. It’s the little things like their sayings, their stories, and their heart that is, in turn, shared with us. Their heart grows with every interaction. In just a matter of hours, we have an opportunity to leave an impact each and every day.

It’s not just students though. It’s every interaction throughout our day. We have an opportunity to make someone’s day, deepen understandings, and to continue along a journey of understanding and impact together. Words matter and the interactions, whether online or in person, make a difference along the way. It may be a twitter chat or a face to face conversation but it can truly make or break someone’s day.

Encourage, listen, and speak as if the memories will make someone’s day and journey better. Whether conversations are with students or our colleagues, we choose to be vulnerable, have meaningful conversations, and live up to the matter of hours between us and everyone else.

There are 24 hours in a day and every interaction, conversation, and written text matters. Remember that words can make or break someone’s heart and journey. A matter of hours matters & every interaction leaves a memorable impact on someone’s heart.

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Hashtag power

Often times, you see a hashtag on social media and don’t think anything of it. They seem to be everywhere. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, they are popping up everywhere. The truth is that the little hashtag is a POWERFUL tool that is giving YOU to the ability to search about anything and everything you’d like within it. It’s a game changer!

Hashtag blog power

One little hashtag, for instance #Leadlap or #DBC, opens doors for a catalog of keyword searches to occur. Hashtags are chronological, active, and live for all to utilize. When people utilize hashtags, you can just click on a link and it takes you to the source hashtag feed. The coolest thing about hashtags are that people use them everyday. The latest feed is updated every time someone utilizes the hashtag. You can search by hashtag and come up with so many ideas to utilize and glean information from.

In the days of chats and branding, hashtags are a game changer. You can find out information by searching or clicking the hyperlink, follow a chat, and read what others have posted as the day goes on. Hashtags, on twitter, are happening everywhere. It’s nice to be able to catalog thoughts by specific keywords and utilize them later.

Hashtags are booming and have become a KEY social media tool. Hashtags are categorized, collected, curated, and cataloged for later use. The best thing is that they are also searchable. In the world of social media, hashtag power is booming each and every post. Think before you tweet…does this need a hashtag?

Hashtag Power

 

Encouraged with courage

BBCourage

When I was growing up, I wanted to take on the world, help everyone and everything that came into my path, and make each person’s day just a little bit better. It is my personality, to this day, to want others to be successful. Call it an innate gift or my passion but it holds true to this day.

Still to this day, I have a desire to want to make someone’s day just a little bit better. Either by a compliment, handwritten note, call or text of encouragement, or just a simple thank you. I don’t do it for the recognition; I do it for the connection and appreciation for others. Enter in social media and the courage, encouragement, and compliment train has gone full speed ahead.

Every day, it is amazing to see the interactions between others on social media. I am blown away by the encouragement and courage of others doing amazing things for their students, staff, and people in their cities, towns, or areas they live in. It amazes me by the courage some have and it’s something to strive for to be able to reach a larger population as time goes on. Most I encounter provide encouragement to have courage.

Courage is a powerful idea. It is something one has to do something out of the ordinary and to be seen. That’s hard! But it gets easier as the idea of being seen gets easier and easier. Giving a compliment or a congratulations is easy. Talking to a mentor or person you admire with all eyes or screens available to see is tough. But the output of encouragement is so great! The courage flows through every comment, like, and connection each day.

Social media has provided the gift to many to connect. To talk, to read, to share, and to encourage one another. Social media has also given me courage to do more, to go beyond the status quo, and to want more for my students and population I work with. I see ideas that go above my capacity and are something to strive for in the future. I also see ideas that are so big, I wonder if I could achieve something that great. But then, I remember it’s not always right then but one day.

One day, my encouragement from others, the steps I take on a path to a new journey will reap the benefits to fulfill a new idea. Every interaction with encouragement from social media gives me encouragement to have courage. To go farther distances, to reach more, and to meet the needs of others each day. Full speed ahead with courage and encouragement to do more for others!

Leaders

 

Find your niche & own it!

This morning, I participated in the #leadLap twitter chat and was blown away with the topic of how to own your PD and cultivate what you learn with the world. More specifically, this is a huge topic of interest of mine for a three reasons.

Make connections

Being visibly supported and connected gives the learner (YOU) a circle of support that continuously grows each and every day as well as each connection you make. Your PLN continuously stretches your current mindset, gives you food for thought, and allows YOU to become a better educator with support each and every day! Twitter has become a HUGE part in my life. Not just based on the conversations; based on the support it brings me each and every day! Reason number 1: The built in support that makes YOU a better educator for the good of the community you serve.

The wealth of knowledge shared online and through the word of mouth multiplies each time you communicate with others. From sharing quotes to sharing book resources, your capacity to share with others blooms with every interaction and opportunity. Not a day goes by that I don’t read or hear about a good resource or a new idea. Reason number 2: New ideas and resources for you to look into, read, and utilize with your community of learners and educators around you.

Life is likea cup of tea.

Lastly, the power of your PLN makes YOU a better all around person each and every day. The community of support, the sharing of ideas, and the compassion so many give and lend to you and others shines each and every day. The power of your PLN makes YOU a better person inside and out. It is amazing to form life long friendships, come together in real life, and share your stories. I am amazed at the good social media has brought to my life each and every day and will never take for granted the connections I have that makes me a better person today. Reason 3: Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) empower YOU as a professional as well as a person each day! You have value and strength in words and in connections. 

Each interaction, twitter chat, or social media connection gives YOU the power to be a better person, a better educator, and a more connected person each day. Social media has opened doors that weren’t around 20 years ago. It is fluid, easy to access, and unique to each interaction. There’s something worth finding what works for you and owning the ability to find good in educators and people around you. Find your niche, whether its face to face, on twitter or another avenue, or a mixture of things and OWN your learning to be a better professional and a better person each and every day! 

PLN

Unpaved path ahead

I am a detail oriented person. I like to have a plan, know what I am doing, make lists, and move forward with some idea of what I am getting myself into to a degree. However, this past school year really threw me in a loop. Staff difficulties, extreme weather, severe challenges at work, and life really threw me in a loop. While I knew it would be difficult to be in the midst of unpredictability; life still had somewhat of a road map. It was predictable, it was routine, and it now is in the past.

A little over a month ago, I was asked to interview for a new position that would be created in m a district closer to family. I felt the interview went well and then I waited. The next Monday, the director of special ed called me herself and offered me the position as a Self Contained behavior unit teacher. In early May, I signed my letter of intent and I submitted by contract to the new district this week and resigned from my current district as well.

FB announcement

There are a lot of unknowns, such as what school I will be at (since the unit is being created based on district need), what types of behaviors and needs my students will have, and what the age range will be in my classroom. This is an unpaved path so to speak. I know behavior(s) and love the challenge. But not knowing the details has been tough. They will come in time but, for now, I will wait.

It was an extremely tough decision to leave my comfort zone, staff, and my students. I will miss them daily. I am extremely grateful for technology to stay connected as well. However, it is time. Time to have the opportunity to serve other students. Time to help students thrive and be supported in a safe environment. Time to start a new adventure and time to face the unpaved path ahead.

 

Uncharted waters…move forward

A plan: An idea of how one perceives how something will go in life. 
Reality: What really happens once a plan is moved forward.

This year started out like any other. New students, new rooms, new year. Hurricane Harvey then shattered much of South Texas and the community and world pitched in to help evacuate, rescue, and rebuild. It still gives me chills in May. The daily sirens, alerts, and helicopter sounds still make me pause when I hear them today. Ten days of hurricane Harvey’s destruction and rebuilding brought people back together and made many, including myself, grateful for what I had. People went back to life as they could and school started after two weeks of seeing devastation and destruction hit many.

The year continued. People rebuilt, people supported the Hurricane victims, and our students continued to come each day. Our students craved the stability, consistency, and structure of what we provide each day. While our personal lives may have been through so much, we had to put on a brave face and be there, all in, for our students. It was one of the hardest things working through the emotions, roadblocks, and devastation much of the area received. Our students saw too much, noticed the fears and struggles, and then came back craving their routine and stability. The back to school a second time was more challenging than the first. Our students struggled. They had been watching the devastation hit and then were thrown back into the demands of academics.

School continued, report cards went home, and we were back on track or so it seemed. 

Our students had to adjust as did the teachers. They had been home engulfed in emotions and fear. Fear presents in many ways. However, our students had so much more baggage then than in the beginning. The practice of building the culture began. Our students were given the chance to process, vent, explain, and had a way to express themselves. It was eye opening. It was changing. It was needed.

This year has not been easy by any means. From turmoil to difficulties, I truly am grateful for the intertwined lessons the challenges brought. There have been many support sessions, questions asked, and I am extremely grateful for my team. I can ask a question, receive the support, and move forward. It’s a plan I had no idea I needed but, in reality, is something that was meant to be.

Aside from the natural disasters and the aftermath, my journey with my students this year has been difficult. It’s not something I will air completely. But it has had many factors and trials along the way. The daily stress and difficulties this year have made me reevaluate what my purpose is as an educator and where I can serve students to the fullest capacity. An easy decision to move closer to family and the most difficult was to leave the students I have invested in for four years has been heart-wrenching. However, it’s time for a change. A path of new direction. A need to serve other students in a different capacity. My reality unknown but uncharted waters await.

Something the Hurricane and aftermath taught me was things don’t go our way for long. It’s the nature of the existence. We plan, life happens. We move forward & accept what comes our way. It’s not something you can mourn. It’s something you can accept.

This year has been full of many, many trials and our plan does not always go as planned. Reality is, however, there’s a lesson in each journey. A journey of uncharted waters untouched and just waiting for someone to use.

Uncharted waters

 

Testing, testing…state testing

Someone once told me that a test doesn’t define who I am as an individual or what I accomplish. This is something that I try so hard to instill in my students.

However, high stakes testing is a reality in public schools across Texas. The word test, or let alone STAAR, brings mixed emotions to many students and teachers across the state. It’s a snapshot view, so to speak, and can’t define who students are and what they have to offer. However, students are so much MORE than what a test shows.

Testing doesn’t show a student’s heart, intent, or creative abilities. High stakes testing shows what students can do on one day, at a specific moment, and how they answer specific questions. It leaves no room to show if a student doesn’t understand a specific question other than them scoring it wrong. So many students do great because they can analyze a test question and choose the right answer.

However, what about those that are not good test takers? What about the students who are not on grade level and work below a grade level test? What about the students who just have a bad day and don’t do well? Those students are left feeling vulnerable, unsure, and uneasy. As someone who used to fit into struggling learner category, high stakes testing brings back many emotions. The feeling of frustration bares its ugly head in so many capacities.

We can say all day long it’s just a test and it is. However, so many of our students have anxiety, act out, and have difficult days before, during, and after this test. I don’t have an answer on a solution. I just have a heart and an open mind for what is to come each day before, during, and after testing days.

However, as an educator, I ask for educators to have patience with our students during testing times. I ask for us to remember what it felt like to test and what emotions it brought to our lives. Our students have real fears, emotions, and anxiety.

It is up to us, as educators, to keep stability, consistency, and support THEM each and every day! Our students are WORTH IT and, even on testing days, I look forward to every opportunity to be surrounded by students each and every day!

Set the tone, BREATHE, and enjoy every opportunity you have to be with your students!

State test (1)