Our students > a state test

This past week I had students ask me about STAAR (Texas state assessment) and when it was slated to be given. My first response was the month but that didn’t stop my wondering minds standing in front of me. They wanted to know the dates and whom would be testing them (they are in small group and individual testing locations). You see, my students are in special ed and this assessment creates a lot of unknown and fear for them. It changes their normal, changes where they attend for the day, and changes what they see. It creates a lot of anxiety for them and adults alike and these are JUST ten and eleven year olds.

When I was able to look up the dates, my students started to look upset, rock, and get very quiet (very unlike them). The FEAR and anxiety had started in January. JANUARY! As an educator and someone who struggled at their age with learning, this breaks my heart into a million pieces.

As a Special Education Teacher, my job isn’t defined by a state assessment. I meet my students individual needs each and every day! My job is defined and reviewed by an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and meeting the needs of my students each and every day. Do some of my students take the regular STAAR with accommodations, yes. Some of my students also take the STAAR-Alt due to their disabilities. But the STAAR doesn’t define my students or myself each day!

My students are SO MUCH more than just what is on paper and what a snapshot of the test day gives and brings. The STAAR test is a day in their school year. It DOES NOT define who they are and what they have to offer. It’s not individualized or what level they are on. It’s a standardized assessment. Just a test on a given day that is a snapshot of that day not what all a student can and can’t do!

As the STAAR (or a your state assessment) gets closer and closer, I have to stop, take a breath, and tell my students each day that they are SO MUCH more than a state assessment. It DOES NOT define who they are, what they offer, and who they will become. It’s just a TEST. To them, though, it’s a day in the week that throws their who day and schedule off. It has problems that are too difficult compared to the level they are at and it’s tense. To them, it’s a day that is not routine and scheduled like they are used to. To them, it’s so much more than JUST a test.

In a world that assesses our students, we have to remember that our students are still KIDS who have questions, fears, and anxiety just like us but they don’t have the adult attached to them to be able to breathe and process like us.  Our students are SO MUCH more than just a test! 

As state assessments get closer and closer, I challenge educators to have those conversations about when the assessments occur, how STATE assessments do NOT define what students are, and how AMAZING our students are each and every day!

KEEP CALM and TEACH students who are SO much more than a test!

Cherishing holiday memories

The sights around are fulfilling and busy all around. From holiday to holiday cheer, there is so much to take in and celebrate. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday, there is so much around to take in each and every day. Each and every one of us celebrate differently but have something in common. It’s a holiday celebration full of memories and more.

The holidays prove exciting for children, enjoyable for most, and difficult for some. Memories tend to make their way into our lives and those last over the good and bad that follows from the days past. Memories of the GOOD make the bad days better for some. The people, the celebrations, the cheer, and the laughter help ease us all through.

As I reflect upon my Christmas and the days before and ahead, I will admit most lately are full of sickness or illnesses but that’s not what I cherish about the memories that are ingrained in my heart. The Christmas decorations, lights, family time, sounds, ads, and presents have filled my heart with great joy. The memories are not filled of what I have received; the memories are filled with the laughter I have had, the times with others, and those times when things are just right to be etched into your heart.

Whether or not holidays prove themselves good or difficult, the memories that you participate in and recall last forever. During the holiday season, it’s fun to recall the good, the bad, and the hilarious with those you spend time with. Whether it’s around a fire or at your home, remembering the memories that have made the holidays worthwhile will last a lifetime.

Memories last a lifetime.

Pour out joyful gratitude

Last week, I participated in the #Kidsdeserveit twitter chat & something that was brought up sparked an interest and had me thinking for the rest of the week. The question was posed and so many great responses were given.

How can we show gratitude all year long in meaningful and lasting ways? More than “tell them” or “write them notes”. Think deep!

Think about it. It’s not just about students. It’s about each person we encounter each and every day. Whether it is students, family, or anyone in proximity. It’s the people we smile at, say hello to, and are surrounded by each and every day.  So the question remains, how can we show gratitude each and every day in a meaningful way? 

It’s not hard…you SHOW others your appreciation by doing. You give back, you participate in random acts of kindness, you make their day, and you show kindness. Kindness goes beyond just the simple hello; kindness digs deeper. It allows you to make a connection with the other party. It’s the act of time that makes the world of difference.

The act of time and showing others how grateful you are for them day in & out goes above and beyond telling them. You act, curate a bond, show kindness, & build someone up with gratitude. Don’t overthink it! Get to know the people you are surrounded by each and every day. Take a moment to ask about their interests and their families. Notice what makes each person unique.

Act through joyful gratitude for the person! It will mean the world to someone each and every day. No act is too small or too great; it’s the act of gratitude that means the world to each person. Fill the world with joyful gratitude towards others each & every day.

Color the world with joyful gratitude through actions

 

Kindness: pass it on!

Be Kind whenever possible

Did you know today is World Kindness day? I recently learned about it and was really intrigued by the concept for two reasons. Reason one is the the idea of adding it to the calendar. A day in the whole year to celebrate kindness. However, it’s only a day. Shouldn’t we, as people, celebrate kindness as much as possible? Shouldn’t there be a wave and a desire to be kind daily?

I digress, kindness is a simple act. A smile, a conversation asking about another family, holding the door for someone, striking up conversation, giving a compliment, and the list continues. Kindness can be a grand gesture to one or the world to another. Kindness doesn’t take time; kindness takes heart!

Reason two is the fact that we as educators must model kindness day in and out for those watching our every move, comment, and heart. In my classroom or around school, I even find my students repeating what I’ve said to each other and in the tone or time I say it in. Bottom line is the fact that our students are watching each and every move that we make.  Take it as an opportunity to instill kindness into their hearts each and every day. Show love, show kindness, and take the time to give kindness day in and out.

Be kind & pass it on!

Realize & Recognize the amazing

Everyday, we as educators, have goals, items to attend to, and tasks to meet. We strive for our best in a society that doesn’t always appreciate what we do. We deal with questions, emails, and roadblocks in our path.

Unless you’re in school, an organization, or have been in school, society doesn’t always realize what we face day in and out. The meltdowns of many students, discipline, lesson planning, long term planning, curriculum, parent complaints, conferences, and the list continues. Society also doesn’t see the light bulb moments, the AHA moments, the connections, and the smiles and love our students give and receive.

 

resizedYou are amazing

As educators, we have got to stop & realize and recognize we are amazing! Society may not say it or recognize it but we, as an amazing community of educators, need to say it and recognize it daily. When we see amazing in our schools and communities, we need to recognize and acknowledge it. We need to note it. We need to say it! We need to cultivate and grow an amazing culture of educators. We must recognize the good that comes our way!

YOU can move mountains & be an amazing educator day in and out! Own it!

Perspective through my student’s eyes

It’s the end of October and we’re knee deep into the first semester of this year. The first few weeks of school are behind us and fall has finally hit in the southern part of Texas for a few days. My days are full of memories and challenges. They are also full of self-doubt and questioning if I am doing what’s best for my students. 

My students, though, set me straight every single time without fail.

Their opinions are RAW, REAL, and really put me back in my place. They really don’t hold back and know when to give their two cents and when to give me that reality that they see more in me than I see in myself.

Perspective 4

I have students that take the imperfect me and build me up daily. They show their true skills that define who they are and use them to communicate with me. I also have students that make me proud to be their teacher. The imperfect me, the always questioning what I can do to help them me, makes a difference in their lives daily.

Perspective 1

I am reminded daily how my student’s perceive me. My students are really with it and make my world go around and around. They make me smile and sit back and wonder how I got so lucky to have them. They show me grace and accept that I am who I am. They give more grace than I give myself and are learning at their own pace and time. They also color the world with art and notes to make my day.

My student’s perspective has changed me as an educator. It’s inspired, it’s uplifted, and it’s defined who I am today. My students know I love handwritten notes and love it when I make them “famous” by sharing on social media. If that’s what it takes to make that connection and impact them just like they’re impacting me, I am all in.

Everyday may not be peaches and roses but I am grateful to have the opportunity with students who show me grace, a different perspective, and inspire me to do more than I could have ever thought I could do. Through my student’s eyes, I am their superhero and their teacher. I am someone who makes them smile and laugh. I am also someone who brings learning alive. It helps that my students build me up and think I am a superhero, who goes and helps other kids, who saves the day.

Perspective 5

Perspective through my student’s eyes varies student by student and day by day but their input makes me stop and wonder. It’s not about me. It’s about them learning, becoming aware of what’s around them, and moving forward as a student in this world of learning. The extra perspectives our students give are priceless.

The next time you’re doubting yourself or wondering if you’re doing a good job, sit back and watch how your students perceive you. It means the world to them & it might just change your perspective too.

Cultivating staff relationships

Morning duty, lunch duty, arrival and dismissal, teaching, redirecting, and duties aside, from the classroom, have educators stretched in many directions. We get busy. We get stressed and we isolate ourselves avoiding opportunity unintentionally to connect with others. Life happens. We all know it. However, school culture is VITAL for a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

Staff connections

Greet & acknowledge each other daily
Walk into school and make an intentional effort to greet others with pride. Take the time to take interest in their life, what is happening with them, and say good morning or afternoon. It can be the difference maker in our lives and shows that someone is taking time out of their lives to care about you. Who YOU are and what YOU contribute. Cultivate relationships by building each other up.

Brag on each other
Our students watch our every move. They see our reactions and our body language when it’s a great moment and other moments too. Build up the culture of your school by bragging on each other to other staff and students. Why not tell students how awesome someone else is? Why not celebrate what’s happening around your school? Cultivate the school climate by giving credit where it’s due and telling others about the awesomeness on your campus.

Come together & be heard
Our job as educators is stressful. There are demands on all paths we take and roadblocks along the way. This does not mean that we can’t, as a group or department, come together and meet to hash out difficulties or celebrate the end of a long day. In this day and age, we are so electronically driven. However, we still have needs to be heard, celebrated, and cherished. Come together and meet up to laugh, cry, or encourage one another. Cultivate relationships by valuing each person and come together to be a united front.

As a united front, it’s time to take ownership of our staff relationships and build each other up. It’s time to celebrate who we are and what we give to our education world. It’s time to own what we do and how we carry about our lives. It’s time to build up the culture of the school day in and out. Cultivate relationships daily and celebrate the opportunities to come together and be heard. Cultivate to acknowledge, inspire, celebrate, and be heard.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!