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)

Gratitude & Appreciation

Appreciation

Gratitude, something that is not always voiced or given. However, shown or intended to be bestowed upon each day. The day to day impact and wisdom shared is coveted and appreciated by so many. The random acts of kindness and little encouraging notes mean so much too.

Gratitude and appreciation look so different based on the culture of the schools and who the team players are. However, there are still similarities in all settings. There is hard work appreciated, kindness throughout, difficult decisions made. and impact made each day. There are students making our day, laughter to deal with difficult days, and decisions coming down that impact the students and staff each and every day.

Something I realized as an early teacher (and before) was you must give gratitude and appreciation specifically to others. It can be a simple note or email or text (nowadays) but, as educators, we must acknowledge what we see, note who has gone above and beyond, and recognize each other. It’s not about the number of notes; it’s about the recognition and value of others. Every person deserves to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. It must be specific, real, and to the point.

So many times, however, we all get busy and the recognition and appreciation gets put on the back burner. It’s not intentional, it’s life! However, as people who know what it’s like to be appreciated, I am asking for the intentional recognition to be a priority when something good occurs. It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be specific to the person. The specific gratitude will, in turn, bring out appreciation each time.

Intentional recognition not only builds the culture around us. It gives meaning and purpose to those around us too. It is intentional, specific, and purposeful to show gratitude. In a field of juggling so much and making decisions that impact and change paths often, gratitude and appreciation must be an intentional priority to celebrate the good, appreciate those around us, and to move forward as a cohesive unit. A unit who knows others realize the good they bring to the table and the impact they see too.

Gratitude & Appreciation: an intentional priority for cultivating the culture around us! See it, acknowledge it, recognize it, and celebrate the good it brings each day. 

Courage to be seen

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. –Maya Angelou

Courage: Something people are born with an innate sense of knowing while others have to build up over time. It seems some have more courage or the ability to be seen without difficulty. Courage looks different on so many people.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Strength is something that isn’t defined as how much you can lift or withstand. It’s how much you can take, how much you can endure, and how much you can hold and manage without breaking. In education, strength looks so different on so many due to the different capacities we work in.

However, we all face different capacities (or so it seems) each day. Decisions and trials, though, still make us have a unique bond. A bond that is so great that it gives us a community of strength as the days and weeks go on. A bond on strength, camaraderie, endurance, and hope. A bond that gives a net of encouragement on those days when we wonder what we can give when our internal tank is empty. A bond that encourages us to have courage and to be the best we can be to serve our students and our community each and every day.

As educators, we must have the courage to be seen and the moral strength to take on the day to day difficulties. It’s tough! No class or book can prepare you for the trenches you endure and face each day. Some days can be amazing and others can be really, really difficult. Difficult can continue on for days and that makes you appreciate the really good days even more. As people, we must have the courage to endure the trials, overcome the struggles, and continue to lead with the willingness to show up and have the courage to keep going.

Courage may look so different on so many but having the courage to show up is the first step in moving forward. Move forward for the better as well as the ability to keep going and to be seen. Take a breath, have a plan, and have the courage to be present day in and out.

Courage starts with showing up and letting outselves be seen.