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.

Going for gold & striving for the best

Striving for the gold medal.png

With the Olympics in full swing and the need for Educators being on their A-game each and every day, I wanted to put a little pep in your educator step & remind you how fabulous you are today. We strive for the best and go for gold each day.

We step out and make a difference in other’s lives everyday.

We do more than just show up and act. We care. We go for the hearts and minds of others. We strive for the best for others each and every day. We take a stand for our community, students, and staff each day. The people that give us flack may truly not understand our purpose or hearts. However, those who we stand and strive for will remember the good and purposeful motives we give each and every day. It’s not about the recognition; it’s about the difference we make.

We strive to be the difference makers in hearts & minds.

The smiles, support, and encouragement you give daily matter to someone. You may not be told how much it means until later but it matters. People depend on us, the educators, as their supporters. From greeting students every morning to solving problems to making plans, we are making a difference each day. The daily heart to hearts as well as guidance you give matters. We make a difference in others each day & that can be the best memory.

Educators go for the gold and strive for excellence.

The support we give each and every day makes a difference. The presence you give matters. The A-game and all in response when things are tough matters. You giving your all for others matters! Giving excellence each and every day matters.

As educators, you have a choice.

Go for the gold and strive for excellence or just show up to do what you can do in those 8 hours a day. While I wish everyone showed up for excellence, it’s not the case. As educators, we must show up, care, and strive for excellence each & every day. It’s a movement. It’s an action. It’s a stance. To be the best you can for others while being on your A-game to move forward for others.

We are difference makers and, collectively, should choose gold and strive for excellence each & every day!

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!

A grateful heart

Something to live for, to seek, and to strive for…a grateful heart. Something you don’t always show (I’ll admit it first) but crave when you see someone give to another. It’s something to live for.

Random acts of kindness, checking in on a colleague or family member, or showing gratitude towards others shows a grateful heart. Being surrounded by a supportive and caring staff, who you call family, and seeing the love they share for you makes my heart grateful.

Coming off of the massive Harvey devastation as well as the heartache so many have felt during a devastating time moves toward a grateful heart. Seeing the kindness surround so many during the difficult and horrifying time provides a grateful heart. The kindness and sincerity so many have shown and continue to show is amazing.

Whatever you choose to drive your grateful heart is independent. However, I challenge you to stop and remember that gratitude, and your grateful heart, are innate and ever growing. It’s a combination of what you’ve done, have received, and strive for.

JFK grateful

Celebrate gratitude daily. Lead and live with a grateful heart!

Seize the moment & shine the light

The arrival and dismissal line, the hallways, the interactions with students, and the moments we have to make a difference. Every opportunity has the potential to be the light in someone’s world.

Every day, students and staff fill the hallways of schools with the baggage of what goes on in their world.  Their experiences, their pain, their struggles, and the moments they wish they could relive again. However each person, that enters the halls of the schools, has the potential to make an impact on someone else’s life.

Think about it this way. You’re having a tough morning and you have a wonderful discussion with a student or colleague, once you get to your campus, which turns your whole day around. You’re confident and ready to seize the day of wonder ahead of you.

What was it that someone said? Who truly knows. Sometimes it’s just the acknowledgment and the interaction that matters. Sometimes people need to be validated and other times people need to be told they’re doing a great job. Sometimes it’s the time someone takes to make you shine in the light. Their intentions, interactions with you matter. Whatever the reason, staff and students need to know they matter to someone each day. 

SHINE into the lives of others

You have the power to shine the light into the lives of others by words and actions. Seizing the moment may just turn someone’s day around for the better. Your move. Will you make someone’s day by a comment or compliment? It will matter in the lives of others. It can be a compliment, smile, or a mixture of a few things.

Every person deserves to have the light shined on them daily.  Every interaction has the power to have an impact in someone’s life.

Seize the moments as they come!

Education is like a football team

Football, a game many enjoy and watch, is huge today. From sports apparel to fantasy football teams and watching their preferred teams each week, people are engaged in the sport. It’s something to do, enjoy, play, watch, and follow. People spend hours upon hours following the team’s every move. From who teams draft and trade to what the players do on and off the field. It’s a culture and a way of life for so many. Education, like football, has similar facets that compare the game that so many watch and enjoy. Identifying those in my world as an educator has been a journey and multiple aha moments. 

Football

Pre-Season
In football, pre-season is the beginning of a new season with new beginnings. The time where players develop their skills, get to know one another and come together as a team. In education, we consider this as the pre-service and staff development, we as the staff, have the opportunity to participate in to come together and become united. Teachers aren’t paid in the same respect as football players but they still have the opportunity to grow as a player and a teacher on our respected fields.

Playbooks
Football players have a specific set of plays they practice, know, and can call on the field. Teachers have the specific standards set by their state as well as district curriculum they are expected to implement and utilize. The playbooks are set, practiced, and they’re implemented.

Fumbles
In football, we can all spot a fumble. When a play doesn’t go as planned. When the ball is dropped by your team and the coach loses his mind. When something doesn’t go right. In education, when something doesn’t go right or someone acts out, it’s a fumble. When your students act like they have no idea what you’re talking about in front of an observer, it’s a fumble. When you have a meltdown and know you didn’t do something like you envisioned, it’s a fumble. When things go astray, fumbles arise and plays, or plans, don’t go how you planned.

Touchdowns
When a play is passed into the end zone or carried down the field, that touchdown is awesome. Sometimes it’s a pass that makes everyone wonder how it actually happened and other times it’s a spectacular pass that is caught. Those touchdown moments are memorable and celebrated. Touchdowns in education are when something is celebrated, finished, and something that happens in the classroom/school that is meaningful. Touchdowns are memorable in education and are usually tied to a moment that is meaningful for the staff and/or students.

Education has changed from the time when the teacher taught everything to a dynamic, learner centered environment. From the football game and season to the school year and summer break, education has its pre-season memories, playbooks, fumbles, and many touchdowns. It’s authentic, memorable, and unique. People spend hours watching football and teachers and staff spend hours upon hours supporting students. It’s a dynamic experience just like a football game. Take to heart the memories that surround the journey in education. They matter just like the score of a football game.