Facing the challenge

Facing the challenge & overcoming circumstances

Imagine, for a minute, you are a ten year old student who doesn’t read well, is in fifth grade, and is struggling with academics, emotions, and fear of the unknown for eight hours a day at school. Imagine being given assignment after assignment, being told to read material, and feeling the angst of not knowing how day after day. Imagine, for a second, how the struggle of defeat day in and out felt for a student in your classroom or school now.

I was that student in fifth grade. I remember that gut wrenching feeling of failure and shame of not really knowing how to read well day in and out. I was tested in elementary school but didn’t really fit the mold of the ranges to be a person with a specific learning disability at first. Through the tears, the worries, the fears, and the trials, my parents didn’t give up. I, on the other hand of ten, wanted to badly.

Days and nights of frustration filled my soul. The lack of confidence, since I didn’t know how to read, engulfed me. I struggled. I needed support and I had just that when I hit rock bottom. My family chose to go outside of the district to have me diagnosed since the school district didn’t and, at that time, found out that I learned slower than peers my age, had Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Specific Learning disabilities, and a slew of other issues. Finally, an answer to the struggles.

These labels didn’t define me though. They give me a reason to fight back along the way. The labels gave me a reason to understand why I learned differently and struggled. The labels and struggles opened the doors for the support I desperately needed. Looking back, I wish the school district would have intervened earlier or had helped sooner. However, this fuels my fire to continue to face the challenge of learning disabilities and barriers along the way.

It took one person to say what I was going through wasn’t okay. It took a team of professionals one opportunity to recognize that what I was going through needed to be remedied. It took time, lots of patience, tutoring, and more patience to allow me to read and be able to understand what I read.

However, no one gave up on me and, for that, I am truly grateful for this notion. There were long hours, frustrations, tears, and struggles. The struggles didn’t magically go away as I encountered middle and high school as well as college. I just learned strategies and self advocacy along the way. I now serve a Special Education teacher. However, the struggles gave me fuel to help others so no one would have to sit in my fifth grade seat and feel like I did to this day.

Fuel the fire (1)

There is always a reason for a trial. Whether we know it now or have to find it along the way, it’s there. It’s unending, undefined (at the moment), and untamed. However, there is a reason somewhere along the way. I never want any student to ever go through what I did and this empowers me to fuel the fire, kindle the flames, and never give up on any student. They deserve more than I received and that’s why I do what I do every day.

 

 

Value the spark

Something I value when working with students is seeing their spark and ability to learn moving forward. Their acceptance of people makes me smile. Their tenacity, their will, their desire to know more, and their energy. They make me question what I do, how I teach them, and how I bring education to them. They make me who I am today.

Cherish the moments of light (1)
Educators have the ability to kindle the light of education every day. We see the light bulb moments, the struggle, the breakthroughs, and the victories. We get a front row seat to see amazing things happen and the journey through every journey. Do we value that, though? Do we celebrate and promote the GOOD we see every day just because? Do we value the spark that we cultivate and grow every day? If we do, fabulous!

If not, why not?

On the opposite side of those triumphs and flames are dedicated teachers who cheer on students every day. They kindle the light, give their heart and soul, and matter. You are not unnoticed. You provide guidance and support along the way. You are a vital part of that flame that we call education in the path of greatness. You are not unnoticed and WE, the educational community, SEE you! If you haven’t heard it in a while, thank you for kindling the flame of education and valuing the sparks around you!

Add it all together

Every single one of us have that potential to value the spark within and around us. It’s a choice yet is there for us all to grasp moving forward. It’s raw, real, and overwhelming. However, why not take the challenge? YOU have the potential to notice what’s around you and value the spark leading the way in education.

Value the spark.png

Savor the calm

Calm: a state of being or action that one can feel, see, or act upon.

Yesterday, I took a drive to Texas Tulips after an appointment & was taken back by the calm of the field of tulips. The colors, the smells, and the sights. It was a gloomy day and on the cooler side but the flowers were radiant and really made it worth the drive.

The fields of tulips struck a cord with me as I attempted to not slip in the mud. A simple field of flowers can brighten my day. It can make me stop and appreciate the good around us.

Savoring the calm is a choice. A choice I take every day. Life gets crazy, don’t get me wrong, and deadlines and stress can creep in. At first, it can be okay and then you’re overwhelmed quickly. It’s a vicious cycle.

However, savoring the calm is a necessity of life. It’s a way to step back and relish the good around us. The good that keeps you sane. The good you look forward to. The good that surrounds you day in and out. The good that is around us all if we just stop and savor the calm.

Savoring the calm and be more than tulips or flowers for others. However, it’s a necessity of life. If we don’t slow down and savor what’s around us, we will miss it. Something we can help our students and colleagues around us notice. It’s as simple as a conversation. There’s good all around us. Have you stopped to savor the calm lately?

An emotional impact

In the past two weeks, I have been hit, kicked, bitten (too many times to count on just one hand), smacked, had items thrown at my head, charged at, and spit on. It’s been tough to say the least. Behaviors have always been an interest to me and these past two weeks have been very emotional for me.

In my world, there are no BAD kids, just impressionable, conflicted young people wrestling with emotions & impulses, trying to communicate their feelings & needs the only way they know how.
My students have behavioral difficulties that have landed them with me. A self contained, Social Emotional Teacher who is doing the best I can every day. In any given day, I can have students be compliant and civil while others may flip their lids and struggle to regulate. While there have been weeks where I’ve had a rough day or two, the past two weeks almost did me in.

Emotionally, I was a wreck for a few days after the fact. Knowing that young students have severe behaviors and can hurt adults can be really difficult to swallow. After being emotional, I felt guilt of wondering “am I doing the right thing?” as well as “can I really do this?” Waves of emotions after secondary trauma are typical and this was no different.

I stood in a doorway, one afternoon last week, and was reminded that I have the “hardest job in the whole school” by a colleague who gave me a pep talk and hug. That day was dark and I was bruised visibly and emotionally. Her words went to my heart and got me through the afternoon and into Friday. Having had others tell me “I don’t know how you do it” or “I would’ve quit by now” gives me strength to keep going.

This period of time has changed me for the better. I am learning how to support students with severe behaviors, going through the emotions, and realizing that their actions are making a big impact on me to do more to support them. Life as a special educator is never dull, always adventurous, and leaves an emotional impact on my heart for years to come.

The impact we make

difference

As educators, we support students and staff every day. We pour of hearts into our people and we hope we make a difference in their lives too. It’s the work of the heart every day. Planning, organizing, and caring about the people we work to make the world for. The moments come alive when we share with our populations on a daily basis.

Every day, we make a difference. Not just in the classroom or with students and staff; with the people that see our work of heart and difference on a daily basis. The activities, the smiles, the relationships we build, and the care in our heart. We make decisions for many and see the results in front of us and live. Does it always work? Ha! But we work to do better next time.

One of my favorite hats as a teacher is listening to my students’ stories and seeing their GRACE for me. In turn, they are difference makers in my life. Seeing their reactions, their excitement, and their love makes all the difference. Our students have the biggest hearts and, while they may not always show it, they care. They make an impact in our lives by the memories they etch into our hearts and minds.

Somewhere around you, others see, read, or hear about your difference and impact you make. They notice your excitement, your heart, and your impact, sometimes before you. They notice the passion that overflows when you light up and take matters into your heart. They notice the difference and often give sayings like “you are awesome” or “thank you for your work as a teacher.” Those sentiments matter in the lives of educators. They fill your cup and are stops along your journey.

Every day, we are making a difference in the the lives of our students and their path to education. The difference we share matters. The difference we give matters. We are making an impact every day. Every day, however, others impact us too. I challenge you to take into heart how others impact you every day and hold that tight. Making a difference is serious and awesome business. Make your impact today!

make your impact matter

BE: one word in 2019

2019: a new year full of new beginnings, hope, and a slate that is not full of what has happened in the past. An opportunity to start fresh and create new goals, new opportunities, and new words to commit to.

Recently I stumbled upon #oneword2019 and it really got me thinking of how I could explore new avenues as well as owning what I can bring to the table and provide for others. I will admit, I struggled at first, since I was stuck between two words. Two words that encompassed two true avenues of hope moving forward. I decided on BE for my one word in 2019. The definition of Be has many. However, two in particular, resonated with me. The definitions “to equal in meaning” as well as “to identify with” resonate as I move forward in this new year.

I will BE a teacher as well as a mentor and family member. I can also BE a person who has ideas and thoughts. Moving forward, I want to BE someone who can be heard as well as someone who inspires and empowers others daily. I am charging myself with a goal to not only identify the good I bring as well as the inspiration I can bring to others every day.

Being a special educator, I already have a playing field. I really need to OWN what I can BE for others and for myself. It’s not an easy task. That negative voice can creep up and self-doubt can cycle in. However, I can’t wait to see what I can BE to myself and others this year. I am committing to be vulnerable, to take a leap of faith, and the BE this year. I can’t wait to go along this journey.

Be one word

A grateful heart

Every so often, I tell people I am a special educator and get the response “it takes a special person to do that.” Other times, I tell people I am a teacher and get the response “oh you’re stronger than me.” Sometimes these responses bring good feelings and other times, I wonder, what else is posed on teachers when others find out their profession.

There’s a simple truth, though, to my teaching and answering my calling and that is with a grateful heart. A grateful heart to teach, to watch students be successful, to see students struggle and succeed, and to keep coming back. My profession as a Social Emotional Teacher has stretched me thin this semester. I never realized how much students dealt with until I started working with students with trauma filled lives and struggles. For my first six weeks of this year, I responded to calls for assistance and, in turn, found out that trauma has so many facets. Primarily, trauma does not discriminate nor is it just in special education. It is real and lives and breathes within so many students. It’s present every day and students react in many different ways.

Trauma does not discriminate. It happens everywhere—across all races, religions, socioeconomic levels, and family systems.

This school year has defined my grateful heart even more than years past. I have the opportunity to show up to a population of students that needs a constant. A population of students that uses my experience and knowledge for power and support. This is not me tooting my own horn; it’s owning what I can give every single day. Whether it’s responding to screams or elopement or being under a table with a student, my grateful heart of supporting students grows.

While I spend most of my days in a self contained unit working with extreme emotional and behavioral needs, I still consider it a gift to help others who need support as I am able. Being able to empower teachers and students daily is a calling that has solidified over the past two years. It’s not just the students that need support; it’s the teachers and staff working with students daily who need support too.

There are so many needs in the classroom setting and while, I can only do so much, I lead with a grateful and willing heart to support others. Whether it’s a teacher at their wits end or needing some new ideas or a student in crisis, my hope is to respond with a grateful and willing heart every single time.

A matter of hours