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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.

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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

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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

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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

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Cultivating my why with heart

I’ve had the best of both worlds through my years as a substitute, home bound instructor, and a teacher in different capacities. From preschool to high school, I’ve seen so much over the years and I am forever grateful for the experiences that have allowed me to know what I know and do what I do today.

This year I moved districts, positions, and felt the calling to come close to home. I accepted the position of a Social Emotional Teacher and behavior supporter for many. It’s a dream position as I love having a self contained unit to truly focus on the needs of students in a smaller setting. I also have the pleasure of supporting teachers to provide strategies for students to be successful in the general education setting. It is a dream come true. It has been so much new but I am learning how to cultivate my why every single day and this leads me to find JOY each day too.

Thinking of how I support students and staff this year and in years past has led me back to cultivating my WHY and HOW every single day this year. So many times, I get pulled every which way and am in the thick of things all day long. On those long days, I have to look back to my WHY and see those smiles, laughs, and good moments that make the day special. I could get caught up in the little things and negatives but that is just not my style. HOW I choose to cultivate JOY of every day matters. From smiles to laughter, it really makes my day.

Looking ahead, I want to cultivate my why and how every day. How I serve students and staff as well as why I choose what I do daily. I find JOY in supporting others and this leads me to cultivate my passion daily. It’s not always easy but it makes my day to do what I do!

Looking forward, I don’t do my profession for the recognition, I do it for the HEART!

Helping students
Every time
Achieve and
Regulate themselves (with support if needed)
To learn, grow, and acquire new knowledge daily!

Ed quote

 

 

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Tell your story: A passion discovered

If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2, click on the links to catch up. 

Uprooted and on a mission to support students where-ever I am planted. Five years ago, I received a call that landed me five hours from my family and my home base. It was an adjustment, for sure, but it changed my world every day. Being able to support students in the classroom has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. It was something I had dreamed of and now it happened. I started in third, went to second, and found my yearning passion in special education throughout the struggles, meltdowns, and successes each and every day.

Special education has my heart for many reasons. For one, I had a few special education teachers never give up on me. When you have someone in your corner, fighting for your ability to access the curriculum and teach it in a way you understand, it means the world to someone. Secondly, my heart wants to give students the world no matter their difference or disability. Seeing students struggle breaks my own heart and I want to give them the world, strategies, and peace of mind for THEM to do well. All in all, special education allows me to give students the world while teaching them differently.

Every student deserves the world and my passion in special education allows me to support students through their struggles, difficulties, and access to education. Throughout my time in special education, I have found that my heart has etched memories that carry me through the difficult times, the struggles, and the heartbreak. While I am told “I couldn’t do your job” about once a week, this provides me with motivation to reach more students, to support them where they are at, and to facilitate learning for them.

See the studentthrough their heart!

I am forever grateful for the teachers and special education teachers that saw my heart and provided support each and every day. While many couldn’t teach me, I had several teachers fight to allow me to learn. My heart is in special education to allow students to learn and to grow. My heart will have memories etched in it and every day is an opportunity to see students through their heart no matter the struggle.

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Tell your story: what’s in the middle

Part 1: The early years if you haven’t read it yet.

Knowledge is power or so they say. It is something you have to go further in life. It’s the epicenter to move forward and to glean information. Knowing what I know now about learning disabilities compared to then has truly changed my outlook on society today. Kids learn differently. I learned differently and because of that a passion was born.

Learn something new

I saw so many struggles in my elementary through high school life that it enabled me to want to help others. Originally, I wanted to be a pediatric nurse but with Dyslexia, I flipped numbers often and would be completely heart broken if I accidentally gave the wrong dose to a child. It doesn’t happen every time but it takes one time to crush someone and I couldn’t handle it if I did harm.

Therefore, I went back to my roots in helping others in a different capacity. A capacity that supports students, has heartfelt moments, and makes a difference every day. I declared education and special education my second day of college and was on the track to my goal. However, there were still many moments of hardships from day 2 to graduation. Learning some things just wasn’t easy. Geology about ate my lunch (all the names) and some of my education/professional classes made me study more than I ever knew how. But I made it. It wasn’t easy but I did it and have never looked back and didn’t appreciate the struggles thus far.

Learning uncomfortable

I was ready to work with students. I loved my observation and student teaching opportunities but wanted my own classroom to see students thrive and grow in. However, life took a different turn on my educational journey. I had the opportunity to substitute in three districts for three years. It wasn’t what I had planned but it really made me appreciate how much substitutes did from day to day as well as what teachers and paraprofessionals did as well. In those three years of subbing, I was a long term sub, para, aide, and teacher in EC-12. Every job gave me a deeper understanding of how I could serve students and staff.

For three years, I didn’t realize how much substituting would change me. I saw different ages, different struggles, and different campuses put their hearts and souls into their students. It was eye opening and amazing. These three years shaped who I wanted to be as an educator and who I thought I wanted to be. Seeing the struggles and celebrations made me develop a love for relationship building and rapport with students and staff. We spent hours together and I will never forget the memories and advice I was given. I formed so many connections with staff and am grateful for the experiences to this day.

Three years passed and I received an opportunity to uproot my life, move across the state, and start a four year venture in an elementary school. While it wasn’t easy, I learned so much and hope to instill more into lives on my new journey.

To be continued in part 3…

 

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Tell your story: the early years

Growing up, learning came slow for me. It was like a breeze, of sorts, that gave glimmers of gust every now and again. I struggled, I cried, and I wondered “why” it was so hard for me to learn. Being the oldest child in my family, this was all new territory for my family. The school districts tried and some were unsuccessful to give me the supports I needed to be successful. When I was in fifth grade, I finally received the learning disabilities diagnosises as to WHY I was struggling so much and it was finally a reason. It was like a breath of fresh air finally blew threw and gave my family and I the answers were knew were there but didn’t test to in the school districts.

Those diagnosises still follow my journey today and make it tough to learn some new information, to hold information, and to not transpose numbers. They are not an excuse however but a reason. A reason I so desperately needed to why I learned differently and why learning was more difficult for me than others.

Something I learned early on was learning looks so different for many. It’s not about the diagnosis you have, it’s about how you move forward each day. I am grateful to have a small friend and family base that was in my corner but still faced hardships and trials. With each hardship, there’s a lesson intertwined within. It’s not always easy to recognize but it’s there. A lesson that allows one to see something others may miss or not notice.

Looking back, my lessons were through trials, at first, but made me a better person and educator to this day. Seeing others struggle for answers and diagnosises tugs at my heartstrings as someone who has learning disabilities and as someone who has been through struggles. However, these diagnosed learning difficulties don’t define who I am today. They are apart of my story. They make my story unique and my difficulties real. They are intertwined in my story and give me understanding for what I notice and work with each day.

Everyone has a story to tell. Some have hardships and others have tragedies that make their story and who they are today. Everyone’s journey is unique. Tell your story and pour your heart out. Be vulnerable and real each day. Use your knowledge to understand and guide your students around you each and every day.

Never, never, never give up!.png

Part 1 of 3 on a journey to tell my story and how it allowed me to find my passion in special education and working with students will all types of differences.

 

 

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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.

A matter of hours.png

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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