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.

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!

Lead like a Pirate: Challenge Accepted

New Challenges on the horizon.png

Challenges, we all face them. From the classroom to school to our daily lives, they’re present. They’re unavoidable for the most part and we have to solve them daily. It’s nice when challenges are portrayed as something fun and you can choose to join or let the opportunity fly by.

Recently I participated in a twitter chat that challenged the participants to stay connected and share their journeys that come our way. When I first heard about Lead like a Pirate, I was excited. A book by the Dave Burgess Company (which is amazing by the way) never disappoints and the authors are Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. I participated in the chats that lead up to this challenge and I leave inspired, uplifted, and grateful to have an opportunity to collaborate with people who care about education and want students to be successful.

Lead like a Pirate opened many doors and windows for me while reading and participating in the chats. It provided me with inspiration as well as an opportunity to ditch the doubt. It has also given me a chance to commit to five things I will do differently as a result. The five commitments are apart of the challenge accepted.

Commitment #1: Build up Students: Every students that walks through the doors of our school deserves the best. Whether they’re in my class or not, they must be built up. They deserve the best and my goal is to make each interact the best I can for them. Kids deserve it!

Commitment #2: Ditch the doubt: Doubt goes along with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of the difference. My commitment to ditch the doubt is easier said than done. However, I am committed to ditch the doubt with my students and colleagues I work with to lead to newer and different ideas to support my students this year.

Commitment #3: Owning my decisions: There are often times I will apologize for a decision I made that’s best for my students. It’s time for this to come to an end and to lead my students to greatness or, at least, the classroom. My students have multiple needs but I make decisions for them. Gone are the times of apologizing for a need being met or a decision that looks different on the outside. I am owning my decisions.

Commitment #4: Spread positivity: It’s a mindset. Positivity meets negativity and goes farther. It’s time to squash the negative feel, if there is one, and spread positivity to allow others to THRIVE. Staff and students know if it’s a positive environment and it’s time to make a change for the better. A smile goes a long way.

Commitment #5: Support: Support has many aspects. Supporting my students, staff members, and myself. Realizing that I have to have some help every now and again and prioritizing tasks to get them accomplished. My passion is to support and uplift all.

Treasures found

Five commitments I plan to take the challenge head on with this year. I can’t wait for the new year to start and to put these into play. Even if I don’t arrive at the greatness this year, I will commit to do great things for my students, staff, and school every year and make an impact on those that I meet daily.