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.

Cultivate Collaboration

cultivated communication (1)

Collaboration: discussing ideas to further create something. Every day, educators create lessons and prepare materials for students. Having the opportunity to see new ideas and implement them in your classroom and area takes trust and, sometimes, a leap of faith. Sharing is caring in the education world.

This past weekend, I attended Edcamp Cyfair. Edcamp has upcoming events on their website. It’s a fabulous event that is not a sit and get event. It’s topics that are relevant to the attendees, what we really are wanting to share and learn more about, and a schedule is created based on participant interest. Edcamps, by far, have been my favorite professional development. Not only do you learn about topics of interest, you get peer-to-peer support by talking out issues or difficulties and can take new ideas to your classroom the next week.

Something that really speaks to me as an educator and as an Edcamp participant is the fact that we learn together. We give suggestions, we offer new ideas, and we support one another with suggestions. Something that really hits home for me is the ability to relate to other educators and to, ultimately, support students in the process. Our students BENEFIT from Edcamps due to the ideas flowing and suggestions brought forward.

Most Edcamps offer notes online to share and refer back to often. Edcamp Cyfair was no different and I love being able to refer back to the notes as there is so much goodness shared in a short amount of time. Here are the notes from Edcamp Cyfair and the ideas shared. Something I’ve noticed in education since graduating as an educator is the power of collaboration and the GOOD it does for educators. Not only do you gain valuable insight, you find new ways to serve your students.

Just this weekend, I found out new ideas to support my students in writing such as using comics from make belief comics and a brain dump (with templates) to support students’ ideas and allow them to be hooked in writing. I also learned about a confetti high five tool that shoots confetti when someone high fives you. I ordered it on amazon Saturday and it came in today. I plan to use this on Friday and can’t wait!

confetti high five

Edcamps, professional development, and PLCs aren’t just about learning about new ideas. It’s about cultivating collaboration as a person & educator and to use later. Think of it as a file of goodness. Cultivate the information, share with others, and collaborate to make your students’ hanging on the edge of their seats waiting for more.

The power of “I’m sorry”

Recently Aaron Hogan, writer and moderator of #Teachermyth, challenged participants to write about something you recognize you are learning this week. It could have been simple or profound. I recognized how an apology and owning up to my mistakes made my students see how human I really am!

Last Thursday, I discovered that I had made a mistake with my students after school while reviewing their daily point sheets. It was something that could be fixed and apologized for. However, I realized I needed to tell them “I’m sorry” and admitted to my six to eleven year olds that I was human. Their responses amazed me and I noticed that their words really impacted me.

I’m sorry…two words that can turn a conversation in a different direction. Admitting any mistake can be tough. However, when you apologize to students, they realize your heart is in the right place. They connect with you in a way you didn’t realize they could and they see the raw, real you of wanting them to know you care.

the power of _i'm sorry_
Every day, educators have students in front of them and hope to make a difference in their lives. Their words, your words, your heart, their hearts, and emotions are all at play. We all make mistakes. We’re human. However, having the heart to apologize to your students really makes an impact. Something I noticed when I apologize to my students is the connective piece. I get the “it’s okay” or “you made a mistake?” However, I want my students to see the side of me that’s not always right. The side that I make mistakes just like them. Owning up to my mistake wasn’t just powerful, it was REAL. They accepted my words, my apology, and my plan to move forward with them.

If we want our students to stand by their actions, apologize for mistakes, and live up to the challenge of life, we must do the same. We are human. We make mistakes & we must own up to them just like we expect our students to own up.

Think about a time you made an error or mistake with your students. Did you apologize? If not, I challenge you to the next time. Perhaps you can see the REALness of YOU being human in front of them. If we can’t own up to our mistakes, why should our students?

Empathy as a superpower

Every day, educators are faced with situations that involve emotions. No matter the ages of students, educators must think quick on their feet at times. We manage the good times and the difficult trials with our students every day. It is difficult to face but it’s our reality. As educators our reality isn’t just to educate but to build a relationship to support the student during their good and tough moments.

When we get right down to it, educators are in the heart business. Every day we provide positive feedback, model how to work through difficult situations, and provide a safety net for our students. We adjust our practices and strategies to meet the diverse needs of every student whether it’s an behavioral, emotional, or academic need.

Every day, we hear about their dreams, their interests, and eventually they let us inside their world and whatever good or difficult may be there. The simple truth is our students have baggage, trauma, and negative experiences that make journey through life difficult. Some may keep it all in and never show an explosive response to it while others may meltdown, cry, become violent, and act out. Every student is unique in their journey.We MUST remember that ALL behavior is feedback. It_s what we use to learn more about our students and get better at meeting their needs.Add subheading (1)Behavior tells a story whether it’s good or bad. How we respond or note the behavior truly matters. Educators must use and reuse empathy every day. Empathy gets down to the feelings of the individuals. Empathy puts yourself in their shoes. Think about that. Put yourself in your student’s shoes when responding to their behaviors. How would you want someone to respond if you’re visibly upset or emotional? How would you feel if someone just stared at you when you were having a tough time?

Instead of trying to fix every situation or come up with a fast solution, I challenge you to listen to your students, observe their body language, and hear what they really are saying. Put yourself in their shoes and see the problem face on together. Every educator has a duty to meet the needs of students each day. Why not use empathy as a superpower to connect and understand your students?

Empathy is a super power

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.

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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

 

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