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

 

Oxygen first

Oxygen, a necessity of life. Something we need on a daily basis. Oxygen can be something we’re willing to receive and give out without hesitation. It can surround us and, at times, we can ignore the deprivation as we press on to meet a need or to complete a task.
Decisions, stress, outbursts, behavior, needs to be met, and the list goes on. Every day as educators, we are pulled in many directions. From before the sun to many hours after us, many seek our attention and need our input. It’s a continuous cycle that repeats day after day and week after week too.
The nature of the beast is that we, as educators, are in a profession that pulls us so many ways. It happens in a blink of an eye and can be rewarding and exhausting simultaneously. The need to meet our own needs and recognize the fact that we need oxygen to continue gets left behind or overlooked in a sense.
I, for one, am guilty of ignoring the exhaustion and don’t always remember to breathe first. It’s a vicious cycle and have a great support system to remind me but it happens.
We’re human and this is just a friendly reminder to be sure to breathe and take the oxygen first before you put your best foot forward each and every day.
Oxygen first...

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!

Unforeseen struggles: own them!

Everyday, we as educators, walk into work with a plan in mind. Whether it be to take on the world (one can hope) or accomplish something important to meet the needs of your students and staff, you have a plan. A hope, a dream, an aspiration, or an idea that you yearn to accomplish. A plan that will assist you in meeting the needs of someone on your path for the day. However, it’s not always workable or easy.

Challenges, problems, and differences can stop your plan dead in its track. It’s like a ton of bricks that overpowers the difficulties ahead. The feeling of despair and frustration loom. The thought of “what have I gotten myself into?” The uneasy feeling that you never planned or dreamed you’d have. However, you’ve got a choice on how to proceed. A choice no one can predict or warn you about. You can either own the challenges or problems and make the best of it or give up.

Giving up, for me, is not an option. It’s a challenge. An unforeseen path that wasn’t on the original game plan. Alas, it’s a struggle to accomplish a surprise that is challenging. It can be a discussion that goes aray, a difficult conversation, or an event that derails your plans. Something that you don’t forsee or plan for. There’s no immediate plan, no agenda.

It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s a struggle. You play out how this struggle will go and try to wrap your head around it. However, we all face challenges in our paths each day. It’s unpredictable and real. There’s no agenda or warning but I challenge you to forge through, don’t give up, and to own your struggles professionally.

Face challengesresize

The challenge may be a roller coaster or a slap in your face but rise up & face your struggles. You can’t predict where the road will lead but you can predict if you will take you on an uncharted path towards tough waters. You’re not along on this journey. Face your challenges head on and own them. Just like the captain on your ship, YOU have the power to steer your course after a surprise attack. YOU have the power to steer head on or around the challenge. YOU have the power to face your struggle head on.

You are STRONGER than you think and can do more than you plan! Be your BEST advocate and rock the unforeseen journey. You never know where it will lead you!