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…

 

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.

 

 

Unpaved path ahead

I am a detail oriented person. I like to have a plan, know what I am doing, make lists, and move forward with some idea of what I am getting myself into to a degree. However, this past school year really threw me in a loop. Staff difficulties, extreme weather, severe challenges at work, and life really threw me in a loop. While I knew it would be difficult to be in the midst of unpredictability; life still had somewhat of a road map. It was predictable, it was routine, and it now is in the past.

A little over a month ago, I was asked to interview for a new position that would be created in m a district closer to family. I felt the interview went well and then I waited. The next Monday, the director of special ed called me herself and offered me the position as a Self Contained behavior unit teacher. In early May, I signed my letter of intent and I submitted by contract to the new district this week and resigned from my current district as well.

FB announcement

There are a lot of unknowns, such as what school I will be at (since the unit is being created based on district need), what types of behaviors and needs my students will have, and what the age range will be in my classroom. This is an unpaved path so to speak. I know behavior(s) and love the challenge. But not knowing the details has been tough. They will come in time but, for now, I will wait.

It was an extremely tough decision to leave my comfort zone, staff, and my students. I will miss them daily. I am extremely grateful for technology to stay connected as well. However, it is time. Time to have the opportunity to serve other students. Time to help students thrive and be supported in a safe environment. Time to start a new adventure and time to face the unpaved path ahead.

 

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

 

The greatest compliment

My brother is a man of few words. Although he doesn’t always tell me what’s on his mind (but getting better), he still makes my heart crumble and melt when he does.

My brother and I have a special bond. We both endured many struggles with learning ideas, concepts, and topics growing up and needed a lot of support to be successful. Those trials were both good and bad but he and I overcame and struggled to be successful today. He is the complete opposite of me. I am type A and very organized. He doesn’t mind not knowing when specific things will occur and is extremely laid back (I wish I could be). He listens to everything others say but doesn’t always respond. I, on the other hand, can talk to anyone. He is black and white (not grey at all) and I see the in between.

He makes my heart swell as he’s currently a Senior at the University of Arkansas. Of all the majors in the world, he’s studying English. It’s amazing to me since we both have Dyslexia and struggled and still struggle with learning. When he talks, we listen. He can write the most eloquent posts and it’s always interesting to read.

This afternoon, my brother gave me the greatest and unexpected compliment. As he was heading out to see friends and I would be leaving our family home to go back to the town I work in, he said,

“I’m proud of what you do and tell everyone. You have the patience to work with your students. I don’t always tell you how much I admire your work but I do.”

My heart melted. My brother doesn’t always express himself with many words but this was the best gift ever to me. Memories last a lifetime and my brother’s gift with words and compliment will be ingrained in my memory for a lifetime. I am grateful for such a great brother and look up to him (literally) for his wisdom and grace. I am grateful for his unexpected compliment and will hold this memory and compliment dear and near to my heart.