Why relationships first

Imagine a new classroom full of students you don’t know and you’re given a guide to teach with, lessons to utilize, and given the green light to start your new year. Now imagine a classroom full of students that don’t know you and struggle with learning. This was me in late elementary and early middle school. A struggling learner too shy to speak up and too afraid to mess up over and over again. A learner who craved to learn but didn’t want anyone else to see me struggle. I had teachers that didn’t catch my learning difficulties and I struggled to trust the next teacher.

The classroom environment can bring anxiety and stress to so many students. Students that struggle with someone new knowing their story and understanding how to teach them. Students that have had bad experiences and are cautious to let someone new in. New teachers understanding that their lessons may not fit students who are struggling academically, emotionally, socially, physically, or within a few of these. When students are given something to do and are already uneasy about the situation, escalation of emotions can occur. It’s not personal; it’s a reaction to what the student is given. It’s a response to the situation. While it may not be appropriate, it happens.

When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts. (1).png

As teachers, we are told to get to know our students. We are told to character build and include all students. Inadvertently though, we can cause a fire storm right in front of our eyes. Providing activities that we feel will strengthen the classroom environment can cause students to doubt if they can succeed in this classroom. The struggle is real for so many of our students and we have to remember relationships over content first. We are in the heart business and must educate the hearts of our students to educate with content second.

What does that look like? It starts with investing in our students through love. Love to be included in their classrooms, love to feel safe, and love to trust you. Can it be a long road? Absolutely! However, your students will know you love them as your actions and words bring them back to your room day after day. If you pour out love to your students, it will make a difference and build your relationship with them.

There is nothing in this world more powerful than love. (1).png

We’ve all heard the phrase “relationships first” and go with the flow. However, relationships are the foundation for having students learn the content in your area. If there’s no relationship, no trust with your student, the content won’t be grasped to the capacity needed to obtain mastery. You will be spinning in many directions without the relationship first. You and the student will endear many frustrations that could have been avoided if the relationship was build upon first.

You can’t speak into someone’s life until you build a relationship with them.

Looking back, I had a few superhero teachers who did it right and some that didn’t. Being a struggling learner who had a multitude of learning challenges, the teacher that made the most difference on me built the relationship first. They talked to me and listened, they noticed when I struggled, they encouraged me to keep going, and they cared.

Build upon the relationship from day one, listen, and be apart of the student’s journey as a learner and not just the teacher of record.

 

 

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...

Memories etched into the heart

Yesterday afternoon hit me like a ton of bricks & I found myself staring at the wall (in my empty & quiet classroom). The quiet & stillness reminded me of the memories students have etched into my heart during the day & every other day since being in the classroom and around students.

There are moments of uncertainty, difficulty, frustration, and more. However, the good moments always seem to outweigh the bad each and every time. Even when you’re ready to scream, cry, or just wonder what you got yourself into, there’s always something to come out of each memory. The mind works in mysterious ways and I am grateful for those memories that have been etched into my heart and mind.

Memories

Memories make a HUGE difference in our lives as educators. It’s those moments of Aha! & Oh my goodness from our students that matter. It’s the positivity & excitement that students bring to our world that matters. It’s the interaction and growth of a student that matters most. It is also the JOY students bring each and every day. Every day is a journey and those memories are etched into my heart.

Sharing our hearts, minds, and laughter helps on the really tough days. Those days you feel like you’ve run 2 marathons. However, you still have memories attached to make the day memorable. It may not be easy or fabulous everyday but my world is surrounded by laughter, memories, and moments that truly mean the world to me.

Memories last a lifetime & those memories of what your students mean to you, as well as how they etched memories into your heart and mind, will last. Remember the good & recall the memories etched into your teacher heart each and every day.

 

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!