Tell your story: A passion discovered

If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2, click on the links to catch up.¬†

Uprooted and on a mission to support students where-ever I am planted. Five years ago, I received a call that landed me five hours from my family and my home base. It was an adjustment, for sure, but it changed my world every day. Being able to support students in the classroom has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. It was something I had dreamed of and now it happened. I started in third, went to second, and found my yearning passion in special education throughout the struggles, meltdowns, and successes each and every day.

Special education has my heart for many reasons. For one, I had a few special education teachers never give up on me. When you have someone in your corner, fighting for your ability to access the curriculum and teach it in a way you understand, it means the world to someone. Secondly, my heart wants to give students the world no matter their difference or disability. Seeing students struggle breaks my own heart and I want to give them the world, strategies, and peace of mind for THEM to do well. All in all, special education allows me to give students the world while teaching them differently.

Every student deserves the world and my passion in special education allows me to support students through their struggles, difficulties, and access to education. Throughout my time in special education, I have found that my heart has etched memories that carry me through the difficult times, the struggles, and the heartbreak. While I am told “I couldn’t do your job” about once a week, this provides me with motivation to reach more students, to support them where they are at, and to facilitate learning for them.

See the studentthrough their heart!

I am forever grateful for the teachers and special education teachers that saw my heart and provided support each and every day. While many couldn’t teach me, I had several teachers fight to allow me to learn. My heart is in special education to allow students to learn and to grow. My heart will have memories etched in it and every day is an opportunity to see students through their heart no matter the struggle.

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.

 

 

Speak up for the good

Recently, Aaron Hogan wrote a blog post about The Good Old Days and it really struck a cord and got my attention. There are so many moments, interactions, and memories that stick out to me as great. Not just great but meaningful, awesome, and thought provoking and good for my soul. From conversations on twitter to face to face interactions, something someone has said touches my heart and makes me think about what’s next or how I can do better.

Think about the last nice thing someone said to you? Did you tell that person how it impacted you? Did you give a compliment or thank them for what they said? If not, why not?

So many times we, as educators, forget what we teach our students every day. We build up relationships and hearts all day long. However, we sometimes forget to do the same for adults. We require the compliments, relationships, kindness, and memories too. We MUST educate and give feedback or compliments to one another to take note and speak up for the good surrounding us. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It just comes from the heart. A simple “thank you” or “I really like how you did something” make a difference. When someone stops in their day to reach out and give you that comment or feedback, it matters.

Think about a time that touched your heart or when someone complimented you. How did it make you feel?

Make someone’s day by reciprocating that feeling. Speak up for the good. Give feedback, compliments, and cultivate matters of the heart when someone impacts you. It may just make someone’s day by the words that you speak or type.

Cultivate matters of the heart & speak up for the good! (1)

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.

A matter of hours.png

The power of your PLN

Make connections

Imagine who you’ve connected with today. Think about this for a minute. Who have you texted, tweeted, messaged, or spoken to? It could be family, professional, on social media, or in real life. Connections are all around us.

From personal to professional, we, as human beings, communicate to interact with the world. Interactions can be simple as to update one another on progress and can occur in real life. Interactions can have a profound impact on one’s life. What one person says matters. It makes an impact on our lives. It means something.

When we communicate together its learning. It’s taking the time to connect on a level that is more than just pleasantries. It means something. An impact or an acknowledgement typically occurs. Connections are made by responding or striking up a conversation. ¬†Parties are connected once they interact. This is where social media is by far the ultimate in your connections.

Social media has taken connections to an all time high. As an educator, I never realized the power of social media connections until two years ago. I knew about twitter and blogging, since I have a personal outlet, but didn’t realize the power of social media and a PLN (Professional Learning Network) until I started truly connecting with others and growing and learning as an educator. There are educators, students, and learners connecting with each other about various topics all day, every day. Social media provides the outlet and the users provide the content.

PLN

My PLN has skyrocketed over the past several months. Twitter chats, connections, and interactions have impacted me so much and, I am proud to say, twitter is my ultimate social media outlet to learn, interact, and grow with. Not only have I learned, I have been empowered. Empowered to do more to be a better educator, empowered to take a leap of faith and get outside my comfort zone. Empowered to move forward not only as an educator but as a professional wanting to grow.

I am excited to take this leap of faith and blog to reflect, learn, and grow. I hope to continue on the path of empowerment and knock out the fear of vulnerability to move forward. Aaron Hogan has said “blogging is learning” and I hope to be able to achieve this mission while blogging and connecting.