Thursday, June 1, 2017

How Jen Hatmaker messed me up!

7 by Jen Hatmaker has been sitting in my to be read pile for about a month now.  During the summer I try to choose some books to read that don't focus on teaching.  Well, I learned A LOT from this book and can't get it out of my mind.  I picked it up yesterday and finished it last night.  

The basis behind 7 is to give up things in excess.  7 months, 7 areas to focus on in our lives.  Clothes, spending, waste, stress, media, possessions, and food.  Clothes, not a problem ... I could wear t-shirts and shorts every day and be fine.  That is not an area that I need to focus on.  

Media?  Now you're messing with me and stepping on my toes.  We own one TV people ... just one and I often wonder if its purpose is to fill the space over our mantel.  We RARELY turn the dang thing on!  I have no idea how much our cable bill is and I seriously don't want to know ... that is waste!  Another area I need help with.  We watch the following shows:  Survivor, football, and This Is Us.  That's it!   Again, what is the purpose of the black thing hanging above my mantel?  I think a mirror would look just as good.

My computer as in give up that media?  *GASP*  I'm no longer liking this book or Jen.  So I start thinking, well.... I have to check my email, what if a parent or student needs me?  So, email has to be okay.  What about reading blogs?  It's reading for crying out loud ... not media!  I can go without Twitter, but FB?  I don't even have either of them on my phone because I have an addictive personality and it would not be good to have that kind of drama at my finger tips.  I have been STRONG in that area and refuse to cave in.  But, not use my own computer for 30 days?  Here is my fear, and it is legit ... laugh if you will.  What if someone dies and I don't know until I'm allowed back online?  That happened to me once, 3 years ago and I was completely devastated.  I did a FB fast and wasn't online for awhile.  When I got back online I found out my best friend from 8th grade had died in a horrific car accident and left her 2 little boys behind.  I found out AFTER the fact ... no time to send flowers, call her parents, or anything!  I seriously could not get over that. So if someone dies while I'm media-free then people you have got to let me know!  I'm feeling anxiety just thinking about it.

I am guilty of looking at what others have and wanting (coveting) more.  I'm not sure why that is because I'm seriously happy as can be in our house and figure we will live here until we die.  (I thought I was done talking about death, but I might need an intervention soon).  When I start feeling sorry for myself I picture the other people's debt and I feel so much better.  There is no way they are not in debt up to their eyeballs, thank you very much.  Think about all of your possessions ... now think about third world countries and how little they have.  Really puts it in perspective.  It made me feel yucky poo guilty when I looked around at the surplus we live in.  Is it necessary?  Absolutely not.  Possessions/spending - definitely need to work on these areas.

Stress - really?  There's a way of managing excess stress?  SIGN ME UP!  I have anxiety.  It shows up like clockwork on Sunday afternoons/evening. This has been ongoing this past school year and something I have had to deal with weekly.  It's not fun and comes out of nowhere, but it is REAL.  I love my "job" so I was baffled at why this kept happening.  It was a tough year and that is the only thing my husband and I can figure out.  I remember fondly my Mom telling me we were on her "nerves" ... Not until I had a child of my own did I understand what she meant and truly felt what nerves were and how someone could get "on" them!  I think this year my nerves were hyper sensitive which caused my anxiety to stay in over-drive.  Stress ... yes, I need to work on figuring out a way to handle that.

Jen's truths, stories, Biblical references, laughs, and transparency will convict you in the areas that you need to work on.  I am convinced of this.  I may not like my 30 days of media freedom, but it is necessary to grow, reflect, and adult.  I will not enlist friends to join me like Jen did.  I think I need to take this spiritual journey alone this time.  I'm anticipating hearing much from God, being a better steward with my time, money, and possessions.  

7 an experimental mutiny against excess from Jen Hatmaker.  Go get it!  And if someone dies while I'm media free you better text me!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Checking out

Each morning our class family "checks in" letting us know where they are today.  Holding up one finger means you're having a rough morning, for whatever reason, and we as a family need to respect that.  Holding up your whole hand means you are all in!   You're excited, ready to go, positive, and are there for others who might need picked up.  We range from 1-5 each owning our feelings and being okay with it.  This helps me to know that some kids need extra attention from me.

At the end of each day we "check out" and do the same routine, hoping that everyone's day has improved!

If there is one area I feel like I'm good at it would be building a classroom community.  My goal is to have our classroom feel like family.  I even taught two sessions about this during our back to school days.  This is what I'm passionate about.

I have been with this class for 7 days ... we are not a class family, and it makes me sad.  

Today, that changed.  During check out some students were still at a 1 at the end of the day.  We had 10 minutes to go and this bothered me a lot.  I asked if anyone wanted to share why.  Their worries and situations they were going to have to deal with when they left our safe classroom broke my heart.  A student starts crying after hearing another student share.  Two girls go over to comfort her, a boy moves out of the way so the girls can hug, another student brings over tissues.  The boy says he is praying for her right now.  More quiet sobs from around our circle.  Empathy ... friendship ... compassion ... hugs ... pats on backs ... community.

So tonight I pray for our class family and look forward to seeing them in our safe learning environment in the morning.  We are family.

Friday, July 8, 2016

It just doesn't make sense

I have started this over and over again, just can't seem to find the words. For the past three days I was in a professional development class with other educators from my school district, surrounded by people who were choosing to spend three full days of their time "off" to grow and learn to be better at our profession. It was really hard for me to focus today. I wanted to learn, yet my mind was on the tragedies happening around our country. What will I say if the kids bring up this violence when we are back in school? Sadly, I don't think things are going to get better. Kids should not have to think or worry about the violence that is so prevalent in our country. How can I be positive, encouraging, loving, caring, and a safe haven for them? That what was on my mind today, and still is as I prepare for sleep. I can't even grasp or wrap my brain around what we talked about today because all I can think about are my students from last year and the ones I will get in a few short weeks. I want them to be able to be kids as long as they can because adulthood can be tough at times.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Focus on the positive

Elephants are said to have great memories.  I’m like an elephant, but sometimes that great memory becomes like a record album that skips, repeating that one moment over and over … the one you wish you could take back. 

Elephants have thick skin.  I’m not like an elephant.  I’m actually super sensitive – but I’ve learned to put up a front that I’m strong.  I need to work on that thick skin.

Words – they replay over and over in my head.  They consume me.  My one “word” for 2017 will possibly be WORDS.    

I remember when I was 25 years old taking care of my dying mother.  My favorite Aunt told me, “You’re so strong, Dawn!”  Right then and there I had to be strong because I didn’t want to disappoint my Aunt, my Dad, my older sisters and brother.  I was the strong one, she said it.  Little did she know that I felt like a small child and just wanted my Mom.  Those words were powerful and I believed her … so I became strong, whether I wanted to or not.

Most of the time I tire of being the strong one, it wears me out.  I think that is why I become an introvert during summer; it is safe inside my house … except for the memories.  After a couple of weeks of sleeping in, lounging around in PJ’s and non-stop reading, I long for the routine of school again.  I miss being around kids.  My husband can tell when I need a “kid-fix.” 

As a teacher you are always “ON” … that is why summer break is important, so we can have down time to recharge.  It is hard to do that though when you are thinking about what you could have done better, what worked, what didn’t, remember failed lessons, or words.  Reflecting …. It is a great practice, but I need to learn to focus more on the positives.

Last night, scenarios from this last year were replaying over and over in my head.  It was 2 a.m. and I still had not closed my eyes because of that record album skipping over and over on that one part.  Would I ever get past this?  I have to if I’m going to move on.  Why do people (I’m including myself) find it so easy to focus on the bad/negative and not the positive?  It is a problem in our society, the negative always gets more attention and I for one am tired of it.  It is exhausting!  Out of my whole year with this class a parent might choose to focus on ONE day … ONE hour of that day … when I messed up.  NOT the other 177 days that things went pretty good and I checked on her student when she was absent, not the other days when I stood up for her student, hugged her, had lunch with her just because I wanted to, praised her, helped her … all of the positives, but yet … I said or did something that did not sit well with them … they will remember that.

Words … I remember my Aunt’s words to me.  What words do my students remember from me?  Would it make me smile or cringe?  I’m hoping my positive words are what they replay in their minds.  That would make both of us smile. 

I choose to remember the positive days from this year and will strive to do better next year.  I will be strong when I need to be.  Now I’m off to work on that thick skin.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Why I teach

I was the youngest of four children in my family.  The first to graduate high school.  Yes, the first.  The only one in my family who went to college (at the age of 39) graduating with honors and cherishing every second of walking across that stage with my diploma.  It took me years to figure out what I wanted to be when I "grew up."  My parents did not talk about college, and it hurts to admit that I don't recall them talking about school with us, they were not involved in our education.  Pondering that now, why would they talk about college?  They didn't finish school themselves and what did they know about going to school?  So really that should not be so surprising that college was never considered an option for us.

My passion is to teach young children and I consider it my true calling.  I think waiting so late in life to decide what I wanted to do makes it even more special to me that I get (NOT have) to spend my days with these precious kids.  The reason I teach is to make a difference in children's lives.  I want kids to know that they are special, they are loved, they can learn, they matter, that they have someone in their corner cheering them on.  Not until I just typed that last sentence did I realize that deep down inside I want them to have what I didn't have growing up.  

How have I made a difference in my four years as a teacher?  I believe that children know I love them, no matter what.  By listening, giving of my time, hugs, smiles, tears, and just being present for them.  I would rather eat lunch in my room with a few of my students than sit in the lounge during lunch, so that's what I do.  It's not just the kids in my class, I try to make a difference with students throughout the school.  

At times it can become overwhelming when I think about kids who do not have a cheerleader in their corner.  Kids deserve a champion in their lives who will believe in them, mentor them, and lift them up no matter what their background is like.  That is why I teach ... it's a big responsibility, but kids deserve it and I'm blessed to be involved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Word 2016

I tend to ramble.  I find it challenging, to say the least, to only be allowed 140 characters for Twitter.  I have to start out with the hashtag and who I am tagging before I even think about typing my thoughts because if you don’t use the # then it is just out there … no one may ever see it.  Sad to think about worrying over what words to use and forget the # - those 140 characters cause me stress!  So of course it is very hard to narrow down ONE word for the year.  ONE word as a reminder when I lose my focus or when I’m having a difficult day.  ONE word to challenge and motivate me for an entire year.  Talk about stress!  No, my one word is not stress, thank goodness!

How do you spend most of your time?  It didn’t take me long to ponder that thought and realize that whoever or whatever gets my time is my priority. I have chosen to give them the gift of my time.  At different stages in my life that answer would definitely vary.  Numerous time I have said, “I wish I could have those two hours of my life back,” after sitting through an awful movie.  Sadly I cannot have that time back; I chose to spend it that way.  Right now I spend a lot of time reading, learning, sleeping, eating, planning, reading, learning, sleeping, eating … you get the picture.  Many nights I go to bed, (remember, I like to sleep) with so many thoughts and ideas in my head that I cannot turn my brain off.  I feel like if I don’t do something RIGHT THEN that I am going to miss out, forget what I learned, or not have time to do it later.  How can I get everything crossed off my TO DO list?  How can I teach these kids that life is tough but they are going to make it?  Have I encouraged them enough?  Have I spent enough time with them?  Have I said the right words?  Did I take the time to show them I care?

Time.  Such a beautiful gift when we give of our time.  We can never get it back.  It is truly a gift.  Five minutes of time spent with a kid who just needs to know someone loves them.  You may not have to say nor do anything at all, just give them your time.  When I think about all of the time I have wasted in my life it makes me sick to my stomach.  It grieves my soul to know that there have been times in my life when I said, “I don’t have time for ……” (Fill in the blank).  It is time for a change, time to be more conscience of how I spend my time, who I spend it with, and what I spend it doing.  This precious gift of time – we all get the same amount of hours a day – what are you doing with your 24 hours?  I want to make a difference with mine.  I want to grow, learn, encourage, listen, and give of my time to someone who needs it and not expect anything in return from them.

Last night before bed I decided to check Twitter one more time and I’m so glad that I did.  One of my favorite blogs to read is by Jon Harper.  There was a post titled 16 ½ hours – check it out here!  Jon Harper 16 1/2 hours  I was grinning from ear to ear by the time I got to the section Be Available and read the quote, "It's not about having enough time. It's about making enough time."  Rachael Bermingham.  YES!  I was looking for confirmation about my one word and there it was, on Twitter, a tool I use to learn and grow!  So, thank you, @JonHarper70bd for taking the time to write and encourage.  Your gift of writing has always encouraged and uplifted me, and for that I thank you.

Time.  My alarm just went off telling me it is time to get ready for a breakfast date with three fabulous ladies with whom I get the pleasure of teaching with every day.  They are Edu heroes in my book!  I’m glad they make time for me!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Leave a Legacy

It has been so long since I posted, yet it's not for lack of reflecting, quite possibly the opposite.

We have finished 12 weeks of school, 1/3 of our time together this year is over.  Why can't time slow down?  I feel like there is so much more I need to teach, to learn, to share, to really listen to my students and prepare them for middle school.  I worry about them when they leave me, I mean truly worry about if they can handle moving to middle school with hundreds of new students from three other schools all coming together to try and figure out where they belong and how they fit in.  Coming from first grade I knew that I would be able to see my kids the following year, after all they would still be in my hallway.  I could check on them, hug them, give them "that look" if they were in trouble, and share in their successes.  I will not have that next year and that bothers me.  Will they remember me?  I must make sure they all know I will be there for them ... always!

I have learned so much from my kids.  Watching them has brought back many memories for me from my childhood.  Middle school was an emotional roller coaster for me to say the least.  I remember the school was huge which caused many stressful days wondering if I would be late walking from class to class.  There were mean girls ... I can still tell you their names and it has been 35 years since I've seen them.  I often wonder if they ever grew up and changed, or are they still mean to others.  What kind of role models did they have (or not have) in their lives.  What I do know is that when I see my kids preparing for that huge change in their lives that it makes me sad for them.  They will be expected to become little adults and conform to certain expectations that are not necessarily fair or appropriate.  Why can't we keep them young and innocent just a little while longer?

What can I do?  I can continue to love them.  Listen to them.  Encourage them.  Build them up.  Be a positive role model.  Not make fun of people or belittle them.  Accept differences and model that in my classroom.  Help others and set the example to pay it forward.  I only have a short time left with them and I must make an impact, I must leave a legacy.  That is my number one goal in my classroom this year.