Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fueling your Fire

I love the Natalie Grant song "Burn Bright". It came along at a point last year when I needed to be reminded of the message within it. This morning while scrolling through my NewsFeed I ran across this quote from Todd Nesloney. This rocked my world in a good way this morning. I'm three weeks into my 10th year teaching and I'm already tired. I'm already at the point where I feel like I have given out more than I have to know the moments I'm talking about teachers. The moment when you feel like the Energizer bunny has already been wound as tight as it can go and the battery is about to need charging. Then I read this quote and started thinking....

As educators, as people in general we have to protect our flames. I'm not much of a camper, but I do remember a few fire pits over the years. The fire dies out when the coals grow cold or the wood becomes wet. Protect your flame, so that spark continues. There will always be ones who want to speak negatively, find fault, complain, or share criticism. Pleasing everyone is an impossible task. Words that help you grow, even constructively are beneficial, words that tear down are similar to wet wood and cool coals. Protect your flame but not allowing those to linger on your fire and smothering your flame.

We are all going to have times where we feel like the roaring fire and moments where we will like the flickering spark. It's natural, but it's what we do in those moments that determine whether or not the fire continues to burn or begins to smolder. On the days when the fire is roaring, share it with others. On the days when the fire is just a flickering spark, find something to fuel that fire. As teachers, we do what we do because we of the students. Some days the students can fuel that spark without even knowing it. Those light bulb moments that remind you why you went into teaching, that former student that comes back just to say thank you, that parent that reminds you of the difference you made, or even that colleague that says I appreciate you. We can also fuel our fires by connecting with those who are burning bright as well. Find someone to connect with that shares the same passion that you do. It may be someone you teach with at your school, in your system, or simply someone who you connect with via social media. Twitter is a powerful connector of educators who want to continue to fuel their fire. If you haven't joined or are still in the lurking phase, jump in and start adding to the knowledge that is being shared. You may be the one that fuels another educator's fire.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Building the Foundation

A new year, a new start and what better time to build the foundation for an incredible year. This is my 10th year teaching and each year it seems like I start off in a panic and a rush because are things really ever ready at the beginning of the year. I am determined to start this year off in a different way. I am a special education teacher and I work with students in 4th-6th grade that are inclusion/resource students. I had this bulletin board in my room last year after being inspired at ISTE 2014 by Angelia Maiers and the You Matter message. There were times the students would come in the room defeated and discouraged because they were having difficulty. Instead of facing that difficulty, they wanted the answer or to just give up. Sometimes they would even come in down and speaking negative about themselves. I directed them to the board. Often times I would have them read it out loud or at least to themselves. Time after time, it helped them to focus on the task at hand and to quit speaking negative. If a student was upset, it also helped them to calm down. It's hard to read these positive affirmations and stay mad. This year I am also writing notes to mail out the second week of school to not only introduce myself to my case load students, but to also tell them they matter! I also added this growth mindset bulletin board that I saw on Pinterest.  Students can learn when students feel safe. They learn when they know that you believe in them and that they have something to contribute. This is the foundation to build on this year...reminding students that they have a voice and have something to contribute. I'm also doing a new student survey/interview with them towards the end of the first week.  Here is a link to the survey:3-2-1 Beginning of the Year Survey

Last year was the inaugural year at my school. We were an assortment of teachers from three main schools with a few others here and there. The struggle last year was for those of us from here and there to learn where we fit into the pieces of the other groups. One thing at the end of the year the principal at that time encouraged me to do was to ask for feedback from the general education teachers. It was a scary yet positive experience. I think as teachers it is difficult to open ourselves up for criticism, even that which is constructive. I learned through the process, we all have strengths and weaknesses, when we share those with our team members with the intent of productivity, we can find help with our weaknesses. An example for me, is making a schedule. Some teachers can take all of the pieces and fit it in a puzzle. I'm not one of them...I tend to over extend myself, which leaves me without a lunch or planning (and burned out and frustrated at the end of the day). This year two of the teachers who I sat down with last year have offered this week to help me take my pieces of the puzzle and make a workable schedule. It takes time to build relationships with other staff members. Helping each other with our strengths and weaknesses though that relationship builds a team over time. 

Have a great year teachers! 
Remember you matter and you are making a difference!