My #oneword update

This post was inspired by this tweet.

[On a side note, everyone should follow Sue Dunlop for two reasons: 1. She reads, comments and shares a ton of good blog posts.  2. She also writes a brilliant blog.]

So 2015 is over half-way over.  I did join the one word movement.  I chose Presence to be my one word.  You can read about why here.

Words added on pinwords.com

I see a huge change in my personal life.  I feel I have held true to I have been present at my son’s t-ball, watching my two kids climb, listening to my husband.  I find myself shutting off the next step and just enjoying my time with my family.  My worst fears were not realized.  The house did not follow down around us.  The children are still happy.  Actually more things were accomplished because I was not distracted.

I still have a ways to go.  I did succumb and bought a smart phone.  I find that I am quick to ask Siri a question instead of letting it go.  I also annoy my husband because when I check the weather here.  I give him the run down on the weather in other cities.  I will attempt to treat it like my old phone.

Now professionally, I am not there yet, but I know when I get busy and feel like my mind is racing and wandering I can take several deep breaths while focusing on the word.  It tends to solve the problem.  I also know that I had moments of greatness.  I think of the times I was in the classroom reading or working with children.  I was there with the students.  As my position changes, I know I will have to figure ways to continue to be present in the moment and enjoy it.

As I reflect back, here my action steps for the second half of the year:

  • Put down the smartphone.  I do not need to Google everything or check Twitter and Facebook.
  • When my mind starts to race, I will write down my to-dos to keep them organized.
  • I step away from tech when it distracts me from the conversation.

Thanks again Sue for tweeting brilliance!  And thanks to Donna Miller Frye for the great blog post.  So where are you on your #oneword?

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It could have been…

Some people can claim that they tell how the day is going to go and they said it was going to be a rough Friday.  Here’s what was happening:

  • 7 teachers had an AM training.
  • 6 teachers were gone all day.
  • Short 6 guest teachers
  • Full moon
  • First outdoor recess in forever
  • Spring break in a week

This day could have been one for the record book:

  • Very little instruction occurring
  • grouchy teachers
  • disruptive students
  • two tired irritated administrators;

But it was not meant to be that. Why?

The mindset of my principal and me.  We thought:

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So I cleared my principal’s schedule to do instructional walkthroughs throughout the classrooms.  He announced that it was our favorite time of the year, the time before spring break.  We laid out the schedule so instruction for all students would occur all day.  We both made many visits to classrooms where there were guest teachers.  At key times, we present in the hallway.  We made a conscious effort to smile at every student, teacher and adult.  We had our teachers review outdoor recess procedures.

Friday was great day for our teachers!  Most would not be able to tell that many teachers were missing.  Students learned and teachers taught.

I came home exhausted but excited about the day.  The lesson I learned is

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Struggle, it is always a good thing?

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  I love my Sunday mornings.  I get up at 6ish, climb downstairs, make coffee and do the paperwork required by my job.  As I work, I listen to Public Radio. Last Sunday morning was perfect. The snow was falling, my house pretty much quiet and I am in the zone of paperwork.  Then this line hit me like a ton of bricks:

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Brene Brown went on to say:

“And I don’t think our job as parents is to make everything right and perfect and beautiful and true. I think our job is, during struggle, to look at our kids and say, yeah, this is hard and this is tough and you’re hurt.”

I have spent the last week thinking about this.  I can handle this idea as a parent.  The next day, I watched as my son struggled to climb a huge snow pile.  The small struggles my kids face are training grounds for the bigger struggles that life will hold.  As hard as it is not to step in, I know I am being a good parent not to fix everything.

In my professional life, this idea of letting others struggle is hard.  In my job, I see students figuring out how to tell time, new teachers finding their voice, students figuring out how to pay attention while hurting inside and parents struggling to help their kids to be successful even though they have a lot to worry about.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of struggles that occur at my school: Learning Struggles and Struggles that need interventions

Learning struggles are important for the development of character and help cement the learning.  I feel that when students are learning something new they need to try to figure it out with proper support.  I also feel that as teachers, we need to try new things and model how we approach struggle with our students.  If we do this, then students will have skill they need to be successful.

The other group of struggles are harder.  These struggles are directly related to poverty.  In US schools, poor children are the majority.  The student who struggles with the lack of clean underwear.  Does she sneak to the nurse without permission so can steal clean underwear or stay in the class and focus on reading with dirty underwear?  The student who has been dropped off at a relative and the parent never calls or explains why.  The student who arrives at school with moldy clothes.  Parents spend their energy to find food and shelter for their family so other things fall away.

When I see these struggles, I do not stand back and let them struggle.  I step in and provide students what they need.  My school does that.  More underwear is bought and the student knows that she can ask the nurse for some.  Clean clothes and shoes are always available.  Teachers keep healthy snacks in their classroom.  We have a food pantry and a weekend food program.  We rely on volunteers to mentor children.  The PE teacher runs a little league program for our students.  I have watched my principal create a safe space for our students to struggle with learning and life, just like my two sweet kids.  I hope that every school addresses the poverty issue because it stops kids from being kids.

My One Word for 2015

I decided to join @TechNinjaTodd in another learning challenge.  I do need to say that his summer learning challenge forced me to be more connected to other educator.  You can read about his summer learning here.

So the first challenge this time is to find one little word to focus on this year.  You can read about this challenge here.

As I think about last year, I found I was always thinking about the next step.  This was necessary because last year was full of massive change.  I decided in January that I needed to move back to the midwest because my children needed to know their grandparents.

Packing, moving across country, grad school, and learning. Still smiling! #SummerLS #selfie

Here’s a few of the things I accomplished last year:

  • Prep and sell a house.
  • Find a dream job in the midwest.
  • Move my whole family to Iowa.
  • Buy a new house.
  • Get my M Ed.

I found myself busy thinking about what to do next instead enjoying what was happening around me.  I am proud of what I accomplished last year, but am sad that I didn’t focus on the ride.  So this year my little word is…

I am looking forward to listening to a student explain what happened without thinking about what’s next.  I am also looking forward to being “here” with my own kids.  I know that they are only this age once.  I don’t want to arrive at the end of my career and not enjoyed every minute of it.

So here’s to being in the present.