Sunday, September 27, 2015

As A Teacher, I Wish You Knew (Part 2) #iWishTeach

Wow, if only I knew how much this blog series was going to take hold!  Last week's post, "As An Admin, I Wish You Knew" stirred so much conversation!  I am thrilled about the interest from educators, from around the world, who wanted to share their voice for Part 2!

So here is part 2!  I reached out to all of my online connections in education and asked them to answer this question...."As a Teacher, I wish you knew....."  Listed below are their responses.

These are from educators all over the world who chose to take part!  I found so much truth, honesty, and heart in many of their responses!  And look for Part 3 next week, as we hear from PARENTS!

"That I wish more people took what I see as my calling seriously. I'm not just a teacher; I pour my heart and soul into the lives of the next generation."

"I try my best each day, each week, each month and each year to help every student grow (academically, socially and emotionally). Sometimes I feel like my best isn't enough. " 

"I wish you knew how hard it is for me to test your children for the wide variety of testing that I am obligated to do. I hate it. It tears me up inside to see the students wiggle in chairs as they are tied down with invisible ropes to take a test to get a number. Your child is NOT a number to me. They are a unique gift to this world and this way of testing cannot and will NEVER reflect the miracle your child is. I am so sorry that I have to do this to them. It hurts my heart."

"That during the school year almost every minute of my day is spent thinking about how best to help my students. I wish you knew how much I want to be trusted to do what I know is best for them, rather than given directives that are not child based. I wish you knew that I want to be the best teacher that I can and help every student I come in contact with, so that they can develop into lifelong learners and great people who are highly successful." 

"That I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about ways to help your child."

"That I hate grades--probably more than you and your child do--and that makes me the most conscientious grader your child will ever have. I want all my students to make straight As, and, contrary to popular belief, I take no joy whatsoever in "giving" a student a low or failing grade. "

"That I have two children of my own, and I k ow exactly how you feel."

"That I wanted to be a teacher. I didn't become one because, as people joke about teachers,"I couldn't think of anything better to do" or "I wasn't smart enough to do something better,""

We are not just teachers. We are mentors, family therapists, nurses, psychologists. 

"How much time I spend away from my own family to make sure the 120 kids that I teach have an opportunity to shine, grow and succeed."

"That I go back to my classroom every night after my kids go to bed to make sure the next day in my class is the BEST day for everyone else."

"I wish you knew that I want my students to be brave and bold and try new things. Never be afraid to make mistakes because your brave actions might inspire others to try new things. Your actions may show others it's ok to make mistakes because that's how we learn. I wish students and parents knew we become a family and we are all in this really hard thing together. We're going to laugh and sometimes want to give up, but we're a team."

"As a teacher, I wish you knew how much I love. Everything that I do, everything I say, every standard and expectation that I set comes from a place of love. All the time I spend doing non-teaching paperwork or attend endless in-service and faculty meetings comes from a place of love. Every activity, all the homework that I assign and all of the tests and quizzes that I write are done out of love. Every conversation, every new idea and every different way that I try to explain something is done from a place of love. This doesn’t mean that I love to do all of these things. As a matter of fact, a lot of these are things I would rather not have to do. But, I love what I teach. I love how important it is and I love that I have the opportunity every day to be able to come to school and express that love of learning. This would be enough to be able to have a successful and fulfilling career for most, but for me its goes much deeper that just the love of what I teach. 

Ultimately and what the most important thing that I wish you knew is how much I truly love the kids that I teach. I love when the light of knowledge is switched on in a student. I love the student who doesn’t care because I know that I can make a difference. I love the student who is bored because I know I can get his attention. I love the student who is passionate about what I teach because I know that I can stoke that fire even hotter. I love the student with a dozen accommodations because I know that I can find a way to break through. I love the student who is a discipline problem because I know all that student wants is to be heard and understood. I love all my students because I have never forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. All the kids that I teach are in their own special way a mirror of the student I used to be. And the most important thing that I wanted when I was a kid was to be loved. So, I love, respect and treat the kids I teach the same way that I wish I had been loved when I was young. Love is the most powerful and positive emotion and I am extremely fortunate to give that love freely by teaching."

"I wish that people realized that teachers are people too. We make mistakes, and sometimes it effects 150 students. We try our best, but sometimes we just slip up. I wish people realized teachers are people too, and didn't talk to us like we just made the biggest mistake in all of America. As a teacher, I admit to my students when I mess up to show them that it's important to own up to our mistakes, and sometimes students respond with "Gah Ms. SoAndSo you can't make mistakes!" The worst is when parents berate you over email for a small mistake. It kills my confidence, and makes me feel like I can't do anything right. I wish people treated me like I was a person too."

"That I lay awake agonizing over things I can't fix at 2am; your child's progress, my lack of patience, that email from an angry parent, a better way to teach the lesson I did that day... It does nothing but undermine my confidence and give me heartburn but I want you to know that I CARE."

"As a teacher, I wish you knew how much I sacrifice in my own life for my students. My nights and weekends are spent analyzing data, speaking to colleagues about ways to make my classroom the most effective and efficient, and planning unforgettable learning experiences. I believe so much in your potential and in the possibility of YOU that I'm willing to devoted my time and energy off contract just to be a part of making your dreams come true. I wish you knew why I push you so hard in class, why I won't give in and tell you an answer, why I refuse to cut corners or allow you to cut corners just because it would be easier. I wish you knew that watching you discover your own potential and passions and abilities is what keeps me coming back year after year. The challenges you pose with your diversity, background stories, and life experiences don't intimidate me...they motivate me. You motivate and inspire me. You are why I never give up, never let up, never give in. You. You are what matters. And I am honored to be a teacher."

"Just because we don't have a classroom full of kids in the summer doesn't mean we aren't working all summer! We are always thinking and buying stuff for our classroom. We love your kids as our own and want nothing more than to build life long learners that love others. We never stop thinking and praying for our students even five years after you have taught them. "

"That reading to your children and in front of them is probably the single most important thing you can do to help them be prepared to begin school. And don't stop just because they start school. Reading is so important. "

"That when I look into your child's eyes, I see my own children. I know that you are hoping your child will be nurtured and valued when you send them off to school. Just know that I strive to do that everyday."

"I wish you knew how much these little children touch our lives and hearts forever. That we really do miss them when they go. That we can't wait to see who we get next year ... even the little stinkers!"

"Everywhere I go and everything I see connects to my classroom. My job is to teach children and every human interaction I have or see is an opportunity to learn. My eyes are always open and the wheels are always spinning."

In the end, so many of the comments come back to  Teachers love kids!  It's not always easy, and we don't always get it all right, but we try and try again!

Thanks to all who participated!  I look forward to sharing next week's post from the perspective of Parents!

***want to share what you wish people knew about teaching?  Share using the hashtag #iWishTeach

Sunday, September 20, 2015

As an Admin, I Wish You Knew (Part 1) #iWishAdmin

I became an administrator a little over a year ago.  Never did I even imagine all that goes on behind the scenes of a school. Man my eyes have been opened!

As I was driving home the other day, I thought about the fact that there are many elements to education that people don't understand if they're not in that side of it.  And sometimes we want to tell people about it, but it feels like we're bragging, or complaining, or sharing too much.

So I had an idea....I wanted to reach out to about 40 of my administrator friends that I am connected with and ask them "What do you wish people knew about administrators in education?".  And the responses that I got were powerful.

And then I thought, why stop there?  So from that idea a new mini-blog series was born.  This post is the first in a 4-Part series of "I Wish You Knew".  This week's post is from administrators across the globe.  Then over the next 3-4 weeks I will be releasing a "As a Teacher, I Wish You Knew (Part 2), and then "As a Parent, I Wish You Knew (Part 3)", and then "As a Student, I Wish You Knew (Part 4)".

I truly hope these posts inspire you to stop and reflect on your own preconceived notions of each of these extremely important jobs in education; administrators, teachers, parents, and students!

So here's this week's post.  All submissions were submitted anonymously to inspire people to be as honest as possible.  Some made me laugh, some made me think, and some made me tear up. I polled about 40 administrators from all over the world to gain these insights.  Please feel free to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #iWishAdmin

"That I care about my students the same way I care about my children. My students are my children. Not numbers, not subgroups, not codes in the system. These children are my children and I want them to know that."

"That I can make more of a difference if Central Office Administration would allow me the flexibility to try new risky ideas with my campus. I want to do things differently, but cannot if they do not allow us. We cannot make changes if the top is not willing to make changes themselves. Allow me the opportunity to help by letting me take risks and bringing in more innovation into the classrooms."

"That this work is hard. Everyday I show up and give it my all because the kids, teachers, support staff and community deserve it. I work longer hours than my family would like me to, but I do it because my school deserves it. I do it with a smile and a grateful heart, and I try to make it look easy. Our kids deserve the very best and I hope that I can live up to that for them."

"We never stop thinking about your kids, both in their successes and their struggles. Sometimes we have to place that hard call home, but we never give up hope even if you think we might."

"That I care as deeply as teachers, parents and support staff. Sometimes "admin" are seen as aloof, in an office, detached. Not so. I want what's best for these students just as I want what's best for my own two sons. I try not to get "stuck" in policy, I dislike students being defined by test scores and I want teachers to be respected and valued. Our goals are aligned. I love my job."
"It is hard work. Our tasks are always secondary to the tasks of those that we serve. Breaks are seldom, and lunchtime frequently comes after students have been dismissed. Our days never play out as we have them planned. And days, weeks, months, years all pass very quickly."

"Unfortunately, as an administrator, it can be easy to become cynical. People usually seem more willing to tell us about the things that we aren't doing well/could do better. (Please, if you are happy with something that we are doing - share that with us; it will make our day!) It is our responsibility to seek out the positives and share that message. Our kids and our teachers need models of positive energy, not cynics."

"We aren't perfect. Based off of the information and resources that we have, we do the best that we can. We, too, always want to do better/more. We care about kids, and hopefully our actions and decisions reflect that."

"Our job is a lot of fun. It has to be one of the best jobs in the world. Even in the hard times, I can't imagine any other job that I would enjoy more than being a building principal."

"That I care about your children very much and work tirelessly to support them. Please trust the school when we tell you something, it's for your benefit and your child to be supported."

"That we always keep our students at the center of every decision we make. Even if it's not easy, if it's in the best interest of children, that is what we do."

"...that we REALLY DO make every decision with the best intentions, with all information we have, and what is in the best interest of the students. Promise!"

"As an Administrator, I wish you knew how hard it is to be in classrooms but not be able to "teach" in them. Yes, we get plenty of opportunities to interact with kids, but there is something special about having your own classroom of students that you are able to develop that unique relationship with over the course of the year. Cherish that and know that I'm jealous!"

"I wish people knew how deeply I missed teaching. I wish they knew that I am as invested in relationships with students in my current role as I was in the classroom. "

"I wish there was more trust between teachers and administrators. That there was no question that the one group always believed the best about the other, that there was generous trust among colleagues, and that all energies were spent on investing in the lives of our students (not tangentially related issues). "

"I wish people knew how much I wish I could do more to reward our teachers. Their work is so valuable."

"I wish people knew how lonely the admin job can feel at times."

"I wish people knew that I am trying as hard as I can to prioritize tasks well, that I know that things can improve in this area, but that I am growing in the right direction and improving each month and semester."

"How much I dislike having state tests tied to teacher evaluations."

"Every decision I make is based on "What is best for kids""

"My best days are when I'm in the classroom."

"I'm in awe of teachers are able to do on a daily basis."
"I believe teaching is the most noble profession there is."

"That I love my job because I love working with children AND teachers. Being an administrator is so unique because we get to be part of the learning process for both the kids and the adults in the school. I want you to know that that means I spend a lot of my time advocating for students and what they need but also for what teachers need to further their professional learning too. You will see me in lots of meetings and preparing presentations and that may look like I'm not involved in the school but I'm really creating the foundation of learning for everyone. I want you to also know that I make sure I get to a class a day so that I can see the hard work from my advocating as well as the work of all the teachers and students in action. That means that I won't always be in my office to answer every call or email when it happens. Lastly, I want you to know that I do not enjoy being a disciplinarian for students, nor for teachers; however, I accept that part of my job as a tool to help everyone find their path for growth and improvement. That means that whether I am discipling a child or observing a teacher, I'm doing it to help them grow, not catch them being "bad". In the end, I want you to know that you can trust me, that learning is always at the heart of my actions."

"I have rarely had a full-night's sleep in the last three weighs on my mind what I could do, what I should have done, what I wish I had done, what I want to do next, what I wish I could have said, what I'm not doing right is both exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time!"

"It would be great if every now and then, you asked, "How can I help you?" rather than "What can you do for me?"

"Your "major issue" is important to you (and it is to me), but please remember that I have 50 other's "major issues" fighting for my time and attention!"

"Nothing can quite prepare you for becoming a school administrator. The internship, the coursework and the readings help but they do not compare to real-world experience. One of the first times I sat down and met with an angry parent I was scared to death. Now, after hundreds of meetings with parents I have come to enjoy them. The first time you have to make a difficult decision you question yourself and you wonder for days if you made the right one. Now after having made many difficult decisions I still question myself, but I don't worry as much."

"Just like administrators are constantly learning, we realize that you are constantly learning as well. You need to know that we don't expect you to be perfect. To be quite honest, we are oftentimes in awe of the work you do and your dedication to your students. We may be the ones evaluating you and some folks may call themselves "lead-learners", but deep down we know that you are the experts. "

"It is important for you to realize that as the school administrator, we often feel responsible for everything that goes on in the building. This can lead to us spreading ourselves thin or sometimes not giving you the time that you'd like. There are going to be times when we have just left situations in which we were just hit, kicked or screamed at. And you may be the next person we see. While we are going to try our best to always stay positive, there will be times when we slip. Please forgive us when this happens."

"More than anything, we want you to know that we are doing best. Sometimes our best looks awesome. Other times our best doesn't look so hot. Just know that we won't stop trying. Because like you, we are learning and getting better each and every day."

"that sometimes we feel powerless. We want to help, but some things are out of our control. Sometimes we feel helpless. Like when a teacher comes to us to share heartbreaking news about something she is experiencing in her personal life. Or when a hard to reach student is finally beginning to experience small successes and then he tells us he is moving to a new school. Or when parents come to us with legitimate concerns regarding our parking lot, yet those safety concerns stem from other parents not following the expectations or being courteous. This is the hardest part of our job. This is what keep us awake at night."

"that when parents are upset about a tough decision we have made, we wish they would come to us to discuss it rather than turning to social media to complain about it."

"Administrators want to help everyone be successful. They want to help teachers grow, they want to make parents feel welcomed, they want their school to shine and be successful, but their ultimate focus is to provide exceptional learning experiences for students. Every decision that they make is in the best interest of ALL students. Principals don't have agendas for a small group of students, They have to make every decision for ALL students. Principals are people, too. They make mistakes, they have feelings, and while they are charged with working with and meeting the needs of a number of stakeholders, their needs matter, too. It is a lonely seat. Principals need support, encouragement and cheerleaders. When things are going well, everyone wants to be a part. When things are not going so well, the principal is the first to be abandoned. Being a principal is one of the hardest jobs, but it is one of the most rewarding professions."

Are you an administrator in education?  What do you wish more people knew about being an Admin?  Share your thoughts using the #iWishAdmin hashtag and look for the next post in this series (As A Teacher, I Wish You Knew) coming next week!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Be One ft. @NatalieGrant #BeOne

If you know much about me, you know I love music.  Always have.  One of my favorite vocalists is Natalie Grant.  I feel like I've grown up with her.  I still remember attending a KSBJ Brown Bag (free) concert at a Chik-Fil-A when she was just releasing her debut album and being in awe.  And then over the years after attending 3 or 4 other concerts with her.

Well, Natalie just released a brand new song called "Be One".  With all the doubt and insecurities I've been feeling over the past few weeks as a new school year has started up and so have the trials, this song came at a perfect time.

One of my favorite lines is, "we pray but never move, we say but never do.  It's time to get our hands dirty".  When I heard that line it hit me like a ton of bricks.  How often do we sit there and pray for something better to happen, for our problems to dissolve.  But then we wait.  We wait for God to do all the heavy lifting.  We have to make sure that we are doing something as well.  We can't talk about being kind to others, but never follow through.  We can't pray for solutions, and then sit around.  We have to do the work too.

We have to get our hands dirty.  We have to stand up and do something.

"Be love there's a whole lot of hurting" was another line that I loved.  Everyone is fighting some kind of battle. Everyone is in some kind of pain.  We can so often get so caught up in our own that we forget.  But I have to make it a daily decision to have my choices reflect love, because I don't want to be someone who is adding more hurting to the world.  And I'm not perfect, and I make painful mistakes every day.  But I try to continually keep those words at the forefront of my mind.  Be love, there's a whole lot of hurting.

And finally the words, "why sit around and wait for a miracle to come, when we can be one".  Wow.  Could that be any more true?

We have the ability to change lives.  We have to opportunity to be a miracle in someone else's life.  I've seen it time and time again as an educator.  Every day is another amazing chance to change someone's world.  We can't miss our opportunity.

It's our time to stand up.  To spread love.  To not wait for a miracle, but to be one. #BeOne

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Well I've just completed my second week with kids at Webb Elementary.  I've held off on writing these first two weeks for a bunch of reasons.

These first two weeks were filled with amazingness.  They were filled with awesome lessons from teachers, great interactions with kids and families, and exciting moments in the hallways and at recess.  But these weeks were also incredibly challenging for me, especially week one.

I'm at a much larger campus this year, with more kids, more staff, more parents, and more grade levels.  We're now a PreK-5th grade campus.  And this year, more than ever before, I have seen more heartache and pain.  I've already worked with children who break my heart from the homes they come from.  But more so, I've dealt with more venom from parents on social media and in person then in all my years in education combined.  Especially in the first week of school.  And it took a toll.  It ate away at me.

And as it ate away, I began to allow doubt to take hold.

I often think about the power that doubt holds over us.  We have days that we doubt if we're a good spouse, or friend, or brother/sister, or parent.  We doubt if we're a good teacher.  If we truly know what we're doing.  If we were cut out for this.  We doubt our talents, our skills, our genius.

Doubt is one of those things that can rip us to shreds.  It can destroy us if we let it.  Every single one of us on the Webb Elementary campus matters.  My team may hear me say things about mattering or telling them that they matter and then begin to think it's just a series of words I've decided to throw together.  But in reality I've seen first hand the power of understanding that each of us truly does matter.

And it's funny.  You see I take time every day to try and remind others of their worth and value, and yet I so quickly can forget my own. 

Through the negativity and destructive words I read and heard, I began to wonder why I was so terrible.  If I was truly that unwanted and disliked by families in Navasota.

And after a bit of prayer, I did what I always advise others to do.....I found my people.  I sought out my friends and co-educators who knew me.  Who knew my heart.  I cried with them.  I prayed with them.  I shared my pain and my struggle, and they built me up.  They spoke words of truth that brought me back.  They helped remind me of who I knew I was, but had begun to forget.

We can't allow doubt to take root in our lives.  We must surround ourselves with others who will remind us when we forget.  Others who will lift us up.  Who will help us celebrate every single success.  Because even the smallest successes are worth celebrating.

So for those of you out there today who are feeling doubt creep in, push it away.  Tell it to back off.  Look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself just how incredibly unique and important that you are.  Because we all bring something great to the table and we can't let doubt steal our gifts away.