Sunday, March 20, 2016

Finding the good in the difficult

Blogging has definitely taken a back burner this year. This whole being a working mom is hard and I have not adjusted as well as I would like. Of course, it doesn't help that my child doesn't sleep through the night consistently yet. It seems that I have used blogging this year, to help me process some of my bigger issues. So here I go again. I'm going to be as honest as I can be.
I have one of the best classes I have ever had this year. Sadly all my husband has heard is me complaining out the things that go on outside of my classroom.  As teachers we are faced with so many challenges that are beyond our control. I love the school I work at. I think the teachers there are great and work hard. But I see them everyday beaten down by systems that we can't control. More testing. More mandates. More policies that don't seem to have the best interest of our students at heart. I love my students and I love being there for them.  But this year I have felt strongly called to be there for my fellow teachers. I have worked at trying to improve morale and be a positive light in the school. I am blessed to be able to maintain the prayer list at our school. Almost my whole school joins together in prayer for each other and shares our prayer concerns over email. It is such a privilege to me that I get to facilitate it and it is totally a God thing. He called me to this role. He calls me to send out encouraging emails to my co-workers.
This past week as a staff we endured some difficult things. We were told some things that weren't true about ourselves. Lots of us felt guilty about things that we should never feel guilty about. I have been processing this all week. I have gone from sad to mad and back again. I know that we can't be the only group of teachers to beaten down in this way. So here are the conclusions I have come to in this difficult time as teachers.
What is clear to me is that God is present in all things. One of his names is El-Roi, the God who sees, and he sees us.  He sees you when you give that child a hug that no one else wants to hug. He sees you when you listen to a child tell a story over and over. He sees you when you bring dinner to a co worker who is going through a rough time. He sees you when you are having a rough day in your personal life but you put a smile on your face for your students. He sees you when you sit down to grade papers or plan lessons after providing your family a meal and everyone is in bed. He sees the excitement you have when your student who has been struggling all year finally gets it. He sees that coffee your bring your co worker when they have a hard day. He sees you when you share the treats you bake with your fellow teachers. He sees you fighting everyday for your students.  The great thing is God sees us as we really are.
Not only does God see but our co- workers and students see it too. I want to challenge you this week to uplift one of your co workers. Show them you see the little things that they do that are meaningful. Show them you believe they are so much more than how the world sees them.
 Some days it feels like our education system is crumbling around us. But we keep on for our students and we need to keep on for each other. We need to encourage each other. We have to lift each other up. We have to stick together.  Be a light in your school!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Teaching Matters

Since becoming a mom, life has been different. My sweet girl turned 1 on Sunday and it has been an amazing year. I was lucky enough to be able to take time off and be with her. Going back to school in August was challenging in a way that I wasn't prepared for. It is hard being a working mom. (It is hard being a stay at home mom too) Teaching has always been something I've poured myself into. So finding the balance between being a mom, wife, teacher, friend, and blogger has been hard. I've missed blogging. I've missed reflecting on my teaching and my life through this medium. I'm hoping now that I have a semester under my belt, I can do more. It helps that my girl is sleeping a little better finally. Energy was definitely not high on my list this past semester.
This semester was difficult for other reasons too.  My husband told me one day that maybe I needed to find another job because I was complaining so much. When I stopped and thought about it, I was sad that they view I was giving my husband was I didn't like my job. Because I truly have a great class. The kids have made huge progress in the time we've been together. But the other stuff of teaching has clouded my view. Things that I have no control over like county and state mandates. Other people's negativity. Public perception of our school. After this conversation with my husband, I tried to refocus on what is important.
But by December my energy was really depleted. Any positive thoughts I had were gone. My sleep was minimal and that makes a huge difference on your outlook. I was feeling very under appreciated and over looked at my school. Basically, I was in desperate need of Christmas break. Over the break, I started to think maybe I wasn't in the right place. Maybe God didn't really want me to be a teacher and to leave my sweet girl everyday. I'm trying to be real and this is what was really going on in my head. I was starting to dread the return to school.
Back in July, I started a new Bible Study app called First 5. It is through Proverbs 31 ministries. The premise is everyday you wake up and give God the first 5 minutes of your day. They started with the book of John and since then we've studied Genesis and Matthew. This past week we started Exodus. While on maternity leave and struggling through being a first time mom, I really came to treasure my bible study time. When school started, I needed this time even more. I need to spend some time with the Lord everyday to get focused for the day. This week, the topics of study were so timely for me. They were about having confidence in who God says he is rather than who we think we are (Exodus 3) and about the doubts we have about the tasks God has given us (Exodus 5).
I felt like God was talking directly to me. I was doubting that I was where I was suppose to be. I was doubting that I was a good teacher or a good mom. But this helped me to realize that God has given me what I need. I only need the confidence that he is who he says he is and he will e
 Then yesterday morning God gave me further confirmation that I was where he wanted me to be. My assistant principal told me that one of my students had told him a couple of times that when he came into class after the break that I told him I missed him and hugged him and it meant a lot to him. This student worried me all over the break. I was afraid he wouldn't be back when school started again. He's homeless and his life is so unstable. But it mattered to him that I said I missed him. It mattered to him that I gave him a hug. It mattered to him that his friends all said Good morning to him in morning meeting and were happy to see him. It matters what I do everyday. I need to keep my focus on the kids not the mandates or the testing. But the kids.
Teaching matters. It matters to the kids that they get a smile and hug. It matters that the kids know someone cares about them and misses them when they are gone. As we start a new semester, remember that what you do everyday matters to the kids we serve. When you've had a rough day of dealing with the negative of teaching, remember the kids you serve need you. Other teachers need you.