Monday, April 25, 2016

Our Words Matter

Sunday night's #oklaed Twitter chat was one of the most emotional ones I have been a part of in a long time. I spent a lot of the time crying and being super confused!

The chat which was lead by my friend @MrP_tchr, check him out on Twitter by the way, was all about Math. He did an amazing job and really kept me encouraged even as I was crying my eyes out.

Math is the worst. I hate it. Math has always been a struggle for me. Many times when I'm sitting in staff meetings the topic of Math comes up and I shut down. My struggles with Math have always been around, which is ironic for the child of two accountants. Math is black and white. I live in the gray areas. However my struggles with Math came to explosive levels when my fifth grade math teacher, told me that I was never going to get it.

I believed her, and I believed that I was never going to get Math. And guess what...I never got Math. It is still a struggle for me, I can do the basics that I need to get by in life, but if my students come up to me and ask for help on their homework or projects, I can't do it.

My point in writing this isn't to make you feel sorry for me, because I'm doing pretty great. What I have to say is that what we say matters. We talk so much in education to our students about the power of their words, but I think we very rarely ever talk amongst ourselves as educators about the power of our words. Even if we do we think of it in the lenses of positive words. But the negative....I think those outlast the positive.

I'm sure that my teacher said many other positive things about me and towards me, but all I carry and I all I remember is those negative words. This had me thinking, what negative words have I spoken to my students? Even with that experience I try my best to only speak the positive around my students, however I'm human and that I make mistakes.

So how do we change this? How do we change the direction of our words? Today I set some goals for myself.

1. In each class to try to say a minimum of five positive things to the class as a whole.
2. In each class to try to say one positive thing directed towards individual students.
3. Each day try to find one student that needs a little bit more love and shower them with positive words.

No matter what you do. If you are an educator or involved in some other profession, your words better. Make them great and amazing words.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Not Today Spider, Not Today

Shenningans. My morning always starts with shenanigans. Why you ask? Because I have a class full of 28 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys. It is so much fun. It is totes cray cray.

Today was no exception....and let's add in the worst creature known to mankind. A spider. A spider the size of my face. Okay maybe not that big, but the thing was huge. 

So here is the deal...I am deathly afraid of spiders. Read this for insight on my issues with spiders. As you can see I stop acting like an adult when there is a spider present and instead turn into a screaming looney tune. You can see where the problem arises...I was in a classroom full of students I had to be the adult. Really I just needed someone who was more adultier than I was, I needed a super adult. So this is how this whole thing went down...

We have done our stretches, played a brain teaser to get started, and we were in the middle of vocal warm ups when one precious cherub noticed the demon crawling across the floor. He screamed. Like a little girl. Which started a chain reaction....for the love. I was still trying to figure out what was happening when I noticed the creature of doom. 

I had three choices. 1-Burn the building down. 2-Join in on the screaming and hoping that someone more adultier than me would come and save us. 3-Be the adultier adult and kill the spider. Choice number one...wouldn't work because I feel like people would frown upon that. Choice number two...I couldn't know if someone would actually be able to tell if this was just our normal noise level or spider death con 4. Choice number three...was the only thing I could do. However my legs stopped working. I couldn't move the spider could feel my fear and it was feeding off of that!

But knight in shining armor aka Eighth Grade Boy stood up amongst all the screaming and yelled "Not today spider, not today!" He grabbed the spider with HIS BARE HANDS and killed the thing. He was the adultier adult, a 14 year old boy. 

But wait there's more!!!

As he was walking to throw the spider away he dangled it in my face and dropped it on my foot! We only thought it was was not. The evil creature crawled across my foot and I screamed. The boy again yells not today spider and finally kills the thing! FOR THE LOVE.

It only made sense that after the whole mess that we sang "This Black Bug."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

One Year Later

Happy Birthday For the Love! On this day one year ago I started writing my first blog post on For the Love. Never in a million years could I have ever dreamt of what this little blog would do for me. Never in a million years could I have ever thought that people actually cared about what I had to say. I'm also still incredibly nervous every single time I hit that publish button. For the Love it never gets easier.

When I first starting writing I didn't want my blog to be only about education, I wanted it to be about some of the crazy and insane moments that happen in my life, because half of the stuff that happens to me could only happen to me. Like bus drivers that think they lock the bus keys in the bus only to have them in their pockets. Killing spiders with lamps. My underwear ending up on the floor of a QuikTrip but static cling sucks. However my vision for this blog changed and I started writing more about education. Education is who I am. The person I am today is a direct result of public education. I am forever grateful for the doors that this blog has opened for me. I am thankful for the friendships and professional connections that it has brought me. More importantly I'm thankful how writing has changed me. Writing on this blog has given me a sense of purpose and direction. It has given me a voice, a place to tell my story but not only my story but the story of the students and educators that I am around daily.

As I was thinking and reflecting on this journey, there is one post that I feel totally reflects who I am as a writer and as an educator. This was the post that I really and truly feel started to define my writing and introduced me to the crazy world of education blogging! Literacy and the Electives Teacher changed everything. Educators and bloggers that I loved reading started to read my stuff. People cared about what I had to say. I'm pretty proud of that post and of all that I have written that one is one that I hope people never forget. It was after that I wrote that post I found passion for writing about all these education. This one changed everything for me and opened the door for my voice to heard. My unicorns and rainbows were unleashed and we haven't been able to control them since!

For the Love, I'm beyond thankful for everything one year later. Here is to another full of unicorns, rainbows, cats, and donuts!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What If?

Kid President is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. I love watching his videos, I love having my students watch his videos, so basically I just love everything about him.

Yesterday this picture was posted on the Kid President Facebook Page.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. "What if every kid in the world knew they were loved?"

Talk about a heart check.

I know that right now I'm on teacher auto-pilot. It is April, and I'm stressed out. Testing is full swing, I have a concert coming up, a trip to Frontier City, NJHS induction, and all the other usual it is almost the end of school year. I know that we are all experiencing this craziness right now. Somehow I wonder if have forgotten that my students need to know that I love them. That I have become so wrapped up in the day to day things, that I have started to lose sight of why I got into this profession, to begin with. Because I love kids.

How great would the world be if every kid knew they were loved? What about the child that is hungry? What about the child that is abused? What about the child that is abandoned? What about the child that looks like they have the picture perfect life but the picture isn't what it seems? What about the child that is homeless? What about the child with no family? If they knew they were loved, what could they do to change the world?

Kids are fighters, and they are resilient. However, they get stressed out and hurt just like we do. Educators they come to us not only to learn but also to be loved. Right now kids across the country are taking High Stakes Tests. Tests that in no way can ever give the real picture of what a child can do or who that child is. Teachers, you have done what you can to get them ready, you have taught them and gave them your best, but right now they need love. They need to know that you love them. You love them beyond measure. That their enough is more than enough. That is the knowledge that they need.

To put this simply, I believe that if every kid in the world knew they were loved, the world would be full of love. So much love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dear Educator

Dear Educator,

For the love, it is April and you are tired. I get it, because I am tired too.

In this month you and your students will be faced with testing, contests, concerts, and exhaustion. You have done so much to educate, prepare, and most importantly love your students. It might not seem like now, it might not seem like they care, simply because it is a fight to get them do what you want them to do. But they care.

When you have passed out your last pencil in your extra pencil stash, when you have used your last box of tissues, when you have gone through hours of test prep with your students, when you have graded what seems like 24 hours of AP essays, when you have gone on a marathon IEP writing session, when you have felt the pressure to do more with less, when you have just had to place a kid on suspension, when you have had to tell teachers they don't have a job next school year, when you have had to give the bad news about budgets, when it seems like you have failed, just remember this one thing. This one very important thing.

You are changing the world. 

It just takes one kid. You change one kid's life, you change their world. You are making the biggest difference even when it doesn't seem like it is happening. No matter what is thrown at you. No matter the disappointment, the hurt, the heartbreak, the discouragement, you are changing the world. We live in a time where educators are under the biggest pressure and frankly are so disrespected, I understand the hurt and heartbreak that you feel right now. Because I'm an educator too.

My heart hurts and it breaks. It breaks for my students, my school district, this state that I love, and this profession that I love so very much. I am tired. I am beat up. I am discouraged. However today I was reminded that I change the world. 

When a choral group that I teach finally gets that difficult passage we have been working on for weeks, when a student gets accepted into a music camp, when they smile and tell me that choir is their favorite part of their day. It seems small, but those little things make everything worth it. 

I know that you are broken, worn out, tired, and ready to give up. But don't stop. Keep going. Keep running. Keep pushing to better yourself and to better your students. They will never remember question seventeen on their state testing, but what they will remember is you. They will remember the lessons you taught them and how you loved them. 

It will be okay. Go and change the world. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Genius Hour-Week One

One of the classes that I teach is a Sixth Grade Fine Arts class. I have these students for a semester and many of those kids wanted to be in a Fine Arts class and many of those students really did not want to be in class, but because of scheduling that is where they ended up. 

While we do have fun doing many of the music activities that I do in class, getting those students that aren't truly excited about music engaged in class can be truly difficult. One of my colleagues has been doing Genius Hour with her Pre-AP Seventh Grade Science students, and like any good teacher...I stole her idea. Thanks Katie!

For those of you that don't know what Genius Hour is, it is movement to allow students to learn about whatever they want to learn about and turn their learning into passion projects. Each Friday my students will get to learn about and research whatever they want to learn about! They take what they learn and present and share with the world! At the end of this post I have included some of the resources that I used to start up Genius Hour in my classroom.  

I pitched it to my students with the condition that if we get accomplished all we need to do music related Monday through Thursday, then Friday was their day to learn about whatever they wanted to learn about it. The response was fabulous! 

Let's talk about the fact that one of my students wore this shirt because he "wanted to experience all of Genius Hour." Love!

The first week of this project was just to brainstorm and find ideas that they wanted do their projects over. When they come back to Genius Hour next Friday they need to have a solid proposal for me to approve. Here are just a few of the ideas that they have come up with so far:

  • One young man wants to learn more about the Science behind why Music makes us feel certain emotions.
  • One young man wants to research his family history.
  • One young lady wants to design and sew a line of dresses for her family and friends.
  • One young man wants to use computer software to design skateboard parks.
  • One young man wants to save endangered Cheetahs.
  • One young lady wants to learn how to speak Japanese.
  • One young lady wants to research fashion trends from the 1900s to today.
  • One young man wants to build airplanes and see which one can fly the fastest.
I'm so excited to see where this goes and how this will engage my students in learning and allow them to pursue their own interests!