Sunday, September 25, 2016

Self Care for Teachers

*I’m writing this post because I need to start truly putting it into practice myself.*

I am a little overwhelmed, and it is only the middle of September. I find that while I will be first one to check on other’s needs, I often times neglect my own needs. For teachers especially, when you focus on and spend so much time meeting the needs of others, you forget to meet your needs. But the reality I face is very simple: I can’t be the best for my students and do what is best for them when I am tired, overwhelmed, unfocused, and not motivated.

Over the past few days and weeks, I have been trying to find ways to better care for myself, and I have found five things that I’m going to live by when it comes to Self Care.

  1. Week day just for you: Monday nights are very important to me. Sometimes events need to happen on Mondays, but I keep that one night a week open for things just for me. Mondays are always crazy and just to have the start of the week to chill and focus for the rest of the week is so important. Plus this is also when Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor/Bachelorette happens. All important things. So if I agree to meet you on a Monday, know you are very special too me!
  2. Find your TRIBE: My friends and family are my tribe of people. Having a group of lean on and gather support from is so critical. I am so thankful for the love and advice they give me. Plus, we have fun! Yay fun!
  3. Learn to say no: This is a hard one for me. I’m working on it; just remember, sometimes you might think you are the right person for the job, but someone else can do that job too.
  4. Ask for help when you need it: This is another one I am working on. I can’t do it all, and I need help sometimes; there is nothing wrong with delegating tasks. Also there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help by talking to a professional. Sometimes people need that next step. Seeking help is never a sign of weakest in my book.
  5. Walk away from the unimportant: I’m in this season now. I love my family/PLN that I have grown since I started participating in the #oklaed Sunday chats. However, lately those chats have left me more overwhelmed than refreshed and started to cause some stress. For me I need a little break. I’m not saying my Sunday night Twitter chat is a bad thing or unimportant (I will start chatting again), but for right now in this season I need to walk away. I think just a few weeks without participating will only enhance my experiences when I return.
  6. Remember your passion and calling: I have been called to teach. This is all I have ever wanted to do with life. Impacting the lives of children is far more important than any amount of stress in my life. I need to remember and remind myself daily that it is and will be worth it. My why for this job is far greater than my stress.

What works for me might not work for you--and that is okay--but please take time to take care of yourself. If you aren’t at your best, your students can tell, and they will pick up on that as well. Just be you, and be the best you that you can be.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dear Oklaed,

Dear Oklaed,

I could never have even imagined that when I first check it on a Sunday Twitter chat how that was going to transform not only my teaching but my life. Making sure that I'm there and present each Sunday has become such an important part of my life. As much as I love this community and what it has brought to my life, I would be lying if I said that it wasn't a little overwhelming.

I love it. I love this community; I love what you all do, and I think that you are all amazing and passionate educators. But I need a break. The start of the school and All-State Choir Season as me not just overwhelmed, but super overwhelmed. I just need some time to focus on me and chill on Sunday nights. I won't be gone forever, but I think taking a few weeks off is what I need.

I will still be blogging and tweeting around, and I'm sure that I will see many of you at an EdCamp, or a Happy Hour!

Keep doing the amazing things that you are doing. Keep loving kids, loving life, and loving donuts.

For The Love,


Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later

It seems to be the question that so many ask around this time of year, "Where you when 9/11 happened?" This question often brings on a full range of emotions, from sadness to rage and everything in between.

Where was I that day? When the first tower was hit was in my 1st Hour 7th Grade Girls Choir class at Ramsey Junior High, but I didn't find out about the attack until I got to my 2nd Hour Lifeskills class. I was sitting in my English class with our eyes glued to the TV when we heard about the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in a field in and then as the towers fell. I will never be able to get the image of that bright blue sky with those dark black clouds out of my mind. I hold that memory forever.

When I think about that day and the days that followed, I didn't understand. I didn't understand the world that we were living in and what was to come. I have always had some level of positivity in my life, I have always had unicorns and rainbows surrounding me. If you think that I'm too unicorny now, you never met seventh grade Meghan. However after that day, and really after those moments that morning, I had no unicorns or rainbows. I was twelve years old and just days away from beginning a teenager. I had no clue how the world was about to change. Sometimes when I think about that day, I find myself feeling the same feelings that I had as a young teenager.

I was the same age as my students are now when 9/11 happen. My students are post 9/11 babies; they have no clue what the world was like before. They don't know about the world where people could walk with their family members and friends to the gate of an airport and meet them at the gate. They don't know the world without terrorism being at the forefront of everyone's minds. They don't know the world without war.

Educators today face many uphill battles, but I truly believe one of the hardest battles is to getting students to understand what that day truly meant to us all. I believe this is true of any historical moment. I have heard stories and seen those telling their stories about where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the assassination of JFK or the explosion of the Challenger, but I couldn't identify with it, not because I didn't understand the significance but simply because I had no first-hand experience with the tragedy. Our students understand what happened, but they can't connect to it. It is our job to help them connect. It is our job to tell our story. It is our job to make sure that they understand where we came from so we can guide where we are going. They have to understand that the situation we find ourselves in our a result of what happened that day 15 years ago.

I felt that 15 years ago I lost my sense of innocence, we all did. I lost my sense of safety. That was the intended goal of the terrorists that planned and committed these attacks to take away our innocence and to take away our safety. But we rise, every time we rise. We take challenges, we take the pain, and we take a deep hurt, and we go forward. In the face of darkness and evil, we have hope.  I will never forget that day, and the days after, and know it is my duty make sure my students understand those feelings that I felt. More importantly, it is my job to make sure that they understand how much love and more hope that we need in this world.

Monday, September 5, 2016

100% Real

Photo Cred: Justin Rosser
Sometimes people suck. Sometimes people say mean things. For the love, people say mean, hurtful, and harmful things. Sometimes they don’t mean it, and it just happens, but then sometimes they know exactly what they are saying and what they are doing. As educators, we develop a tough skin to all of the things said about us and said to us, but sometimes we just can’t have a tough skin about some things.

I love my job as a Vocal Music teacher. I love every part of it, and yes, some of it is hard to love, but I do. One of those hard to love areas is when I hear the one comment (in some form or another) every Elective and Fine Arts teacher hates hearing, “You aren’t a real teacher.” I can handle when I hear this from those outside of education, but when I hear it from other educators, I can’t even describe the hurt I feel. Just stop. Please for the love just stop.

I can assure you, what I do in my classroom is 100%. I went to and graduated from a real college. I earned a real degree. I teach at a real school. I teach in a real classroom. I teach real children. I am a real teacher. My classroom and my subject area might not look like your classroom and your subject area, but I do not teach at and in some magic fairyland. It is 100% real.

So many students I have had the opportunity to teach and love come to school not because they love going to math class; they come to school so they can sing, play an instrument, draw and create amazing masterpieces, act in plays, play sports, create computer codes, and learn a new language. For many students who feel they would never be successful in another area of their school career, they are successful in mine. They show up each day knowing no matter what happens in another class or any other circumstance, they can come to my classroom and be so successful. If that isn’t real, I don’t know what is….

This needs to stop. Teachers, we must stop shaming each other and check the egos at the door. It doesn’t help us and certainly doesn’t help our students. We are fighting uphill battles daily and fighting each other shouldn’t be one them. For the love, we need to get it together, before we end up biting ourselves in the butt.