Why Everybody is Not Called to Teach Everybody

What a title. It is the truth too. When going into teaching or whatever sphere you are in, every audience is not for you. Everybody cannot reach 3rd grade the way an awesome 3rd grade teacher can. Kindergarten teachers are simply called to do what they do.

When I tell people I teach middle school, their face turns to shock, fear, and disgust (I am literally laughing while typing this). However, I absolutely love it (on most days) but I can easily see why others are intimidated. Right now, teachers are reassessing their year and deciding what to do for next year. Beginning teachers are deciding what grade will be their banner grade.  Here are a few power points as to why everybody is not called to teach everybody and how understanding this can keep you in the classroom past two weeks.

First, The Exceptions and My Senior English Teacher:

Now, there are exceptions to this. Every year is not perfection, and I make no apologies for saying this—students are not going to like every teacher. I call it learning the art of “get over it.” Some of my own best teachers were not the ones I dreamed of. But they were what was best for me at that time. One of the teachers I despised the most became one of my inspirations for going into teaching.

 My twelfth grade English teacher, Mrs. Campbell, had us write a paper at the beginning of the year. I started my senior year at 16. I almost died my junior year and had been in the hospital for a month. I was a miracle and not just survived but thrived. There was no stopping me. But at the tender age of 16, needless to say, I was still a little wet behind the ears. I knew I had aced that essay so when she passed it back, I lifted my head with a subtle, haughty expectation. She placed the essay on my desk. I was in shock—it had marks all over it. I looked at her, she looked at me, I looked at the paper, then looked back at her. She looked at the paper, then looked at me and said quietly but sternly “Girl, I’m not taking that mess.” Then had the audacity to swing her blonde bob around and swiftly walk off. I rolled my eyes so hard I almost had to reach in my purse and take Advil. I remember literally thinking “uh, lady, you don’t know me like that!” I even contemplated a schedule change. I never went too far because my mama and daddy did not play. I had wonderful parents as a teen who were hilarious, but “acting a fool at school” was a complete nonnegotiable behavior in our house. Being the oldest of three kids, I knew I needed to set some type of positive example for my brother and sister besides going to the assistant principal’s office over a marked-up essay.

Thinking back to that September day, I realized that she probably saw something in me. I think she knew what she was doing. She pushed and challenged me. By midyear, I was acing difficult exams and assignments and went on to make literally 102s on literature unit tests. She literally ended up being one of the coolest, strongest teachers I ever had (she was one of the best at the high school and was hilarious) and was one of my inspirations for eventually majoring in English in college and becoming a teacher. To this day, I even model some of my teaching personality after her. I challenge my students and speak the truth. I set high expectations but you better believe I will help you get there—but I will not wallow and stay down at the bottom with you. My high expectations will remain because you CAN do it.

Some students, parents, and other people want you to pity them and cannot except truth. I am very warm and empathetic, but like my dad once told us about a situation he was helping someone else outside of our family in, “I love you, but I am not tripping with you.” I also do not play because your future is at stake.

Thank you Mrs. Campbell for who you were and pushing that quiet girl with the strong personality.’)

The Grade You Teach Needs To Compliment Your Personality:

For example, there was a church that had an enormous, fun, and successful children’s ministry. They had  openings and applications for new Children’s Ministry coordinators and teachers. One gentleman eagerly fulfilled the call. Without hesitation, they placed this man with kindergarten. He gleefully complied and prepared his first lesson. On Sunday morning, the kindergartners sat eagerly awaiting his lesson. When he spoke about the scripture in Proverbs that spoke “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” he pulled out an entire cow’s tongue from the local food market to further illustrate. The kids screamed. He was horrified at their response. Kindergarten was not his jam.

Finally, with more wisdom the second time around, they placed this man with seventh grade. This man hesitantly gave the same lesson. THIS time, when he shared his “special” illustration, the seventh graders roared in complete excitement. Needless to say, seventh grade was officially his jam.

Additionally, when I was in college, to prepare for working with kids, I interviewed at a summer daycare in my hometown. The daycare seemed really nice and respected.  I SO wanted to work with the 5th and 6th graders but they were already staffed for them. The owner assigned me to the 2-year old classroom. “Woo chile”. Not only 2-year olds, but SIXTEEN at that. They were absolutely adorable. Now imagine putting all of them to sleep at naptime. It was like herding kittens–not to mention we had a serial biter in the midst. People would quit left and right and I wanted to leave right with them. The assistant that was with me was not very reliable to be honest and was out quite a bit. However, not being one to walk out, I stayed until my summer assignment was up.

Yes, I tried to see the positive in every situation. During my break, sometimes I got to help in the nursery and hold babies who were so precious. One of my two’s did not have an ideal home situation so she would cling to me before naptime and sleep. I also had to change every diaper before their parents came. You never give them back to their families dirty. So, I would make them laugh and talk to them while cleaning them up and changing those very, messy diapers. I learned to have joy in the process.

Teaching sixteen two- year- olds or even primary was not my calling, but it prepared me. When I graduated college, I was rewarded with the grade I truly wanted at that time—5th grade for my very first public school assignment. I ended up working at that school and for that principal for 7 years.

I am a firm believer you need to teach according to your personality. Sometimes for your first year, you do not get the grade you want and that is okay. Make the best of it and keep the right attitude. Usually, as soon as they see you working hard and loving those kids, and as soon as a position for the grade opens up, they put you in it.

If you get a sinking feeling in your gut about a grade, and you have the liberty to pass the assignment, PLEASE do. Every strong teacher doesn’t need to be in elementary and every quiet teacher doesn’t need to be with first grade

You Need a Passion:

School-wise, my passion is for 4th-8th grade. That was the toughest time of my childhood at school. Many students are getting bullied in addition to this time being such a confusing time. Because I understand their experience, I love these grades. They are hilarious, can hold a conversation, can rationalize to some degree, and most really do enjoy learning in addition to being the most impressionable. They have brought me so much joy and I hope I have done the same for them.

Now, what grade do you want to teach? Yes, it really is that serious. Young lives are at stake. Everybody is not called to teach everybody, every demographic, every grade etc. Teaching is a calling and not a gig to get you over until that lucrative, corporate position opens or until you hurry up and jump into administration. It’s a calling for a season or for a career span. You may teach young students, adults in a night class, or everywhere in between. Every life has value. How you treat that concept is truly reflective of your character. Choose wisely my friend.

Kia 😉

Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

The Leaning Tower of…Progress: Three Steps to Moving Forward Through Challenge

The Leaning Tower of…Progress.

You have seen it all over the news and internet—even in the New York Times and other national news. It is Dallas, Texas’ own Leaning Tower. An old building where they simply were carrying out a typical demolition in a big city but the building still stands. People have taken the liberty of posting humorous photos in front it. People have joked about it. I joked about it. You see, there was a plan. A plan to demolish it, but it would not go down without a fight. I even laughed and said “I see my kindergarten niece and her classmates formulated the process to bring the building down.” But…there was a plan. It just did not go as anyone thought. They are still trying to bring that bad boy down—one chunk at time. Inevitably, somehow, it will come down (the designers/engineers of the building are somewhere laughing hysterically–because they had a solid, effective design).

You may or may not agree with the demolition company’s approach, however, whether in education or in life, plans are established, but it does not mean the outcome will be pristine and without obstacles. Like the Leaning Tower, what can we do to move forward with and in progress? “Lean in” and let’s talk.

  1. Recognize the issue for what it is—sometimes a complex web of challenges.

It is easy to blame a challenge on poor planning, the execution, the executor, or lack thereof. Yes, we are always to examine ourselves first and foremost. Let’s also stay humble—it could be us (laugh). However, when the problem is long, complex, and deep, there are a myriad of factors. I am in no way a demolition expert nor have I done extensive research on the topic, but jokes aside, I presume the company who was hired to complete the demolition examined the structure, planned, set up everything, and did what they were supposed to do. That building just did not come down. Sources say the elevator shaft is one factor of hinderance. There are other variables at play as well.

Regardless, what is the company doing? Taking the structure down as much as they can while also keeping in mind public safety and compliance. Panicking will not help. Blaming will not help. Being negative and pointing out every little “perceived” flaw will not help. It does not mean the company has not had legitimate demolition victories in the past. It certainly doesn’t mean they won’t have significant victories throughout the company’s future. They have simply stumbled into a unique challenge for this period in time. Yes, there is urgency but stay calm, and just get the job done ethically for the benefit of all.

2. Get it—a piece at a time.

Rome was not built in a day. Neither is a successful outcome. Have you heard the phrase “you see my glory but have you seen the pain and long road that got me here?” Success is rarely a perfect line or an astonishing upward trend. Success is a process of learning, growing, and overcoming a piece at a time. As an educator, your students are not going to pass every assessment overnight. I have literally seen great teachers/colleagues struggle with students all school year and on the last assessment of the year, ROCK it. It took piece by piece, planning by planning, implementing programs, building intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, constant restructures, sincere support, home support (above all) and more to get these students where they were supposed to be. A piece.at.a.time. while observing many factors. Numbers don’t lie but success is rarely only quantitative—it’s qualitative as well. I like to call it the Power Blend.

For example, on the show My 600 lb Life, a mother was fighting for her life. Not only was this amazing soul trapped in her bedroom with her beautiful daughters serving her night and day, it bothered her. She sought help. As my sister in law and I watched the show, we were awestruck at the negligence the medical staff and support team exhibited. The doctors were so focused on the scale number, they did not see her as a whole person nor address the root of her weight issues—years prior, her 5 year old child was tragically killed while she was away in Haiti seeing family. This woman was grieving out of her mind and the way she soothed herself was through eating. Even the counselor they appointed to her could not see what was really going on. Needless to say, they neglectfully approved her, and she had the weight loss surgery. Due to her not being able to control her overeating due to the underlying emotional issues including grieving, and while disobeying commands to not overeat with her new, reduced stomach pouch, she literally ate herself to death. She left behind several courageous daughters. What should have been a victorious ending to the show turned out to be footage of her funeral. The Power Blend was not executed for this precious woman to any extent. As the ending credits for the show rolled, my sister in law and I looked at each other speechless.

3. Look forward and onward.

If the demolition company looked at every criticism of their approach (which I don’t necessarily agree with but hey, I do admire their tenacity, and what do I know about demolition?), they would never get the job done. They just keep hitting at it day by day keeping their sights and eyes on the end goal, working to knock that tower DOWN. You may have a goal for your students to knock a test out of the water, to become a stronger class by April or May or a personal goal for you (teaching is what we do, it is not the whole of our identity). Keep your eyes focused on your students and/or your goal. Note: not all criticism is bad. People who are trustworthy and truly care are simply trying to help.

Looking at the complexity of challenges, attacking the challenge a piece at a time, and looking forward and working towards the end result are lessons we can all learn from the Leaning Tower of Progress—oops, I mean Dallas. Some say the endurance and determination of this entire ordeal really reveals the spirit of Dallas. I truly hope so. And I hope it reveals those characteristics in your spirit too.

Kia 😉

Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

Captain Underdog: 2 Essential Tips for Celebrating the Underdog Student!

Every teacher has the student that is what we call a diamond-in-the-rough. They have beautiful potential but may not get as much attention elsewhere as other students. Factors can include behavior (too nice, too loud, too quiet ,too goofy, personal issues, or even mean), a different look, a different personality, struggling academic progress and/or achievements and the list goes on. As the years have passed, I have had the honor of working with numerous underdogs in education. Every child has immense value.

Underdogs grow up to be amazing people if given the proper support early on in life. From movies to real-life, we all love an astonishing underdog story that gives us a sense of inherent hope and greatness with a foundation of sincere humility.

Here are 2 Essential Tips so celebrate the Captain Underdog in your classroom–whether it is one or 25!

1. PRAISE-I mean sincere praise. Kids can tell fake from real and whether your praise is sincere. Praise can be more than “I’m proud of you! “Praise can use a sticky note to stick on the desk of the students who need encouragement, a sweet note in their journal, a positive phone call home, or giving them a special task or class role. Make sure your praise is specific so they can grow. Praise is also motivating. If you focus on what they can do right, then what they need work on will begin to pale in comparison to not only their fortified strengths but it also propels them to work on their weaknesses.

Praise is always a step in the right direction.

2. Allowing them a second chance.

Around 2012, I had a student named Joshua (not real name). Joshua came to us from another school which was a sought after fine arts academy in district I was in at that time. He was highly talented in theater. Because he struggled in English and other classes, they put him out. However, he came to US, and was a treasure. He began encouraging other students. He went from discouraged and withdrawn to outgoing. He was the lead in the school plays and performed in several other school performances. Joshua bloomed–because he was given an opportunity to be who he was and boy was his countenance amazing! He was simply phenomenal. He went from “overlooked to overbooked” as they say. With sincere support, Joshua was simply given another chance and to this child, it meant the world.

I do not have to recount history to show you the impact “underdogs” have had on our society and lives. These students are the student who may not bust 100s on every assignment, but they can be the strong quiet student, unorganized loud students, the one with issues, the shy student who always smiles and does their work but tends to be overlooked for leadership roles.

Praise and give your student underdog a second chance, you may just vote for them years from now in your local election, or see them on television, or they may be your future neighbor or city superhero. Regardless, every child has value.

Kia’)

Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

The One Thing You Need to Change Your Classroom…

Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light
My Classroom in 2014

Are you tired of classroom chaos? You teach but no one listens? The students run into the room like maniacs. They scream in the hallway. You ask your students 20 times to do one task? Did you think teaching would be easier than this? Do you have a great curriculum but feel like it is going nowhere? Are you about ready to walk out of the profession? What is the one thing you need to change your classroom? BRACE YOURSELF. Are you ready? Drum roll…(How do you like my commercial introduction so far?)

CLEAR EXPECTATIONS.

“Wait. What?”

I SAID clear expectations. Expectations from entering the room to dismissal and in between. Expectations about grades to behavior. This is not saying your students will always be perfect–we teach kids, not robots. What this is saying lends to why it feels like your class is in constant chaos.

Yes, you will have to reiterate clear expectations over and over again. However, it sure beats not having any clear expectations at all. Yikes.

Here a few expectations you should have:

1.Behavior/Citizenship. This is number one. A list of rules is not bad but I always put the expectations. Bland rules sound more like “don’t do this, don’t do that, no, no, no.” They tend to go in one ear and out the other. Expectations lean more towards, ” you are mature, you can handle this, and this is what is expected or there will be consequences. Follow the expectations and there will be great incentives and rewards. I always love to stress the importance of character “who you are when you think noone is watching and how they should not only treat me and other adults, but also each other.

2. Grades. You do not need a 6 page syllabus describing a grade policy. If it’s for students, it needs to be simple to understand and clear. The same goes for communicating with parents. I personally have never been an advocate for difficult grading policies. Keeping it simple will also save you much distress down the road.

Every teacher’s struggle. Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

3. Procedures/Transition. One day soon, I plan on outlining different procedures in my class to share. I love to teach students responsibility and one way I do that is through an ELA council. It gives kids who otherwise would not have a shot at leadership a chance to run in a class election. This is so much less intimidating for kids than running for a schoolwide student council. The ELA council helps carry out some of the procedures and they love ownership and responsibility of helping their classmates (of course I am the overseer).

Some procedures include:

How to distribute and handle technology.

How to reaarange desks for different types of lessons.

How to enter the room.

How to line up to leave.

Where to put backpacks.

Cellphones (most schools require that cellphones be shutoff completely).

How to pass out text books.

Where to turn in assignments.

How to keep the class library clean.

How to take care of the room.

How to greet visitors.

Where to hang coats.

How to treat the supply bins.

How to work in groups/independently/in pairs.

Walking to and from the cafeteria.

The quality of work they turn in.

Depending on your individual class needs, there may be more! That’s okay!

How work should be turned in. It’s okay for them to make mistakes! However, I will accept nothing less than their best. Not pictured is a poster behind the bins that highlights what should be on their paper when they turn it in.
Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

When you set clear expectations, learning takes place and character gets stronger. Remember, behavior, grades, and procedures are three pillars of classroom expectations.

If you feel you “blew it” this year and started to let things slide, do not fret. Take a class period to go back over or create new expectations as soon as possible and most importantly, for clear expectations to work effectively, you have to be consistent. Don’t forget to add praise and incentives when they do a job well done on the expectations.

So yes, even though it is mutiple layers, it all leads back to one factor–clear expectations.

Kia ‘)

Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

This is my classroom six years ago. I have evolved especially in the classroom set up arena. My lights are more dramatic now with more lamps and even indoor/outdoor patio lights. That’s just me and it can vary depending on the room and group of students I have. I always advise DO YOU and what works for you and your kids!
Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

What are some unique ways you set expectations in your class? Share/comment below!

4 Ideas to Spark Your Intrinsic Motivation!

It’s February and much has changed. Many of those who started out with mesmerizing New Year’s resolutions are now back to the old routine. Teachers are giving each other blank stares in the hallway–that spark that most teachers had in August is down to a flicker. Students are getting older and testing limits. Spring is quickly approaching and with that comes state tests, progress monitoring, and close of the school year programs. Teaching can be emotionally, physically, and even spiritually challenging. How do you spark your intrinsic motivation? A day at a time.

What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that you have to accomplish, pursue, or complete a task without getting a reward. It is the drive in you–you do it because you simply have the passion for it. Remember when you first became a teacher (it might have been this August)? The intrinsic motivation inside of you was almost piercing. You were determined to reach the next generation. Then the reality of education hit. By October of your first year , you were ready to reconsider this whole teaching gig. I am here to tell you that eventually, your good days will outweigh your bad days the more experience you have.

This is not a magical cure, BUT, here are 4 ideas that can help you spark that intrinsic motivation again–even in February.

1. Surround Yourself with Positive, Motivating People in Your Personal Life.

The worst thing you can do is surround yourself with negative people at school or in your life in general. There is nothing wrong with occasionally venting to a trusted person–you need to. I’m also not saying you can’t be real. However, if all you do is complain and surround yourself with others who do the same, an issue develops and the lenses from which you view situations becomes cloudy and skewed. See the situation for what it is and move on. Positive, motivating people truly want to see you well and support you through the classroom and life. Also, make sure you are a positive, motivating person in return. Before you know it, that parent conference you were not looking forward to comes into perspective once you and the parents sit down and get on the same page.

2. Fill Up on Encouraging Messages

On the way to school, at home, during lunch, or while you are working away during your planning, fill up on encouraging messages that uplift you and encourage you. Some of which if appropriate, you can even share with your students! Someone who I have admired for years is Nick Vujicic. Born without arms or legs, he went from suicidal and having no hope as a child to an international motivational speaker and encourager. It didn’t happen overnight, but he has spoken into the hearts of so many school-aged students and adults alike. Kids are glued to his story of not having arms or legs due to a birth defect and how he overcame major bullying during school.

Check out great music, enriching podcasts/broadcasts, or listen to a great book on tape in the car headed to school regularly. Or, the silence may bring you all the peace you need. You’ll be surprised how it focuses your day!

3. Be One to Encourage Others.

“Hey! Somebody encourage ME!” Here’s some truth– you reap what you sow and you get back what you put in. I cannot get more real than this. Few people are amped up 24/7 but, it’s not hard to tell somebody a quick “great job” or “I appreciate you or I value you.” Do the same for your students.

Today, one of my students pronounced a very difficult phrase on his own in Hindi I believe (it was in a reading selection) after I helped him pronounce it. It shocked me, it shocked the class, and it even shocked him. What was my response when he was reading aloud to the class…”oh my goodness!!!! Look at you!!!!!!” Later I called him up (he had been struggling in all of his classes not to mention being a little void of stellar behavior lately) by my desk. I looked him directly in the eye and said quietly but intently (not to embarrass him), “THIS is why I stay on you. Do you see what you can do?! What you did was awesome! Cut out this silly playing! Look what you can do!” He looked at me so respectfully and proud. His little chest stuck out the rest of class and can you believe that little dude put in better effort this class period than he has in a minute.

4. Fill Up Your Cup and Take Care of Yourself

When I was in my mid-twenties teaching, I would stay at school until very late. One day, the instructional testing leader on my campus leaned his head in my classroom door and said boldly and firmly, “You need to stop staying so late or you will burn out.” This 6’3 man was not playing with me and he was right. A number of people I started teaching with no longer teach. I always believed that teaching is a calling–whether for a season or until retirement. We’ve lost some good ones too early due to burn out.

Take care of yourself. You.have.a.life. Yes, you care about those kids but those kids need you well and energized. Not rundown and distraught. Stay organized (as possible), REST, eat healthy (key–find a plan that works for YOU), try to get exercise as regularly as possible, enjoy family and friends, laugh much, stay spiritually grounded, and don’t sweat the small stuff as they say.

Regularly implementing these four ideas to spark your intrinsic motivation will help you so very much. That spark may just turn into the fire you need to help you for years to come.

Kia’)

Copyright 2020 The Educator’sLight

What are things you do to spark your intrinsic motivation?! Share in the comments.

Have Courage: A Quick Tip Guide on Teaching Through Society’s Challenges.

NBA player Kobe Bryant his daughter and several other people passed away in a helicopter crash. Coronavirus infecting more people in China each day. Screenings at up to 20 airports. Violence rising in cities. Teens missing. Elderly grandmother drove off and has not been located. Now, imagine seeing all of this in one weekend on television and social media and then standing in front of a class of students in just as much shock as you. Forget the lesson, they want answers and comfort. Welcome to teaching today. But here is the good news–have courage, there is hope.

This particular blog post is geared more towards 6th grade and up however, no matter the grade there can be bits and pieces you can certainly take with you. Be advised, younger children are sensitive to news and most things disturbing. Always consult with your campus counselors or leadership if needed on how to communicate if you need to communicate anything at all no matter what grade. Here are 3 quick tips to help you consistently navigate your students through tough societal situations.

1. It is okay to talk about it.

When the news of Kobe Bryant broke on this past Sunday, it was absolutely shocking. To add more grief, we all found out his precious daughter perished in the crash with him along with several other amazing people. Our hearts ached for his wife as we could not imagine the pain she and their family are going though at this time. Monday came. It was a bit somber to be honest.When I walked into the auditorium at school on Monday morning the day after he passed, the counselors set up a brief but heartfelt presentation about him. It was a video of Kobe talking and encouraging youth in a video. The counselors then acknowledged he was no longer with us and was honest but focused on his lasting words and legacy to others as a NBA legend.

When we got to advisory back in our classroom, my homeroom and I spent a bit more time discussing him and his daughter and the other great people on the helicopter. I moderated the discussion to keep it appropriate and focused (we all have that precious student who goes WAY off on class discussons–no boo, come off the tangent and rejoin us haha). My students knew just as much as I did. They simply wanted to talk about it. Mind you, I teach middle school. In one of my classes later that day, one of my students speaks an encouraging word for the class (I’ll share about my class structure in another post:) each day. She decided to share a fact or lasting quote about Bryant each day for the remainder of the week. The class really enjoyed it. It is also helping them grow in empathy. I am proud to see them step up as leaders and see hope in tragedy. There are many positive ways to express feelings but I have found that just talking and being together is one of the most soothing remedies for challenging times.

2. Provide a Sense of Normalcy.

Students need a normal environment especially in difficult situations. Do not spend days on end discussing the tragedy. Some students have already been traumatized through personal situations and though they want to briefly talk about it or hear their classmates discuss it, they need as much “normal” structure as possible. As a teacher, stay upbeat, encouraging, and continue with the lessons as planned. As odd as it sounds, there can be healing in routine. Many times, you are all the encouragement a student may ever have due to their home life. They look to YOU for courage and cues on how to react. So act accordingly and provide a sense of normalcy–it can even help you too.

3. Provide a positive, uplifting environment.

This is not always perfection. With state assessments, curriculum requirements, parent contacts, and more, some teachers say “that’s cute, but I need to finish the data wall.” Honey, I COMPLETELY GET IT. Not to mention you may have a class that is not having a good day because they got in big trouble earlier in the day in another class (and rightfully so) and by the time they get to you, they’re almost done. True story. The joys of education.

But, you CAN create a positive, uplifting environment–especially if you want them to receive learning in the clearest, most receptive way. You can do this by once or twice a week showing student-friendly motivational videos and have them write about it in their journals (aha writing!) and share with a partner or group. You can also have them watch student-appropriate TED talks. In The Educator’s Light bookstore, you will find a free, downloadable, TED talk/motivational talk/video handout to help you out.

Also, you can have them write what they are grateful for each week, write an encouraging note to the person next to them, clap for each other and the list goes on.

**Last, make sure YOU stay uplifted on a consistent basis. YOU can’t pour from an empty vessel.**

Courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward in spite of it. New teacher, you got this. I cannot tell you whether or not society will get better anytime soon. What I can tell you is in spite of it all, when the waves are colliding all around, you stay focused on what is important–these youth who are growing in courage themselves and who will someday help others. Keep the faith and keep pressing forward.

Teach in the Light,

Kia ‘)

© 2020 The Educator’s Light

What are other ways you are creating an uplifting classroom? Share in the comments!

Teacher Appreciation Week Resource Links!

Happy upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week! Though I am so grateful and delighted for the tidings for teachers everywhere, I do believe hardworking, deserving teachers deserve respect and support year round.

I have taken the liberty of researching a few links about Teacher Appreciation Week. These include travel deals, store deals, and more. Some may overlap and that is fine. Please enjoy and know that from The Educator’s Light, we wish you all the best every day of the year.

“Gimme” some great teacher freebies and deals:

The “Thrillest” Deals yet:

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/teacher-appreciation-week-2019-deals-freebies

Offers.com

https://www.offers.com/blog/post/teacher-discounts/

National Educator’s Association Teacher Day:

http://www.nea.org/grants/teacherday.html

Freebies for Teachers:

https://www.wokv.com/news/national/teacher-appreciation-week-2019-here-list-deals-and-freebies-for-the-nation-educators/G8c18adzNyqEtQ0f3VubOJ/

Forbes Travel Deals:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/micheleherrmann/2019/04/28/travel-deals-teacher-appreciation-week/#14b9e46c6311

Year Round Deals for Teachers! Links below.

(Michael’s is one my personal favorites. 15% off every purchase with your teacher ID)

Teacher.org shares some great discounts:

Grandma knows best with these year round discounts:

https://www.giftcardgranny.com/blog/the-complete-list-of-66-teacher-discounts/

Nothing wrong with Living on the Cheap for teachers:

Teachers you rock! Have a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Week. You deserve it!

Teach in the Light–

Kia

Copyright 2019

The Educator’s Light

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The Myth Of The Super Teacher

Captain Marvel has made its way to theaters everywhere. I hope to see it next week as I have been told I need to see it before Avengers:Endgame graces us in April with another 2 hour-edge-of-your-seat-action-packed Super Hero thriller and plot sequence. I will admit I am a low-key fan of action movies whether it be Jurassic Park, Avengers, or fantasy like The Lord of The Rings–always have been since I was a little girl. I love my Hallmark and Lifetime too, but I’ll save that for Christmas.

Speaking of Super Heroes earlier, teachers are commonly called Super Heroes. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with it (brushing off my shoulder). My colleagues in education seemingly do amazing feats empowered by grace and faith each day for our kids. To me, just waking up and walking into a building and refusing to give up on the future of this nation is a bold stand. I commend you and you deserve a cape. T-Shirts are sold everywhere and are proudly worn by teachers that state they are Super Heroes or teaching is their SUPERPOWER. Wear it with pride and as the common slang goes “WERK…” because you are already working hard enough.

However, what happens when you are deemed as a “strong teacher” or Super Hero? The answer is simple– society and educational systems think you can handle anything and everything. More paperwork, more students, more tests. The reality is you are only human. In my personal life experience, I vehemently understand even the strongest teachers need support and help. Just because you or I do not walk around complaining about our class, email barrages, administration, or personal life does not mean no one needs to check on us.

Sincerely ask, ” hey, I just want to see how you are doing and are you okay with everything?” Those 2 behavior students you just transferred to my class because the other teacher couldn’t” handle” them (true story)? Yes, it is overwhelming on top of the fact they were transferred to my most challenging class period while I am trying to teach these students with low academic levels.

I admonish you to check on a strong teacher today. I am so grateful to be at a school this year with the best staff I have ever worked with. The past teaches us quite a bit, just make sure you learn and move forward. I was that “strong” teacher. I was told many times over my career and I truly loved my students. They were and are my biggest focus in what I do. I was honored, but for so long quite a bit was put on me. I always found a way to do it for the most part, but I learned the hard way. Remember–strong teachers/people can burnout too so show some love.

Find those 1-2 trusted people on campus you can talk to, vent, and laugh with. It can literally propel you for years. Also, take a mental day at least once a semester. Get a massage, facial, or go on a nature hike (one of my favorites), visit and talk with family and close friends, journal, make a vision board, eat healthy, and reprioritize your life if need be. Time and life go by quickly, so make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Teachers are truly remarkable people. Many have given up dreams of corporate stints and jet-setting to boldly walk in a school building with youth and believe in the impossible each day. Enjoy your coffee, tea or water this morning, hold your head up, take care of yourself and oh, don’t forget to straighten your cape…you have work to do. ‘)

Teach in the Light–

Kia

Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light

How do you uplift other teachers?

Educational Memes: How Much Is Too Much?

I love memes as much as the next person. My sister made a gif of herself for fun. For me, as long as some unsuspecting person is not the center of the joke, I am okay, and as long as it’s in decent taste, I’m cool with it.

In education, we need as many laughs as we can get. I always use to say during a tough day “girl, if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.” I cannot count the number of hilarious teacher memes that cross my feed on social media everyday. There are very few that I have not identified with. It seems in the human experience we always find common ground in striving and the greater struggle. That can be a beautiful thing.

However, what happens when some of the education memes get a little well…inappropriate or downright hateful? What happens when the beautiful survival and common struggle starts to morph into a huge joke? Here are my thoughts on that.

Memes are fun…as long as they are appropriate.

I am not going to sit here like a Sally-Do-Good and pretend I have not laughed at a brash teacher meme that popped up in my feed that summed up an awful day or teaching experience. We have ALL thought those thoughts about state testing, an awry class, lesson plans, overburdening administrations and districts, salaries and benefits, legislations, sanitization, unsupportive parents and more. We deal with quite a bit.

It’s like that that data analysis packet you have to have done for all of your classes completed in two days for a district assessment that you would rather douse in kerosene on your grandfather’s farm in a metal barrel and drop a lit match in slow motion on the pile? Ah, yes…that packet. We have all had hilarious thoughts about that. Then we complete the packet after staying up all night before it is due only to turn it in the next day and find out “oh, thanks so much! Just keep it for now.” Uh, ouch…on top of the fact you already did your own data analysis for your classes. Double ouch.

I’m sure there may be a meme about that somewhere, but just know it is important to understand that memes should be appropriate. In recent months, I have seen a number of teacher memes with heavy expletives and to be honest, inappropriate, mean jokes about kids. That’s too much. I don’t know about you, but I came into this profession to help kids. I don’t want students scrolling through Instagram seeing multiple teacher memes mocking and cussing about students. Don’t let one bad week or teaching experience make you create or get in agreement with such a joke. That just doesn’t sit right with me…at all. For many kids, we are the closest thing to a stable parent they have. Remember that.

It can really affect the professional stature and view of our profession over time.

We work too hard now, and we worked to hard to earn our degrees and certifications to let memes start to joke about what we do. Every is meme is not bad, I’m not saying that. What I am saying is we work in one of the most honored and respected professions in the world (that sentiment is not always returned here in the U.S., but that is another post for another day.)

People who are not supportive of education whether it be towards teachers or students (If you don’t care about teachers then you really don’t care about students. Period.), falsely use it as ammunition for their own agendas. “See, these teachers are liking and commenting on this post with the f-word all throughout it. Then tomorrow they’ll be protesting all day.”

Yes, teachers have every right to protest unfair treatment and I stand with them, but though valid, it’s harder to prove a point when you have joked hatefully about the very community or people you serve online. Parents and students see these memes too.

I get it. I’ve lived it. Teachers are overwhelmed, but keep it in good taste. Our profession is too awesome to bow down like that. Triple ouch.

Teachers can and must vent.

What we do daily is almost not humanly possible…but we do it. Teachers.need.to.vent. Here’s how you vent–to a trusted colleague, after school within an adult conversation. If it is too bad and a HORRIBLE day, lunch or briefly during your planning quietly away from students is okay.

Many times, a trusted teacher friend, and a good venting session (possibly with chocolate) is just what you need to set things right.

There are some awesome teacher memes, videos, and even comedians out there who joke about the teacher experience…and it is hilarious. Only someone who has taught could understand how we feel. I have screamed and laughed in solidarity with their jokes, posts, and more. Sometimes, it is just what I need to get through a day.

Laughter truly is medicine. Just make sure it doesn’t have a “bitter” taste going down–especially with memes.

Teach in the Light,

Kia

What do you do as a teacher to keep yourself sane during the school year? Share below in the comments!

Setting High Expectations for Your Students and Two Tips on How to Do It!

How do you show you really care about your students? There are many ways but one main way is through setting high expectations! If I don’t care about you, I don’t necessarily set high expectations. My attitude is “oh, bless their heart, they’ll never amount to much anyway, why bother?” No ma’am, no sir.

Regardless of their accommodations, past records, past behavior and mistakes, race, background, and more…welcome to my class. You are capable, your past is not welcome here unless you learn from it, and you will learn today. Check out these tips.

Tip #1: Don’t let them get away with the bare minimum:

A number of years ago, I had a student named Demarcus (not real name). Demarcus was very intelligent but dyslexic. I had compassion for Demarcus but I did not pity him…I had a coworker who pitied him in every way. That was dangerous. Demarcus got away with everything including poor work quality. She doted on him and expected little. I knew Demarcus could do WAY better. Pity was her way of trying to compensate for not really being able to identify with him.

He got away with so much in his other class, he resented me…because I expected his best. I was fully aware of his dyslexia accommodations and followed them, however, I knew what he was capable of. When he halfway completed an assignment and turned it in with a Cheshire cat grin, I just as joyfully handed him the paper back. “No, sir, this is not acceptable in my class and you can do better.”

He looked at me like a rat that fell from the ceiling tile. Why? In his other class, writing his name, and writing a few half-written sentences was acceptable and deserved a back pat. No, that’s unacceptable…and I’m not budging.

Do not let your students do the bare minimum. Why? This sounds extreme but if you do, you are setting them up for failure. Demarcus was bright and I could see Demarcus becoming a doctor or engineer. His other teacher saw a poor kid who was just a victim of his surroundings and would probably end up in the prison system or something else not pleasant. Plluueeezzee.

To me…”Calling Dr. Demarcus!” I expect your best in all you do in this classroom from behavior to grades. You will grow and make mistakes and that’s okay but I am not here to play. I truly believe the best in you.”

Tip #2 YOU set the example:

Do not set high expectations without setting an example. You can’t have a chaotic classroom, lack of classroom management, fake admiration for your kids and expect them to rise to the occasion. They won’t and I won’t blame them one bit.

NO teacher is perfect…not one. I am always learning, but at some point, I need you to understand that you will need to rise to the occasion. Either this is a calling or a paycheck.

If it’s the latter, you need to peacefully rethink your career or rethink your teaching approach. I don’t know how many teachers who almost gave up after a horrible year then ended becoming really good teachers.

Many times, many of my students rose to the occasion because they sensed my sincere passion for their achievement and wellbeing. They saw my Word Wall being updated (most weeks). They saw the setup of the room. They saw me put positive comments on their essays and the board.They saw me stay late and come early. They saw the way I demanded respect AND the respect I gave back to them. They saw me mess up a lesson. They saw my honest effort. Kids can smell fake and lazy a mile away. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

If you strive in excellence, it is easy to set high expectations. Believe the best in your students no matter what and shoot for the moon. You and your kids just might fall amongst the stars.

Write below ways you set high expectations in your class!

Teach in the Light,

Kia

Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light