when it all stacks up, happiness is key

I recently read a quote about how you should pause a second and look back at everything that has happened in the past 365 days. Who has left your live and who has entered. The experiences you have had. The joys, heartbreaks, and hard times. How those things or people you thought you needed in life have fallen by the wayside and you are better for it. How these past 365 days have changed you.

A year ago I had just accepted a teaching position that was going to cause us to move. I was happy (mostly), anxious, and eager, or so I thought. Life was okay, but at the same time I was barely holding it together with not knowing where or how we were going to move, if my husband was able to transfer his job, if he was happy, if I was asking too much of him, and the overall amount of stress that had happened throughout the summer. With my previous school closing and then possible restructuring being in the works, my entire summer had been filled with uncertainty and interview upon interview. My entire summer up until this point could have literally been summarized as stress and frustration.

With that being said, we don’t have to wait until December 31st to reflect. In the past 365 days so much has happened. God is so good.

  1. That stress of moving and how it was going to impact our marriage? When we were frantically searching for and running out of options for places to move, I received a call for an interview at a school 15 minutes from our home. Within a week I had the job. A school with the perfect fit, even more perfect than the job I had just accepted at the end of July.
  2. I grew as an educator, in ways I couldn’t at my last school.
  3. I found a second family and became part of a new community, that I love so much and can’t imagine life without. Fit is important, I have never had such a perfect fit in any job.
  4. I watched my best friends get married, and was honored to be a part of both of their weddings.
  5. I hailed my first taxi cab. (suburban girl doing big things here)
  6. I bought a new-to-me car. (dragging my feet the entire time)
  7. I traveled without my husband for the first/second/third time since we’ve been married, it was weird, but good.
  8. I found out stress hives are a real thing, twice, and I loathe them. For real, how can you not stress about hives once they start, and then the idea that stress causes/feeds them? Why.
  9. People voluntarily exited our lives, it took me a long time to accept it, but I now realize the necessity of it. When I look back now, the dozen people that exited were replaced with hundreds of new faces that I now couldn’t imagine my life without.
  10. And most importantly, I found the importance of happiness.

My definition of happiness has changed in the past year.

I am happy. Before this last year, I knew I wasn’t happy with my job and was tired of the constant search for a new job, but didn’t realize that overall I wasn’t happy. That doesn’t mean these past 365 days I have been constantly happy, because I haven’t. This year has been tough, not going to lie, but I am happy. I am content.

I have come to find happiness is the most important thing in life. My house might not be clean all the time. I might not have the best salary. I might still suck at cooking. My marriage might not be perfect, because let’s be real we are not perfect people. My cat might hate my husband (she needs to get over it, for real). And I might have taken on more than I can handle for this next school year, but I’m happy.

Happiness is the key guys. You can have the world, all the money, all of whatever it is, but if you are not happy, none of it matters.

Choose happiness.

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it all stacks up.

 

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. Herman Cain

Happiness depends upon ourselves. -Aristotle

Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Why we’re leaving.

20160903dr-schoolTo quickly dismiss the title, I’m going no where, but many are.

This past year I was blessed with a new amazing job, an amazing school, amazing students, amazing co-workers, amazing administrators…you get the point, it was (and still is) amazing, and every day I am still amazed that I am where I am. This job might not pay the best, it might be stressful, it might take up too much time, but to me it is worth it.

The other day I caught myself questioning my career choice. Why you ask? Target. Dumb, I know. I love Target, ask anyone I know, but that’s not the point. I found myself looking at random jobs at Target and realized that there are jobs at Target, that aren’t even in upper management, that pay double what I make. Double. Jobs that I literally am qualified for with my degree, and my years of retail experience through high school and college.

How is it that I can make that much in a job that I technically don’t even have a degree in?! That’s my point.

I quickly dismissed these ideas in my head because I can’t imagine leaving teaching with only two years under my belt (and only one in the good category), but others don’t dismiss these ideas.

We’re leaving. 

We’re leaving because of the stress…

…the under appreciation…

…the blame that is constantly put on us by society…

…the flawed evaluation system…

…the pay…

…the politics…

…our new secretary of education…

…and because of those that say to us “Those who can’t, teach” or “You’re just a teacher?” Just a teacher?! Yes, I am just a teacher

…all of it.

When I look at those I know that went into education, and look at those of us that are still teaching or even decided to find a teaching job after college….the percent is strikingly lower than they should be.

Too many of us are looking at jobs like those mentioned above. Jobs that we could just walk into and make an entry wage double of what we could make with many years of teaching under our belt.

Jobs that are 9-5 and we don’t constantly work “overtime”.

Jobs that we aren’t under appreciated in.

Jobs that there aren’t politics dictating.
Jobs that we aren’t blamed for the problems of society.

Jobs that we don’t get that fake “Wow, that’s great you’re a teacher!” from people you know, or even from your family.

Teacher turnover is higher than almost any other profession. Teachers aren’t leaving “just because”, and they don’t take decisions like this lightly.

I love my job, literally everything about it, and can’t see myself going anywhere any time soon (even to a better paying district). I couldn’t of said that a year ago, and many still can’t say that and that’s why we’re leaving. We’re leaving because of all of it. 

So next time you see someone that is in education, or leaving education. Don’t say to them “Oh you are/were just a teacher…”,  or think “another one bites the dust”, and don’t feel bad for them. Tell them thank you because they made a difference, no matter how long or big of a difference that was.

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“Next Year…”

I have come to love every sentence that starts with these two words.

Next year, when I’m in your class….”

Next year, when we do this….”

Next year, can we…”

“Next year, can you…”

Why is that? Because of the assurance. The assurance that I am where I am meant to be. The assurance that I am home, and the assurance that I God planted me right where I need to be.

Last year there was never a “next year.” I knew that “next year” I would be starting over somewhere else, that I would not be able to pour into the same kids for another year, and I knew that if “next year” happened, I wouldn’t be happy.

My current students have had some teacher turn over in recent years and have asked me multiple times if I’m going to be back next year, or have made the assumption that I’m going to leave them just like others have. Unless I am kicked out and dragged out, that is not going to happen.

Next year I’m staying put. After all, where else would I go? And why would I want to go anywhere else?

For the money? Money doesn’t buy happiness. And let’s be real….I’m a teacher.

To be closer to home? I love my 15 minute drive.

Next year I can’t wait. I can’t wait to continue to pour into my kids, and to gain more kids. I can’t wait to try new things. I can’t wait to grow even more as an educator. I can’t wait for the experiences and memories. And most of all, I can’t wait to stay in a community/school/family that I am a part of and grown to love.

Obviously in the next months life can change, and I have no idea what God has planned, but as of right now…I can’t wait for next year.

Why I don’t support our new Secretary of Education, from a former charter school teacher turned public.

empty-classroomAs a former inner city charter school teacher, turned small-town-rural public school teacher (and Michigan resident) I have had a lot of emotions running through my head in the last month about the nomination and eventual historic confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education.

You see, when I first started working in the charter school system I thought it was great. I jumped right on the school of choice, charter school train and didn’t understand why so many were against it. I was told the lie that every charter school teacher and parent is told that “charter schools have more freedom and flexibility for teaching and learning, that you can’t get in public schools” (and I believed it).

It wasn’t until about 6 months in that viewpoint started crumbling, and within a year I would have done anything to get out. Now that I am blessed to be a public school employee, that school of choice, charter school train has completely derailed.

Here are my issues Mrs. DeVos,

  1. Education is NOT a business. It boggled my mind and broke my heart when I went to corporate training for the charter school company I was working for, and was made aware that the “top performing” schools within the company received the newest and best resources and technology. A teacher from a near “top performing” school complained that she only had 10 laptops in her room. When my school, no where near the top, had two outdated computers per classroom that only worked some of the time.
  2. “Freedom and Flexibility.” Remember that “charter schools have more freedom and flexibility” bit? Let me reiterate that it is a lie. As a charter school employee I was forced to limit each unit to strictly 3 weeks (including pre-assessment and post-assessment time). What happened if my students hadn’t reached proficiency or mastery? It didn’t matter, I still had to move on and assess in the three week window, and show my data. As a charter school teacher, I was also required to hand over all of my lesson plans weekly to prove I was staying on this three week cycle. Since I have started working in the public school system I have never had so much freedom of how I teach my students. My administration trusts me, and I no longer live under micromanagement.
  3. Quality. Every student should be able to receive a quality education, isn’t that the main point? In the charter schools I have been in that has not been the case. A quality education can not take place when you have transient teaching staff that leaves after a year (or less) because they are overworked and underappreciated, and especially when you can’t fill those gaps when teachers leave. Or when you have administration that is not qualified to do their job, much like you Mrs. DeVos. And a quality education cannot take place when you do not have the resources or physical space.
  4. Accountability. This is one of your main sticking points Mrs. DeVos, though you can’t even explain it when questioned. What does charter school accountability even look like? Because in Michigan, the state we both live and work in, I don’t see it.
  5. Rivalries. Since the creation of the charter school system it has been played up as a “free public school option” other than students assigned local public school districts. I’m not saying choice shouldn’t be an option, but seeing the impact this has had on public schools in Michigan is horrible. Just look at a city like Detroit, that now has a crumbling public school system and has you, Mrs. DeVos, written all over the charter school system that broke it. The only schools that should be rivalries are the neighboring towns that you always want to beat in football or basketball on a friday night, not steal their students and funding.

There is so much I wish I could put into words. But I will just leave it at that as a teacher that knows both sides, charter schools are not the answer, and I will not stop fighting for quality and equal education for my students.

I wish you the best Mrs. DeVos, because after all why would I want some one to fail. But just so you know, you have one huge uphill battle to fight with the former charter school teachers, that know what charter schools do, and the public school teachers that will fight for what is right.

I will leave you with the two quotes that have been sticking with me throughout this:

Never forget that the real power of education doesn’t come from a corner office. It doesn’t come from a political office. It comes from the daily interactions teachers have with their students, from what kids are learning every day. -unknown.

and

You have the most important job of anyone today. Our kids need you to advocate for their futures. -George Lucas.

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it all stacks up.

I’m pulling for you.

To my new students at the end of our first semester together, 

I just wanted to let you know that I am pulling for you. 

As I stood in the cafeteria chaperoning our last dance, I couldn’t help but realize how much I love each and everyone of you.

You see I am frequently overcome with gratitude for having the opportunity to be your teacher, and to be part of our school. I’ll admit that I’ve teared up at our pep assemblies, band concerts, and sporting events. Why that is? Because I’m an emotional wreck all the time? No. Because I cannot believe how incredibly blessed I am to be your teacher and a part of your life. 

I know that not all of you have a cake-walk outside of school, or even in school. I know that as a high schooler you have lots of baggage that your bring with you and create for yourself. Those high school relationships that I hear about and see on a daily basis? I know how exciting it is to have have high school relationship, and how it hurts when it ends. Peer pressure and friend drama? I know it sucks. I know the outside world and the events going on in nation right now are confusing and overwhelming. That the next weeks hold a whole lot of uncertainty, I know. And I want you to know that I’m pulling for you. 

I want you to be happy, to prosper, to reach the goals you have set for yourselves and even those you thought you couldn’t reach. I want to see you succeed, not just in my class, but in life. I’ll be here the whole time pulling for you. 

This week holds the inauguration of our 45th President. A lot of you have mixed feelings. A lot of you understand the uncertainty of the times, and how this inauguration can and will affect your future. And some of you don’t care. I’m right here pulling through with you. We’ve got this. 

I could keep going, and in my head every day I do, but just remember; I’m pulling for you. I’m pulling for you to succeed. To be happy. To live your life to the fullest. To better yourself. 

Thank you for letting me be your teacher. You bless my socks off everyday. My “bad days” aren’t bad days, trust me I know what those are. Teaching you is my dream job. This first semester was amazing, and the second half of the year is going to fly by…but hopefully not too fast.

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it all stacks up.

Fresh Start.

fresh-start1.jpgAlmost everyone has heard the quote, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”

Towards the semester break last school year I really began to question if I was meant to be a teacher, if I had wasted four years on a degree that I wasn’t compatible with. I wasn’t happy. I was more stressed than I had ever been. I strained relationships because of it. I wasn’t an enjoyable person to be around, I will be the first to admit that. It was so hard to find the positive in things when I felt all I did was eat, breathe and live a job that I hated. I was in a toxic work environment and I mistook that as what teaching really was. Teaching just wasn’t a glorious job right? Things must have just been sugarcoated for me before. Wrong.

As a first year teacher, I was already burning out. I felt overworked, underappreciated and nothing I did was enough or made my job enjoyable. This is not to say that there weren’t good days, but no good day, regardless of how good it was, could cover up the main issue. This wasn’t to say I didn’t love my students either, they will always have a special place in my heart and I think of them frequently. Those kids changed my lives forever, but they were overshadowed by the bigger picture and issue.

Fast-forward to now, a new school year and a new school. After a full week under my belt of year two, I can say I do not have a new “job”. I have a new home. I don’t go to “work” every day because I love every minute of it. It’s not that pulling teeth feeling of I HAVE to go to “work”. Instead, it’s the great feeling of “let’s head to school and see my wonderful students today”, “let’s go change the world” and “my job matters”. I am reminded why I went into teaching, why I love teaching.

Last year I frequently contemplated taking a “personal health day”, and admittedly did, just because I was so unhappy and so burnt out that I couldn’t emotionally face my students and deal with everything thrown my way in a given day.This year, already, I know that will not happen. I don’t want to miss a day with my students. I want to be there.

Multiple times a day I am reminded of how blessed I am for this fresh start.

I know God put me where he did last year to show me that (1) He will protect me, (2) I am stronger than I thought and can do more than I thought, and (3) I can change the lives of students that I thought I was not able to reach.

To those who were with me along the way. Those who surrounded me and dealt with me last year. Thank you. I cannot thank you for supporting me and inspiring me to be the best I could be.

I cannot wait to see what God will show me this year and the years to come.

Cheers to year two!

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Dream Big and Make it Happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

when God makes plans

(As some of you know my charter school closed at the end of June and then recently was going through a transition into the local public school system. Due to a number of circumstances and reasons, I decided not to be part of the transition and was at peace knowing that God would place me in a school that was best for me and my family)


God always has plans, He knows it all. Regardless of what choice you make, he already knew what choice you were going to make and how it was going to be a part of your life plan. He put you in those circumstances to make those decisions for a reason. Yes, we have the free will to make those decisions, but He already knows. He knows what is best for us.

Being on the search for a new teaching job I had my “list”, you know that dream list. After this last school year, I had a very clear list of things that I felt I needed in a school in order to be content.

Looking for a teaching job is stressful, just like any job…in Michigan especially, good teaching jobs are hard to come by. After lots of closed doors and knowing falling back on my last school was not what I considered a last-ditch option, I knew God still had a plan.

Finally, in mid-July I accepted what I thought was my dream job. It was such a great school, with great leadership, and a new type of program that I wanted to be a part of. It almost hit every thing on my dream list (all but being in a public school system, being close to what we call home, and having a contract), you can’t be picky after all…so I was content.

But, God was not done yet.

My husband and I began looking for new place to live. We realized we would have to downsize. We would both have a commute to work. And that we would have to compromise a lot in order to make it all work, but I felt this was the school and I needed a job, so we were going to make it work. On top of all this having to find a place to live stuff, our lease was up on our current house on August 31st, and we had to give a 30 notice…meaning we needed to find a place and move all within the next month.

Last Monday we went to look at a house to rent. We drove through the neighborhood before meeting the landlord (who coincidentally never showed up), when I got a call. A God sent call. (You see I had applied for EVERY teaching position that I was qualified for in a 90 minute radius from us.) It was for an interview at a public school district that was 15 minutes from our home. I thought this door had been closed.

When God has a plan he makes it work.

My interview was that Thursday. I didn’t feel it was my best interview. I kept telling myself that I had a job that I was SO excited about 2 weeks previous and we would find a place to move and it would all work out.

Then, I was called back for a teaching demo, the dreaded teaching demo, for the next day. I had 15 hours to prepare it.

Once again I did not feel like I was on my A game for my teaching demo. There were so many things I would have fixed and done better. I braced myself for bad news, and kept reminding myself that I had a job and that God was good and had a plan.

But, God wasn’t done yet. Sunday, I was called back for THIRD round Monday morning. I would know in 24-48 hours if I got the job or not. Totally tried to keep my cool and kept reminding myself over and over again that it didn’t matter what the outcome was because God had a plan and I had a job.

Then came Tuesday morning, 8 days after the initial unfolding of God’s plan. I started my morning off with a phone call from the principal, offering me the job. 

Today, I officially crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s.

Let me re-emphasize that this school hit everything on my “dream school list”…is a well-reputed, a public school, I have a legitimate contract, it has a union, it has excellent insurance, that has a social-economic average in-between the schools I have worked at previously AND it is in the same county as we live in (literally 15 minutes away!), so we don’t have to move.

Guys, God is so good. He knows what is best for us. He has a plan for us. Sometimes we just need to be patient.

To God be the glory,

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Many are the plans in the human heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21