Be Contagious.

downloadIt’s that time of the year again (seemingly earlier this year), when germs are being shared, we are all contagious, and as great teachers and students we go to school anyways and share it all. I’m pretty sure I have been contagious since last Thursday, but come on it’s way too early for sub plans and that kind of nonsense. If I’m not tossing cookies and do not feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, I’m spreading the love.

As teachers we need to be contagious.

Not the germ-y, cookie tossing, flu stopping kind of contagious that we try to obsessively erase from every desk, door knob or writing utensil.

We need to be contagious with our emotions, with our zeal for learning and desire to succeed, with our acceptance and love for our students. We need to be contagious for our students and colleagues.

We need to make our classrooms and schools infectious learning communities in which students feel accepted and comfortable. We need to be so contagious and infectious that our students want to learn, enjoy learning, and grow.

Being contagious goes both ways though, we know this. We can’t get caught up in the negativity, the politics, the everything else because that is just as contagious, if not more.

We might think that these negative feelings and attitudes that we keep to ourselves are not contagious, that we are not spreading them, but we know this isn’t true. If we let this negativity spread, it just keeps going and can infiltrate everything, it spreads fast just like the stomach bug at the end of a marking period. All of that junk is straight up germs, and just like cookie tossing, something we shouldn’t want in our classroom. We shouldn’t be feeding this inside our classroom, or inside of us.

We need to make sure we are being contagious and spreading the good “germs”, the optimism, the joy, the spirit, the learning, the acceptance, the everything.

So as we start this germ-y season, be contagious.

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Enthusiasm is contagious. Be a carrier. -Susan Rabin

Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching? -Dennis and Wendy Mannering

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The joy of the 2nd time around. 

Starting my 3rd year of teaching, 2nd year at my current school, has brought more joy than I ever expected.  I have recently brought on the mindset that no one is going to kill my joy about my school, my students, my career path, my life in general. I am in love with it all.

Year three has brought on new joys, that may seem minor to most. Of my first weeks of school, this has been the most refreshing and exciting (though still extremely exhausting).

Here are some of the things I’ve found joy in, in just the first week.

  1. My former students come up to me and tell me about how their summers were, how their classes are going, tell me they miss me, or just to say hi. (and send me emails just because!) If that doesn’t leave a warm fuzzy feeling, I don’t know what does. It’s literally one of the best feelings in the world.
  2. I have siblings! This year I have younger siblings of my students from last year, it’s so neat to see their similarities and differences.
  3. I have freshmen! I have an entire class of freshmen this year. They are so adorable, untainted by high school, and still in their middle school mold. I love them, and ending the day with them is so refreshing.
  4. I’m not the new kid! It’s so nice to know what’s going on, being in the know, and people recognizing your face (though some parents still think I am a high school student).
  5. New responsibilities and the ability to say no. This year I have taken on slew of new things, and with not being super new I don’t have the obligation to say yes to everything.

Teachers,

I know the first weeks of school can be challenging. I know the politics that influence our jobs everyday. I know you might have “that class” this year. I know your class numbers might be higher than your liking and your room seems to be busting at the seems. I know our pay sucks. Trust me, I know. 

I challenge you to find the joy. There is joy everyday in our jobs. We’re in the jobs of changing and shaping lives. We have an amazing job. We make a difference. 

So whether this is your first, fifth, tenth, seventeenth, twenty-third, thirtieth year, I challenge you to find the joy because it makes the difference. 

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it all stacks up.

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.