Not Yet!


Believe in the power of yet. ~ Unknown

This school year has taught us many things.  We have become more aware of our skills and abilities as educators and are now more comfortable than ever suggesting that “being flexible” is one of our strong suits.  The final semester of the 19-20 school year has taught me that flexibility is certainly the newest buzz word in education. 
Also, the idea of yet resurfaces as I think of flexibility.  After the first few weeks turned into a month, a few teachers asked about what that would mean for testing.  We were told, “we don’t know yet.” 
Once we started to engage in a more structured distance learning schedule, the kids asked if we were going back to school.  We could only answer them with, “we don’t know yet.”
As the governor of Georgia announced school closings in late April, the yet became certain. 
Now, 10 weeks later, I am in a better position to understand the power of yet. 
The idea of “yet” suggests that there is not a definite answer and it still leaves the door open for a glimmer of hope.  There are so many unanswered questions about the upcoming school year, and each of them ends in the sentiment, yet. 
As we walk into summer, we have to understand that we don’t have all of the answers.  Many times, the folks we ask won’t have those answers either.  However, answering the questions with “yet” merely suggests that there is a possibility of something favorable.  I encourage you not to dismiss this idea as we remain in the realm of positivity.  Believe in the “power of yet.”  Stay healthy, stay positive, and if you can, stay home. 

Inspiring hope…


“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

This is the second blog on hope during this crisis and it is designed to inspire the teacher that is powered on nothing but hope and imagination.  As traditional teachers, many didn’t feel the need to acquire an abundance of skills beyond those needed to use the technology in the classroom or on the district’s interface.  However, during this worldwide crisis, we have gained so many new skills.  Although many of them have been unintentional, they are now added to the toolbox of necessary skills.  When we look at our students and what we expect them to pick up over the course of the year, much of it is grounded in learning how to use new applications and memorize logins aimed at giving them access to portals that may be beyond their reach initially. 
During this crisis, we have been asked to do the same thing.  Many of us have excelled, a few have dug in kicking and screaming, but none of us have quit.
Good teachers inspire hope, and it is our hope, combined with love that power our collective journeys.  We hope that we will eventually get back to the classroom and inside the walls of the school so that we can continue impacting our students.  What we fail to realize is that we have already made an impact. 
By showing up to each live session with a new skill or tool, we are giving our students the hope and inspiration they need to continue.  They see us showing up and trying and that’s why they continue to show up.  We’ve engaged in good teaching these last few weeks because we’ve checked all of the necessary boxes designed to inspire kids.  The crisis won’t last forever, but the impact of perseverance will! 

Teaching with Hope In Mind…


“Hope is not cancelled.”  ~ State Farm

On March 13th, our students left the building with packets of work, a few pencils, old papers, and a sense of uncertainty.  As a veteran educator, I’ve closed out 13 school years.  Each with its own set of challenges, but even I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something wasn’t right about the way we left things. Although we were told it would only be two weeks, the feeling of heaviness lasted for some time.

One week later, we realized that the two weeks would turn into four. And most recently, schools have closed indefinitely amid concerns that returning too soon would cause great harm.  During all of this uncertainty, I still have hope that our students are able to maintain a sense of calm without the stability that their classrooms, desks, routines and teachers provide.

However, our students aren’t the only ones that need this routine.  Educators need this as well. As I was watching television, I saw the most beautiful commercial and at the end, there was a message etched in the fence.  The message said, “Hope is not cancelled.”  I needed to see that message, on that day. For whatever reason it inspired this post.

Our students deserve better answers than the ones we are able to provide, but although we can’t give them the answers that they need, we can give them a sense of hope that things will work out.

After virtual lessons, I encourage you to have conversations with your students.  Let them know that although we don’t know much about what comes next, we need to remain positive.  What we feed our spirit becomes our thoughts and thoughts become things. If we give our students a sense of hope, they can continue to encourage the folks around them as well.  The most essential aspect of our job now is to remind our students that although school as they know it is cancelled, hope remains: Hope is never cancelled.


March Madness ...


“Let him sleep, for when he wakes, he will move mountains”  ~ unknown

March is typically one of the longest teaching months.  However, in light of recent events, many educators across the world have been forced to take a step back.  Although not ideal, this respite has put many things into perspective. 
I had the opportunity to read up on rest and what is most effective.  I’ve learned that there are several types of rest.  Among them are:
~ Taking time away
~Allowing yourself permission not to be helpful
~Doing something unproductive
~Connecting to art and nature
~Recharging in solitude
~Breaking away from responsibility
~Decompressing in stillness
~Creating a safe space
~Preserving alone time at home

During this time away from the building, develop a new way to look at rest and the art of relaxation. You deserve the quiet moments.  When you return, you can and will move that “mountain” but for now, take it bit by bit, stone by stone. 

 

Love, Teach, Repeat…



“A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.”  ~ James Baldwin


March is the longest month of the school year because we don’t traditionally have a break.  The struggle to persevere is seen in both the students and teachers.  While this may be true, our focus cannot shift.  Our job is to prepare our students for the next grade.  Based on my previous years of experience, this journey requires a lot of discipline.  However, it can be simplified if we remember the formula for building a strong student.  We must love our kids, teach them well and repeat the process!

James Baldwin argues, “a child cannot afford to be fooled”.  He is more than accurate.  Our students are perceptive enough to sense everything:  fears, frustrations, anger, and love.  We cannot fool them, and they cannot afford to be fooled.  They need to trust their teacher and they must know that their teacher loves them and wants them to grow. 

During this month of no breaks, we must love harder than we ever have so our students can trust the process and show the growth that we require.  If all else fails, remember: LOVE, TEACH, AND REPEAT!   



Celebrate Black History Month



“ A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”  ~ Marcus Garvey


As we begin Black History Month, I am reminded of the various BHMs when I was an elementary, middle and high school student.  The month was peppered with various versions of stories about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and no one else. It wasn’t until I reached my senior year of high school that I delved into documentaries about famous Black Americans. 

When I changed professions and became an educator, I struggled with what to expose my students to and what to shield them from.  Black History is American history and should be treated as such.  When February 1 arrives, we should begin the celebration of all influential Black Americans and those that contributed to the culture! The month should be an endless celebration.  We have 11 additional months to focus on the struggle and the hardships that the culture endured, let’s take this one and focus on the strength and character that the culture maintains.  I suggest this because if done correctly, you are constantly teaching your students about Black History, so during this month that scholarship continues.  The continuation just morphs into a celebration.

I encourage you, as an educator to find one incredibly exciting aspect of the culture to celebrate daily or weekly!  Support a black business or entrepreneur, encourage a budding idea that will help influence the culture positively.  Do it all, and do it in the spirit of celebration.  Black History Month is dedicated to the evolution and expression of the culture and should be treated as such! 

 

Character is Important!


“We must remember that intelligence is not enough.  Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education. -------- Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we begin the next semester of the school year, we have so many new policies and procedures to implement in the classroom and many of those are based on ideas we tightened up over the break.  The students are not clean slates, as they are now coming to us with the knowledge that we shared with them during the first half of the year.  We must remember that during these times, we are not only responsible for intelligence, but we are also duly responsible for encouraging our students to exhibit strong character traits. 

We must teach out students that intelligence is no longer enough.  Character is developed by genuinely serving others.

Happy MLK Day!  “A Day On, Not a Day Off!” 

Limitations?


“You have two choices, either evolve or repeat”~ Unknown

The quote above simplifies much of what we do on a daily basis as educators.  When presented with issues that we’ve experienced in the past, we can either choose the easy route and “repeat” or customize a different journey that requires us to “evolve”.

During November and December, we have an opportunity to evaluate our missed opportunities to “evolve” as educators.  Many times our choice has been to “repeat” the previous lesson, task, mistake, or pattern.  However, as we move into a new season with our students, we are also responsible for moving into a new mindset as adults.  

Consider the aspects of our lives that are constantly on “repeat”.  Are there areas in our classroom or embedded in our routines that will allow for an evolution?  If and when those occasions for evolution present themselves, I challenge you to choose the opportunity to “evolve”!

There is too much at stake when we remain stagnant.  Evolution requires flexibility and flexibility requires a willingness to stay open to the process.  As you walk into your classroom over the next few weeks prior to winter break, look for the limitless opportunities to “evolve” as educators.

Bite by bite…


“How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.” ~ Unknown

This month’s blog is a friendly reminder for educators.  Everything cannot be taught in one lesson, one week or one month.  As we begin to succumb to the numerous stressors that are inevitable, there are several things to remember.  Take the time to unpack the skills for your students, creating a consistent flow and their growth will be apparent.  As educators, it’s tempting to teach, reteach, remediate and then stress.  Once concepts are taught, give students an opportunity to digest the lesson.  Each of your students may not experience the light bulb at the same time, but it will come.  Remind yourself to breath and you will be just fine.  We are only one quarter in.  This is not the time to throw in the towel.  It’s time to reboot and get back in the game.  You eat an elephant “one bite at a time” and you teach a child, one lesson at a time.