Saturday, 11 February 2017

You Take the Good. You Take the Bad.

You take the good. You take the bad.

It really is a fact that life is a ball of good, bad and all kinds of other stuff in between. And as teachers, we can see good, bad and everything in between in the course of one single day (and on some particularly crazy days, we might see it all within an HOUR!)

I follow a page for teachers and lately I have noticed a trend. Not a certainty from all, just a trend.

We are really good at taking the good...

"You should see the art lesson we just did! The kids behaved so well! And the finished product? It's up on a bulletin board for all to see!"

"I am so proud of the kids that passed my math test today! That was a tough unit and they really did well! All those manipulatives and extra practice and those amazing lessons I planned must have worked!"

"Everyone was so quiet during our writing block today. They have come so far since the beginning of the year."

It is easy for us to take a little credit when things are going well in the classroom. To take pride and feel as though we are doing a good job. That's normal! Of course we are going to feel that way and it is important to celebrate what goes well in our classrooms.

BUT, when things go wrong? This is what I see...

"Is it a full moon or something? My kids are AWFUL today!"

"Ugh. Stupid indoor recess. My kids have been monkeys. We are getting nothing done".

"If his/her parents would just ________ I would be able to do my job and teach him/her".

"My kids were ridiculous today. If I just had more admin support/an EA/prep time..."

"How the heck am I supposed to control a class that has never been able to listen/behave. I knew there was a reason to dread having them like I have been doing since last January".

Yuck. I struggle with how this has become a "thing". How is it that as professionals, we are willing to take all the credit when things go well but as soon as they go wrong we will come up with any outside source possible to blame it on?

And don't get me wrong. I'VE BEEN THERE! Been in that place where it couldn't possibly be something that I was doing wrong or missing that caused those "bad" days. It has to be from all the other sources of stress that we teachers can all relate to.

Last week, on a particularly... let's say... *trying* day in Kindergarten, I had myself a good 'ol after school teacher meltdown. It wasn't a full moon or indoor recess or my admin team or other teachers or parents or the overwhelming needs of the classroom or my lack of a gym block or that 2 kids had forgotten their lunches or (you get the idea) that brought me to tears.

It was me.

My frustration came because I felt like I had let my KIDS down. The day had been a little bit of a wreck. I could admit that. I was upset with myself for not regrouping. For not connecting like they needed me to. For not meeting their attachment needs. For allowing some of my own personal drama follow me into the classroom. For not recognizing that some of the lessons I had planned were not working and that I needed to revamp.

It is important to reframe our thinking and our vocabulary on these difficult days. These days have more to do with teachers than any other source. Not BAD teachers but really, really GOOD teachers who have just temporarily lost their way for a moment in time. Who have forgotten what is truly important in these days. And that SUCKS to have to admit.

So, what did I do after that big ol' cry? I came home. I loved on my own little family extra hard. I called my Mom and cried a little more. But then? I reflected. I got on Twitter and turned to my PLN who had incredible advice and support for me. I searched hashtags that inspire me. I took part in a Twitter chat and celebrated all that has gone right this year.

I also opened one of my favourite books "Kids Deserve It" by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney and read my very favourite chapters. And just revisiting the chapters "Don't Live on an Island", "Leave it in Your Car" and "Relationships Matter Most" reminded me of what I needed to do the next day. I did not have a full moon or indoor recess to blame the day on. But I did know in my heart that I had not

1. Asked for help
2. Left my own adult dilemmas and troubles in the car
3. Remembered that RELATIONSHIPS "have always been, and will always be, of utmost importance in our schools" (Kids Deserve It, p. 117)

We are blessed to be part of a profession that is constantly evolving and where we can start each day anew. What an incredible opportunity to be in a place where each day is a new start!

So I will do exactly that. I will go into the week full of excitement, passion and happiness, remembering all of these things I love about being a teacher. And guess what? There is a good chance I will have another one of these "frustrating" days again soon. They are bound to happen. But I can tell you what I won't do. I won't be blaming the day on the weather or nature or someone else in my building or even worse, the kids. In fact, I will not place any blame.

Instead I will recognize that teaching is tough but that the rewards are priceless. That "kids deserve it". That every day is different and surprising and has the potential to change lives. That what I model in my classroom is what I will get in return (thanks @casas_jimmy !) and that when I know better I will do better.

No more excuses for this girl! I am ready to reflect on these days, these moments, as opportunities instead of problems. As a second (or third, or fourth or millionth...) chance at getting it right for my learners.

My 5 Favourites from #NCTCA2017

As a proud Alberta educator I had the pleasure of attending the North Central Teachers Convention in Edmonton, Alberta this week. 

Convention is always an emotional time for me. Reminds me of the year I snuck in as an EA... just walking around dreaming of having own classroom and the role of "teacher" someday. It is a time to learn, to reflect and to celebrate my role as an educator. I feel so immensely grateful during this time.

The common thread between every session I attended was CONNECTION. Not one speaker did not mention the need for connection with students especially in these times. Without connection and relationship, no learning will take place. What a powerful message and reminder to hear at every session! 

Here are the top 5 points I will be bringing into my classroom, into my mindset and my life this week.

The Innovator's Mindset
George Couros

We need to be constantly questioning what is BEST for each individual learner. Everyone has a point A & a point B. The path to learning is different for everyone.

George believes that "isolation is not a choice educators make". Choosing to connect has benefits to teachers and their learners. 

(Looking for a fun example? Check out my Kindergarten Class community collaboration with local restaurant Cilantro and Chive. After Family Literacy Day, students made a book of "Dream Burgers" for the owner who had read to them. The result? Mrs. Mac's Kinder Class DREAM BURGER of the month!
Check out the story on Twitter HERE)

Rick Smith
Conscious Classroom Management

 Assuming the best in our learners (that they WANT to learn) shifts our perspective and helps us to better focus on what our learners need. Misbehaviour is an invisible request for help.

Students who claim they don't care? Here is a response we can all use. Connecting to the heart AND the brain with this simple statement.

Joel Hilchey

"Entitlement is not a generational issue. It is a societal one."
Battling the issue of entitlement with gratitude is essential. To recognize the incredible world we live in as one full of wonder and opportunity helps us and our learners feel less entitled.

Thank you NCTCA for a wonderful convention. I feel refreshed, invigorated and excited to take on the rest of this school year.