What is it that motivates you? For me it is helping others continually learn so that they can make a positive impact in other people’s lives. This is my greatest joy in teaching students. To see their growth and how they become individuals that have a passion for assisting others. I love to watch them grow in all aspects of their lives. Passion is what keeps you motivated when the times get tough. Teaching is not all rainbows and sprinkled cupcakes, it is hard work. Passionate teachers worry about their students all the time. They worry if they reached every student with a lesson. They worry if the plans for this week will meet the needs of their students next week. Passionate teachers also inspire students to be their best. To work harder then they ever have before. To reach goal and set new ones to strive for. But where does a teacher get their passion? For me, it came in those quiet moments working one on one with a student till they could teach me the concept. Those moments when my students stopped to help someone else in the classroom that needed assistance. Seeing the faces of success when my students achieved more then they thought they could. In the letters and words I receive from my past students about how they loved being in my class. When the times get rough and tough, this is what keeps me going. The love for helping others in whatever capacity that I can. Assisting students on their educational journeys and hearing “You made a difference.” That fuels my passion! What fuels your passion?
Building relationships with your students is so important for their success throughout the school year, and your success as well. The impact you as an educator can make on a student by building a relationship with them in immeasurable. I am reminded of this every time I run into one of my former students. Just today I saw one of my former students that is a sophomore at the university I currently work at. She came over and had to have a hug when I walked up, and another one before she left. Believe it or not, I taught her when she was in fourth grade. Building a relationship with this student has lasted past the regular school year and into her adulthood. She did not know it, but she made my day! I hope seeing me made her’s too. I have been invited to special occasions for former students, out for a meal, and even high school graduation. Yes it took time and effort to build those relationships with all of my students, but it was so worth it. I had less discipline problems in the classroom. I started the year learning all of their names and called them by name as much as I could. This helped me learn their names, but it also let them know that they mattered to me. Once I had their names down, I moved on to learn interesting facts about each student. What did they like to do outside of school? Did they play sports or have other activities outside of school? I would have individual and small group conversations about these topics. Because I was interested in my students beyond the classroom walls, they knew that I cared about them. Building those relationships was to cornerstone of my teaching success, and still is. Take time each day to let students know you care about them beyond the school. It will make them feel special and they will never forget how you made them feel. I still love every student that I have taught like they were my own kids. They continue to inspire me to take the time to built new relationships to grow my school family.
I am reinventing my blog and my website. The goal is to create a learning environment that educators can use in their classrooms to inspire students to become lifelong learners. I will be updating more often than I have in the past, and will be looking for other passionate educators to give their input as well. I will also be on the lookout for guest bloggers to share their teaching experience and how they inspire their students. Inspiring fellow educators to inspire their students is my new focus. I hope to bring innovative ideas and resources to the forefront of education. If you would like to share your ideas, or become a guest blogger, please reach out to me through my website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Until the next time, I bit you exciting experiences in your classrooms.
Why did I leave K-12 public education system? Some might say it was the kids, others might say it was because of the parents. Still others could say that it was due to the testing or they might even say it was because of the pay. I have examined these and other factors that could have contributed to my leaving K-12 public education. The reasons I left were probably not the reasons you might think.
Lets look at the people that a teacher deals with the most, the little people. I taught some of the best kids that I could have ever asked for. We worked together to find their successes. We did not dwell on their failures, but used them as learning experiences. Every student that came through the threshold of my classroom help to shape me to be the teacher I am. They taught me that it was okay to smile in August, and not wait until January. They taught me offer multiple opportunities so that they could show what they knew, one size does not fit all. They also taught me that one could love many different individuals, but still have enough to continue to love them once they were gone. Interacting with my students, my kids, my babies is what made the job of teaching more than a job. My students gave me a purpose to show up to the classroom door everyday. They inspired me to think outside the box, because they are not compressed materials. Unfortunately, the forces that drew me away from education became so great that my students could not overcome their grasp.
I was very blessed to have some awesome parents that have now grown into friendships. I wanted my parents to know that they were heard, even if we disagreed on the issue. Because I encouraged my parents to be as involved with their student as they wanted, student success grew at a interesting rate. I had more students become commended on their state testing then had been commended the year before. I am know friends with a number of parents that I taught their children. The relationship began building with the students and progressed to the parents. No, the parents did not drive me from K-12 Education.
The amount of testing that was continually required from my students was one brick in the wall to separate me from a career that I loved. the lack of support from those around me, especially the administration, caused me to feel like a small fish swimming up a stream in a hurricane. I have always loved my students and still do. They are the part of education that I continue to hold on to.
I have been doing a lot of thinking the past month and a half about my current situation. Where do I go from here? What is my next step in furthering my career in education? After leaving my previous district due to actions beyond my control, these thoughts as well as many others have crossed my mind. They have left me wondering what risks have I not taken that have landed me in this situation. There have been a few interviews here and there, but nothing has come of those yet. But I feel that I have a great opportunity to explore different options and find the best place to work for me. I talked with my students many times about Dreaming BIG, and chasing their dreams. Have I listened to my own words and chased my dreams? There was a time that I said I would never enter the field of education because the monetary rewards were not appealing to me. When I began my journey to becoming an educator, I wanted to be the best teacher I could possibly be. I wanted to teach my students to love learning, become critical thinkers, and to be passionate about what they pursued. These are still vital in the cornerstones of my educational foundation. However, many changes have occurred in how I view and deliver these. I have taken a few risks along the way such as changing how I spend my instructional time. I have gone from spending most of my time talking to more time for my students doing. For this, I had to change my mindset. Others did not agree with my practice, but I knew it was best for my students. Trying my version of a blended classroom to meet the needs of my students was another. I also stopped sending homework home because it became a punitive obstacle for many of my students. I was afraid of what others might think of the changes I had made. I was afraid that I would fail and be asked why I attempted this ridiculousness. I was also afraid that if I succeeded what would I do next to top this feat. My students thrived in this model that I had transformed into my own. Their scores were some of the highest in the school, even the district. The success was bitter sweet. I had to leave because of pressure from others because they did not understand or did not want to understand the benefits of my student’s classroom experience. So now here I am, looking for whatever is next in my journey. What am I afraid of? Am I afraid that I will have to move beyond my comfort zone to continue my journey? Am I afraid that I will find the success I have been longing for? Am I afraid that I will fail miserably at new endeavors? To these questions I have to say, YES! I am afraid that I will find success and failures as I always have since I began this journey many years ago. I know that failure is a key part of having success. Failing is just so difficult! To grow as an educator you must experience failure and rise from it to become a Phoenix. Success and failures will be experiences as they always have. We should not be afraid of them. We need to embrace them, and look for opportunities to grow. The opportunities for success are there beyond the risk and failure. It is time we become fearless and embrace what we want to become. This is what I expect my students to do. It is time to learn the lessons I teach for myself.
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I was asked to be a guest on #EdChat Radio with Tom Whitby and Nancy Blair after a Twitter chat about this topic. I was interested in this topic as soon as it came across my feed. Being passionate about giving students a voice in their education, I was drawn into the conversation. Empowering all stakeholders united for one common goal is something that I have was a very timely topic. We should all be working to better education for our children. Not creating one high stakes assessment over another to beat them down and have them loose heart over their education. We need to be a united front to form education into the model that we want for our children, and grandchildren. Removing the us vs. them mentality from administration, teachers, students, and parents will empower us to focus on the true issues in education. We need to be really with each other, admit when we make mistakes, and allow partnerships to form so that our voices can be heard loud and clear. With the age of high stakes testing that we live in today, I believe that this abuse of assessments continues to drive a wedge between all of us. Students need to be the focus of education, not money, testing, or playing the blame game.
I am very excited and optimistic about 2015! I am hoping that I will begin to take steps to improve myself in every aspect of my life. Taking baby steps, learning to crawl well before I try to run, will be the challenge for me. If I can teach myself to slow down and smell the fruits of my labors, I feel I will grow more in and out of education. My last new year’s post, I set some goals for me to strive for in the upcoming year. Some were accomplished, and many were put off. One of the most important ones for me was to blog at least once a week. I fell very short of this goal, however, I will set this goal for myself again with every intention of reaching it. To many times I catch myself looking for what is next instead of focusing on the hear and now. My new goal for 2015 will be to slow down life and be attentive to what is here and now. I will still be attending conferences, Ed Camps, and doing consulting work; I just want to take the time to enjoy what I am doing right then rather then looking for what is next. I do not feel I have been the best educational pirate that I can be in the past year. I have had to take a step back and re-anchor my feet in the educational soil. I am firmly planted and ready to put on my pirate gear for 2015. Gear that involves taking chances, teaching with passion, creating an experience instead of a lesson. My ship will sail through the troubled waters that come with being an educator. I will search for the treasure that come from helping students reach their full potential. That they can reach their dreams if they are willing to put in the hard work to reach their goals. Welcome 2015, I welcome the challenges that you will bring this year! Arrgh!
Wow! I have come full circle with Ed Camps. This was my 10th Ed Camp to attend, and the anniversary of my first Ed Camp I attended at Waller ISD. A lot has changed in the past year, and my love of learning has increased. Don Jacobs invited me to attend Ed Camp Waller last year when I had no idea what an Ed Camp was. I am so glad I took a chance and went along from the ride. I have met so many amazing people and today, that trend continues. I have grown so much as an educator in the past year. Twitter has become my go to resource for education. There are so many amazing people in my PLN that I would might have never met if it was not for Ed Camps and Twitter. Thank you to all of those I have met along the way!
We had to endure some rough weather to make it to Ed Camp Region 5, but it was well worth it. My wife and I drove to Warren, Texas on the Friday night before Ed Camp Region 5. We saw cars that were flipped over, numerous downed trees, and several towns in total darkness from the storm just ahead of us. A few times we thought about stopping for the night. The Nash’s told us to keep driving, and they were going to wait up for us to get there. The Nash’s were very gracious hosts, they told us to make ourselves at home, and they treated us just like family. Mr. Nash fixed breakfast for us on Saturday morning, and Mrs. Nash took us to see their bed & breakfast inn. We will definitely make a trip back to see the Nash’s and stay at the Happy Hill B&B.
As my wife and I walked up to the doors of Warren High School, we were greeted with a big hug and huge smile from Daisy. She asked how our trip was and we began to tell her of our adventures. She showed us were to go in a sign in. I began to look over the board to see what I could assist them with. I facilitated one on iPad Apps in the morning, and another one on Aurasma in the afternoon. I also sat in on Summer’s session on connecting classrooms globally. I was very interested in what she had to say. I really enjoy connecting my classes with other classroom in other places. Angela presented Mystery Skyping that she has been doing with her class this year. We connected to Jena & Marty through her Skype account during her session. Another wonderful way to connect classrooms to each other. At the end of the day, there were great prizes to be had and goodbyes as well. It was wonderful to connect with wonderful educators in Warren. We will be heading back to see them during the summer.