Wednesday, April 30, 2014

God's protection and My memories..

Today I was reminded of a miracle.  Two years ago, my oldest son had an abdominal aneurysm that almost cost him his life.  As I looked over the medical records, I was amazed that he came through such a traumatic experience.  I did not even realize at that moment that his life was hanging on the edge.  I'm glad that I did not know.

It was during those days in the ICU and hospital, that he turned 21 years old.  It was also during those days that I really got to know the young lady God had chosen for him.  They had only been dating a few months and we knew she was special. But during that week, she became a part of our family.    I was there, but he needed her.  She was the one who cheered (literally) him on the road to recovery.  It was a strange feeling to walk out of ICU that first night.  He wanted her to stay.  I remember him saying "Mom, you can stay if you want."  I knew he said that just for me.  He didn't need me to stay.  Although she didn't know it at the time, it was hard for me to walk out that night.  I knew my job was complete.

I'm so thankful for that day.  The day God saved my son's life.  God used that time to teach me that I can't control everything.  Somethings are out of my reach.  As hard as it is to let my mind retrace those days, I must.  For in those memories lie the blessings of a second chance.

I am grateful that today in the middle of a very hectic day at school, God stopped my mind long enough to remind me that He is in control, I am not, and that He is very near. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

At risk?

What exactly is at risk and how does it change our perceptions of our students?  While thinking about students I have come across over the past several years, I have seen a large number of students, mostly boys, who would be considered at risk.  What exactly are they at risk for?  Poverty? Education?  Crime?  If they are truly at risk, how can I help them achieve success?

While researching this topic, I learned about a teacher who also felt the need to try and make a change.  She was presented with a class of students who were labeled unteachable or below average.  This group of students were not expected to succeed and they were well aware of those expectations. This teacher, know as Ms. G. refused to accept those assumptions and became an instrument of change in the lives of her students.  I challenge you to read her story.  Not only is it inspiring, but it is real-life change.  It is confirmation that we as teachers can help students break a cycle and beat the odds.  Her story can be read here Freedom Writers.

The students in our classrooms are not very different from the students Ms. G taught.  Yes, they were in high school and probably more aware of their social standing.  My students are 1st graders, but they too are well aware of their obstacles.  This past week, I had my students complete a poem biography. I was not expecting what I received.  The concept was to write a sentence about several things, such as "I dream...., I wish....., I love....., I worry... etc.  The answers were eye opening.  Things such as "I worry about never seeing my mom."  "I dream of meeting my dad."  "I want to go to college."  "I wish I had cute clothes."  These type of pressures are heavy.  How can we expect a six year old to be motivated to read and write, when their basic needs are being compromised?  I believe the solution can be found in teachers who give their all to their students.  We must offer a place of safety and security where worries are left at the door.  Perhaps if we examine the freedom writers model, we can find ways to bring that success to our own classroom.

Maybe if we drop the stereotypes and walk away from the ideology that certain students are going to fail, we will begin to see the very students in question succeed.  When that happens, then we will all succeed.  Isn't that why we are here in the first place?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

21 Days... but whose counting...

So after today there are 21 more days of school.  Of course that doesn't count the obligatory 3 days of post planning.  I must admit I am tired.  I am weary of paperwork and more paperwork.  All I really want to do is teach.  I want to teach kids how to read, write and add.  That's what drove me to return to college at the age of 40.  I wish that teachers would be able to have a decision in the very thing we do.. teach.

Just when I get really frustrated I remind myself of why I am here.  It's not to compile numerous mounds of data, that no one will ever look at.  It's to teach 6 and 7 year olds how to read.  I am here to see my students smile, laugh and tell me they love to read.  I am here to watch their face light up when they check out their first chapter book.  I am here because I was fortunate enough to land a job in a time when a lot of teachers were losing theirs.

I know that I am making a difference.  I can see it in their faces.  And occasionally when I feel like I'm not making an impact I open the drawer on my desk that contains all of the letters and cards.  The ones that remind me of why I am here.  And if I'm lucky, I'll find one or 20  laying on my desk just to remind me:)

And if I am really lucky we will all be on green at the end of the day:)

Monday, April 21, 2014

The end of a busy year..

I am amazed that this school year is coming to a close.  The new Common Core Standards have been implemented and the kids are learning.  I have seen teachers come together for a common goal of seeing students succeed.

My love of reading and teaching reaching has grown this year.  I have seen 23 six year olds begin to read, read and read some more.  We are now reading chapter books that excite and motivate.  Junie B. Jones and Cam Jansen are the most requested.  I began allowing students to check out books from my own library.  This has motivated them tremendously.  Every day they will ask if they can check out one of my books.  I have teacher friends, that do not allow students to take their own personal books home.  Several years ago, I decided that I would allow my books to leave my room.  I feel that if I loose one or two books, but I motivate a child to read it is not a loss.  I would gladly relinquish my library and replinish it yearly, if I can help my students become readers.

As I end my 4th year in a 1st grade classroom, I must say that I am continually honored to be in this profession.  I love my students and I love my job.  I get up each morning excited to go to work.  Of course, I get tired, discouraged and overwhelmed.  However, there are still nights that I wake up and think about a particular student, and try to figure out ways to help him or her succeed.  It is such an awesome responsibility.