There aren't enough ways to say thank you

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare Teachers

An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

There aren’t enough ways to say thank you!

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Everyday, I wake up, frantically plow through the morning routine, drop my child off at daycare and  pray that I actually make it to work on time.  Then for eight hours, I give everything I have to my job.  Work ends, I rush home, pick up my children, make dinner, do our evening and nighttime routines, put my daughter to bed and usually collapse on the couch.  There are days that fly by for me in such a blur that I have trouble distinguishing one from the last.  But today, I need to take a moment to stop and thank the most important people of the day, the people who makes everything possible: my daughter’s daycare teachers.  

There are not enough ways to say thank you to these amazing people.  This  letter ,I am sure , will only scratch the surface of what you mean to us, but please let me publicly thank you for all that you have done and all that you do.

As a mother and a teacher, I understand very well what it means to teach and care for another person’s child.  I understand balancing multiple personalities and needs in the classroom.  Being a teacher is hard work, however, being a daycare and preschool teacher is a whole other thing.  The grace, joy and beauty you bring into my child’s life is a gift you give us everyday.  Everyday when we leave your classroom, my daughter and I say thank you, today I want you to know exactly what I am thanking you for.

 

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Thank you - An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Your Love

I know you love my child.  I know, because she loves you.  She talks about you at home and she tells me about what you did.  I hear her singing the songs that you taught her.  She smiles when I ask about you.  And when we talk about who we love, your name is always at the top of our list.

 

Your Help

I have given up trying to balance it all, there is no way I can do it.  So some things slip, sometimes things aren’t done well or aren’t done at all.  But the help you give our family makes a big difference.  Just a tiny example of the type of help I am grateful for I see everyday in my daughter’s school picture.  As a first time mom, doing a little girl’s hair can be so overwhelming, they squirm, everything hurts and their hair grows very unevenly.  It took me a very long time to be even half-way decent at doing it.  And when school picture day came around, I was not good at all.  You were the one that made her look so cute, you put her hair in perfect little ponies and everytime I look at that picture, I think of how grateful I am for you.

 

Encouraging me

Most days as a mom, I have no idea what I am doing.  As a middle school teacher, I have a tool kit.  I know strategies and I have skills at working with adolescents.  But raising a two year old?  This is my first time at the rodeo and often I am at a complete loss.  Your words of encouragement mean more to me than you could ever know.  When you tell me about how well my daughter did something or compliment me on my parenting, you make me feel like maybe I am not totally messing up.  When you let me know that something isn’t a big deal and I don’t have to feel guilty, I take your advise.  You mean more to me than you know.  Thank you.

 

Understanding and Knowing the Age

I know you know.  I trust that you know. And I am so thankful that you know.  When I see my daughter doing something or not doing something for that matter, I look to you to see if it is okay.  I can always trust that you will know if is age appropriate, something I should get checked out or be impressed by.  You know two (and three and four) far better than I do and I am so grateful.

 

Celebrating and Commiserating

It means so much to me to have someone who actually cares about my silly little mom stories.  You cheer my daughter on, you celebrate her successes and you support and commiserate with me when things get hard.  You honestly get excited for her and when things get tough, you worry about her.  

 

Being my Friend

You may not know this, but there are days that you are the only adult I get to talk to.  When I walk in the door, you always have a minute or two listen to me about my day.  You smile, you listen and you care.  Thank you.  There are days that I feel invisible and overwhelmed.  Your kindness and concern lift my spirits and always make my day better.

 

Teaching my Baby

Because of you, my daughter has learned so many things.  She shares, she sings, she loves to color with markers.  She tells me that she is bringing home a baby bumble-bee.

You taught her that.  When things don’t go her way, she says, “It happens.”  You taught her that.  And when she sees the letter M, she shouts, “Mommy, it’s you!”.  M is for mommy, you taught her that too.  Thank you!

 

Helping me to Raise my Child

If I could, I would stay home.  I would be a stay-at-home mom.  But that doesn’t work for our family.  So I go to work and my daughter goes to daycare.  During the school year, she spends nearly a third of her day at daycare, most of the hours that she is awake.  It is not an exaggeration when I say thank you for helping me raise my daughter.  You are helping me to teach her right from wrong, to share, to be kind.  You are helping to instill the values that truly matter: be a good and honest person.  

 

When we leave everyday and say thank you, this is what we mean.  This is why we are grateful.  

Whether you know it or not, you are a part of our family.  There truly are no words to thank you for all you have done.  But please always know, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, we will be eternally grateful.  Thank you and we love you!

 

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year With Kindness

Tips and Strategies for Starting the School Year with Kindness at Home and School

What we need now, more than ever is kindness.   We must treat each other with kindness, compassion and empathy.  We say it, we know it, but often what we forget is that kindness must be taught, it must be practiced.  Telling others to be kind is a great reminder, but as mothers and as teachers, we must teach our children how to be kind, foster and encourage the skill  By starting the school year with kindness we can embed it into our lives and the lives of our children.

Routines of Kindness

Home

Kindness starts at home, our actions are reflected to the world.  The way we treat each other at home is how our children will treat everyone they come in contact with.  If we want a kinder world, a world that treats everyone with kindness and respect, we must teach this to our children.  A way to do this is to create routines for your home that actively teach kindness.  There are many ways to do this:

  • A phrase that you greet one another with
  • A phrase that you end every phone call with
  • A prayer that included kindness before meals
  • Give a daily compliment to every family member
  • When a family member is talking, listen and make eye contact
  • Always remember manners
  • Family Kindness Tracker (Free Family Kindness Tracker download)
School

As teachers, we are role models for our students.  It is unfair to expect them to do anything without actively teaching it, this includes kindness.  We may not be able to change what we have to do in the classroom, but we do have the power to change how we do it.  If we teach with kindness in our hearts and establish routines of kindness, we create a safe and caring environment for our students.

  • Greet students at the door individually
  • Start class with a phrase of kindness
  • Have a personal interact with every student every day
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact with your students, ask them to do so in return
  • Always start a constructive conversation with a compliment

Kind Act of the Week

Home

As a family, decide upon an act of kindness that you will complete each week.  This can be completed as a family or each family member can decide on their own.  Actively taking time out of your week to do something kind directed at someone reminds us how important it is work on making the world a better place.  Possible kind acts to complete each week are:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen, shelter, rescue agency
  • Pack up and donate unused toys and/or clothing
  • Visit or call an older/lonely family member or friend
  • Complete another family member’s daily/weekly responsibility (cook dinner, take out garbage)
  • Take the unexpected opportunity to help another person (carry someone’s groceries to the car, help the person who broke down in front of your house
School

As a class community explain that part of being a member of your class comes with the expectation that everyone will do their best to complete a kind act a week.  Every act of kindness will be posted, anonymously, on a post it and placed on a bulletin board in the classroom.  Kind acts will be shared, but not for individual recognition, but to acknowledge all the good being done.  Ways for students to complete an act of kindness at school:

  • Helping someone carry their books
  • Picking up something someone dropped
  • Giving someone a pen or pencil when they need it
  • Listen to a friend who is having a hard day
  • Give a compliment and expect nothing in return
  • Play, share or talk to another student that appears to not have anyone else

Kindness Project

Home

As a family, decide upon a long-term project to involve your family in that will help to make this world a better place.  This does not have to be the biggest project in the world.  Often times, we take on too much and never finish it.  Start small, a project is anything you need to do more than once to complete.  Once you and your family get the hang of it, add more time and depth to your projects.  Here are some ideas to get your family started:

  • Train for and complete a fun run for a cause
  • Participate in any type of a-thon (dance-a-thon, read-a-thon) for a non-profit organization
  • Help raise money for an organization
  • Become a volunteer at a nursing home
  • Grow something at a community garden
  • Become a board member for a volunteer organization
  • Foster a rescue animal
School

A class kindness project is a great way to bring a class together and have them work on something with real world applications.  As a group, the class can decide on a project, work together on it and see how their work has helped to make the world a better place.  Spending time, returning to a project and seeing your work make difference is lesson that will stay with our students forever.  Some possible ideas to get your students thinking are:

  • Identifying a local issue and make steps to improve it
  • Design and paint a school mural
  • Create a school club dedicated to kindness
  • Write a group children’s book about kindness
  • Identify a local non-profit organization and create a relationship with them

Ground Rules

Home

Everyone gets frustrated, everyone gets angry, but by setting home ground rules before these things happen is a way to keep kindness always present at home.  Some kindness home ground rules are:

  • No name calling
  • Listen first and respond
  • Make eye contact when talking
  • Stop and try to think about how the other person feels
  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings
School

Every class needs ground rules.  These rules depend on a teacher’s style, but if we make sure our rules are rooted in kindness, we can create a place where everyone feels respected and cared for.  Some possible rules are:

  • Make eye contact with others when talking
  • Listen and let others finish talking, try not to interrupt
  • Respond to what other say, rather than just saying what we want
  • Include new people in our groups, don’t let anyone feel left out
  • Be open to new ideas, new experiences and new people

Dedicate Time for Sharing

Home

When school starts it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic routine that is created, that we forget to talk to one another.  Taking time out of the day or week to share what we done and how we feel is necessary.  By sharing we can empathize with one another, an important skill to practice and we will also have our own feelings and our family members’ feelings validated.  Ways to share are:

  • Sharing during dinner
  • A Caring about Sharing jar – Write a note about something you want share, drop it in the jar and once a week share all the notes in the jar.  (Free Caring about Sharing jar labels download)
  • Have a weekly family meeting
  • Have a family signal for when someone needs a person to stop and listen to how they feel
School

When deadline approach and assignments need to be finished, one of the first things that teachers do is begin to move a little faster, cut out unnecessary things.  But remember, listening to students, letting their voices be heard, discussing how they feel and what kind things they have done is important.  Here are some ways to build in sharing time in your class.

  • Schedule time weekly for open sharing about kindness
  • Spend time talking and sharing during passing or transition times
  • Create a weekly warm-up activity that includes sharing thoughts of kindness
  • Meet with groups of students and share about your life, listen to stories about theirs
  • Ask students questions and honestly listen to their responses
  • Share details about yourself and allow questions

 

We must teach kindness and empathy at home and school if we expect our children to act through kindness and empathize with others.  If you want the world to be a better place, you must actively try to make it better, just talking about it doesn’t change it, you must do something.  We have all heard the phrase from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  If you wish to see a kinder world, be kind and teach kindness.  By starting the school year with kindness at home and school, you will embed it not only your life, but in your children as well.

Don’t forget to download your freebies!!  They are a great way to help with starting the school year with kindness.

Family Kindness Tracker

To use the Family Kindness Tracker, hang in a very visible place in the house.  Write every family members name down  on the top of the tracker.  Every family member gets a check for every day of the week that they are kind, have good manners and follow directions.  Checks can also be earned by completing random acts of kindness, showing kindness to your family or any other way the family decides.  Check are added up at the end of the week.  The higher the family total the more kindness the family has shown.  Use it to challenge your family and yourself.

Caring about Sharing jar labels

Attach Caring about Sharing labels to a mason jar.  Every time anyone has something that they would like to share, but no one is around or everyone is busy, write a note and drop it in the jar.  Schedule a time once a week to read and talk about every note.

We all need more kindness in our lives.  If you have any other ideas we can add to the list of Starting the School Year with Kindness, please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

If you like Starting the School Year with Kindness, consider reading, A Dream of Kindness.

Starting the School Year with Kindness

 

Classroom, Fail, Motherteacherdreamer

Today I Failed, but I Know Ways to Improve.

failed, motherteacherdreamer

 Today I failed, but I know ways to improve.

It was hot, I was cranky and my normally endless patience, that I have acquired from being a middle school teacher, was oddly in short supply.  I wanted to do better; I wanted to be better, but I wasn’t.  Today, I left school glad the day was over, but feeling like I had failed.  I didn’t actually do anything wrong.  Objectives were met, assessments were taken, but the joy I want to instill in children did not come through today. Today I failed.  I was not the teacher I want to be.  Today I failed, but I know ways to improve.

 

As the end of the school year approaches, it is very easy to fall into the “it’s almost over” or “how many days are left” feeling.  But if the kids are still coming, we still have work to do.  And really after your first year of teaching, you learn pretty fast that there is no worse day in school than a free day.  If you don’t have a lesson, the room will nearly self destruct.  

If we are going in …

So if we are going in, and the kids are going in and lessons need to be taught, it really is just about changing our attitudes.  Rather than wishing the rest of the year away (I know it can be hard, because when the school year ends the glorious summer begins), let’s try to change our attitudes about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

 

We teach because we love it and we love learning.  We teach because we love kids.  But when the weather gets warm, we start to forget it.  We start to focus on how tired we are and how we need a break.  Our passion gets sidetracked and just like the students, we are take over by spring fever.  

 

Because of this, today I failed, but I know ways to improve.

5 Ways to Improve

  1. Try something new.

     A new style of lesson, a new type of technology.  As teachers we know that learning never stops and if we model this for our students, it will inspire them to learn.  Once our students are inspired, the work and the joy will follow.

  2. Focus on planning.

    Select an aspect of your planning and finish it for the year.  If it is making your copies, writing your lesson plans or creating the slides.  Once you have completed a task, it will give you a sense of accomplishment.  It will also help to bring you back to the here and now and allow you to focus on giving your best to your students.

  3. Write a note to your students.

     Whether you know it or not you have had an impact on your students and your opinion matters to them.  Writing them a note of support will not only encourage them to continue to do their best after they leave your room, it will help remind you why you do this job.  One of the best parts of this job is letting a child know that someone thinks that they are amazing!

  4. Bring out the art supplies.

     Create, build, color.  Have some fun in class.  Having students use a text to create art meets standards and makes everyone happy.  We all love to color, so figure out how you can add an artistic project to the end of the year.

  5. Be silly.

     Add jokes to your worksheets.  Put funny memes in your lessons.  Have Justin Timberlake sing “It’s gonna be May”.  Figure out a way to laugh in class.  Let your students know that you are still happy to be there, that you want to be there.  Students know and appreciate when their teacher really want to work with them.

so …

So if you, like me, feel like you may be slipping and heat (and the smells) are starting to get to you, remember, you do love what you do.  Let’s end this year on a high note.  And when the final bell of the year rings, we will know that we did the best we could and gave it our all, because we are teachers!

 

Great to be a Teacher

10 Reasons Why it is Still Great to be a Teacher

Great to be a Teacher

10 Reasons Why it is Still Great to be a Teacher

I hear people all the time, “I wouldn’t be a teacher today”.  Most of the time the reasons are things like: the Common Core, standardized tests, biased teacher evaluations, lack of funding and the bureaucracy.  The profession of teaching has been vilified to the point that even the idea (even though it isn’t really true) of summers off doesn’t hold the appeal it once did.  There are even teachers that say if it weren’t the middle or end of their careers, they wouldn’t be teachers in today’s climate.  Well, I am here to tell you that teaching is an amazing profession.  As a matter of fact, I have 10 reasons why it is still great to be a teacher today!

10 REasons Why

fun

1.  Teaching is fun.  Seriously, it is so much fun.  Maybe I am a little nerdy, but I honestly love my subject matter.  It is what I specifically studied in college and I get to share my passion everyday.  I get to teach what I love.  I spend all day surrounded by material that makes me happy and try to inspire others to appreciate it the way I do.    

funny

2. Kids are hysterical.  I get to go to work every day and laugh, real honest laughter.  When you interact with a hundred different students, someone is bound to do something hysterical.  Whether it is tell a funny joke or fart at a totally inopportune time, not a day goes by that I don’t truly laugh.  It always helps me to remember that it is great to be a teacher (and farting can be funny).

making a difference

3. There is nothing better than making a difference.  There are scary things that go on in the world and the weight of it can steal your joy.  But as teacher, you can hold your head up, knowing that you have done something to make the world a better place.  You are actively making a difference.

you can do something good everyday

4.  You can do something good everyday.  Sitting in an office and interacting with a computer really limits the good you can do.  But as a teacher, I can make someone’s day better everyday.  Whether it is encouraging a student to find their own gifts or reminding a colleague of their importance, I can show kindness everyday.

what’s cool

5.  You will always know what’s cool.  What’s cool today may be a new app, phrase or YouTube channel, but as a teacher you are surrounded by what current.  Students will keep you on  your toes and on the cutting edge.  Teachers know what is in and we always know when things are out.  Being a teacher will keep you young.

learning

6.  Never stop learning.  Whether it is a new technology or a teaching strategy, a teacher will never stop learning.  We work in schools and our purpose (no matter what anyone says) is educating and inspiring children.  When you are surrounded by learning, you will continue to learn.  

new beginnings

7.  There is always a new beginning.  Every school year ends and a new one begins.  But in all reality, if things didn’t work well in the classroom today, there is always tomorrow.  Reteach, review and reflect.  Teachers always have the chance to do it over.

Everything changes

8.  No two days are the same.  Some people live their lives doing the same thing over and over, every day is more of the same.  However, when there are 30 different personalities interacting in the same room, the only thing you are guaranteed is that no two days will EVER be the same.

bonding

9.  Teaching is bonding.  Okay, so some days as a teacher are hard, really hard.  But being a teacher awakens something in your soul that will forever connect you to other teachers.  Whether you teach for three years or thirty, when you meet another teacher there is a bond that you have, an understanding of what the job is that allows you to share, commiserate and laugh in ways that people who never taught, will never be able to understand.

read and talk

10.Paid to read and talk.  This is really one of my favorite things to say about my job.  I get paid to read and talk, it is what I do and I love it.  What other job in the world pays you to talk about what you love, read about what you love and get paid to do it.  It is a dream come true.  

Of course people will continue to blame teachers (more about that here) for the ills of the world.  Teachers will be evaluated by unfair and biased measures,  but it really isn’t all bad.  If you feel in your soul that you were meant for the classroom, do not let money, retirement, standards or public opinion diminish your passion and drive.  Another career may pay the bills, but as the old adage says, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”.  If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, remember these 10 reasons why it is still great to be a teacher and why we do this job everyday.  We are helping children become the best they can be.

Becoming a Mother made me a better teacher

Becoming A Mother Made Me A Better Teacher

Teaching as a Mother

Teaching as a mother is quite different than I expected.  I knew that I loved my students, their success is my success.  But I wrongly assumed that once I became a mother my attention would shift.  I thought that I wouldn’t have the same passion for my students, wouldn’t have the ability to put them first anymore.  Before my daughter was born, I thought becoming a mother would take away from the teacher I was.  And I was wrong, teaching as a mother has made me a better teacher.  

Your Children Are Our Children

Have you ever listened to a teacher talk?  There are times that you cannot tell the difference between their students and their children.  I was once at a wedding, bragging about the wonderful triplets that I was teaching, when someone told me I looked good for having had triplets.  I laughed and said there were my students, not my own children.  But that is the pride we take in our students.  Your children are our children.

Teaching as a Mother

We Give What We Expect

As a mother, I know that every child in my room is loved with the depth and passion of a mother.  The trust that I have put into the people that care for my daughter has been put into me.  I take that trust very seriously.  Every child I work with is an extension of my own child.  I work as hard as I can for them knowing that someone else is doing the same for my child.   

Hope and Love

At the center of everything we do is hope and love.  We teach because we truly care for and want to see children succeed.  We wouldn’t deal with the educational bureaucracy unless we truly loved teaching children.  As teachers, we cared about educated children before we even had them.  Teaching as a mother has only intensified this feeling.  It is not a job you would leave your own children for if you didn’t feel that way.

We Understand Both Sides

As a mother I want the best for my child, but I also realize that sometimes a child can make it very difficult to do that.  Becoming a mother helped me see a child instead of just a student.  When a child is just too frustrated to work and they begin to take act out in class, I see a child in crisis rather than a disruptive student.  I can approach the situation as a mother there to support a child, rather than a teacher trying to discipline a student.

Teaching as a Mother

Who Comes First?

Of course my child comes first.  What parent wouldn’t say that?  In the grand scheme of things, who else will put my child first if I don’t. But when someone else’s child is in front of me, at that moment they come first.  I stop every aspect of my life for them.  The purpose of my career is other people’s children’s success.  Teaching as a mother, I want to help them, educate them and care for them.

Becoming a mother has changed my life in the most amazing ways.  I have a source of joy everyday of my life.  I have the profound privilege of raising the most amazing little girl.  But the unexpected change that came from becoming a mother was how much more love and compassion has come to my classroom.  Teaching as a mother has made me a better teacher.  

(Other thoughts on Teaching and Parenting here)

Blame a teacher

It’s Easy to Blame a Teacher

It’s easy to blame a teacher.  Everyone knows what a teacher does.  It is one of the few professions that we all grow up watching.  As a matter of fact, we spend seven hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year, for thirteen years watching people do this job.  Obviously, we know what they do and this is why it is easy to blame them for many of the societal issues today.  If teachers were effective, students wouldn’t fall behind.  And if teachers were effective, schools would not be failing.  If teachers were effective, students would not need remedial courses in college.  And of course, if teachers were effective a high school student would be equipped to work after graduating high school.

Reasons …

There are reasons for these problems.  Problems varying from a student not doing well, to poverty, to the changing dynamics of the American workforce.  One thing that I can promise you is not the problem, teachers.  I have been teaching for sixteen years.  I have met many teachers over the course of my career and even after all the blame we receive, we wake up every morning and we do the best job we can.

 

Again, I know that you feel like you know what we do and if we, teachers, just were better and worked harder, things would be better.  Well please let me take just a little time to clarify what it is that we do.  Yes, we teach class, that is the part that you know, the part that everyone of you has seen and been a part of.  But you were part of the class, not the one presenting the information.  

People know what teaching is …

Yes, teaching is standing in front of a group of 30 students, putting on a show, trying to share new information with a group of people who may not really be interested in what you have to say, but trying to convince them that they are.  At that moment we are simultaneously teaching, scaffolding the lesson to meet individual learning styles and needs.  Watching to see if there is any behavior that could distract the class or be evident of a problem that a child is in crisis.  We are evaluating the effectiveness of our teaching, modifying the lesson on the spot if it seems to not be working.  

We are doing all of this, while completely putting aside everything going on in our own lives, our mothers being sick, our overdrawn checking accounts and our flooded basements.  While we teach, we are on the stage and our students are all that is important; every other aspect of our lives is on hold.  We can’t come in and wing it, we can’t just call it in and there is no working from home.

What you don’t see

But that is just the aspect of teaching in front of the students.  Being a teacher is so much more.  We meet with colleagues to discuss students, their struggles, their achievements and what more we can do to help them.  Teachers grade, plan lessons, learn new curricula, identify ways to teach that will help our students meet new standards.  We learn new technology to help keep ourselves and our students on the cutting edge of an ever changing world.  All of this is done, while coaching, chaperoning events and holding after school clubs.  We contact parents, write progress reports and evaluate IEP goals.  If this amount of work seems like it would be impossible to complete in an 8 hour day, you’d be right, because it is.  Teachers choose either to stay late, or bring work home.  

 

This is not the work of an exceptional teacher, this is not the work of a teacher-of-the-year.  This is the everyday work of everyday teachers.  We put our heart and soul into this career.  As a teacher, we chose to work in a job where there is no prospect of promotion and where will be never become rich.  We have advanced degrees and yet part of our job is to make sure there are tissues in our classrooms.    

 

We are not perfect

Of course, as with every profession, there are a few people who do not put the effort in.  But in all reality, they quit teaching when they realize the enormity of the job.  Teacher that make this a life long career work with a passion that exists in few other professions.  Teachers work tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone around them.  They want to instill knowledge, kindness and a desire to learn.

 

To blame teachers for the ills of the world is just an over simplification of our true problems and using teachers as a scapegoat.  When we blame schools for the effects of poverty, all we are doing is denying the socio-economic disparity in our country.  But the truth remains, no matter how much you blame us, we will continue to work, continue to teach and continue to care about the students that walk in our doors.   Next time you blame a teacher, remember, we were on your side when you were a student and we will always be on your side even when you blame us, because as teachers, we only want what is best for you.

no more guilt

No More Working Mom Guilt

I love being a mother and I love being a teacher.   It’s in my nature to care for others and any mother/teacher will tell you the same thing.  We want to do our best, we know we can always be better teachers and we push ourselves to do that.  But there are hard days and the guilt is tremendous.   It’s crazy that we have to choose, from now on I want no more guilt.

Teachers know that parents give us the most important thing in their lives, their child.   Parents have trusted us to care for, listen and ultimately teach their children.  The mother/teacher understands this better than anyone; we have given our own child to someone else, so we can teach other people children.   

Teach

Most days this is wonderful.   We get up at 5 am, prep our families to get out the door, drop our child at daycare, rush to school and spend our day dedicated to the well being of other people’s children.   Our day is spent teaching these children lessons, grading their work and discussing with our colleagues what more we can do to help them.  We laugh with them, care for them, counsel them and sometimes cry with them.  We give our whole selves to this job.   It isn’t just our job; it is our passion.   We truly love what we do.   

After a day of teaching, we rush home back to our own children.   I still find myself running to the daycare door.  The sooner I have my daughter back in my arms, the happier I am.  We go home and begin our routine of coloring, playing, going for walks, cooking dinner, tubby time and then bedtime.  It is hectic, but we make it work.   My husband is great, he does most of the daycare pick ups and LOTS of playing.   I don’t know how many times a grown man and a 2 year old can race across the living room.  These are great days.  I can help children, laugh a little and love deeply.   I couldn’t ask for more.

Teacher Writing

But there are hard days.   Days when I am forced to walk away from my crying child so I can go to work.   Every fiber of my being aches as I turn away from her.  I hate it! It ruins my day and I rarely recover from it.   Thank God for the mother/teachers I work with.   They help talk me through it and remind me she is okay, that it’s just a phase, but mostly they commiserate about how much it sucks.

But there are days even harder, when you know your students really need you, but your own child needs you more.  When you have to call into work for the 8th, 9th or 10th time. There is so much guilt that comes from not doing your job to the best of your ability.  We truly care for the children we teach.   Teachers take the responsibility parents have given us more seriously than they could imagine.   We want to share knowledge and the joy of learning with them.   

But when our children are sick, no one can care for them like mommy.   Our own children need us more than other people’s children.   We have to learn to how to stop beating ourselves up for putting our own children first.   My awesome friend Michelle often reminds me that kids can’t watch themselves.  It’s true! Someone has to be home with them. And for many of us, mommy is the only option.  

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Why should we feel guilty for caring for our children? It is part of our make up as mothers.  If they need us, we should, without any guilt, be able to hold them, love them and stay home with them.  My job is my passion, but it is also a necessity.   My household needs the income from both my husband and I to run.   And I truly understand how great of a responsibility it is to be a teacher.. I put my entire mind, body and soul into my job.   But from this point on, I want to let go of the guilt that comes with choosing my daughter first. The most important job I have is being a mother.  Putting my daughter first doesn’t mean I’m a bad teacher, it just means that I am a mother.  From now on I will say with no more guilt.

Why this name?

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I always dreamed that I would be a mother.  I know that it isn’t everyone’s dream, but it was always mine.  The reason for this is obvious for anyone who ever met my mother.  I have mentioned her in previous posts and I am sure that I will mention her in many more to come.  She was and will always be my definition of what a mother is.  I am sure many of you can relate, but for those who cannot, please let me explain.  She created a place for me to grow up with unconditional love.  That is as simple and true as it sounds.  With my mother, there were no conditions.  She loved wholly and  completely.  I never doubted, never questioned and never felt that I had to changed or be something for her.  I was loved.  That is what a mother is to me.

As a child, I didn’t know that this was special.  I thought that if you had a child, you loved that child.  Part of me still wants to believe that today, but I realized that too many people grew up with conditions to the love they are given.  Unconditional love can create a strong foundation to build a life on; it grows deep roots. Even when life knocks you down, that foundation will hold you securely in place.  A mother is love.  I want to love unconditionally; I want provide security.  I want to be a mother.
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Teachers come in many forms, from big brothers, to roommates, colleagues to children.  We learn when people take the time to teach.  We learn when someone decides that not only the knowledge is important, but the learner is too.  I have had amazing teachers in my life, some in classrooms and some in living rooms.  The teachers in my life decided I was important enough to spend time and energy on, they decided that I deserved to learn.

 

Wonderful people have taken the time to be a teacher to me, they have given me new ways to think.  Teachers have helped to awaken my spirit.  A great teacher has the ability to reach into the mind, heart and soul of another and turn on a light.  Teachers open doors, free minds and create hope.  I want to be a teacher.
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Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  When we live in the knowledge we have, we stay where we are.  Only through our dreams can we move further, can we create the beautiful future that awaits.  Dreams are hope.  Dreams are a desire for a better future.  A dreamer realizes that it can be better, we can be better and holds on to that dream.  

Every step forward has come because of a dream.  But hope can get weighed down with the stress of the world and people put their dreams aside.  Without our dreams, we sink into the monotony of life and lose the beauty of the future.  Our lives today were the fanciful dreams of others.  I want to be a dreamer.

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Mother Teacher Dreamer, a simple definition for jobs I have, but really it helps me remember who I want to be and what I want to do.  I want to love deeply and unconditionally.  I want to provide stability and understanding.  I want others to know their importance and to help them find truth, knowledge and passion.  I want to hold on tightly to the hope of a better, kinder world and beautiful future.  I want to be a Mother, Teacher and a Dreamer.

Mother Teacher Dreamer Middle School

What Teaching Middle School is Like

What Teaching Middle School is like

Mother Teacher Dreamer Teaching Middle School

What Teaching Middle School is Like

Teaching Middle School

When people ask me what teaching middle school is like, I like to tell them that it is like a party every single day.  I party I wasn’t necessarily invited to, but a party nonetheless.   Let’s keep this simile going, it is loud like a party, there are always a lot of people like a party, most of the people there are looking to have fun.  However, one of the biggest problems with this party, is that I am there.  I am clearly just ruining the party!

 

Although most of what I just said is for fun, part of the reason it’s funny is because it’s true.  Middle school is a crazy place.  There are the hormones.  The kids hit twelve years old and everything changes.  They grow quickly, stop having full control of their limbs and begin to fall out of their chairs.  They run around like crazy, start to sweat and for some reasons are not aware that they should be wearing deodorant.  Middle school smells, it smells bad.  There are days that I don’t even realize how bad it smells until I leave my room; when I come back I realize that I’ve been living in an armpit.

 

But honestly middle school is hard. Not for the teachers, but for the students. Of course for some students academic work is difficult, but that isn’t what makes middle school hard.  Usually it is the social dynamic that changes everything.  Many children arrive in middle school, friends with their neighborhood friends, as a child you become friends with the people who are around you.  But as soon as you hit middle school, that all changes.  Cliques begin, some kids are in, which inevitably means that someone else is out.  Navigating the world of middle school and the social hierarchy that comes with it is a tremendous strain on many children.

 

It is hard for them …

It is a strain, but because middle school children want to be adults.  They make decisions that they think adults make.  The first and usually one of the worst is that they stop telling their parents everything.  They think that adults can figure things out on their own and only kids need their mom and dad.  So they try to handle the upheaval of their lives by themselves.  But this is where I usually come in.  They may not want to share their lives with their parents, but they still look for someone.  

 

As a middle school teacher, I can share what little I know, about the world and people, with kids that are trying to grow up in an ever changing world.  I tell my students all the time, that other than very specific moments in my life, the death of my mother for example, middle school was by far, the most difficult time of my life.  If I was offered a million dollars, I would not go back to middle school.  I tell them this, to let them know that it really gets better; if you can get through middle school, you really can make it.  Once you figure out who you are, what you believe in and begin to like yourself; life really can be amazing!

 

I guess there are other things that I could do other than teaching middle school English, but honestly why would I want to.  Unlike other people going to other jobs, I get to go to a party everyday.

Teaching and Poverty

Teaching and Poverty

Teaching and Poverty

Teaching and poverty

It is often said that education is the great equalizer.  Through education any person can become anything; a person can pull themselves up by the bootstraps and live the life they dream.  Although this is partially true in this country, poverty takes away the equal and equitable access to education.  Poverty manipulates the mind and social structures. It creates an environment of failure, that without interventions, for many children is inescapable.  It is now the job of teachers to do more than teach, it is our job to combat poverty in the classroom.

 

Poverty comes in many forms, situational, generational, urban and rural, but each instance of poverty is damaging and causes difficulties for a child in school.  Currently in New York State, there are nearly two million children living in low income homes or in poverty.  Poverty is affecting these children and their ability to perform at their peak in school.  A child does not choose poverty, they live in the world they are given, it is up to teachers to create a platform for every child to succeed.  

 

Children living in poverty live according to a different set of rules than their middle class counterparts, each class has its own set of hidden rules.  The rules they live by,  the rules they need to survive in poverty, often times create great difficulty for students in poverty and are in stark contrast to the rules they are expected to follow in school.  Children in poverty not only follow a different set of rules, but are unfamiliar with the middle class rules that much of our society runs on.  It is up to the schools and teachers to return education to the great equalizer it once was and create an environment for every student to thrive.  

 

What we Can do

This task may seem insurmountable, but there are some clear steps schools and teachers can take to make great improvements for students in poverty.  First, have the teachers become allies with one another in an effort to combat poverty.  Critical to academic success is relationship building. Educators need to develop a level of trust when working with students in poverty. These children come to the plate with several strikes against them, education should not be a strike, but instead a possible way out of poverty.

 

Developing trusting relationships is a difficult task for many people, especially for children who reside in poverty. As educators, we need to develop and model trusting relationships with our colleagues. Children need to see their mentors model expectations. This will help children trust in us and allow for relationships to develop.  As the teachers begin working closer together, natural bonds will form which will help teachers create relationships.  A bonded faculty is a faculty that can work towards a common goal.  

 

Second, schools need to gather data on students in poverty and use the data in a way to identify weaknesses.  Unless teachers know what needs improvement, nothing can be done.  Clear data that can be tracked through time can show weaknesses and if interventions are proving to be successful.  Once these interventions are put in place, it is then imperative that the school becomes a place of hope and where dreams are attainable.  Children in poverty often do not see a future ahead of them.  School now needs to be a place where children can dream of the great and attainable future that awaits them.  

 

Relationships

Specific ways this can be achieved in the classroom is by creating a welcoming and trusting environment.  A teacher needs to be a stable and reliable adult for children in poverty; they need to feel cared for and believe that they can trust their teachers.  It is through relationships that many children in poverty can be reached and find success.     

 

There are ways teachers can use these relationships to help teach the hidden rules of the middle class to children in poverty.  Teachers can have students work in groups, use specific interests to engage students, create opportunities for physical movement within lessons and opportunities to use their own unique gifts in the classroom.
With the number of children in poverty rising, teachers can no longer assume the role of a chalk and talk teacher.  We must create a classroom that no matter what a child comes to us with, we can help to facilitate growth and achievement.  Because every child deserves to learn.