Wednesday, June 7, 2017

From the Inside Out

Smiles plastered all over our faces.

Desks scrubbed, white boards cleared and grades in.  
Students said their good-byes, 
we breathed a long, releasing sigh.

School's out for the summer.  

The next school year has new surprises already lurking, trying to provoke uncertainty.  But, as Scarlet says, "We'll worry about that tomorrow."

now is time to release, 
sip my coffee slowly,
on this almost summer, rainy morning,
decompress and reflect on this past year.

 The beginning of the year began with my heart in my hand as I once again said good-bye to my own children.  It's not easy for Momma when her own kiddos live far away.  

I usually teach my students all three years of middle school.  I already knew some potential challenges I was going to face.

Personnel in my department was changing and I didn't know how these changes would impact me and my time.  I'm one of those teachers that stay at school for about one to two hours after the kids go home.  With these new changes, I was afraid I might have to move in.  

Then you have the usual challenges of having to keep up with your regular obligations,  professional development and the surprises that pop up unexpectedly.

And, finally, saying "Adios" to dear friends and co-workers who are moving on, never easy for me.  

As you might already know, I filter everything through my personal faith.  It's the way I roll.  And, I must say, in spite of all the obstacles, my God has been faithful.  He guided and strengthened me every step of the way.  I learned a few lessons, had a few blessings, and made it through one more time.  For that, I am truly grateful!

LESSON LEARNED:  One major and important lesson I re-learned is contentment comes from the inside out.

 There are so many distractors in education.  Every day there's a new one threatening to take us off track, provoking discouragement.  All these things can steal from us the fulfillment we seek from our profession. 

 Education can be messy, it's not always neat and prescriptive.  It's a struggle.  Some days we're on top of the world, making strides and feeling as if we are making a difference.  Then other days it feels as if we are literally fighting against gravity.  But, we cannot really measure our full contribution from one day to the next because education is a process, it's not a moment.  Education doesn't just happen,
it's developed.  

For my professional development goal this year I chose to learn about how to help students reflect on their learning.  I took it one step further and worked on reflecting on my teaching and my daily do's.  I purchased the book, "Mindsets in the Classroom" by Mary Cay Rici.  I learned a lot about how our thinking about what we need to learn directly impacts our success.  I learned how we as teachers can self-jeopardize progress because of our own fixed mindsets.  So, I decided to work on changing some of my own mindsets and go-to reactions.

Here are some mindsets I changed:

-Some days I decided to just "shake things off" rather than dwell in uncertainty.

-Other days I decided to keep my comments to myself.

-Some days I decided to go with my professional opinion even if it wasn't popular.  

-I chose to listen, really listen, and learn.

-I chose, to be honest about my shortcomings because they're there even though I don't always care for others to know.

-I sometimes decided to move "urgent things to do" to "important, can wait until tomorrow".

-I chose to breathe and assess before working myself up because things have a way of working themselves out.

Changing from the inside out made a difference for me this year in how I view my role and how I view what I do.  I am a teacher.  And, no, it may not be one of the highest paying careers, it may not be the most admired, and it may not be everything I thought it would be, but it is who I am.
It is who I'm called to be.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017


It's around this time of year when we begin to find out who is retiring, moving away, transferring, or simply not coming back next year.  Let's just say I like things to stay the same.  It's a flaw, I know, especially in these times where the only thing that remains constant is change.  (Hence, the title of my blog, "In Transition".)

I've been teaching at the same school since 2003.  Before then I taught at the same school for ten years.  When you're at a school for an extended amount of time the people you work with become your academic family.  Together you experience the good and the bad, the ups and downs.  You mourn and celebrate together, personal and professional
Last week I learned three teachers are moving on in my department alone.  That's not counting my two pod mates that belong to other departments. 
I must admit I was taken.  

I would say, within the last three to five years, major changes started to hit.  Dear colleagues, friends, framily, began to leave.  This year proves the changes are still a constant. And, when people begin to move on, grow, take risks, you wonder, "What about me?"  

It's easy, very easy, to compare your own situation with everyone else's,
"Should I be taking risks, moving on, too?"
 I further realized the manner in which my own situation will be different as people move on.   
It's both exciting and challenging at the same time.
New people will be coming on board with more or less knowledge of what they're about to embark in.  We'll need to establish boundaries and find our working ways.  

Theoretically, it's a new opportunity to grow by helping and mentoring.  However, in all practicality, it doesn't always work out that way or it's not always received that way.  I guess the unknown is always a mystery.
I'm a faith girl.  I filter all of my stuff through my faith and my beliefs.  It's my criteria if you will, 
my constant in the middle of a changing world.  
As I reflect on what does all of this mean for me, 
I realize that my situation is in fact mine.  
Everyone has to do what is right for them, 
and I must caution myself from making decisions based on the circumstances of others.  

I'm reminded of the animal kingdom.  
Some species thrive in an environment for a season then they must migrate to another when the seasons change.  I suppose it might work the same way for us.

We should bloom in our designated places at our designated seasons.  

For me this means, I continue to bloom and flourish where I am for such a time as this. For others, it means they must move to new environments with new assignments and new mountains to conquer.  As much as I'm going to miss them all, I fully understand and wish them much success and happiness.

And, furthermore, and probably most importantly, my faith reminds me, that I am not alone.

 God is with me.  

He is with me always.  
He's not going anywhere!  
I'm no longer taken, the news is sinking in. 
Things work out in the end, and a new day is coming.  And, when it does, we will welcome it with all the tension and awkwardness it promises, 
because before long, it will become the new normal.