Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Do we really do what we say we do?

You never know who you will sit next to on a flight.

Will it be a passenger who coughs constantly without covering their mouth? Will it be a mother with a three year old that cries the whole flight? Will it be someone who has too much to drink? You never know…..

On a flight to visit a friend of mine, who had just retired, in Rhode Island, I was excited to hear that our flight was only 70% full, and it was likely that not all three seats in my row would be filled! I always take the aisle seat and a woman asked to get through to the window seat. We both commented that we were hopeful that the middle seat would remain empty.

We started to chat a bit, and she told me she was going to Rhode Island for a team-building event and that she was a musician who specialized in African drumming. She lived in Austin, Texas and was in and out that same day. She told me a bit about her musical expertise and shared that she was able to obtain some grants to work in the schools. She definitely had a passion for what she did and how it impacted children.

This woman shared that she had an 8-year-old daughter and that she was involved in her school, as PTA president and need to make sure that her daughter did not have the same experience as her son in public education. She became very emotional about his experiences, and the way public education failed her and her son throughout his education. She finally realized her son was on the autism spectrum, most likely Asperger’s, and the schools he attended were not capable of supporting him. She shared a story about the principal calling her into his office one day. The principal said that her son performed excellent on the Texas state assessment and asked her how this could be, as her son does not do his homework and has behavioral problems in the classroom. She began to cry.

At this point, I was compelled to tell her that I was a retired public school administrator. She apologized for her stories and said she didn’t mean to offend me. I shared with her that I was also a special educator, specifically a speech-language pathologist, and that I understood what she was telling me and understood her frustrations.

I told this woman that I worked in a district that did everything they could do to accommodate a child, no matter what. I shared various accommodations that we provided to our students in order to help them be successful.

After our conversation, I closed my eyes and thought, “Did I really work in this type of district?” “Did we really do everything we could to accommodate students and their needs?”

This is a question that we should ask ourselves every single day when working with our students.

Monday, August 18, 2014

2014-2015 School Year

Dear Teachers Starting the 2014-2015 school year,

With all the craziness of the beginning of school, then working on the Common Core, and the new assessments, curriculum changes, we get bogged down with the "doing." I would like to challenge you to at least weekly, to journal about the impact you think you might have on the kids you teach and work with. Reflect on it, think about it, feel it, breath it.

When cleaning out boxes in my new house, I came upon two letters that I received from 2 students that I have kept since I retired in 2011. Re-reading them made me understand how much I loved the students in my school district and how much I enjoyed interacting with them on a daily basis. It was not just about their intellectual development, academic development, but also about their development as people, learning to deal with conflict, problems, death, friendship, who they are as young adults, trust, caring and disappointment. I was lucky enough to have watched those develop in the students.

So know the impact you have on these kiddos, whether in Kindergarten, middle school, or sophomores in high school. What you do, your interest in your students as learners and as PEOPLE, makes a huge difference.

AND don't forget the impact that they have on YOU, as a teacher and a person! The lessons we learn from them are amazing!!

Have a great 2014-2015 school year!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I have been gone a long time!!! Not something you want to happen if you want to communicate helpful information to those that might follow or even read your blog if you send it to some readers!!

Since August 2013, I have purged my house of 27 years, sold my house, moved 1800 miles away from IL to AZ, put our belongings into storage, built a new house, moved in and am still purging our belongings from storage!!! My son is getting married in about 60 days.

But really, I have no excuse for not working on my blog during the last 10 months. Even though I have not been blogging, I have been teaching online and some face-to-face sessions on Professional Learning Communities and realize I still have enthusiasm and passion for school leaders and teachers collaborating together to improve student achievement. (I did retire in 2011, too)

Now that the house is built, I am moved in, wedding plans all finalized for the most part and everything done for the wedding, my husband asked me, "Now what are you going to do, now that all that is behind you?"

Transitions in our lives can be challenging and uncertain. Whether you are at my stage of life, or fresh out of college, looking for your first teaching job, or looking to or are transitioning to a new position, your kids are going to high school, kids are off to college or kids are moving out of your house. Life can be challenging and uncertain. Most of us like order in our lives.

During these times we need to look for opportunities and connections. How can I find where opportunities might be and how do I connect with someone that might help me find what I am looking for? How do I feel about this place in my life? What do I need to focus on to improve where I am at and where I want to go?

Most recently, I have been exposed to the Wheel of Life.

You look at each section and rate yourself from 1-10, with 10, highly satisfied, being the widest part of the pie edge and 0, being highly dissatisfied at the center of the pie. Doing this can help you see where you need to focus your efforts.

Being "intentional" on what you need to work on or focus on, makes your actions more deliberate and productive. Reviewing the wheel periodically will allow you to see how fluid your life is and how you can focus on various areas.

After all this going on in my life, I felt that the Fun and Recreation for me was something that was sorely missing. As a result, I decided that week, that I would go to a movie, talk--NOT email or text, 3 friends, and entertain at our home. By focusing on that area of my life, I did what I planned and enjoyed it!!

What does your Wheel of Life look like?