Saturday, September 19, 2015

Be unshakeable.

My Friday started off super rough.  One of my students with an Emotional Disturbance had an issue, and turned it towards me. Hardcore.  Scary moment for us all.

This brought me back to my days as a Special Education teacher working with the behavior students day in and day out.  Every single day, I was hit, kicked, pinched, spit on, had things thrown at me, been stabbed with random objects, hair and clothing pulled, and called super vulgar things.  My job was not to be angry or upset when this happened, but to remain calm and help my kiddos work through their issues.  They have the behavior verification for a reason.  Did I get upset at the end of the day when I was filling out my paperwork and reliving the issues all over again?  Absolutely.  Did I ever hold grudges or stay angry with these children?  Absolutely not.

That was not my job.  That is not any of our jobs as teachers.  Children we work with have mental health issues, and they're not going away.  It's quite the opposite, in fact.  We are seeing more and more children with mental health issues and dealing more adult issues than they should have to.  I wrote my research paper for my Master's on this subject, so, when I say they're not going away, it's the truth.  And it's something we all need to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for.

When this incident happened yesterday, the behavior teacher thanked me profusely for welcoming my student back and being genuine about it.  Why would she thank me?  This is my job as an adult!!  This student of mine didn't do these things to me because they wanted to.  They did them because they cannot control when things like this happen!  It is how this child's brain is wired!

Our job, as adults in a paid relationship with our students, is to always remain the constant.  The unmovable.  The unshakeable.  We are the one thing in their lives that is not supposed to be affected by things that happen while we are with them.  Yes, we are immensely emotional beings, and it does shake us when these things happen, but we cannot let our students know that it has.  We need to love them unconditionally and always be ready for them to be back on track.  We are TEACHERS - we teach them how to forgive and love, along with academia.  We are also teaching our other students how to forgive.

We are not judge and jury in our classroom.  Sure, there are many things we have control over in the day-to-days of our rooms, but having a student come back, feel wanted, and be productive is not one of those issues you can flip-flop about.  You are not there to judge the child and hold their actions against them.  Always welcome them back, and do it genuinely.  Kids are smart - they can tell when you're being fake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why do adults make teaching so hard?!

Hello, everyone!  I hope you have been doing well these past few days since I last posted. I've had some tough times, so I am hoping you aren't going through the same!!

Ok.  Now to talk about the intention of this post!  There is always one question that I have when I'm having a rough day at school - Why do the adults make this so hard?!

Every day, I hear something negative about my class.  Granted, we are a little chatty and are having some girl-drama issues, but overall, we are a GOOD class.  They have so much potential and so much to offer.  I love their little souls so stinkin' much.

I start my day with the slogan "Choose Happiness, Choose Positivity."  I do really well with this, until another adult walks in and starts to drain my happiness and positivity.  They like to mention all of the negative things that happened the day before.  Down goes positivity and happiness for the morning.  Shortly after, the kids come in, and are themselves, and make my morning beautiful.

Then, recess and lunch happen.  Again - more negatives from adults about my 9- and 10-year olds.  Ok, ok, I'll handle it, I tell them.  And I do.

Thirty minutes later, specials.  Fifty minutes later, more negatives!!  "They're just awful," "They can't listen or follow any directions," and all of a sudden I feel like Charlie Brown listening to his teacher.  You know the sound - waah, waah, waahwaah, wah wah wahh.  The next hour with them is basically RUINED!!!  I ask for positives from those same adults, but they can't ever think of any at the time.

So, like I said, day is ruined!  I know I can't force them to behave while I'm not with them, but there's got to be something I can do.  I've already told my principal that I am going to go to specials with them and observe them, to see if there is anything I can do to reinforce our (mostly) positive behaviors in the classroom together.  I'm not saying this will completely fix what is broken, and I can't do it every single day (as it is my plan time), but something has got to give here!!

It brings me down so much because I used to be the teacher that would go in, observe, and help make changes to other teacher's students.  Last year, which was my first year in the regular ed. classroom (6 years in Special Education, big focus on behavior), my students absolutely spoiled me.  Daily!!  These new lovebugs of mine are far more spirited.  It is so hard for me to be happy and positive everyday when I don't get happy and positive feedback from the adults who are supposed to be my support system.

Please.  Give me your suggestions!!  I am willing to try anything at this point, just to save my sanity.  Ha ha :)

Choose happiness, choose positivity, my friends!!  I am going to practice what I preach!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lesson plan templates and planners!

Happy Labor Day!  I'm hoping you're able to spend this last "official" day of summer doing something fun!  We're all sick in my house, so nothing fun for us :(

Last night on Twitter during the #tptchat, the topic of lesson plans and planners were brought up.  I have tried so many different ways to organize my planning, but I finally found a way that works for me!

This year, our school was given a new principal.  She's amazing!  However, she is requiring us to do and submit weekly lesson plans.  Ok, no big deal, right?  Well, we've never had to do it before!  This was a learning experience for all of us in the building who had been used to the former principal and what she wanted from us.  So, when the topic of lesson plans came up, I had a little minor freak out.  I have always had a general lesson plan book, but never as in depth as she wanted.  The guideline was "anyone who walks in could read your lesson plans and know 100% what to do." Again - freak out.  My plans worked for ME, but they weren't as in depth as she was talking about.

So, the general plan template I've always used, even when in Special Education, was this:
 Some of the bottom got cut off, but generally, this is what it looked like.  Super functional, and you could see a one-week spread just by opening the binder.  I still use this as my general layout.

Next, came the handwritten in-depth daily lesson plans.
I LOVED this format, because I used my Flair pens to color-code subjects!  It was a lot of work, but I stuck with it for 13 school days.

Now, having a 3 1/2 year old and 5 1/2 year old running around proved to be somewhat disastrous for my beautiful plans.  Water would get spilled, they would add a doodle here or there; they ended up looking like a hot mess sometimes and I would have to redo them.  It took me an average of 45 minutes to get them the way I wanted them!  I couldn't take that much time away from my kids to hand-write lesson plans.  It was way too stressful!

So, I went searching - TpT, Pinterest, Google, wherever I could just to get some sort of idea on what I wanted my new template to look like.  Rewind to a chat I had with my favorite frienducator, Meg, (A New Box of Crayons) about her lesson plan template.  I loved the look of it, I wanted one similar to it!  A coworker of ours actually made her template for her, and it is way more spiffy than mine! So, here is what I came up with:

Can you hear the angels singing and playing their harps as we speak or what?!!?  Holy buckets, friends!  This was a lifesaver!!  I can keep the font size super small if I need to (like 7 or 8, for reals), and use my favorite font (KG Architect's Daughter)... as Sheila Jane would say, "Winning!!"  I have been so blessed to meet Meg, and through Meg I met Sheila Jane, who is deserving of a blog post all her own!  (I will put this plug in for her before that post comes along, however, because her amazingness needs to be shared with the teaching world!! Sheila Jane Teaching, seriously, go check her out if you haven't already!!)

Ok, so there's my two cents on planning!  I hope you have found this helpful, and maybe took something away that you could use, or something to spark an idea!  Collaborating is my #1 favorite thing to do with fellow educators - we need each other, y'all!!

Have a fabulous rest of your day, and get some rest if you can!


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Some background

Happy Sunday!  I wanted to take some time to really introduce myself, just so you know who you're dealing with around here :)

The name is Carli!  I have two beautiful children who consume every ounce of my being!  On my "own time," I'm a 4th grade teacher at one of the highest poverty schools here in Nebraska.  This is my second year doing 4th grade.  Before this, I was a Special Education teacher for 5 1/2 years.  I have my Masters in Educational Administration, and one day hope to become a principal of a high poverty school.

I've taught the gamete of students and disabilities; Autism, Severe/Profound health and mental impairments, learning disabilities, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, RADs, students falling behind academically due to cancer treatments; you name it, I've taught it! I've honestly loved every single one of my students, however, there is one group of students that have my heart the most, and those would be...

Students with BEHAVIOR DISORDERS!!  I absolutely LOVE students with Behavior Disorders (although now the new identification in NE is called 'Emotionally Disturbed,' or ED, for short.  I don't know about you, but my mind wanders elsewhere with that acronym.)  Now obviously, I'm not a huge fan of getting hit, kicked, punched, pinched, bit, spit on (the worst in my mind), hair pulled, clothing ripped and my personal belongings ruined, dealing with police officers at times, but it's the small things with these kiddos.  I suppose when I look back, they really aren't small in the grand scheme of things.  Talking with and being there when students go through meltdowns, tantrums, fits escalation, crisis, whatever you call them, brings you closer with those kiddos.

They don't necessarily want to be "naughty" or do bad things, they've just been dealt some sort of unfortunate circumstance that has delayed their ability to learn and utilize appropriate coping skills.  Sure, these students are choosing to react in certain ways, but in retrospect, they haven't been taught the appropriate ways to deal with hard moments.  My favorite thing to say to them is, "You are free to choose, but you are not free of the consequences of your choice."  I want to talk so much more about kiddos with BD and how I interact and handle their education, but this post wasn't supposed to be about that. Soooo, I will save that for another time.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings!!  See you soon!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Very First Post!

How exciting is this?!  I can't believe I actually took the jump into this crazy world of BLOGGING!  I have doubted myself numerous times already, thinking things like "I am WAY too old for this," or, "Definitely not talented enough for something like this..."  Well, I quieted the biggest doubter of them all (myself!) and did it!

I couldn't have even started this journey without my dear friend, Meg, from Meg's New Box of Crayons.  You should go check her out!!  She is AH. MAAAZE. ING!!

There are so many things I want to talk about all of a sudden, but, being a mommy takes precedence.  So I will definitely be back soon!

Thanks, all!  I can't wait to see where this journey takes us!!

All my love,