Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A is for Acceptance, L is for Love

          Every school year starts as a clean slate with a whole new group of kids, parents, surprises, challenges, failures and successes. In some years patience is hard to find and  requires digging a little bit deeper to find a little glimmer of what’s left and some years things run more smoothly from start to finish and teaching is a bit more effortless.
          This year, even though it’s almost June, We're still working on walking quietly in the hallway, remembering to raise a hand when you have something important to say, not fooling around in the bathroom when you have a job to do, and teaching kids to be kind and respectful, this has been one of those years of digging just a little bit deeper.
            This year has had its challenges, but when I look back on the past 9 months, (and I’m convinced it’s no coincidence that the school year is the same length as an average pregnancy) and I think about how far they have come, I know that the year has been successful in ways that I haven’t necessarily noticed day to day.
                        I have learned a lot from these children.
            I’ve learned that classroom management is ever evolving. Every teacher has a bag of tricks we pull out to create a safe and happy learning environment and just when you think that after lots of years you have it down, you don’t. You need to abandon some of those tricks and find new ones and there is never a guarantee that those will work. But you keep trying because teachers don’t give up on anyone.
             This year more than ever I have realized the importance of being on a team, the realization that I can’t, or wouldn’t want to do this alone, that some days the only thing that gets me through the door are the people  I get to work with everyday.
            I was reminded that every child has a gift even those that try my patience everyday, those that come with academic challenges, or difficult lives outside of school. Those kids are the ones I work at the hardest. Getting them to like coming to school everyday and engaged in the things we are learning, getting them to persevere and try their best even when they would much rather be playing video games or running around outside.
            I’ve learned that even the shyest kid will eventually come around and show his true personality if I can show him that it’s safe to let it out.
            I’ve learned that sometimes my expectations of a child’s ability is out of whack and they surprise me with the things they are capable of, or let me know when it’s time to back off a bit and just let a kid sit quietly in a corner with a good book.
            I was reminded that a sibling is never like the one that came before and sometimes this is a pleasant surprise!
            I learned that every family is unique and important and each and every parent wants what’s best for their child and I was reminded that every child is somebody’s baby.
            I’ve learned that there is always something new to learn, about children and families, moms, dads, new baby sisters, big brothers, dinosaurs, The Force (although I’m pretty much an expert on all things Star Wars).
            I’ve learned more about bravery this year than I ever expected to. I’ve seen children take risks that many adults are unable to take and I become a bit emotional when I realize how fortunate I am to have been here to witness it, support it and be a part of it.
            This year I’ve had to teach more about acceptance than any other year, and occasionally it’s the adults in our building that I’ve had to educate more so than the kids. Kids are pretty accepting little creatures especially in kindergarten. Kids don’t notice color, or gender or disabilities, and if they do, they aren’t afraid to ask a question and deserve an honest answer. Lucky for me they are also pretty satisfied with the simple answers.
                So this year even though I’m tired, really, really tired and very ready for summer, this year, this team and these kids have, in many ways, made me a better teacher and I will be forever grateful for that.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

S is for Snowflakes

"The thing about "snowflakes" is this: They are beautiful and unique, but in large numbers become an unstoppable avalanche that will bury you." @GeorgeTakei

 This election cycle has sucked me in and spit me out.

Confidence, pride, disbelief, shock, sadness, disgust, fear, hope, empowerment. I've felt them all.

I was an active participant in the No on Two Movement, which kept the cap on Charter Schools in our state. I stuck a bumper sticker to my car, I made phone calls, I held a sign, I talked to anyone I could about this important vote.  I was more worried about this passing than I was about the Presidential Election. I was confident my candidate would win, the polls said so, why worry?
I've always been a firm believer that my local government is more important to my day to day happiness than who is sitting in The White House.
I was proud to exercise my right to vote, I was about to vote for the first woman President of the United States, a historic vote to be sure considering not so very long ago I wouldn't have been able to cast a vote at all.
As I watched the results come in, it was clear the charter school cap would remain. I was thrilled and settled in to watch as the rest of the evening unfolded.
As more and more state results were called I sat in disbelief. No, this really can't be happening. What went wrong, how could this be? The questions were endless. I tried to go to bed, I couldn't sleep. I got up the next morning feeling as if I had been run over by a truck. She was so much more qualified, intelligent, well spoken, reasonable!
Although my candidate lost the election, she IS the choice of the majority but that is of small consolation. He is The President now. I can respect the office, but I'll be honest, I'm having a very hard time respecting the man.
I couldn't bring myself to watch the inauguration, I'm proud to live in a country where the transfer or power is indeed peaceful, but I couldn't watch. I couldn't. It's not about being a sore loser, it's not about his politics, it's not that I'm a registered Democrat and he's not. Had any of the other Republican candidates been elected I would have been disappointed, but I could have accepted it.
I don't support anything he represents and I'm fearful for my family, my students, my friends and what this administration is going to mean for us and the things we care about. Especially those who are two young to speak for themselves.
Inauguration night I was sitting with my youngest talking. We were both obviously sad. He told me how weird it felt for him that Barack Obama was no longer our president.
"He's been The President for half my life mom."  "I'll be in college by the time we can vote Trump out." "But this time you'll get to vote!", I told him.
I have no doubt, that like my older two boys, he'll be a thoughtful voter. He'll pay attention to the issues and he'll do his research. He'll be opinionated and he'll be able to back up his opinion.
It's his generation where our hopes lie now. If the Trump presidency has done nothing else it has made people stop and pay attention. I will admit I have watched more CNN, listened to more NPR and read more than I ever have in the past.
I did not march yesterday, but I wish I had. I was proud watching so many people, not only in Washington, Boston and almost every major city in our country, but around the world marching in protest and for basic human rights.
It was empowering to watch the peaceful protest of people who are afraid of what may come, but not afraid to stand up for what they believe in.  Two of my former students and their wonderful, thoughtful Iranian born mom attended the Woman's March. My name is proudly displayed on their banner, second name top row! I am honored to have been included.

I think we are going to be okay. I pray that we are going to be okay. It might be a bumpy road, but with all of us who are unhappy with the way things are, who are not going to stay quiet, who will speak up for those who can not speak up for themselves, when we join together with kindness, in peace and with purpose we can make a difference.
Together we can move mountains.
Love Trumps Hate
Yes We Can.