YOU Are LIGHT

 

Last week in my update, I shared this quote:

 

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

— Albert Schweitzer

 

Authors refer to light and darkness when creating imagery within a text. These references are so powerful that when you hear the word “light” you immediately have a picture in your mind and the connotation stirs positive thoughts and images.  The power of evoking or igniting light into another person’s life is a true opportunity.  Educators are given the gift to do this every single day.

 

Taylorsville is filled with light in many forms including actions, thoughts, words and people.   Our building is not fancy and in places is worn and needs paint but the children that fill our building bring a joy. Their laughter and chatter surround this space with energy and remind me of their eagerness to learn. They come each day ready for us to guide and encourage.  It is our actions as educators that can bring light to their lives or darken their world.

 

You, as individuals and as a staff, have ignited my light.  My light had dwindled by the stress of deadlines, frustrated voices, and a plethora of tasks that have yet to be completed on time.

 

Here are the top 10 things about Taylorsville Elementary that has filled me with light!

10.  The laughter of students filling the hall and bright colored art work that covers the walls creates a warm glow throughout the school.

9.  Lessons created with care and thought and then executed with passion to connect learning for students and deepen understanding.

8.  Data discussions that pin point “Swiss Cheese Holes” and end with a plan to fill them.

7.  Colleagues who fill my desk with encouraging notes, smiling sticky notes and an occasional Slim Jim.

6.  My fellow teachers using words like prosody, text complexity, interventions, growth mindset and YET.

5.  Actions that show—PUSH!

4.  An extra kindness for a student with clean clothes, money for a fieldtrip, school supplies, hugs, etc.

3.  Walking through the building, seeing teachers and staff putting into action their own learning from professional development and PLC.

2.  Compassion, kindness and patience with our students who have big emotions and are struggling to channel them.

 1.  EDUCATORS WHO TEACH FROM THEIR HEART AND ARE HERE BECAUSE THEY LOVE TAYLORSVILLE AND THOSE WHO INHABIT THIS BUILDING!

 

My ending thought for you!  Remember I value you as my colleague and I see you do amazing things each day. I am in continuous awe of your patience and compassion—do not lose sight of these characteristics with the stress of every day “teaching.”  You do make a difference and are appreciated!  Be the LIGHT for all to see—Taylorsville is LIGHT and I am proud to be a part of this staff.

 

L- eading our students to knowledge

I-  nspite of obstacles and setbacks

G- uiding them with words and actions

H- oping to inspire and ignite

T- hought—passion and character within!

WEARY

In October, as the weather changes and leaves fall, weariness begins to settle over the staff members at our elementary schools.  August and September are filled with the excitement of new students and building relationships within the frenzy of BOY testing.  Much like the mist during our October mornings, stress and testing data begins to permeate throughout our classrooms.

 

I recently ran across this quote which seemed to sum up the process:

“…weariness seemed to settle on him like a coating of dust.”

― M. Snyder

As this weariness sets in, the stress increases because the need for action continues to grow. As the end of the first nine weeks grows closer, our teachers have data on student strengths and weaknesses and it is time to begin “rolling” with a plan.  A PLAN?  Having the data and knowing the problem is the easy part—creating the road map and putting the plan into action is the hard part.

This blog will focus on reminding you of the amazing things YOU,  as elementary teachers,  accomplish the first six weeks of school by using the word—WEARY!

 

W is for WITNESSING and Discovering Abilities:

Gathering and digging into data can be a daunting task but elementary teachers sift through school, class and individual data to determine student strengths and needs. Tier I paperwork has been created to highlight the needs of our classrooms and plans to address these needs have been generated.  You, as a grade level, have identified needs and are implementing best practices within each daily schedule to ensure that the class deficit is filled.  In addition, digging deeper into data, Tier II paperwork has been created to identify needs of individual students and how to address their needs.  Planning for WHO—WHAT—WHERE and DURATION of interventions and best practices to help “build” individual foundations and make the “Swiss Cheese” go away is exhausting but necessary!  In addition, these plans are being implemented daily to make sure that the lowest deficits are addressed and progress monitoring happens to ensure the interventions are working!  We are continuously assessing progress and adjusting instruction as needed.  (W– May also stand for WOW!  Think of ALL you do each day!)

E is for EMBRACING change and learning:

Flexibility is part of your day as you have to adapt.  Embracing this change is a gift that you model for students.  Accepting the change of education and learning the new practices, ideas and concepts being taught.  Trying new ideas, adapting instruction and classroom procedures is all part of creating an inviting environment for students.

A is for ADVOCATING for student learning and needs:

Daily you advocate for your students and their needs including reaching out to the social worker or counselor to intervene with students who have an environmental or social need.  New shoes, money for fieldtrips, school supplies and any other need seems to find the way to students though the recipient rarely knows their teacher was the contributor.  Learning needs are met because YOU reach out, ask questions, find resources and simply give all you have to ensure learning. A—may also stand for AMAZING—that is what you are!

R is for RELATIONSHIPS:

Within six weeks, communication and trust has been built through conversations, planners, notes and simply reaching out with positive interactions.  Creating relationships is difficult but elementary teachers have the ability to create open two way communication AND a sense of support within weeks of getting to know their students.  Think of the ways you reach out each day—phenomenal!

 

Y is for YIELDING results and success:

With all that you do each day—YOU DO YIELD positive results.  Think of  what you have already accomplished and what your students can do that they could not do six weeks ago.  YOU DO make a difference.

 

As the nine weeks comes to a close, take a deep breath of the crisp October air, remember that you do make a difference even among the mist of stress and weariness that is settling around you.

Please do the following:

  1. Take care of yourself because stress affects your hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. It can dampen your immune system; decrease your brain cells and memory.
  2. Ask for help when you are overwhelmed, do not understand or get behind. Support help is here to help you!
  3. Use your planning day to try to get a long range plan and where you want to go. Once you know the materials you need—use assistant help and tutors to help you create those materials in advance.
  4. Remember YOU ARE AMAZING and make a difference every day!

What is a Champion?

Champion. A personal note to my school.

 

Two years ago, my county was challenged to be “champions for students.” At the time, it was a motivational, beginning of the year, rev you up speech which made people feel good inside. Over the last two years, this term has been used in many conversations and different contexts but lately has come to lie on my heart.

 

What is a champion? 

 

I re-watched the video of Rita Pierson which I highly recommend. (Available on Ted Talks: https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en).  I thought back to champions in my own life and (of course) looked the word up to dissect the meaning.  As you would expect, among the definition and synonyms, I found the term winner, superstar, first place, etc.  But, I also found words such as support and advocate.  As all these thoughts swirled in my mind, some words a colleague shared with me this week began to take form in my mind, dutiful and compliant.

 

Think about all these words together…

 

Is a champion being simply good or the best at something?  Does it mean having the highest test scores or making the most growth?  Does it mean being the top ranked school in the county?  Maybe.  Could it also mean—having a great relationship with colleagues and children?  Could it mean being respected and trusted by others?  Could it mean doing your job to the best of your ability and being the BEST person and educator YOU can be?

 

As a history buff, I have read about many champions in our history including Galileo, Socrates, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and any of our founding fathers.  Everyday people are champions such as Rosa Parks or Todd Beamer and the people on Flight 93 who stood up to terrorists to save others. But does it have to be that EXTREME?

 

At my school, I watch champions every day.  Here is what the term CHAMPION means to me and the everyday acts that help to define the term.

 

A CHAMPION is a person who …

  • dutifully gives assessments to students with a smile and kind heart. They tirelessly repeat the same directions in a positive manner to make each student feel like they are attaining something that no other student has for their teacher.
  • greets each student with their name, a smile, a hug each day (even when they are dealing with struggles of their own). These small acts create positive relationships that endure.
  • gives a student structure and discipline paired with compassion and love.
  • makes sacrifices for their students or colleagues without question and without complaint, even something small such as switching schedules or assistants. Even bigger sacrifices such as providing for a child’s needs (fieldtrips, glasses, lunches, etc.) or attending outside events such as ballgames, birthday parties, etc.
  • has a flexible mind set and is willing to go the extra mile to get the job done no matter what it is such as covering for testing, doing without help so another class or teacher can be covered or simply having to clean up or do something that is not your job.
  • gives support to their colleagues and respond to their needs such as a meal, a treat, a hug, a smile and most of all a confidential place to talk.
  • advocates and speaks for those who need a voice.
  • provides after school tutoring or sometimes “intervention” both of which have an important place

 

Everyday champions are in our midst and the reason this is important is within this quote:

 

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

——-Frederick Douglass
In our lives we are faced with storms and how we respond to these storms are different. Some people choose to stay dutiful and stay the course while others try to change the course of the winds.  All of us, no matter how we choose to battle the storm, want to weather the storm in the end.  Champions can be the wild winds that veer the course of the storm but can also be those calm winds that settle in between.

 

When we as a school must deal with a  storm, may we remember that we will all deal with this storm differently but we all want the best outcome.  Do not allow our differences to divide us but to bring us together and remember that together —-WE ARE collective CHAMPIONS.

champ

 

 

 

 

 

 

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