Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June, July and August???

The best 3 things about school?  June, July and August!  Really?

Only in the summer time do these climbing flowers enjoy their success!

The life of an educator borders on chaotic!  Every day, children enter a common room, battle a common adventure and the end of the year, a common thread binds teachers and students.  Teachers enjoy seeing students progress and grow as the school year winds down.  Markers of the year, like pictures, work samples and celebrations contradict the urge to call it quits!  Clearing decorations, signing out, saying good-byes and planning a last social event before the summer adventures commence become cyclic and welcome rituals!  Saying farewell to those leaving but knowing opportunities abound in every new hire looking to fill their shoes. Those Summer Adventures become learning opportunities for most teachers, whether taking an extra class, starting a new degree or traveling under the guise of "content" related.  "Of course that trip to Mexico connects to the classroom."

End of the year jitters and transitions also effect students!   The little scholars are excited to leave the responsibility of school behind, but in far too many homes, the uncertainty of summer brings meal issues, supervision issues, and way too much time on the latest video game!  Stress brings out behavior issues in many as their infractions are manifestations of mixed emotions.  Students with typically clean records end up in an office, not really sure themselves why their behavior was so out of character!

But we make it!  We persist.  We endure.  We strive to reach the end, subconsciously knowing it is the best thing for us.  This rejuvenation, rest and relaxation resets the teacher!  A return to center, a refocus on priorities and a renewed energy are a few of the results of these short few weeks off school.  Most teachers are just as busy in the summer as during the school year itself.

What is the best thing about teaching?  Connecting with children, making a difference in their lives and building a better tomorrow, one conversation at a time!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I love being an educator because...

Please excuse the taste of this essay.  It contains more personal insights then I would typically include.  I would not say these things first person since they sound so self-centered. Seldom do I write in first person like this but the challenge was to complete the following statement:

I love being an educator because…

 It is not what I am, but who I am!
I am an educator that has a job in a school system.  At other jobs in my life, I always worked alongside people while they went through a process.  Selling real-estate was never an event but always a process.  This process began with a dream and ended with a new set of keys.  Along the way, clients received instruction and learned about the process, asking questions, planning and trusting in the confidence and ability of their agent.
It is my passion aligned with my talents and experiences!
Many prior experiences required a mentor, leadership, guidance or instructional role.  Clients spoke with their referrals.  When a family moved into their new house and then referred their friends and family to me, it assured me my service was appreciated.  My natural bend was teaching, regardless the situation.  Confronting others without being confrontational allows prior experiences
I teach “people,” not content.
In the classroom, students asked me why I taught and my reply was typically, “Because of you!”  This begged for a follow up and the explanation was simple.  Connecting with students, building relationships and learning curriculum about math as well as life was second nature.  Taking it to the next level by establishing a safe secure environment, free of sarcasm and secure enough to take risks allowed them to learn about themselves and each other.  We expected the “aha” moment daily! Their tests scores, attendance and improved behavior while in my class all verified success.  I invited all of them that wanted to pay $30 to get out of school for a day to travel over 200 miles to Six Flags Amusement Park. We would leave at 0500 and return by 2200 and the entire day was incident free.  Some teachers called it foolish and claimed I was “taking ISS on the road!”   These students went because of the trust and relationship with their teacher.  They knew I taught them and not math!
Disarmingly build an environment safe for educational risks.
Turning the classroom into a student centered crucible allowed them to grow, explore and risk when many of my students typically found little success at school.  I assured them, I would rather be outside, riding my motorcycle or even mowing my lawn, but because they were in my room, I felt called to serve them.  We could tease me, but we couldn’t tease each other.  Pink Floyd said it best, “No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teacher, leave those kids alone.”  Is there any other kind of sarcasm?  When a student that covers up weakness with bravado, all the sarcasm in the world will only strengthen his resolve! 
Getting another degree sounds like an adventure, not a burden.
Literally, this week, (June 2014 I began yet another degree, the Educational Specialist.  Instead of a burden or obligation, the course load, schedule all fit right into my schedule.  Of course there is homework.  Of course there are sacrifices but the ROI seem to make perfect sense.  While investigating the program options, my advisor happened to be a student of my fathers over 30 years ago.  All doubt and insecurities left my mind when he asked me if I knew of a Mr. McCracken from Lindbergh High School!  My attitude immediately went positive.  I decided to overcome every obstacle and hurdle without complaint till the process was finished.  No shortcuts!  Nothing less than whatever it takes!  I was going to get another degree!   My adviser was trustworthy!
Taking others to another level, even if they don’t expect to learn, energizes me.
Back a few years I was asked what I wanted to teach, ”Pre-algebra or Calculus?” my flippant reply was wasted on a dry sense of humor.  Still, my answer to the question remains the same over 25 years later.  I want to teach, “People, stuff!”   I would like to help teachers teach better, students learn their courses but also learn how to learn, and even help my community and parents become more familiar with the school routines thereby support their student’s success.  I even find opportunities to teach when out in public.  I teach. 
Seeing potential fulfilled.
I teach because I must!  I have no choice.  It is my calling, my passion, my gift, my burden and my responsibility.  Many think it a craft and others a science.  For me, it is who I am. The peace I get while in a place in life where my actions are extensions of my attitudes, where what I believe is how I behave and when I want to do what I have to do, is the beginning of true fulfillment. 

I love being an educator because it is my very being!

Anybody else feel this way about their life calling?

This is the front of Webster Groves High School!  That is where I have been taking even more classes! 


…some to be teachers…