Courage – In the BIG and small

I love January 1st about as much as I love August 1st.  When you are an educator, both of these beginning dates signal a restart, a clean slate, and a second chance!   As I prayed and waited on my one word to come to me, I once again went back through the same list as last year: Surrender, Embrace, Joy, Intentional, Patience, Grace, Mindful.   Once again a book I read by Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, sealed the deal. My One Word for 2018 found me.

Just reading the word alone does not reveal the deep personal meaning.  If you know me well, you know that I invite change and accept challenges.  I embrace new learning.  I try new things and have courage in so many ways that are seen.  It is what comes after this word that makes it so meaningful.  The unseen.  The parts outside of my comfort zone and make me the most vulnerable.

Merriam-Webster defines courage as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.  An article from Psychology Today further defines courage as “a kind of strength, power or resolve to meet a scary circumstance head on. Courage is called upon whenever we confront a difficult, frightening, painful or disturbing situation. When our resources are challenged or pushed to the absolute limit. When we feel threatened, weak, vulnerable, intimidated or terrified. When our first instinctive reaction is to flee.”

This really got me thinking about why COURAGE chose me this year.   It is something we all express we want and it is good to have.  However, I feel this year for me, it is something I must intentionally choose to have in all areas of my life.

Courage in Health

Just a few weeks ago I finally broke and went to an Endocrinologist and found out that I have Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism.  I say broke down because I was trying to do it the natural way, my own way, and well…sometimes we just need to go to those specialists! 🙂  To be honest, I was glad I could put a name to these awful symptoms and feelings I have been experiencing for years without answers.  Here is where COURAGE will need to step in.  We discovered that my food intolerances and sensitivities go hand in hand with all of this.  So of course, right around Thanksgiving and holiday time, I began the gluten-free, dairy-free eating lifestyle. I need the courage to change habits that have not been helping me feel at my best.  I need to meet this circumstance head on, confront it, and have the strength to change my lifestyle habits….permanently.  I will have to admit, there are days that this is very easy, but there are days where I am kicking and screaming as I watch everyone around me eat yummy holiday treats!  I now know there are many treat substitutes I can have, but I do not care what you say….nothing tastes the same as a REAL Oreo!  However, the minute I made these changes cold turkey,  I felt so much better.  It definitely motivates me and makes it easier to adopt this lifestyle because feeling the other way is NOT an option at this point! I just need to find the COURAGE to patiently wait for this to begin to make permanent changes.

Courage in Relationships

As I sought after the word Intentional, I was continually brought back to COURAGE.  I think I was being told that I need COURAGE to make the intentional changes needed to give and get the most out of my relationships with others.  This would mean confronting how I manage my time and having the COURAGE to change things that rob me of more time engaging and being present with my family members. I know this will take COURAGE because it is uncomfortable for me to sit and just be.  I know I need to do this, but it is a major struggle I continually work on.  So having the COURAGE to be uncomfortable so that I can get the most out of my life is what I desire.

Courage in My Work’s Purpose

I connect the need for courage to my passion in my work and my purpose.  I  need COURAGE every single time I ask for student voice input and seek out ways to reach my students better.  By asking them to reflect and evaluate how things are going in my class, my teaching, engagement, etc. I am really putting myself out there for teenagers to share whatever they want. Yes, it is scary and sometimes hard to swallow the things they say, but when I have the COURAGE to look deeper and put aside my feelings, it is even more insightful and really gives me a glimpse into things I never would have thought. Things that I can easily change to be the best educator I can be.  I need to face these challenges even when I feel weak, defeated, intimidated or terrified. At church recently the pastor said, “Have the courage to ask God for more courage.”  That my friends, is a blessing.  As an educator influencing the precious lives of children daily, there is no greater gift than to know that when we ask for COURAGE yet still feel scared and weak, just ask God for more COURAGE! This is powerful.

Cultivating Courage

Cultivating COURAGE isn’t for the weak, friends.  Like Brene Brown shares in her book, it takes daring greatly! It takes surrendering to what is and embracing it, or making the changes necessary in order to live the life you deserve.  Without Guilt.  Without Shame. So this simple word spoken is actually anything but simple.  This quote is one that I think about each day. Many think COURAGE is loud, brave, obvious and seen.  To me, it can be quiet, unseen, and the hardest thing to exhibit….but thank goodness we always have tomorrow to try again!!  

Here is to having the COURAGE to make hard decisions and change the lives of all the people you influence and yourself!  Happy 2018!  Make it awesome!

 

Don’t Take It Personal

We have been in full swing of crazy here.  Anyone else feel like that?  These are the months that are full of activities, long days, early mornings, and busy weekends.  However, somehow we make it through.  I think the exciting holiday talk, decorations, days off with family and friends, and overall spirit takes over and gives us the strength.

This isn’t a lengthy blog, but me simply getting my feelings out about something on my mind right now.  There is one thing I always try to keep in mind when these months arrive each year, but I will admit that it is much easier said than done. Especially when we are extra tired and sensitive.

This quote right here:

In a recent tweet by an inspiring educator, David Geurin, he said “Reminder: A student’s behavior usually says far more about what they are going through than what they are trying to put you through.”

 I appreciated this little tweet more than he knew that day.  I believe this to my very core and I’m grateful for quotes to remind me to check in with myself.  Sometimes I take a behavior personally before pausing and asking myself if I am calming them or joining their chaos.  We are all human, right?Chances are, this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what is going on in their little world – and in most teenager’s worlds at the moment the littlest thing is HUGE!  I get it. We were all there.
During these next few weeks (and every week) I plan to pause and check in with the things they are NOT saying that speak loudly.  Check in with the behaviors that are crying out in the not so obvious way.  I hope to do this not only with my students but with my family as well.  I hope to bring calm and not join in the chaos.

Checking In With Feelings Using Emojis

You hear teachers say all the time that they think of things spur of the moment or their best reflections and lesson ideas come while in the shower or driving in the car.  It’s true!  One morning I was sitting at the breakfast table thinking about how to integrate lessons about character and the social-emotional aspect into my lessons. This is when the comment a student made echoed in my head.

He asked, “Can we talk about our feelings again?”

I guess I was unintentionally checking in with their feelings before we started each lesson.  I know that if children come in hungry, sad, nervous, tired… not much learning will happen.  This is not much different with teenage children!  They want to share their feelings of heartbreak, feeling sick, frustration, who they are crushing on (you would be surprised!), nervous about a test, how tired they are, and so much more.  It made me think about what we had been doing. So like I try to do with everything, I asked them if they liked that. Overwhelmingly, the response was YES!

This is how the Emoji Check In was born in room 217.

It is nothing fancy, but they love it!  They sign in the attendance folder and then check in, using an expo marker, with how they are feeling at that moment.  While I pull up Skyward to log in and take the attendance we have a quick class discussion about how we are feeling.

They appreciate that I want to know if they are nervous or if they are not feeling well.  I told them that if I know these things then I can have a better understanding why they are not acting like they normally do.  I understand life is hard sometimes and I want to empathize, as well as celebrate when great things happen!  The kids LOVE celebrating each other’s celebrations in life, school, or just fun things that happen.  Not only does this model empathy, but it has built class community and trust amongst each other where each week more and more kids are comfortable sharing.  I continue to ask them if we need to change things, but so far this is not one of those things!  I have discovered they want to share all the happy, scary, and funny things that go on.  Getting these off our chests before we begin learning has made a big difference in our classroom.  They want to share.  We just need to ask and listen.

Student Voice: A series focused on Social Emotional needs in the classroom

There is something about Saturday mornings that gets me so giddy.  I think it is the opportunity to sit down with my coffee, refreshed on sleep so that I have the ability to think clearly and reflect.

I have been engaged in a sort of “passion project” of my own these days.  It started as just doing what I do in my classroom, and that is getting to know my students.  As a huge advocate of Student Voice, I ask input on a consistent basis regarding lessons, methods, efficiency in workflow, choice of lesson design, seating choices, music for background, etc.  As I began doing this with my seventh-graders this year, I noticed that much of what I was needing to know was centered on the social and emotional wellbeing of the child.  The Whole Child.  The Adolescent Whole Child, which is another whole ballgame.

I thought, hmmm…I might look into this further.  The reason is simple.  Academics are important.  We know students learn more and best when they feel like they have a relationship with the teacher.  We know relationships are built intentionally and take time and effort. We also know that even if you spend the time and effort, building relationships will not happen if we are not super aware of the social and emotional needs of our children that directly affect behavior.  So, in my opinion, this is where it all starts.

If I am going to reflect and go through this journey of really digging into the behavioral aspect of Student Voice in the classroom, I want to reflect about it through writing a series of posts. Hopefully, this will spark conversations about the social and emotional behaviors and how important they are to teaching and modeling these for our children.  If we all share what we know is best, we learn more and we all benefit!  Hope you will share your thoughts with me.

Listening Well To Youth Is A Mindset

I read this quote on the Learning Forward website awhile back and it continues to stick in my mind.

Student Voice is something more and more people are talking about now.

What does it look like?

Do you really just let the students decide?

What if they say something that is not nice?

Just like many teachers, I know that I began doing this years ago, we just never gave it a title.  We thought it was just great teaching because you wanted to do whatever you could to engage your students and let them know you care about them.  I guess this is why the quote sticks with me. Asking my students how I can make a lesson better or seeking input for my own growth has always just been my mindset.  The only difference is it increases and stretches with each year that passes.

This past week after a long, exhausting day full of nonstop activities on my feet, I sat down and thought to myself, “I am so completely exhausted! I just want to cry, lay in bed and sleep until the weekend. I just don’t know how I can finish this work I have and get up early.” (It was one of those hard days where you are too tired to even eat dinner!)  Then it hit me.  These kids are in my same boat, except they have so many new things being fired at them academically, new rules, new social circles, and lots of extra-curricular activities.  I want to know how many of them get up before 6:00am for athletics practice.  I want to know if they eat breakfast.  This will give me a glimpse as to why certain behaviors (positive and negative) are showing up.

I battled with how to ask them because I know that a Google survey is what they see most often and I am trying so hard not to use it, but in this instance, with 150 students and info that I wanted to look at by class, it was the most efficient.

Let me tell y’all, what I got back was more than I could have ever imagined and I was blown away at their honesty and feedback to help me guide instruction and management.  It was interesting how completely different each class period was! I could not make this stuff up, friends.

Not only did I ask when they got home from activities at night, when they normally went to sleep, and things like that which effect their academic learning.  I asked them to tell me how they would like to be rewarded, how they want to move forward with this next unit, and where they want to sit so they can learn best. I wanted them to know I understand sometimes we like to work alone. Sometimes we like groups and sometimes we like partners.  I was going to let them do it whatever way they chose because what is important is the learning, not forcing people to work together. It definitely made a bunch of shy, type A students smile! 🙂

Below is a visual of a few things asked.  Without even knowing I gained insight into their Love Language (if you are familiar with that) by the responses I got! Bonus!

What I love from this is that the next day I showed them the visuals and talked through what the class chose.  I said, “The people have spoken.”  I did not show any info that was sensitive so they will continue to trust me when I ask.  They were in awe of the pie charts and data.  We all loved it! (I might be a little nerdy over data!)

As I read through their responses as to how they know I care, they revealed clearly what is important: “You ask us and listen, like this survey. You want to make us own our learning.  You care and want to give us the best so we can learn by asking us to tell you. You ask us how we are doing, and about our day. You check on us to see if we need help. You smile at us. You let us choose our seats and have a snack.”

So yes, there was great data revealed around their learning needs from this survey that was extremely helpful.  However, the sparkling, bright light shined completely on RELATIONSHIPS!!  ASKING them and DOING it!

That is key when you think about Student Voice.  There is not a certain way it must be done because each class needs different options, but there is one rule.  If you ASK them and they take the time to respond, you MUST act on it, one way or another.  Even if that means saying, “You know, I heard your idea, but here is why we cannot do this. Is there another way?”

When we stop to listen to our students, their words speak so loudly and give us such a deeper look into their little lives and what they crave. It almost always gives me a new perspective about my students.  I seek to understand first before I even try to be understood.  For the teens I teach, I could not spend enough time asking their input because it is soo important to them to feel like they matter!  So this survey provided me with so many incredible things to take and put into action for each class period.  It makes my heart overflow when I see them smile because I honor their individuality or hear them say, “She said she would do it and she did.” You cannot pay enough money to hear that being said, because that means you have their trust.  When trust is there, you can move mountains!

I continue to try to push myself to ask for my students’ input, even if what I am asking may have an answer I do not want to hear or it is out of my comfort zone.  I know this is the time when we will all grow the most!

Learning To Honor the Space Between

What a thought!  This spoke so loudly to me this week.  Going back into the classroom to teach 7th-grade Pre-AP English, Language Acquisition, and Literacy Achievement might be the hardest thing I have done in awhile! Behind every reason that I asked for and wanted this challenge, is every fear and emotion that do not always feel so good.

You see, I am a Learner.  My top strength on the strengths finder assessment was Learner.  It is in my nature to soak everything up and try anything new.  I love finding different ways to meet the needs of my students and I am always looking for new things to learn.  This is why when my heart felt led to middle school I said to myself, let’s do this!

One thing I was not expecting was how much the move from elementary to middle school would change my comfort level I had based on experience and knowledge. So, I will honor the space between no longer having the luxury of feeling ahead of the game and at ease with where I am headed because I have done it before.  NOT YET!  It is taking me time and extra effort to learn the content, learn how I want to share it and make it my own, and to large groups of 12 and 13-year olds who will receive it with excitement. 🙂

So, like the quote above states, “Between No Longer and Not Yet” because soon it will come. Soon I will feel that comfort, but the growth I sought from this change is my WHY!

I wanted to grow.  I am growing like I never imagined.  Each day I learn so many new things about how middle school systems function, all about the social and emotional needs of teenagers, and why I have absolutely fallen in love with this position!  It is uncomfortable not understanding everything easily and knowing right off the bat.  It is sometimes awkward trying to find my place of comfort in each day and squeeze in those important moments to build relationships with the 150 teens that whirl in and out of my classroom. But, I could not be happier doing this and alongside the most supportive administration and staff around!

My words to anyone who is thinking of completely changing up what they are doing but they are scared…..take the leap!  Make the jump!  I have never grown more than I have in just the last month. And I LOVE IT!

How Middle School Cheer Camp Empowered Me

August is always like January for teachers.  It is a fresh start.  I like to set new goals, organize my new planner, and really gear up for the best school year ever!  I am always ready and excited and for a few reasons:

  • This is my calling.
  • I have done it awhile.
  • I know my WHY and see the benefits.
  • I am successful.
  • I enjoy everything about it.

So, this year I did what anyone who has taught 17 years would do, completely change it up!!  I jumped head first into the “secondary world” and I will be teaching 7th-grade PreAP English and coaching 7th-grade cheer!

My first new learning began last week as I spent four days with my cheerleaders at cheer camp.  Not only was this the most AMAZING thing ever because it allowed me to start building great relationships (the most important thing to me), but it helped ME ease into feeling comfortable with this age.  This first-grade teacher was a little nervous, but you know what……it was awesome!  12 & 13-year-olds are really just bigger 6-year-olds!  They all want to be loved and accepted!  It warmed my heart to spend time with these young ladies seeing all the great things that lie ahead for us.  But I have to say, it was the scariest thing I have done in awhile.  Baptism by fire they say, right?  I did not know the lingo, vocab, expectations, routines, and the why behind any of this as I headed out Friday.  By Monday afternoon, with a HUGE thanks to Pav, Chapa and these girls, I felt confident in this new fun and was even sad to say goodbye for a few weeks!  They coached me, were patient with me, guided me, loved on me, and trusted me.  They had patience with me as I was learning and were incredible!!!  THAT is why I did not shut down and developed the confidence in myself, something our kids need to experience. (I will share my motto once again….if you just love them and show you care, anything is possible!)

The precious 7th & 8th CMS Colt Cheerleaders!

The second new learning came at the two-day Springboard training this week.  I have taught reading and ELA for 17 years to grades K-6.  I have a master’s degree as a reading specialist.  I have done this and taught so many children how to grow as a reader, but y’all….teaching PreAP English is NOTHING like this.  I felt like a first-year teacher sitting through this training and learning the art of my content area.  This post isn’t to talk about the new “challenge” and learning that I will be taking on this year. I cannot describe my excitement about this.  I feel like every time I talk to someone about it I am smiling ear to ear.

I want to address the feeling I had the past two weeks while learning new things in a new environment.   I was overwhelmed.  I teared up at times.  I had to walk away because I was afraid I couldn’t hold it together in front of everyone.  I was scared. I was asked a question that I did not know the answer to.  I had to say out loud, “I have no idea.”  While I am someone who asks a million questions and rarely gets embarrassed about this, it still was a little embarrassing. I was shy.  Y’all, this is not me!  (Well, the me in her comfort zone!)

All that ran through my mind was – oh my goodness, these kids!  THIS is what new and scary feels like.  While so extremely exciting on one hand, it is so foreign to someone who has been in her comfort zone and is reaching outside of it.

Don’t we have kids that come to us new to the environment?  New to the state?  Country?  Maybe they have so many things going on in their minds from home that they are unable to focus on the writing lesson we ask of them.  They may not have someone who tells them WHY they are learning things, so they do not connect or see the meaning.  While in the deepest parts of our sweet hearts we think we are conscious of this, we sometimes get caught up in only thinking of what we need to teach these academically in order for them to be successful.  While it is true we do, it is also true that the greatest lessons we can teach them are life lessons. How to be patient.  How to be kind.  How to love one another.  How to trust and be trusted.  How to be responsible. How to be a good person.  They are looking to us to model this for them.  How else will they learn how to help someone who is learning something new or cheer someone on when they are learning something new?

I am grateful I learned these lessons from my parents, my teachers, my coaches, my friends, and that I can continue learning these lessons from my colleagues and students.

As we start this new school year, my new fresh start and focus will be to really observe what cannot be seen.  Having felt this feeling so strongly the past week has given me heightened empathy.  I am so grateful for this chosen new journey and hope my students learn from me how to show empathy and compassion.  The 2017-2018 school year is going to be a GREAT ONE!!

Shifting The Notion of Writing

As I began thinking what I want my seventh graders to walk away with this year from the content that I am teaching, my mind continually goes to, “How will I get them to love writing?”  I feel confident that I can get them to love learning in my classroom.  I can build strong relationships to transform these students into empowered learners, but loving writing is a different challenge, a more personal challenge.

As a child, I loved writing things.  My parents lovingly remind me that at the age of three I asked every person I saw their name, how to spell it, and I would write it in my journal.  In fourth grade, I won a cultural arts award in the category of Composition from a story I wrote about my move from Illinois to Texas. I am writing this to say that as a child I enjoyed it, but somewhere along the way that enjoyment stopped.  Somewhere along the way I got the idea that I could not write, I was not as good as others, I did not have anything to say, and I was being told what to write.

This feeling lasted many, many years.  Actually, it wasn’t until two years ago when listening to an inspirational educator speak about blogging and the many reasons why that I began to write for me. (Thank you, George!) Yes, I was thinking about an audience as I wrote, but I felt inspired because I had found a way to get all of the thoughts that were spinning around in my head out.  It was blogging!  And it relaxed me.  I enjoyed it!   Even if no one else read them, I had found a way to share my thoughts, feelings, and have my voice heard.

It is this last reason that I feel is most important and I want my students leaving my classroom with this imprinted on their hearts.  I want each one of them to know that they can write to let their voice be heard.  They can do this as a kid, a teenager, and as an adult.  It should never stop.  It is hard being a kid, but especially hard during these teenage years when they have so many emotions and feelings that they are learning how to deal with and not sure who to talk to or if they even want to.

Side Note: It takes me back to when I was in middle school writing in my diary that I kept under my mattress, until my boyfriend discovered it. Gasp!  Then in high school the diary I wrote in every single night was on a computer like this!

I have always loved typing, and until recently did not even realize that this was writing.  This was my way of sharing my voice and feeling heard. Thankfully, a real person never heard it.

This is where I think the disconnect is in teaching writing and developing the love of writing in our students.  Similar to reading, when we tell them what to write it becomes a job. When they are given time to write in meaningful ways to them, they learn all of those things we are required to teach them. And they actually remember them!  I hope to share my love of writing for reflection and letting my voice be heard this year and that my sweet, precious students learn to do the same!

 

 

 

Forward Is Forward

This past year my grandmother, who is about to turn 90 years old, was moved to Florida to be closer to my parents. She truly is in great shape healthwise and doing very well, even after surgery to her brain! She recovered even better than expected, but cries each day that she is never going to be back to how she was before. I keep telling her that she will with time, and that each day she gets better. It just takes awhile.

She chose the amazing living center she gets to live in that offers a variety of fun activities (Wii bowling, dances, bingo, a workout area, church services, dinners, shopping, etc.) and right on the beach. This past month all my family flew there to spend time with her and each other for the first time in a long, long time. My daughter first got to visit with her when she was in kindergarten when my grandpa passed away. It definitely was not the best situation, but it was something special watching my own child and my grandmother interact.


This time was different in many ways, but just as special. I recently read an article on Facebook that has been going around about a note left from an elderly woman when she passed away that said, See Me. This really hit me hard because as I sat with my grandmother this week, I did see her. I saw the grandmother I always have known – strong as ever physically and mentally, but I noticed that emotionally she was shutting down.
Sure, she told me the same stories and worries over and over within a few minutes, but that’s expected as we age. I sat and listened each day over and over when she told me she is ready to go because she is only existing and not truly living. After a few days of hearing this when she said to me in tears, “Bridget, I know you don’t want to hear this but why doesn’t the good Lord just take me? I’m not living.” I felt compelled to say something.
I said, “But you could be, grandma. You are healthy. You have many people here who care about you and check on you. You have friends and family. You just have to do it. Yes, it’s change and it is very hard for you to accept this life change, but you can do it.” She shook her head and agreed with me. But in all honesty, I really don’t blame her. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it is for such an active woman to move across the country from the home she was born in 90 years ago to a place that is not “home” and now has restrictions medically.
This situation accompanied with my daughter asking me why grandma is just sitting there when we arrive and not watching tv or anything (which totally baffles this constantly moving active child!) had me think about change in general.
First of all, I had to explain to my daughter that “back in the day” people did not have things constantly at their fingertips. They could just sit there and relax in the stillness. We also sat by an elderly gentleman on the flight out there who just sat there. GASP! She was so concerned about him as to why he didn’t read anything or watch a movie or listen to something. Oh sweet child…. I was not preaching because I am not one that can do this. Yet!
I am one of the few weird ones that likes change. When it is big change, it might make my stomach have butterflies for a little bit but then I press on. I appreciate flexibility and thrive in changing situations, just about as much as I thrive on a schedule! It’s strange. But I know not everyone likes change. I realized that after many years of being independent and being able to do many things, this shift in having to rely on someone else is not going to be something my grandma ever adjusts to. And that is okay. I have heard it said that as long as we are moving forward, we are growing. Like the picture above says, it doesn’t matter how fast we go or how far we go…..as long as we just go. This is what I keep telling her every time we talk. “I understand it’s hard. You are doing so well with this change. Go to dinner with your friend. Try Wii bowling on Tuesdays.” (Let me tell you how fun it was explaining what Wii was AND how to say it!!)
Change is hard. As easy as it is for some to adjust to, it is not easy for most. As long as we are moving forward, we are growing. In life as we age. In life as we live each day parenting, teaching, coaching. All that really matters is that we are taking baby steps forward because if we refuse to do that then this is when our growth stops.
I truly believe this! I treasured my time with my grandmother talking, just being there to listen to her stories or be a shoulder to cry on. I attended a church service with her and all the other elderly in her living center while I was there. I see how much just moving forward and doing something affects your brain and positive outlook. This applies to all human beings of all ages.

I Chose B…Dig Deep!

As I begin this post, I am hesitant how to approach it.  I am transparent and authentic.  I am honest.  I am real.  My life is pretty much an open book, but writing about this really shows my vulnerability; however, I know other people are going through this or will be and I want to share in hopes of comforting someone else who might need it.

I treasure learning new things.  I crave reflection time and value the growth process.  I love feedback to facilitate my growth.  Then…it actually happened.  (I know what you are thinking…everyone loves change until it means they have to change.  This is not that at all.) Time has passed and I can now write about this without crying. 😉

To sum it up, I wanted something and I didn’t get it.  As a reflective learner and one who loves to grow, I asked for feedback.  I asked a person I have the highest respect for as a person and educator.  This person asked me, “I know you asked for feedback because you are a reflective person and want to grow, but do you really want the feedback?  I was surprised for a minute because I had never been asked this question before, but after reading Thank You for the Feedback I see the value in this.

Of course, I wanted the feedback! I expected it to be something I already pinpointed about myself, but it was not.  To be honest with you, today I cannot even recall much of the conversation because all I heard was the one sentence that I took straight to the heart and personally.  As a matter of fact, I probably blocked all the positive from that conversation and replayed the one sentence in my mind.

My reason: it was feedback over something I viewed as something I had NO control over.  It was just me. There was nothing I could do about it.  Or so I thought.

I cannot tell you the amount of tears I shed over this.  At the time, I can remember saying to my friend many times, “I am not sure why I am so upset over this!” – while I sobbed to her over the phone and in person.  A very wise, professional colleague, and one that I look to for advice often asked about this and I told him I did not get it.  He asked why I was upset and I told him I don’t really know. Then he hit me with the bomb, “You just aren’t used to being told no.”  WHAT?!  I may have gasped out loud right there, given him the stink eye, but then said, “You know what, you are right!”  That was just one reason.

Once I had time to go through some of the grieving stages, I revisited the feedback that I felt was personal and I had no control over. Here is where it got real, friends.  I had two choices:

A.) Have a pity party and disregard the feedback from the person.

or

B.) Dig deep.  Look inside and figure out how to accept, learn from this, and come out stronger.

I chose B….and it was the BEST (and hardest) personal and professional growth that I have ever gone through.

The events that unfolded after this revealed God’s bigger plan for me.  We always say that things work out like they are supposed to. I know to trust God’s plan, but it is sure way harder to actually do!  Here is what would have never happened had I gotten what I thought was best for me at that moment.

  • I would have never gone for my administration certification. 
  • I would have never met my principal mentor, who turned out to be a precious friend that came at just the right moment in my life. 
  • I would have never realized that teaching middle school is where I need and want to be right now.   
  • I would have never gotten the middle school ELA teaching position at the exact middle school I wanted to be in.
  • I would have never learned what the saying, “Be patient and trust God’s timing.” really feels like. 
  • I would have never realized how amazing it feels to choose to work through a very tough time (that other people do not even realize you are going through) and come out wiser, stronger, and happier.  

I sit here writing this now (a year later) and can say with a huge smile that it was a hard thing to go through, but WOW….I am exactly where I want and need to be. I know this and it just feels right.  🙂

Life is more than good, friends!  It is AMAZING! Trust the timing.