Holding Tight to the Things that Matter?

I am writing this for two reasons:
1.  My own purpose of expressing gratitude to my sweet families who have sent me texts, tweets, facebook posts, emails, called, pictures, and awesome notes of gratitude for being their child’s favorite teacher they will always remember and sharing why.
2.  Holding us accountable to hanging tight to those important things!

I write this not boastfully, but in humble appreciation.  These words/pics of kindness meant more to me these past 3 weeks than anyone will ever know.  (I actually wondered, did they conspire to do this because I literally got one every single day from someone different over the past 5 years!! I even got an email from a parent from 10 years ago! Little did they know the perfect timing!)

I think they knew this would be a tough start for me not seeing these babies.  I think they knew that my heart was thinking of their babies and hoping they had a great first few weeks of school. We all know once they are yours…they are yours!  I think they knew, just like I do, that when we take the time to express words of kindness it makes the world a better place.

It is just more evidence that teachers may never know how much they influence the life of a child, but if they are gifted the blessing to hear it years later….it still brings tears to their eyes and makes their day brighter!

Thank you, my loving families, for being so kind and showering me with love all the time. My job is to pay that forward. 🙂

I want to share a few pictures of these precious, loving kids that show what is important in my heart every year as I think about the gifts from above that I have been trusted with to keep safe and love all year!

3 Important Things:

1. Develop a safe, loving environment where my kids bond and feel safe taking risks.

Our 2 classes after Tug of War Truck Pull. No one argued or cried! They had fun and won/lost together. There was authentic encouragement, help, and good sportsmanship!
Just hanging out playing a simple hand-clap game.  They enjoy being together because they trust each other to be a friend and use our only rule – The Golden Rule.
This sweet bunch kicked off my first year digitally teaching years back!  Wow…was there ever safety and risk taking involved with them.  🙂 There are some special kids in my heart in this picture!

2. Develop relationships with my students and parents! Let them know and see my heart and for me to know and see theirs.

At Fall Festival hanging out with my babies, and finding them TOGETHER because they WANTED to be!

Found my precious Joker, whom I hold so dear in my heart, still and forever will! 🙂

3.  Develop a true love of learning in each student and have it carry on beyond my walls.

After studying ladybugs, my plan was to take it no further. However, my precious littles organized a ladybug burial (on their own), and even prepared speeches so that our little friends could have a proper ceremony.  Above and Beyond….but the lessons really stuck.
One of my families so close to me, because I had 3 of their 4 kids, saw this at a family trip and had to stand by it and send to me.  It melted my heart!  It’s those moments!  🙂

Then there are the moments of the MANY sweet notes, cards, pictures, etc. you get as a teacher – which we all know mean more to us than any monetary gift you can think of!!  This one, on a simple sticky note, is the one that says it all to me.  It says how important teachers are and how we need to be the voice for our kids.  Be the one who believes in them, so they can believe in themselves.

I mean come on, if she doesn’t get to be the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Coach after this….then, I don’t know what!  I’m not quite sure what being like me means.  Hope she gets that coaching job!  🙂  Honestly, I can bank on it now.  This child WILL be that coach and I will have GREAT seats to a game that I love!!

So, as I reflect after 3 weeks of school on those 3 things that are key in my heart…I ask you to see if you are holding strong to the things that matter?  Are you taking the time to build the relationships with not only your kids, but their parents?  Are you taking the time to make sure each child has a friend and feels safe?  All of that must come first before any learning begins.  Now that I have expressed all my gratitude…..let’s go and Be THE champion in the lives of these children!

Straight From the Heart of My Sweet Student – Building Relationships Matter

As “the big day” gets closer, I begin thinking about what this school year will bring for me. Normally, I have a vision what my classroom will look like, which kiddos are coming up, what my curriculum looks like, all those things that make us feel somewhat comfortable.  Not this year.  

This past week I have started thinking about what my year will look like and I don’t have a clue! If you know how Type A I am, this will come as a bit of a surprise to you that I am at peace with this – really!!  

What I do know is that I am leaving a school that I have spent the past 7 years teaching Reading Recovery, 1st graders, and 2nd graders.  I have had classroom after classroom of amazing kids, incredible families, and a fabulous support system!  No lie.  I have developed some of the best friendships from these families. Truth be told, I love my fellow teachers there dearly, but it was the thought of leaving those families that tore me apart when I finally made the decision to step out of the comfort zone. I couldn’t imagine not seeing them each day.  I have learned so many lessons about myself from these children.   I was quickly reminded about how growth happens when we take risks. When we step out of our known to the unknown.  It might scare me a little, but I try and think of the difference I will make in my new school! 

Just this past week I received the best gift in the form of a small email!   I received an email from a prior student who is going into 4th grade now.  I know, some people do not agree with letting students email, but it is important to me that all my babies past, present, and future know that I am there for them and believe in them.  ALWAYS.  

To sum up the email:

 This sweet girl expressed how sad she is that I will not be at my old school.  She then told me just how important it was that I was there every morning to give her a hug when she came to see me.  (Let me tell you, she came every. single. morning.  And I loved it!) She told me how I was her security and her rock for the past few years and that starting her day by giving me a hug meant everything to her. She told me it means the most to her that I really believe in her and encourage her to follow her dreams.  Then, she ended with who will she hug every morning?  🙁  Now, that killed me.  But don’t worry….I emailed her and told her to go to my 2 BFFs there, hug them, and take a selfie and they can send it to me!  Or even a video! Who knew?  Technology could keep us connected?!  😉

I still read the email and tear up.  You never know how much one simple act means to someone.  I loved every second of seeing this precious girl every morning and keeping in contact with her, but I never knew how much my words of believing and encouraging her meant to her.  At times, seeing her smile and her hug each morning reminded me of why I do what I do, especially when I felt like crying!  It is these small moments that build relationships with our children.  These words that we are not even aware are making a difference.  This is why I will always defend letting my students email me.  I will always get to know their families personally and let them get to know me.  I am human, too.  I will always be accessible to these families because IT MATTERS!!

You may have seen many tweets recently from many great people about how important building relationships are that first week.  There are so many great reminders out there of what is important (our kids) and what really matters (building relationships) not just the first month at school, but EVERY SINGLE DAY!

So here is what I think of today as I think about how my year is going to look.  

  • How am I going to build these same relationships with the families at my new school?
  • How am I going to get to know these kids I am with the first few days so that they trust me and know I believe in them?
  • How will I develop all of these in a new role besides classroom teacher?
I can tell you that I will focus on getting to know each child.  Just listening to them and letting them know you are there and support them means the world to them.  Plus, it sure means the world to this teacher to know that her students still think of this small gesture years later.  

 I’ve always said at the beginning of the year when things aren’t ready quite like I want them, “Well, I am not sure how ___ will go, but I know it will work out just fine because I will just love on these kids.”  Just LOVE on them!   Imagine the things that could happen in your classroom when they know you love and believe in them!