Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Gold Star (and My Love-Hate Relationship with Facebook)

This blog post idea has been in my brain for weeks now.  Part of me has been hesitant to put words on paper because I am afraid I will sound silly or pathetic. Motivational speaker Brendon Burchard says there are millions of people in this world and thousands of years of recorded history, so we should not think we are the first to experience something.  This seems logical and is probably true. No, I do not think I am the first person to feel unappreciated or overwhelmed. But, what if I sound like a pathetic looser? What if I just need to deal with it and get over it? What if I am being childish and petty? Or, what if I am being human and experiencing a normal emotion? I am not sure which one it is yet, I hope that writing helps me find clarity. 

Writing has always helped me clear my head. That is the main reason I started blogging in the first place.  It helps me reflect and clear my head. Knowing other people can read it (regardless if anyone does), forces me to put my ideas into coherent sentences that will not embarrass myself or get me in trouble.  I love writing in a journal too, but because it is a "safe" place to write, I can get a little negative.  Posting in a public space helps me keep my thoughts more balanced. 

I have been having issues with Facebook the past few months.  I go stretches where I delete it from my phone and stop checking it.  It wasn't until recently that I figured out why Facebook bothers me.  I knew if made me feel depressed and like I did not measure up, but I could not express why.  Seeing a video someone posted last week made me realize why I was having issues with Facebook. 

This is going to sound childish and pathetic, but Facebook bothers me because I want my gold star.  Last November, I read the book 'Happier at Home' by Gretchen Rubin and she talked about the struggle of wanting recognition. We show those around us appreciation and we praise them for their accomplishments and sometimes it is a struggle to not want that praise too.  I related to this struggle when I read it in the book and the last few months have made this struggle even clearer.  Lately, this is a big challenge for me! I am "just" a teacher; I am not working on my masters and I am "just" a mom. I have a few Facebook Friends who post about their work or lives and their posts fill up with comments praising them for how great they are or how hard they work. My first thoughts when I see these posts are usually 'So what! You did _____ but I did _____.'  

I realized that what it comes down to is me feeling unappreciated. I want to be told that I am great, doing amazing things and am a fantastic person that is loved by all (I tried to warn you that I was going to sound pathetic.) Being a teacher is hard. I am surrounded by people all day, but I rarely have a meaningful conversation with an adult. Being a mom is hard. I am constantly worried about keeping them fed, rested, clean, healthy and happy.  Being a spouse is hard.  It has been almost five years and I am still learning what it means to balance thinking about other's first while still taking care of myself.  Plus accepting the fact that another's life has a great influence on my own and I have little control over this influence is hard for my controlling self to accept.  Being a person in general is hard.  Our calendars are full and there are always things that need to be done.  

I do not think I am alone in my desire to feel appreciated.  I think it is a struggle for many if not all that shows itself in many ways.  I can offer no magic solution but I have learned that putting words to an emotion or experience often help me find a solution. That is my hope for this post. I hope it helps me find clarity and just maybe it can help someone else.  I may sound silly or pathetic, but I have a feeling that I am not alone. 

I don't know your individual story and I don't know what you have accomplished, but please know that you matter.  You are important! We may not hear it enough, but that does not make it any less true.  So whatever you have done today, here is your gold star!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Third Grade Concert 2017: Recorder Concert and A Night on Broadway

I used to be against concert themes but the longer I teach, the more I like them. My third graders have a concert by themselves so we have 30-40 minutes for a concert. We did our recorder unit in November and December and I have decided to do a refresher before our concert in April. This past year we purchased enough recorders for a class set so this year I am going to include recorder in our concert along with singing.

Recorder Concert and A Night on Broadway

  1. Walk Like a Mummy (B)
  2. AAA (A)
  3. Baba Ooo Lala (BA)
  4. Glue Blues (G)
  5. Hot Cross Buns
  6. Perry the Sheep

A Night on Broadway

  1. Supercalifragilicious (Grade Three Book)
  2. Disney Medley
  3. For Good
  4. Put on a Happy Face (Find CD?)
  5. Fifty Nifty (Grade Five Book)
  6. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Grade Four Book)
  7. Singing in the Rain (Grade Four Book)

Kindergarten Concert 2017: Harold and the Purple Crayon

Each year I have many ideas about new things I would like to try and programs/apps I would like to start using.  Sometimes I have to think about wanting to try a new thing for a few years before I finally do.  This year I finally started using SeeSaw.  I have had the app on my phone/iPad for at least three years, but never took the next step.  Right now it is by far my favorite app for sharing student work, but that is another post for another day.  The other idea I am finally doing after thinking about it for years is having a performance based on a book.  I have to say, I am very excited!

I have wanted to try this for a few years now, but I was hesitant to try something new (last year was my first year in a new district and I was never sure how to make the concert format at my old school work with a book) and I didn't really understand the process.  I am still not sure if I fully understand the process, but I think I have something that will work (hopefully).  In my current position; I teach K-3rd Grade Music. My first and second graders have a combined concert in December, my kindergartners have a concert by themselves in March and my third graders have a concert by themselves in April.  One thing I like about one grade level concerts is it allows us to perform more material because the time is not split between two grade levels.  

I have chosen the book 'Harold and the Purple Crayon.'  I read through books I have in my classroom and I could think of songs that would fit with the story line off the top of my head.  After some more searching, I was able to find more songs that I think fit and will work for the concert.  My plan as of right now is to read a few pages of the story and have my kids sing a song that aligns with what is going on in the story. I am also going to include 1-2 poems.

Harold and the Purple Crayon
Moon Poem
Put On Your Walking Shoes-After Page 7
Let’s Go Walking
Apple Tree-After Page 11
Dinosaur Just Ate My Lunch-After Page 13
Stinky Pirates-After Page 19
Lunch Box-After Page 24
Great Big House-After Page 29
Balloon Poem
Twinkle, Twinkle-After Page 58
Chippewa Lullaby-After Page 60

I would love to hear about your experiences with basing a concert on a book.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Reading 2017

I stumbled upon a fellow educator's blog (I think it was Mari Venturino) that talked about how she reads so many books each year. I made it a goal to read more last year and I noticed how much better I felt.  Reading serves almost as an escape for me.  It is an opportunity to forget about the dishes and anything else on my to do list.  I read a lot of education and inspirational books (I agree with Mari that this term is better than Self-Help) and both of these genres improve my teacher and how I approach each day.  I love the opportunity to learn and grow and reading helps this process.  I also read for entertainment and one of my goals for 2017 is to read more "fun" books.  By fun, I mean fiction books. This is a genre that is usually lacking for me. 

In order to make sure I have time to read, I took some time to think about a schedule that would be realistic. I usually read multiple books at a time: an audio book for during my commute, a book, and an ebook. As part of my 2017 fitness goal, I plan to walk more, so I am going to use this time as time to read "fun" books.  I also want to step outside of my reading comfort zone by reading books that are outside of my typical genres.  I would like to read more Classics and Fiction books that made it to "Top of Lists."

My goal is to read 52 books this year (a book a week).  Regardless of how many I actually finish, I will learn a lot and enjoy my time.  I also want to model to my children the joy of reading.  Kiddo 1 has starter "reading" books by herself and it is a sight that makes my heart happy.

What are your reading goals for 2017?  Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Dixon Police Department

Dixon, Illinois is a town near to where I live and their police department started a Twitter account this year.  Their tweets update the community on arrests and town information, but they also share hilarious stories.  From what I can gather through their tweets, one or two officers are in charge of the account.  An officer thought of the idea and was given permission to do it.  

This is a great reminder that the people doing things do not need to be at the highest level in an organization.  People at the top need to give the people below them permission to come up with new ideas and to think outside of the box.

This summer, Northern Illinois was hit with a heat wave.  The Dixon Police Department asked parents to tweet their address with the emoji of police lights. Officers showed up with water guns and had a water gun fight with kids in the community.  What a great way to build positive relationships and reach out to the community!  They also handed about freeze pops.

Some supervisors hear about these two ideas and come up with reasons they won't work, but these officers were given permission to think outside the box.  The water gun fights and their tweets have gained attention from more than just their local community and they are great reminders for all organizations.  Let your people think outside the box and don't make it impossible to try new things.

Teacher as a Business Owner

A family friend became an Edward Jones Advisor last year and I learn something new about the Edward Jones company every time we meet with him. Many aspects fascinate me and I think there are many parallels to education.

1.  Although it is a large company, each agent works as their own entity.  They work independently (classrooms) but each individual's success leads to the success of the whole company (school/district). To help ensure success they provide each new agent with mentors and advisors who help the new agent build their business. There is always someone only a phone call away who can answer questions and give advice. This is an area I think schools could learn a lot from. Often we hire who we think is the best for the job, but we don't always support them. Burn out rates for teachers in their first five years is incredibly high.

2. Edward Jones has a thorough screening process. Our friend told me about his interview process and sounds intense. A phone interview, mock client meeting and other meetings/interviews. I got the impression from talking to him that they care more about personality and how you handle situations than background knowledge.  Yes, teachers need to know their content in order to be successful, but I also believe most successful teachers can learn new content if they need to teach a new class.  Many of the best teachers I have had all had similar traits: passion for their subject, ability to build positive relationships, clear communication and they cared about their students.

3. Each Edward Jones Agent is required to have their own facility. A new agent starts working in the same building as another agent and after a year or so they transition to their own facility. What is each teacher treated their classroom like a separate entity?  What if each teacher spent as much time on parent/family/student buy in as a business owner did?  

I know there are many differences between a business and a classroom and in many ways there should be.  I also think that there are many ideas we can learn from the business world.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Let Me Tell You A Secret...

"Out of 7 billion people and thousands of collected years of recorded human history, none of us are facing a particular adversity that’s completely unique. Keep perspective — other people have gone through what you’re going through and can help you. Also, remember that you’ve survived hardship before and you’ve come out okay."
 - Brendon Burchard
 Lately, I have been posting more about my struggles and to my surprise, I have found that I am not alone.  The more I share, the more I realize that what I am experiencing is completely normal.  Regardless of how I feel, I am not alone in my struggles.  Being a teacher is hard.  Being a wife is hard.  Being a mom is hard.  Being an adult is hard.

EVERYONE struggles and chances are they are or have or will struggle with the same issues.  Some people make life look easy and it seems like they have it all together, but I have learned that some people are just better at hiding it.  Don't let people fool you.  No one has it all figured out and no one is immune to challenges.  

The biggest secret of life is that everyone else is struggling too.