Handing Stress with Grace

Have you ever had one of the days when you feel like you can never catch up with all your responsibilities? No matter how hard you work, you are stuck two steps back. With each new moment, a new fire sparks to life and you alone must put it out. On top of all these challenges, you must have a smile on your face because EVERYONE is watching.

That was my day. From the moment I pulled out of my stone driveway and onto the bumpy, cemented main road, I felt behind. Far behind. I even woke up early, slept soundly, and had the entire week’s lesson plans written! (That never happens). I suppose today was just one of those days where I needed to learn how to cope with unexpected situations. Emphases on the pluralness (is that a word?) of situations.

Now that I am laying comfortably in my well cushioned bed, I am able to look back on the day and assess what I learned. How I handled various problems, and the attitude I displayed to my students while contemplating solutions. All my students knew things were going wrong, yet they stayed calm and quiet (whaaat? incredible!) while I tried to fix everything. They were wonderful and I am so proud of them!

I am also proud of myself because never once did I experience anxiety! Not even in the most stressful moment of the day did the crippling grip of anxiety wrap its cold fingers around my heart. I stayed positive, kept pushing onward, and most importantly, did not throw a pity party. I am learning that things rarely go as planned in a classroom, so I must learn to be flexible and stay calm when it all falls apart. I am finding that my best teaching moments are when something unexpected happens. I feel best about my teaching practices when I have to think quickly on my feet. I am so pleased that I did not have a bad day just because things were behind and broken. I am so happy that my mind is healing and I am back in control!

If you are in a dark place with your anxiety, just find one positive moment in each day and focus on it. Don’t loose hope because one day it WILL get better! You are strong and you will make it through!

Becoming the Woman I Never Thought I Would Be

While growing up I was never a cool kid. I was never invited to parties or asked to sit at the popular table in the cafeteria. But I was perfectly okay with not being apart of the in crowd.  I did not see people as being either popular or unpopular, druggies or geeks, bandies or thespians. I saw everyone as people. I did not place people into labeled boxes or nice neat categories. Everyone was just a kid like I was, and I knew they were just trying to figure out who they were and where they fit in. They experienced the same pains I did, felt awkward at times, and even out of place. I knew we all were the same once the outer surfaces were scratched away and the true heart was revealed.

However, it has recently been pointed out to me by a few of my closest colleagues that I am one of the “popular” teachers at school. I was shocked to hear that because never in a million years would I have imagined being considered cool! I have always been ‘nerd and proud’ and rarely have I ever cared about how others viewed me in popularity. Obviously, due to my anxiety issues I tend to feel uncomfortable when someone is upset with me, but I never cared much about fitting in. It just seems completely foreign to have people look up to me..

I have been reflecting about this conversation and trying to figure out why people are viewing me in this different light. My priorities and values have not changed much since high school, and I have never sought coolness or popularity, so I was curious as to why people saw me this way. Upon reflection, I believe students and a few other faculty members see me as being someone they want to be around, because I do not judge others. I will talk to anyone and everyone. I treat everyone with the respect they deserve, even if they do not show it to me. Again, I believe we are all the same behind the walls we hide behind. I think that the students and other teachers see my attitude and feel safe being around me because they know I will not judge them. They know that I will love them no matter what.

It is just interesting that popularity is such a coveted thing within human nature, and people are willing to change who they are to achieve it. However, I am learning that if you just be yourself people will sense your realness and want to be around you. Do not hid behind fake personalities or bitchiness just to fit in. Be yourself. Good and bad. People will respect you for it, and you will begin to love yourself.

Seriously! I love being a teacher!

I know I have written this in the past, but I truly love my job as an educator. Over the last few days I have been very frustrated and stressed about the political side of my job, and it has really worn me down. I have more responsibilities as well so it was beginning to pile up and weigh me down. However, tonight I was reminded why I love what I do. It’s the kids. It is so rewarding to be able to make a difference in their lives everyday. There are many kids at school who don’t have a loving and safe home, and I feel honored to provide them with that within my classroom walls.

Tonight I made a podcast for my kids (since they have to make one) and I pretended I was a middle school girl talking about her day! I had so much fun making it! I cannot wait to show them tomorrow! Just by making this podcast I reminded myself why I do what I do. I love making learning fun and showing them that life is an endless road of new and exciting things to learn! I love that we all share laughter and adventures in academics in my class!

If you happen to be in a rough time at work, school or even just in life, try to find your joy. Your reason for why you carry on everyday. If you cannot think of anything, do something you love and it will reignite passion and help refocus your mind onto the good. Remember that you are not alone and we are all here for you cheering you onward towards happiness!

Baby Bug Has Bitten Me!

So over the last few weeks I have been crazy with the baby bug! It’s crazy, because I never thought I would catch it. Being 29 years old and never feeling the pull towards children, I never thought I would develop maternal instincts. It is kind of exciting and scary all at the same time to feel the urge to be a mother. I have a lot of fear about being pregnant because I am afraid of what it could possibly do to my anxiety. I do not want my anxiety to be a raging beast while I would be pregnant. Also, considering some of my anxiousness is caused from the fear of being sick (very annoying) I think having morning sickness would really push my anxiety over the edge. I have been working on sorting through these fears and trying to rationalize them. I do not want to miss out on the opportunity of being a mother just because I am anxious about the process of having the child.

I would also be completely open to adopting a baby. As a teacher I see so many amazing kids being unloved at home and it breaks my heart I already feel as if I am a mother to all of them since I play multiple roles during the day to these kids. Teacher, mother, nurse, and counselor. I would love to give a child who desperately needs a stable home a spoiled upbringing. I believe every child should be spoiled 🙂 (but not to the point where they are bratty of course! Boundaries are healthy) The calling to adopt has really been heavy on my heart.

I am not sure what path we will decide on, but I am looking forward to what God has in store for us. 🙂

Anxiety, you ain’t got nothin’ on me!

Over the summer (before I started by journey towards healing) I spent a lot of time worrying about all of the trainings I would have to partake in during the upcoming school year. My panic attacks where not under contro. yet , not to mention they had NEVER been a part of my life previously, and I was worried they would strike during presentations or when I was meeting new people. However, I am proud to report that I have been to three training this year, each 2 days long, and I have not had a single attack, or even anxiousness. It is an incredible feelings to know that I am able to get outside my comfort zone and be able to stay calm and excited about what I am learning.

I still struggle with the frustration of knowing that almost an entire year of my life was lost to anxiety. Especially since I had already dealt with anxiety when I was in college and I thought I had it under control. I did not have the panic attacks, I had the feelings of dread for no reason (which is always annoying. Gotta love GAD.) I wasted a year of growing as a wife, teacher, a leader and a woman. However, I am learning that I cannot keep that mind set. I have to find learning opportunities from this situation. If it had not happened, I would never of discovered the healing tools that are available to me 🙂 This can really help me in the future if I ever get trapped in the cycle again.

As always, if you are in the darkest fight with anxiety, don’t give up! Open up and you will be surprised by how many people are understanding and supportive! 🙂

Attention Teachers: To Lit Circle or not to Lit Circle?

I am throwing around the idea of doing lot circles with my students, but since most of them have reading disabilities I am hesitant to assign a novel. I am thinking about possibly using short stories and going through the same process, just with a shorter text.

What are some of the ways you have addressed your special education students in lit circles? This sounds like a fun thing to do, I just want to be sure I do it effectively and without frustrating my kiddos.

Thanks for your help!

I really should be sleeping right now instead of lesson planning!

I love being a Special Education Teacher!

I don’t often talk about what I do exactly within the educational system, so I’m going to tell you! I teach special education for a middle school. I know, crazy right!? Middle schoolers are crazy and full of attitude. Well, that is kinda true, and they are full of attitude, but I actually LOVE middle school aged kiddos. Yes, they are at an awkward age, but they still are a lot of fun and for the most part I think they do want to learn. It is just important to make sure lessons are relevant to their lives. I don’t mind their attitudes (usually) because they don’t seem to mind if I sass them back a little bit to keep them on their toes! 🙂 We like to have a good time in my classroom.

I work mostly with learning disabilities and other health impairments. However, I also spend time in a class for kids with more cognitive disabilities, and I sure do love them! They are just so sweet and there is never a dull moment. 🙂

This is my fourth year teaching and I am looking forward to what the year will bring! Over the last 3 years, I have moved up with my current 8th grade kids, and I am so proud of all the growth they have made over the years.

The other day I was in a conference where my team and I sorted through our data to help us create an action plan to help more of our students meet the standards in reading. Our district as a whole, has very poor math scores, and we have been devoting all of our time to math instead of reading or writing. However, the data was showing that  our reading scores were slipping because we were losing focus on it. OF COURSE! We are focusing a lot on our students with special education services and trying to find new ways to help close their achievement gap.

As we were digging through the data we found that in the spring of 2013 77% of our students in special education did not meet the standards in reading. WOW! We were obviously discouraged so  we looked at last year’s scores (spring of 2014)  and we found that only 37% of our students in special ed did not meet the standards! This was so exciting for me because I led the team and pushed for all the changes we made! I couldn’t believe it! 🙂 I was so proud of my kids and my team! I had no idea that the scores had changed that much!

I wanted to share my success with you guys 🙂 I was just so proud of my team! YAY!

Work and working out don’t always get along…

I love my job and I love working out, however, I can’t always muster up the energy to do both in one day recently. This week has been NUTS and I can feel my body getting tight and ache-y, and I know I can really use some yoga! It is just difficult to combine going back to work after the summer and using my remaining energy to workout. I know it is not difficult, but goodness, I can’t motivate myself this week! Teaching can drain your day (always in a positive way).

What do you guys do to motivate yourself to workout after a long, tiring day?

You are right where you are meant to be!

Over the last 29 years of my life, I have often suffered from envy. Yes, I am not proud of it, but there are times when I can be a very jealous person. I personally find it annoying, but never the less, I still get caught up in that mindset. I do not find myself envious of people’s possessions, but instead, I am jealous of their opportunities. For example, I get frustrated when I see someone my own age having a better job. I have always been very driven with my career and often times find myself frustrated because I feel like I am behind comparatively. This is because I received my undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism, but after I graduated I had a difficult time finding a job. I also realized that my heart was not in covering news stories. I found out that I only wanted to be a journalist because I thought it would be prestigious, which it very well could be. I wanted the glamour I saw in the movies, but real life was much different. I did not want to spend my days trying to move up the ladder of a career that I didn’t even want to be apart of. I started working as a substitute for my local school district and I instantly fell in love it! So I went back to school and earned a Master’s degree in Special Education. 

Since I started teaching “later in life” (really it was when I was 25/26, and that’s not even old!) I always felt behind the game. My husband is just a few months older than me and I saw him moving up the ladder, and I found myself jealous of him. Which I see is ridiculous! He has been teaching longer than I have and he should be moving up. I don’t know why I spent all my time being envious instead of celebrating him. I see now that it was hard on our marriage and hard on him because he wanted to celebrate his successes with me, but couldn’t because I would be snippy when he would bring them up. 

Now, I have realized that I am right where I should be. No one should be promoted during their first or second year of working. It is something that must be earned. I am seeing that now. I am happy to celebrate my husband! He is an extension of me! He is incredible! A hard worker and I feel he deserves even more promotion! It feels good to finally learn this lesson. Once I became content with where I was, God began to pour His blessings on me! This year, I have more responsibility and am starting my climb towards leadership. I wish it wouldn’t have taken so long to be content where where I am, but I am grateful I am finally there! 

You may be frustrated that your life is not where you thought it would be, and you may be envious of those around you. But remember, your time with come. You are being prepared for great blessings!