Friday, December 26, 2014

New Year, New Goals!

Here I am again, a month later, well-rested, and excited about the new year! I'm linking up with Mrs. D's Corner to share my New Year, New Goals:

My family and I recently re-joined my former church, the one from before I married, before I moved halfway across the country, before I moved back and joined my husband's childhood church. As new members, we went to a new member class for several weeks, and I had so many Aha! moments, it was ridiculous. If you've been reading my blog for a while, and hung in there with me through the drama of moving, marriage counseling, and disappointments, you may remember that last Valentine's Day was {romantically} spent moving into a little townhouse, from a huge home. A couple of weeks ago in church, the minister was talking about what makes people feel secure, and what we get caught up, kids, voluntarism, and "stuff". BAM! It hit me. Stuff makes me feel safe. Stupid stuff. Stuff I don't need. Stuff I don't have room for. Just stuff. Teary-eyed, I started praying right there that God would speak to me every. single. day. and help me let go. So many times, I've prayed that I'm giving this situation, or that, to Him, but you know what? I never did. I always let worry consume me, and I always had to keep my "stuff" to feel secure. I get it. I HAVE to Let It GO! I know there is a reason and a plan for all that we experience (including the black mold in our current rental townhouse, forcing us to move again!), and that God is using all of these events for His purpose.

Same church class, different Aha! Work-a-holic? Right here! Everything I do has to be perfect. I haven't created a new product for TPT in over a year, because I can't think of the perfect unit or set of station work. My lesson plans take hours. My classroom has to be the cutest, my stations, the best, my ideas, the most creative, blah, blah, blah. You know what? The kids I teach are seven. SEVEN! They couldn't care less what my room looks like, how cute my lesson plans are, how perfect the stations are, or how creative my latest bulletin board is. They just want to be loved on and noticed. They don't care, their parents don't care, my co-workers don't care, my boss doesn't care about any of that other junk, so my goal is to get the job done at school, get the stations put together, do my best, most effective and efficient planning and teaching, and then leave school at school...stop bringing it all home to fuss over, fidget with, and perfect! Is professional imperfection a real goal???

Ironically, I want to keep up the creativity in my planning, but pick up the pace. My plan is to actually reuse things I've used in the past. Why in the world I think I have to have all new plans every year, in order to teach the same standards in the same grade, is a brainteaser! Of course, I need to tweak my plans to fit my current kiddos, but really, if good practice was good practice last year, it probably will be this year, too!

To get better organized, both at work and home, I need to, once again, LET IT GO! I really need to go through one file drawer or notebook at a time and get rid of the millions of papers I've had for fourteen years of teaching. Hey, that could be cathartic! Then, one box at a time, as we prepare to move, I need to get rid of lots of that stuff I've held onto.

My students are awe-inspiring. They qualify for my class by being in the lower-performing quartiles on standardized testing in first grade, or are identified as at-risk for one reason, or many. When they get to me, they know they are behind. They already don't like to read or do math, because they know they're not necessarily as good at either as their peers. This year, I told my class that there was a reason they were in my little bitty class of 12 kids. I told them that they were the very best second graders, the smartest, the fastest, the best behaved, and that they were there to show all the other second graders "how to do it". I also told them I was the best second grade teacher, the smartest, the one with the most experience, and that that's why we were together. Yes, I got it from this awesome video, but you know what? It WORKS! I remind my kiddos, at least once a week, that they are the best. And they are. They are the best behaved the halls, at related arts, in the cafeteria, on the playground, and in class. They are the fastest learners...every single one began the year at least half-a-year behind in reading, and every single one is on, or above grade level now! So, lots of times, they tell me, "It's hard!" They mean the reading, or the math, or spelling, or writing, or just about anything they've not done before, but by reminding them that they are the best second graders, I've been able to keep them motivated to learn. I can't wait to see where they go in 2015!

Isn't it obvious?

Happy New Year, Friends!