I'm probably a lot like you...

This is where I introduce myself to tell you where I've been, share what I've learned, and explain where I'm going. It's also where I convince you I write something worth reading and you should come back to visit me often. But, the truth of it is I'm probably a lot like you.

In 1994 I had my last day as a student and my first day as the teacher. I walked into school that very first day with firm beliefs, a few of which follow:

1. I was going to change the world.
2. Grading papers would be enjoyable.
3. My students would like me all of the time.

I walked out that last day at the end of the year with "adjusted" beliefs:

1. This changing the world thing might need to be focused on just changing a few kids. One kid? For one day? Even one period! Any sign of change should now be considered an earth shattering success, even if it meant a student wrote his/her name on the right side of the page... or even wrote it at all. 

2. Grading papers had gone from being enjoyable to a total nightmare in about 72 hours. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy seeing my students' work and assessing their growth, but the sheer amount of paper that seemed to reproduce in my teacher tote overnight seemed inconceivable. Where was all of this debris coming from?! Clearly, I had to get a better management system before August, or I was going to drown in spiral notebook confetti.

3. My students were never going to like me all of the time. And some of them were never going to like me at all. (This realization had come to me while crying in my car in the school's parking lot after my first traumatizing parent phone call!) What was even more startling was the fact that their families were going to make their opinion known about me as well! Even a neighbor in the produce section would need to be informed of my every move and statement in the classroom as retold from a sixth grader's point of view. What one child loved about me, another one hated. What one parent thought was valuable, another parent considered a waste. Worst... feeling... ever. 

What was probably the most disheartening belief was that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't cracked up for this profession. Thankfully, by the middle of June I experienced my first summer rejuvenation! You know what that feels like. It's the time of year when we once again believe we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We get up, dust ourselves off, catch up on laundry, read grocery trash magazines, pour ourselves into our own kiddos, and try to get rid of the teacher 20 (the weight gain some of us experience every school year similar to the freshmen 15).

Fast forward 20+ years, three states, multiple grade levels, too many principals to count and around 1700 students, and I find myself here. What to do with all of the resources, lessons, knowledge and experience I've gathered? Well, you've probably figured that out. You're here! Let's connect! I'm excited to learn from you and share with you.

My resources and lessons have whittled themselves down to my own three Rs of teaching: Rigorous, Relevant, and Ready.

1. If something isn't Rigorous, it's not truly getting your students anywhere. Yes, I know that's a big buzz word lately, but it's true. Without rigor, you don't have the growth. I should not be the most exhausted person in the room at the end of the lesson! I want to see smoke coming off the top of my students' heads as they walk out of the room, similar to that of the sputtering car I followed out of the Target parking lot last week. I want them to leave wondering what this all means (in a good way)! I want them to think critically, thoroughly, accurately, and creatively. I want them to work.

2. Lessons must be designed to be Relevant. When it comes to getting and keeping our students' attention, we are competing with technology devices, poverty, problems at homes, sleep deprivation, learning disabilities, the attention span of a goldfish (really!), and a need for instant gratification. And that's just during first period! If a student doesn't see what you are delivering or having him/her do as relevant, you aren't getting the results you want. Period. 

3. My time for planning is growing shorter every year. So is yours. This is where the last R for Ready comes in! I've realized whatever resource I design must be ready to go with little to no fuss. I need to know it's going to do what I need it to do... right now. And I really need an answer key for crying out loud! Oh, and standards aligned would be nice, too. :)

If those three characteristics are present in your classroom, you get your very best R: Results!

Teaching is tough. It's true it's not for the faint of heart. We do the best we can, though, don't we? This I believe: Teaching is not a profession; it's a calling. Every single day we are leaving a piece of ourselves in the hearts of our students. I choose to believe that we are leaving the very best of ourselves. How many other professionals get to say they travel on in the hearts of that many people? How many others really make that impact?

You do. You matter. Every single day.

Thanks for being here!

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