teaching

Diary of an Online Educator – May 22nd 2020

So, I showed this to a fellow teacher this morning who said that I should share this with my principal… after she called me a teacher angel. And I figured if I’m going to share it with people, I should share with ALL the people right?  Bitmoji ImageLOL!

Anyway. I had a student contact me on WEDNESDAY (our last day of regular classes), with 20 points to his name, having never been to class asking if there was ANY way that he could pass ENG 9. Bitmoji Image

But, I’m not one to give up on ANY student,

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let alone one that comes WILLINGLY and apologetically for help! So, after struggling momentarily with the ethics of giving a student a BUNCH of shortcuts for the course, I realized that really what I would be doing is giving him a credit recovery version of the course!!! A Pathway to Passing!

Aaaannnnd now I’m sharing it, or pieces of it, with all my students who are still failing. Along with taking out the ETs from their course load it seems to really be helping them. I mean, they’re not getting A’s by ANY means. But they ARE passing! And to them THAT’S what matters. I had one student yesterday in my help session that was using this and he got to passing during the session. I texted his LC that he just passed ENG 9 and he told me in the chat a minute later, “My grandma is screaming! LOL!”

Talk about making your heart happy!

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I’m loving this pathway so much and the way that it’s forcing me to look at my curriculum. It’s making me decide what’s THE most important thing that we did in every unit? Why? Which modules are the most critical to learning the content? And do the points that I assigned to it line up with it’s importance to the course as a whole? When I get my hands on my course for next semester, THIS is what I am doing!!!!! BEFORE everything starts! BEFORE they’re failing. I’m going to call them the “Essential Assignments” – as in it is ESSENTIAL to your grade that you do this assignment… you know, if you want to pass the class.

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I don’t know. Maybe this is seriously basic stuff and I’m just behind in the game, but I’m feeling fairly earth shattered, mind blown, happy about this right now. LOL. Thanks for listening to me rant about myself. LOL!!! I’m excited.

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Diary of an Online Educator – April 24th 2020

So, this just happened today!!! It’s probably hard to see because I was sneaking a picture DURING our department meeting but that’s a slide all about ME! My principal surprised me by recognizing me in front of all the English teachers in our high school! I had to WORK at holding back the waterworks. I didn’t want to bawl in front of my peers!

This school year has been a particularly difficult one for me. I started this 19-20 school year teaching 4th grade in a brick and mortar (B&M) school and it just wasn’t the right fit for me. Even though I had dreamed of teaching 4th grade since I was IN 4th grade, it just wasn’t working out. That’s putting it mildly.

So, in December I took my secondary English exam and started working at Indiana Digital Learning School (INDLS) as a 9th grade English teacher. From the moment I “stepped through the door” it just felt right. Do you know what I mean? Like when you snuggle down into bed at the end of a long hard day kinda “right.” But, because of my previous experiences I really just didn’t want to get attached. It didn’t work. The longer I’ve been here, the more I love it. Every day brings new joys and I’m forced to love INDLS even more than I did the day before. From the fact that I can go to MY fridge and get a drink any time I want. To the way that the students light up my day with their jokes and laughter at my silliness.

When COVID closed the schools my heart BROKE for all my B&M teacher friends I’ve made through the years! I feel SO BAD for the terrible conditions they’re being forced to deal with. All while I sit here with my primo online experience. I’ve felt GUILTY for enjoying my job during this time. But that wasn’t the only thing I’ve felt. As some of you may have noticed, there’s been a bit of anger that’s gone through me as well. I had to back WAY off on my social media intake because I just couldn’t handle all the negative posts about online education. Here was this thing that saved my sanity this year and all I was reading about it was how awful everyone thought it was. It was killing my spirit to see so much negativity surrounding something I love so much.

And yet, even with all that love for this platform, I was still holding out for next year. Was INDLS really the place for me? Should I consider a B&M position next year if one comes up?

I was pretty convinced that yes, INDLS really was the place for me, but today solidified it. This parent, was especially appreciative of my efforts with her daughter and went so far as to write an email to our principal about how she feels about me.

In short, this parent wrote that her daughter had been attending INDLS for 2 years now and up until this semester was seriously considering taking her daughter back to B&M because she just wasn’t being successful for a couple of reasons. Then she wrote this:

“While the changes [made by other teachers at INDLS last semester] were beginning to make a difference for [my daughter], she still was feeling very dejected and like she wasn’t smart enough for school. [She] has always wanted to be a nurse and by the end of first semester this year, and by her grades, she had lost all confidence and hope of making this dream come true. So much so, that we had her spend a day at a local high school and were ready to change her back to a brick and mortar school for next year. Then came the WONDERFUL Mrs. Knochel!! She had been really paying attention to [my daughter] and talking and listening to her. She then reached out to me and really asked what I thought helped [my daughter] learn best and what motivated [my daughter]. I was able to explain our concern with [my daughter’s] diminishing self esteem and confidence and Mrs. Knochel took this information and poured into our [daughter]. She encouraged, inspired, and cheered [her] on. She convinced our daughter that she was capable, she could do this, she did have what it takes to be what she wants to be! She cared so much about our daughter and her success that now [she] has an A in English! Her other classes have also been effected by the effort of this wonderful teacher. [My daughter’s] grades are A’s and B’s. This is an amazing change! We are so grateful for Mrs. Knochel….and because of her, [my daughter] is excited to be staying with INDLS next year. 1 teacher can truly make a difference in a child’s life and Mrs. Knochel did this for our child. I just wanted you to know what an amazing group of educators you have in these 3 ladies. We are forever grateful that they made a difference in our daughters education.”

Can I just say, WOW! Talk about a blessing of confirmation! I am definitely right where I am supposed to be! But that’s not why I’m sharing this with you all today.

I want to encourage all you teachers out there who are STRUGGLING to wrap your brain around online education. You’re NOT alone!!! Did you notice in that letter that there is ZERO reference to my amazing and captivating lessons? She doesn’t mention that I make the most beautiful slides or that I am a whiz with this technology platform. None of those things mattered to her! What mattered to her was how I connected with her daughter. Her baby girl who was STRUGGLING to wrap her brain around education in general started flourishing when I started pouring into her as a PERSON.

Now I know that for most of you this is basic teaching 101. But I think maybe you need reminded of it today that education is SO MUCH MORE than our standards. You might be feeling like a mega failure with this platform. BUT, that doesn’t mean that you ARE one! The line in this mom’s email that struck me the hardest and MADE me share it with you was,

1 teacher can truly make a difference in a child’s life”

YOU might be just “1 teacher” struggling to keep your head above water right now.

BUT

that DOESN’T mean you’re not making a difference in your student’s lives right now! Honestly, if you’re still showing up and plugging away at this school year, then you’re WINNING in my book! Most days we, as teachers, have NO IDEA how far our reach is going! We have no way of seeing that far ahead into the future. But that’s just it! No matter what your lesson plans are for today, or next week, or the rest of the school year. That’s not what your students are going to remember about you! They’re not going to remember your slides, or if your makeup was perfect for your Zoom shot, they’re going to remember that you were THERE for them when they needed you. They’re going to remember that you walked them through this tough time. They’re going to remember how you made them FEEL. Respected.

Cherished.

Loved.

Safe.

You name it because that’s what REALLY matters right now.

 

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I’m Back!

My friends, this life is a CRAZY ride! I’ve been able to post a couple of times since I started working as our middle school’s Special Education teacher. (I’m loving it by the way.) I’ve shared how it’s been my lifelong dream to be a teacher, and that God has called us blessed us with exceeding fruitfulness. Oh my friends! We truly do have that blessing of fruitfulness on our lives! You are not where you are by random chance! God has placed you precisely where you are for such a time as this! He has called you to bloom where you’re planted and make a difference right where you are, right now. You don’t have time to sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity to be fruitful and productive, because NOW is that time! This very moment, this very second, this very day! Bloom NOW, right where you are! You are the light of this world, BE IT! He has placed you as a lamp, high on a hill, shine by being precisely, fully YOU! And only you know what that looks like and feels like. He made you who you are, be that person today – shamelessly. Be you! Allow yourself to indulge in what it feels like to do the very thing that makes you feel unique and special and then then bask in that warm glow that emits from your very soul. For me, that’s teaching and connecting with children.

I have always loved children, they make my heart full with their silliness and smiles. And right now, as a middle school teacher I get plenty of that! But even more so, over the last few weeks I’ve been faced with a gift only God could have given me. I fully believe that God has placed me here in this classroom. There is no doubt about that in my mind whatsoever. And I’ve been operating in that function – “God has put me here.” “I’m supposed to be here.” “This is what I‘m supposed have to do.”

I had been praying about my former position that had been open for the last 8 weeks and I was marveling at how long it had been taking to find someone for my Instructional Assistant position. And at the same time, nervous about it being filled because then that might leave me out of a job if the school decided to go a different direction when my contract was up in December. So I had taken a bit of comfort knowing that it hadn’t been filled and if needed I could always go back to it. Up to that point I had been dutifully going through all the motions of being a Special Education teacher in a middle school. I had even applied to the school of Special Education at Ball State for my masters and have been accepted. But I had done it all out of a sense of duty, not desire.

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Then one morning as I was driving into the sunrise pulling into the school parking lot God asked me, “Is this where you WANT to be?” In that one question He made it known to me that my former position hadn’t been filled yet because He was waiting for me to choose the role He had placed me in and bloom where He had planted me. And it was in that moment that I did decide that this IS what I want. It certainly wasn’t what I had prayed for, hoped for, or asked Him for all summer; but having done it for the last two months, against my will, I had grown to really enjoy it. And in that moment I realized that, “Yes. This really IS where I want to be and what I really do want to do.” It wasn’t an hour later that another teacher came in my room and struck up a conversation with me where I repeated those very words aloud! And wouldn’t you know it, it wasn’t even another hour later that my mentor teacher came strolling into my room with my IA replacement! Seriously, I’m not even kidding you! That very same day that I made the decision that I wanted to stay and be where God had planted me, was the very day that He said, “Wish granted” and “There’s no backing out now!”

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The very next week, last week to be exact, I went on a whirlwind tour of training! Two days in Fort Wayne with the always fabulous Indiana IEP Resource Center.

And one day at the Indiana Connected Educator Convention, where I attended a session on telling our stories. Guess who talked me back into blogging more often! And inspired me to buy a headset during my lunch break so I could screencastify – I’ll explain more about that later. img_20161012_113839

To put it mildly, I’m thrilled to be stepping into this role wholeheartedly now. I always put at least 100% into everything that I do, but there’s a mindset shift when you go from doing something because you have to, to doing it because you want to! And I couldn’t be happier to not just accept my role here at SMS, but to embrace it and fully become all that I can be here in it! My blog has always been all about me and the things that I’m thinking and learning and that won’t be changing. However, because my life has changed so drastically in the last few years, so will the content of my blog. Which only makes sense. I’m sure that I’ll still be throwing Bible verses and the Holy Spirit in here from time to time – probably ALL the time. But they won’t be standing alone in the stay at home mommy world any more. They’re going to be set in a classroom full of kiddos that have had the whole world set against them for a very long time. These kids need prayer in a way that I’ve never experienced before!

 

 

Categories: Rest, SPED, teaching | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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