classroom, live in the now, racial justice, teaching

Anti-Racism: Reflecting on 15 Years of Being a Public Educator

The murder of George Floyd and the beginning of another historical life changing world event, a racial justice movement, occurred within the last 9 teaching days of the 2019-2020 school year.

The students in my third grade class and their parents may or may not have been expecting acknowledgement or a comment from their teacher about this turning point in our country. We were days away from the “celebration” of the end of an exhausting and traumatic year that was interrupted by the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Thoughts and words were shared within the classroom and the school communities during the last days of an unprecedented school year. Final goodbyes were said. Virtual hugs were given. Life went on into the transition to summer vacation.

Words.

The words that we share, read and hear, the ones that we choose to say or not to say make an impact. It may last for as long as a topic is trending. The impact of words might have the power and potential to resonate with us for however long we individually “survive” through this time in history.

The following are collections of some words that may have impacted and influenced educators in different ways over the last decade or so.

The last list, along with so many other words and names not mentioned yet, hold the power to change the narrative for educators and students.

What if these words and topics were addressed and used more frequently in structured and respectful conversations in the school setting, even at the elementary level?

What impact could these words and ideas have during weekly lesson planning, staff meetings, parent communication, and data analysis?

Would the conversations be uncomfortable?

How would students benefit from the use of these words and topics in their learning spaces?

Some teachers may agree that the topics from the first 3 word lists have always held a higher priority than the last one prior to May 25th, 2020. How important are they now, given the current state of the world?

Summer vacation during the time of Covid-19 invited many educators to get comfortably uncomfortable and take the journey of digging deep into the truths of racism.

What is one of the biggest and most important truths?

Having the choice to learn about racism is a privilege.

After the choice is made, words can either be used to try to keep things as “normal” as possible, or they can dramatically change the narrative.

Actions do speak louder, but the words are the place to start.

balance, health, health and wellness, mindful, working mom

Sunday Scaries: Holiday Edition

I feel like I have successfully achieved the ultimate level of fun on the weekends during this holiday season so far. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy time with the family, have a couple nights out on the town, and find time to catch-up sessions with old friends and other mommies. I’m truly grateful for everyone in my life, and the fun experiences I get to share with all of them, weather it be time at the movies, or an evening at a super packed dive bar that smells like a porta potty.   

So of course, I’m completely exhausted. At times, I become stressed beyond words when I stop and really think about the behind-the-scenes coordinating, problem solving, and decision making that is necessary to enjoy the holidays. Outfit planning, Amazon Prime purchases, and Uber coordination are time consuming. The journey across town into Vallejo to pick up lumpia for the staff  holiday party was a multistep process, but it was definitely worth it.

So this morning I woke up anxious and irritable. I’m sure it’s because experiencing the Sunday Scaries is a real thing, but I finally owned up to it and I was honest with myself. I’m completely overwhelmed. There is so much going on all the time, and I’m even finding myself only “half listening” to people more often than I prefer. Sorry guys!

There are 5 school days left before break. They’re going to be challenging. Then, as soon as that’s over, the family and I are packing up our vehicle the next day to enjoy Christmas in Lake Tahoe for an undetermined amount of time. I actually woke up feeling very stressed about the logistics of it all.

After a full acknowledgement of the stress levels and remembering the mental terms and agreements checkbox that I said yes to at the start of the holiday season, I finally put myself in check. I get to experience all of this. Figuring out how to transport an Elf on The Shelf in a plastic jar (with breathing holes) up to Tahoe is a first world problem. Gathering snow gear and coordinating ski lessons for my daughter? Same. Any angst related to my job and my workplace is just that. I have a job. I have the opportunity to work, learn, and yes, pay those darn bills.

Remembering to be grateful  saved me again. It’s easy to lose site of it all when stopping to look at the big picture is put on the backburner. The game plan for this week is to fire up the Yule Log of thanks whenever things get sketchy and stressful. I should probably also set another goal and make sure that I fully listen to whoever is talking to me at the moment. Inner thoughts about Elf on the Shelf can wait.


Until then,

How do you maintain balance during the chaos of the holidays? What are you thankful for?

 

 

classroom, mindful, working mom

That’s The Real Question

The excitement of Back-to-School is making a slow transition back to reality.The reality is that I’m a working mom again. I like to think that I’m a “pretend” stay at home mommy for about 3 months out of the year. I have two kids of my own, but this week I met 25 new ones who will also be under my care until June. Oh yes, I have to teach them a whole lot of things by then too. I think we’re in good shape so far. It was a good week.

Oh the exhaustion. My almost 8-year old and I were enjoying a chill moment on the couch after the first day of school.

“We did it. The first day of school is done”, I said, offering her a high-five.

“I can’t believe it! I can’t believe I’m in second grade! And good job today, Mommy.”

“So how are we going to do this everyday for the rest of the school year?” I was really asking her for some insight on this one. I was tired, and the day was catching up with me.

“Now that’s the real question, isn’t it?”, she responded. Her tone was so even, so calm, and so composed.

Good answer. Really good answer. I’ll take it.

I asked my daughter a silly question at a moment of stress and exhaustion, but her response was real. It was Mommy-like. It was teacher-like. And yes, she may have heard my husband say that a time or two. I have no idea how the year will go, but it started off well. There’s no way of knowing what is to come, and I only have control over what’s happening to me in the moment when it happens. Reflecting back is helpful to some degree. However, I know it’s not healthy to dwell. For now, my brain sees a couple of lists. 


My 14th  First Week of School

Motivations:

  • The custodian told me again that I have the cleanest and best smelling classroom in the school. He thanked me.
  • I implemented meditation in my classroom. 5 minutes of being mindful after recess is powerful. 
  • I heard some healthy gossip at work. A couple of people want to clone me. I do to. I can get more housework done that way.

Meh:

  • I had McDonald’s once this week for dinner. Exhaustion won that round.
  • At Target, I wiped my toddler’s nose with his own sweater in front of someone I ran into. I hadn’t seen her since high school. It was an awkward reunion. Meanwhile, there are 60 boxes of tissue living in my classroom.

Motivation and Mehs are the driving force of life. Compliments and affirmations can really make someone’s day too. I plan on stopping more often to enjoy the moments, even if they’re “meh”.


Until then,

I will tuck a few tissues away somewhere, just in case.