Covid hit the educational world hard. Overnight, learning moved to the virtual world and the stability of the classroom was gone. I never knew how traumatic it was until summer hit and I rested. My body and mind were exhausted.
Returning in person has had challenges, but there is some consistency in our routines, face to face checkins and the smiles and connection to keep us all going. We were required to take Trauma Informed Care for staff development and I needed it!
I needed to learn to take care of myself. I needed the reminder to have empathy for those still in virtual learning. I need to rely on my coworkers more. I need to speak up when I am struggling. Thankful for Crandall ISD that cares about our mental health and gives us time to learn more about the trauma we have all experienced.
One thing is for sure, I have never looked at my face so much as when I have been a virtual teacher in quarantine. Virtual conferences, my pic on a million teaching apps, recording my teaching, having to post pics of me to document I am working…I see me a lot and I am only looking quarantine cute.
My house looks like a hot mess!
I stare at this all day or constantly check my cell phone to respond in a timely manner.
I have heard the background noise of other people's houses more than I ever care to hear. There are some loud homes out there, America!
The codes, the codes, the codes. All the codes to get into all the things! Managing my class and my son’s classes just add to all the codes, new apps downloaded, new accounts created and all this technology makes me want to do my next topic…
Work out, walk, stand outside, put my headphones in and be by myself. I look forward to a workout every day now that there is time. Something about being still in nature and with God is special right now more than ever.
The hardest part is explaining it to a child that truly cannot get it. No words can explain it and it is hard to say no friends, no school, no going to parks. God is good and we will be stronger from this. Pastor Steven Furtick says it is not a matter of if this will end it is a matter of when it ends will you be better from it??
My campus was on Spring Break last week, so online learning started for us this week. Last week, I struggled to wrap my brain around what it looks like and this week I have been busy executing the plan. Crandall ISD has stepped up to give us a united vision of consistency and leadership. Today the first day of school at home begins!
It started with lots of online conference meetings which sound way more fun than they are. A great way to bridge the distance another tech tool that I can now use for the future.
Later came two days of connecting to the families, creating assignments for the Google Classrooms, creating videos to teach parents and forgetful students how to access those classrooms and lots of extra things to put the plan in place. I have a 7 year old that has really had to fill his time (un) wisely while I work 9+ hour days sorting it all out. Again, thankful the vision was already in place so I could execute my part.
Just when I thought I had had enough the Flipgrids started rolling in with their sweet faces and voices and then my first video call to try out the class. Breathe. This is worth it. The kids need the interactions as much as I do and it reminds me why I teach. Their faces remind me why I went back to the classroom after leaving it for leadership and more money. Their smiles are my why and their need for something normal is my motivation. For them the work is worth it.
God is doing something big in all this that I know will be missed when it is all over. Families are reconnecting, educators are innovating, kids are really learning for life not a test, and we are appreciating the roles we all serve and sometimes take for granted. God is moving in this stop and slow down moment in history. I believe in his promises!
I feel good at this mom thing about 85% of the time. I get him to school daily, we bathe daily, he eats every day, I get him his medicine and yearly appts. Overall, he is living large. But then school projects pop up or parent homework as I call it and this girl falls a part. Sure other parents think “Poor kid” as he carries his lunchables to school daily, or this mom shows up to parties late or forgets to sign the folder again. But school projects make them shout “Is she even trying!?” Exhibit A: 100th day of school shirt. The poor boy practically refused to wear it. It fell over him like cardboard and ruined one of his favorite shirts.
Exhibit B: That sad robot VDay box that was basically me saying “I am wrapping this box in foil, you figure out the rest.” Thankful this kid does not feel the need to compete because this mama is not helping his chances.
This is the face of ADHD. As a teacher, I have often seen it as a setback. It keeps the student from working and keeps the student from sitting, but overall not a huge deal in the world of health problems. Then I became the parent of a child with ADHD. To be fair he is more ADD then anything else, but the new trend is to say it is all ADHD and that is fair since distracted decisions can be hyper ones too.
The truth is my son is the most amazing kid! He sees things outside the box for what they could be and not what they are right now. He is full of life, joy, curiosity and wonder. To be honest, entering school has beat a lot of that out of him as testing and being on grade level has overtaken his beautiful mind. He is a challenge to teach and parent, but no other kid will change you like he will…he just makes you see life differently.
As a parent, I can now see why it is considered a disability under Other Health Impairment and is under the umbrella of special education. His ADHD keeps him from learning, being organized, making transitions, keeping friendships, taking tests (and we know school has become one giant test), and socially keeps him acting at a grade level below his which really influences his behavior. As a parent, it is scary to think about him driving and working and even keeping a family…it really does make life as we know it hard, but he hardly notices it. As his parents, we have to teach him to manage it, overcome it and make adjustments to the way his brain works.
As his mom, we have to call in his prescription month by month as it is not refillable and we have to see the doctor quarterly to update progress. Getting medicines is not as easy as some may believe and is very expensive for all those teachers like myself that just said “medicate”. You have to be diligent in getting medical attention and be willing to pay for it. We tried everything before medication including CBD oils since we know all the risks and did not want to lose the personality of our son…but in the end we knew he needed them to function and to learn. It was best for him and we would never say no to medicating his epilepsy, so why say no to medicating this.
I write all this to say if you are like my brother and say ADHD does not exist…you are wrong-this is real. It is more than being a boy or just a kid if you truly have it…it may be over diagnosed…but it is real. If you are a teacher and say that discipline at home can fix it, wrong again. Discipline sometimes beats the kid down as my son was always in trouble. We said all too often, “try harder”, “pay attention”, “listen”…truth is he couldn’t and was trying harder than most. If you are a parent saying that medication seems wrong, maybe try other things first, but at the end of the day if it affects learning and day to day living then ask yourself “Would I not give him cough medicine if he was coughing?” I truly believe this is an illness of the brain and needs and the child needs extra help to do what others can do on their own.
Obviously, a true diagnosis takes lots of time, discernment and doctor approval, but I write this to speak up for the kids that need you to know the truth. The image above is my son 100%. I see now how much he endures to do very common things and how we need to support, encourage, but also teach him to manage his symptoms. I want to be sure I am not always beating him down with my misunderstanding. I also want to be sure I treat my students with this disability with respect as well. I need to create the classroom environment where these kids can thrive! The truth is we can all do better to understand this and support those that have it or the families navigating these murky waters.
This is my workspace 30 minutes after my son gets out of school
Every once in a while, I will have one of those parenting moments that are hard to put into words. Those moments that you cannot believe you are here. I have had a few lately as we cross the path into medicine for my son.
My son was diagnosed with seizures at 3 1/2 and has been on meds ever since. We have always known we live in a world of EEGs and MRIs, but we thought that was the bulk of it. We knew he had a bit of a wild side, but many boys do and then he started school…we learned his wild is wilder than normal and it is affecting his learning
So now we are on new uncharted territory. Riding the rapids of ADHD medication and testing for learning disabilities for all the time that focus might have kept him from learning. Hard to be sitting here having these conversations of side effects and dosage but here we are. In the middle of the chaos, God spoke to me at a worship night.
“You were made to be his mom. You were created for this.”
No one will advocate, fight, champion, and dig my heels in the dirt more than me. No one is more stubborn and will do all things possible to ensure he learns. God chose me to parent him…I was born to love this child. This may be new territory, but we will conquer it together.
I never knew the value of a teacher until I put my son in a classroom. Up until this moment, there was no one human (beside his parents) influencing his life…now there is one person we call his teacher; it changed everything.
It started with her rules becoming our rules around the house. Like one day I said booty and he quickly chimed in “Ms. Monica says we do not say booty!” It later turned to the way she does things like pass out snacks or wash hands. I quickly learned Mrs. Monica is a powerful person and to get on the same page as her or be told I am doing it wrong.
Later it turned into more than that…more meaningful. When she picked up his early signs for seizures were starting again so we could call the doctor. When she could tell he was acting off and might have an ear infection. When we were worried about his development and she could honestly say what was normal or delayed or influenced by others. Her experience and input became very important and valued.
Finally, as he was in her class for over a year, she became like a second mom. I trusted her to call me if the symptoms got worse so I could come pick him up. She also would tell me good ideas for next birthday gifts based on things he enjoyed. Made me aware of good times and bad times with other kids since I would hear about it later anyway. Helped with the transition when he began to be over aggressive and allowed us time to correct it before labeling him the bad kid. When he fell she doctored it up and knew he loved band aids or helped me out when I forgot a blanket. She understood the vomiting was not sickness but a side effect of his meds so let him stay at school or the coughing was allergies and not a cold. She especially was a saint when he had diarrhea due to his meds and allergies and heroically changed him or kept him near the potty. Clearly going above and beyond, but did it anyway.
As a teacher myself, she understood that days off are hard so she helped out when she could or at least gave me time to get a lesson plan made and return. She gave patience, grace and mercy knowing that the teacher life gets complicated because you cannot just call in sick without creating a plan. I never expected this of her, but was grateful when she offered.
With all this talk about teacher this and that…it all changes when it is your kid and you really see their power and influence on your child. You want the best and I was fortunate to have that in Mrs. Monica. Today is his last day of Pre K. He will no longer go to this daycare as he starts Kinder with me in the fall. I am thankful he has had a great 2 years, but sad that it is over. It means he is growing up and moving on and the moving on means change which is hard for this mama. I will no longer have her as a partner in raising my child (and for those haters…teachers see the child awake more than the parent most days so yes they partner to raise them…the teacher should not do it all, though).
So today I thank and salute the teacher that does way more than teach. I thank you for loving and praying and filling in the gaps that this working mom leaves. You are a gift from God and an answer to prayer. Your influence is endless and will be remembered for a lifetime as his first school teacher. Thank you!!