Category Archives: teaching

The Truth about ADHD

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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.

Surreal Parenting

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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.

Power of a Teacher

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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!!

Urban to Rural…year one done!

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Last year, I made a big career move by switching from Mesquite ISD to Crandall ISD. Big move meaning less pay, less resources, went from 34 elementary schools in the district to 4, went from a support role with less stress to the classroom which meant more preparation…a lot of change! Now that the year is over I can say it was the right move, but I still miss Mesquite greatly; it was my home and still where I feel the most me.

But looking back here is a list of some of the biggest changes:

1. Resources- no printer in my room, a rough curriculum that was new, no chart paper readily available, one person was the go to for all the curriculum needs vs having department heads. All of this obviously due to size…this district is growing, but some of these perks are not needed yet.

2. Freedom- freedom to make your plans as you see fit, to try new ideas, to leave on time, to focus on teaching and not testing. Returning to the classroom could have only been done if I could reduce the stress and this district was the answer.

3. Respect-at my campus families still respect the profession. Behavior was awesome because parents would punish if not. Parent phone calls made a difference; the student behavior was to blame and not the teacher. The community valued the profession…lots of respect for this passion I pursue.

4. Pride- Mesquite has pride, but with so many schools that pride is spread out. So many great schools leads for lots of ways to shine which Mesquite often will, but this small town vibe sends all their students to one high school which leads to one big ball of CHS pride. I will love this in the future when I want to see former students and know where to find them.

5. Purpose- there is purpose at both but in Mesquite I knew mine daily. There you are more than a teacher..you are life. More is expected of you emotionally and spiritually. Your coworkers are your soldiers fighting the urban education battle of poverty with you. I was emotionally fatigued daily but I was needed, changing lives and doing the impossible daily. 

6. Connection..this will be the last reflection, but the smaller district gets you connected quicker.  We meet as a whole district to cheer each other on, parades and pep rallies are attended by the town, Friday night lights is a thing, the admin knows you by name and make sure to address your concerns…the lack of Title One money means there is not as much stuff, but the relationship of knowing who you are is powerful.

The purpose one often has me question if I will return to Mesquite or at least a campus in this district that is more needy..maybe even middle school someday, but for now I am trying to remember I did my 14 years in the trenches and it is now time to see a different side. Still tough, still needed, still so much work but with some benefits so I do not get burnt out. 

I am especially excited because my son comes to school with me next year!

Hard to believe this baby is now five!

If you are thinking about switching districts, my advice is think about the location, money and then your health. Decide what you can balance.  I am fortunate we could take the pay cut. The new location limits us since my family and our activities are in Mesquite plus Crandall is limited on food and shopping. We drive a lot, but at least not in the morning like I used to do for two years commuting to work. Being in the classroom is long hours, but adding driving time means you are away from home even more.  For me, it came down to health. Even when I was crying because I missed my support system and school where I was known and loved…I knew I was healthier because I was less stressed and had help when I needed it. Lupus is a disease triggered by stress and I need the less stress possible. Being in the classroom filled my passion, but it also brought back work only a classroom teacher could know. 

Health won.

I encourage you to pray to God about where he can use you and then obey. When it is all happening then you will have peace if you are in his will. Even during the tough times then you will know God led you here and He is with you.