This is a mixed feelings post. My son has always been delayed in life milestones. We never knew for sure if it was us not pushing him to be more independent because we love the process of parenting or does he just need more time. So when we looked at the first free weekend in forever (due to the shut downs across the state), we gave it a go at bike riding without training wheels. In the back of my head, I thought he would never do it or not yet. Autism, ADHD and little grit often speaks louder than pure determination, but we pressed on and prayed.
It did not happen right away. He lost balance and struggled and found himself ready to give up. We talked. We reasoned. We motivated. Then we gave him a break. The next day he saw the “big kids” riding motorcycles and he got the fire again. We told him bike first…mini motorcycle second. Out of nowhere he got a wild hair and got to work. Older boys around us gave him tips and modeled. He did it at his own pace in his own way…but 24 hours later…we were on our first bike ride….together.
We talked about life, racing each other, stopping to look at cool things. Surreal moment of “he is growing up”! Another milestone never to be repeated. No looking back. We moved on to big boy bikes. It feels good! Sad that it is a sign of maturity and another reminder he is getting older and closer to leaving home. It happens that fast. But exciting that he is learning, trying new things and showing us he can conquer fears. Blows my mind how last week this felt impossible and now look at him go! Of all the ugly memories that came from this time in history, God has given us a beautiful memory made possible with time.
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 cannot do much during this crazy time, but living in a house where we both have our jobs (for now) I can support local businesses. Restaurants need us more than ever to stay open. So many jobs are in jeopardy, but this is one that could be saved if we get to go. I know for many it is impossible as budgets get cut, but if you are able support them with your business.
I cashed in a gift card and left a good tip. Nothing big, but my small way of taking action to do SOMEthing that blesses another person. Even better idea is buy a meal for someone that cannot afford one or donate groceries to a family in need. Whatever you do examine how you can help and spread that kindness to others in Jesus name.
We are living in a crazy time! Businesses open during the Great Depression are closing, schools canceled indefinitely, churches are even closed! Institutions that seemed unbreakable are broken…crazy times!
Look on Facebook and you get a range of emotions from fear to doubt to frustration. Truth is we all process trauma in different ways and no place is that more evident than on social media.
The battle for me begins and ends in my mind. Do I choose joy or jealousy? Do I judge or like a post I do not agree with because I know their heart? Easy to not want to read it, but then it is the one way to stay somewhat connected. Constant choices for your time. How best to spend it when getting out of the house is limited?
As Christians, we have a calling in times like these while the world watches. Where is my source of strength? Where is the root of my joy? Do I trust my heavenly Father like I say I do?
The best we can do as Christ Followers is to be the Church. Share love, time and our resources. Check on our neighbors. The world will know us by our love. Not easy when you just want to be left alone, but this is our time to prove our faith are more than words.
The greatest lesson I am learning is that we can fill our calendars with all of our stuff, but God is in control. God is the ultimate decision maker. This surprised us, but not him. My father always said after every plan “Lord willing”. It drove me crazy, but as I cancel event after event it makes sense. God is in control.
In my devotional today, the author talked about retreating to her “Faith Cocoon” in times like these. Meditate on scripture. Sing worship songs. Dive into devotionals. Draw near to God. This does not mean you push others out of your life, but that feed yourself in faith so that you can share that with others. If you are not full then you cannot pour into others. I believe lives will be saved and churches will be full the first Sunday they are reopen. God will redeem this if we hold on and wait patiently.
So I am one the many the media keep talking about with a compromised immune system. Do I look unhealthy or sick? Probably not. Can you tell that I have Lupus? Definitely not because you cannot tell from the outside. But I can tell. I know my Lupus by the fevers I get on a daily basis. I can tell by the aching joints, the rashes, the fatigue and twice daily necessary steroids to stay somewhat normal so I can make it through the day. I know by the year round anemia and decreased white blood cells. Truth is I may never know if I have the Corona Virus because I live with those symptoms daily. My life is all the symptoms especially in a flare. My blood work always comes back low and abnormal. Not a pretty picture, but my reality.
However, and I am probably in the minority here, my health is my biggest concern not yours or the public. I mean the public has a part by not knowingly going out with contagious diseases, but not going out right now where anyone can have been exposed and not know is all me. In the midst of all this I need to quarantine myself and not be out exposed. The truth is you do not know what to look for, but I do. So since my disease is one of those that is mysterious and easily covered up then it is up to me to stay safe. Reality is you would have no idea my immune system is compromised unless I told you. So I pray for all the people like myself that others eyes are opened. I pray my symptoms and yours stay mild. I pray all your organs stay active and well and that the good Lord brings a miracle quickly for not just this disease but sickness and disease everywhere including the heart disease of not knowing Jesus!
First, I am one of the lucky or unlucky teachers that started my break this week. The unlucky part is that I will be unable to enjoy a single day of this Spring Break. Too much worry and uncertainty and fear of what will be in the future for myself and my students. Lucky in that we had days to prepare; we sent home work and logins, grabbed our planning materials and most importantly said good bye. We left knowing the days ahead would be uncertain, so we kept calm but prepared ourselves.
But the days of this week being a time of celebration and catching up on rest are anything but especially if you have a child of your own. In an instant I became a home school teacher, an online teacher and a wife of a man that is invested in the travel industry that is being destroyed with every passing day.
So the truth is we are waiting, watching the news, catching up on technology learning, anticipating the next email or tweet about how the district is handling this and praying, praying, praying.
Praying how God can use me for His glory in all this, praying I can be the teacher my son needs, praying this will bring people everywhere closer to Christ and to the truth that God truly does have the whole world in His hands, praying my students have food and their parents still have jobs and praying the leadership on all levels will be led with wisdom and peace. Finally, prayers for health, vaccines, medicine, miracles and safety. Prayers that the boredom will be a blessing, the stress will lead to scripture, the worry will start worship, the panic will turn to praise and the God of the universe will take His place over Google.
I have already seen God at work as we band together to offer free resources and teachers helping teachers by sharing ideas and support. In light of eternity, this is a small moment in a big picture. Praying with power for us all!
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.
I am a big advocate of having a circle of women that you can connect with and grow old together. Seasons change in life so much that it is likely the friendships will change too. Hard reality, but truth. While we lived in one city, our friendships were very different vs another. While our son played on one team the parents we hung out with varied from the next time. Proximity is important.
I am thankful for my DC or Dinner Club girls. These ladies have been in my life for 15+ years. No season could separate us. We are lifers. We have literally raised families together. We make the time and that is key. Be grateful when you find a crew that knows it all and still love you. Hug them tight and do not let go.
I write all this to say, we were made for community. Isolation is lonely and dangerous. When you are down, you need someone to help you up. You need a partner to laugh with and love hard. I cringe at couples that say “we have each other”. Love the bond, but you need more. Fellow moms that get how hard it is, wives that feel the struggle to stay sexy, women that know the pressure, Christ followers that see how narrow the road really is and get when you do not always feel like you fit in. Spouses are great, but the girl time makes the spouse time better. I have had girlfriends that chose the boy. Only want to go out as couples. Cancel at last minute or never fit the date into their calendar. I get love, but I refuse to be the only one trying to make the friendship work. You choose to make time or you do not. Simple.
I am fortunate to have several groups. Church community, work community, city community and my lifelong friends. Make no mistake it is does not just happen…you make it happen. You create time, you say yes, you give your ear and be attentive, you stay loyal and guard your heart and mouth so other women want to invite you and be around you. You stay confident and secure so you can shine each others’ crowns instead of rip them off.
Women can be as tough on each other as much as we are tough on ourselves. But when the relationship vibes are right, no one understands women like we understand ourselves. The giggles are loud and the conversations get deep. Big tears can be shed and the dancing and singing can free the soul. Go on the get away and leave the kids …they will make new memories just like you. Embrace the girl time. Leave the man for a few hours…better yet, marry the man that selflessly supports it. It.will.be.worth.it!
I have worked for some good principals, but the one I had 5 years ago was undoubtedly the best. She always put her trust in the teachers that she hired and always saw us as humans first and employees second. When tough conversations were present, she would always say “Is this the hill you want to die on?” Most times, I sheepishly said no then I would turn and just stay silent knowing it was not worth the fight.
But now, I have a situation where I have discovered that I will indeed choose to die on this hill.
The issue is small for most teachers in the education world, but it means everything to this reading teacher. The issue: how we prepare students for reading tests.
Our reading education has come down to test passages and standardized tests and my feelings always have and will be that building lifelong readers comes first. I have done my job if students leave my class loving or tolerating books more than when they walked in. I regularly incorporate reading time in my lesson plans and only read children books so we have something to talk about. My hero is Donalyn Miller and her thoughts give me passion.
But doing this kind of reading means test scores take time to grow. In the beginning, the scores are low because we are not taking test prep passages all day and getting good at tests. We.are.reading! Shocked I have to defend the act of reading to teach reading, but I have literally planned with teachers that have a lesson plan of legit reading passages all.day.long. Well, good for you that your scores are good, but sucks your kids now hate reading.
So spring forth to this week where I have a lengthy conversation with a colleague encouraging me to test prep, do a lengthy list of reading strategies geared for only making them more tired while reading and to read the questions first before reading the passage so we can improve test scores. Forget comprehension or reading for meaning…what was I thinking? We are about passing tests. I sat in shock and explained that some of your strategies will exhaust my advanced readers as they do their magic without all that extra work (aka they read a lot) and my struggling readers may never finish the test. Then while they are thinking about the questions they just read, they are missing the main idea and inferences required to answer the questions and evaluate the author’s craft. But I only have a Masters in Reading, A Master Reading Teacher certificate, 18 years in education with all 18 years getting 80% or above passing STAAR in areas of Texas with high poverty rates so what do I know? (For real, despite my multiple years of reading success-last year over 90% grew from the year before…I am still getting this talk.)
So I sit here and ask myself change my plan to fit their (admin) needs and completely destroy myself as an educator and lover of literacy…maybe the scores will go up or maybe not…or stand firm in my belief that tests will come and go but lifelong readers will not.