My One Word…Passion

I was just in a Twitter chat (#sunchat) and that topic of what your “one word” for this year will be. I had to think for a few, but it quickly came to me…Passion!

What is “passion”? Passion, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” This definition describes my feeling about education perfectly. How can you enter into a classroom and not feel passion? How can you truly give yourself to your students if you don’t have passion? How can I show passion in my classroom?

Each day when I walk into my classroom, I feel an excitement that today I have the opportunity to connect to my students in a new way. This connection comes from me giving my students the desire to want to continue to learn. I have to show my passion for the content I am teaching. If I come in and state that this topic is not exciting, why would students care to learn about it? I am here to build the interests of students, I have to show passion!

I also have to show passion for my students! I teach 5th and 6th grade. These students are at a prime age of starting to build their interests and what defines them as a person. I need to be passionate about their discoveries. I need to show them that they are doing great things and that they need to show passion for their new area of learning!

I need to show passion for my colleagues. I need to make them feel like they are making a difference with their work and that I support their passion for their subjects. I also need to be passionate about their personal journeys. I need to feel a connection with them as a person and not just as another teacher.

Also, the word Passion has another meaning. In the Catholic faith, Passion is the suffering and death of Jesus. We need to be reminded that this Passion is a part of our life. We need to accept the pain that may come from showing passion. People may not always accept us or our commitment to an idea. It will cause some suffering. We will be hurt along the way, but as long as you remain steadfast to your idea that if this is best for the students, you will feel the great reward of your passion.

Passion is developed. You may not know where your next boost of passion will come from, but you have to respond to it with everything you have. Passion is strong. Passion is exciting. Passion lies within you! You need to take that passion and exhibit it and pass it on to everyone you meet. Be ready for a strong connection to everything you do and for everyone you are working with! Let passion lead you!

Appreciation…Let’s Enjoy It!

There are days when you just seem so excited to get up and get into the classroom…then there are days when it can feel like a major struggle. Perhaps those struggles come from a situation at home…maybe it’s because of a situation at work…or, yes it happens, you just are struggling with that one student and you need a break from that child.

These things happen. They happen because we are human. We are challenged by so many to make our students believe that we are something more than human. We feel like we need to be perfect at times. We don’t need to feel that way. We need to show that we do make mistakes. We need to show how to get past those “bumps in the road.” We need to teach from mistakes rather than criticize that a mistake happened.

We enter into our classrooms sometimes under that idea that we can’t struggle. Maybe we shouldn’t show our struggle fully, but we do need to let others know that we are struggling. We have so much to appreciate!

We need to appreciate our colleagues. They are the ones that may cause some of our struggles, but there are those few that will strengthen you and continue to push you forward. Turn to them, that’s why they are there!

We need to appreciate our administrators. They provide us with a resource of commitment to the school and can help us regain our focus. They are more than just a “boss” but they are also a leader for your well-being.

We need to appreciate our students. There will be those students that make us feel like we are not accomplishing anything. We want some students to be way further along than they are. Yet, we also need to appreciate any movement forward with these students. Appreciate the smiles they give you. Appreciate the effort they show. Continue to realize that we are there for them…and that they are there for us. We need to appreciate our jobs and all that we do! Appreciate yourself!

Why I’m a Catholic School Teacher!

I have taught nearly 9 years so far. Each one of those years I have taught in a Catholic school. Eight of those years were in a high school setting and one in a grade school. This is year 10 and my 2nd year in a grade school. Each year I feel more and more blessed to have the opportunity to do 2 things: 1. Educate my students…and 2. Share my faith with my students.

Educating my students is a top priority for me. The Catholic school setting allows me to touch on topics where I can show God’s true presence in their lives more deeply. I am able to take a few moments each day and reflect with my students about how God has truly blessed them and help them see Jesus in everyone. I am excited to see my students grow in their faith when they start to see how they live the Corporal Works of Mercy through serving others. When I stop and have a reflection with them regarding an important topic and they explain how prayer and God made them stronger so that they could get through a difficult situation makes me a stronger Catholic. I’m inspired by the faith of my students and I hope I inspire them as well.

Working in a Catholic school does have many challenges and sacrifices. Yet, each challenge and sacrifice is a blessing. I look to these as ways that I can grow my faith. Perhaps I don’t go out as often…perhaps I look at what I have and find a new way to repurpose it into something my students can use. I’ve made social sacrifices, but I have also grown my creative skills. I know I can do more to help my students grow in their faith and I’m ready to keep pushing myself to make sacrifices to help them grow.

I’ve truly learned what it means to be a “Man for Others” during my 4 years at my Jesuit high school, but now living the motto makes me understand what it means. I am proud to say that I am a teacher and even more proud to say that I am a Catholic school teacher. Being a Catholic school teacher has been a great journey. I have so many teachers to thank for making me the Catholic I am today and inspiring me to be the Catholic teacher I am today.

My Goals for 2016-2017

This is my second year teaching the 5th/6th grade level. This world is still new to me, yet it is a world of which I am excited to be in. Students are exploring, eager, and developing their young minds into greater life-long learners.

So, what can I do to help my students continue their passion to learn? Where can I go to better serve my students? What am I going to do this year to expand the minds of my students?

Goals for 2016-2017:

  1. Listen to my students more and allow them to have a larger voice in the classroom:
    • I often times fall back into the idea that the room I teach in is “my classroom.” It is not my classroom, but “our classroom!” It is a room that my students need to be a part of rather than visitors in. The voice of the student needs to be heard and they need to have a choice in their outcomes.
  2. Expand flexible seating.
    • Students need “their” space to grow and learn. They need a place to feel comfortable and to expand their mind. Providing flexible seating isn’t the easiest thing to do since resources and space are limited. I have been working to add spaces little by little and I hope by the end of the year I have even more places for my students to grow and learn.
  3. Do some units by using flipped learning.
    • Students have much different schedules than I had while in school. They are also in the mindset of completing more hands on projects and expanding their knowledge of material that is discussed in class. Flipped learning is a way students can learn and dive deeper into the content.
  4. Continue to expand my PLN!
    • Last school year I really dove into the world of Twitter and the amazing FREE professional development that it provided me! Last year I was motivated by so many great educators that I have met through Twitter chats that I completed all my requirements for my principal license. This year, I hope to continue to expand my PLN through Twitter and other methods of educational growth! I hope to attend a conference or two (EdCamps and larger ones).

These are just a few of my larger goals. I also have goals of being more available for my students, more compassionate and caring, and a stronger supporter of my fellow teachers as they attempt to take risks.

The 2016-2017 school year is one that I know will be challenging, yet very rewarding. New classes present new obstacles and opportunities. I need to take both the obstacles and the opportunities and run with them! I need to embrace them and grow in the same way I challenge my students to embrace their obstacles and opportunities and grow!