Monday, June 24, 2013

Walking Down Memory Lane

Have you ever sat back and reflected on the past?  I think most people remember significant events and short term memories.  Summer allows me to reflect on my memories.  It's funny how the human brain works, small things can jog big memories.

I've been fortunate to be in education long enough for many of my former students to graduate and invite me to grad parties.  Each time I attend these grad parties I'm one of the few that loves to look at the scrapbooks and picture walls.  These walk me down memory lane!

The other day I went to a grad party for a young lady.  She was an outstanding student, but more importantly she's a high quality person.  When she was in 5th grade school was a struggle.  She didn't seem to fit in with her peer group, her health was very inconsistent and her strength was communicating with adults.  Simply put she stressed about school.

Fifth grade was a positive one for her.  Her attendance in 5th grade was her best of any year.  One of my main goals each year was always to team build the first month and then return to team building periodically.  This allowed for me to create a community in my classroom.  I believe this community helped her grow with peers and develop friendships.  I knew as the year went on that she looked up to me and she needed a lot of reassuring.

I worried about her after 5th grade concluded.  I worried about her ability to relate and connect in middle school.  I told her my door was always open.  Throughout the next school year she came and visited my new 5th graders several times.  I asked her about middle school and she always smirked and told me that she missed 5th grade.  She told me that she was struggling with some of the girls in middle school.  I tried to reassure her that she was a good person and that she should focus on the positives, but deep down I knew she was hurting.

As time went on she entered high school, she stopped in a few times and gave me updates and then she dropped a bombshell on me.  She was leaving school to enroll in online courses.  She was struggling with so many relationships and school was creating many of her emotional issues.  I tried to shift my thinking.  I told her I supported her decision and that I believed she would be successful.  Deep down I worried about her socially.

We stayed in contact, but it was rare at best.  Then out of the blue she invited me to her graduation party.  I'll admit I didn't even think she was graduating.  It's not that she wasn't bright enough, it's just that I didn't know how online graduation worked.  As I walked up to her house she had a big smile and greeted me.  We did the usual chit chat and then I went in to grab a bite and look at the pictures.

Then it happened.  I started to think back to all the times in 5th grade.  I remembered the conversations, the activities, her tears, her struggles, her visits after 5th grade.  All these memories came pouring back.  She and I had a nice relationship, she was a student that I'll never forget.  I'll never forget her asking me for help with her peers.  I'll never forget her sitting down and conferencing with me.  I'll never forget her smile that told me she was hurting for acceptance.  I tried my best with her, and as I sat looking at her pictures I knew she was going to be okay.  She chose "her" route.  She found "her" niche.  She was going to take "her" strengths and be successful.  I'm proud of her accomplishments.  She opened my eyes to the possibilities of doing things differently.  As I sit back and reflect, she is my inspiration to take risks, don't fear failure.  The road may be bumpy, it may be difficult, but it may help shape who you really are.

In the end the lesson for me is another reminder that relationships make all the difference.  As Rita Pierson so eloquently stated, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like!"  I believe this.  I formed a relationship with my students and this helped me get the most out of them.

As you take the summer to recharge I challenge you to take a walk down memory lane.  Think of a student you significantly impacted.  I bet you formed a strong relationship with that student.  Do you still connect with the student?  Do you wonder how the student is doing?  Remember relationships are at the heart of what we do, I hope you can look back and say, I connected with "my" students.

To Keep You Informed:

*  Warner Elementary has a new Physical Education teacher.  Her name is Mrs. Nicole Kelly!  Nicole previously taught 7th grade Science in the Western Middle School.  Nicole is a fantastic addition to Warner : )

*  If you haven't heard, Mrs. Kathi King retired at the end of the school year.  We are going to miss Kathi greatly.  Her patience and love of children was phenomenal.  As Kathi heads off to the life of retirement we now welcome Mrs. Susan Nash to 2nd grade.  Susan is very excited to transition to second grade! 

*  If you're looking for something to do don't forget we are aiming to brighten up Warner with some inspiring artwork.  

*  Also, please stop in and pick up your copy of the book, Leader in Me.  All copies are located in the Warner office.

Articles Worth Reading:

Breakthrough Moment as a Teacher  by Brittany Cerevic

How to Dance Properly (Funny)  by @adambellow & @teach42

Building a Team of Teachers  by @pernilleripp

Alternatives to Homework  shared by @MrPowersCMS

Co-Curating our school  by @chrislehmann

21st Century Icebreakers (Love these ideas!)   shared by @AnnetteBreaux

Student-Led Learning in Science shared by @NMHS_Principal

Videos Worth Watching:

Technology in Education...a GOOD thing! (4 min)

Winning isn't everything. Inspiring story about an entire community. (7 min) shared by @casas_jimmy

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