What's in Your Invisible Backpack
We all have baggage. Some more than others. I'd like to think we can share our loads and learn from each other. Everyone in education has something to say and it's important that we listen and hear it! 

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So, I was recently working with a colleague who knows me pretty well. When he asked how I was doing and I responded "I'm fine". His raised eyebrows were answer enough, that I was not fine. I am very aware of my short comings, one of which being that I don't wear my stress well. I am usually not fine, but I seldom let that on. We can't in this profession. It's like the teacher who comes to work because they hate leaving sub plans, they fear won't be followed and they'll lose a whole day's worth of instruction.  So - - - I'm fine. My job, really is to make sure that everyone else is fine, truly supported, and that they feel that everything is running smoothly in the world. But how can I make sure that I really am "fine"? How can any of us make sure we take the time to unplug and recharge? Read a book . . . for fun! Take a walk, go for a run, watch a movie, go to a new restaurant and talk about something that doesn't involve your work. There are times when we won't be fine. That's absolutely OK, but find a balance and make sure that you have someone that will raise their eyebrows, listen, and let you talk. That ability to unplug for those brief moments is priceless. Those friends are a gateway to sanity. In our line of business we can't just leave our work at the door and we need to find ways to be "closer to fine". 
Posted by angelagreen  On Nov 02, 2018 at 12:49 PM
I was watching "Last Man Standing" with my daughter; one of our favorites. Tim Allen's dad character is asking his youngest daughter, "Why did you lie about not wanting to keep singing? You are so good at it, you wrote the song, you rocked it on stage, what is holding you back? Are you scared?"  Her answer is good. . . "What if I fail?"  But his is even better, "You're going to fail. But so what? You try again. You got up there in the first place and you were good enough to be there." She was writing songs and performing, but when someone thought she was good enough, she got scared. She made excuses and sabotaged her own success.  Hmmm sound familiar. Sound like any of our students, peers? It reminded me of high school, to be honest. I never raised my hand until I knew for sure the answer was what the teacher wanted to hear. I refused to take the risks. I was afraid a lot. I worried over every response, I was quietly agonizing over all the notes I took, and I never raised my hand unless I could answer something perfectly. Fast forward to some pretty stressful college years and a young teacher who didn't want her kids to struggle through that kind of anxiety.  So what do we do? Do we create students that are afraid to take risks? or  Do we encourage creative thinkers by letting them know that their mistakes are part of their journey to success? What does that sound like? "You are on the right track" "Have you thought about looking at it from this angle?" "Tell me how you got that answer" "Talk me through your thinking"  "We aren't there, yet . . ."  Become part of their thoughts and their process. I am so proud of our educators today. We take the time to show our students that failure is part of the journey. We don't punish, we don't condemn. I sit in classrooms and watch teachers encourage free thinking, risk taking, and the power of "yet". Our students are not scared to try new things and this is exciting.  Think of the things that will be tried . . . . 
Posted by angelagreen  On Oct 11, 2018 at 10:00 PM
The idea that the "What" is our curriculum. That's fine, I get it. The "How" is our artistry. Who is teaching that today? I'm serious. Where is the "Why". Who is telling our young teachers that if they don't truly have a purpose in education, they might as well pack it in, because they'll be done. Passion has to be there.  Do you listen to the stories about actors who got their start, waiting tables? Musicians, playing every club and street corner to make pennies to get produced for the first time. We hear these stories and think to ourselves, how quaint, I could never have done that . . . really? Couldn't we? WE DID!!! We subbed, every day ! Some of us for years at a time. We just wanted to get our foot in the door at the school of our dreams. High school science teachers, subbing in kindergarten classrooms, to prove we were willing to take on the world. Third grade teachers, subbing for high school social studies and faking the "rights of man", because they want to impress principals.  We were young. We are young. We love kids. We love the excitement of new knowledge and instruction and engagement.  Like a songwriter creating something new and fun. We created lessons that hooked our listeners; making them want to sing along. Like actors, we were on our stages, all eyes on us. We performed and kept them engaged.   Something drove us to get where we are now, what was it and how do we teach these new teachers about it?  WHY do we do WHAT we do and HOW do we do it?  I would never have compared myself to a singer or an actor, but the passion for my craft is the same. I want to get better, I want to reach a broader audience, and I never want my passion to die.  The struggle was / is real. 
Posted by angelagreen  On Oct 03, 2018 at 4:51 PM
As educators we often think of the first days of school being a challenge only for us. We think of the time and effort we put into getting opening day lessons ready, the desks ready, the classroom ready. We want the students to think our environment is welcoming and the space is a place they will never want to leave. We rarely think about all the other "stuff" that happens in their invisible backpacks; the nervousness, the fear, the excitement, the anxiety. Parents and students alike are feeling emotions that can translate into a great first day or one that can cause the happiest of kids to be shy and anxious. Parents prepare their children to be kind, they hope  kids will listen and follow directions, they want them to remember to wash their hands when they go to the restroom. They send them to school to be nurtured. They want their growth to continue and they know that educators are working hard for them. I have no doubt that 100% of my teachers were up the night before school started, thinking of things the students of IRIS could do to be engaged the first day of school. This is their craft, their passion. Just as every parent feels their heartbeat walking away from them when they walk into a school house, teachers feel the importance of caring for those kids sitting at those freshly decorated desks. It's an impossible balance. We know they need this time to grow, but we so desperately want to hold onto them forever.  The line between parent/educator blurs. 
Posted by angelagreen  On Sep 05, 2018 at 11:14 AM
As I sit at the third annual tech fair, I am reminded that I am quietly becoming out dated. I remember my first computer. I bought it with scholarship money from my graduation in 1997. It was connected by dial up. I'm not joking. Into my sophomore year of college, Instant Messenger was the rage. We would message each other room to room, thinking we were the coolest things since sliced bread.  Now I get frustrated when I see kids texting at a restaurant, wondering if they are having a thumb conversation with each other instead of talking to to each other in person. We are moving toward an age where communication looks different. We can embrace it or we can dig in our heals. I am in between. I don't know how I feel about this movement. I think we need to teach our kids to collaborate in person with each other but move forward embracing the technology that may come to be in the future.  What are we going to have, how will we use it, and can we ensure our students find their WHY.  I'm excited to learn how these excited teachers are using technology in classrooms, coupling conversation and technology. It's going to be a great day!
Posted by angelagreen  On Aug 21, 2018 at 9:23 AM
You know those people who say "Can I just be the Devil's advocate." ?  I love it when teachers say that. I love when they speak their mind and give their opinions. If they sit silently and don't let us know when there are concerns, we blindly go forward. I am not naive to the fact that I get excited and then act immediately. Sometimes the action happens too quickly. I have learned, over time, to be more thoughtful and more careful in my research.  Having colleagues that bring us back to reality with a quick question is sometimes all we need to center us; give us the focus we need to really accomplish our goals.  We all have different opinions about our techniques in the classrooms. We all have different ideas about the changes happening in education. This is what keeps us similar - our differences. Looking at a problem from a different angle, through a different lens, and with a creative solution in sight is something we must continue to do to move forward in our growth.  Asking for new ideas, new opinions, and listening to the response and hear the answers.  Working with people who respectfully challenge me to think outside my box ensures me the opportunity to learn every day. I am lucky this is my reality. Let's get back to it. 
Posted by angelagreen  On Aug 13, 2018 at 2:01 PM
"If Mrs. Knight is the Queen, then are you the Princess?" it was probably the best question I had the first year I was in admin. It came out of the mouth of a kindergartner and she was as serious as anything. I was also asked if I was the "step principal" as well. I think I like Princess better.  I didn't become an administrator to get a fancy title. Titles don't mean much. As a teacher, we need to remember what it was like to be a student. We need to remember the kids that sat next to us, the things they liked, the things they didn't. We often look back at what moved us, what we loved, what we hated. As leaders, we need to remember what we loved about the classroom. I guarantee, if you are thinking about it right this minute, you are thinking about kids. You are picturing the faces of boys and girls, young men and women, who changed your life forever. The paperwork, the assessments, the stress are there. I understand that, but when you think about it . . . really think about it. You remember the kids!  That first year, I enjoyed the questions. I enjoyed the newness of the K-3 experience. The sheer idea that someone would think of our school as a kingdom and we, the Queen and Princess, was pretty fantastic.  I read recently in Culturize, by Jimmy Casas - "Harold, you don't need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor," He was quoting A Few Good Men. He was discussing the idea that we don't need to have leadership titles to be a leader. I agree, however, leaders need support. Student leaders, teacher leaders, leaders; we all need affirmation. I think it's human nature to need the positive reinforcement. Look past the titles, see the person. Think back on those students, teachers, leaders.  What was it about them that spoke to you? How did they support you to get better? 
Posted by angelagreen  On Aug 07, 2018 at 4:26 PM 1 Comment
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