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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OK, so I think things were different back then, but not because kids were any different, the adults were. Let's be honest, times have changed. Everything around us has changed, from the books we read, or tablets, to the way we allow our students to interact with us. Many of our classrooms are flipped, flexible, and we would never think about lecturing all class and just assigning something to be turned in the next day without discussion. Yet, we survived. Many of you out there who are brilliant teachers, look back on those very educators, who stood at the podium (yes, I said podium, and I know some of you can envision teachers flipping pages as they droned on) and lectured at you, not daring to stop for fear of not completing what they had planned for the day. At the end of our class, the assignment would be written on the board, if we didn't write it down, we may have called a friend (at least a two minute call, because of the rotary dial) and took an hour to complete at home that night. If the work didn't get done, there were no second chances. No one told us we could have a redo. You got what you got. When a teacher called on you in class, you answered with the correct response. No one waited for you to figure it out, no one said "ummm sure, that is kind of right". If it was wrong, you were told you were wrong. Sometimes you were even made to feel so wrong, you never opened your mouth again. It wasn't fun. When you got home, you didn't complain, because your parents would ask why you weren't prepared better, why hadn't your worked harder to be right. No one defended you. Your parents sided with the teachers . . . always. It was a much different time. I'm not saying it was better, I'm not saying it was right, and I'm not saying I was always a happy kid, but I learned.  I learned how to be patient. I learned how to be kind to my classmates, even when the adults weren't. I learned how to research and how to really know when to listen and when to speak. When I was young, I learned how to respect the adult in the room, because they were the expert. I think we were upset, at times, with the idea that adults may not have valued our youthful opinions. As adults now, we have more of a discourse with our children, but I hesitate to cross the barrier allowing young people to take that charge of owning the podium, owning the lead, when they themselves have not lived this life. I do respect the ideas they have and will learn from them. I will listen to them and hear what they have to offer, but I will not allow disrespect to lace their tone. Having said that, I will model what I expect. I will have fun, I will engage, I will instruct using song, dance, and I will not hide behind a podium and lay slave to a text when I can create with my students. Ahhh the young . . . they feel the same way we once did, we can't forget that when we are standing in front of that podium. Mindful instruction. Remember when we were young and don't lose yourself in the mistakes of the past. 
Posted by angelagreen  On Mar 01, 2019 at 3:02 PM
  
It's not even half way through the big game and I already have a favorite commercial.  As a foreign language teacher who took the leap into administration, I am always doing my best to stay fresh in my language knowledge. So, when I saw the commercial for google translate. I was intrigued. "The most translated phrases, today are ' Thank You'  ' How are you' , ' I love you'" . I'm in and I'm interested. The scene plays out with people all over the word interacting with people they may not even know, forming new relationships, asking questions, and getting information; any way they can.  Now as  teacher, I was not a fan of translators because they usually weren't very reliable, but think about the world this is opening up for us? We are able to communicate in such an amazing way. This isn't just about language; it's about sharing ourselves with others. Communicating face to face with people; in person! Translation is beyond words at times. We sometimes need help expressing ideas, idioms, clothing.Heck, there are times that my own hand motions come across as aggressive, when really I am just super excited. So I say this with excitement; share yourself with someone new. Tell them what you mean, when you mean it and don't be afraid to get lost in translation. Make mistakes and learn from a complete stranger. Correct someone and be polite when doing it. Life is a teachable moment. I'm going to repeat that one, and not just for my son, LIFE IS A TEACHABLE MOMENT, let's start learning from any and all the people out there.  Eat new and strange food, in a new and strange land. Barter for a beautiful ware and win a great price. Use your hands when you talk. Laugh at yourself when you try to repeat what google said. TRY TO SAY IT. Share with a stranger. Share their language, their food, their culture, in hopes they will share with you. Communicate in person. How awesome that we are a world truly encouraging of technology that allows us to travel freely and speak with anyone, anywhere.  Je veux le faire. Ich will es machen. Quiero hacerlo. I want to do it and make mistakes along the way . We all have something to say and it's worth hearing. Even if it's as simple as "Thank you" " How are you" " I love you" .
Posted by angelagreen  On Feb 03, 2019 at 7:44 PM
  
Everyone likes new, let's be honest. We love opening our presents under the tree and finding something new and exciting that we didn't ask for under there. The new book, the new appliance, the new piece of clothing. We all love wearing it, using it, and reading it. This time of year isn't just for kids. We, as adults, love something new. I guess my point is, why do we fight newness all the rest of the time? New shifts in education, new methods, new tactics to get kids to learn, come to us through PD and from our District Offices and we put up walls. We hear about a possible change and we are instantly at the water cooler or sitting at the faculty room table in a ball of nerves wondering how are we possibly going to be able to keep up with the changes? How did you fit that new washer in your pantry? How did that new blouse fit in your closet? When did you find the time to read that new book on your shelf? Wherever did you find the time to use that new gift card that little Johnny got you for Panera, because he loves that you are an innovative teacher who thinks outside the box? Get the picture? You handle new all the time. You handle it every time little Johnny raises his hand and throws a monkey wrench in your math lesson, reading group, or science lab by asking a great question. You roll with the punches! It's what you do! You are a TEACHER!!! You are fabulous.  New doesn't mean better. Let me just get that straight, right now. I still have my favorite sweater on the back of my chair that was by granddad's. It is older than me and still fits in a way that is comfortable beyond belief. I will never not put on that sweater when I need comfort. There are methods that work and will always work to teach, reach kids, and reach families. We all have things that work for us. We all have our strengths, but there are times when things change, families change, kids change because the world around us is changing and we need the new. It is exciting to open up that new thing that might just reach a child in a way that we couldn't before. Don't be afraid to try it, you might like! 
Posted by angelagreen  On Jan 02, 2019 at 11:42 AM
  
Let's just keep it together . . .  Teachers are preparing amazing lessons, wherein they tie holiday themes with Math, Science, Social Studies, and English. We are trying to keep kids excited and engaged. We are helping keep the happiness alive while also making sure they are learning. We are hoping they understand how important this time of year is for family and friends. Kids are excited, they can't quite hold it in, and at times we just need to find ways to let them have fun. I am finding such joy going into classrooms seeing crafting, watching dancing, listening to carols, and enjoying the activities that are keeping the kids active.  We all need these moments that keep it together, while also having fun. I just recently heard a very wise man, teaching about the need for patience this time of year. Patience for others is wonderful, but have patience with yourself. Just work at keeping it together a few more days. These kids, everywhere, understand your kindness and your dedication.  Happy Holidays
Posted by angelagreen  On Dec 18, 2018 at 10:17 AM
  
Every year at Thanksgiving, my tradition has been to watch Holiday Inn while making dinner. This year that didn't change. My dinner making changed slightly, as I was out of commission a bit. The turkey was in the roaster early, as always, with the help of my husband this year, then we both went back to bed. My folks prepared most of the rest of the food.  If you aren't familiar with Holiday Inn, an Irving Berlin classic and one of the reasons I was convinced I should have been raised in the 40's; it's about an actor/singer with a broken heart who takes to the country to live the simple life, opening and Inn. While away from it all, he finds love. Ahhhh such ease. The songs are a truly lovely. You're Easy to Dance with, Be Careful, It's my Heart, White Christmas, and many more.  I was especially happy to reflect on I've got Plenty to be Thankful for, this year. How often do we sit back and do this? I whined most of my vacation about being sidelined, complained about not being able to lift anything, and moaned and groaned about being on the couch. BUT, I have the best family in the world. My family picked up the slack. They cooked, they cleaned, they constantly checked on me and changed ice packs. They nagged, they catered, and they loved.  This is how we do things and do them right. We pick up the slack when others are down, we check on each other, and we help out. It's never easy to be the weaker link and know we are the weak link, but sometimes, that's just the way the chips fall. It stinks, badly! Yet, it's in these times that we need to be thankful that we have this group around us. Use their talents. Tell them we appreciate them. Say "Thank you" and really mean it. I do have plenty to be thankful for. We all do. When we show gratitude, the kindness of that is truly miraculous.  
Posted by angelagreen  On Nov 26, 2018 at 1:37 PM
  
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
  
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