Thursday, September 18, 2014

Time to Suck it Up!

Yesterday was a REALLY rough day.  Not because of anything going on at work, but because I felt like total crud ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  I had to wear my coat all day because I was absolutely freezing, and couldn't get warm.  I felt queasy, and couldn't eat anything.  And, I was tired.  

My kids were so good to me, though.  They knew I wasn't feeling good, so they worked so hard and tried so hard to make me feel better.  Those kiddos sure do know how to make a woman feel loved.  I could have called in and stayed in bed all day, but I didn't.  I hate missing work, I hate being gone, and I don't feel sick very often.  Even though I probably shouldn't go to work when I'm feeling a little under the weather, I love the fact that I when I do decide to go to work feeling a little "off", my kiddos know exactly what to do to make sure I feel as good as I possibly can.  Thankfully, I got through the day, I got through my college class, and I was able to come home and go straight to bed.  

This morning, I feel MUCH better.  

I woke up with the queasy feeling gone, I'm not cold, and I feel rested.  I'm ready to tackle my day and bounce back to my usual self.  And I don't know why, but after going through a day where I'm not 100%, I want to come back the next day with my A-Game and really tackle any troubles I've been having.

Case in point for today?  The interventions.

I received a few words of encouragement by way of a comment left on yesterday's blog.  Even though the comment was left anonymously, I know who wrote it.  And, when I read it, I couldn't help but agree.  She's absolutely right.  I do need to "suck it up".  I have whined and complained for the past three years about filling the gaps these kiddos have, and have been looking for ways to do exactly that.  For the past couple of days, I have been acting like a little whiney baby.  I can't keep my own kids?  Wahhh!!  I'm not sure exactly what these kids need?  Wahhh!  I'm a little confused by what I'm supposed to be doing?  Wahhh!!!

What I need to do is forget all that, and trust myself.  Or follow the wise words given to me by a very wise woman:  Suck it up!!

If I know one thing about myself it's this: I do what I do, and I'm darned good at it.  No matter which kids I have in my room, regardless of what I'm expected to do, I always tend to bend the lines just a little and follow my gut.  I am not, nor have I ever been a follower.  I'm a leader.  I do what I feel is right, and go with it.  

I think one of my biggest obstacles with the new intervention time is the fact that I'm confused on what I'm supposed to be doing.  I've been listening to several people say "Here, try this" and "Here's another packet of stuff, try that", and that's just not how I roll.  I don't like being told what to do, in all honesty.  I like to get creative, I like to march to the beat of my own drum, and I adapt and adjust when I need to.  I have the perfect opportunity with this time to get creative, hone in on the needs these kids have, and bridge the gaps that I have so desperately wanted to fill.  I may not yet know exactly what the kids need, but a little creativity and practice and I'll figure it out.  

One thing I pride myself on is breaking away from the "conventions" and doing what I feel is best for my students.  I don't always like being the odd one out, but I'm willing to take a few risks and try new things if I truly believe there's reason to.  One example of that is my reading time.  I don't teach what the rest of my team teaches during reading.  They use the text book to teach reading. While I don't disagree with their use of the text book, and see no problem with using the text book... it just wasn't up my alley.  I vividly remember my love of reading coming from reading actual novels.  In 4th grade, I was reading books like Charlotte's Web, so I decided that's the book my kiddos will read and work with. 

Is my way of teaching reading any better than my team's?  Certainly not.  Am I still teaching the same skills?  Yep.  Do I have kids that technically read on a 2nd grade level reading chapters from a book that's written on a 4th grade level?  Yes I do.  And they are loving every minute of it.  We read, we discuss, they answer questions, they write about their reading, and they are able to provide opinions, draw conclusions, make inferences, and make predictions.  

What I realized, after seeing my words of encouragement, is that I should be doing the same kind of stuff with my intervention kids.  I am a firm believer that kids learn to read by actually reading.  The skills are all important, but they are a lot more meaningful when they are applied to a purpose.  So, what I should be doing during the reading intervention time is reading groups.  Working on vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension while they actually read.

The same can be said for math.  Instead of trying to improve on the skills we're currently learning, I need to take a step back and see where the gaps are.  One thing I have noticed since starting the interventions is the lack of number sense my kiddos have.  Several of my kids can't put up three fingers and know that there are three fingers being put up.  Or, they can't count on for a problem like 10 - 3, starting at the three and counting on to the ten.  Those are the skills I should be backing up to.. working with number sense, so that the rest of the skills come a lot easier.  They need help with basic math facts, the numbers that add together to make ten for example.  It's a challenge for these kids to look at 5+5, 6+4, or 7+3 and know they all equal 10.  THAT'S the kind of stuff I should be working on.  

And that's what I'm going to do.

I've realized, just this morning in fact, that doubting myself just isn't me.  And I also realized I wasn't so much doubting myself, I was doubting that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.  Well, instead of wondering if I'm doing the right things, I just need to do what I think is right.  Go with it.  I've been given this time for a reason, so I darned well better make the most of it.  

My first year teaching, I proved to myself that going with my gut can have pretty good payoffs.  I had a class that was all pretty low in terms of reading and math skills.  I made sure to hone in to the skills they needed, I broke away from what the rest of my team was doing in order to really focus on what those kids needed, and it came out very successful.  I've heard from their 5th grade teachers and their 6th grade teachers that those kids are performing very well, are much closer to grade level, and are able to think critically.  That's success, in my opinion.  

So, starting today, I'm going to Suck It Up.  I'm going to do what I do....and do it well.  I wholeheartedly believe that there's a reason I was passed over by so many principals, but given the opportunity to teach in the school I'm in now.  There's a reason, alright.  I needed to be with these kids.  I needed a place I could spread my wings, tackle any challenges thrown my way, and show these kiddos that they are amazing.  They can do anything and everything they set their minds to.

So, that's what I'm going to do.

Have a great Thursday, everyone!


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