Today’s guest post is from Theresa Christensen. She is a colleague I first met when we were hired as administrators together. I have enjoyed our conversations and her presence on Twitter. You should follow her!
I appreciate the opportunity provided by Stewart to be a guest blogger! He has my utmost respect as a colleague, an outstanding educator, and an inspirational leader.
My journey into the field of education began much later than most first year teachers. I had an undergraduate degree in business management and had been working in the public and government sectors for 20 years. I began working with kids, first, as a soccer coach and later as a lacrosse coach. It was during one particular lacrosse season that I knew I needed to make a career change and begin making a difference in the lives of kids. I was coaching a 7th & 8th grade girls team and it was at the first practice that I met a vibrant, outgoing, and active 7th grader. She introduced herself and told me, “I have ADHD and sometimes I forget my medicine. You’ll know when I forget it because I will really annoy you!” She was repeating what she had heard over and over again from teachers and coaches in her life! I found her energy to be electrifying and her ability to learn the game and excel to be exceptional. She just needed someone to believe in her and find a way to focus her boundless activity. (Today, she is a firefighter and still has energy to spare!)
Through my years of coaching, I discovered there were too many children who had false beliefs about themselves. Children as young as five were being told they were difficult, challenging, annoying, unable to learn, and so many more negative labels. I became an educator to bring a different voice for children to hear and believe. I approached my teaching like the main characters in the movie, 50 First Dates. Just as Adam Sandler’s character, Henry, needed to create new experiences to woo Lucy every day, as teachers, we need to use each day as an opportunity to bring exciting learning experiences and challenges to our students. However, great teaching strategies are not enough. We need to be like Lucy and forget, too. There will be students, who ask for love and acceptance, in ways that will test your patience, and still others, who haven’t developed the social skills to interact with others appropriately. If we are to teach them, we need to forget! Once a student has been corrected and retaught, we need to move forward in the belief that they can and will do better. We need to have the belief that every child can and DESERVES to learn. See the child, not the behavior! What is the child revealing through behaviors and attitudes? What is the reason for the behavior? Discover it, correct it, and then be like Lucy and forget it!
Tom Loud, Academy Director at Preferred Flex, recently posted a simple formula for educators and school leaders to consider: 1 school year = 180 opportunities to reach students! Every interaction, every day is an opportunity to provide a voice of acceptance, forgiveness, hope, and belief. How we use those opportunities as teachers and leaders is up to us. Will we see the child, not the behavior? Will we begin each day with a clean slate? Positive or negative, the choice is ours (Jon Gordon, 2018)! Will we use our opportunities to provide a positive voice for kids to hear years from now?
For anyone that is interested in writing a guest post, please contact me. I love having a variety of insights and experiences on here.