Sunday, December 28, 2014


I will always remember this moment. It was in March 2013 right after our annual Texas Public Schools Week celebration. You see, during this particular week every year, the school would invite parents and guardians to come and enjoy a morning in our classrooms, to watch their children engage in a typical morning routine, see how they interact with each other and with me, and get a glimpse of what life is like in our little first grade classroom. My mother also came on this particular morning because she always delights in seeing my students and me in action.

As the visiting time was coming to a close, the children were excitedly shuffling about, and the parents were making their ways to the door to leave, I had one parent mention the following to my mother before she left. "Now that I've spent a morning in the classroom, it is so clear to me that my son completely imitates everything that Mrs. Rubinson does back at home. From her mannerisms to the way she says things, the vocabulary she uses to the songs she sings, he does it all. Now I know where he's picked it all up from!"

Imitation. We, as teachers, will be imitated by our students. For 9 months a year, 5 days a week, 7+ hours a day, our students will imitate us. And what they imitate will aide in developing them into who they will become.

You see, as educators, we are so. much. more. than just implementers of the state standards.

We do so much more than analyze data, group students for RtI purposes, and document our daily minutes spent in small group intervention.

We give so much more than tests, quizzes, grades, projects- we give ourselves. And the thing is, if these children are truly imitators of the people around them, our job does not simply call us to develop lessons, but our job calls us to develop children.

My favorite thing about being a teacher I can sum up in these few words: I love getting to develop children into who they are meant to be. And this means that I must, must, must be someone worthy of imitation.

(This cannot be achieved for my-particular-self apart from my Heavenly Father, and I've learned that the hard way.)

Mistakes will be made, and I've learned this year how to discuss them with my students instead of hide them. To learn from figures such as Thomas Edison: "I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." And they imitate that, too. They imitate how we not only as teachers, but as adults, respond to failure or mistakes, how we react to change, how we celebrate growth and progress, how we speak towards others (children and colleagues), how we process through a think-aloud, how we persevere through difficult tasks...the list goes on.

I wish that more educators would recognize this incredible opportunity to shape young lives forever. I wish that instead of students sitting in desks doing mounds of worksheets that they would be sitting at the feet of their teacher, stretching their minds and growing their character. I wish that instead of teachers watching the clock for lunch and dismissal, or anxiously counting down the days until summer break, that they would see time as precious and fleeting, and that we only have so much of it to spend with these little ones before they continue on their way, our classroom a mere stepping stone on their life journey. Because our children may learn to watch the clock or count down the days, too, because we do- and in that, they may grow to believe that neither school nor learning are experiences they want to be a part of. You see? Everything we do...

I hope that I never undervalue my role as a developer who is imitated by young children.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


People always told me to keep a blog, so that when the going got rough, I could look back on all the wonderful memories and be reminded why I love teaching and everything will be ok.

Whenever they would tell me this though, I would kind of shrug it off and think, it will never been that bad to where I am hopelessly grasping at straws, at any memento or blog post or note from a student or picture, that will give me hope back in this profession.

Well, guess what I just did?

Read my old blog posts.

And it reminded me to love again. To laugh again. To thank God for the gifts he has given me by giving me these 22 students. To remember that it won't always be like this...or like that!

Because honestly, it has been like *that* this year. I just read back to my second year posts and saw where it said, "We have finally found our groove..." and I've just been waiting, waiting, waiting for that groove to be found with my current group of kiddos. My heart cries out in pain each day for the small handful of students in my room who are just as confused as I am as to why things just aren't clicking. Just aren't working.

Working myself into a pit of anxiety and despair, I have become bitter. The other day I thought about the story of Naomi in Ruth, and how she changed her name to Mara (which means bitter) due to the hand that God had dealt her and thought, maybe I should be named Mara. Which then made me think that she lost her husband and her two sons, far greater despair than I have ever known, and then compared to my unruly field day experience or math lesson gone wrong, I am no longer convinced that I am even worthy of such name change.

And thus the cycle starts again. Beating myself up for feeling the way I do, telling myself I shouldn't be feeling this way, but then still feeling that way, and then being angry at myself for multiple reasons. It's a continuous spiral that I would rather not continue, but then the days pass on and the sun rises again and for the rest of my contracted 180 days I am expected to return, with a smile, to my front door at classroom P104 for another 8 hours of educating the most challenging group of children I have taught. There's nothing else to do, and I am faced with the daunting task of making it through another day. I ask myself, am I going to have anything thrown at me today? Is ______ going to make it through the day? Is ______ going to fit and tantrum all day or not? Is _______ going to yell at me or others? Are they going to learn today? Are we even accomplishing ANYTHING?

And then the moments happen. They are rare. But when they happen, they are AMAZING. The moments when we make it through a lesson without anyone yelling at each other, at me, or tantruming in the corner. The moments of disbelief when I am individually testing and I look up and everyone is actually doing what they are supposed to do, not destroying property or picking on someone else. The moments like this: yesterday we had a science day where we did volcano experiments and simulations. My kids were beyond ecstatic, their joy was real and felt, their intrigue and enthusiasm were unmatched. The laughter, excitement, and thrill that pulsed through each of my students was real, was authentic, was raw and made me remember WHY I love teaching again.

This year I've tied more shoes, wiped more tears, given more hugs, called more parents, high-fived more hands, tutored more, cried more, questioned more...but ultimately, I feel like I've given more. I've expended every single bit of myself that I could have. I've done all that I could do for these children. I've tried more ways than ever before to help them succeed, not only academically but behaviorally. But it still doesn't feel like I've given enough. At all.

Do you know why?

Because I've tried to do it on my own. And this is one reason why God is so important. Because it doesn't matter what we do. It doesn't matter what we try, what new ideas or approaches we use, how long we stay at school, if we stand at the door every morning or not, if we wear jeans one day and dress down from our usual professional attire. All of these elements I have tried to control for so long, and as much as they matter (if at all), God matters A WHOLE lot more. And He is going to do what He sees fit. He rules this world and all that is in it, and if He doesn't find it fitting or pleasing for our class to "find our groove" before the year is over, there is a reason. And I need to keep remembering this sobering truth, that God does as He pleases, and His will is going to be done, and I can't try to finagle things without Him and His beautiful outstretched hands.

And I can't forget that He loves me. That it is all done for my good according to His purpose. So all I ask is that Lord, you will bless the last 22 days I have with my 22 students at Foster Village Elementary, the last 22 days I will spend in this school. Help me to not be self consumed or inwardly focused, but create for us 22 days of beautiful learning and joy that we will look back on for years to come with fondness and reminiscent favor. All I want is for my current 22 students to know the Lord, love one another and find joy in life. Use me as an instrument for that purpose.

All of this to say, keeping a blog, having a place to store cherished thoughts and memories about what we worth it. Because even though this post may be depressing, it felt good to let it out and it is part of it all. And there are also pages of past entries that fill me with gladness and remind me that the teaching profession is not hopeless, but FULL of hope. Bursting with hope at the seams.