Teacher Appreciation week

P.S.Blog

Call it Postscript,

Call it Paul & Sasha

– Our highest intention is to offer a Perspective Shift.

May We All Unite

May We All Unite

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Back in September, during the first month of school, my hand drew what my heart was feeling.

As an employee of various school systems since the age of 22 with ever-changing roles from classroom teacher, to Reading Coach, to ESOL Coordinator, I always had to lead. My role or title didn’t guarantee others would follow but I chose to show up anyway. The one line that I always opened my presentations, morning messages, parent conferences, and emails sounds something like, “I want everyone to be in the know, and once I learn something, I will share it with you so we can all be on the same page.” On a consistent, daily, sometimes hourly basis, I witnessed confusion, miscommunication, lack of understanding, judgement, blame, and worst of all shame. It didn’t matter if I was speaking to 5-year-olds in a kindergarten classroom, 50-year-old parents, or 25-year-old staff members in an afternoon meeting- the reactions across the  groups were the same. When a mistake was made judgement and blame spread through like a blazing fire. When directions or new routines were presented confusion and lack of understanding grew like weeds in a veggie garden. Yet, over and over the common theme was miscommunication. It didn’t matter if it was due to lack of time and energy, messages lost in translation, or merely being distracted- the results and reactions were the same. It didn’t make sense to me that in the very environment where education and teaching took place, there lived and breathed confusion, miscommunication, lack of understanding, judgement, blame, and shame.

Yes, “school” itself is a system. It doesn’t matter if the system is public, private, virtual, or at home. The system is led by people. Based on my own experience of working in each of these environments, I know we “grownups” can lead the young people and each other with grace, compassion, curiosity, joy, inspiration, and playfulness. Humans can change, become aware, heal, and connect much easier than expecting the system to do this for us. Early on in my career I wanted to change the system I worked in, yet I quickly realized it was on me to grow, learn, heal, and change. In turn, I found my changes can create a ripple effect. Finding a problem is far easier than finding a solution but I simply refuse to give up. My heart won’t let me.

The one thing I know for certain is that the system won’t get mended by teachers alone nor by parents alone. It probably won’t be repaired by the ones who created the system or those that govern it. Only when teachers, parents (caregivers) and children UNITE to understand, honor, connect, and support each other can we truly change the system.

Parents have Power

Parents have Power

Know your powers...

I would like to share about a shocking meeting I had today with the school. The reason for sharing is not for pity but to inform parents so they can remember how much power they actually hold.

 

For weeks, I have been asked to call parents who have chosen to keep their child at home instead of sending them to in-person school due to various personal reasons during this time. I was to tell the parent that their child is invited back to the school, so they can participate and take the state test. The governor has clearly informed parents that they have a choice when it comes to sending their students back to school, including for testing purposes. After calling about a hundred families, I hung up feeling not only empathy but at the same time anger about the situation.

Several parents informed me that they don’t feel comfortable sending their child because:

their child is not well

their child is preparing for surgery

they live with grandparents who are high risk

they don’t want to send their kid to test in a mask for hours on end

they don’t have transportation

they have anxiety… the list goes on and on.

 

I noted the parents who answered “no” and informed them that their request to keep their kid at home would be honored. Yesterday, more than one parent called me back asking why I told them they could keep their child home, when in fact the school called them after and said they must bring their child in to test. I was infuriated. How could this be? Why were they getting calls, after calls and decisions had already been made? Why were parents whose children may be preparing for surgery asked to come in and test? Why were parents asked repeatedly what their choice is after they clearly said “no”?

I needed answers not only for myself but for parents who needed the truth.

 

Here’s the truth:

You as a parent have more pull and power than a school or teacher will ever tell you about.

The truth is you know what is best for your kid.

The truth is the school and the state testing are looking out for their best interest.

The truth is the phone calls will keep coming.

The truth is the information and rules are changing daily.

The truth is they will continue calling until the testing period is over.

The truth is the parent ultimately has the choice and right to say “no”.

The truth is there is a quota to meet.

The truth is there are high stakes and money involved.

The truth is that pausing before reacting brings more awareness and many benefits.

The truth is you are the number one advocate for your child.

The truth is this year, just like every year, the kids need us grownups to step up put their needs first.

 

It felt like this needed to be said someplace other than only the Salted Ketchup Blog and in the new FB Group.

If you feel you need support or someone to listen, please reach out.

If your student is needing support, I can help.

P.S. If you forget about the power you hold, here is your reminder. I stand with you.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week

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-Blog #2

 

My truth is that I’m a teacher who sees Teacher Appreciation week differently. I’ve observed and researched how this entire week is displayed and advertised. The wording, the labeling, the suggestions, and the perception of what this week should really be about seems so far off. It feels filled with ego and shame, desperate for connection, authenticity, and value.

 

Let me begin by saying that teachers DESERVE to be appreciated. They also NEED to feel appreciated, not just for one week but throughout the year! So often, I hear colleagues and even onlookers say teaching is a thankless job. When I hear that, all I can think is- who in the world ever wants to work without being thanked or appreciated? Add in some criticism and public scrutiny, and you have a recipe for why Teacher Appreciation week has become so popular. Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I support teachers (I am one) and school staff but I put students first, in every single situation. That means I consider the student’s point of view, their feelings and honor their needs.

 

I want to share about a call I got from a parent regarding Teacher Appreciation week. This parent was in major distress. She was feeling frustrated, angry, and helpless. She is out of work and barely getting by. She said she wants to participate and have her child participate in Teacher Appreciation week but felt that no matter what she did it would not be enough. I gently reminded her, that teachers don’t expect anything, and a homemade drawing or note brings them so much joy and love. In one aspect, I think teachers need to stand up because they deserve more- but stand up to the district, the state, the country- not the parents and students whom they serve but that will be a topic for a whole other post. I asked her why she was feeling this way because it would not cost much to make a drawing or a note. I also informed her that from what I understand, the school or the PTO usually organize Teacher Appreciation week.

 

She then sent me the weekly suggested ideas that was sent to her by her daughter’s school and the teacher.

 

Monday: Bring your teacher their favorite candy or treats

Tuesday: Buy office supplies that you know they are running low on

Wednesday: Dress like your teacher and be their mini me

Thursday: Buy a gift card or bring a gift to let them know you care

Friday: Bring your teacher flowers

 

This list explained it all. I immediately felt exactly what she was feeling. Nothing else had to be said. I told her I see her, I support her, and I am here for them. She said she felt better just sharing and asking for feedback. We both understood each other, nothing else had to be said. However, when I hear, read, or witness things like this going on in the schools my heart can’t keep quiet. This post isn’t to blame or judge, but rather to recognize and honor those places where there is still darkness. As Leonard Cohen sang, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

 

 

For the parents and guardians who are struggling in this pandemic;

I honor you.

For the students who may not feel worthy or included because they can’t afford to participate;

I honor you.

For the one whose teacher may not be someone they wish to celebrate but they are forced to participate anyway;

I honor you.

For the teachers who deserve way more than a breakfast or week of treats;

I honor you.

For school staff who may not be “called” teachers but literally make the schools function;

I honor you.

For those of you who may not agree with me;

I honor you.

Here I am…Blog Post #1

Here I am…Blog Post #1

5/1/21

Change in the World...

My intention and “soul” purpose are to put MY experiences into easy-to-read posts that will simply give my unique perspective on this beautiful thing called life with the school perspective. In the classroom, I always connected with my students through handwritten messages on the board or notes/letters placed on their desk or in their weekly planner. Now with distance learning, my messages are usually delivered through creatively designed emails.  I am just a learner, a student of life, who holds an education degree. I am always questioning and looking for alternatives to the mainstream way of life. This blog is to help raise awareness and bring light to places where I feel there is still darkness. I used to be afraid of the dark as a kid. Actually, since we’re being honest-I’m still afraid of the dark! Yet, right in there with that fear is curiosity and wonder. I am curious about what scares me and why. I am curious about life and how we are all connected. I want to be able to see, find my way, and feel safe in even in the dark. I’ve been known to bring light and gratitude to every situation and here I am facing the dark to help bring awareness. These posts are for me, as much as you, to help remember the steps taken, the bumps in the road, the signs that light the way, and path that was created to live out loud, show up as we are, and just BE FREE.

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