Day 7: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

Well, we are at the end of the first week of the “What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?” series. Today, we focus on the letter D.

As RenewED Teachers, we must leave no room for chance. We must:

DARE TO BE INTENTIONAL

I went to a networking event hosted by KyShira Moffett, back in June where I met someDay 7.jpg
amazing boss females dominating in a plethora of fields, primarily from the City of Pittsburgh. I was the only classroom teacher there. Nevertheless, as I always do, I turned this day and the weekend into a learning experience.

I had the opportunity to meet, LaChelle Binion. She is the author of the blog, The Kismet Life, and the Director of Alumni Engagement at Carlow University. As soon as I met her, I
knew the description of her, by Angelica Cooper (a high school friend I recently reconnected with), was a too legit! I immediately saw how genuine, passionate, and simply put, kind, LaChelle was. I could see she was living her passion. I felt comfortable in her presence.

Krystal and LaChelle.jpg

LaChelle and I at the Hustle HER Way Summit: Slay in Your Lane Networking Event at V Lounge, June 9th

Ms. Binion was one of the speakers at the conference I attended the day following the networking event. She said a lot of things I agreed with, and one thing that really stuck with me was when she said, “Get strategic — Be intentional. Think about goals  and what you want to do and strategies, how you are going to get there.”

Because I feel teaching is my purpose and my passion, every conference I attend or class I take that is not directly related to education, I find a way to make it connect.

While LaChelle is up there saying, “Be intentional!” I am sitting in my chair, all in my head, asking myself:

 

 

Is what I do in my classroom intentional?

Am I being strategic?

Am I thinking about the goals I have for my students as I plan?

What are those goals?

What strategies will I use to help them meet/exceed these goals?

I also had these same questions about this blog, and this is one of the reasons I began this series. But that’s another topic for a different post.

This year in my classroom, I will ask myself these questions daily, as I am on a journey to become a RenewED Teacher. I will DARE TO BE INTENTIONAL in everything I do. What does this mean?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although I do many of these things, as I am sure you do as well, I feel that there is always room for improvement. As I stated earlier this summer on one of my Facebook posts,

AIU.PNG

With that, everyone, I DARE YOU TO BE INTENTIONAL.

As we continue to learn and grow together, I am interested in your thoughts and ideas too. Since I have dared you, I would love for you to share what you plan to be intentional about this school year and in general. Leave your thoughts in the comments! I cannot wait to hear from you!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

If you like, love, or enjoyed what you have read follow the blog and follow me on PinterestLinkedIn, and Facebook. 

 

Day 6: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

As we get closer to wrapping up the first week of the “What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R?” series, I share one of the many reasons I have stuck with teaching for the past 10 years.

As RenewED Teachers, we must always remember to have fun so we may always:

Entertain Our Students to Entertain Ourselves

It was a gloomy Thursday, March morning around 8:30 am. It had rained the night before. I was running slightly late as usual. As I carried all 10 of my bags, plus the laptop I borrowed from my principal to work on my National Board Certification, in class, the previous night, I hurried to enter the building before anyone could see me entering a few minutes behind schedule.

The universe had it in for me.

As I proceeded to step upon the curb, all hell broke lose!

The tip of my shoe hit the curb, and everything in my hands, including the massive amounts of papers nestled in my binder and my principal’s laptop slid out of my hands. But not before I attempted to save the laptop. Everything fell onto the curb and even into the nearby grass. Papers were sprawled like in an old school movie representing the last day of school for students. I was so embarrassed even though I wasn’t sure anyone had seen how well the ground and I were getting along. I tried to use my now free hands to prevent falling more, but I was down for the count and so were my bags. My pantyhose had a whole and runs up and down my entire leg. Not only did I fall, I seriously bounced as if I had just fallen on a trampoline. Who bounces on concrete!?

I hope and pray no one saw me fall, because not one person came to my rescue. (That would be pretty shady.) The entire time I crawled around to pick things up, I was livid. I walked in the building, still fuming. I had a scrape on my knee that was beginning to bleed.

The students entered the room about 30-40 minutes later, and I was still heated. They could tell. They kept asking me if I was okay, and I tried to play it off, and leave my emotions at the door as I often encourage them to do, but I couldn’t. I eventually had to tell them about my Thursday morning shenanigans.

Oh! What a relief!? They listened to the entire story much like you are reading and waiting to see what happened next. We had a really good laugh about Mrs. Smith getting balled up outside of the school!

That’s not the end of the story.

I don’t know what my story did to my students this particular morning, but they were absolutely on. I mean focused on my every word and movement, and asked awesome questions, and followed directions almost better than ever before. (This is important because they never ever shut up! Swear!) Well, I think I was modeling a problem with fraction strips before they were going to get started on a similar activity which they were allowed to use.

Remember I said how on they were? Well, once students got to work on their task, I walked around the room to eavesdrop on their conversations and ask questions as necessary. When it was time to share, I called on three different groups to share their ideas. One group used the manipulatives, another used a number line, and the last group drew a picture. Once they shared their different strategies, I asked each student to write and compare & contrast each of the strategies. The responses were amazing!

I was so excited about how on point the class was with their attention, attitude, effort, explanations, justifications, that I picked up a set of fraction strips, held the pieces up in the air as if they were a microphone and drop it.

We all started cracking up!

Every class has a class clown, right!? Well, throughout the all of the silliness and laughter, the class clown raises his hand to tell me what another classmate says:

T: Mrs. Smith, guess what E. said?

Me: What did she say?

T: She said those fraction pieces bounced like you did this morning! (In my head, I am dead! LOL!)

Class: Silence.

I am cool and strict at the same time, so I’ve been told. The students were unsure of how to react to this statement. I mean, E. was low key throwing shade. But T. knew I would laugh or else he would have said nothing! LOL! He and I typically saw eye-to-eye and understood each other. I learned that E. was a hoot! An identified gifted student, she was a cool-nerd, probably the smartest and hard working girl in the class, very quiet, always on task, asked thought provoking questions, and did not let me continue to teach if she didn’t understand anything. But if you ask her if she has swag, she will attempt to show you, and genuinely and seriously say with no smile, “I have no swag.” The girl was a silent riot! No one knew how funny and cool E. was until this year!

Me: That was a good one, E. You’re lucky I like you.

And we all busted out laughing again! Kids were giving her high fives and everything! Lol!

The point of me sharing this story in this post is to remind us not take ourselves too seriously. I often get caught up in being too serious, well, because education is that serious to me. But, although I do use tons of music in my class, and I have even created songs and remixes to popular songs to help them remember certain information, it is not always necessary. Sometimes just keeping it real is entertaining enough for you and your students.

As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, sharing life’s little occurrences with our students can make for a more fulfilling and entertaining day.

Now it’s your turn! What embarrassing or humorous moments have you shared with your students? I’d love to hear! Share your stories in the comments!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

If you like, love, or enjoyed what you have read follow the blog and follow me onPinterestLinkedIn, and Facebook. 

Day 5: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

As we continue to learn what it means to be a RENEWED TEACHER in this series, we venture into the territory of the caretakers of our students.

As RenewED Teachers, we must always:

WORK WITH FAMILIES

This phrase is intentional. I purposely do not use the word parent. In no way, shape or form, am I throwing shade to parents. What I am attempting to do is value everyone that takes care of the children we encounter daily. Throughout my Day 5 (1)experience in the classroom, I have met my fair share of diverse families. I have met mom and dad; mom and mom; mom, dad, and step mom; dad and stepdad; mom and grandmother; mom and grandfather; grandfather and grandmother; foster mom and
dad; adopted mom and dad; siblings; cousins; aunts and uncles; fake aunts and uncles that are really close friends of the family, etc. Theses are real combinations of families I have met on more than one occasion during back to school nights, open houses, conferences, and other events that were held at the school.

Duh!?

Some of y’all are probably like, “Duh! I do try to work with them. These parents just don’t care.” And you know what? Because we have seen it for as long as we have been teaching, we actually believe they don’t care. Then we blame them for their children not being as successful as they could be in our classrooms. With those beliefs, come unfair ways in how we interact with and treat their children, and whether we contact the families throughout the year to communicate positive or negative events and outcomes.

What If?

But I urge us to think differently. Because as Ross W. Greene says in Lost at School, “Blaming [families] doesn’t help anyone at school deal effectively with… kid[s].” (p. 13)

What if we believed all families cared about their child? What do you think would change? I don’t think it would magically change anything, but because of our efforts, I believe it would change the way we communicated to our colleagues about our students and their families. It would probably change the way in which we communicated with our students. It would probably even change how often and why we communicate with families.

Families Are Our Biggest Allies

Teamwork.PNGI see families as allies. I don’t make families believe we are on the same team, even though we are. I show them. I tell them. I recruit them. I thank them. I support them. I invite them in my room at any given time. I value them. I let them know, upfront, that I cannot help their child be successful without their support and input. 

I send letters home to families prior to the first day of school. This letter introduces me, my experience, and my expectations. I also include the grade level, homeroom, and date for Back to School Night and first day of school in the letter. You can download a free template from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store by clicking the link.

In addition to the letter, I include an opportunity for families to share some positive thoughts about their children with me. This is my favorite part because I immediately have families thinking positively. In addition to this, I am able to get a bigger picture of who my students are. Of course I get information from former teachers, and usually it includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, I use the positive information to my advantage. On the first day of school, I have something to talk to them about. Later in the year, when or if a student is beginning to show behaviors that get under my skin (I want to say P. Me Off. LOL!), I reread these letters to help me see this child as their family sees them. Typically my response towards the child changes, and “just like magic,” their response is better. Let’s be clear. It’s not magic. It’s compassion and respect. (I am considering using a Google Form to collect Positive Thoughts this year to help shrink my paper trail. But you can access a copy of the form I send home to families in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking here.) I have never received a Positive Thoughts form back from all families. So if you decide to include this idea in your back to school activities, I don’t want you to get false a false hope.  Each year, I make changes to get families further engaged. Technology has been helpful in reaching more families.

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

If you like what you see, let’s continue to learn and grow together. Subscribe to The RenewED Teacher Blog by clicking on Count me in on the left side of this page!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

Day 4: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

Can you believe we are more than half way through the first week of the, ” What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R.? series? Well let’s get started. On day two, we encountered the first of many E’s. So glad this is not a report card. Today we will learn what the second E stands for.

As a RenewED Teacher we need to:

EDUCATE OURSELVES

There! I said it. We all know that our districts cannot and will not meet all of our professional development needs. No shade to anyone. I am just stating as educators, we have varying needs. One teacher may need to earn an additional certification in order to not be furloughed. Another teacher may desire to become a reading specialist or Day 4.jpgprincipal. Budgets may be cut, and professional development in the district may suffer because of it. There are many different circumstances that cause districts to be unable to provide adequate PD for their teachers.

When this is an issue, it our responsibility to pick up the slack. Think of it this way, would you want to be under the care of an ignorant doctor or lawyer? One who said they didn’t know something because their hospital or practice did not provide professional development on it? I pray not.

Never the less, in this post, I am sharing five links that will give you access to resources on where you can find free PD to help educate yourselves when your district is unable to.

edWeb.net provides certificates upon completion!

http://home.edweb.net/upcoming-webinars/

Educational Week Professional Development Directory

http://www.edweek.org/tm/section/pddirectory/index.html

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) (Annual Fee)

http://www.ascd.org/professional-development/webinars/ascd-webinar-archive.aspx

For Teachers in PA

http://www.aiu3.net/Level3.aspx?id=400

http://pdc.pdesas.org/

This next resource is not free, but I highly recommend it if you are looking to grow, challenge yourself, and climb out of your comfort zone for a little while. I highly recommend looking into National Board Teaching Certification. If you take it through a cohort at a University, and your district offers tuition reimbursement, you can practically become certified for free! If your district offers a pay incentive, and the incentive is more than what National Board costs, it will still workout in your favor.

Remember what Napoleon Hill said, “Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.”

I hope you enjoy these free PD resources.

While we are sharing, feel free to share some love by sharing some resources you are familiar with in the comments below! I thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say as we continue to learn and grow together!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith

Day 3: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

Today is the third day of our series, “What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?” What does the letter N stand for you may wonder? Well, continue reading.

As a RenewED Teacher, we never:

NEVER GIVE UP

This section is not apart of the original post I wrote, but I felt compelled to make an addendum. I wrote this post prior to yesterday’s events in Charlottesville, VA. What is happening in America, people? Are we time traveling or are people just no longer hiding? As a teacher of COLOR, I have biases and prejudices towards some students of color (as a matter of fact, all students that exhibit certain behaviors). I believe we all do, but it takes conscious and persistent effort for us to NEVER GIVE UP on overcoming these biases and prejudices to exonerate us of what is happening in America. There is apparent and blatant racism in our country. I cannot teach black, brown, and white faces and pretend everything is okay. It is unacceptable. As educators, I believe one of our roles is to work towards equity in education. That means no matter the “personal or social circumstances such as gender, ethnic origin or family background, are not obstacles to achieving educational potential (definition of fairness) and that all individuals reach at least a basic minimum level of skills (definition of inclusion).” (Center for Global Education)

ORIGINAL POST

NEVER GIVE UP

This has a lot to do with day 1 and remembering our why. If our why is always at the forefront of everything we do, then we should be working to do whatever it takes to see that it comes to fruition.

The Business of Our Why

As a teacher, I am in the business of helping all young children succeed, period. I Day 3teach to help them navigate, understand, and learn about the world in which they live. My hope is that they grow up to be world class, responsible and wise citizens. Everything else is secondary. I will not give up on my desire of seeing children of all races, genders, and every other dividing human factor become successful. I will not give up on making a difference.

What Makes Us Want to Give Up?

Now, I get it. I am in the classroom too. The test scores make us want to give up. The behaviors of some students make us want to give up. Some of the families make us want to give up. Administrators that don’t support us make us want to give up. Education policies make us want to give up. Small a** pay checks make us want to give up. Criticism from everyone that has never taught makes us want to give up. Feeling like we are not living our why makes us want to give up. But if we want our most struggling students not to give up, how can us giving up, help them? We chose this profession for a reason, and we must work until we see it come to fruition.

Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich,” puts it this way:

  1. “Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and perhaps some failure.”
  2. “Success comes to those who become success conscious. Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious.”
  3. Dreams are not born of indifference, laziness, or lack of ambition.”
  4. “Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.”
  5. When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal. If you give up before your goal has been reached, you are a ‘quitter.’ A quitter never wins –and –a winner never quits.”

I share these quotes to remind us all that we WILL fail as educators. It is inevitable. However, when we make failure a non-factor and push anyway, success is that much closer. Watch this video below to see why we should never give up. (Perhaps share it with your students too. :-))

As we continue to learn and grow together, will you share what you will NEVER GIVE UP on and why? I promise not to bite. Leave your thoughts in the comments! I cannot wait to hear from you!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith

Day 2: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

In the second day of our series, ” What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?, we focus on the letter E.

As a RenewED Teacher, we always want to:

EXERCISE OUR MINDS, BODIES AND SOULS

Exercise is an important part of self-care. According to GoodTherapy.org, “The term self-Day 2.jpgcare describes the actions that an individual might take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health… Self-care can also refer to activities that an individual engages in to relax or attain emotional well-being.”

In the field of education, the rewards are high, but it comes at an expensive cost, and I don’t mean student loans, even though it’s true for many of us. What I do mean is the rewards in teaching often come at the expense of our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Therefore, it is wise for us to dedicate time for self-care as renewed teachers.  

Self-Care of the MIND

Exercising the mind, to me, is usually reading a funny or thought-provoking book or having a stimulating conversation. In the Facebook Group, Teacher Book Club, we are currently reading, “Lost at School.” We are exercising our minds. Sometimes exercising my mind means doing absolutely nothing. Remember that song by Bruno Mars? “Today I don’t feel like doing anything. I just wanna lay in my bed. Don’t feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at tone. ‘Cause today, I don’t feel like doing anything. Nothing at all.” Yep, sometimes we need one of these days to maintain our sanity.

Self-Care of the BODY

In my world, exercising the body means eating healthy and working out in any capacity. It works for me mentally and physically. I workout on average 3 times a week. This helps me look and feel good. I enjoy being out in the sunshine, getting massages, and sometimes soaking in a bath. I also do my best to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Beauty sleep is a real thing, y’all!

Self-Care of the SOUL

Exercising my soul requires that I do things intentionally for your mental/emotional state and the amounts of joy and pain I choose to feel throughout my daily life activities. Notice that I said, “choose to feel.” I choose daily not to let things I have no control over bother me at home, work, or anywhere in between. It is never easy, but it is always worth it. Laughing and turning life’s little annoyances or inconveniences into jokes makes life slightly more enjoyable. Both reading and being physically active add to exercising my soul. Not everyone believes in the power of prayer. I will tell you this, the next time you and your significant other get into a heated discussion, stop before it get’s out of control, and ask if you can pray. I willing to bet it works!

Let’s share! Whether you are a teacher or not, what are some self-care habits you live by? Drop your tips, thoughts, and ideas in the comments! I look forward to hearing from you all!

Remember, as we learn and grow together, we have to not only take care of each other and our students, we have to check in and take care of ourselves or we will be ineffective for everyone in all that we do, and we can start by exercising our minds, bodies, and souls.

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith

These resources have helped me become more mindful about practicing self-care habits. 

 

 

 

 

Day 1: What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D T.E.A.C.H.E.R.?

To continue celebrating the one year blogivesary of the RenewED Teacher Blog, I intend to post for the next 14 days straight! In these 14 days, I will attempt to explain what it means to be a RenewED Teacher! Each letter will be represented! So let’s begin!

The “R” in RenewED Teacher

As a RenewED Teacher, we always want to:

REMEMBER OUR WHY

Why did we choose to teach?

Why are we still choosing to teach?

On those frustrating days when our students, their families, our colleagues, and our Day 1- Remember Your Why.jpgadministrators are irking us to death, let’s encourage each other to remember our why.

As we head into another school year, and we begin to develop uneasy emotions about the summer ending or learning about a new group of students we assume to be academic challenges and/or behavior problems, I urge us to remember our why.

Ask ourselves does our WHY still ring true today? It is my hope that it does. If it does not, it is also my hope that I can help motivate, encourage, and inspire us all to RENEW that novice teacher spirit within us all!

So tell me teachers, what is your why? Why did you become a teacher and why do you still teach? Leave your thoughts in the comments! I look forward to hearing from you all!

If you like what you see, let’s continue to learn and grow together, and subscribe to The RenewED Teacher Blog, follow me on Facebook or Twitter as well!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith