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. 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

Do You Know What Today Is?

Today is a special day! Not just any day!Happy Blogiversary

It’s the RenewED Teacher’s Blogivesary!

We are celebrating the one year anniversary of the blog’s launch, and the first published blog post. YAY! Click the link to read the first post on how to renew your passion!

To commemorate this special day, I began the Teacher Book Club group on Facebook!

 

We are currently reading the book, “Lost At School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them,” by Ross W. Greene Ph.D. Feel free to join us by commenting below with for Facebook name or searching for Teacher Book Club on Facebook and requesting to join!

Book 1

I have mine! Do you have yours?

The purpose of this blog is to motivate, encourage, and inspire teachers, and that is only so we can motivate, encourage, and inspire our students.

Keeping with the theme of this blog, I decided to begin a Teacher Book Club for the same reasons.

Here are my hopes from reading and discussing this book:

We will complain less and do more to help our students

We will learn to understand our most misunderstood students

We will model behaviors we expect to see in our students

We will support, motivate, encourage, and inspire each other respectfully

We will build each other up, even if we do not agree

We will continue to learn and grow together

We will try strategies from the book and share the good, the bad, and the ugly of what worked, what didn’t work, and what you can do differently to make it work better

and finally,

We will be renewed and happy teachers!

As we continue to learn and grow together, I would like to hear what you want to get from reading this book or Teacher Book Club. Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook Group!

Finally, to continue with the celebration, over the next two weeks, I will post short blurbs on what it means to be a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R.! Don’t miss out!

Stay tuned!

Now it’s time get to reading!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

 

 

 

It’s Our Blogiversary

 

Blogiversary

Listen to this post by clicking here! Or feel free to read below.

__________________________________________________________________________________

This is a song…

Tomorrow will come and ya’ll I can’t wait it’s our anniversary,

Anniversary,

The first thing I’ll do is post on the blog, it’s our anniversary,

Anniversary,

It’s our anniversary, It’s our anniversary, anniversary
It’s our anniversary, It’s our anniversary, made for all teachers

And I’ve made some plans to renew the passions,
of many teachers, anniversary

The pleasure’s all mine ’cause I like to have a good time It’s our Anniversary,

Anniversary

The Renewed Teacher is dedicated at the end of the day
It’s our anniversary, Anniversary,

A tall glass of wine for teachers to drink it’s our anniversary

All I really want to say,
Is thank you,
Today is a special day,
To Celebrate,
I’ve written all these posts,
For you and me,
And you’ve commented, and you’ve followed me

_________________________________________________________________________________

Okay, yall! That’s the end of the song. This is Krystal L. Smith here, also known as the Renewed Teacher.

If you’re still listening, thank you for tuning in!

Many of you know me to be outgoing, and if you really know, you know I like making remixes, so hopefully you enjoyed this one. I just wanted to try something different for the blog, and this is what I came up with.

Speaking of the blog, on August 10, 2016, I launched The Renewed Teacher Blog and posted my first article titled, “How Teachers Can Renew their Passion,” where I share 5 tips on what teachers can do to up the ante if they’re feeling passionless about teaching. Tomorrow commemorates 1 year!  Yay!

If you follow The Renewed Teacher blog, thank you so very much. If you’ve shared my posts on FB or on any social media outlet before I joined, and you continue to share, I appreciate you more than you know. If you’re a virgin to my blog, then it’s time to change that. If you’re not interested, that’s cool too!

When it all comes down it, my goal with this blog is to motivate, encourage, and inspire myself and teachers everywhere to stay committed to the field of education. And this is all so our students stay motivated, encouraged, and inspired to do great things with their lives!

So with that people, stay tuned for more posts and exciting new things from this blog in the next 2 weeks and throughout the year, as I will post short blurbs on what it means to be a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R., and content based strategies to help our students effectively learn math! You’re going to want to see these!

Have a great day everyone, and as always, let’s continue to grow and learn together.  I love feedback, comments, and conversations, so please be kind and share your thoughts!

Until next time, Happy Teaching!

How I Individualize My Students Learning Using Edmentum’s Exact Path

During the 2016-2017 school year, my school had the opportunity to use a Beth version of Edmentum’s Individualized Learning Solutions, now called Exact Path.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.

As teachers in the trenches daily, we know it is not easy to individualize learning for 20-30+ students. Making adaptions, accommodations, and modifications for each and every student, each and every day, is impossible if we want to have a life outside of our career. Nevertheless, we must find a way to meet the varying needs of our students. We cannot simply say to a family,

“Um yea, your child doesn’t know how to read or understand basic math operations, and neither do the other 25 students in my class. I have a life outside of work that involves being a wife, mother, sister, aunt, care taker, health food and fitness junkie, avid reader, and blogger, etc, etc, etc. I don’t have time to individualize learning for every student in my class on a daily basis. GTHOH!”

Harsh right? Regardless of how true this may be, the families we provide services for don’t really care about what we have going on in our personal lives. Nor should they. They care about their children, and they want to know that we are doing our best to keep them safe and help them learn. We chose this field because we wanted make a difference in the lives of children while helping them learn and become respectable citizens of the world.

Exact Path offers a solution to the lack of time you may have in your normal, and busy daily life and schedule. It allows you more time to be engaged with your students during your work day, as well as other things you love outside of work, including self-care. It “utilizes adaptive assessments and targeted learning paths aligned to your goals, paced to your students’ needs, and structured to give students control over their own educational journeys,” (http://www.edmentum.com/products/exact-path). Yaasss!

In March, I wrote a blog post that was published on Edmentum’s site titled,                          “[Individualized Learning] Getting Started with Edmentum’s Exact Path and Overcoming Classroom Challenges.” In this post, I answer four questions to help teachers get started with Exact Path and how to overcome some common classroom challenges. The four questions were all questions I had when I was first introduced to the program last fall. They are:

  1. Why should I use Exact Path when we already have individualized learning programs?
  2. How would it benefit my teaching and my students’ learning?
  3. How easy is it to use for me and my students?
  4. When would my students be able to use it?

If you are interested in how Exact Path can work for you or teachers in your school or school district, check out this post. Additionally, a modified version of this post was featured as an advertisement in Education Week’s Spotlight where selected Education Week covers critical issues in education.

If you have experience working with Exact Path, we welcome your thoughts and ideas on this topic! Share with us what worked, and didn’t work so well in your classroom!

As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, let’s find ways to enhance our teaching abilities and use technology to our advantage so we can motivate and encourage our students to continue learning and growing!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The Renewed Teacher

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye…Deuces to Another School Year!

Hello my fellow educators! Happy first day of https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/3NHfaIO3ELy1nm9tpMwzp9” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>summer!

Do you remember this song? I’m sure you do!

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Image by Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0

My last day with students was Wednesday, June 7th. My official last day was Monday, June 12th.

Its So Hard to Say GoodbyeBelieve it or not, the last day of school is a bitter sweet day for us teachers. Many of us finally get to do all of the things we had to give up during the school year such as working out, spending ample quality time with our families, watching our favorite prime time shows, reading, vacationing, doing absolutely nothing…ya’ll know what I’m talking about. 😉

But why is the last day or end of the school year so hard to say goodbye to? Why is it bitter sweet? Different teachers have different reasons. Consider the two following experiences teachers can have.

 

 

Did you have a particularly rough year with a group of students who’s behavior seemed

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.

beyond your control, a lack of support from administrators, colleagues, and your students’ families? If so, I’m sure you couldn’t wait to see many of your students leave! Maybe there were a select few students that you cherished throughout the school year, but overall you dreaded waking up and walking into your building each day. You probably even counted down until the last minute! You may have shed a tear or two out of shear joy because the students were leaving, aaaannnd maybe for the few that touched your heart. If you were in this situation this year, I get it. All you may want to so is sit back, relax, and forget all about the previous school year. These years are the years that make some teachers leave the profession. If you are reading this, and considering leaving the field, I urge you to think hard about that decision and refocus by remembering your why. This profession needs good, dedicated teachers like you.

On the other hand, maybe you had the most uplifting school year ever! Maybe your administrators, colleagues, and families were a gift sent from heaven!  Whatever you needed, you received it. If this is your experience, you may not want to see your former students go out of a fear that next year may not be the same. (Unless you teach in a school where students loop). Your students may have caused you some grief and had a few rough days here and there (especially at the end of the year), but overall, they respected you as the teacher, families were available, behaviors were not too out of control, and if they were, they were dealt with effectively and fairly. You may have even succumbed to tears before the students exited the building too, but only because you will truly miss them.  Although it seems you may have had a rather easy school year (I know that is never true), you deserve the much needed R&R the summer offers as well. This may be a year, where you may also consider leaving the classroom, because you want to impact children, teachers, and the field of education on a broader scale. In a sense, you may also be looking for a fresh start.

Most of us probably fall somewhere in between these two extremes. You may have had extreme life changing events happen this year.  Maybe you married the love of your life; had your first, second, or third child; adopted; became a caretaker for a parent. Maybe you had a rather difficult personal and/or family situation to withstand this year. Maybe you lost a parent or another close relative; someone near and dear to you was diagnosed with a terminal illness; a significant other lost their job; a near fatal accident; miscarriages and/or infertility. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do know teachers who have experienced one or more of these expected and unexpected events within this past school year. I’m sure you can name one in your circle of teachers as well. I personally had to deal with losing my grandmother back in March. She was the glue that held my family together. I love you, Ganny!

Regardless of how your school year may have fared, leaving the school year behind is almost often tinged with sadness with some gladness.

I will truly miss all of my lovelies. There were days when they annoyed me to no end, but then there were times when they made me truly love coming to work. I personally did not cry the last day of school, but the day before, I was a water head, as my dad used to say.

As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, remember that self-care is an important part of summer vacation, which makes this time of year so important and necessary for us. However, let’s make it a goal to take it a step further next year, and practice self-care throughout the year as best as we can. You can read my post on how to prevent and reduce back to school stress here. This will make us less likely to get burnt out, and less likely to count down the days until summer vacation next year.

But right now, I want each of you to enjoy your summer to the max! Go to the beach, workout, sleep in (or not), go on a road trip, have a day in and binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime, spend unlimited amounts of time with your significant other, children, parents, and/or friends and other family members. Do whatever it is your heart desires to take care of yourself!

I also challenge you to reflect on what parts of the year were good and not so good based on what you had control over in your own classroom.  Take time to learn new things, read old and new books, attend conferences, take summer courses, watch podcasts, follow this blog or any blog that is there to motivate, encourage, and inspire teachers, and do whatever it takes to further develop and enhance your teaching craft.

Remember, it’ll only be about 6-8 weeks before it’s so hard to say goodbye to summer! Oooooooooooooo!!!

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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

Until then, Happy Teaching! and Deuces!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

P.S. Here is an amazing interview on teacher self care, with two teachers I follow and admire, Jennifer Gonzalez and Angela Watson. Both are educators, bloggers, and Nationally Board Certified Teachers. Check it out by clicking here here.

 

 

The Tightrope of Life

My Day

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Image courtesy of Creative Commons-Google Images and Pic Collage. 

At the beginning of this school year, I woke up at least two to three days a week at 4:30 am to get to the gym by 5 am, to work out until 6-6:15 am, to get back home by 7 am to get my son ready for daycare (Mr. Smith takes him to daycare), and leave the house by 7:30-7:45am, to be at work by 8:30am.

 

Once at work, I completed all of my teaching duties including: attending morning meetings, making copies, communicating with families and colleagues, having my students’ assignments and activities ready for the day, handling any attendance, bus, or personal issues students were having, getting prepared for the next day, organizing my classroom, and a laundry load of others things teachers are responsible for doing. By the time I usually left, it was about 5pm on an early day. Some days I forced myself to leave at 4pm which is my school’s ending time. Other days I had to leave at 4:45pm to ensure I picked my son up from daycare on time. Once or twice a week, I stayed in my school building until 6pm-7pm.

It takes me roughly 30-40 minutes to get to and from work. I made it home between 5:30-7:30 pm on any given day depending errands I may have needed to run. Upon getting home, I was able to enjoy some quality time with my son and husband. We’d eat dinner, play, listen to music, watch some television, read a story, or go for an evening walk, and then bathe, and get the baby ready for bed. After putting the baby down for a good night’s rest, my husband and I clean house and prepare for the next day (that’s if he was not working the evening or night shift at his part time job) by getting our meals prepared and clothes laid out. By the time we’re finished, it is 9:00pm or later. We usually watch a little TV from 9-10pm. At this time I may or may not have graded some papers, written some ideas for the blog, or worked on Component 4 for National Board. By the time I was finished with this, it was about 11-11:30pm. It’s time for bed. I usually read for about 15-30 minutes before I turned off my lamp and lay down for some beauty rest.

My Life

I followed this schedule for about two months. When my husband started working his part time job over night and coming home at 6:30am, I was no longer able to get up and get out to the gym in the morning. I have about 10 extra lbs. on my invisible 6-pack to prove it! Some of you may say this is an excuse, and I can workout at home, and you know what, you’re right, it is an excuse. However, what’s not an excuse is the fact that I was tired. Yep, Tired with a capital T. Each morning I attempted to wake up to work out at home, my body said no, and my head said h*ll-to-the no. I was starting to wake up with headaches. You know that feeling you get when you drink a little bit too much of fermented grapes? I felt like that, and I was only drinking water and coffee! I knew I needed more rest, and that’s what I did.

I knew that if I continued on this path, my mental and physical health would suffer. I must confess that I was, and I still am walking the tightrope of life.

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Image courtesy of Creative Commons-Google Search and Pic Collage.

An Attempt to Balance Work-Life Demands

“Walking the Tightrope of Life: Refuel, Renew and Re-center Your Work-Life Demands,” is Sharise Nance’s second book due to be released on April 1, 2017. I am happy to be the first to say that I cannot wait to read this book! I personally know Mrs. Nance to be honest, direct, and passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of everyone she encounters, and it seems that this book will back up how highly I think of her and how much I respect her as well as her work.

Sharise Nance, MSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and co-founded of Hand-in-Hand Counseling Services located in Penn Hills, PA. A Pittsburgh native hailing from the Homewood/East Liberty neighborhoods, Mrs. Nance has over 17 years of experience in the helping profession. Since I have known her, she has always been interested in the human mind and has always wanted to understand and help others understand how relationships and the environment affect our lives and vice versa. This book is a prime example of that.

“Walking the Tightrope of Life…” is written for us, dear readers! We are working day-in and day-out attempting to make positive change in the lives of others. We are teachers, nurses, counselors, mentors, tutors, custodians, politicians, police officers, etc. We work for others! We experience times when we are unable to disconnect from the work day and furthermore struggle with emotional, mental, and physical burnout because of all that we do for others. We sometimes forget about our needs because we are so focused on the needs of our students, clients, patients, colleagues, employees, and employers while at work. Then we continue to neglect our needs when we get home because we are now focused on our spouses, children, elderly parents, siblings, and extended family, or even close friends. While you should be gracious because you are able to help others, it’s time to refocus and renew you!

You Are and Can Be a RenewED Teacher Too!Attitude_of_Gratitude

As a RenewED Teacher, I do not proclaim to know it all. As I reflect, since I have begun writing this blog, I really thought being renewed was the end point. I am learning it is a process, a cycle of continually working to become a better teacher and person. The RenewED Teacher doesn’t become complacent and plateau when they reach a goal. The RenewED Teacher realizes that when one goal has been accomplished, it is time to set a new one. The RenewED teacher has an attitude of gratitude and is thankful for even the smallest opportunity to help others. The RenewED Teacher is always willing to learn something new, take risks, and share with others. This book is a chance for me and you to do exactly that!

The RenewED Teacher also understands that balancing work-life demands is not a one-time occasion in a person’s life. Rather it’s the ability to adapt and be flexible when work adjustments and life altering events take place.

The Challenge

I want to challenge you! I want you to go on a journey with me. I want you to Refuel, Renew and Re-center your work-life demands. You deserve it! You work hard for others 5 or more days/week! Take some time to find some balance. Take some time to “practice good self-care as well as find renewal in [your] work in order to experience more balance and satisfaction in [your] professional and personal lives.”

Your challenge is to read the book, share your comments here, and tell us how this book has helped or can help you balance your work-life demands! I cannot wait to hear from you!

Vitamin_C_HealingYou can order a copy of “Walking the Tightrope of Life: Refuel, Renew and Re-center Your Work-Life Demands,” by Sharise Nance by clicking here.

WOULD YOU LIKE A FREE COPY? 

I am raffling a free autographed copy of the book to the first person to like this post, leave a comment, follow and subscribe to my blog. Please e-mail your first and last name along with your mailing address to renewedteacher@gmail.com. 

Once you receive the copy of your book, feel free to visit Sharise on April 1, 2017 from 12pm-3pm for The Book Release Signing of her 2nd Publication! I will be there. Will you?

Click this link to see Sharise on the Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show.

Air date: Saturday, March 17, 2017.

If you really want to work on yourself, Mrs. Nance will be hosting a workshop on April 22, 2017 called, “Refuel, Renew, & Re-Center Your Work-Life Demands. See the flyer below. And I hope to see you soon!

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As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, let’s make it a top priority to take care of ourselves first. Remember, as the old cliché goes: “Take care of yourself first or you will have nothing left to give others.” Click here for more self-care and inspirational quotes!

Also, remember to follow the blog or follow me on Pinterest

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher