Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Little "Earthy Crunchy Granola"



It all started with a game of BINGO! About four years ago my mom and I were at a charity Bingo game and while I didn’t win any of the bingo games, I did win a raffle. My prize was a gift certificate to something called Pitaiyo (Pilates, Tai Chi, and Yoga). That gift certificate sat in my dresser for a little over a year and I was so glad when I finally got around to using it, it was still valid. Thus began my Earthy Crunchy Granola journey. My favorite part about it at first was just someone telling me how to breathe. In the first year of my teaching career I didn’t really do much breathing. Three years later here I am, listening to someone tell me how to breathe on a nightly basis (meditation y’all).

The school year ending this Friday feels just surreal. It's kind of one of those "too good to be true” feelings. This year has been a year of learning experiences (and that is putting it nicely). So much soul searching, digging for motivation, asking for help, etc. was what this year was made of. And to be honest, I didn't think I'd make it to the end in one piece. Or with any semblance of sanity left. I hope and pray this year was just a season in my career because I do not see myself doing anything other than work with individuals with disabilities and I also don't like the idea of being a "burnout". That's where the earthy crunchy granola comes in really handy.

To be honest I have a little idea of how I survived (And with only a handful of public breakdowns and lots of venting (winning!)). It all has to do with a little Hippy Dippy, Woo Woo, Earthy Crunchy Granola and ACCEPTANCE. This year I have grown so much spiritually. Every misstep, every wrong thing said, every mistake, every struggle, lends an opportunity for me to draw closer to God. To have a relationship with my Creator and be willing to step out of the way to let Him do HIS work. I can’t do that when I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I have to be still. I have to meditate on His word. I have to take care of this body I have been given. I have to slow down my mind and LISTEN. I notice when I get too busy for the things I know work (prayer, meditation, journaling) everything is just so much. . . Harder.

This past school year, as bad as things got sometimes, I experienced more tears because of joy, the feeling of God surrounding me, and laughter than ever before in my entire life. I have so much more compassion for those around me. Monday I was given a reminder that I, Lindsay Caroline Rose, do not have any problems. If the greatest struggle I have is work related, I’m in a really good place. It hasn’t always been that way. For so long I was drowning in a sea of self loathing, self pity, frustration, and fear. I am slowly learning how to manage life on life’s terms and working with myself not against. And that is accomplished, like everything else, one day at a time. Some days are much better than others. Some days I’m spiritually fit and others I’m just glad I got through the day without having to apologize to someone. I am starting to realize, that’s OKAY! That’s life!

I honestly can’t say what the year would have been like without these spiritual tools. Probably wouldn’t have signed that contract on June 1 stating I will be back for another wild ride in August.  I know I will face more challenges in the years to come. I will probably be faced with many challenges as early as tomorrow. But for right now, my heart is full of peace. A peace that came with a release of control and complete surrender. A peace that will be there if I keep the faith and do the things I know work for me.

 I’m grateful for the struggle. I’m grateful for the hardships. And let’s be honest, I’m grateful the last day of school is Friday.

May sunbeams find you!

Lindsay

Friday, April 13, 2018

Five More Minutes. . .


Recently I have been hearing this song (Five More Minutes by Scotty McCreery) every time I turn on the radio. It's one of those that give me all of the feels no matter what mood I'm in. "Five more minutes" has come out of my mouth many times for many different reasons. When I was little hearing my mom's whistle from the woods behind my house letting us know it's time to come in. The night before college graduation hanging out with all of my friends before we went into the real world (or back to mom and dad's).  That last conversation I had with my Mommaw. Most frequently, practically any time the alarm goes off in the morning.

This is the first week back from Spring Break, getting back into the swing of things, and practically anything that's ever been due in the history of teaching is due next Friday. I like to call it my final exam time of year. Early mornings, late nights, less showers. Yesterday I had a "Five More Minutes" moment. There's a time during the day when the playground is empty. When I get a crazy notion, I take my doodles out there and we have the place to ourselves for about 45 minutes. IT. IS. MAGICAL. I don't have to do that thing I do at Recess with grade levels where every minute I'm scanning for all of them, I don't have to worry about stressing the importance of personal space and explaining that the prompt verbiage for the other kids is "hands off", I don't have to start prepping them 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes before their homeroom teacher calls the whistle- they get to just BE. Do not get me wrong, it's not a free for all. We do work on expressive language, turn taking, and safe choices but it's just so much more enjoyable when you're outside surrounded by playground equipment (and when you're hanging upside down on the jungle gym).

Yesterday, I was on this stool thing and one of my gals was spinning me around. I was going so fast my surroundings were just a blur and a rainbow of colors. I was yelling, "AHHHHHHHHHH! Slow down I'm gonna puke!!!!!" and my students were laughing so hard! Then I went down the slide a time or two. After that, 1/2 way up the rock wall (it's really scary). Then flips on the jungle gym and lifting up three or four doodles so they would get a turn on the monkey bars.

When I saw 2nd grade coming out for their recess I was so dissapointed. I wanted to stay out there for 5 more minutes! Maybe I wanted 5 more minutes because I knew I'd be at school until really late. But maybe. . just maybe. . . I like those moments where I'm not a real grown up. And when I can just be silly and enjoy them without worrying about how they are coping with the world around them. We just get to be ourselves. Just how we are.

This job is hard. Like really really hard. Lots of jobs are hard. Life is hard. Things will always try to distract me, zap my joy, and take me away from recognizing how blessed I am every single day. But not if I don't let it. Not if I continue to pray and trust that there is a plan at work that is greater than my own. A dear friend of mine has been teaching Special Education for over twenty years. One particular day this Fall I was struggling. Big time. So many "not fairs!" I asked her how she handles it. Her response: "Pause. Breathe. Pray." If I take the time to do that everything changes. Not just with work. With any curve ball life or my crazy mind takes me. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the paperwork, the data, the emotions, the setbacks, the regression, the planning, the prepping, the laws, but that's not why I do this. Those things just come with a job I LOVE to do. I've got to focus on the joy and concentrate on what I can give back to this world. Playground afternoons keep me sane. Next week I hope we have good weather because I can't wait to try to master the rock wall.

And next week, I'm going to take those five more minutes.


May sunbeams find you!

Lindsay

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A New Perspective

It has been said that I have a very good memory. The problem is, I typically remember things that seemingly have no significance whatsoever. One of these memories is when I was in the fourth grade and my dad was helping me with my math homework. I can remember sitting in the living room in this old blue chair that was my homework spot when I didn't want to sit at the kitchen table. I was frustrated with division! That is when I turned around in the chair, put my feet up into the air, and let my head fall upside down. As my dad is Charlie Brown teacher-ing me division, I think to myself "The living room looks so different like this!" Everything is the same and yet it is not the same at all. Everything looks familiar- there's the couch, the coffee table, the lamps and yet it was like I was looking into a different world. This memory is very vivid in my mind.

This summer I had the opportunity to teach ESY (Extended School Year) services. I was placed as the High School Severe Disabilities teacher. I was excited for this new opportunity and looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone. It's true- I got out of my comfort zone and honestly it was so different than my year round teaching gig it didn't even really feel like work. I was at a different school, had different ages of students, new paraprofessionals, and experienced working with a new population (Moderate vs. Severe).  There were a few similarities: I was teaching around the same content, doing crafts, cooking activities, and songs I had sung before but overall it was like another planet.

When we came back to school in September and I got to get back to work with my doodles (for some this will be the third year in a row with good ole Miss. Rose), I had a brand new perspective about it. They are the same students, same classroom, same content, but it all looked different. Just like how my living room looked from upside down. Everything in my classroom was still there but yet it was rearranged some way in my mind. I saw how much my students have grown in the past two years, and not so much on what I still needed to teach them. My students are following two step directions, walking in the hallway with their peers, hanging up their coats, sitting in a group, finishing tasks without hand over hand assistance, washing their hands independently, some are READING- I could go on and on bragging about the abilities of my doodles.

Progress in my classroom is slow and steady. My new perspective this summer helped me to see my class in a whole new light. To keep raising expectations, to continue teaching skills they will need for the rest of their lives, and to keep believing they can accomplish so much more than any label puts on them!

May sunbeams find you!

Lindsay

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Why



Wow! It has been exactly two years since I last got on here. Since my last blog post two years ago I have gotten a job with a public school system in rural Virginia as an elementary ID (Intellectual Disabilities)-Moderate teacher, and I have officially earned my Master of Education in Special Education Adapted Curriculum K-12. So short story short- I have achieved what I started in September 2013. Hooray! I have arrived!

 At a faculty meeting at school two weeks ago we were talking about our "why". For me, there are about a million reasons why but one stands out bigger than the rest- THE SPARK. The thought crossed my mind last night, as I walked into my house and thought, 'I cannot sit down or I will not get up. And if I don't get up I won't get a shower, or brush my teeth, or take my makeup off, or eat'. So I kept going. This happens to me many nights. As a special education teacher I feel like I give everything I have to my students almost every single day (except that one where we watched Trolls- but it was a half day and we were eating breakfast then lunch and it has such a good message. . .anyway). Every single day I leave my classroom I am more often than not exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. And if I'm not exhausted I am jumping off the walls from either caffeine or sugar. I can't say which is worse. Why do I do this?

Then, I think back to student teaching in a Kindergarten classroom in 2011. I left exhausted, but I also left defeated. I was crying tears of frustration, hopelessness, and selfishness. Towards the end of my student teaching experience I didn't care. I hated even the idea of teaching and if I ever stepped foot into another classroom it would have been too soon. Flash forward to 2017 and I have been teaching for 2.5 years. I try to give my all every day because I LOVE what I do. I have a spark. A spark that tells me this is exactly where I am suppose to be. That I am making a difference.

I want to give my students the best education I possibly can. I want to make school a happy place. I want to raise my expectations so high they have no choice but to reach them. I'm not going to limit them but what an IEP says. Or some online info about various disabilities.  I'm not going to accept mediocrity. Most importantly I am not going to let them down. I am their teacher. They have a right to learn. A right to be exposed to all of the math, reading, science, and social studies in addition to the functional, adaptive, social, basic and general life skills. I'm here to do all of those things.

So why am I a special education teacher? It may be exhausting but it's a good exhausting. One that tells me, "You did it! You did all you could today! Doesn't that feel good?" And it does. It really does.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oh Boy!

Oh my! Oh boy! So, after a week of no school (thanks to President's Day combined with lots of snow) I think I've forgotten what my students look like. . . Just to remember what I do for a living, and to avoid cabin fever, I thought I would take a second to reflect on my favorite times this year so far.

As I have a classroom full of boys, I have had to tackle and quickly learn the world of cars, Minecraft, BeyBlades, TechDecks, and Pokemon (totally had ZERO idea that Pokemon still existed)! I have also had the pleasure being a part of some very funny difficult confusing interesting conversations. Many of which have left me either speechless, cracking up, or shaking my head saying "Oh boy!" (sometimes all three!). Some laughable tidbits:

All of my students at one point or another: "Ariana Grande is soooooooooooo beautiful!"

Student A: "I'm not getting a job when I'm older- that's what I'll have a girlfriend for".

Student B: "Miss. Lindsay, I am pretty sure you forgot to brush your hair today. You must have overslept".

Student A: "Do you shave your legs? I do not want a hairy teacher".

Student A: "Miss. Lindsay, can you do that thing where you close one eye and keep the other open?"
Me: "Winking? Why, are you trying to learn so you can wink at girls?"
Student A: Oh NO! I am not that kind of guy!"
Student D: "I AM!!!!"

(As I am putting chapstick on)
Student A: "Miss. Lindsay, what is that?"
Me: "Chapstick. Because my lips are dry. Don't you use chapstick?"
Student A: "I don't need to. I shower."

Student A: "Miss. Lindsay, what's a virgin?"
Me: . . . silence. "Umm, uh, ummm, well. . . Let's go ask Mr. James!" (the school counselor)


Oh these kids never leave me with a boring day. On Friday (over a week ago. . . or month. . . or year- THE SNOW HAS GONE TO MY HEAD!) as the school week was winding down, I sat in my classroom with my students watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (since we couldn't have recess outside), singing, drawing, and just basking in the calm that I had helped create for the day. It's rare when these moments happen. Even rarer when I have enough time to sit down and think about how lucky I am to have this opportunity. To be something to these kids. Because they will probably never even know just how much they have changed me forever in such a short amount of time.

May sunbeams (and snowflakes) find you!

Lindsay

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Please Snow- I am a Teacher!

Holy snow! While we didn't get a blizzard, we got enough snow to have THREE days off of school!!! And being in Virginia: snow=no school.  Although I am liking this unexpected vacation, special needs students really do like their routine and consistency. The weather, however, does not seem to understand this. As much as I am liking living in leggings, cozied up on the couch with hot chocolate, and watching Food Network, I am mentally preparing myself for the next day back to school. Preparing myself because for kids who really do not respond well to changes (cue: Speech Day Meltdowns).

I am preparing myself for either: 

1) Cabin fever boredom- meaning they have been so bored at home these past six days they are so excited to be back learning will be a welcome change; or 

2) Can't Stop Won't Stop the Non-learning- meaning they had a lot of fun over the break (playing video games I'm guessing) and if I try to teach them anything, I am going to be met with resistance. A LOT of resistence. 

We shall see! It could be either! I'm preparing lessons that were meant for Tuesday of this week filled with a "Beginning of the Week" style plan. Which means WAAAAAAY overly planned lessons that most likely were to overlap onto the next day/week/two weeks. That's if they are in the mood to learn.  . . I am also planning "Solar System Jeopardy", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Uno", "Time Bingo", and "Junior Monopoly". For some reason regardless of the content I am trying to teach or review, they have no idea they are learning if I put it in a game. MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Potential

Whew! It's Friday! The Friday of a three day long weekend on top of that! Woo hoo! Happy Dance! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! (It will not get out of my head). . . I think I've expressed it correctly but to be clear, this teacher is really excited it is Friday! It was just an odd week. I felt like everyone was a little off. It wasn't a bad week by any means just a little different. Still. . . I am glad it is Friday!

Every day, I try to write something down that made me laugh. I will compile them all some day, but for know they are post-its or scribbles in my calendar. This week, one of these comments really got to me. Being able to determine what my student know varies based on the day, hour, and minute. Some times they know everything (really! The things these students can recall astounds me!) and other times. . . not so much. I was asking one of my students what they knew about energy. I asked if he has ever heard of the word "kinetic". He said "No". I asked if the word "potential" sounded familiar. Without even pausing he said, "Potential. . . what a beautiful word!". He has no idea what it means, he just liked how it sounded. This in itself was just beautiful to me because without even knowing the meaning of the word, he appreciated it.

Potential is the word that comes to mind every time I think of my students. Not in the sappy, big dreams sort of way, but in their everyday actions. They all have SO much potential. From academic things like being able to tell the time, to remember the order of the planets, to be able to write a poem, to edit their own work and get their ideas on paper. Potential for mastering functional skills like not having a meltdown when they have to stop their "screen time", or saying "I want to kill myself" when they get a question wrong when we're playing jeopardy. Potential is a beautiful word that is endless. Every time we're in the middle of a meltdown or a tantrum I have to remind myself that this is opportunity for improvement. This is something we can work on! There is potential and room for so much growth!

Even on the oddest/off-est of weeks, there is potential! There is always potential.
(But I am still glad it is Friday :) )