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teach. pray. - Why, God?

Why was it me to never say goodbye to my mother. Why was it me for her to go to a better place Why was it me to never say goodbye
-By one of my fifth-grade students

Sometimes life ain't right. And, you say Why God?
Sometimes you do bad stuff. And, you say Why God?
Sometimes your loved ones die. And, you say Why God?
Sometimes war happens. And, you say Why God?
Sometimes you get in a wreck. And, you say  Why God?
-Excerpt from a poem by one of my fifth-grade students
Today, my students were given an opportunity to share emotions and feelings through poetry. They were given a chance for their voice to be heard. With this chance, every single one of them chose courage and vulnerability. Every single one of them chose a little piece of their heart to share. Some shared surface layer facts about themselves. Many shared really personal, heartwrenching facts about themselves. Two common themes kept recurring: These kids are questioning God in their hearts. These kids are faithful in their belief in God. These …

pray. - "Between A Rock and A Hard Place"

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A few days ago someone posted this to Facebook. I looked at it. I read it. And, the first thought that came to my  mind was, "But, what if you have nothing left to give?" On that day and in that moment, all I could think was, "I have given it all, and I have nothing left to give." It was a day of great exhaustion. It was a day I broke down in tears and told my husband I felt empty.

I'm sensitive to other people's hurt. I'm a helper, a fixer. I'm a perfectionist in many ways. I want to feed every starving body, mend every broken heart, and love every lost soul. I want to save the world. I know I can't. I know it isn't my job. I understand the reality of the world, but the problem is the reality of the world is like a 100-ton anchor tied to my ankle and another 100-ton weight on my shoulders. The reality currently surrounding me makes it hard to breathe sometimes. It makes getting out of bed feel like a month's worth of work. Everywhere I t…

pray. - Inadequate

Inadequate courage Defeats my dreams of success Here I stand deflated
I feel so much more burning deep inside and begging to be known. This is not all I am. This is not my potential. I was born to be more - to make a bigger change - to be a catalyst for revolution.
But, the darkness slowly creeps and steals my light. For weeks, maybe even months, I've allowed the night to take control of my glow.
Constantly comparing myself to others.
"I'm not fit enough." "I'm not pretty enough." "I'm so plain and simple." "I'm not smart enough." "I don't work hard enough." "I don't sacrifice enough." "I'm not feminine enough." "I'm not motherly enough." "I'm not enough."
For a while now, I've continuously fed myself the line, "I'm not enough." And, maybe this comes with fear of new territory.
I'm working on my BCBA which is new to me. I've forced myself into a s…

teach.run.pray. - Unlikely Acts of Love

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Oh boy. It has been quite some time since I've had an opportunity to just sit and write. A busy schedule and daily stress are not conducive to the creative flow, and though, stress typically induces a lot of serious thoughts usually of rage, I have been too exhausted from it all to even rage. Lucky for you, all my time has been occupied by other things. But, today, right now, I'm slam in the middle of spring break and just really wanted to sit and get back into the groove of sharing my thoughts; I have a lot of thoughts, but tonight, I choose to stick with loving thoughts. Time off from stress tends to do that.

Let me start with a story about my husband.

Early last week, we were busy, had no groceries, and had no time to go grocery shopping. So, we ordered from one of our favorite spots, Mekong, which is a Vietnamese restaurant, and we love their pho. I also love their tofu summer rolls with peanut sauce, so I ordered those too. Matt called in our order and went to pick it up wh…

teach. pray. - Fractured Bridges: Part 1

Dear South Carolina Representatives,
We’d like to start by expressing our gratitude. Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts and to consider our concerns as South Carolina educators, professionals, and residents. We would also like to start by admitting our shortcomings. We are classroom teachers not politicians, therefore, our understanding of the inner workings of legislation is limited. That being said, we can assume your understanding of the inner workings of an elementary and middle school classroom are also limited. The bridge connecting education legislation to the actual classroom is a fractured one and fractured bridges are less than effective. We write in hope that our concerns and daily experiences as educators will be the first step in repairing the fractured bridge.
What do you remember about a typical school day as a student? What is your vision, as a parent, of a typical school day for your child? Is your vision as a parent similar to that of your memories as a…

teach. pray. - We All Want a Wrinkle Free Heart

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day in an elementary school is FAR more hype than the day before Christmas break. As I entered Valentine’s Day, I knew I couldn’t compete, so I planned a special lesson about love and kindness.
Our reading lesson started with a read aloud (recommended by our awesome school librarian) of Be Kind by Pat Zietlow and Jen Hill. It’s a beautiful story about the impact actions and words can have-both positive and negative. The students really enjoyed this read aloud. They were able to make connections and felt emotionally invested in the story.
After the read aloud, I had students complete an activity my co-worker shared with me. Each student got a pretty pink or purple heart. They got crayons and markers and wrote their name all fancy in the center of the heart. Then, we did a positive comment scoot where students scooted from heart to heart writing a positive comment about each person. When they got back to their own heart, I gave them one silent mi…

teach. pray. - Humans First. Students Second.

It is no secret that I despise state standardized testing. I'm all for accountability, but I also believe there has to be a better way. Then, again, maybe I should just change my attitude. I don't know. Either way, let me tell you a story.

I teach two 90 minute blocks of fifth grade ELA (English Language Arts - in case you're wondering). Both of my classes are full of amazing kids. In my second block, there's a boy named Charles (that's an alias to protect the identity of the student). Charles started the year with less than great work ethic and effort. However, over the course of the past couple of months, I've noticed a drastic change. He's eager to learn, works harder than most of my students, and takes pride in his work. 

Charles performs well below grade level. In August when I assessed him, he was reading on a mid-first grade reading level. A week ago, I reassessed him. He is currently reading at a mid-third grade level. You do the math there. Incredibl…