As I emerge from the haze of maternity leave, I’ve had some time to think (mainly around 4 AM) about the past couple months. My brain is still churning with all I learned at the Northeastern Regional Teachers Pay Teachers Meet-Up in Rochester, NY in April. While the amazing event, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together,” was geared towards individuals who sell on TpT, I have a few takeaways that all educators should hear, especially at the end of the year. Here are my top 3:
1. “Every single one of you deserves to be here… you all have value.”– Jen Jones, Hello Literacy
Jen Jones, from Hello Literacy, stated this towards the end of the day, and I want you to take this sentiment, stick it in your pocket, and take it home with you. Read it. Hug it. Breathe it in. I participate in (too) many professional learning networks online, and there are posts often from tired, worn out, down & out educators. Lately I’ve read about contracts not being renewed, conflicts with staff and parents, and a general sense of feeling devalued. There are too many people carrying around feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
I think as educational professionals we hear at times that we are valued, or have the most important jobs in the world, but the day-to-day events, challenges, and interactions that occur can create burnout. Lately I’ve noticed many people jumping from the education ship and questioning their own skills and value. So this brief, powerful statement from Jen is one that all educators need to embrace and internalize. Hold this tight, and believe it.
2. Communities support educators…and educators need to support educators.
If you’re like me (and I hope you’re not in this regard), you can’t help but read online comments posted on education articles. It’s a bad, nasty habit…and one I haven’t been able to kick. If you spend (waste) time on this (like me)you might feel that not only are the articles sooo terrible towards educators (everything is our fault, right?), but the general community doesn’t support us either. Not. True. We were spoiled rotten at this event. My friendly neighbor to the west, the City of Rochester, could not have been more welcoming, the community businesses donated buckets of items, and nationwide companies sent us treats that day as well. And guess what? I won a raffle. I never win. Ever. Anywhere. But I did! I won an amazing basket (well, more like a package because not everything fit in the basket) from Teacher Created Resources.
If you’re not familiar with this company, you need to be. I’ve been in love with many of their decorative items for years, but I’m a little embarrassed (OK, maybe a lot embarrassed) that I never realized they have books for Character Education. As a counselor, I’m always looking for new materials to use with our Character Education program and my social skills/anti-bullying class meetings.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m on maternity leave and my room will be under construction for a capital improvement project, so I can’t put these items to use yet. My wheels are turning on how to use the materials I won. I’d like to figure out a way to use the library pockets for “check & connect” time with my students. I know so many of us start planning for the fall before school is even out for summer break, and my baby brain is churning. Be sure to check out all of the great things on their site. To help you out, one of the many things that caught my eye is this polka dot pocket storage chart; it would make a beautiful feelings board (here’s mine).
Along a similar theme, we need to be supporting each other as educators. A mantra throughout the day was the need for collaboration over competition. I’m sure some of you have worked in places where competition is the norm, and I hope that there are many more of you who have never experienced that. The idea that we are better together couldn’t have been more apparent at this event, as the workshop presenters (all educators!) and the ideas/skills shared by others were beyond amazing. We can all learn from each other. We all have skills and value to bring (see #1).
On a related note, since I’m currently not at school, my pal Jenn from Reading in Room 11 took the pictures of my big raffle win for me. She wouldn’t even let me put her watermark on them to give her credit. I know for sure that her enthusiasm, skills, and knowledge make me better. I hope you have that where you are, too.
3. Step up your technology use.
Well, I thought I was on top of my tech… and I was wrong. I learned so much about blogging, social media, photos and videos, etc., and I can’t help but wonder how I can use all these things better as part of my comprehensive school counseling program. I spent quite a bit of time this year making cute mini flip books to send home to parents, and now I think I should start posting quick videos to keep my families in the loop. The idea seems daunting in some ways, but some of the data presented suggested that videos under one minute get the most views. One minute. That’s it… I can do that…right? Many educators use social media to share with families what is happening during the day. I really don’t feel like I can do that given the confidentiality limitations of my job, but perhaps I can incorporate it in some other way.
What do you think? How do you use technology in your position?
Is there something that you wish all educators could hear?