Sunday, September 13, 2015

You Were Made For This!

As we all know, if you want the truth and nothing but the truth, there's some very reliable little people that will give it to you without an ounce of "fluff." Who could that be? Yep you guessed it, none other than your lovely students. Now don't get me wrong, most of the time you hear compliment after compliment about your hair, your shoes, or your necklace... but every so often, one student's opinion really sticks out to you.... like when I got asked if I was pregnant and 43 years old in the same day... Not that being pregnant or 43 is a bad thing, however when you're 23 and the thought of having a child anytime soon makes your stomach turn, it's not the first thing you wish to hear on a Monday morning. Needless to say, that outfit I was wearing has been donated to the nearest Goodwill for someone else to enjoy and anti-aging cream is the first item on my shopping list!

We are now 5 weeks into school and I have gotten the pleasure of meeting all 61 of my kiddos. We've laughed together, learned together, read together, danced together and sang together. At this point, we're pretty comfortable with one another... comfortable enough for them to start handing out those sweet compliments and opinions. Just last week, one of my second graders noticed that I have a strand of gray hair (yep, at 23!) As she came to embrace me in a hug, (as if the hug would somehow balance out the observation she was about to tell me) she exclaimed, "Ms. McDevitt you are way too young to have gray hair! What is happening to you!?"  I thought to myself, "Well there's a lot of ways I could answer that question, but I'm just going to ignore it." But who am I kidding, I couldn't ignore it nor could I be angry about it... I mean, I am teaching them how to make valid observations, and she hit the nail on the head with that one! So of course, I began thinking of the things that may have some kind of role in bringing on this lovely streak of gray in my hair. One that stuck out to me was that daunting revelation that walk throughs are about to start!

Just saying the words "walk through" or "observation" immediately send panic into most teachers, which is SILLY, but nonetheless, true. After nearly hyperventilating because of all the things I needed to do before my walkthrough, I sat back and took a deep breath. And that's when it all hit me: 


1.) You were hired for a reason!!- HI, HELLO!!! This team of people hired you because they know you are good at what you do! They knew you were going to be the perfect fit for your kiddos, and guess what? YOU ARE.

2.) You are your own worst critic. -That's it. That's all you need to know. 9 times out of 10, you are the one putting this insane amount of pressure on yourself. Relax. You are going to rock it!

3.) There is no such thing as a perfect lesson. - Read that. Read it again. Read it to a neighbor. Turn and talk to your partner about it. Let it soak in. And then, embrace it. If lessons were designed to be perfectly executed every single time, can you imagine how BORING our job would be? Sometimes you have to experience a bad lesson to really recognize the incredible lessons you deliver on a daily basis. And when your lesson is almost perfect, celebrate it and share it with your coworkers! Learn to love celebrating each other's successes!

4.) Believe in yourself. - Get yourself in the right frame of mind. Exude confidence. They will feel that the second the walk through your door. And when you exude confidence, your students start to as well. Whose the real winner now?

5.) Just breathe and do what you do best- TEACH. That's all it comes down to, friends. You were made for this!

With all that being said, have a wonderful week and good luck on your observations... although, let's be honest, you don't need it!

Saturday, September 12, 2015


How many of you spend the first 10 minutes after dismissal cleaning up after your students, even though you tell them it's not your job to do so? It never fails that I return to my room from bus duty and immediately start picking up pencils, stacking left over chairs, straightening up the reading center, plugging in iPads, and my personal favorite: finding numerous topless items and searching high and low to find the missing piece to savor our beloved classroom materials. Throwing out glue sticks and expo markers that are perfectly fine with the exception of the lost top hurts my heart... BAD! Those materials are like GOLD.

This year I have the pleasure of learning how to create a successful and effective co-taught classroom. For someone who has never done that, it is very different than a traditional classroom setting. After about a week of teaching together, my co-teacher turned to me and said, "Man! Everything has a place in this room!" I laughed and kind of shrugged my shoulders because she's right... everything has a home in my room...and I teach my students those homes right away. But then I took a quick survey of my room and noticed that the tablet wasn't in the technology center, one of the reading buddies was in the writing center, and there were papers left everywhere. So I can't be THAT OCD, right?? And what's wrong with being OCD anyways???  I will be the first to admit that when I first got told I was a bit of a perfectionist and maybe a little OCD (from a college professor I think very highly of), I thought to myself, NO WAY. Not me. I'm okay with things being out of place. And then I got my own classroom. I realized in order for me to function, things needed to have a place. And that's when my realization that my college professor might have been on to something about this whole "perfectionist/OCD persona"...

My point to writing this post is to share with my teacher friends that being OCD is OKAY, to an extent! In my opinion, if YOU don't feel organized in your classroom, then you cannot do your best teaching and therefore, your students cannot do their best learning. Weekend after weekend I have gone into school with many of my co-workers. I sit there and organize my desk area, my closet, and my binders. I'm not working on lesson plans, or collaborating with other team members who are also spending their Saturday at school. Why? Because I can't do all those things to the best of my ability until my room is organized and I feel organized. So yes, it is a process. And yes, it may take until late September for me to feel completely organized. But that is SUPER important and will simply make life easier for the rest of the year!

Does it bother me when things are not put back correctly and I have to spend 10 minutes after school reorganizing? Oh yeah, sure does. HOWEVER, I have to remind myself that that is truly the sign of a classroom that learning has taken place in. Students are supposed to use the classroom materials you put out for them as a resource, they are supposed to integrate their reading and writing activities, they are encouraged to find spots in the room where they feel they can do the best learning. So yes, being OCD is okay, but try and remind yourself that the messiness at the end of the day means that your students are learning and YOU are teaching!