Sunday, October 4, 2015

Keepin' it Honest By Carrie

Well, we made it a month in Team R.I.S.E.!  I say that with a little bit of sarcasm, and keeping true to my honest nature, I’m going to tell you all about it, so get ready for some serious truths!    

It’s been a rough month.  To say it has been easy, simple, or even great, would be a straight up lie.  It’s been stressful.  Stressful because my wonderful, superb, excellent co-teacher and I were learning how to teach together.  It truly has been a “marriage” in which we had to learn how to function as a unified front.  When you go into teaching, you get excited about the possibility of collaborating with your colleagues, and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to “co-teach” for an hour or so each day, but for the most part, you go at it alone.  So when you have another teacher by your side, day in, day out, it’s different.  It’s incredible, don’t get me wrong!  But it’s an adjustment just the same.  

Another thing that has been causing stress, as anyone who has ever taught Kindergarten will tell you, is the behaviors.  Part of the problem may be a lack of prior experience with “school” environments.  Maybe they are an only child.  Or maybe there is a significant issue, but since they have never been in school before, there’s no “heads-up” before they start in your class.  Add behaviors to an already large class where 1st graders are begging for new goals, kinders who are adjusting to school life, and you have some pretty stressed out teachers!  

That leads me into the REAL truth.  The true reason why I feel compelled to write this blog today.  Are you ready?  I, Carrie Mergen, teacher who loves her job, who tried personalized learning last year and saw all the benefits firsthand, the advocate for PL wherever I go….wanted to quit.  I know.  I can hear you all gasping as you read this post.  And please note, that when I say “quit,” I mean take a step back and think about what I’m doing and if it’s all worth it.  Shocking, I know.  But I think that a few things have come out of that dark moment.  

First, now I get why people stop.  I understand why you would start this process, then think you can’t do it, and revert back to the old ways of teaching.  I also now have a NEED for my co-teacher.  Before, I thought it was a neat idea, but I didn’t NEED her (or so I thought), but now I know.  There is no way I could do this multi-age thing without her.  And finally, it made me think about why I started this journey in the first place.  It’s because I want to do what’s best for kids.  And what’s best for kids is not always the easy way out.  So, I sucked it up, took some deep breaths, and found the positives.  We re-evaluated where we were and what we needed to do in order to make the day-to-day better, made a plan, and did it.  We started giving our 1st graders their goals for reading.  That was the BEST thing we could have done!  We had kiddos begging us for new goals, kids working nonstop to pass their goals, and 2 kiddos already passed their goals 1 day after they made them!  If that’s not enough to make me re-evaluate why I’m ready to quit, I don’t know what would be.  

I also have some pretty wonderful people in my life who took notice of how I was feeling and took it upon themselves to cheer me up.  I got some emails, texts, and hugs from coworkers, aides, parents, and people like you who read these posts, telling me how amazing I am.  Well, thanks!  I appreciate it, but I, in no way, felt amazing.  I think I would use the word “terrible” to describe my performance as a teacher in that moment.  But it gave me some positivity to feed off of when I was lacking.  This is what we all need:  People to tell you that you are amazing.  If you are lucky enough to have these kinds of people in your life, keep them around you.  If you don’t have someone to tell you that you are amazing, I’m here to tell you, “YOU’RE AMAZING!!”  If you are going out of your comfort zone to attempt anything that is for the greater good of the people around you, you are doing incredible things.  Keep moving forward through the rough patches because that’s where great things happen.  When you’re up against the tough stuff is when you grow the most.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m not done growing!  So bring on the new week!  It’s going to be FANTASTIC!

PS-- This video is a pocket of awesomeness this week as all the kiddos were working on math goals.  Kinders teaching 1st graders, 1st graders teaching kinders, and teachers loving all the learning!  THIS is why we do what we do.