Seeing the Positives

I think that over the past two months there has been so much focus on the negative situations and events regarding schools transitioning to remote learning that we need to start realizing that some really good things came from it too.

Yes, there have been several things taken away from us as teachers and our students that can only take place in a traditional school. These things include field trips, field days, graduation, simply seeing a student “get it,” face-to-face communication, hugs, proms, and the list can go on and on. I think though, that there have been some positives that have come out of this situation that we should definitely remember.

As teachers we have always put our students’ well being first, but I think that remote learning has made even us go above and beyond what we were doing before. We have had to deeply consider our students home lives and how it affects their learning. We’ve had to consider variables and whether they’re able to partake at all in remote learning. And even though we also provide paper packets, not every student is able to complete that form of work either at no fault of their own. We also have to consider their parents lives and whether they’re able to help their child learn at home. Most parents work jobs or are single parents and it isn’t possible to get everything their child needs to get done at home done. I think we really need to consider going into the future that we will always have some students that will be unable to participate in any remote learning. With that being said, I think that a lot of GRACE and COMPASSION is going around in the education community and we need to continue that same grace when we return to our traditional classrooms.

This leads to more emphasis on social emotional learning as well. SEL is a topic that I’m still learning about and would like to learn more about. I think the development in the interest of the topic is directly related to the COVID school closures. After all, our students will not be successful if we do not make sure the WHOLE child is taken care of.

There has also been an emphasis on self care for everyone. Teachers have been encouraged to not try to do too much or push themselves too hard. We all know we are guilty of doing that regardless if the learning is traditional or remote. We as teachers need to learn to slow down. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. As much as we want to and do take care of our students, we have to take care of ourselves first to be the best teacher we can be for them.

In my experience, some students THRIVE in this online environment. Some students that were shy in the classroom are in their element during this time. I’ve even had students who have taken up coding and have taught me some things. I think we really need to realize how important student choice is. Yes, we always do our best to give students choices in their learning, but I think this has been very eye opening that we need to try to give them even more choice to pursue their interests when we return to the school buildings. So much authentic learning can take place in an online environment with research and pursuing interests. I think it’d be a shame not to put more of that into place in our classrooms in the future.

Even though  face-to-face communication isn’t taking place, there is still communication going on. Messages, phone calls, etc. is all happening with students and parents. I really think it’s helped us realize that parents and teachers really are a TEAM in our students learning.

I also think people have somewhat realized how much teachers do. I’m not saying this because I am a teacher. Remember, I never planned to be a teacher, so when I became one, I quickly realized that teachers do far more than I ever realized. This is for my fellow teachers who are rockstars! I am loving all the praise that they are receiving from the public. I hope this continues and we continue to emphasize just how important teachers are.

I’m sure there are more positives I could think of that has come from this unfortunate situation we are in, but these are off the top of my head. I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe!

 

-Mrs. Kaldahl

 

My Thoughts on Distance Learning

This year has been so different from any other year that I have taught.

I mean we went on Spring Break and never went back!

The things happening in the world have drastically affected education. Our teacher hearts broke the day they announced that schools would be closed through the end of the year. Believe me, we would rather it be this way than risk a single of our kids or co-workers getting sick. But, this is the time we as teachers look forward to every year.

We work the first half of the year teaching routines and procedures. It takes until Christmas to get everything flowing right. After Christmas break we have to get them back on track. Sometimes it seems like we will never get there, but we somehow always do. This leads us to our golden time with our students. This is when we have solidified our relationships with our students. We have truly become a family.

As a class family we look forward to all of the fun end of the year things we get to do together. Like field trips, field day, more fun units of study, etc. This year we don’t get any of that. It’s not just about that though. As I said, this is the time we truly become a family. The kids that enter our classroom each day truly become OUR KIDS. We miss them. We miss making sure they’re okay, seeing them learn, and watching them grow.

It is sad that these moments were taken from us.

I hope that once all this is over with, people remember how much teachers truly care about their kids. You will rarely meet a teacher who is just in it for the paycheck. It’s always about the kids.

With state testing being cancelled for this school year, I hope that state legislatures realize that we don’t need mandated testing for students to learn. Teachers don’t need them to tell them what to teach. We know what our kids need and it’s not teaching to a test.

I hope we never take for granted any school day, the hugs we get from students, the conversations with co-workers, or the daily hustle of it all.

I can say without a doubt I would much rather be teaching in my classroom than doing distance learning and I can’t wait until the day we get back to normal.

 

Ten Bible Verses for the New School Year

In preparation for the upcoming school year, I’ve come up with a list of some of my go-to Bible verses and what they mean to me as a teacher. I find I’m a better teacher throughout the year when I remember who I’m really working for and why I’m doing what I do.

  1. “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” -Psalm 94:19
    At the beginning of the school year (and often times throughout the year) I find myself full of nervousness and oftentimes doubt. It’s simply because I want to be the best teacher I can be, but it’s important to remember to give all our concerns to God. I’m capable of anything as long as I rely on Him to guide me through.
  2. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philipians 4:6
    This goes along with #1 and remembering to trust God in all situations. I have anxiety and I know a lot of teachers do. I find myself much less anxious when I remember to stop, pray, and lean on Him. Throughout the school year we as teachers are faced with many challenges and remembering we aren’t alone in those challenges makes them easier to face. Pray for his wisdom and insight during those tough times. Surely, there is a positive in every situation.
  3. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.” -Ephesians 4:29
    This verse speaks to me whether I’m dealing with my students, parents of students, co workers, or anyone else I encounter throughout my job. I think it reminds us to think twice before we speak because our words have impact. Especially when shaping the minds of our world’s future. In reference to co-workers, we should never get caught up in gossip or bad mouthing of any kind. If you know that’s something that’s hard for you to avoid, pray about it. Teachers encounter many people during the school year, and it’s always important to remember to keep our words kind, positive, and wholesome.
  4. “And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”” -Matthew 18:3-6
    I often find myself thinking throughout the school year that I feel sorry for people who don’t work with kids. Yes, it seems like the most challenging job in the world, but it is also the most rewarding. Kids keep you on your toes. They remind you that there is still innocence in the world and you fight every day to help them keep that innocence. In return, I feel while we are shaping kids, they’re shaping us. I feel I’ve become a better person since I started teaching and I owe a lot of that to the kids that have come through my classroom. How awesome is it that everyday we get to work with those that are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Not everyone gets to do that and we must remember it is a privilege.
  5. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” -Hebrews 12:11
    I think all teachers would agree that disciplining children isn’t the best part of our job. It’s necessary though. We set high expectations and follow through with consequences because we care about the child as a whole. We don’t do it so the student will prosper just during the time they’re with us, but hopefully to have a lasting impact on their entire life. We must also remember to accept discipline or criticism from our principals and administration because nine times out of ten, they give us feedback because they care and want us to grow as teachers.
  6. “Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” -Ephesians 4:2
    Again, this goes for working with students and co-workers. Work with your colleagues in a loving way, help them, ask them for help, etc. We’re all in this together. As far as working with kids, I know since I’ve become a teacher, I’ve become so much more patient. It’s something I struggled with, so this verse really speaks to me and reminds me to be tolerant and patient in every situation.
  7. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” -2 Corinthians 9:7
    As teachers, we can often find ourselves seeing the negatives because there is so much pressure put on us. It seems we always have a hundred things to do and that list just keeps growing. We have to remember that teaching is a calling. God has purposed it in our hearts and that we should see it as a blessing. We must do our best to teach and compose ourselves in a cheerful manner. Usually if you do that, your day will go so much better because your outlook is better. Our moods are also contagious. If we’re in a bad mood, that sets the tone for our classroom. Our students pick up on it and reciprocate how we act. I’d much rather have a happy classroom environment that kids want to come to, than one they don’t because they think their teacher doesn’t want to be there that day.
  8. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in purity.” -1 Timothy 4:12
    This goes out all the new teachers out there. Just because your the new person (which I know how you feel because I was the newbie not long ago) doesn’t mean you don’t have so much to offer. Your ideas and thoughts matter. This verse also reminds me that I’m an example to those around me and I need to be there best example I can be. My goal is for anyone who comes into contact with me to see Him through me. Never let your light stop shining. This verse also reminds me not to ever look down on my students because they are kids. Kids have great ideas, creativity, and suggestions. Give them more power in your classroom and watch them flourish.
  9. ” And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business.” Ecclesiastes 4:4-8
    This passage to me speaks about taking on too many things. I’ve done this in the past, and all I know is that I wasn’t as good of a teacher as I could have been. We have to remember it’s okay to say no and to limit the amount of things you’re involved in. It’s better to do a few things and still have energy for the next day than to do everything and be burned out. A constantly busy teacher does not equal a good teacher. We have to remember to take care of ourselves. I’ve made myself commit to do that more this year and I know my students (and tennis team) will benefit from it because I’ll be more refreshed. Your family will also benefit from it because you won’t be giving all of you to your school work. 
  10. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 1-:31
    Teaching can be just a job or your ministry to the world. Sure, you can’t preach in your classroom, but if you’re working as for God, not man, you’re going to be making much more of a difference inside those four walls of your classroom. Those that encounter you will know you’re doing this more than just to get a paycheck. It’s because it’s your calling and God is allowing you to do it. I never planned on being a teacher, but God put me on this path, He put me in my classroom, and is allowing me to work for him as a teacher. Hopefully, I will make a difference in kids lives.

I hope some of these verses will help you during the school year. I pray each of you has a great year!

-Mrs. Kaldahl

Summer Finds

It’s inevitable that every teacher will think about their classroom during the summer. Even the teachers, like me, who told themselves they wouldn’t. While I did better this summer to relax and recoup for the upcoming school year, I still came across a few things I couldn’t pass up.

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I found this bookcase on the Facebook marketplace. I’ve seen bookcases like this selling for $50 and I’ve always thought they were adorable. I knew when I found this one for $15 (actually $10 after she found out I was a teacher) I had to snatch it up. The lady even threw in a matching standing bookshelf for free.

Below is a picture of it in my classroom.

*My classroom is not set up yet for the new school year. I just moved some stuff around and put some things in their place because I had to move some furniture out of my room to repaint it.

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I’ve also had my eye on these garden tables (pictured above). I finally purchased them when I found them on sale at Big Lots for $12. I just think they’re so cute. I know I can find a use for them in my flexible seating classroom.

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Last, I’d like to thank generous people who willingly give to classrooms. I didn’t purchase the books or markers in the photo above. A friend from college asked me to create an Amazon wishlist of books I’d like for my classroom. She then purchased and had these books (and markers) sent to me. I’ve wanted these books for so long for my kiddos to enjoy and now they can.

Teachers spend so much of their own money to keep their classroom running and to provide students with necessary things (or just things we think will make their learning environment more enjoyable) so when someone gives back to us it makes our job so much easier. It also reminds me that there are people out there who “get it” and know how much we as teachers do.

I head back to work Wednesday for our first teacher workday. I know the 2018-2019 school year is going to be a great one!

 

-Mrs. Kaldahl

What I’m Up To

Hello there again!

You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to this summer.

I know what I haven’t been doing and that’s obsessing over school. Usually I’d spend most the summer getting my room ready, over preparing for the year ahead, and stressing myself out before the year even started.

This year, I’ve decided to go with a different approach. One where I actually recuperate during the summer and I must say, I’m loving it.

This summer, I’ve picked back up on a writing project I started awhile ago. I’m about 30,000 words into my first novel. It’s a new adult mystery. It’s also has some romance, with some witty humor here and there. So far, I’ve received good feedback from those reading it as I finish chapters.

Writing is something that comes easy for me, but it’s also super hard. Especially when trying to write a novel. If you ever meet an author, give them a pat on the back because they deserve it. Writing a book is hard and courageous. Authors deserve more praise than they receive.

I also have a few children’s books I’m working on.

I’m hopeful I will get one of my projects published one day.

I was born to be a writer and it feels good to finally be writing again.

-Lauren