I Did That One Thing …

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

As a middle school teacher, one of the things that is a major pain point in my day is missing work. Class time is provided, support is given, and expectations are set; however, students do not complete the work on time or give it a second thought outside of the classroom. The second pain point in my day are the questions that follow: when are you going to grade that one thing or I turned in that one thing, can you grade it? My response first and foremost is that if you want a grade on time, you will need to turn it in on time.

To prepare in advance and to make this less of a daily hassle I have created a Google Form entitled, I Did That One Thing … this allows students to tell me what missing assignment has been completed, their class period, give a reason it was late (this information can be valuable), and ask any questions they may have on the material that was in the assignment. You may make a copy of this google form for your classroom here.

In addition to the form, I also created the boundary that it will be graded by Friday. If I have time throughout the week, I will remove the missing assignment from the grade book and mark it as completed. But I do set the expectation that it will be updated by the next time our weekly progress reports are out.

Note, I only have this form for those items in our online learning platform, Schoology (which is most graded assignments). Anything completed on paper, shall be turned into the bin at the front of the room and will be handled similarly. I am thinking that the next school year, I will include all assignments, as this provides consistency, a timestamp, and a way for students to communicate why it is missing, as well as a section for questions that they may have. I believe that this process should be taught at the beginning of the school year, so I do not want to change it midway.

What can you prepare in advance to avoid your tanks getting empty? What pain points in your day sometimes make grace, patience, or kindness hard to come by? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time …

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You Don’t Have to Stay the Same

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

When I was a new mom (23 years ago), I was nothing else. I dove head first into a puddle. It was painful. When I was a college student (2nd try 2014), it was the reason I breathed. I dove head first into a puddle. It was unbearable. When I became a teacher, you guessed it, I focused solely on my purpose … so I dove head first right into that puddle. And this one was excruciating. (lets pause on this one for a moment)

As I write this, I am becoming fully aware that in most of my big new opportunities in life I make it my number one priority; CNA, retail assistant manager, new wife, World Vision Donor Service Member, Women’s Ministry leader, stay at home mom, columnist writer … each time diving into this tiny little puddle head first and end up burnt out, unsatisfied, and need for change.

(unpause) I thought that when I became a teacher, I would have everything that I ever wanted. I mean I dreamed about teaching since I was four years old! Why wouldn’t everything just make sense? Why wouldn’t all of the puzzle pieces line up? Why wouldn’t the big picture I placed in my head become reality?

As Emily Ley asks us to define the box (all those individual puddles) we’ve created for ourselves, I come to terms with the idea that I was made for more than just a puddle. Literally speaking, I am a beach dweller and am counting the days until I can live on an island. But figuratively speaking, I need more than just a puddle to live in. In fact, if multiple puddles began joining together I could create a place big enough for what God has planned for me to do!

Porretto Beach, Galveston Island

Emily Ley writes, “Never box yourself in. Never allow someone else to define your limits. And always remember, to grow and change, to evolve and become.” If I step out of my puddle and dive into wide open waters … it will not bring me the suffering I experienced in the past. I am not saying that there will not be troubles, without limits I am more than just a wife, just a mom, just a student, just a _________________.

I am a woman, child of God, wife, mom, homebody, teacher, reader, writer, foodie, soon to be islander, Noonday Collection Ambassador (world changer), step-mom, sister, designer, daughter, life-long learner, aunt, crafter, ethical fashion enthusiast, friend, traveler, humanitarian …

Do you suppose, I am a wildflower?

Alice in Wonderland

Are you holding yourself back by staying inside your box? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time,

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Mindfulness Moments in the Classroom

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:7

In the course, Trauma Informed Education Journey Part 1 (at IEA Summer Institute), I was reminded of the importance of taking a moment to breathe. I am implementing a mindfulness moment within each class period every day to give students and myself a time to practice our breathing. Using a variety of different mindfulness activities, such as the Breathe Bubble from Calm, to guide us through. I will use the same activity throughout the week to give students a chance to practice and become comfortable with the activity, understanding that this may be new and awkward. I presume that some students will not be interested in this at first (or at all) so I will encourage them to sit quietly as others participate. I look forward to the increased amounts of concentration, sustained attention, and comfort this exercise will provide the classroom environment this year.

How have you added mindfulness to your classroom? Did you see the benefits in the activity? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time …

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Joy in the Journey

This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

2 Samuel 22:31

I am a recovering perfectionist. I tend to lean toward the side of things of neat and tidy. I take pleasure at the sight of a straightened up and organized room. As the boys were little, I remember waking each morning and fixing the couch cushions, throw pillows, and blankets that were in disarray from the night before. I recall thinking about how I wish they would pick up after themselves or that I wish I had a firm couch that did not have all the slouchy cushions that needed to be adjusted all-the-time.

I am not exactly sure where this need to always look good came from; but I have a couple ideas. My mother cleaned the entire house daily, at times, she would even vacuum twice a day. Our home was far from perfect. A run down one room farmhouse with a bathroom, inside porch, and dilapidated upstairs. I suppose, keeping it clean made it a less miserable place to be in all day. In addition, I recall my father constantly yelling at me to keep my toys in their places and not have them thrown about the living room/ kitchen area, I can understand now this was due to the lack of space we had.

Over the years, I have let some of this perfection go. I do at times find myself adjusting the firm couch cushions, throw pillows, and blankets. As I do, I am reminded of all of the times I did this when the kids were little… how frustrated I was with the task. If I try hard enough, I can switch that memory to how I got to clean up in the morning after an evening of snuggles and watching movies with my children before we went to bed or how we read stories under a blanket fort. Rather it being a terrible memory of the constant battles with a change of perspective I can lavish in the time we once shared together. I guess it is all about taking joy in the journey.

Are you a perfectionist? Where did it come from? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time …

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