Saturday, October 27, 2018

Relationships Matter

I had parent/teacher conferences this week. 

I always get a little nervous about conferences.  There is always the chance of a parent that is confrontational or placing the blame on me rather than the student. 

I come away from conferences exhausted. 

I also come away from conferences with a renewed sense of what is important to me as a teacher.

Relationships matter

I have only been a teacher for eight years.  This is the beginning of my ninth year.   That is a good chunk of time but most teachers that are my age have been teaching for 20 plus years. 

I get several reminders every year during conferences.  First, parents or grandparents or whoever is raising the student all care about their child.  They may not parent the way I would, and they may not have the skills that I have but all of them love the child and want what is best for them.  Even if they don't have the healthiest ways of showing it.   

I feel a big part of conferences is making sure that the parental units know that we are on the same team.  We both want what's best for their kiddo.  If we can be on the same page, then the student is going to do so much better. 

Again, relationships matter.  Not just between the student and the teacher, but also between the teacher and the parental units. 

I had some pretty incredible conferences.  Some that make me smile, some that make me want to cry and a few that make me so glad that I put in the time to make the connection with a student.  When you have a grandmother in tears because her grandson struggled all year as a freshman but is doing well as a sophomore AND his teachers are connecting with him.  She said she could tell that a lot of his teachers were "getting" him and she was so thankful.  I get to be a part of that!  Not only that, I'm not the only one!  That says a lot about our school and how hard the teachers work at building relationships with their students.  So many connections made and so many students that have made the switch from tolerating their crazy Language Arts teacher to maybe, just a little bit, buying into some of the things she is telling them. 

The grades aren't as important as being understood.  The grades aren't as important as making a student feel valued.  The grades aren't as important as making sure a student knows they are missed when they are gone.

The funny thing is, when all those things happen, the grades get better. 

You know why?

Relationships matter!

That is the number one reason that I worked so hard to become a teacher. 

This also works for more aspects of my life than just teaching. 

The relationship between my husband and myself makes it so that we can support and encourage each other in our goals, whether they be race goals or job goals or just the goal of getting the dishwasher unloaded and dinner ready after work. 

The relationship between my children and myself, especially as they become adults is amazing!  How did we manage to help such amazing people to be hard-working and kind adults?  Because of the relationship! 

The relationship between my coach and myself makes it so I can push myself to do more than I ever imagined or sometimes be pushed to do more than I thought I could. 

The relationship between athletes and the different races we participate in.  These races are put on by different people or groups and how we interact with them makes a huge impact on how we perceive the event and how we did on any particular day. 

The relationship between friends.  How we support each other and lift each other up in good times and in bad.  The people that stick by you during the hard times and are still around to raise a toast during the fun times are the best.  You know why?

Relationships matter!

Things have been a little off for me the last few weeks.  Don't really know why.  Don't feel like working out.  Really, really tired.  Kind of feeling blah. 

This week I had Parent/Teacher conferences. 

Today I had a group bike ride with a bunch of really amazing people. 

Both reminded me that relationships matter. 

So I will keep pushing forward and I will work my way through the blahs.   I know I will come out the other side with some life lessons in my pocket and a little more strength to build on in the future. 

I know this because...

Relationships matter!  

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It's All in the Attitude

I have been thinking a lot about attitude.

Positive attitude.

Negative attitude.

Most people tend to think of attitude in those two ways.

When you work with kids you see all kinds of other aspects of attitude.

Whiny attitude.

Defiant attitude.

Determined attitude.

Frustrated attitude.

Joyful attitude.

Curious attitude.

I probably could make a longer list but you get the idea.

I have also been thinking about what I can control and how to let go of what I cannot control.

My attitude affects how I am able to handle struggles and how I view successes.

I was looking back over my posts from the past year.  One of the reasons that I enjoy writing this blog is completely selfish.  I like having a record of my journey.  My blog isn't trendy or popular on a large level but it is a great way for me to do some self-care.  Writing things out helps me put things in perspective and appreciate my journey in ways I don't think I would as clearly otherwise.  If my meandering thoughts encourage someone along the way that is a bonus!

My coach and I met last week and talked about my Olympic triathlon at Best in the West last month and how I felt about it.  A month later and I'm still really proud of my attitude at the end more than anything else.  I didn't beat myself up for not doing better.  I didn't get mad or frustrated that I was almost last (beat two people).  I would have done all of those things just a few years ago.

For once I was able to focus on the positive.  I had pushed through being uncomfortable and kept going.  I finished my race in spite of things not going as well as I had planned or trained for.

Welcome to life.

I watched many of teammates struggle with injuries and race results that weren't what they had been working towards.  Everyone handles these things in their own way.  But the consistent thing that makes someone able to move on to the next goal and the next challenge is attitude.  Does the struggle make the attitude negative and full of disappointment to the point that forward progress, both in the mind as well as the body?  Or does the struggle make the attitude one of determination, possibly even an attitude of grit? 

Life can seem to hit with a storm of struggles that can make having a positive attitude difficult.  I think we all have been there at one time or another. 

Which is why I am happy that I was able to be proud of what my body (and my mind) was able to accomplish that at my last race.

Sometimes it becomes so easy to focus on all the things we can't do that we lose sight of the things we CAN do. 

Sometimes it is easy to constantly speak out the negative or the frustrations of those struggles.  If we are constantly speaking the negative that is where our mind lives.  You hear the phrase "focus on the positive" all the time for good reason.  When you are looking for positives, you will find them.  The more often you look, the more you will find. 
It's easy to find excuses on why we can't reach our big goals that we stop trying to even attempt smaller ones. 

Easy to say.  Not always easy to do. 

I have struggled in this area for most of my adult life.  For me, my self image plays a big part in my attitude.  I've had to work very hard to not beat myself up for struggling, for my weight going up or for a race being slow. 

The journey to becoming a healthier me has been a slow one and not gone the way I imaged most of the time.

I have learned that a lot of my journey hasn't been about become a smaller size but about changing attitude about where I am in the moment.

I still have a long way to go. 

I have come so far.