Last night it was cold, snow flurrying, and I was non-motivated. The OSU game was over so I rented a movie. I chose “Bad Moms” because I wanted to laugh. Okay, I did. There were some very inappropriate scenes and bad language but the overall point was spot on to how I have been feeling lately.

Parents these days are torn at every angle. Work has become 24/7 with technology and the demands to always be available. Even teachers get emails at 10:00 pm on a weeknight with a question or concern from a parent and we often answer them by 10:02 pm. It is tough to turn off our brains and relax.

The movie shows a mother doing her best at keeping up with all of the demands of work and a family; but she isn’t quite succeeding. She is often late for work, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and picking up her kids after school. She tries desperately to keep up, but life just gets in her way. Her husband is no help either.

She makes up her mind and quits trying to be “perfect”. She decides it is better to not be involved in all the (gluten free, GMO free, sugar free) bake sales, soccer mom extras, PTA politics, and pressuring of her children to make high grades all the time. She decides she wants to lessen the pressure on herself, and her children, so they are not so stressed all the time. She wants to enjoy life and she wants her 12 year old daughter to quit worrying about building her resume for college and be a kid.

Anyone else feeling this way? I know I get overwhelmed when I keep working harder and trying harder and I never really seem to get caught up. Somewhere I feel I am failing. My husband is upset with me over something I have done or not done, my kids complain about dinner, or me being 2 minutes late to pick them up, or some random piece of paperwork was due yesterday at work so my principal is annoyed, or my students want their graded tests back by the end of the day. Fail, fail, fail, but I am doing my best.

Although I laughed my head off at the ridiculously exaggerated scenes, although maybe not that exaggerated, I felt like it was the “perfect” movie for me to watch on a cold Saturday night. We are all trying and the point that she kept bringing up is that we should QUIT JUDGING each other so harshly!

Everyone has something they are battling and no one is perfect. Quit the comments about weight, or food choices, or life styles. Quit the comments about test scores, or college choices, or cars and houses. Quit the constant comparisons and criticizing opinions.

This behavior is all we see every day everywhere. On television and social media everyone has an opinion. Maybe we should try to be kinder and less judgmental. Maybe our children will learn to be better citizens and have more tolerance for others if we model compassion instead of judgment.

So, if I am a bad mom so what? I am not perfect, and by the way, either are you! We should build each other up instead of tearing each other down! Let’s all try, okay?

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Reaching All Students

It’s funny. When I started teaching (I won’t tell you how long ago) parents would cringe and cry when someone mentioned that their child had a learning disability. I find it a positive trend that more parents are open to a diagnosis and even better when they fight for their child’s right to learn. I look at ADHD and other labels differently now. When I started teaching any label baffled me in the gen. ed. classroom. Teachers who taught in the mainstream were not privy to multiple strategies. Don’t get me wrong, we heard of the catch phrases, but many of us didn’t know what to do with a students who learned differently than the majority of students sitting in the desks. Inclusion…..what???? Universal Design of Learning…..huh???? Reteaching….why? Thankfully this has changed.

I have high standards for what makes a great teacher. I can… statements and written objectives don’t do it for me. What I look for is the teacher that truly inspires; that looks at each individual child as its own entity and decides right off the bat that one lesson per concept is not good enough. I look for a blending of the curriculum, art extensions, visual aides and read alouds. I look for loud on-topic classroom conversations and children laughing while learning. I look for a messy classroom. One that has glue on the floor and paint on shirts. I look for excitement and rigor. I also look for the everyday use of technology. I want to see exploration and research, projects, and writing. I want personal expression, and poetry, PowerPoints and hand made dictionaries. I look for manipulatives that are down off the shelves and scattered on tables. I look for eraser residue and videos being shown. I look for teachers that prove that they love what they are doing each. Those professionals that look exhausted and a mess at the end of the day. I listen for laughter and joy, anger and expression. I look for passion in the classroom.

Not all teachers have these skills nor the comfort in their own skins to pull this off. Some need to loosen up and admit fallibility. Others need to let themselves be proven wrong and be shown what works better for the kids in that classroom. No teacher is perfect. But those that strive to make every school day a true learning experience are great. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t always have to keep their cool. They just always have to show that they love the kids and they are open to new ideas, new experiences, and new methods of teaching.

I look at learning disabilities as a challenge now. These children who learn differently and through testing and diagnosis now know how they learn best. They are so lucky. You have to understand that we all learn differently. We all react differently to different modes of instruction. Everyone needs information presented in unique and fun ways. Tommy may need to read the information, while Sally may need to see pictures of vocabulary words. Tony may need to be read complex text, while Mary memorizes best through song. Sean may fly at reading comprehension, while Brenna may thrive when confronted with word problems. Sonia may be an incredible artist, while Lila may know every president, but can’t draw a stick figure.

It’s really the way we look at it as educators. Is it a learning disability or an opportunity to stretch our professional skills? If it’s for the children, does it really matter?

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