Monday, February 20, 2017

Risk Taking - It's Worth It!

I still remember the room, the seat in the back of the classroom.  Last year I interned in the high school that I attended, and when I walked past the room a chill STILL ran up my back.

I remember the teacher.  She was a well liked teacher, but, she taught the class I was dreading.   

I waited as long as I could.  I prayed for snow days, for an illness.  The last class I wanted to EVER take was….  SPEECH.  I survived.

I moved on to college.  I have never liked talking in front of others. So why in the world would I go into teaching?  “That’s different” I would tell everyone.

I got through college and two rounds of graduate school.  Speaking in front of others got easier.  But then again, I was constantly speaking in front of groups of my peers.  I was never challenging myself further than that.

I dipped my toe lightly in the "speaking water" and spoke at a few EdCamp sessions this past year, so when someone suggested submitting a proposal for the state technology conference I thought, why not? (secretly thinking that there was NO way MY proposal would get through at a state conference).  It did.

So after advice and support from my friends, I faced my fear and spoke about a subject I’m very passionate about.  And guess what -- I didn’t die. Am I ready to quit my job and go into full time public speaking?  Nah, but I did it, and I would present again.

I actually learned a very good lesson.  In order to truly ask our students (or staff) to take risks we must be willing to take risks ourselves - and share those experiences with others. Leading up to my presentation, friends shared with me their experiences and how it helped them grow.  I, in turn, shared my experience with others and my students! It was definitely a growth experience.

I learned the value of taking risks and trying new things.  I can reflect on my experience and grow and learn from it.  If anything, it’s encouraged me to tackle more challenges!  I’m eager to see what I can try next.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Cry for Help

Our students need help.  

More than in reading, writing, and math.

More than in self-confidence and self-esteem building in most cases too.

It’s the serious help that many students need, yet few educators are trained to help a student with appropriately.

It’s the taboo notion of mental health/mental illness that often gets seen as “teenage behavior”, “moodiness” or “stress”.  There are higher rates of students needing critical support in our schools than ever before.  Our students are dealing with issues that typical 14 - 18 year olds shouldn’t have to deal with.  We can’t expect them to cope with this illness along with dealing with school, relationships and jobs.

“One half of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% begins by age 24”

Schools aren’t equipped with staff to service students with the medical attention that they are in need of, and parents are often in denial. We need to build relationships with community agencies so they can provide staff training.  We need to offer community outreach nights so our parents and communities can work together to see and understand the signs of mental illness.  Together we can get students to doctors and specialists that can help them.

We need to break down the stereotypes and start learning.  Start helping.  Start supporting.

We need the tools, the words, and the advice to allow our students to feel safe.

Let's start today.