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Garage Teaching vol. 6: Empathy Matters

I’ve been struggling with something for awhile. It is something that I read often on social media, and hear from teachers. Something I should not be feeling, but I understand where it is coming from. I am hearing from educators stress, anger, and frustration toward students for how they are interacting during remote learning. I am hearing from students that they are overworked and not being listened to by teachers. I can see both sides. Hell, I’ve felt both sides. We need to keep empathy at the front of our minds. It is going to shape the future of education long after Covid-19.

Something all teachers want is for their students to succeed. How do we define success? What measure are we using to find success in our students? Is the measure how often cameras are on in a Zoom meeting? Are teachers looking at our gradebooks and using the number of completed assignments alone as a measure? I have a thirteen year old son. Since March 13th, when this all began, I’ve tried to perform as a teacher through his eyes. What is in his best interest may not be what I want it to be, but it may be just what he needs. This view has helped shape my empathy towards my students. I have changed some pedagogy and management drastically during the pandemic. Those changes have made me more empathetic during a time when empathy should be how we teach and lead.

I talked with a former 8th grade student, who is now a high school sophomore, at the end of first quarter. She conveyed to me that she is being given more work during Covid-19 than when school was in person. From her perspective she feels her teachers think she has more time at home for work. In listening to her I could tell that was far from the truth. This student is one of those decade kids we all know. The type that enter your class every so often that you know will rise to great things as an adult. Not maybe will, but definitely will. If a student like that, who is driven, confident, and accomplished feels overwhelmed , how does the student who is not driven, lacks confidence, and does not feel accomplished surviving? In this environment less can mean more.

I had a Twitter conversation with a teacher today. This educator made the point that some of their students are opting to work a job during the day instead of attending class. Some may say that the students are choosing money over school. That they are not prioritizing their education. In our back and forth I could feel the worry this teacher has for their students. This teacher knows that some of their students don’t have a choice. Under the financial stress that is 2020, students don’t want to work a job during the day, they have to work a job during school so their families can survive. That is a terrible place for a child to live.

You want to hear real life during Covid, talk to a school social worker. I’ve mentioned before that my wife is a social worker. I’ve watched her age since March. Daily she loves over, worries over, cries over, and looks out for her students. She does not always work with the best and the brightest. She works with the kid you think you know, but don’t know half of the pain they have in their life. What should teachers expect from that child? What measure do we have that takes into consideration their walk? Should academics even enter the equation?

As a teacher I know I have not worked harder in thirty years as I have since March. This is a struggle. I am tired. I am exhausted. I also need to keep perspective that this time is not about me. What we have to remember is that the current state of things is also new to students. Yes, we need to give them the academic structure that allows them to control their choices as they move forward in life. We also need to show students empathy as we navigate this era of time together. The more empathy we show our students, the more effort they may put into their work. The more empathy we show our students, the more they know they are not alone. They have someone who is trying to understand how hard life is for them. A life they really have no control over. The more empathy we show our students, the better chance they will not let life consume them. They will see that they are able and they can persevere through this chaotic time. The more empathy we show our students, the love they will feel.

Garage Teaching vol. 7: Stay Positive!

It’s 9:23 AM on January 26th, 2021. This my first day in my classroom since March 13, 2020. Yes, that is me in the photo above. I will admit I did not sleep well last night. I have some underlying health issues, and the idea of returning to the classroom has provided some extra anxiety. One of the things that I often tell people is, “It could always be worse.” As I move back into a class routine I am going to try to put the anxiety and worry behind me and focus on the positives. Any situation could always be worse. The positives that I am feeling today paint a picture of where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.

  1. I really can’t complain. Many of my fellow teachers have been F2F since fall! Yes, there is anxiety, but those I follow on social media have been a big help in showing me how F2F can be done safely. I am fortunate that I work in a district that cares about my health. Everything is in place for me to teach my students safely and effectively. Stay positive, things are in place!
  2. I can’t wait to see my students in person…sort of. I will not actually have students in my class until next Tuesday. Our district is staggering starts by grade level. The one thing I missed with remote teaching was the interaction with students. The energy that students bring to the classroom can really only be understood by teachers. I miss that energy kids bring to my life.
  3. Connecting to the last positive is the positive of building relationships with my students. As time goes by it is wonderful to see how those relationships stand the test of time. I have some Facebook friends that are former students. The first students I taught are now in their 40’s and it is a privilege to still communicate with them and other “younger” former students. That communication instills in me the need to develop proper relationships with my students. They benefit both student and teacher.
  4. A huge positive is the heightened engagement I can provide to both my F2F and remote learners. I’ve been able to keep the active thinking going in my classroom. Being in my natural learning space gives me more options to engage my students in phenomenon. Engagement is everything.
  5. “Facing fear” is a positive today. How often does fear constrict our growth as a person. 2020 has given us too many examples of things to be fearful of. I know that fear has built up, and now it has to be addressed. Taking control of my teaching environment, making it safe for my students, peers, and myself is empowering. It feels great facing my fears and moving past them.
  6. I missed my friends. I work with some of the nicest people. Seeing them across the screen is great, but nothing can top that camaraderie. That connection is from a social distanced length, but it is nice to be near others. I’m sure many of us have similar fears. Now we can overcome them together.

I know there are many more things to see as a positive today. I can’t forget to share something I am thankful for. I am thankful to God for His safe keeping the past year. One of my favorite verses is in Psalms. To sum it up it says, “what can life do to me.” I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that I am never alone. There is so much comfort in that.

As I finish writing this I realize how I adapted to remote teaching over the last 10 months. I compensated for not always having all of the above positives, and more, when the pandemic started. Making this time of remote learning work for my students may be the biggest success of my 30 year career. No matter the obstacle, the human spirit is able to overcome and persevere. I can choose today to let fear rule, or I can live and be positive about what I am able to do. When in doubt look for the positives. It makes life so much better!

Garage Teaching vol. 5: T-plus 6 Days

Apollo 17 Life off December 7, 1972

Being born in 1966 I was a little boy who was fascinated with space, rockets, and the Apollo missions. Some of my earliest memories are from the Apollo missions. I remember the Apollo 17 night lift off. My parents woke me up to watch that event. When I watch clips of the Apollo rockets, the Space Shuttle, or the SpaceX rockets leave for space, I am always amazed at how slow the rockets look as they leave the launch pad. Yet, you hear a commentator, or read later, that the rocket was moving much faster by the time it reached the top of the launch tower. Something that looks so slow, yet is moving so fast. Its all about perspectives. The first six days of the school year have had the same paradox. They seem to be moving slowly, but they are moving much faster than they seem. The amount of “data” I have collected, and things I have learned, is much greater than I would have expected. Its been difficult, but like most things in life, “you are always better after the struggle.”

I am getting to know my students bit by bit. Communicating with them through assignments has been helpful. I’ve had a student offer to help me with technology, share their love for One Direction and Harry Styles, and understand some of their dreams and goals. The primary difference this year is the communication vehicle. Traditionally, it has been conversations in passing periods, before school, lunch, or those small times we carve out during class. In a remote setting it may come from an assignment comment, a Zoom hello or goodbye, or from a student who shows up early to a class. Getting to know them is challenging, but definitely not impossible. Teachers have to work in different ways. Our past way simply don’t exist in a remote setting. Perspective change must lead to adjustments.

The biggest adjustment has been class flow. I’ve been having a difficult time with Zoom, and having students enter the correct link. Here is the positive. The kids and their families have been understanding and patient. I’ve been upfront with the hurdles, which I think is making a difference. I was talking with a student after class on Friday. She began laughing as I was talking about how excited I was for institute day on Monday, Sept. 14th. I was using a bit of sarcasm. When I asked her what was funny, she told me that her mom, also at the table, heard what I said and busted up laughing. She told me her mom finds me personable. I don’t think there is a better word I would like to have a parent use for me this year. We are in this together, and the better our relationship, the more successful we will be.

All things considered, the first six days have been better than expected. All systems are go, and we are ready for the next stage to kick in. The moon may be a far way off, not to mention re-entry, but our course is set and everything looks good.

Garage Teaching vol. 4: It Twas the Night Before..

I can’t think of a summer where I have put in this many hours preparing for the first day, week, and month of school. To be honest, I think I have a 65% chance of succeeding tomorrow. There are so many “what if’s” to make the best plans go off track in about 5 seconds. I have two choices. One, stress all night, get little sleep, and be mentally less than sharp tomorrow. Two, be content with what I have done, get some sleep, and be ready to adjust when class starts tomorrow. When I look at it that way, the choice is easy.

I am happy with everything I have ready. My opening slide deck is not boring, I hope, and will add some fun and personality. The get to know each other task, “30 Seconds of Me” is planned. I even have my finished sample ready to give student a framework. https://www.wevideo.com/view/1816093692 My digital grade book and Google Classroom sites are all set to go. But……

All that “stuff” does not mean much if I don’t pause and remind myself to just be me. I want to plan, but not over plan. I want to be polished, but not robotic. I need to be myself above all else. Students need authenticity in their lives. The last thing they need is a teacher who is fake. There is already enough fake in our society.

The first day is all about setting the tone for the year. This year must be about community. Instilling the fact that we are all in this together for the student’s benefit. A community that has no bias, prejudice, or judgement. A community that allows, and encourages, students to be who they truly are. A community that takes all these many different pieces, and uses them for the betterment of everyone. Ok, that may sound Hallmarky, but it is what is driving me. There is too much divide in our country. My classroom community is important. We will not be divided.

The past few months have been stressful. This afternoon the Indian Prairie Education Foundation ( @ipef204 ) tweeted out a parody of the “The Night Before Christmas.” It made me laugh, and broke my stress. It was just what I needed on this night before the most important day of the school year. And to all a good night.

Garage Teaching vol. 3: The Tree Mindset

What is this year really about, content or growth? Content is great, but in this unique time we need to make sure our teaching grows student’s minds, dreams, and self-worth. Also, our teaching needs to reach every student in a meaningful way for them. Achievement of student growth means a focus on Social Emotional Learning and Equity. In order to reach every student in a meaningful way, the focus needs to be on Social Emotional Learning and Equity.

To teach with intentional SEL and Equity, I need to take the mindset of a large old tree. A large old tree has many branches that are full of leaves, flowers, and fruit. An old tree is also a place of food, shelter, or refuge for many living things. It does not matter if the living thing is a bird, squirrel, insect, or human. A tree welcomes all things to use its branches and fruit in the best way possible for them. That is my mindset. Give my students a place to grow that is tailored to them. I need to reflect often. Am I extending my branches so all my students can grow in my shade? Am I producing opportunities for all of my students to tap into what they need from me to grow?

Now the difficult part of the equation. How do I do those things in a virtual world? I need to start the year with my students knowing what is important to me…them! I need to be intentional with how I want this virtual classroom to be shared. Together we will build a shared learning space. A place where ALL students and teachers have a role in our group success. A place where we all learn from, and with, each other.

Taking time early in the year to get to know my students, and for them to get to know me, is key. Develop relationships and build community, through sharing our walks. My students need to know who I am. I need to know who they are. The first assignment of the year is going to be “30 Seconds of Me!” In this activity students will have thirty seconds o fWeVideo, or other platform, to give me as much insight into who they are as they can. It can be multiple images, a couple short videos, or a mix of both. I will use that information to make my interactions with my students more personable. They can use the information to learn about one another. Thirty seconds to build our community. It can be done!

A tree has many purposes, but a tree is used in many ways within its ecosystem. The more this tree knows my students likes, fears, and aspirations, the more students can use all the purposes I can offer to them. The more of me my students use, the more they will grow. The more my students grow, the more they will have a positive effect on each other. An equitable classroom is one where everyone learns from everyone. We all have a role and a purpose. We are all relevant to each other. We all matter.

A tree has no control over what uses its features, and does not care who is using its provisions. I need to make sure my branches reach all my students. I need to let them know this is a safe place for them to learn. I need to let them know that in our shared learning space we can learn in our individual ways, and still act as one community. I can control my attitude and focus. That attitude and focus must make our shared learning space a place we all want to learn in. That attitude and focus must make our shared learning space a place where we all can learn in. I am up to that challenge. Are you?

Garage Teaching vol. 2: To Be, or Not to Be? That is the Question.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “To be, or not to be? That is the question.”

Many teachers this summer are thinking, “To teach in person, or not to teach in person? That is the question.”

How do teachers feel about returning? I have felt safe in front of my students for the first 28 years and 7 months of my career. The last three months of the 2019-20 year changed that narrative. The thought of resuming full open schools is scary. I want to believe that all of my students, and their families, will take precautions. What if they don’t? What if they are on the other side of the argument? Who is right? Who is misguided? The one thing I think we can agree upon is that it is 2020 and there is a pandemic. Everything else is up for debate.

Who do we listen to? The differing points of view of Covid-19, its severity, transmission, and impact are mind numbing. The CDC alters its recommendations about as often as there is a full moon. Every few weeks there are changes that impact the physical and mental preparation of educators. Here is, I think, the latest guide from the Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/prepare-safe-return.html I have little doubt that parts of this will change. The change will not occur because of conspiracy theories, or what is happening on November 3rd. We are dealing with a virus that we are still learning about. The science, its understanding and application of Covid-19, is evolving. The evolution of the virus impacts the information and who we listen to.

Is the risk real? I want to go back to face to face teaching. However, like so many educators there are exigent circumstances that make that desire worrisome. I have three Covid-19 risk factors, and I am over 50. Those circumstances are real. Those circumstances could lead me, or many like me, to die or have our quality of life drastically changed forever. Those circumstances are largely out of my control. Even if I took every safety protocol I could become infected with Covid-19. That is the part of the discussion people don’t understand. I can do everything suggested, but if one person makes a mistake in their daily practice, I could become a statistic.

Who do we trust? Let’s circle back to Hamlet. “To be, or not to be? That is the question” I understand the role of education in our nation’s economy. I want our country to have a healthy economy. I don’t want the economy to become healthy at the expense of the health and life, of students, teachers, administrators, or support staff. In my opinion the push to open schools is an economic push. It comes down to priorities. What is more important, life or money? I don’t trust local, state, or national leaders to make that determination. Do you?

Garage Teaching vol. 1: I Have Learned So Much, but Know So Little

The 2020-21 school year is fast approaching. The unknown lurks. In some ways I am looking forward to the unknowns that are just around the corner. In some ways I am terrified about the unknowns. I will be starting the year remote teaching, the same way I ended last school year. I know it will be different than spring. I will have more district and state guidance. I have a better idea of what it means to teach in a remote setting. I am more confident in my skills. I am also less confident with my remote teaching skills. Since March 2020, I have learned so much, but know so little.

This blog series is called Garage Teaching. I have turned half of my garage into a video studio. My garage is my new classroom. I never thought I would ever say that! I am setting out to chronicle this year of teaching. It will be full of successes and failures, laughter and sadness, energy and exhaustion. 2020-21 will be a year like no other.

I have so many questions in my head. What is the best way to get to know my students? How will I keep track of their needs through a computer screen? How am I going to build their trust? How will we collaborate? How will positive relationships be formed? Will my students even get to know me? What are the expectations of parents? How in the hell am I going to be evaluated? How am I going have my students experience science phenomenon? How will I handle the illness of a student? How will I support a student if they lose a close family member? What will I do if I get sick? My wife is going back to face-to-face teaching. How are we going to keep our home “clean?” I could go on for a while. So many things to think about, process, and put in place in thirty days.

This is year thirty of my career. I have learned so much, but know so little. One thing is for sure. At the end of this year I will probably still say, “I have learned so much, but know so little.”

The Ferris Bueller Philosophy: Stop and Look Around

One of my favorite movies is “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” For those of you who have never seen it…well, you are missing out. In a recent chat I used a GIF and the hashtag #FerrisBuellerPhilosophy to make a point  After the chat I came up with, and tweeted, ten GIFs from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” that could be used as educational philosophy. I have decided to blog about those ten philosophies. I hope you enjoy the start of this series as we look at the benefit of stopping and looking around.

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If you are in education you a well aware of the fast pace of the 21st century classroom. It is by far one of the biggest changes I’ve seen over my career. Teacher and students now accomplish more, in less time, and still have time to do a little bit more! It is simply the culture of education. However, this increased pace can have a negative impact on the culture of the classroom. In a hyper-speed world it is important to stop and look around a little bit.  Here is what stopping and looking can do for you as a teacher.

Stopping and looking around as a teacher allows you to sense the needs of your students. Lets face it, kids are complex. When we go too fast we will miss those quiet, subliminal signs that students give us that convey their needs. It would be so much easier if students came and told us what they need. That is just not how kids, especially adolescents, behave. Teachers need to be in tune with their students.   We need to try to read our students, and develop that relationship that will help them grow as a student and as a person.  Relationships are best developed when we stop, look around, listen, and get to know our kids.  Think about the relationship Ferris had with his principal Mr. Ed Rooney.  I don’t think that Mr. Rooney noticed much about Ferris, other than he annoyed him tremendously.  Was Ed going too fast, and worrying about the wrong stuff, that he missed what Ferris was really trying to show him?  Are you going too fast and missing what your students are trying to show you?  Stop, look and grasp what your students are showing you about themselves.  The last person I want to be like is Principal Ed Rooney.

Stopping and looking around as a teacher also develops patience that is need inside the classroom.  If we could all agree on one thing it may be that patience is something that is fundamentally lost in much of our profession.  Yes, some are patient, but as a group those days are fading away if not already gone.  We can recoup that feeling in our classroom by working on our patience.  Let’s examine wait time as an example. Where do you fall in how much time you give students to answer?  I had a wait time of under 3 seconds not that long ago.  I was rushing my students and their thinking.  Now, I have no problem waiting 5, 10, even 15 seconds, or more, before I push my students for an answer, or re-phrase a question.  Yes, at times my class is filled with that awkward silence, but my students have grown to know that I am a patient teacher that is going to give them the think time they need.  Patience is best developed when we stop and look around a bit.

Finally, stopping and looking around gives us the opportunity to take in what is around us.  As teachers I feel we get so caught up in things that we do not appreciate what is around us.  Ferris defiantly wants Cameron to stop and smell the roses on their day off. How often do you take a moment and smell the roses that are blooming all around you?  What do you remember the most from a day in the classroom, the discovery or kindness of a student, or that brief moment where a student or the class was not engaged or on task?  Teachers can be our own worst enemy when we focus on the negative around us and we don’t take the time to stop, look and marvel at the wonderful things our students are doing! In class I like to pull back and just watch and listen to my students as they work a science problem.  When I hear that conversation that is incredible, or see a model that shows growth I appreciate the struggle that it took us to get there together.  I challenge you to take five minutes of tomorrow after school and just think about the positive things that went on in your shared learning space that day.  I bet you will be thinking for more than five minutes.  Ferris had it right, if we don’t stop and look we are going to miss it.  Don’t miss it!

Snow Days, Cookies, and a Fireplace…

Monday: No school, snow day…only about 6 inches snow.

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Wednesday & Thursday: No school, polar vortex…-24º with -55º wind chill.

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As a teacher I really do not like snow days.  They just take away a beautiful June day.  Would I rather sit in the house because my lungs will freeze solid if I venture outside for 30 seconds, or spend the day at the zoo or someplace else with my family?  I’ll be honest.  This set of snow/cold days I would have to say with my family, inside, sitting around the fireplace, binge watching Netflix, and eating freshly baked cookies.  Here are a couple reasons why.

  1. Life is too short! Although I like to think that my kids will always be young, they are getting older.  I am holding at 46, but my kids, no matter how hard I try, are growing up.  I have enjoyed the day with my wife and daughter, home from college for a couple days, binge watching shows.  I have also enjoyed watching my youngest son play with his dog.  I love my job, but nothing can take the place of time with family.  This fact is often lost on teachers.  We see our class as an extension of our family.  Feeling that way is not bad, actually its a good philosophy. It is a philosophy, however, that needs parameters. Your immediate family should never take a back seat to your classroom family.  I have been guilty, often, of flipping my philosophy.  Focus on career is important, but not at the expense of family.  I will do some work over the next day or so, but I am going to soak up as much of my family as I can.  My wife and children are the pulse that beats my heart.  Life is too short to forget the importance of the ones you love.  My job today has been to keep the fire in the fireplace going.  As I’ve done this I’ve watched my wife and daughter bake cookies and just enjoy each other’s company.  The cookies taste just a little bit better today. cookies
  2. My student need me ready! Let’s be honest IT’S WINTER!  Little sun and warmth can get a person a bit…cantankerous. Even though winter break is less than a month removed, January is difficult.  January, with the weather and how it makes people feel can just be heavy and cause a dull ache that does not seem to go away. Sometimes the best remedy to that dull ache behind your eyes is a snow day! If you are not a teacher I probably just offended you. I know, I know, we get breaks and summers off.  How can I even bring up the idea of an extra day being what I need.  Remember in the first point I said that our class is often an extension of our family?  In my house that means that I carry the hearts and minds of 130 extra children on my mind.  My wife is a social worker at an elementary school.  She spent a good part of her Tuesday ensuring that every student in her building had a proper winter coat, hat, and gloves before they left school Tuesday.  I am proud to say that every child under her watch left warm and safe yesterday.  When I include my wife in the picture there is at least another 250 children that are part of our extended family.  Those 400 plus children need us at our best, and watching a fire in the fireplace can be just what I need to get me in the mindset I need to be to help each student in some way the next time we interact.  Most of the afternoon the fire I’m in charge of has had a single high flame in the middle.  This, to me, represents the individuality of our profession. I may teach 130 students, but at some point each child may need me to focus on just them.  It may be in a greeting, working one to one on homework, or helping them through a crisis.  They need a teacher who is ready to be what ever they need.  I am more ready for that responsibility after some time by the fire.  fireplace

Thank you Winter Storm “Whatever” and the polar vortex.  You have given me a few days to appreciate my family, and prepare to be the best “me” I can be for my students.

 

Train, Trust, and Get Out of the Way!

Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not stray from it.”

This is one of the most well know verses from the Bible.  It is known in both religious and secular circles.  It speaks to parents, guardians, and teachers directly.  Those twenty-one words also give direction, comfort, and hope to those of us who raise, or work with children.

This morning I signed consent for my 17 year old son to enlist in the Army.  The pen I used is the image above, and its one that I will treasure forever.  To me it signifies the efforts made in raising Jake, and the trust that I have in him, and others, to see him through this next era in his life.  Through this whole college, military declaration process I learn a few things about being a dad and a teacher.  You could say those words are synonyms because those two roles have a lot in common.  Especially the words train and trust, and the phrase get out of the way.

Train through my lens means mentor.  There are all sorts of books, and blogs, about parenting and teaching.  I like to simplify things.  For the past seventeen years I have mentored my son.  For the past twenty-seven years I have mentored three student teachers, and a few thousand students.  I have tried to show Jake, and all the others, a way to live and learn.  It is not the best way, not by a long shot, nor is it the easiest.  I have been wrong more times that I even know, but at the end I am still that mentor.  That person who is standing on the sidelines quietly cheering my children and students to push themselves to greater things.  If I measure myself as a parent I don’t think I would grade out too well.  I have made plenty of mistakes, even today.  Those mistakes have had a learning impact.  They have shown my son, and my students, that to err is human and to forgive divine.  That errors don’t define you, but they leave scars that remind us of how lucky we are to have loved and have been loved.  I want to add something to the first sentence; train through my lens means mentor with love.  If we as parents and teachers strive for that, even the not so great can lead to pretty good.   That also makes the pretty good mentoring moments spectacular.

Trust through my lens means to give up control.  I can’t be the same dad to Jake at seventeen that I was to him at seven.  He has changed, I have changed, our relationship has changed.  I have to trust our relationship, that the lessons we learned together will serve him well.  I have to trust that the people he will develop relationships with will have his best interests in their hearts and minds.  I have to trust that if life gets difficult he will return to the mentor who will always love him.  As a dad I have to give up control of my children and trust that the new people they surround themselves with will be their compass for the future.  The same can be said for a teacher.  I have to trust the relationship that my students and I have developed, that the lessons learned together will serve them well in their future.  I have to trust that the new teachers in my students lives will take that baton and continue the relay of life.  I have to trust that when life for my students becomes difficult they will fall back on the mentoring we went through together.  Trust is a very difficult thing, but it is the right thing to give our children and our students.

Get out of the way through my lens means don’t interfere, but be ready to help.  I’ve heard my son say, “you are smothering me!”  There is a season for that, but once your child has set out on their path smothering can be counter productive.  Get out of the way, let them live their life, let them make their choices, let them develop their independence, but be ready to go back and support them through the good and the bad times.  Get out of the way does not mean disappear, it means to go back to that mentor that is quietly cheering on the sidelines.  That person who is dependable and unshakable in their love for their child.   The same can be said of a teacher.  I’ve heard students say, “why do you care so much?” There is a season for that, but when your students have taken control of their academic life don’t be counter productive.  Don’t get in the way of their independence.  Get out of the way does not mean you stop caring, you just care a little bit quieter.  Every child needs that adult that is always in their corner.

I don’t know what Jake’s future will hold for him.  I have to believe that our time together was meaningful, that the life lessons will forever help him.  I have to trust that I have done all that I can do, and that now he is the one who can do for himself.  I have to get out of the way, continue to love and quietly cheer from the sidelines.

I don’t know how long I have in the classroom.  It could be weeks, or it could be years.  I have to believe that my time with students has had meaning, that the life lessons will forever help them.  I have to trust that I did all I could do for my students, but now is the time for me to trust in their future.  I have to get out of the way, and continue to quietly cheer from the sidelines.