New Year, New Student



Just a short blog from a thought that came to me on a quick run….

I live in the middle of Nebraska so running outside in December is sometimes challenging.  Today when I left to run it was 5 degrees outside! On those days I choose to run the halls of my school…. No Windchill, No Freezing Temps, No Cars or Critters to worry about.  As I was running today thinking about the New Year that is upon us I  had a thought…

New Year, New You!

You hear this quote many times as the old year comes to an end and we begin to usher in a New Year.  We start to think about starting something new.  Making ourselves better. Giving ourselves a clean slate from all that “junk” we ate the last month! A fresh start to prove to ourselves that we can find that corner of us that needs improvement and do just that. Start over… New Year, New You!

What about our students?

As I ran the halls that my students walk this was my thought… I give myself the chance to start again! I don’t hold onto the “bad” from the last year, and I just press forward and TRY to improve.  Do I do that with my students?  Do I allow them a “New Year, New You”? I mean why do I let myself start the New Year with forgiveness and a clean slate, but when Johnny walks back into the school I get that cringe in my stomach of “Here we go again!”

New Year, New Student

I have spent time reading the book Culturize by Jimmy Casas this Christmas Break and in the book it talks a lot about being a CHAMPION for kids.  As I thought and ran this came to mind with New Year, New You, New Student… when you win a Championship there are a lot of failures and losses along the way, but you don’t give up. You get up. Dust yourself off and try again.  Let’s do that with our students as they walk through the doors of the school in the next week……. Be the leader of the Champion!

New Year…. New You… And let them be a New Student!






Investing…. This word holds so much power.  This word scares some and others see it as a challenge. A risk to find a way to get the biggest gain.

When we invest in something such as the Stock Market we can hardly wait to see what our return is.  When the envelope shows up in the mail or the website is checked you are always hoping for an increase, a positive investment.  What if you get your portfolio statement and it shows a large decrease in your investment?  You have to sit down and look it over.  You sit and analyze it. You check to see if it is something you should try again or if you should move your money.  Investing… it’s a gamble until you find the perfect fit for your money and your future.

As a teacher fresh out of college I hit the ground running! I was ready to invest in kids, but I didn’t put a ton of “money” into the student.  I was afraid of the “market” crashing with little left over. I began to put enough in to make sure that they received the information they needed, but not really enough to make a difference in having the big positive outcome.

I was the teacher….

I was a 2nd or 3rd year teacher when my investment, we will call “Johnny”, made no return. I began to ask myself, “Why should I give and give and give? Johnny doesn’t even come to school most of the time, and when he does come he doesn’t even try, and homework that is a WHOLE different story!” So I took my “money” out of that failing investment without analyzing it at all.

I was the teacher….

I had tried and he didn’t. I didn’t look to see why the investment wasn’t working. I thought, “He isn’t going to try and I have tried everything.” I didn’t take time to sit back and think. “How can help this kid get through? What can I do to make it work?” Or… even this question, “How should I change what I am doing to meet the needs of this student? How can I make him succeed not wait for him to figure it out on his own? What am I missing?”

I was the teacher…..

He began to show up to school less and less.  I knew then that I had made the right move with my investment, because Johnny’s family didn’t even care if he was in school and all these other students deserved my “money” more….

I was the teacher….

Then one rainy day, yes the day is etched into my memory.. My boss asked me to come to her office, and in that moment I found out why the investment wasn’t making any gains. As I sat down in my principal’s chair and the words began to flow from her mouth I only hear the first few, “Johnny wouldn’t be returning. Last night he had been pulled from his home and taken to Denver Children’s Hospital….. It was the worst case of abuse a Children’s Hospital had ever seen.”

It didn’t matter anymore who was the teacher….

You see Johnny WAS trying. He was trying to survive.  He wasn’t trying to survive math.  He wasn’t trying to meet the words per minute to be on grade level.  He wasn’t trying to get 80% on his spelling test.  He was trying to survive life from 3:30 pm to 8:00 am, so when he got to school he was safe, he was able to relax, he was able to not have to worry what was going to happen next.

I was that teacher… Now I am not!

Fast forward 15 or so years… I am still the teacher, but I am not that teacher.  I invest… I invest A LOT!  I invest in their academics. I invest in their reading. I invest in their math. I invest in self-esteem.  We take risks as a group. We make mistakes, as a group. We invest together. Some days I do all the investing, but some days my students invest more than I do. But that is how it should be, because we are a team. I am the leader. Guiding them through, making mistakes together, but NEVER giving up on the “investment”! Because the investment is one of the biggest and most profitable parts of teaching. It is where everyone as a team, not I am the teacher, will find the greatest gains.

Be the investor not the teacher!


Be Your Heart!

When I set foot into my first classroom I had no idea the impact of “Being Your heart” would have.  In fact I really didn’t know until many years later how HUGE sharing your heart with students truly would be.

There is a quote that many teachers share that states something close to this… “Your students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  But what does “care” really mean in this quote.  Does care mean greeting them? Does care mean asking how they are in passing? Does care mean teaching the curriculum to a class?  Does care mean showing up for them? Does care mean checking their homework assignment?

Those are all important.  Don’t get me wrong


Does care mean let students know your heart? What makes you tick… What makes you happy…. What makes you, YOU!

As an educator for 20 plus years I have been on both sides of what “care” really means.  I have been that teacher that makes sure that the curriculum is complete, the homework has been assigned, the line is straight and quiet, and a smile is on my face as I taught.  Don’t get me wrong! I loved my job when I was that teacher. I loved my students!  But my heart wasn’t always in the right spot.  I didn’t share me.  I didn’t invest in my students.

It took 5 minutes in my career to make me realize that sharing my heart, being my heart was worth it all.  It is worth the 10 minutes away from the curriculum every so often to just let students know you are human.  Let them know we are in this together. We will make mistakes, together. They will forget. You will forget. We will forget.  Let them know what makes you tick, what makes you happy, and what makes you, YOU!

My students today know my heart.  They know my favorite food is nachos with a side of Peanut Butter M and M’s. They know I wash it down with my favorite pop Diet Coke.  They know I forget my tea sometimes in the morning and my husband has to run it to the school on his way out of town.  They know when I talk about my favorite thing I did over the weekend how much I love my time away from school, but then they also know how much I love to hear about their outstanding moments away from school.

Be your heart, because when you see them and they see you “Beyond the Whiteboard” you both learn more than you dreamed possible.

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“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Henry B. Adams

Teachers… Have you ever asked yourself that very question? Why?  Why are we getting up day after day before the sun, leaving our own family to work with someone else’s children? Why are we working more than an 8 hour day to make lessons? Or are we really just making lessons?  Why am I doing this day after day?

That is a question I never asked myself in the first few years of my career because frankly it didn’t matter. I was the teacher.  I would plan. I would get through the curriculum. I would complete the tasks put before me, but did I really?  Are “they” tasks  or are they so much more than that?

Through this blog I hope to share how I see the “task… Beyond the Whiteboard!