Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday's Heart Start: Snapshots of the Heart

This Sunday's Heart Start is one that I think all teachers need to hear. This past year was a struggle for me. Not because I had a difficult class but because there were so many moments that just showed the sad direction I see teaching heading sometimes. But then my heart remembered...

...My heart remembered Little Warrior from years and years ago. Little Warrior was not in my classroom for very long but I will never forget her smile, her laugh, and her perseverance. Little Warrior's story was very sad and to protect her privacy wherever she might be I won't share it. God placed Little Warrior in my room for a reason...just like each child He places in my room and in your room every year. Little Warrior taught ME more than I know I taught her. The snapshot of her in my head has nothing to do with her scores or grades but her heart.


At the end of this year, I looked at my classroom snapshot and compared the scores and achievements of my kiddos from the beginning of the year to their scores in May. My teacher heart was so proud. When I turned it in to my Principal and Instructional Coach, I joked that it was stained with all of the blood, sweat, and tears everyone in our room shed. And that was true because many of the assessments caused my little Firsties to cry. There were also tears from me because I felt so pressured by testing this year.

We give the STAAR test 3rd and up in Texas. My district gives CBA's (curriculum based assessments) for 1st and 2nd. We have given CBAs before so that was not new but it just seems like more and more eyes look and question your scores, your lessons, and your schedule when your scores don't show enough growth. 

I don't think it is a questioning of what we are doing wrong...everyone just wants to help our kiddos do their best. I think the frustrating part is often the steps we have to take to get to a place where our kiddos may not be developmentally ready to be.

Teachers already pour their hearts and souls into helping our kiddos. We see huge growth all of the time that often does not show up in those scores. I think because we are so passionate about what we do that we tend to feel a little hurt when someone thinks we may not be doing a good job because of what some score shows. They are not in the trenches seeing the moment by moment growth we see and celebrate daily.

This post is not about testing because our scores already show the difference a teacher makes. Yes, most of the time that snapshot is not a true picture of that child and his/her capabilities. Heck, I cannot think of anything in my life that I would like for someone to take 1 snapshot of and be judged by that snapshot.

But I started to think of snapshots that SHOULD be in our classroom each day. Snapshots reflecting laughter, music, games, play, art, hugs, friendships, ah-ha's, collaboration, science experiments, engagement, and many other things that SHOULD still be a part of a young child's day and life. Those are the snapshots that will make a difference in the hearts of our kiddos. Those snapshots won't fade from our kiddos hearts.

I can take no credit for any difference I might be making in the classroom because I just pray for God to use me how He can. Even after 15 years in 1st grade, I still worry about not being good enough. I get so inspired by my friends out in the teaching world. I LOVE how much passion I see out there in social media but it sometimes seems that passion gets lost when I step on campus. I think that doubt is when I lose my focus because I am worrying about scores or other stressful burdens that teachers try to carry alone. I have to remember to create those snapshots that will make a difference in more than a score. Because I need to remember that before you reach their heads, you have to touch their hearts.

One hug can make a heart smile.
One giggle can heal a heart that has been hurting for awhile.
One song can comfort the silence at night.
One teacher can be God's beacon of light.

YOU can be God's difference of One...Because when YOUR passion shines through, you will ignite that passion in the hearts of others.

From My Heart to Yours,

9 heart notes:

Kimberly said...

Dear Heather,
I loved this post too. I do think you should take credit for creating the opportunities you mentioned in your classroom. God works through each of us, but we make choices and you are choosing to do what you know your students want and need to create snapshots that will make a real difference. At the same time, you are reminding us all to do the same. Thank you!
Funky First Grade Fun

Katie Knight said...

Yes, Heather! Snapshots of building a lifelong learner and members of a classroom FAMILY, not a test taking joyless robot.

Katie Knight said...

Yes, Heather! Snapshots of building a lifelong learner and members of a classroom FAMILY, not a test taking joyless robot.

Katie Knight said...

Yes, Heather! Snapshots of building a lifelong learner and members of a classroom FAMILY, not a test taking joyless robot.

First Grade by the Sea said...

Well Said, Heather. Our class is a community for the year that they are with us, but they also belong to another community. We cannot control that life outside of our class, but we need to seek and understand it because it is part of that child, therefore part of community too. Understanding how that can affect the learning is a crucial, but not measurable. I love your blog.