a good day

I know many details have been left out as I sit exhausted at this computer tonight.  That young man, the one I helped so many years ago – helped me tonight. 

I woke up this morning and made it to duty sort of on time.

As I monitored the progress of my 1st period class and that of the 3 the day before I realized that not one student had managed to turn in the day’s assignment correctly or completely.  Partly due to tech glitches, but MOSTLY due to the refusal to read directions, the inability to follow directions, and the ridiculous notion that if the answer requires thought then it remains beyond their reach.

Moving on to 3rd period this morning, a student walked into my classroom, threw is Chromebook on my desk and said “You were my favorite teacher” and as he turned and made it halfway out the door he shouted “I’m dropping out!!!!”   Then he slammed the door as hard as he could.  I tried to cut him off in the parking lot only to run into the administrators also hot on his trail.  I had to return to the students in my room (well, at the door watching every step I took).  They wrangled him back inside.  My principal later informed me that they talked him off the ledge and he will, in fact, be returning.  Whew.

During lunch I covered a class for another teacher a watched one student cheat shamelessly on a test, while the others in the room poured their hearts and souls into the assessment. (Deep cleansing breath).

During the rest of planning I had to type up all the problems technology gave me the last two days and beg for a solution.  Tomorrow we will be reading from a textbook.

During the last class of the day I had the occasion to sit a student down in front of me to tell her that she is the reason I come to school every day – A wonderful project of our librarian.  She recorded it.  The student cried – and told me that I’m cheesy.  I loved it.

Also during that class we had to start off very harshly, as students have NOT been hitting deadlines for our yearbook publication.  100 emails and problems to address.  Finally, tech support showed up – God bless her at 3pm on a Friday afternoon, still chugging away to make my technology work for my students.

By the end of that class we were dancing, celebrating small victories of the day and embracing the weekend ahead.  Well, not the tech person – she continued to chug.

After school I sat in on a meeting of our student group that tries to bring coexistence to our school.  Their struggles are real.

Tonight at dinner I ran into a former student. As my husband and I sat at table next him. He looked familiar at first glance, but when I saw his smile all the memories from his 9th grade year came flooding back – everything but his name.  Ugh – I wish I could remember their names, especially when they weigh so heavy on my heart sometimes.  Of course later when he said it – I could not believe I could have ever forgotten it.  This young man had the kind of smile that made his whole face shine and you couldn’t help but smile back.  A young man filled with talent, charm, and whole lot of teenage angst.  That angst got him into some trouble that the charm could not get him out of, so he ended up going to another school and he was gone from our lives…like so many students that touch our hearts.  When I approached him at the checkout, it took a moment but then the recognition shocked across his face.  “Mrs. Bertram!!”   He looked healthy and happy and shared his excitement about his future.  Man, that made my day.

I know many details have been left out as I sit exhausted at this computer tonight.  That young man, the one I helped so many years ago – helped me tonight.  In fact, I think it is pretty safe to say that he inspired today’s post.  It’s the first time I have posted in over a year, I think.  I’ve been stuck.  Stuck in it all.  I am finding my way out.  If you write you know what a big deal that is; and if you don’t write – you’ll have to trust me.  When an individual can get you over a year long writer’s block – it’s a very big deal.   Thank you, young man.

It was a good day.

the few…the proud…the incredibly sore

Educator’s Workshop at Paris Island March 1-4, 2016 for the Recruiting Station of Columbia, South Carolina…holy cow…what an amazing experience.  The sign that speaks 2016-03-03 07.20.02 (2)the mission of the base really says it all.  “We Make Marines”

My participation in this workshop tops the list of professional development experiences and learning  about what I can do to help young people to find their paths, wherever they may lead.2016-03-01 15.26.41

Our group of 30 educators stayed in Beaufort and traveled to the base daily.  We met Marines and recruits and learned what it takes to be a US Marine.  We also were able to experience shooting the M 16, repelling down a 50 foot wall, running the obstacle course, and of course, visiting the pit.

The PIT – a sandy spot that looks like it is ready for a beach volleyball game, but I assure you this is not a fun spot.  PIT, I believe stands for “personal incentive training”.  Now, I don’t know if that is an official breakdown or one of affection.  I know we all thought that some “personal incentive training” could be very effective in our classrooms.

The repel wall… one marine at the top and one at the bottom.  These 2 men are there to make sure you go down safely.  You could pass out and drop and still be lowered without harm.  This did not assuage my fear AT ALL!   So, here is the whole story.  When we first arrived, they put us in formation and said “those that have no intention of repelling please go to the back fence”.  I did not move.  I was in.  The instructor explained what was going to happen and told us to go get our gear.  I walked with the group, but in the room with the gear – I bailed.  I came out empty handed…I just could not do it.  My fear of heights was going to win today.

2016-03-03 09.51.43The Marines that we were working with over the course of the 4 days expressed their dismay as I passed by to join the non-participants.  I stood to the side for the 20 minute preparations of the group – anger growing and frustration brewing.  Not only was I battling my fear of heights, but I had just hurt my knee on the obstacle course (read about that here).  Still, I could not take it any longer and I walked up to my Drill Instructor and said “I don’t want to wuss out – is it too late?”  No it was not.  They went and got gear and got me ready in 60 seconds flat.  As I climbed the stairs the shaking began.  I tried not to think about it as I watched educator after educator disappear over the side.  It was finally my turn.

Marine number 1 hooked me up, told me to step back, and then, just lean back.  I tried and tried.  We were to put our heals over the edge – half on, half off sort of thing.  And then, keep legs straight and do a trust fall – 50 feet in the air – with the guy that is going to “catch” you 50 feet below.  I kept staring into the eyes of Marine number one and listening to the voices of those below – trying to distinguish  that of Marine number two.  I had my first heal over the edge.  As I tried to inch my other foot back, I rocked back and forth, left to right, not really making any progress.  As the anxiety level rose, I had to step from the edge completely again.  UGH!  I repeated this twice.  Seriously?  I was so frustrated that I could not overcome this.  I wanted it so badly!  My Marine was so patient and so good and calming a woman on the edge.

Again, I get my right heel over the edge.  “Now, just move your left foot,” he said.  Sure.     “I’m trying!”  I screamed.  Mental note – do not piss off the Marine holding the rope.   Deep breath.  Finally, I edged the foot back and he said , “you are there – now just lean back.” and in one fell swoop I dropped over the edge.  The exhilaration at all time high in this 46-year-old life – I made it half way down the wall before they stopped me.  My fingers were dangerously close to the rig and we needed to reposition before they lowered me the rest of the way.  Whew.  When I hit the ground it was hard to even think straight because the adrenaline was so high.  I do remember, however, giving a great big hug to Marine number two.

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I can see why they make recruits to this.  A trust and confidence builder for sure.  I am so grateful for the experience and to two very special Marines that I will never forget.

Batter up!

I just sat through the first scrimmage of our girls softball team for this season and boy was it cold!   So, after coaching track and going on a run with my husband, the weather seemed tolerable enough – oh no — no, no.  The lack of clothing on my body and the failure to stretch after my run, and the (what felt like) 20 degree drop – not a good combo – I have some tight muscles!

Anyway, I enjoy going to the sporting events of my students.  I try so hard so go at least once every season to every sport.  My goal is 2-3, but sometimes I just cannot make that happen.

As I looked at the softball team tonight I realized I either currently teach or have taught every girl on the team, by far the highest volume of students of any sport.  And, although my fingers maintain little feeling still as I type this post – my pride for these girls knows no bounds.  Although I left after 2 hours and they still had more game to play, at one point they were down zero to 7.  They fought their way back to an 11-7 lead.  Nothing makes me more certain that I am in the right place when I see young folks rise above and conquer.  It had nothing to do with me – I was merely a spectator.  But, boy it felt good to see them fight and find that success.

I do not know at this time if they won the game, but they definitely won my heart (too much?).  Well  it’s true – and I know that I am a big sap!  If you get a chance to attend a sporting event at a local high school I encourage you to take it.  These kids work tirelessly at their sport.  We often hear comments like “this generation is so lazy”, “these kids are so entitled”, “no one wants to work for anything anymore”.  But these kids go to school all day, maintain their grades with homework (sometimes hours), and practice every single day for 2 hours after school – not to mention friends, jobs and chores.  And yes, I put friends on the list because, let’s face it, relationships of all kinds are work.  These kids work hard. These kids have drive.  I was so tired after work today…but then I just remembered how tired my students must be, too – and so I go and sit in the cold.  Way to go girls!

***update – I wrote this a few days ago – the girls won the game.  I have since been to a few more games and they continue to thrive! Go Canes!

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Yanks out for a run in Killarney, Ireland

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Me and my travel buddy, Kelly

I love to grab my phone and go out for an early morning run while on tour with my students.  Unfortunately, exhaustion tends to take over and the rest becomes more important as we move through our 14 hour days of walking and sight-seeing while traveling abroad.

 

Still, when I am able to do this I am able to see a few things that I would have otherwise missed.  Plus, running through town can really give you a sense of what it is like.  I mean, you are on foot and don’t have the protection of a vehicle or a large group.   You smell smells and hear sounds that you would otherwise miss – things that really add to the ambiance of a town.   If it feels unsafe – you usually know it right away.  Still, I would never run where I thought I might be unsafe.  We always discuss the area with our tour consultant and folks at the hotel to ensure our safety – and I would never run alone.

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Our Hotel in Killarney

While in Killarney, our first stop on the Britannia with EF Tours, my travel buddy and I went out for a short run – about 2 miles.  We went away from town in the opposite direction from which we arrived.  It did not disappoint.  Our first lesson was to run on the correct side of the path.  We were running on the right and the running path/bike path follows the rules of the road.  We ran into only one person before we realized our error and began keeping to the left.

First, we saw a flock of sheep in a field with a lovely backdrop.  OUR FIRST FLOCK!!!2015-06-18 17.19.53

We ran to a bridge as saw this lovely view.2015-06-18 17.18.00

We went out a mile and then backtracked.  There was a lovely gentleman selling strawberries near this bridge and he gave us a taste.  They were fresh and yummy.

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Our tour bus never did make it this way.  I feel like I won a special prize when I get to experience these places with a short run.  Stinky clothes remain the problem.  I can put them in ziplock baggies with dryer sheets, but they really need a washing machine!

 

 

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Read about more group travel trip here.

Read about my first marathon here.

 

 

 

the wrong kind of goodbye

As a teacher I am used to saying goodbye.  Students move in and out of the district, always coming and going.  Farewells naturally occur at the end of every school year as I pass along my little cherubs to the next lucky soul that gets to touch their lives. Often times I ignore my feelings of loss and try to focus on the next batch of students that lie in wait.  However, when I lose a student to death…well, that is just the wrong kind of goodbye.

I recently attended the funeral services of a sweet young lady named Danielle.  A senior at my high school, she had yet to see her 18th birthday, had yet to recieve her diploma, had yet to live her dreams.  I taught Danielle when she was a freshman and although there is a certain detachment that occurs between student and teacher when the student is no longer a regular in the classroom – there is always a connection as our life paths have crossed.

Filling the needs of students drives me as a teacher.  Sometimes I fill their minds with knowledge and growth.  Sometime I fill their heart with love and acceptance.  Sometimes I fill their bellies.  Sometimes, honestly, I don’t know what I am doing or if I am making a difference in their lives at all – but they always, always make a difference in mine.  I carry hope for all students that enter and leave my classroom that they live long lives, find joy and love, reach their goals, and live free from despair.  So, when I say goodbye to them because they move on to another grade – I never really say goodbye – until it’s the wrong kind of goodbye.

Danielle drove off the road and into some trees.  Two passengers also died.  One survived.  Danielle’s speed led to the accident and an unforgiving road on a sharp turn sealed her fate.  Our community loses too many young people to these roads.  We say too many of the wrong kind of goodbyes.  As I sat at her funeral service and looked at all of the beautiful flowers, I was surrounded by current and former students. Oddly, I focused on a wasp thavasflowers-colorful-sympathy-casket-spray_maxat had found his way into the chapel.  This wasp, rather than hovering on the mounds of colorful blooms that were gathered around the coffin, sputtered at the ceiling as if trying to escape the pain and suffering in the room.  I remember thinking that his flight path was staggered and haphazard; misguided and misdirected – simply all over the place, as if a strong, shifiting wind kept him from going his intended direction. It seemed so symbolic of life sometimes.  Determined, however misguided, he pounded himself into the white ceiling again and again to no avail – no escape.  Eventually, he gave up and landed on the chandelier and remained motionless, as if he had found peace.  When the preacher began to speak I lost sight of the wasp as I focused on the words of the man.  Tears do not scare me, nor do I shy away from public displays of emotion, especially in a situation like this.  But, I was trying to be strong for the students around me.  So when I found myself overcome with emotion I searched for the wasp again in an attempt to distract myself. However, much to my disappointment, I could not find the wasp.  The wasp was gone.  The wasp had found his way out; he was free.  Right then, as my eyes swelled with tears, I realized that Danielle is also free.  She is free from all of this pain and suffering.  Her struggles have ended and she has found peace with her Savior. Still, I remain, looking at her grieving parents, and cannot help but feel that this is the wrong kind of goodbye.

When I returned home I did as expected – I hugged my chldren, cried into their shoulders, and told them that I love them.  I spoke to them about speeding and reckless decisions.  They are teenagers, afterall.  “Please don’t ever do that to me,” I told my son.  “I would be lost without you,” I told my daughter.  They heard my message; they felt my love and despair for Danielle and the wrong kind of goodbye.

 

**The featured photo is of a banner that the students signed as a way to help them greive and say goodbye to their friend, their classmate. Sadly, this has becomre tradition.

 

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Pompeii, Italy

DSC_0759Italy remains one of my favorite destinations.  After our journey to the top of Mt. Vesuvius, we took an expertly guided tour of the ruins of Pompeii.  Mt. Vesuvius destroyed this ancient Roman town in 79 AD, but the ash, evidently, preserved quite a bit of it.  There are lots of photos and I only saw, probably, a quarter of the town.  All of my information comes from our tour guide.  So, if there are any historians out there that think I have it wrong, please let me know. I am a tourist, not a historian.  Please enjoy my photos and the mini amateur tour through the ruins.

 

 

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Before we entered the walls of the city, we viewed the mass graves in what would have been right outside the city walls.  DSC_0762DSC_0763

We first entered the Gladiator training grounds – a big courtyard, basically.  The trees are magnificent.DSC_0773

Then we made our way to the amphitheater.  You can see the courtyard we just left in the background – and look at those mountains – wow!DSC_0790

So, then we started walking through the ancient streets.  We were told that the giant stones in the middle of the road were for pedestrians to be able to cross without stepping into the sewage that flowed in the street.  Each of those gates represent a different shop.  This was the market street, evidently.DSC_0793

This is a wood burning pizza oven – ha!  Seriously, it was said to be a bakery.  They thought this because the fireplace was so much larger than that in the home areas.DSC_0791

Random street of Pompeii.DSC_0827

Me and my best travel buddy, Kelly.  We make a great team. She makes laugh and laugh – we have so much fun together.  We are standing outside the infamous Pompeii brothel.  The middle school group that walked through with us could not quite handle the artwork on the walls.DSC_0826

So, this is the brothel.  Do you see the upside down cross?DSC_0841

As we made our way from the brothel to the city square the tour guide pointed out the map on the ground carved into the stone.  It points to the brothel so that those visiting the city for the first time know where to go.  The brothel does, in fact, have artwork that survived on its walls, as well.  Images of people, men and women, in various sexual positions cover the walls of the brothel.  Our guide explained that a customer would simply point to the desired position.  Bed pictured below.DSC_0830

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Another random street.  We are on our way to the city square.  We just left the brothel.DSC_0797

You can’t really make out the walls, exactly, but this street was “apartments”.DSC_0800

An example of the residential fireplace.  DSC_0802

The courtyard of the gladiator school.  This area was one of the best preserved.  The photo below was the ornate, arched ceiling.  The photo does not do it justice.  The colors and the artistry took my breath away.DSC_0808

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This was displayed within the walls of the gladiator school.  I am not sure why he was separated from the rest of the artifacts that I posted below.  This was just mesmerizing.  The thought of all of those people being buried so quickly in the ash that they were frozen and then preserved.  Amazing.DSC_0821

So, a regular ally leading to a beautiful courtyard.  These small private courtyards were blocked off and we could not see them up close.  They were off of private residences.DSC_0863

The next several photos are of the many artifacts recovered from the ash.DSC_0865DSC_0867DSC_0866

Lots of vases and urns.  The plastic crates in the background unfortunately detract from the collection.  Did you see the dog in the glass box?  I think that was a dog…I never did get a definitive answer.DSC_0847

If you saw my Mt. Vesuvius post, then this photo may look familiar.  That’s it in the background – the devastating volcano that covered this city in ash.DSC_0870

More images of the city square.DSC_0871DSC_0872DSC_0877DSC_0881DSC_0883DSC_0887

DSC_0889Some of those last pictures really show the beauty of the area.  So that’s it.  My trip through the ruins of Pompeii.  A very hot day that ended with overpriced frozen lemonade and a stroll through the vendors outside the gates.  Oh – and we saw a demonstration of cameos being made from shells – then we went for the lemonade.  They were beautiful, but not for me.

If you have not seen my Mt. Vesuvius post you can find it in this link to the top of the volcano.

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Dear New Teachers:

Dear new teachers,

We need you.  This difficult job will reward you in many ways.  Please stick with it, even when  you want to quit – it does get easier.  Well, not easier, but you figure out how to be better at it and find balance.  Our nation faces a crisis in the classroom.  We need good teachers, like you.  Compassionate, giving, selfless, hard-working.  Go next door, to the next classroom and ask for help.  If you mistakenly entered the wrong room, the room where that negative energy resides – just go to the next door and keep going until you find the support that you need. Do not try to do it on your own.  Also, make yourself leave on time and do not take work home with you.  It will get done.  I promise.

We have all been there – have all felt overwhelmed and wanted to throw in the towel.  Keep at it.  You are valued.  You are needed.  You are our future.

Sincerely,

the nation

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Stonehenge and Day 13, 2015

20160215_154016.jpgDay 13 of a 14 day trip – one of the best and the busiest. I visited this site in June of 2015 with a student tour from EF Tours (Education First) .  I love using this touring company to lead student tours.  Anyway – this stop, one of the last on the tour, far surpassed expectations.  A bucket list item for years and years, Stonehenge and the surrounding area truly boggles the mind.    As you can see from my SMASH BOOK page we did quite a lot on this last day on tour.  In fact, because we had ditched the middle school group that had been traveling with us – it may have just been the best day on the tour!  I have difficulty in declaring this because I loved every country we visited on this tour (Ireland, Scotland, Whales, England).

 

DSC_0493 (2) I know the photo of Stonehenge does not look any more remarkable than any other photo you may see on the internet, but when I am able to take it myself something amazing happens.  Visualization becomes more reality based.  I firmly believe in putting the camera down and living in the moment.  I encourage travelers to encounter the environment and experience the wonders without looking through the lens (or phone).  Still, as an avid photographer, when I look around DSC_0460 (2)sometimes all I see is “the shot”.  Like this one of the teenager and the horse head at Stonehenge.  Why not?

The slide show contains photos of cathedral and smash book.

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We started our day in Salisbury with the Cathedral and the a viewing of the Magna Carta.   Displays of honor and remembrance of local veterans from WWI and WW II fill the halls and alcoves of the cathedral.  Also, a display on a wall  (in honor of the language of change) amazed us as the illuminated words and letters seemingly moved to avoid our touch – only to form new words.  I profess that words are power daily in my classroom.  So, to see this presentation and read first-hand about the Magna Carta felt somewhat cathartic and validating – just plain cool.  Amazingly, there was no security surrounding this precious document – not like our own Declaration of Independence.  It merely rests under glass in the center of an unguarded room in a small tent protecting it from harsh lighting.  It is all very unassuming.

The day’s journey across the English countryside revealed the fields of poppies to me for the first time.  So beautiful – and again – unassuming.DSC_0489 (3)

 

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We took the Underground to the fictional home of the fictional character and found a real store…221B Baker Street.  The statue of Sherlock stands nearby.

Next – we traveled a bit more to satisfy the dream of one of my travelers…visit Abbey Road.  My son and I – and the rest of the group – did our very best at trying to recreate the famous Beatles cover as we crossed this very busy street.  Our tour director, Steve, told us how annoyed the locals get at the tourists in this spot.  I try 1557269_10152980260361918_2424869840105685698_overy hard to be respectful of these types of things, but the heart wants what the heart wants.  The white building in the background was then and is still now a music studio.  We rode our first double-decker bus back to the hotel for the night.  Quite a full day.

 

If you would like to climb to the top of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy or tour the ruins at Pompeii I would for you to take a look around!

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Successfully Setting Expectations for Group Travel

Group travel can be stressful when you are the one in charge of everyone having an enjoyable and positive experience – while staying in the group and remaining safe.  Most unhappiness in our lives comes from unmet expectations.  Sometimes that is because we did not know what to expect and we were left to our own limited experiences to set the level of expectation.  This is disastrous for group travel.  I do my very best to make expectations very clear before students and parents even enroll.  However, they need to hear them again and again – I promise.

I have three departure meetings for every trip.  These meetings serve several purposes.  First, the travelers begin to get comfortable with one another.  After all, it is going to be close quarters for about two weeks.  Second, the parents not traveling can begin to feel a little more comfortable about sending their student abroad – in their eyes alone.  Third, these meetings allow foparents late busr repetitive statements about the rules and consequences.  Fourth, multiple events still need to be decided upon as far as optional excursions, extensions and the like. They need to know they have a voice and are part of the decision making.  Fifth and final, all of the nuances of student group educational travel need to be addressed. (Like, early is on time, and on time is late.)

The two photos used in this post are of students and parents waiting outside of a Paris hotel for a bus that is over an hour late.  Preparing them ahead of time for such a possibility (of things sometimes go wrong) kept their attitudes positive and we all found a way to entertain ourselves while we waited.

The most important discussion I have with them is about the contagious attitudes of the group.  You can either choose to sit and nit pick every little thing, or you can find the beauty of everything around you, embrace the experience, and remain positive so that everyone can enjoy the trip.  Of course – I then point out that this a great way to live life, as well.   We had a choice – stand around and complain to one another about the wait – or make fun, unforgettable memories.

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Simply, love the child.

So, as District Teacher of the Year (DTOY) I was given several opportunities to address all the teachers in the district.  This particular occasion was the summer institute – the 2 first days of summer for the kids.  Every year these are optional staff development days immediately following the end of the school year.  Well, the second one is optional, and the first is required.  On one hand, the training provided can allow us to prepare for the following year with the new information/strategies/tech – whatever.  On the other hand, by the time the day comes the burnout rages through the crowd and enthusiasm remains elusive.  The purpose of this speech rests somewhere between inspiration, motivation, and exasperation.  With the 1:1 technology implementation at the end of its first year, teachers are ready for a break.  However, the theme of the event is transformation – not just using the tech in the classroom, but transforming the way we teach.  As you can imagine, the audience ranges from the technology proficient to the technology resistant to the straight up technology noncompliant.  After a year of mishaps, frustrations, network issues…and I am to bring them all together and motivate them to take the next step, now, on June 5th.  (deep sigh)

Our superintendent went about 20 minutes long – I was immediately told to cut mine short, the tech did not work right away for the next presentation (the technology department), several others spoke briefly.  It is unusual to have the DTOY speak at this event – so it was unexpected.  I was the last one on the stage, just when the whole group thought they were out of there.

Here is what I said:

Simply, love the child.

Good morning. So, today is about transformation. Wow, that can be a scary word because that means change. And what do we know about change? I know change can be downright horrifying. It can be exciting.  I know that sometimes trying to change the behaviors of others is like talking to a brick wall, right? We have all had those experiences.

But change from within – It takes effort. It takes risk. It takes perseverance. Change takes knowledge and learning, right? Well then – we’ve got this. Because I just describe the traits of every hard-working, life-long learning, stubborn teacher in this auditorium. We’ve got this – one step at time.

As you go through the next two days, feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, inspired, confused, enlightened, exhausted, satisfied, hopeful, and just plain tired…..just remember the reason you are here, the reason we are all here – and no I am not talking about your contractual obligation – I am talking about the child. We are here today and every day because we love the child. Now, I say child and not children because I want you to get a picture of one special child in your mind. That one child that you want to help or that you may have already helped. Take a moment to think about that one child you want so badly to reach – no matter how tired you are, no matter what new initiatives or new standards are thrown your way, no matter what extra duties you get at work or extra chores you get at home, no matter what the time or the date is – this child always stands out in your mind. This child may even haunt you.  Maybe you had him in class this year or maybe you are already anticipating him for next year. Perhaps you taught this child years ago – but he still haunts you. Keep that child in your mind as you go through the next 2 days and gain your motivation to transform and learn from him. One step at time.

You know, it takes a lot of energy and commitment to transform these little cherubs into productive citizens – from pre K to senior year – and to get them across that stage every year. And I am moved to tears every single year at graduation. High school teachers in the district are required to go to graduation. We may grumble about this that or the other about this requirement, but when it comes right down to it – that is the prize – seeing that child walk across that stage – I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It is a shame that every teacher, at every feeder school  does not get the opportunity to participate in graduation the way we do at the high school – to see that child cross the finish line. Now I am not recommending a change in policy – I am just trying to make a point. Each and every educator in this room had a hand in all of those success stories that I have had the privilege to witness and celebrate every year. So let me take a moment and say thank you. Thank you to all of you for giving me a better future. Thank you to all of you for transforming the child, that child in your mind, into a high school graduate and a productive member of our community – one step at a time.

So, over the next 2 days simply look within for your inspiration to change, to transform with this technology. You are all already able to inspire that transformation and change in the child. I believe the same power, the same energy will get you through these next two days and into the technology proficient classrooms of tomorrow – one step at a time. And if that can’t get you going, then just remember to simply love the child, as I know you do, and you will continue to accomplish great things.  Thank you and have a great day.

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