Today was a hard day, but God.

Today was a hard day. I am a person who is flourishes because of structure. Take me to a place that is unstructured, and well. You know the rest. This day was especially difficult because I found myself juggling many things while trying to teach my students how to do this and how to do that. My patience was tried and my joy was being sapped from me, minute by minute. At one point in the day I remember leaving the classroom to simply step outside and say a prayer. Even still, it didn’t let up.The juggling act continued. The patience continued to be tried. Soon enough, the dismissal bell rang as my students shuffled out of the classroom. Those sweet six and seven year olds left and I was left with feelings of tiredness. I can only imagine what they left with.

The lack of structure continued even through this afternoon’s dismissal procedure: car duty. In order to organize our car riders, we have painted colored squares on the ground for students to stand and wait while their car pulls up to the called color. I normally stand on the green square. Today, we were missing teachers to help with car duty, so I moved down to the red square. (See? The unstructured/unplanned events were my theme for today ;))

As kids who knew me on the green square came to stand on the red square, they simply exclaimed, “HEY! You’re supposed to be on the green square! Why are you here on the red square??”

Granted, at this point, I had exhausted all energy and was barely hanging on empty. I’m not entirely sure if I even gave a response! But God.

In Christianity, God calls us from our sin into His grace. He doesn’t want us to stay stuck in one place because of our sin. I had stood on that green square for the last year and a half without missing a beat. Today, as I stood on the red square, I recognized that God wants to take His children to a deeper love and affection for Him, while recognizing His deep love and affection for us. How incredible is that!

And sometimes and all the time, satan will attempt to take the Christian down by taunting and shouting, “HEY! You’re supposed to be the person you were! Who do you think you are?”

And to that, we can firmly and faithfully respond with the message of the Gospel.

As I was reflecting on a few things today, I gathered up the fact that the older I get, the more I am seeing God’s hand intertwined into all the pieces of my life. And, it is such a beautiful and awe-inspiring journey. If we open our eyes and put on the lens God has for us, we’ll be delightfully surprised, even in the unstructured chaos and physical tiredness.

And, how fitting that I stood on the red square.

Until next time!

PALMER BEAR BOLT!

https://funrun.boosterthon.com/a/s/TCF66kvt

Hi everyone! Our school is hosting a FunRun next Friday, February 3. We are raising funds to purchase technology for our classrooms. I am also raising money and running with my kiddos. If you have any spare change, please donate it to a worthy cause! We would sincerely appreciate it! AND! If all our second grade classrooms reach a pledge of $100 a lap in total, they get to pie the second grade teachers in the face. YES. IT’S TRUE. So, please do it for the kiddos!!

And, if you can- please share this! The more people know, the higher chances we have of meeting our goal!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

“You learned that so quickly! You’re so smart!”
“Look at that drawing, Martha, is he the next Picasso or what?”
“You’re so brilliant, you got an A without even studying!” -pg. 174, Mindset, the New Psychology of Success by Dr. Dweck.

How many of us have uttered these words to our students/our own children?

In last Tuesday’s post, I wrote on how our words have power to bring life or death.

As a staff we have been discussing the importance of having a growth mindset, instead of a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is defined as the viewpoint of believing people’s traits are simply “fixed.” They are the way they are because of certain traits they’re born with and there’s no way up. On the flip side, a growth mindset flips that completely upside down. This certain mindset exemplifies the idea that people can indeed grow intellectually and in other areas of their life.

I share this because as teachers, we may have that one or two children who are deemed as the “problem child.” A couple of litmus test questions to ask are:

1. Do we view that child with a fixed or growth mindset?
2. Have I attempted to develop a relationship with this student?

These two questions are extremely important since these will make or break our perception of this child. And, as we all know, a child will often only live up to the perception that has been placed upon them. In order to think of the child’s assets identify areas of strength. Are they knowledgeable about a particular topic? Find a way to bring that into your classroom. Are they able to solve problems quickly? Create an avenue for them to become someone who can have a role as a “tutor” in your classroom. The possibilities are endless.

Going back to the statements that were said earlier, it is easy to see how they aren’t harmful. At the same time, these statements are received by children in a completely different manner.

The child hears,
“If I don’t learn something quickly, I’m not smart.”
“I shouldn’t try drawing anything hard or they’ll see I’m no Picasso.”
“I’d better quit studying or they won’t think I’m brilliant.” – pg. 175, Mindset

Wild, isn’t it?

So, what do we do?

We can praise them as much as we want for the growth-oriented process- what they accomplished through practice, study, persistence, and good strategies. And we can ask them about their work in a way that admires and appreciate their efforts and choices.” – p. 177, Mindset

I’ll be honest.A lot of my students crave approval, and it is sometimes difficult to always respond in a “growth mindset” manner. Recently, I’ve had to take a second and mentally switch on my growth mindset talk. It’s not easy. It’s what I’ve grown up with through my many years of schooling and teaching, until now. At the same time, it’s time for a change in mindset.

Simply put- identify and discuss the process, with less emphasis on the product.

Until next time!

Be a Lion Chaser.

As I was reflecting on this weekend, I giggled to myself because I had asked my track group if it would be cheesy to read the “Lion Chaser Manifesto” together, and sure enough they all replied with, “Yes. Definitely. It would really be cheesy if we did that.” And what does the teacher in me do? Well, the cheesier it is, the better! Sure enough, a few seconds later, we were reciting one of my favorite mantras I’ve ever come across. (Thank you, guys! Y’all are so gracious!)

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I keep reading and rereading this manifesto. It’s beautifully written and stems from the idea that the passions we have in our hearts have been placed there by God. This book was written by Mark Batterson in hopes of inspiring individuals to live out their God-given dreams. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

“On a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.” 2 Samuel 23:20

If you find yourself in a pit with a lion on a snowy day, you’ve got a problem. Probably the last problem you’ll ever have! But you’ve got to admit, “I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day” looks awfully impressive on your résumé, especially if you’re applying for a bodyguard position with the king of Israel. Benaiah not only landed his dream job as King David’s bodyguard, but his life exceeded his wildest dreams. Benaiah climbed the military chain of command all the way to the top, becoming commander in chief of Israel’s army. The lion chaser became the most powerful person in the kingdom of Israel, save the king. But the genealogy of his dream traces back to a fight-or-flight moment. One decision determined his destiny. And not much has changed in the three millennia since then. You can run away from what you are afraid of, but you’ll be running the rest of your life. It’s time to face your fears, take a flying leap of faith, and chase the lion!

As I entered into this year, I pressed into prayer more and was asking the Lord to allow me to dream big for Him and His Kingdom. Prior to this, I had been caught up with my own desires to do great things, but through the past few months God has been changing my mindset towards dreams that align with His.

I don’t quite know what triggered the season of dreaming. It may be that as I get older, I’m starting to realize that Jesus and people are what truly matter. It might be the fact that God willing, I’ll be done with school and graduated by the end of this summer. Whatever the case may be, I have dreams. And so do you.

As we get older, it may be easy to neglect those dreams and think nothing of them. This may be due to a variety of factors. Maybe my sharing of my current season of dreaming  will allow you to create some room in your heart and mind to reflect about dreams that have been tucked away into the back of our minds.

We are often concerned about being a good steward of our time, our finances, our [fill in the blank.] At the same time, we must ask ourselves if we are being good stewards of our dreams.

On the same note, it is important to relay the fact that accomplishing a dream isn’t something that necessarily makes the news or turns viral. In fact, some dreams can be accomplished without a single soul, except yourself, knowing! Wild! I know. 😉

So, what will you do? Will you chase the lion?

Squad Goals? Or nah.

She was simply misled and surrounded by company that was influencing her in a negative way. I would catch myself during recess correcting the way she was talking to and treating others. At the same time, I would always be left wondering why this behavior was so different in our classroom. She was as sweet as could be. These friends out on the playground would almost immediately change her behavior at the sound of the recess whistle- when the children were allowed to go and run around.

I remember having a conversation with her about the company she was keeping. I pulled her to the side and explained that the things these second grader girls were discussing were not ideas that should be discussed at their age and definitely not at school. For a moment she looked at me in a baffled manner. As the days passed, I still saw her hanging with the same group of girls.

After some time, I completely forgot about the previous incidents. Then, out of nowhere, I saw her with a different group of girls jumping rope. She immediately called out to me and simply states, “See Ms. Abraham! I found some new friends!!” And that was that. Nothing more, nothing less. But, it was so much more.

I share this story because it’s easy to get caught up in the things we know we shouldn’t be doing from the gossiping to the bringing others down to fill in the __________. Along with this, we may be in a place where we have become so numb and desensitized to the reality of the situation. At the same time, I also shared this story because it reminded me of how powerful the words of a trusted person can be.

To me, I am simply her teacher. But, over time, the words I suggested to her took root and held steadfast in her heart. To the teachers and others alike, your words matter. Words have the power to bring life or death.

With that being said, has someone been trying to speak truth into your life? Identify your heart posture. Are you receiving what they are saying? If not, why not?

Psalm 1: 1-4

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Through Cristy’s Lens

Simply put– I wanted to highlight great talent within the group of people I get to meet through my lifetime. Today’s Thursday highlights include Cristy Angulo and her photography business. At the bottom of this Q&A session, I’ve included examples of her work along with links to her website! Thank you Cristy for letting me pick your brain! 🙂

Tell us a little about you!

My name’s Cristy and I’m a twenty-something photographer in Dallas, married to my best friend. I’m a daydreamer full of wanderlust. I love going to the movies and getting lost in a story, whether that’s in a new book or a binge-worthy TV series. I’m a proud Gryffindor. I want to Chip & Jo a house someday.

How did you get started in photography?  

As far as I can remember, my interest in photography began when I was a kid. I loved buying disposable cameras and photographing school field trips. I liked photos because of the memories it saved. In high school, I took a photojournalism class and worked my way up to being the photo editor of our yearbook. Those years made me realize I wanted to make a career out of photography, some way. I pursued photojournalism in college and earned my degree from UNT. While there, I discovered that documenting families and owning my own business was what I wanted to do.

Why do you love photography?

So many reasons! As a career, being a photographer gives me the flexibility in my schedule to travel and to be creative. I like to lead, so being my own boss is ideal for me. I’m also a pretty sappy and emotional person and the type of work I do places me into some of the most intimate moments in people’s lives. Becoming a family and growing a family are the two huge life milestones I photograph the most and my work preserves my client’s family history. There’s a lot of pressure there, and I think because I’m a sensitive person, I’m intentional in how I document these moments. My goal every single time is to blow them away with their photos. The best feeling ever is getting positive feedback after delivering images, because not only have I made a client happy, I know that someday their grandchildren might see these photos and become more connected to their family because of them. I treasure my own family heirlooms and knowing that I have a small part in fostering happy memories for other families is rewarding for me.

If you had a dream photo session to do, where would it be and why?

My dream photo session would allow me to travel. I got to photograph a fun couple in Hawaii last summer and that was incredible!There are so many stunning parts of the world to see and photograph. I can’t get enough of traveling so any opportunities that would send me to Europe or just anywhere with the ocean or mountains would be a dream come true!

How long have you been a photographer? What sort of work do you specialize in?

I’ve been photographing weddings and portraits since 2010, but opened my business officially in early 2014 when I quit my day job for my day dream. 🙂 I operate my small business full time and specialize in wedding and motherhood photography. To be exact, that includes engagements, weddings, anniversaries, maternity and lifestyle newborns. I describe my style as documentary or lifestyle because I aim for my work to be as authentic as possible. Even for portrait sessions, I encourage silliness and laughter, and while I may create a scenario, I’m actively working to capture real emotion.

And dare I say, she definitely does. The following photos display and evoke ALL the emotions. I will neither deny nor confirm whether or not a few tears were shed. Check out her work

Don’t Forget the “Why”

Whenever I have talked to people about teaching, there are many emotions that tend to stir up. These emotions range from “Aww, how sweet!” to anger about the current situation of education in America and local happenings. You have the exciting and sweet moments and then, you have the moments of frustration because of the discouraging pieces that are often attached to education. As I was teaching today, I loved every moment. Everything went so well. Everything. And, that was simply it. That was my day.

Truth be told. It all traces back to the 18 kids whom I have the honor of teaching each day.

Sure. You’ll have your occasional mess-ups and tears, but we, as adults, have those moments as well. At the same time, you have the moments when a child raises their hand only to simply come and give you a big bear hug to the moment where you receive a note from a student that says, “Thank you for teaching me.” You also get to experience the very funny moments. Just today, I had a kid raise his hand and say,

“Ms. Abraham. I have to P O O P.”

Yep. He spelled it out. It took everything in me not to bust out laughing.

These are the moments that allow me to remember the why.

So, when the moments of the frustration come and when the moments of anger come in this career, don’t forget the “why.”They are the reason and the only reason why we teach.

Even when the moments of frustration come….

Even when the educational system is scrutinized…

Even when your day is a really tough one..

Don’t forget the why. No matter your job, remember what brought you there in the first place. Keep your eyes fixed and focused.

Regardless of the grade administered by the state, you must remember the why. The kids are the why and that will never, ever change.