When the students are gone…

The end of the year is finally here.

I can tell you, this has been quite the interesting introduction to teaching. I can also tell you that there were days when it felt like the end could not come fast enough. I’ve written to you guys about the dread I felt on day 1 at the idea of facing the 179 subsequent days that would follow. But I made it. I survived year one.

Today is the last day of school, and it’s bittersweet. Since five out of my six classes were seniors, tonight’s graduation marks the last time I will see many of these faces. For them, it’s a beginning–there is so much that they have to look forward to, so many parts of their lives waiting to unfold before them. I admire the potential that lies stretched in front of those young adults. They face a future of possibility. I could not be more happy for them.

Over the course of this year, I’ve come to know many of these kids. I can tell you that there are some I will be glad to see go. I can tell you there are some I am sad to see leave. And I can honestly say that they have all made an impact in my life.

You see, I’ve learned a lot this year. I would argue I learned more from them than they learned from me. They reminded me what it is to be a teenager. They showed me that people will surprise you when you let them. And they prepared me for next year so that I have some inkling of what’s to come.

In honor of my first students, at the end of this, my first year of teaching, I wanted to take a moment to express gratitude for all the lessons learned in my classroom this year, both by my students and myself.

Congratulations, Class of 2019. Now go out and change the world!

—Cheylyn

#summergoals: Self Care Through Goal Setting

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels.com

I cannot tell you how ready I am for summer.

The past few weeks have been rough. Our district is going through a lot of changes right now, and because of this transition period, many of us have been under a lot of strain. Because of this, the end of the year just cannot come fast enough. At this point, I don’t know who is more excited for the break…me or my seniors.

As I prepare for the summer months ahead, there are two things on my mind. One is all of the books I’m going to be able to read. And the other is just having time to spend with my kiddo and take care of myself.

For me, self care is one of the first things that goes out the window when I’m stressed. Why? Because for some reason, I’ve decided I’m the lowest priority on my list. Which I recognize is unhealthy. I also recognize I’m not the only one that does this. Educators, and women especially, tend to throw their all into what the people around them need, and by the time we get to ourselves, we just don’t have the energy to do anything other than zone out in front of the television, binge watching Game of Thrones while shoveling popcorn into our faces.

So, I’m sharing my list of a few things I plan on implementing this summer that I hope will become habits by the time next year starts. That way, self care is embedded in my routine, and will no longer feel like something extra that is taking time away from my obligations. By setting these habits up during the summer, when I have the time to devote attention to them, I am giving myself the space to see what works and what doesn’t, and how I can incorporate them into a busy schedule.


Meal Prep

You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, friends, when I eat like crap, I feel like crap. And, with the convenience of fast food and a lack of time in the morning (because of that always enticing snooze button), I eat out way too much.

My plan this summer is to put together a menu of affordable, healthy, easy-to-assemble meals that I can prep on Sundays for the week ahead. I do so much better when I have something in the fridge that I can just grab and go, so when I began thinking of the ways I can start taking care of myself, meal prep immediately came to mind.

Update My Wardrobe

I came into this profession after two years of being a stay at home mom, so much of my closet was taken up with yoga pants, t-shirts, and sports bras. Not exactly professional. I bought a few necessities at the outset, but overall, I just haven’t been in love with my work clothes. And this bugs me.

So this summer, my goal is to stock up little by little, finding those key pieces I can’t live without, inspired by the pins I have socked away on Pinterest over the course of the past year. If you’ve read my “Ethical Fashion on a Budget” post, you know I love a good thrift store, but I’m also thinking about trying Stitch Fix, which has some ethical brands available and delivers right to your door. If I try them out, I’ll be sure to leave a review, in case any of our followers are interested 🙂

Hair Care

My poor hair is one of the first things to suffer when I’m crunched for time. I am the queen of the bun, and while I doubt that will change (I can’t stand my hair in my face) I’m making an effort to be more aware of the damage I’m doing to my hair.

A couple of things I hope to implement in my quest for healthier hair:

  • I’ve heard really good things about Sugar Bear vitamins, and I’m hoping to add them to my beauty routine this summer.
  • And, I would like to reincorporate a weekly hair mask, which I’ve used in the past and had great results with.

My advice is to do research, find what’s best for your hair type, and begin taking care of those locks! Because if you’re anything like me, when my hair feels good, I feel good!

Reinvest Time in my Hobbies

My extra time goes toward cleaning my house and spending time with my family. Which means other things fall by the wayside.

Outside of this blog, I’ve barely written since the beginning of the school year. I have so many books on my to-read list, it’s insane. And there is a brand new pack of watercolor paints sitting unopened at home, along with an unmarred sketchbook.

These are things that I use for my own personal fulfillment. I’m a cerebral person, and when I’m not engaged in activities that challenge me or make me think, I find myself feeling unfulfilled. So this summer, I’m taking back my hobby time! Look out world!

J.’s Time is Sacred Time

I pick J. up from daycare and drive home. We get home, get a snack, and the television is turned on. She alternately runs around, eats, and watches television until bath time. Then it’s off to bed. This is our routine. Every day. Then weekends are spent running errands, cleaning, and relaxing before returning to the grind.

One of the first things to go when I went back to work was playtime with J. Before, our television was on for a very small fraction of the time. We played, we learned, we spent quality time. Now, I’m just focused on keeping her alive and relatively healthy, all while trying to stay sane.

This may seem an odd goal for a self care article, but feeling good in my role as mother is essential to my well being. Am I saying I have to be a perfect mom to be fulfilled as a woman? Absolutely not. There is no such thing as a perfect mother. But, when I feel off with J. I feel off in life. And I’m not happy with the fact that I rarely play with my daughter anymore. So, one of my goals this summer is to set everything aside, even if it’s only 30 minutes a day, and play with my baby girl.


As educators, we have so much on our plates. We have state standards, high stakes testing, grades, lesson plans. We have the well-being of hundreds of kids who are not our own resting on our shoulders. We have our own kids. Our own lives…We have A LOT. And in all of this madness, we often push ourselves to the side.

At the end of the day, you have to make yourself a priority. And with the long days of summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to focus on yourself. Set goals that focus on getting back on track. That help you to recharge and reboot before another school year begins. Take advantage of this time to feel good about yourself. Because you deserve it.

–Chéylyn

Teacher, you’re my hero.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is one of my favorite weeks as an educator (despite it also being testing week for high school.) It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! A time when administrators and students and parents take time from their busy schedules to show love to my favorite people in the world–teachers. For one week, you are showered with words and cards and gifts, reflecting the work you’ve been doing all year. I know this job can sometimes be difficult and–more often than not–thankless, but that’s okay. Because you don’t do it for the “thanks.” And heaven knows, you certainly don’t do it for the money.

You do it for the kids.

You teach to inspire our youth and open their minds to new learning and growth. Daily, you give them mirrors, you give them windows, and you give them doors. For that, we are incredibly thankful.

This week, I asked my students to write one card to a teacher that has impacted them. And what I noticed was awesome. Students couldn’t write just one card. They came to me over and over again to get another card for another teacher…and another…and another. They asked me if they could write to teachers they had in younger grades too. It was immediately evident that teachers’ impacts lasted far beyond a single year or campus. I watched as thank you notes piled on my desk, thanking teachers for loving them when it seemed like no one else did, praising teachers for always going above and beyond for them. Not once on those cards did I see, “Thanks for teaching me math.” And nowhere did a kid say, “Thanks for teaching me English.” No. Every card revealed the real impact of teachers. Not their ability to teach the subject, but their ability to teach the student. That’s all our kiddos need from us, really. Connection. They want to know that we value them, that we see them, that we love them.

So teachers, thank you for that.

Thank you for coming early and staying late and spending your much-needed summer vacation in professional development to ensure our students have the tools they need for success.

Thank you for learning everything you can about basketball or robots or dinosaurs or hog dogs or the Vampire Diaries because you know your kiddos enjoy those things.

Thank you for giving up hours with your own family to dedicate yourself to someone else’s kid.

Thank you for smiling when you want to cry.

Thank you for reflecting on your lessons so you can be better for next year’s students…. and the next year’s.

Thank you for listening to students who have never been able to share their voice before.

Thank you for keeping drawers of snacks and food because you know some will not eat after 3:30.

Thank you for cleaning up messes you didn’t make because you want that lesson to be more memorable than any other.

Thank you for keeping a closet of hygiene products in case a student didn’t have running water that morning…or that year.

Thank you for covering for your teaching sister so she could go to her child’s school program.

Thank you for listening to parents as their anger at the world sometimes lands on your shoulders.

Thank you for sitting in the stands and cheering on your students as they succeed on the field, especially when their own families couldn’t make it.

Thank you for comforting a group of students after losing a classmate in an extremely tragic way.

Thank you for keeping a box of pencils (that you have to refill every semester) because some students are more worried about how they will sleep with all the fighting in their home than how they will write at school.

Thank you for sharing in your student’s pain as they relive the death of a loved one.

Thank you for spending your hard-earned money so that your students could have new books or candy or incentives.

Thank you for going above and beyond your contract duties and hours to make sure your students are ready for the next day…. year….life.

Thank you for the tears you’ve shed over the joys and pains of teaching.

Thank you for the worry you carry as students leave you for summer.

Thank you for doing what’s right instead of what is popular.

Thank you for loving the lovable and the unlovable.

Thank you for being someone’s hero.

–Bridget

First Year Teacher? I’m talking to you.

Before starting year one, I see-sawed back and forth on the idea of becoming an educator. On the one hand, I loved the idea of having a job where I could make a true difference. Where I could change someone’s life through education. I know this sounds idealistic, but I relished the opportunity to have a space to affect change, no matter how small, rather than working in a mindless 9-5.

On the other hand, I spent a semester of grad school teaching developmental English to college freshmen and I hated it. Of course, I spent half the semester displaced with no classroom, working another part time job and writing my thesis. I had a 30 minute commute to the university, one way. I was stressed to the max and had no time to prepare my lessons. All of this could have contributed to my distaste for the profession, but just in case I loathed it for another reason, I teetered on the brink of decision. For a long time, when people asked me if I was getting a degree in English so that I could teach, I rebelled against the idea.

There are several events that finally led to my stepping into the classroom. I won’t bore you with them, but they spurred me into a desperate action that resulted in obtaining my teaching certification.

I walked in on my first day as an idealistic dreamer . I thought I had a relatively accurate view of young adults and what we could accomplish in class, but after that first week…nay, that first day…I knew I had been viewing everything through rose colored glasses.

I came home after my first day knowing that I had made a mistake. I knew it to my core. I counted the days left in my head, and the distance between that first day and the end of the year seemed insurmountable.

Then I got to know my kids. I realized teaching was something I was a natural at. I readjusted my expectations and had small successes. I grew comfortable in my role as educator.

That’s not to say that this year has been perfect. My first novel unit was a disaster. The end of my first semester left me seething as students railed against the grades I was giving them, even though those grades were justified. I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with my seventh period that left me shaking. I can count on one hand the number of times I have stood in front of the classroom for the last eight weeks. I have graded with more grace than I probably should have, trying to compensate for my own lack of knowledge, despite knowing that this is crippling my students.

I say all of this because there is one thing I’ve noticed about life. People tend to sugarcoat their experiences, highlighting only the good and leaving out the bad. Or they sit in their misery and refuse to acknowledge all of the positive things that have come out of their situation.

I experienced this after having my first baby, blood boiling because no one told me all of the hardships that come along with adding a new member to your family (outside of the obvious demands of a newborn). I experienced it when I began taking care of my body, with friends who tried to guilt me because they couldn’t (wouldn’t) carve out time in their own lives to do the same. And I experienced it when I went through my teacher training program, trained to deal with a perfect world scenario rather than reality.

People rarely give you the whole picture, and it’s frustrating.

Year one has been a mix of good and bad. I have had moments of euphoria and I have had days that have left me in tears. I have reached some students while some will always have that brick wall I can’t break through. I have sparked creativity in some, while others could not think out of the box. I have been thanked for being considerate, while others critique me no matter how far I bend.

Teaching is not perfect. Teaching is hard, because we deal with hormonal human beings on a daily basis and that creates an environment of unpredictability. Teaching means choosing between family time and grading, taking a lunch or planning a lesson. Teaching means getting thrown into subsequent roles you aren’t qualified/prepared for, and having to figure it out. Teaching is having to cover for a coworker, when you really need that conference period to work.

Teaching also means inspiring students. Teaching means saying the right thing to the right person and watching their eyes light up. Teaching means showing your passion for your subject so that your students can see something they hadn’t realized was there. Teaching means preparing students for the next phase in their lives. Teaching means making a difference in a system that seems to suffocate your efforts.

To any first year teacher who may be reading this, I want you to know that I see your struggle. And I have some advice for you.

Know your kids

Know that your kids are human. They have problems at home, they’re over-committed to extra-curricular activities, they work at least one job, they haven’t always had consistency in their education. They are just as tired and stressed out as we are.

Does this mean we should allow excuses? No. But I do think that students appreciate it when we recognize that our class isn’t their only commitment. Respect their schedules. Respect them as people. Bend when necessary and remain firm when they need it.

Don’t over-commit

You are going to feel like you’re drowning this year. Between navigating a new profession, planning lessons, grading assignments, and just trying to maintain a hold on your sanity, you are going to have a lot to juggle. Respect your limitations.

If you let people abuse your willingness to please, you are going to end up overworked and burning out by year three. So say yes to the things you feel you can’t live without, and politely decline the rest.

Leave it on your desk

There are going to be times you have to grade at home. That’s inevitable. There are times when you have to plan a last minute lesson. As educators, we can’t always leave work at work. As an English teacher, this seems to be even harder to do. After all, we are told students should be writing every day, right?

But if you’re getting to school at six and working until eight every day? Take a step back. If you are wasting your weekends grading? Stop it. Talk to your team, or send a message/Tweet out to your PLN and get some advice on strategies you can adopt to lessen your workload. Find what works for you.

Leave it on your desk. This is, at the end of the day, just a job.

You don’t have to take all of the advice given to you

Some of the advice I’ve been given this year by veteran teachers has been fantastic. My team has helped me so much, and I know I can always go to them for help when I have a problem.

But.

Some of their advice has just not worked for me. I tried implementing strategies during my first week that felt foreign and counter-intuitive. And you know what? I dropped those strategies early on because they weren’t working. They were tailored for personalities drastically different from my own, and I couldn’t bring myself to consistently implement them. And that’s okay.

You don’t have to follow all of the advice you have received. Find what works for you and stay with it. But if it doesn’t work? Drop it and find something that does.

Show your students how to fail gracefully

Guess what. You’re going to fail at something during your first year. It might be one something. It might be multiple somethings. But you. will. fail.

During that first semester, I had housekeeping meetings fairly regularly. I would tell my students if something wasn’t working and we needed to fix it. I would recognize my own mistakes.

I would admit that I was human.

I created a dialogue about our learning and showed them that education is messy. I showed them I wasn’t afraid to mess up. I showed them I could also succeed. And my biggest hope is that they absorbed some of those lessons, so that they won’t be afraid of failure in their own lives.


Wow, this post is long. I just scrolled back through and realized there are A LOT of words here. But I wanted to speak on this subject because I felt that I couldn’t find anyone being real about teaching as I was coming in to the profession. So I wanted to give you my thoughts, share what I’ve learned, and to tell you this:

This is going to be hard. You’re either going to love it or hate it. You will fail, and you will shine. But at the end of the day, your job is about the kids in your room who need someone to believe in them, someone to push them. And you need to believe in yourself. You can do this. When you feel like you can’t, reevaluate. Be honest with yourself. And if you need a friend to talk you through, send me your thoughts and I’ll be that person. Don’t be afraid to fail, but don’t be afraid to succeed either. You got this.

Student Guest Post: The Hazards of Labeling Children

What exactly is meant by the phrase “labeling children”? To label a child is to say that a child that has a history of behavioral issues is “bad.” You can also label a child as “good”, “athletic”, “shy”, etc. Labeling is such a harmful thing when a child is constantly hearing how bad they are, they begin to feel that everything they do is bad and bad is all that they will ever be. On the flip side, in some situations, labeling a child while speaking to another teacher or adult can be helpful in getting that child the help they need. Children are often labeled to help teachers and parents make sense of the child’s behavior. (thebump.com)  When teachers and parents label children, they make it difficult to show the child empathy. By labeling a strong willed child as “troublemaker” the child is assigned a personality trait instead of the adult trying to relate to the child’s struggle.

I chose this topic because as a student that is also working in the education system, I see both sides of the topic. As a student, I see how labels limit us and what we feel like we are able to accomplish. As an educator, I see how easy it is to write a student off as “bad,” or “a lost cause” because after so long, it becomes extremely difficult to help these kids see the potential they have.

Teachers are not the only ones causing harm by labeling. Many times children are bullied by their peers by being labeled with terms such as “weird”, and “dumb.” As of 2010, there were approximately 160,000 children that miss school everyday in fear of being bullied (psychologytoday.com). Labeling can very well be a form of bullying. Parents are also guilty of labeling their children. Many times, a parent with multiple children will label one as “the athlete”, another as “the musician”, or “the golden child”. Labels like that may be harmful to the children because the child labeled as “the athlete” may want to try playing an instrument, but there is already a “musician” in the family. Labels in the home can cause fighting and chaos.

Children are more than just a statistic. Many children are already looked at as just another number or statistic (empoweringparents.com).  Labeling them makes them think a label or a statistic is all that they will ever become.

The most common phrase heard around schools and at home is “Oh, they are just a bad kid.” It’s not that these kids are “bad”. Not all children have families that can afford to live in a nice house, have new clothes, and all of the latest technology. There are children in local classrooms who do not get to eat three meals a day. Children who have learned not to be afraid of the dark because most of the time, the lights at home will not turn on. There are children in local classrooms who live in homes full of anger, abuse, and chaos. These children do not always have perfect manners. They are not always taught the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. These children come to school and act out seeking the slightest bit of attention, hoping that someone, anyone, will notice them and notice that something is wrong. They act out and are soon wrote off as “bad,” or “a lost cause” and they begin to think that is all they ever will be.

There is a solution to the problem of labeling these children. All they want is to feel the love from a mother or father figure, to feel the slightest bit of peace, but in school and at home, they are told how bad, worthless, and insignificant they are. As they grow older, they believe it, and begin to act out more and more, eventually becoming extremely angry and violent themselves. It is not that the child is bad, they just need someone to be willing to love them and teach them.



Kiersten Edmonds is a senior at Silsbee High School, as well as a high school helper in a local kindergarten class. She is passionate about youth ministry and teaching Sunday School. Kiersten loves to read, write, and travel and hopes to start doing more of it! She will start her first semester at Lamar University to get her bachelors in elementary education this coming fall! 

Activist Projects: The Finale

It finally happened…Our Activist Project unit has come to an end. And it was bittersweet.

Some said the time came too soon. Some said not fast enough (I guess you can’t please everyone). But ultimately, the projects are in, the scores have been entered, and I feel like I have some things to say.

My advice is to focus on what YOU care about. Don’t let anyone pressure you to pick something more/less controversial, artistic, practical, etc. This is one of the only high school projects you will do that is truly creative and personal.

–Ziah

First, I want to level with you. I have felt like I don’t know what I’m doing all year. That’s right. I’m admitting it. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants, hoping that students at least learn one thing from me this year…though I don’t really know what that one thing would be…trying to keep my head above water and figure out this job, along with how it now fits into my life.

The reason I say this is because, as awesome as this project sounded on paper, and as much as I may have sounded like I knew what I was talking about, I didn’t really know what I wanted these to look like. I didn’t know where to set my expectations. I didn’t provide a rubric because I didn’t know exactly what should be on it. I needed students to take my guidelines and run with them because I wasn’t exactly sure what the outcome should be.

We were assigned this project and I uncovered a fire I didn’t know was there. So, just give the project a chance. Go out on a limb and think about things you never have before.

–Kiersten

Sure, I knew what I wanted them to learn. I wanted them to practice research, to think critically, to be creative, and to become (if they weren’t already) socially conscious. But as far as how the final product should look? Nope. Had no idea.

Which means I got some less than stellar projects. I’m not going to sugar coat that. Some of the things that were turned in were, despite the 6 week timeline, done last minute with little to no effort. I take partial blame. Sure, I would have received these types of projects no matter how boss my rubric was, or how specific my vision. But, I can accept that some of it may have been that I was figuring this process out just as much as my students were.

I think that by giving us students the choice to pick what we want to represent made this project a lot better.

–Darian

I think teaching your first year is a lot like raising your first child. It’s a baptism by fire and you learn A LOT through trial and error.

On the flip side, I also received some truly amazing work. For the same reason that some of my students struggled, some of them soared. The lack of restriction and specificity allowed them to be creative and to really explore their project in ways that wouldn’t have happened if I had restricted them too much.

I had Ziah who, I kid you not, planned an entire curriculum because, through her own experience, she has been let down by the structure of public high school education and she saw a better way to do things.

I had Kiersten, who was so passionate about the hazards of labeling primary students that she wrote a paper which will be featured here on beyond the bell.

I had Krystyn, Zion, Nadia, and Taylor who had the courage to speak against sexual violence and who will be offering their presentation to our principal for approval in an effort to be able to speak to their peers about this important issue.

I had Ashlyn who moved me to tears with a video on the impacts of single mother households on their children. Through an interview, she was able to give her own mother a place to speak her wisdom after raising her daughter on her own.

I genuinely enjoyed the activist project. It’s an opportunity to bring awareness to very serious topics and I believe getting youth involved is a vital key in keeping many of these issues in the spotlight.

–Autumn

Guys. This isn’t even all of them.

I think there is a lesson to be learned here. Maybe two.

First, I learned, through what my students turned in, what I was hoping for and what I wasn’t. This is invaluable as I rebuild the project for next year’s students. I know I was not properly prepared for this project, and I learned that sometimes we just suck as educators. And that’s okay. Because through failure (though I hesitate to use that word) we learn. And if I and my students have learned something from the way I approach teaching, it’s that learning is a messy, complicated, process. A process where sometimes I succeed for them and sometimes I fail them.

Since we got to choose our own topics we discovered things we are passionate about.

–Samantha

But I also learned that students will rise to the occasion. When we take a step back and give them the space to “do them” the results can be spectacular. When we relinquish control and allow them to be passionate about something, they will (notice I said will, not may) surprise us. And I think operating within a space of less restriction is so beneficial in preparing them for life.

I hope you find the courage to provide your students this kind of space. Albeit, I hope you come at this more knowledgeable and more prepared than I did, but I truly hope you find the time and the space to let your students take charge of their learning. As you end this school year and prepare for the next, I hope you make this a priority. Because I truly believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Fear: The Dream’s Greatest Opponent

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately.

At this point in a person’s life (i.e. anyone in their thirties), it’s easy to look back on what you’ve accomplished and ask “what if?” What if I had thrown caution to the wind and tried law school? What if I had chosen a different college? What if I had had kids sooner? Or later? What if I hadn’t let money dictate various decisions? What if I had written that book?

Don’t get me wrong; I love the life I have! And I am proud of what I have accomplished. But, I can definitely look back and see moments when I let fear govern my decisions. Fear of failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of retribution. Fear of disappointment.

What if fear hadn’t gotten in the way?

A cautious person by nature, I have often settled on things simply because there was less risk involved. Less chance for heartache or failure. Sure, the payoff wasn’t that great and the adventure was limited, but I wasn’t left burned and scarred either. My argument was, “Hey! No big. I can live with it.” So, I kept my opinions to myself. I let opportunities drift by. I chose the safe choice. I did my dead-level best to please people more than myself–sanity be damned.

And, truth be told, I got awfully tired of that.

As I move forward in my life, I find myself being more willing to take the plunge. (After dipping a toe in first, of course.) I find I am less willing to tolerate ignorance and indifference and more likely to grab life by its metaphorical testicles. I am less afraid to speak my truth to those around me. I am seeing life with new eyes–a life full of chances to be taken rather than potholes and pitfalls to be avoided. And you know what? I am surviving.

Better yet, I am thriving.

I am desperately trying to pursue life rather than merely let life happen to me. I am in charge of my own destiny, and I have to quit letting fear be the crutch on which I lean. Trust me, it’s not easy for me. I have to wake up every day and make a choice to be brave when it would be easier to let fear dictate every decision I make. Fear is my greatest opponent. And she is always a worthy adversary.

For me, this blog is a spit in the face of fear. For so long, I have been terrified to put my writing out into the world. Fear of failure. Fear that people may not like what I have to say. Fear that people may not think I am a “good enough” writer. Fear that people will be offended by certain beliefs I may have. But, I realized that fear had completely handicapped me from pursuing something I have always dreamed of doing–spreading the great and wonderful news of education, empowering teachers in this profession, creating a space for professional learning, challenging educators to stand strong in the face of almost insurmountable odds. I am proud to say that in this battle, fear has lost.

So what battle are you fighting? What fear are you carrying around with you that is suffocating your greatness? What opportunity have you refused in order to stay safe from disappointment and failure?

How can you overcome this fear?

Be okay with failure

The first step to overcoming this fear is being humble enough to know you will fail in this life. I will say that again. YOU. WILL. FAIL. Sometimes, you will fall smack on your face. If you’re me, it will most likely be in front of a large crowd. But you know what? That’s okay. There’s freedom in that knowledge. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. So what if no one reads your blog? So what if you don’t win the award? So what if you don’t get the job? So what? Get back up and try again. And again. And again. Each time, you’ll learn something new! You can’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying.

Know that success is possible

Sure. Sometimes you will fail. But other times, you will fly. Be confident that you know what is right for you and your happiness, and know that you are capable of things far greater than your mind can envision. Don’t allow that small voice of uncertainty to creep in and douse your flame. I know; it’s easier said than done. There will always be someone out there who is smarter or more talented or more educated. But will they work harder than you? Do they want it as badly as you do? What gifts do you have that no one else does? How can you use those gifts to stand out? Everyone has something that makes them special. Let your light shine!

You will not be everyone’s cup of tea

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that some people will simply not like you. In fact, they might even despise you. Which, I’m sure, it utterly preposterous because–of course–you’re fabulous. But if you’re like me, this is something you may struggle with. I like being liked. But, in order to be my best self, I have had to learn that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. And neither are you. You will say things that people don’t agree with. You will likely offend someone, sometimes inadvertently (sometimes not so much.) If you didn’t mean it, say you’re sorry and move on. If you’re not sorry, that’s okay too. Don’t spend your life or your joy in fear of conflict. Debate and dialogue are healthy for human growth. And, at the end of the day, you do not have to carry around someone else’s dislike of you.

Find your tribe

Without my friend, Cheylyn, I’d still be sitting around and thinking about this blog instead of writing it. Without my girlfriends, I wouldn’t take a break from the demands of my job to just chill for a minute. Without my family, I wouldn’t have grown as a wife and a mother. Without my teaching friends and my administrators and my professional learning network, I couldn’t have improved my craft as an educator. There are so many amazing people in my life that challenge and encourage me. They are my tribe. You cannot beat fear alone! Find the people who inspire and stretch you far beyond what you think you can accomplish. Find the people who allow you to grow.

Most importantly, know this:

You can do this.

Be brave, my friend. Be brave.

–Bridget