Conquer We Must

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Every action begins with a choice. It can be a great action or a horrific one that leads to tragedy. I am just having a hard time understanding why a country built on the beautiful concept of freedom is fighting to recognize that we are at war on our own soil. Or maybe we do recognize it, but we just don’t know what to do about it. I definitely fall into the latter category.

My social media is flooded with news stories about killing sprees and home invasions. It’s hard to feel safe with that. And safety is something I have always clung to and frankly taken for granted. Our safety and peace of mind continues to be threatened by violence. Shots are fired in office buildings, in schools, in movie theaters, and dance clubs. Another day at the office turned into a horror film. Public schools have turned into gory crime scenes.  Movie theaters filled with happy people eagerly eating their popcorn and candy turned into a massacre. And now a dance club slaughter. When will it stop? How will it stop?

It’s happening in innocent situations and every day occurrences.  Now it is not my main point to focus this post on gun rights, but it is a valid one that needs to be addressed by our leadership and our country. Wherever you stand on that argument there is a mother or a father, a husband or wife holding their dead loved one, or kneeling at the grave of their shot to death family member. That becomes hard to argue with.

Safety seems to be a precious commodity lately. I am tired of reading news article after news article of horror and death,  I want action. What is going to be done to ensure our safety? What is going to be done to ensure our freedom? What can we do, as civilians to get action from our government? As if the rising body count isn’t enough.

We are in a two fold war. A war where members of terrorist organizations are killing our people off and on US soil, and a war where our own people are gunning down our own American citizens.  The pattern I noticed throughout my news article perusing goes something like this: Someone wronged you? Shoot them. You don’t like how someone lives their life? Shoot them.

How is this acceptable? How is this something we are willing to put up with? I’m not condemning those of us that sit on the sidelines, I’m  asking. Because I too have settled into my warm bed, snuggled up with my sweet husband without a care in the world, and ignored the dangers our country is facing. I too have the attitude of “it hasn’t happened to me so I’m not worried.” But it could. And while I won’t be hiding under a rock, or building a bomb shelter anytime soon, I see the importance of our freedom the more it is stripped away from others.

Land of the free, because of the brave. We have so many brave men and women fighting for our freedom in and out of the country. What about us? What about those of us sitting in our homes watching Netflix, trying to tune out the chaos snaking through our country? What should our responsibility be? I ask because I don’t have the answer. Which is why I currently have tears of frustration spilling down my cheeks. I don’t want to do nothing, to grieve from afar. I don’t want to explain to my little first graders why we need to practice lockdown drills, or be wary to attend the movies with my husband, or board an airplane.

I want to live and not feel fear prickling down my neck, always taunting me to look over my shoulder. So what needs to be  done America? People seem to be getting weapons of mass destruction out of candy dispensers nowadays. Where is the accountability in that? Aside from the shootings there has been rape, robberies, and much more. It is easy to become discouraged.
If you are feeling like I have been feeling the past couple of days, you might feel low. You might feel emotional. You might feel out of sorts. It’s ok to feel the way you feel. It’s ok to be mad, enraged, fearful. Just don’t let those emotions depress or control you. Live life freely and full of joy! Let’s unite together and find a way to cure the pain we feel. These unforgivable actions are a threat to tear us apart. Let’s do the opposite. Let’s band together. Hold a door open for someone. Smile and wave when someone cuts you off. Turn and ask the person behind you in line, “How are you doing?” Acts of kindness might just be the temporary cure for the sadness and fear threatening to encroach upon each of us.

The Star Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 has four verses. Each beautiful and powerful, but the fourth verse stands out to me as an empowering invitation. It reads:

“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

I would say the invitation to conquer is a must. Don’t give up, don’t give way to fear. Let it work its way through you and then usher it out. Because our cause is just, our freedom is a triumph, and we as free men and women shall stand together. Whether you believe in God as I know Him to be, or someone or something that brings you comfort and peace, let’s stand together as a country. United we stand, divided we fall. Let’s report those who seem suspicious, let’s band together for a just cause, let’s uplift each other and mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Let’s take care of each other, as our founding fathers would have wanted. Our country needs us to, the slain need us to, I need you to.

Who Needs Who? 

Today I had a thought. Children need stable figures in their little lives. Ok, that’s obvious right? Parents, siblings, extended family members are all important figures in a child’s life.  But today I returned to my class after some sporadic … Continue reading

From the mouth of a teacher 

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Lately I have been feeling a lot of heart ache for some of the lives my littles live. All I can say is protect your children. I work in an area where stories pass through like water through a filter. There is a constant pour, and it cannot be contained, it cannot be stopped. The whispers fill the halls of children’s homes filled with neglect, abuse, contempt, drugs, and poverty.

As an educator I have 6 1/2 precious hours with my littles. I watch them enter my class each day and I earnestly search their faces for their moods, as well as any indications of how they slept the night before. I see a combination of sleep deprivation, worry, eager learners, lack of nourishment, smiling faces, and the much more.

There is, of course, the things I cannot see. The mysterious ones. Like the ones that have lost their homes and are sleeping on the floors of hotel rooms, and haven’t bathed or had their clothes washed in weeks. The littles that say they are “fine” but their eyes tell a different story. Then there are the parents that are working 3 jobs all for the welfare of their children. Most parents are just trying to do their best in this difficult world.

I am not yet a parent, and I don’t claim to know what it is like to raise children. But I am a teacher. And with that title comes the ability to see the effects of home life on each little that enters my classroom.

Twice a year I have the opportunity to meet with the parents of my littles and discuss their education and behavior. In just 15 minutes I gain insight into what their family dynamic might be like.

One parent wondered why their daughter was struggling in reading. I asked “does she do her reading homework?” The answer came back, “No, she doesn’t want to.”

Another parent was surprised to hear her student was acting out in class. When I mentioned he is often tired in class her response was, “I tell him to go to sleep, but he doesn’t want to so he just plays.”

Excuse my frankness, but 6 and 7 years old don’t dictate those choices.

From the mouth of a teacher, protect your children because so many others are missing protection and love in their life. From the mouth of a teacher, hold your children accountable for their education and their behavior. They will eventually thank you. Children need structure, expectations, and safety.  Choices are important as well, but so is firm love. If they can maintain classroom expectations why couldn’t they follow similar expectations at home?

I dream that parent and educator will work together to enable children to become their best. I dream that as a team, we could empower a strong and powerful generation of leaders. I dream that parents and teachers will be the example our littles hope to become.

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Valentine’s Heartache

Room 16 celebrated Valentine’s day on Thursday (the 11th). Our district gave us Friday (today) off because we had two 12 hour days. Those 12 hour days consisted of typical teaching followed by parent teacher conferences until 7:30 pm. Otherwise known as EXTREMELY LONG DAYS. Needless to say after the first 12 hour day I came to work the following day sporting baggy eyes and a large Dr. Pepper.

As long as those days are, I really love the time spent getting to know the parents and seeing them interact with their child. It is hard to have those difficult conversations about students that are struggling academically or behaviorally. However, it is important to have those conversations because parents can make all the difference in both academic and behavior goals.

My first grade team got together and used this RESOURCE I created to set goals for each one of our students (it’s free and it’s editable–so enjoy!). It was really neat for myself and for the parents to collaborate together to make a goal for their child. Our plan is to create a banner in the first grade hallway titled “Reach for the Stars” and every time a student reaches their goal they will get to put a star up with their goal on it!

Finally Thursday arrived, more tired than ever, I woke up early to make sure I was prepared for Valentines day. I will be honest, it was definitely not my best party, but my kids didn’t know the difference. I brought them in from outside, greeting them with my usual “good morning” accompanied by a high five, and was bombarded with Valentines galore. Some of my precious littles were so eager they wanted to start passing them out now. After several reminders of normal morning routine behavior they were all settled on the rug to begin our day.

One of my sweetest boys–Peanut– came to me in tears “Today is my last day.” I knew it was coming, but I was not prepared for it to be on the day we were celebrating love and friendship. I gave him a quick hug and told him we would make today a great last day. And we really did.  And I realized it was a perfect day to say goodbye, a day that is meant to celebrate the love we have for each the special people in our lives. Well each one of my students is a “special” person in my life.

As the day came to a close I let my kids play for about 10 minutes then I called them all to the rug. I had Peanut come to the front and we all sat in a circle and said something we loved about him. His face lit up in those moments, and I watched my students search their hearts for something unique to say about him.

The Hulk said one of my favorite comments: “I am really going to miss Peanut because he is such a good friend, but I won’t forget him. I am going to keep him close to my heart so I can play with him whenever I miss him.” Probably the sweetest thing I have ever heard.

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The last person spoke and by then Peanut was in tears. I gave him a hug and told him  and pointed to his classmates circled around him, “You will always have this classroom, your teacher, and your friends in your heart. We will always love you and whenever you feel lonely or sad just remember all of your friends in Room 16.” At this point I was tearing up, and I looked up to see several other students with red eyes and tears tracing a pathway down their cheeks.

Although it was definitely not how I planned to have my students leave my room that day (in tears), it was a tender moment that we will never forget. I walked out that day smiling because of the incredible classroom community developing in my classroom. My kids had already amazed me the previous week when we met our new friend, but to see them rally around Peanut, and express their love for him was truly a beautiful moment. I’m just happy I was there to witness it. If they leave my room with anything, I hope and pray they leave with a deep ability to love.

 

Winnie the Pooh always says it best:

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Reverse Bucket List

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I may have not done extravagant things in my life, but I have so much to be grateful for. And I am proud of my accomplishments, big or small. I figured I needed to do a blog post for my readers to help you all get to know me a little better. So I read THIS blog post about a Reverse Bucket List, after hearing someone from my church bring the concept up. I wondered what this bucket list entailed. The woman from my church began to explain it and how it related to being grateful. So I decided to try it out.

The basis of a reverse bucket list is to not dwell on what you haven’t done, but on what you HAVE done. I started brainstorming all of the accomplishments (small and big) that I have succeeded in doing during my 25 years of life. I hope this gives my readers a closer look into what makes me me, and what I am grateful for! And I hope you each create a reverse bucket list to remind you how very special and capable each one of you are!

Studies have shown that identifying what you are grateful for on a daily basis increases your happiness. And I would extend that to daily gratitude increases positive interactions with those around you.

A teacher is only part of who I am. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, a singer, a reader, an adventurer, a believer, and a strong and capable woman.

Karla’s Reverse Bucket List

  1. A church singing audition that jumpstarted my love for singing. The audition landed me my first solo/trio performance. I was more nervous than  I have ever been in my life. I was 14 and felt like I needed to do something more with my shower singing. I am so glad I did.
  2. Sang at Candlelight at Disneyland-As my singing continued I eventually joined high school concert choir, which led to chamber singers.
  3. Barbershop quartet-Joining this was on a complete whim. I was approached by my cousin and two friends from choir. They said “Can you sing high?” I stared at them, “Ya”. That was the basis of how I made 3 of my best friends in high school and started a popular women’s barbershop quartet. We later performed at two Dick Van Dyke benefit concerts (ON STAGE WITH HIM!).

4. Learned sign language- Started my sophomore year of high school and quickly picked it up. I was able to use it often after that, and still use it off and on to this day.

5. Sang at my high school graduation with my cousin

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6. Got in to BYU-Idaho for my undergrad

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7. Lived with some of the best people I know for 4 years

8. Bridge Jumped (An Idaho Thing)

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9. Taught integrated preschool as a class-recieved an award for best inclusion for a student with special needs

10. Learned to surf

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11.  Served in several church callings that required me to teach, sing, lead, and visit wonderful people

12. Sang at college graduation

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13. Placed in Utah for student teaching

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14. Hired to teach at Title 1 school teaching 1st grade

15. Was in some of my best friends weddings

16. Met and married the love of my life! (enjoy a brief slideshow)

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17. Honeymoon in Hawaii

18. Slid down the cement slides in San Francisco

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19. Guest privileges on NBC 4’s news set

20. Biked down a Volcano in Maui

21. Snorkeled and Paddle boarded in Maui

22. Took my mom to swim with dolphins (her dream)

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23. Started an elementary school choir

24. Earned a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from WGU

25. Started a blog and a TPT store

25 incredible memories, for 25 years of life. There are many more, but these are some of my most treasured moments and memories. These moments are a part of who I am, and what I am capable of. I look forward to adding more items to my reverse bucket list.