A Letter to Myself (College Years)!

Hey Leila,

I know you probably won’t believe this, but I’m you. I’m writing to tell you that everything will be okay. I know that you didn’t study for that Family & Consumer Studies quiz because you just had to spend time with your boyfriend (now husband). I know that you are not taking this whole college ‘thing’ seriously. Here’s the thing, you’re going to need your degree. You need to be able to provide for the four little ones you’re going to have. You need to know that perseverance and hard work does pay off; because it does. You need to hear that you are amazing! You need to hear that your setbacks are only that- setbacks! You need to know that getting a ‘D’ in a class, though not ideal, is not the end of the world. You need to hear that you can do it; because you can. You need to hear that although it’s hard, it’s not impossible.

Even though you had your first son during your sophomore year, it is not the end of the world. Leila, your son is a blessing. In fact, your son gave you a reason to keep on going. He even cited you as an inspiration to him in one of his college essays because you persevered against all odds. He saw the sacrifices that you made to make sure that he and his siblings were raised right. He loved you being home when he got home, because you were a great stay-at-home mom.

While raising him, you were still able to complete the degree you did not complete because going to college AND raising him didn’t seem possible at 20. Failing out of college and attending community college over the years until you could gain acceptance back into a university was not easy. None of that took away from being his mother and being the person that you eventually grew to become. He knew that he came first then and still does now!

They were so proud of you as you walked across the stage to accept your B.A. degree in Human Development from Azusa Pacific University @ 37 years old. They were even prouder when you walked across the stage for the second time @ 42 years old to receive your M.A. in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.

Everyone’s story is different. Although you wouldn’t have written your story the way it was written, you had a great ride. You got to stay at home and raise 3 out of 4 of your children and see to it that they were instilled with all that you wanted them to be instilled with. Although you went to work when your baby girl was a baby, she still got what she needed.

Your story may not seem like the typical story, but it is. Many complete their degree later in life. Though you may not see it right, yours is a perfect success story- for YOU! No one else has lived your life but you. No one else could have lived the life that you lived. You lived it and did an amazing job! Kudos to you! Although you didn’t go straight through college, you did it your way and you nailed it.

You completed college on your own time and that’s fine. Everyone’s college experience is different & uniquely their own. If I could take a different path and re-write our story, not a single word would be changed.

Savor every moment you can because time passes by far too quickly. Get everything you can from all your classes. Squeeze every ounce of freedom out of your college years. They were fabulous & even if they were later, they were worth it!


Future YOU

Ready for More!!!

Dear Readers,

It’s time! I’m ready for more. Although I’m not exactly sure what the “More” is, I’m ready to take a step in that direction!

This is so funny (ironic funny, not ha-ha funny!) because I wrote a post that I never published, about a month ago:

Dear Readers,

I have been on the fence about accepting more responsibility  in my professional life. I want to accept more responsibility, but just don’t feel that I’m ready. I feel that I need one more year in the classroom to learn more strategies in order to be the best ME I can be in the classroom.

Thankfully I don’t feel that way anymore! Although I’m not sure where my new path will take me, I am now ready for what the future holds.

I’ll keep you apprised of the situation! Thanks, in advance, for the support!



I’m Not A Miracle Worker (All the Time)!

Dear Readers,

badass-special-educationI don’t know how to stop giving my all. Believe me when I say that I want to because I’m tired of parents expecting miracles from me. I can and have pulled off minor miracles in regard to student work. However, I can’t do it all the time. I’m only human. As I write this I am recuperating on my best friend (my down-filled sofa). I could feel myself getting sick on last Thursday, but was fighting it. However, once I had time to just sit, my body went down and I’m still down, but I digress. Let’s get back to the lecture at hand- the one where I work miracles!

Well, one particular mom was really incensed with me because her son, who got a slow start to the semester, didn’t pass 2 of his classes. She blamed his grades on me because I shut down my Resource Lab to work on one class’ project that was worth 10 summative grades. She wondered why he did not receive a passing grade when he worked so hard on it. I told her that, even though he worked hard on it, that a “1” grade was the level of his writing.

Her response was,”Wow!”

Now, if you know anything about ‘Wow!’ you know it’s not a good thing! It was the last day of school, so there was not a lot I could do about it. My plan, call a meeting with her, her son, and the 10th grade counselor. I will then explain what I didn’t have time to explain. I am not a miracle worker. If a student writes at a Level 1, even with my help, he may or may not make it to Level 2.

By and large, one of the problems with pulling off miracles is that people expect it all the time. Looks like I’m a victim of my own success. I’m going to have to learn how to give less, so I’m not expected to be a miracle worker all the times. Until next time!



Dear Readers,

I have a couple of students who have Autism. I’ve help to put accommodations in place for them, but there’s one way I hadn’t thought of- socratic seminars. The students are required to participate in socratic seminars. They have to speak up or rebut someone else’s comment at least twice. This is a problem for almost all of my students, but especially the ones with Autism. So, I’m asking for help thinking of other accommodations for the students who are just not comfortable with participating.

So, Dear Reader, what other accommodations can I use for them?



Disappointed Me!

Dear Readers,

master-teacher-quoteSee that picture up above. Well, that’s not ME!

I’m a little disappointed that I did not make Master Teacher. I needed a score of 3.5; my score was 3.467. Getting those extra hundredths of a point would have meant an $11,000 raise & a bonus. I didn’t need it. I just wanted it. I guess I need to discover her. Oh well! I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

15 Questions to Replace, “How Was School Today?”

Dear Readers,

I found this wonderful article by Edutopia regarding talking to your child(ren) about their day at school. I don’t know how many times I used to ask my sons how their day at school was. Only to be told, “Good!” or “Nothing!”

Well, I came across this article and thought I’d share. So, here are 15 open-ended questions that can get conversations started:

How many times have you asked your child, “How was school today?” and been frustrated by the lack of response? As a parent, I’m guilty of asking my son this question all the time, even though I usually don’t get much in return.

Sometimes (to be honest), I haven’t had the energy for a real conversation. Other times, I just can’t think of what to ask. As a teacher, I have often wished that kids would share stories of the awesome things we were doing with their parents, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen.

Now that my son is in middle school—where communication from teachers is less than it was when he was in elementary school and more stuff is happening at school that I need to be aware of—I’ve identified a list of questions that draw out important information. I wish that when I was in the classroom I’d been able to offer this list to parents so that they could hear about what we were doing in our class.

The Questions

With slight wording modifications, these questions can work with children of all ages:

  1. Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
  2. Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused.
  3. Think about what you learned and did in school today. What’s something you’d like to know more about? What’s a question you have that came from your learning today?
  4. Were there any moments today when you felt worried? When you felt scared?
  5. Were there any times today when you felt disrespected by anyone? Tell me about those moments.
  6. Were there times today when you felt that one of your classmates demonstrated care for you?
  7. Were there any moments today when you felt proud of yourself?
  8. Tell me about a conversation you had with a classmate or friend that you enjoyed.
  9. What was challenging about your day?
  10. What do you appreciate about your day?
  11. What did you learn about yourself today?
  12. Is there anything that you’d like to talk about that I might be able to help you figure out?
  13. Is there anything you’re worried about?
  14. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  15. Is there a question you wish I’d ask you about your day?

Tips for Asking Questions

How and when we ask these questions makes a big difference in the information we receive from our kids. First, you don’t want to ask all of these questions on the same day. You might ask one or two. After a while, you’ll figure out which ones elicit the most meaningful responses. You’ll want to ask during a time when you have the ability to focus so that your child feels they have your full attention. With my child—and in my household—dinner and driving in the car are optimal times for these conversations.

Now these conversations have become routine. My son knows that when we drive to school I’ll ask him what he’s looking forward to, if there’s anything he’s worried about, and if there’s anything he wants to talk about with me that I might be able to help him figure out.

More Suggestions

The following can help your conversations be positive and powerful:

  • Don’t interrupt. This is a good rule for any conversation, but especially if you want to get a lot of information out of a kid.
  • Ask for more. Simply say, “I’d love to hear more about that…” Or, “Can you expand on that a little?”
  • Ask about feelings. After a child describes an experience, ask, “How did you feel in that moment? What did you notice about your feelings?”
  • Validate feelings. Whatever your kid feels is normal and okay. Let them know that. Feelings are okay. Tell them this.
  • Tell them it’s not okay for teachers or kids to be unkind or mean. If they tell you a story about a teacher who yelled or disrespected them (regardless of what they said or did) let them know that it’s not okay for an adult to treat them that way. Same goes for how they are treated by other children.
  • Thank them for sharing with you. Always appreciate their honesty and willingness to share the highlights and bright spots, as well as the difficult moments. This will fuel their confidence in telling you more.

What questions bring about the most conversation between you and your kids?

Here’s the link: