The Importance of Connections

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Human connection - we thrive on it as educators. Relationships are everything in our profession. So, being away from these relationships, away from connection-making for the last two years has been a struggle for many of us. I know I missed the proximity and support of colleagues, that's for sure.

This past week, I had the opportunity to return to the Spring CUE Conference in Palm Springs, California - the first in-person event that I've gone to in the last two years. And while I was excited to be back in the throws of an EdTech conference, a big part of that was being with my people again. I missed catching up with friends that I haven't seen IRL since pre-COVID. 

Social media DMs and chats are great, but nothing replaces the in-person connections. It is part of the conference experience.

When I first attended Spring CUE back in 2019, I was so wrapped up in attending sessions and maximizing my conference experience that I missed the opportunity to make and establish connections with educators who were there for the same reasons I was. 

This time around, I didn't. I caught up with old friends. I went to events and dinners with colleagues and new friends. I milled around in the hallways, chatting with new conference goers. I lingered after my presentation sessions and answered questions, excited to share my experience with other educators who were just as excited as I was. (All, very big things for me as a self-proclaimed introvert.)

I wasn't rushing to get from one session to the next. I savored the connections made along the way. 

Connections help humanize what we've all struggled with and underwent these past two years. Shared experiences are how we move forward after the trauma, grief, turmoil, unexpectedness, and stress of this pandemic. Connections are what bind us.

The Good, Bad and Ugly

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

So often in the education realm, teachers feel obligated to do more, take on more, be more. We are often made to feel guilty for taking a sick day - the burden of the sub shortages across the nation being put on our backs. We get looks from administrators for being that teacher that leaves on time at the end of our contractual day. We have parents of students upset when we aren't able to answer emails or phone calls at 10 o'clock at night. 

Seeing how the general public responded to teachers this past year puts me on edge. Teachers were initially praised for pivoting so quickly and switching from traditional in-person teaching to remote teaching in a matter of a couple of weeks. But when teachers "demanded" safe working environments before returning to the classroom, we were quickly thrown under the bus and villainized. Teachers were again made to feel guilty for wanting to protect themselves and their loved ones at home during a time when COVID cases were on the rise. 

And now teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Each day that I am on social media, I read through another smattering of posts where teachers have drawn the line in the sand and are not taking anymore. They are choosing themselves...and getting an onslaught of negativity, blame, and guilt-tripping because of it.

I, myself, have contemplated a move into something other than a classroom teacher. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love what I do - I love teaching kids, I love being in the classroom. But this pandemic has changed us. It's changed me. It's changed the kids that walk through my door. It's made me realize how much teachers have been taken for granted - how poorly we've been treated as professionals in our craft. 

Teaching in today's classroom has never been more challenging. Anyone who says differently has not been in a classroom in the last ten years. 

Teachers - do not feel guilty for taking care of you, in whatever capacity you need that to mean. Take that sick day or mental health day. Leave at the end of the work day and don't take those papers home. Do what you need to do for you...because no one else is looking out for you except you.

A New Beginning?

Friday, July 30, 2021

So, the blog that I had been writing for a couple of years mysteriously disappeared from Blogger. Disappeared as in I have no idea what happened to it. I'm not sure if it was deleted by Google...but my original "The Write Combo" is MIA. 

And I just couldn't have that.

So here goes TWC, Version 2.0. 

If it's been a while since the last time you read...let me reintroduce myself. 

My name is Kristin. (Hello and thanks for being here!) I am a 30-something-year-old from Southern California. I teach a 1st/2nd Special Day Class for students with mild to moderate disabilities. This year will be 11th year teaching and 12+ years in public education. 

Apart from being a full-time teacher, I am also a wife and mom to two children (a 5-year-old daughter and 16-year-old stepson). When I am not teaching or living the #MomLife, I volunteer my time on the Board of Directors of CUE Los Angeles and act as their Communications Director - a position that I have held for the last three years and absolutely LOVE!

I also work for our LA County Office of Education as an Induction Mentor, working with new teachers to the field. I've had the amazing pleasure of working with some wonderful special education candidates over the last couple of years. I love mentoring so much that I started with a new mentorship program through CPTP (Community Partnerships for Teacher Pipeline) through the community college that I attended. I love that I get to work with students who are just joining the Teacher TRAC program and want to be future teachers!

If you've made it this far and aren't completely bored yet, stick around for some more to come. This should be an interesting year!