Classroom Lessons From Mom

When I started my blogging journey one of my rules was to be open and honest and share my life with anyone who might stop by.  I feel that each person who reads my blog is a friend and friends share the good and the bad and the ugly because that’s how we grow as people and that’s how support one another.   I’ve shared my classroom and teacher life with you and I’ve shared my personal life with you!   Today I want to share something from my life that impacts every part of who I am and who I will always be.
Let me start with the power of our students.  So many times I talk to teachers about the importance of relationships and how much our students need us.  Turns out, we need them just as much.  
On Wednesday, April 6 we were on our zoo field trip.  19 kids.  8 parents.  Checking out the flamingos.    And my phone rings.   It’s my dad.   I knew immediately.  See, dad doesn’t call.  Especially not in the middle of the day.
I knew.
I stepped away from the kids and took the call.  My 59 year old mommy had suffered a massive stroke and I needed to come home and say goodbye.
19 kids.  At the flamingo exhibit.
After a phone call to The Mister,  I turned around and immediately had a sense of purpose and peace and love.  Because there were 19 beautiful faces full of excitement and love.    I forced myself to be present and enjoy the genuine love and excitement of our time together.    These 19 kids might never know just how much I needed them at this moment in time.  They will never fully understand how much they took care of me and supported me and made feel better.   I needed them and they were there.
I held my mommy’s hand as she passed away on Thursday April 7 at about 3:00 in the afternoon.
As we’ve gone through the motions and the process of saying good bye, my sister and I (after 5 hours of standing and hugging and greeting all of the people who came to pay respects….so. many. people.  I had no idea my mom had touched so many people…  so. many. people.) kept talking about what people were saying to us and there were 3 things that almost everyone said about my mom.
As those things were said and processed, I realized how much those 3 lessons from mom not only impact me as a person but as a teacher and how those lessons are so important for our classrooms.
So, here are three lessons from my mom!
Lesson 1:  Be yourself.
My mom was a one of kind.   We heard so many people talk about how unique and special mom was.  She wasn’t afraid to be silly and goofy and act up.   She had fun every where she went.  She truly was the life of a party.   No party?  Well, mom would have one.  She loved having parties and celebrations.  She loved to dress up in costumes and dance and laugh.  She never cared what people thought or said.  She was just her.   She was my mom.
As teachers, we need to remember to just be ourselves.  Don’t let others affect how we teach and how we interact with our students.  We need to stand up, be unique and show our students that it’s OK to be different and silly and have fun no matter what.
Mom taught me the power of accepting who I am and she fully accepted me in every way.  This is a lesosn that I carry into my classroom every day.  I accept my students where they are, I meet them there and we travel on our journey together.  As unique, silly, partying, one of a kind people.   Just like mom.
Lesson 2:    Always have an open door policy.
One thing that we heard about my mom was that she was like a “second mom” to so many people.   I always remember as a kid and a teenager and now as an adult, that our house was always full of people.  The door never was (and still never is) locked.  People showed up and knew they were always welcome.  They also knew there would be plenty to eat and drink (including mom’s famous rock hard chocolate chip cookies which EVERYONE loved!).  
In our classroom, we need to have an open door policy.  We need to open our doors and show the world all the incredible things that are happening every day in our classrooms.
As teachers,  we need an open door policy of support, encouragement and love of our co-workers.  We need to be a place where our colleagues know they can come to for help, support, encouragement or a place to vent and a shoulder to cry on.  
This is true for our colleagues in the land of the interwebs too.  We have such an amazing community of teachers and friends that we need to make sure we’re taking care of.
I’m here.  If there’s ever anything you need or if you need a shoulder to lean on, you know where to find me.  And I might even have some rock hard chocolate chip cookies to share!
Lesson 3:  Live Life To The Fullest!
My mom enjoyed every minute of her life.  The Monday before her stroke she was in the hospital eating ice cream, texting and posting on Facebook!   Her and my dad were married for 39 years (even after he shot her in butt with a staple gun!) and they made the most of those years!  
They travelled at home and in Europe.  (There was that one time they were lost in Europe and no one knew where they were for about a day…true story!).   They rode horses and camped.  They spoiled their kids (I’m the favorite…right, Becky?!) and their grandkids.  They weren’t afraid to try new things and go new places and find new adventures.   Mom only had 59 years of living but she made the most of those 59 years!
As teachers, we need to teach to the fullest every day.   We need to use every moment we have to teach, inspire, love, support, and push our students to be the very best of themselves.  We need to laugh with them.  Color with them.  Create with them.  Read with them.  Cry with them.  Play with them.  Swing with them.  
 We need to cherish each minute of our day and use it to make an impact in the lives of our students and others.    Teachers, we have these kids for 180 days.  Let’s make the most of those 180 days and leave a lasting legacy in each our students.  
So to my mommy, I say thank you for teaching me these lessons and for loving me and for being the best mommy a boy could ask for!
I love you mom!

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