Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Earned, Not Given

**If you have been reading my blog for the last few years you will notice that the names in previous posts are being changed (slowly) and I have started using the girls nicknames (given by an uncle), Penelope and Pandora. Privacy is huge for my kids and as the blog has gained momentum (yeah!!), I felt it necessary to take an extra step to ensure their privacy.**


We are a few days away from Thanksgiving break and man, am I ready! I hate making lunches, I hate the alarm clock, I hate the rush of a school week. I really should home school, but since neither of my girls are willing to participate in that idea we will continue to run the race of public school.

Fifth and second grade are off to a great start. I'm not sure what is harder for me to believe, Penelope as a fifth grader or Pandora as a second grader. It is true - time flies. Second grade is a huge adjustment in our district. Our students no longer see 'S' or 'N" on their work, they see numerical grades. While the children adjust fairly quickly, the parents tend to take longer to get on board. I could have written this post three years ago when Penelope was in second, but since she is a high achiever no one would have listened. It doesn't matter that I am a former educator, I was at that time a parent to a straight A second grade student.

So, here we are - second grade with Pandora. Pandora, the hard worker, but not a straight A student. I will start by saying I am PROUD beyond measure of Pandora. I never thought we would survive kindergarten and now she is in second grade! Pandora is learning, gaining confidence, maturing, and EARNING grades. PSA: GRADES ARE EARNED NOT GIVEN

Ask any teacher and they cannot tell you how many emails they have received with the following question, "Why did my kid get a ____ on the test?"  The blank could have an F, a C, even a B- the issue is not the grade, the issue is the verb, "get." Your child, my child did not GET anything, they EARNED it. For all the K-12 teachers out there, let me answer that email for you.

Why did your child get that grade?

1. They did not get the grade, they earned that grade.
2. They earned that grade because they did not study.
3. They earned that grade because they were up late and fell asleep in class.
4. They earned that grade because they did not follow directions.
4. They earned that grade because they were late to school and flustered while completing their assignment.
5. They earned that grade because they cheated off the dumb ass they sit next to in class.
6. They earned that grade because they never completed the homework assignment.
7. They earned that grade because they did not complete all the questions.
8. They earned that grade because they did not recheck their work before turning it in.
9. They earned that grade because they rushed.
10. They earned that grade because they were talking while working.
11. They earned that grade because as indicative of their daily grades, they are not understanding the concepts.
12. They earned that grade because they never came to tutorials.
13. They earned that grade because their extra-curricular activities are more important to them.
14. They earned that grade because they never raised their hand to ask a question.
15. They earned that grade because you are not in class to help them.
16. They earned that grade because the work showed that level of mastery.


Grades are not a reflection of whether or not the teacher taught. Trust me, they taught. I don't know one teacher that sits at their desk doing nothing all day. Are some teachers better than others, hell yes. But for the most part, teachers teach. It is our children's job to try to learn. TRY.

Grades show what a child understands. Grades show effort. Grades show mastery. Grades show what is earned by the person doing the assignment. Pandora has made Fs, Ds, Cs, Bs, and As. Every grade is earned. Every grade reflects accurately how much time and effort has been put into the objective. Pandora has a fabulous second grade teacher. She teaches her heart out each day. Does that mean Pandora always gets an A? Hell no. Sometimes Pandora doesn't understand. The teacher will know before a low grade if Pandora learns to advocate for herself. We are working on that. Parents might say their child is afraid of the teacher. I get that. In life, we face many fears. Encourage your child to speak up for themselves. Tell the teacher, even the "mean one" when you don't understand. If you say nothing, you cannot receive help.

As I am writing this post, Pandora is frustrated. There are tears. She has taken three moments to herself. We are trying to complete a study guide over text features. Pandora is not happy. Guess what? Too. Fucking. Bad.
Am I yelling at her? No.
Am I making her complete the study guide with minimal help? Yes.
Am I showing her the strategy of process of elimination? Yes.
Am I trying to reassure her that it's okay to not be perfect? Yes. (Just like her sister)
Is Pandora trying to learn the material? Yes.
Am I texting my friends saying Pandora is getting an F tomorrow and fuck it? You bet your ass I am.
( I am only human, after all)

Will she make an 'A' on tomorrow's test? I have no idea. What I do know is her mom didn't print the study guide until five minutes ago and the test is tomorrow. We did not prepare adequately for the exam and depending on what Pandora can accomplish during a frustrated afternoon will directly impact her grade. Whatever grade shows up, that grade is earned. And that grade is not a reflection on her teacher. It is a direct reflection of Pandora, Pandora's study habits, and Pandora and my time management. (Yes, I help my second grader by printing study guides and sitting down with her. However, my fifth grader - she is on her own.)

Can grades notify parents of a learning disability? Yes, but one F does not equal a problem. Two Fs do not equal a problem. You know there is a problem when your child is studying, reading, going to tutorials, getting extra help, and still does not understand the objectives. If that is happening, email the teacher and have a conference.

Are some teachers tough graders? Yes, but when did high expectations become a bad thing? I have watched Penelope struggle year after year as a writer. I have watched her try and give up and try and give up. The teachers that expected more, got more. She wrote beautifully for them because the expectation was set and she wanted to meet it. When I look at their weekly folders, I do not focus on the grade. I focus on what objective was missed and why. Crappy handwriting means you rushed. Skipped problems means you did not pay attention. I only reteach the concept if the assignment shows a lack of understanding and then I email the teacher asking for when they are available for extra help. There is no shame in extra help and the sooner your child understands that, the easier it will become to ask for that help.

I pay attention to grades. I get wrapped up in the rat race of grades, GPA, class rank, etc. I worry about my girls and the pressure they put on themselves. I worry about the anxiety grades can cause. Hell, I look at the on line grade book twice a day, sometimes three. However when a low grade pops up in the grade book, my first thought is "What the fuck did my kid do wrong" vs "What the fuck did the teacher do wrong."






Wednesday, November 13, 2019

First post

I have been asked to blog but in all honesty I feel like a tech loser - all the blogging sites are confusing the hell out of me. Anyway, at the advice of my cousin, I'll be using this site and am determined to figure it out.

I have two girls - they turn 7 and 4 this summer (2015). I am a SAHM, former educator.
I am outspoken, loud, sarcastic, and in general have the mouth of a sailor BUT I love hanging out with my daughters when they are not being whiny or annoying. We go on "field trips," bake, do art projects, and play. (Yes, they also watch TV, play on the computer and the iPad.) Some of our ideas take 5 seconds and end in tantrums, others are huge successes. I promise to share whatever we do because every child is different and our terrible idea may be a winner in your home.  I may also share random stories or conversations we may have.

This blog is dedicated to Penelope & Pandora - their smiles light up my heart.

I guess blogging is similar to a really long Facebook status?????

Sunday, September 29, 2019

5780

At sundown we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Every year we wish for ourselves, family, and friends a year filled with health and happiness and to be inscribed in the Book of Life. For the past 15 years the Book of Life has caused an uneasy feeling in me. It is hard to have faith when tragedy strikes, but year after year our belief grows stronger as we see the why behind our own tragedies and our purpose within ourselves. The further we get from what shook our beliefs to the very core, the easier it has become to be stronger in those same beliefs.

And then tragedy strikes again and we are left with questions we cannot answer. Our best friends buried their ten year old son two weeks ago. It was and still is horrific. It is something I cannot wrap my brain around and one day I pray we understand the why, but today as we are about to start the Jewish New Year I am finding myself once again grappling with the Book of Life.

There are teachings to explain any death, even the death of a child. Teaching of souls' purposes and life after death. These teachings are to bring comfort, but can there be any comfort when you're not ready for that person to be gone? How do you enter a new year when you are still mourning the way the previous year ended? How do you wish someone a sweet new year filled with health and happiness when at the moment all those around you are in despair?

I literally have no answers. And the lack of answers is what brings me closer to my faith and beliefs. I have to believe there is a reason for the devastation. I might not know the reason now and I might never know the reason, but for my own sake, my children's sake I will continue to trust in G-d and pray.

I will pray for healing for our best friends and their family. I will pray for all those that knew him and are experiencing a profound level of sadness that just won't go away. I will pray for smiles and laughter to once again fill their home and ours.

Life is short, make every moment count. You are strong. G-d gives you what you can handle. People get a deck cards and play the hand they are dealt. There is no rhyme or reason. All these cliches are designed to give someone feeling uncomfortable, something comforting to say.
Yet, there are no comfort in these words. They are just words.

With a new year, we are faced again with a choice. A choice on how to live. Do we live faithfully, angrily, joyfully, together, apart? How do we live?

As Rosh Hashana begins and the Book of Life is opened I know how I will live. I will live loudly in actions and if you know me personally, in volume too. I will continue to be proud of the person I am. I will be a wife, mother, family member, friend to the best of my ability and make no apologies for the fierce love I have for all those in my life. I will use that fierce love to protect and honor and remember. I will laugh loudly, smile big, and move at 100 mph, for that is who I am. I will find the joy because to live in intense grief and regret is not something I can do or want to do.

I will teach my children to live as they are, to follow their own dreams, to be the best version of themselves, to not fall victim to peer pressure. I will teach them and show them they are enough. They are enough. Their achievements, their love, their smile, their life - it is enough. They do not need to be exceptional scholars or athletes. They do not need to be anything but themselves for they are enough. How they each laugh and smile and bring joy is what matters. How they each set individual goals is what matters. How no matter the size of the accomplishment, pride should fill their hearts. I pray each year we have taught them this and we will continue to teach them this.

I am not an expert on faith, loss, and moving on. My words bring me comfort and may or may not do the same for others. I write to express myself, to live loudly.  As the year 5780 begins, I do pray my family, myself, my friends are blessed with health, joy, and love. I pray we are all inscribed in The Book of Life and we can all spend many more decades together, as family, as friends.




Monday, August 12, 2019

Eight is Great

August 13th

Happy 8th birthday!

To my sweet, rainbow loving daughter on her birthday.

Eight years ago we knew you were going to be an August birthday, but what day was anyone's guess. An afternoon phone call had daddy and me scrambling for flights to Los Angeles and making arrangements for your sister. A few hours after landing and after almost being born inside a car, you came into this world screaming and didn't stop for months. In the words of a nursery nurse, "This one likes to be held."



While the milk allergy diagnosis stopped your screaming, nothing stopped your desire to be held. And now 8 years old, you are still my cuddle bug. You hold my hand, give me hugs, cuddle with me on the couch, in my bed, in your bed. You love hugs. You love to be embraced and feel our love. A hug can fix everything. The best part....you love to give those hugs. You know a hug can cheer up your sister, a friend, anyone. And the smile that comes with those hugs, it makes my heart melt.

At eight years old you have not lost that twinkle in your eye or the radiance in your smile. You might be the happiest person I know. You can find the positive in anything. Whether we are running errands or at Disney World, you approach the day with sparkle and joy. You see the wonder in the clouds, the possibilities in an open field, the dream of what a day can bring. Your heart is pure. You are the joy to anyone you meet. I absolutely love this about you and pray you always see the rainbow in the storm.

At eight years old you have proven once again that while you may have been down, don't ever count you out. Sometimes I cannot believe how capable you are. You spent so many years needing my help, it is challenging to let you grow up and be independent. But that is what you are, independent. And while I miss sharing in your successes, words will never convey how truly proud I am to not only see you soar, but to be a by-stander and watch from the sidelines. You are more incredible than you know. You are an independent, strong, capable girl.

At eight years old you approach every challenge with the same grit and determination you have had since birth. You completed first grade with new friends, strong self confidence, and a desire to keep learning. But the real challenge, the one you fought tooth and nail to achieve, was to secure a place on the swim team. And half way through this summer, a month before turning eight, you tried out for the team. You were scared, nervous, and cried. You had second thoughts. With all these emotions stacked against you, you walked through the pool gate alone, dove into pool, and proved to yourself what we already knew....you are a fantastic swimmer and belonged on the team.

At eight years old you are courageous. Each week you swim at swim team practice you show me you are nervous. Sometimes the motor plan throws you off, sometimes you make a mistake (which we all do), sometimes it is raining and despite any hiccup, you find your courage and keep on trying.
In two days you start second grade and I know you have hesitations about tests, quizzes, and numerical grades. At meet the teacher, you tucked those hesitations away and courageously walked into the school. You flashed your smile to previous teachers, introduced yourself to your new teacher, and I knew immediately with every challenge this year will be bring, your courage will keep you going strong. Like I said, you are brave.

At eight years old you are loving, caring, kind, a friend to anyone you meet. You think of others and how they feel. You are inclusive. You are genuine. I am in awe of how forgiving you are of others. Your heart may break a few times as you get older, but it is a true heart of gold and I love watching your love spill into all you do.

At eight years old your imagination is incredible. The smile on my face when I hear you playing is from ear to ear. Playing school, house, or restaurant your creativity is simply amazing. I love to hear the stories you create, love to watch you make them come alive, and love how even in make believe you are the same genuine, hard working, courageous girl. Even in make believe you do what is right and are always thinking of others.

At eight years old you are just incredible. You teach me every day about patience and perseverance. You teach me every day about unconditional love. You teach me every day to try my best and be the best person I can be. It is actually fitting that you desire to be a teacher or librarian because without even trying you are the best teacher I have ever had.

On this eighth birthday, I wish for you a year filled with your favorites - Rainbows, unicorns, smiles, M&Ms, white cake with no icing, American Girls, friends, sleep-unders, achievements, hugs, love, and of course swimming.

Happy 8th birthday, baby girl. Keep on being you because you are amazing.



Monday, August 5, 2019

Eleven



August 6th

To my amazing daughter on her eleventh birthday. (11!!! How?!?)



The tears have been flowing for weeks now, just thought of another year passing by makes me incredibly happy and at the same time sad that you are growing up.

Eleven years ago, on an extremely hot day, I received the best phone call in the entire world. As you know, we were surprised to learn of your birth and I was so shocked that I forgot to ask our case worker if you were a boy or a girl. From that very moment, you have filled my heart with more joy than you can possibly imagine. I can still see myself crying happy tears as I told your dad we were parents of a 5 lb 14 oz baby girl.


This past year has been your best year, yet. I say yet because as this sun sets on 10 and rises on 11, I can see the wonderful young lady you are and will become. You have grown so much this year and I am so proud to call you my daughter.

You are loyal, fierce, kind, brilliant, and empathetic. These characteristics are a rare find in a "tween." You proved this year to have a strong moral compass. Your sense of right and wrong has guided you through many instances when you could have chosen the wrong path. Even if it separated you from the pack, you chose to make a decision that was right for you. You are blessed to know at such a young age that being true to yourself will carry you much farther in life.

Your loyalty is unmatched. You believe in your family, your friends, your teachers. You find the good in everyone. You trust. You do not waver in your choosing. And while along the way, you will find not all children are like you, your belief in second chances will continue to show others what we already know - your loyalty is a rare find.

Your patience and love for your sister was remarkable this year. Having a sister with special needs is tough to navigate and even though she can be annoying, you matured this year in a way that is indescribable. Playing American Girl dolls, including her in video games, writing her a letter from camp, waving hi to her from your musical, supporting her swim goals, letting her sleep in your room, are all ways you've shown her the bond of sisters cannot be broken. Being a big sister has a level of responsibility that you sometimes complain about, but I cannot think of a better big sister. You, my daughter, have proven you will always be in your sister's corner.

This past year you rocked fourth grade and showed us that even though you still like to put forth minimal effort, when challenged....You are capable of reaching the stars. You are humble. No matter how many As came home, you never bragged. You know grades are not everything, but effort is. You learned this last year that respect is earned when you show people your best self. You definitely have shown your best self and continue to shine.

Responsibility is earned like respect and trust. You have become an incredibly responsible young lady. Whether it was learning to stay home alone, cook a meal, or being a mommy's helper you have shown up, done what's right, and proven once again what an incredible person you truly are. You always go above and beyond and that is something to be admired.

Your big brown eyes continue to shine and let people see your heart. You can see a person and what they stand for in their eyes and since the day you were born, your eyes have shown us your captivating soul and all it is capable of. You are a true force, not to be reckoned with. You stand up for the underdog and fight injustices. You do not let anyone's beliefs change yours and you stand tall in your convictions.

Your confidence was unmatched this year and I pray it continues to grow. You rocked the softball field and even took the pitcher's mound. While my heart raced with this change, you walked out their with pride, humility, and a smile. When games didn't go your way, you lost gracefully and learned from the experience. I do believe one of the greatest accomplishments this past year has been your ability to learn from your mistakes. You are not perfect (no one is). You still sass, argue, hate cleaning your room, get frustrated to the point of no return, pout, make mountains of mole hills, BUT with each set back, mistake, life lesson- You Learn. There are grown ups that still make the same mistakes each day so at the new age of 11 for you to know what you did wrong and try to change your behavior is a feat you should be very proud of.

My personal favorite change this year has brought is your humor. I am so in love with your sarcasm and ability to laugh at yourself. You are finally starting to give daddy and me a run for our money in this department. You are witty, quick with a response, and learning how and when to throw out a joke. We have been patiently waiting to see this side of you and please know we enjoy every minute of joking with you, even when you make jokes about us.

I cannot believe you are ELEVEN. I cannot believe you are entering your last year of elementary school. I cannot believe how quickly this time has gone and in eleven more years, you will be a senior in college! Every year brings a change in you, each year I love you more than the year before, and this year is no different.

Please know on this 11th birthday -
You are the brightest star in the sky.
You are the sunshine needed on a stormy day.
You are the light when it is dark.
You are amazing, strong, resilient, and pretty.
Your Bubbe once told me being beautiful is only skin deep, but to be pretty is to be pretty on the inside and out. On this birthday, and for every day that follows remember you are a perfect example of what pretty looks like.

Happy ELEVENTH birthday to the first to call me mom, the first to hold my hand, to the first who stole my heart. I love you and cannot wait to see all that you accomplish in the next 365 days.

Happy birthday. I love you SO much.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

You know I didn't buy you a present because I totally suck in that department, but this year I will tell you and thousands of people, THANK YOU. That is my present - a big THANK YOU.

Mom,

Thank you!

Holy shit you put up with a lot. My brother and I are not easy and you handle us well. We are the funniest children you could've asked for (I am funnier), but the majority of our jokes are at your expense. You do have to take some responsibility though, you give us great material to work with. On this Mother's Day, I will say thank you with my whole heart.

Thank you for teaching me the value of education. Many children do not have the opportunity to be raised by a mom with fake degrees in meteorology, medicine, business, orthopedics, mental health, immunology, oncology, and child development. All of your knowledge helped guide me through school to pursue a higher education.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a know it all. From your fake degrees to your life experiences, you have the answer for everything. Because you always have the answer, I do too. And if for some reason I do not know the answer, I can ask you because you know it all.

Thank you for teaching me confidence. Whether personal or professional, when life handed you lemons you taught me not to make lemonade, but to throw those lemons back and not take anyone's shit. We are better than those lemons.

Thank you for teaching me respect. I know those lessons were the hardest to teach as I am a smart ass, but somehow between the soap in the mouth, the spanking, the grounding, the screaming, you raised a very respectful child.

Thank you for teaching me to advocate for myself. Living in a "the teacher is always right" home, you helped me understand that if there was a true injustice you would get involved, but the small stuff- I had to deal with it.

Thank you for teaching me it is okay to turn a blind eye. I did some stupid shit as a kid and even as a young adult in college and you let those bad decisions play out.

Thank you for teaching me lying is unacceptable. Forging your signature on my 5th grade progress report was not my brightest decision. And while I chose to hide things by omission, I definitely learned not to lie to your face. If only you had taught my brother being a snitch was worse. Remember, snitches get stitches!

Thank you for teaching me how to be the best secret keeper, ever. I have no idea what you are taking to your grave, but I could bet all the money in the world it is some damn good gossip.

Thank you for teaching me my emotions are okay to express. Even though your tear ducts have been broken since 1982, I learned to express myself in joy, sadness, pain, anger.

Thank you for teaching me how to host holidays. From soup to brisket to way too much food, our guests will never go hungry. And while I have learned to lessen the sodium count, I surely learned how to host with love.

Thank you for teaching me family is the most important thing. You never allowed my brother and I to sacrifice one another for the sake of friends. You made sure we stuck together, were thick as thieves, and now you are paying for that lesson. We are a duo like no other.

Thank you for teaching me how to use profanity correctly. From fuck to bitch to shit to damn it - those words were expressed with correct annunciation and were always grammatically correct.

Thank you for teaching me leadership. Working your way to the top in business showed me I was capable of anything and while true leaders have set backs, they continue to rise to the top.

Thank you for teaching me parenting extends even after your children have children. Sure you went running from newborn E2 and refused to help us with her, but in your defense we all thought she was the spawn of Satan.

Thank you for teaching me support. Even when I have been dead wrong (which isn't often), you have supported me. When I was forced to make tough decisions which inevitably you had to take the consequence for, you supported me.

Thank you for teaching me so many things.

Thank you for letting me make fun of you, take advantage of you, yell at you.

Thank you for being young at heart and traveling with us. While we would never admit it to your face, we love having you join us and love the memories you create with your granddaughters.

Thank you for being the best mom to me.

Because of you, I have been blessed with an ego so big I believe I can accomplish anything.
Because of you, my self-confidence is so high I don't give two fucks what others think of me.
Because of you, my sense of loyalty is strong and it has caused me to choose my friends wisely. Because of you, I have high expectations of myself and others and will never settle for mediocrity.

Thank you for being the badddest bad ass bitch in town.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY








Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Tie.

Oh fourth grade, I heart thee.

This has been such an incredible year. Make no mistake both girls have been blessed beyond measure with some remarkable educators but fourth grade, well it has been the icing on an already delicious cake.

Why is this grade different? Emotional acknowledgment and support. Fourth graders are tough. They are nine, mostly ten before the year's end. Ten year old children are a handful. They are still children, but their hormones are kicking in and they are transforming into young adults. Hormones can drive the "best mom and dad" crazy, but let's be honest - teachers have these hormonal Tasmanian Devils 40 hours a week.  Forty hours of tears, anger, anxiety, hyperactivity, learning struggles, learning achievements, and so much more. Add to that teachers are handling all this with 24 kids in a classroom. There's a reason I never taught fourth grade.

As luck would have it, Penelope's teachers have been a pillar of emotional strength for her and all their students. They know it takes a partnership with parents to truly get through to the child. They know to see success it takes a learning environment where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and yes, those fourth grade feelings.

Penelope is trusting, loyal, anxious, and naive. You can pull the wool over her eyes at any time and while she is learning to see the bullshit, more often than not she can still be deceived. Penelope believes people at their word and would never in a million years think someone would lie to her. Especially a friend. Penelope has yet to realize that girls are bitches and true friendships are a rare find.

In the beginning of the year I set the stage as I do every year. I am "that mom." I am involved in PTO, I send emails, I check homework, I check the on line grade book twice a day (judge away I give zero fucks), I eat lunch with my girls, I help them study. BUT I also hold them responsible. If they do not want to complete homework or study.... well, good luck to them because this mama says to the teachers, "Go right ahead and give that F. Go right ahead and take recess. My child is in the wrong." I open the line of communication with the teachers saying here are our emotional struggles, here is our dirty laundry, here is my child trying her hardest to navigate family life, academic life, social life, and oh yeah, hormones. As always, the teachers met my "crazy" with grace and acceptance and probably a little sympathy for Penelope. It's tough being my kid (sometimes).

With each passing week Penelope's star shone brighter. With each passing week Penelope needed less and less help and willingly went to her teachers for help. With each passing week Penelope forged an unforgettable bond with these teachers. I was living in a twilight zone with statements of "Mrs. W showed my paper to Mrs. K - can you believe it? I must be a good writer now." or "Mrs. K showed me how to do this. I am going to go in early for the review. I like the way she teaches it. Your way is old." While the former teacher in me wanted to help her, I couldn't help but relish in the fact that Penelope trusted these teachers. And how do I know she trusted them? Because she was being her true self. Penelope wrote a paper about how hard it is to be Jewish. It takes a lot of courage to not only talk about your religion, but to write about it negatively. It takes emotional support to know you can express yourself without discernment.

I cannot remember when, but at some point this year I was asked to stop by as the teachers were concerned about something Penelope said during morning meeting. Morning meeting? Oh that's right, these teachers start each day with a student led conversation about various topics. The students share! Openly! There's no judgement, consequence, poking fun....just honest, real, conversation. It was at this moment I realized why Penelope was soaring to success. Emotional support. She felt free to convey her every thought. She was free emotionally. While what Penelope said at that morning meeting wasn't a "huge red flag" it was concerning because I had set the stage. The teachers know our family dynamics, they know the struggles at home, and when Penelope expressed herself they felt it best to share considering what they already knew about her life.

THAT is called emotional support. THAT is going over and beyond. THAT is great teaching. When your teachers know you are willing to listen, when your teachers know you appreciate honesty, when your teachers know you support them and their efforts THAT is when the true learning can happen.  A student that is emotionally supported can achieve anything.

We have had growing pains too. The teachers expecting more from Penelope and expecting 100% effort was a challenge at first. E1 is used to everything coming easily. She is used to minimal input with maximum output. Fourth grade proved to be the year where minimal input equaled minimum output. Did I enjoy seeing low grades in the grade book? Did I enjoy all the meltdowns at home of "I can't" Nope, not at all. But I supported the efforts of the teachers to encourage Penelope to do better, be better. They saw her capabilities. They wanted for her to see her capabilities. With that bond of trust formed, E1 climbed the mountain of high expectations and saw her own self worth. She began writing papers for fun! She began asking for more math assignments! The hubs and I repeatedly asked ourselves, "What the fuck is happening?" Emotional support. That is what was happening.


Just today, I received this email:


While I loathe the STAAR test and everything it stands for, I LOVE THIS. It was a reminder of the emotional support we have received all year. It was a reminder of the partnership we have with her teachers. This idea, so simple and yet so powerful. It doesn't ask me to make a healthy breakfast. It doesn't ask me to make sure my kid gets a good night sleep. It doesn't ask me to remind my child to show their work on math or justify their answers on reading. It asks me to give ENCOURAGEMENT to my ten year old, my child, their student. 

During the Passover Seder this past weekend Penelope and my nephew were discussing school. Penelope was ranking her favorite school years and fourth grade tied for the number one seed. With the exception of once, Penelope has loved each and every one of her teachers. She has said it was the best year each time a school year ends. However, she always held a special place in her heart for first grade. First grade was Penelope's first time to understand what a difference a teacher can make in a young girl's life. Knowing how she felt about first grade, I knew she would ever let another year rank higher.  First grade was just that awesome.  And sometimes a year cannot be out done. 

Until now.

A tie is two winners

Twice the love. 
Twice the best year ever. 
Twice the support. 
Twice the confidence. 
Twice the success. 

Fourth grade, we heart thee.