Saturday, November 30, 2013

11 Months of Dayton

My baby is only 1 month away from turning 1. I truly can't believe it. If I think about it too much I will get sad, so I'll just dive right into the last month :)
This month he learned to:
say "ma ma" !!!
say "uh oh" - it's the cutest of his 3 words :)
waves (some of the time)
walking behind a push toy!! We are so close to full on walking!

6th tooth came in on top (now he has 4 on top and 2 on bottom)
first vacation (at the cabin in OK)
Trick-or-treating/Halloween! He dressed as Mickie Mouse :)

His favorite things this month:
Big Sister
his cousins!
Soothie paci
his sister's toys
being tickled
being thrown in the air

Things he hates this month:
his car seat
diaper rashes--the poor kid gets them often and they are horrible!! :(

His sizes this month:
9-12 months or 12 months
size 3 diapers
size 2 shoe

New places this month:
The cabin in Oklahoma!

Favorite pictures from this past month:
first costume :)
showing off his 6 new teeth!
first camping trip!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Little Gem

I am sitting down to write my second-to-last paper of my entire masters degree. I literally only have 3 classes left until graduation. I cannot believe it. I've been reflecting on the last 3 years a lot lately as I try to wrap my head around the thought of being done with school and being a certified counselor. It feels surreal.  The other day I had a client say, "Man, you've done a lot for your age!" When I thought about that statement it started to kind of click, "wow, I'm 27, I have 2 children, I taught 3 years of 6th grade, worked an internship at a psychiatric hospital, interned at a private practice, and now about to graduate with a job lined up and ready to go! It feels like a whirlwind!!!" 

I found something today that made me look back at the progression of my career…

During my first semester of student teaching at A&M (Fall 2007) I wrote down 10 goals that I wanted my students to learn from me or feel. It did not have a lot to do with the content I was teaching, it was more things like… Feel valued, worthwhile, and accepted by me. Feel heard by me. Feel safe in my classroom. Feel like they can come to me when they need help regarding school, friendships, and stuff at home.

I kept this piece of paper in my desk all 3 years that I taught and looked at it quite often. I kept it right on top of a stack of papers inside my top drawer. I probably saw that paper almost everyday. Right now its packed up in a box in the attic and it will come down if I ever decide to teach again. That's not out of the realm of future possibilities. I loved teaching, actually. It was pretty hard to give up that part of my life, but my babies are for sure worth it. 

Anyway, at the end of each school year I gave my students a series of questions and told them they could keep it anonymous. I wanted them to let me know if I had made them feel heard, worthwhile, accepted, safe, etc. (I also asked things like "Did you ask for tutoring and/or receive extra help if you struggled…did you feel that enough technology was used in our classroom…stuff like that). I kept their answers and reflected on them many times. I really wanted them to have a good experience and hoped that the next year I could make it an even better one. 

Today I was going through my recently fixed laptop (I overloaded it with too much junk to the point that it wouldn't turn on, so we had to have a friend take the hard drive out and remove 25 gigabytes of pictures…Yes, I admit I am a pictureholic. I need help.), and I found a little gem. It's a picture of one of the papers that a student had written (2009 school year). I took a picture of it back then because it was so sweet and it made me smile. It had the same affect on me today as I read the answer to #10. "She could've been a counselor! :)" The question I asked the class was "Did you feel like you could talk to me about your problems with school, friends, and/or home?"
Man! It's like this girl could see into my future. When I read this today I just thought it was so neat that something I am doing 4 years later is something that a 12-year-old girl thought I'd be good at when I taught her in the 6th grade.

Of course her note on the back was the best part. "Mrs. Coats, you are my favorite teacher. When I'm 50 I believe I'll still remember you. You really are awesome. -Ale"

I tell you what, those kinds of notes and words of encouragement from a kid is THE BEST PART OF TEACHING. I know my teacher friends will agree. When it clicks with a student and you see that you were apart of helping them--it's all so worth it. And the best part is that, while confidential, I still get to experience that in counseling! I'll never be able to post a note from a client on the internet or show a friend, but helping a person out and getting to see that moment where they've just seen something in a new light is so exhilarating. I love it. In a lot of ways teaching is what has brought me to counseling and I couldn't be more grateful for that experience. 

Thank you, Ale, for your sweet words. They still make me smile today!