Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Two kinds of people in the world

In my first year of teaching, a colleague and now my principal, once gave me some words of wisdom. He said,"Leigh Anne, there are two kinds of people in the world:  those who get it, and those who don't."

Now I know that is a very fixed mindset and a simplistic view of the world. But many times after something happens at school that leaves us scratching our heads and wondering what in the world just happen, I will utter the words, "Two kinds of people in the world."

Some days, it is the only thing that gets us through.

Last week, a student came up and asked me if I wanted to read her story she was writing.  It was a mystery, and she was already on chapter three.  In one scene, her main character was dared to eat a worm for a dollar. Both of these boys were a little mischievous, and her character development was amazing for a 6th grader.

After the boy ate the worm, this line from that scene left me laughing out loud.

"Well, I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those who eat worms for a dollar and those who are picky eaters."

Yep, two kinds of people in the world.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I Have a Secret

I have a secret.

I know something I'm not supposed to know.

I hate knowing.

We have a secret pal activity for teachers at my school.  We start in the fall and leave a gift each month until May.  We all try to guess who each other has, and then we have a big reveal party at the end of the school year.

Buying the gifts is so much fun.  My secret pal loves the color pink, so this month I got her some OPI nail polish in pink and a file that says "Girls just want to have fun!"  I gave it to her on Valentines Day with a card that says "Hope your day is tickled pink!"

But that's not the secret.

This morning I arrived a little before my usual time.  We have sensors in our rooms, and when there is no movement, the lights go off.  Yes, I was sitting at my desk in the dark.  I had my 70's rock music quietly playing on my Pandora station.

And I see something sneaking in the hallway.

It's a gift bag with green and pink tissue paper at the end of an arm.  The arm of my secret pal.

I have a secret.

I know something I'm not supposed to know.

I hate knowing.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

What's saving your teaching life right now?

This week has been one of those weeks that seems like it had an extra day (or two).  One day we even found ourselves asking if there was a full moon.

It was also one of those weeks when I found myself repeating, "I can't do this anymore...I can't do this any more."

I'm tired, and I feel defeated.

And I have no answers on how to fix it.

Then today as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I clicked on a tweet from Tricia Ebarvia about blogging in her classroom.  She linked to a post on the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. This post tells about how Barbara Brown Taylor, the author of Leaving Church, was asked to speak on the question, "Tell us what is saving your life right now?"  I began thinking about my teaching life.

Many times it is easy to name what is killing our teaching lives.

For me this week, it was disrespectful students, crazy schedules, being spread too thin, and behavior issues. This was the root of my negativity at the end of Friday as a group of us sat at the end of the hall, thankful that the weekend had finally arrived.

But do we ever stop to think about what is saving our teaching lives?

That same day, after the hall became clear of students, we began talking about our weekend plans. I looked down the hall and saw someone walking toward us.

Although I couldn't clearly see him from that distance, I knew who this was. I would recognize that walk anywhere. I hollered out, "Is that you, Dante?"

"Yep, it's me, Mrs. Eck." he replied with a big ole smile on his face.

It was a former student, and I stood up gave him a big hug.  Dante and I have a history, a rocky history.  He is one of the students I had as a 4th grader and as a 6th grader after I moved to the middle school. He is one that has a special place in my heart.  It has been awhile since I have seen him, and he has changed, he has grown, and he has become a young man. We talked for several minutes, and as he hugged me goodbye, he told me how much he missed me.

I walked into a colleague's room and tried to hold myself together.  We were both holding back tears as we acknowledged the power of that epiphany.  How did he know I needed that moment?

We all have a Dante, a student who reminds us of why we became teachers and why we keep coming back, even after we have had a bad week.  As teachers, we know that relationships matter.  They matter every day, but sometimes they matter even more when we, as teachers, need them the most.

Right now, it is students like Dante who are saving my teaching life.

What's saving your teaching life right now?

Saturday, February 2, 2019


I've been thinking about friends lately. 

Not my friends. 

But my students' friends.

Or the ones who have none. My heart is heavy.

I have three students who are friends. They are rather unique as individuals, yet have similar stories. They carry different colored suitcases, yet have similar baggage. Two of the students no longer attend our school.

And I'm worried about the one because he hasn't been the same since they left him...


I sit in a parent conference and share their child's progress and how well their child is doing academically. The parents are concerned because their child has no friends.

Never invited to birthday parties or sleepovers.

A tear slips out, and the mother asks, "Do you see him...

I walk into the cafeteria.

No matter how hard we stress that no one eats alone, I see a student sitting at a table with others, yet not talking, laughing, or leaning in to share a secret with someone. She is with others, but still...


Middle school is difficult enough without sharing it with friends.  These are the kids who break my heart.

I can teach writing skills.  I can motivate readers. I can be a positive and highly effective teacher each and every day.

But I can't teach how to not be...


It is in these moments when I feel helpless, when I feel I don't do enough. Why are these kids the ones who need us the most but are the first ones to shut the door?

These are the kids who remind me of why I teach and why I'll return again on Monday.