Sunday, January 1, 2017

Adjectives to Aspire to

Happy New Year! :) Every year I get caught up in the whole "new year, new me" thing. I make a million resolutions, and swear I'm actually going to remember them all year. I think it's great to want to improve yourself, and you should never stop trying to be better, but I also think that I need a new system. 2016 was a very productive year for me. I did a lot of growing up, and I accomplished a lot of my goals. I have a lot to celebrate! Because of that, in 2017 I think I want to focus on the things I already like about myself and strengthen those instead. In Relief Society today, we talked about goal setting and resolutions. The girl giving the lesson talked about a friend of hers that made a list of "I Am" statements and chose to work on one a month, then wrapped it all up by writing about it. I love that idea! I immediately started brainstorming my own list. Some of these I am weaker at than others, so some are ones I want to improve, and others are just something I want to focus on, because they are good things! So here is what I came up with:

I am.....
Productive
Kind
Talented
Patient
Brave
Spiritual
Adventurous
Strong
Joyful
Charitable
Thankful
Enough

If you have any ideas for me on how to live these adjectives to the fullest, please shoot them my way! Here's to a year of introspection. I'm excited. :)
♥, Meagan

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reflections on the Atonement

Tonight in institute we listened to part of a talk by Elder Oaks, and in it he spoke of the atonement and just how far-reaching it is. I think we often forget everything that the atonement entails. Typically when I think of the atonement I think about the fact that Christ experienced my sins. He suffered for them so that I wouldn't have to. As a result, I can fully repent and make my way back to my Heavenly Father. While that is true, appreciated, and impressive in and of itself, I think we tend to forget that the atonement covers more than just sins. The atonement covers EVERY negative feeling, EVERY negative experience that we will have in mortality. Christ genuinely felt our anguish - not just over sins committed, but he also felt our anxiety, our depression, our stress, our doubt and insecurities, our longings, and our loneliness.

This is why Christ had to be half human, so that he could feel  all of these human emotions so deeply. The half God part is manifested in His surviving all of those feelings simultaneously. I am so truly grateful for the opportunity that I have to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love this Gospel. I would be lost without it. I love the knowledge that it gives me of right and wrong, and I am continuously so grateful to know that when I am faced with trials, I am not expected to overcome them by myself. I do not have to do hard things alone. Christ loves each one of us unconditionally, and will always reach out to pull us through the hardest moments of our lives. To whoever is reading: please, always remember this and know that you are loved more than you know. And you can do hard things.
♥, Meagan

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude! 2015

It's been a little while since I have posted (says every blog post I have ever written). I wanted to take a minute today to reflect on the things in my life that are wonderful. I really do have a lot of them, even if they're hard to notice sometimes.

I did an activity with my students this week where we wrote things that we are grateful for on little leaf cutouts and put them up all around the classroom. I had so much fun reading all of the things that they are grateful for, and now the classroom looks so festive and colorful! Here is a comprehensive list of all the things that they mentioned - spelling and grammar not corrected, and multiples included. 



Food
My family
My food
I am thankful for my friends
For holiday
I am thankful for a dog. And a bed.
Frends
My food and football
I am greatful for a dog, family, and a house with food
Toys
My life
Food and drinks espicily Spite
Clothes
Food
I am thankful for a house
Family
For money
Gardens
Im thankfull for basketball
Im thankfull for my family
Close (clothes)
Im thankfull for close
God

Really, look! It says God! 4 said God and one said allah. I loved it. :)

For family
I am thankfull for food
Food
Family
Family
I am thankful for my dog
Helping mis Jarding
Clothes
God
Help my mom
Food
My mom
And clen up my room
Gods (pretty sure they meant God)
Helping other pepol
Im thankful for food
Amimal’s
I thankful for everything
I am thankful for my family
Family
My house
Clothes house
Food
Family
My dad
Life
Gods
Dogs
Food
I’m thanckfull for food
I’m thanckfull for my dog
I’m thanckfull for my cat.
I’m thanckfull for my famley.
Food
Family and shoes
My family
Drinks and clothes
Parents
Pencils
Tree
House
Food
Games
My home
Shet (I don't think this is supposed to be naughty, but I have no idea what it is really supposed to say. Any ideas??)
I am thankful for piling up leaves with cousins and my brother. And eating junk food with them.
I’m thankful for my Aunt for cooking the turkey and having us over.
I’m thankful for football season.
I’m so thankful for hanging out with cousins.
I’m thankful 4 my family
I’m thankful 4 Ms. Jardine (bonus points for her!)
I’m thankful for being a muslim. (I loved this one. I have some cool cultures in my class)
I’m thankful for allah.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I am thankful for sweet students, and the reminder to be appreciative of the little things, like pencils, leaf piles, and trees. I LOVE my job this year. I love my school, because I actually feel appreciated. I love my co-workers, and I love my students because they respect me. They are kind to each other, and make me feel so important and loved! I have just been waiting for a school year that I would enjoy as much as this one.

Now I know you have all been wondering what I contributed to our wall of gratitude leaves. Here are mine, which are maybe slightly less inspirational than my students':


My students loved the junk food one (my new girl that I got on Monday informed me that I am addicted to Dr. Pepper on only the 2nd day of her being in my class. Has this reached problem status yet?? Haha) They also questioned me on the cats one. Notice that none of them wrote cats on theirs, but there are several that say dogs. I am a little outnumbered! 


Anyway... Some things that I did not list that I am grateful for (because... you know, separation of church and state and whatnot) include: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a Heavenly Father that comforts, watches over me and makes sure that I am not alone during my most difficult trials. I do love my life, and the Gospel that I am privileged to be a part of.


My friend sent me a quote about gratitude the other day. Here it is: 
"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable."
He said that I am this type of person and it made my day, because I have felt like a bit of a downer and a whiner lately. I think this is a great reminder that you are usually doing better than you feel you are. I know that this quote speaks truth. Thank you so much to each of you that have been a bright spot and support in my life. Keep it up! Continue to brighten those around you, and be that likable person. The world is a better place because of you. :) 

Happy Thanksgiving!

♥, Meagan

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Am Stronger Than I Thought

I honestly think that this past month has been the hardest of my life. I have been busier than ever before. I moved out of my parents' house into what ended up being a bad situation that I couldn't stay in, then moved back in during the first week of school while getting used to being at a new school, getting to know my students, learning new routines, and getting my feet off the ground. There were deadlines that I was struggling to meet, and circumstances outside of my control were preventing me from doing that. A few relationships in my life felt like they were crumbling, and I didn't know how to save them. I was stressed not only with work, but with my calling, and honestly, just life in general. I felt like everything was falling apart. Nothing seemed to be going right, and just when I thought the trial that I was enduring was the last one that I could possibly handle, another one would come along, and I would be that much more overwhelmed. Trial after trial stacked up and I shouldered them all, feeling like any moment I should just topple over and admit defeat.

Hardly anyone, regardless of how close they are to me, will ever see me cry. I do not like feeling like I am not in complete control of myself and my emotions, so I tend to stifle them. However, when life throws as many curveballs at you as it did me these last few weeks, it is just not possible to pretend that you're not hurting. Those close friends of mine that normally lean on me got to be on the receiving end of phone calls where they picked up, and I was immediately a blubbering mess. It was alarming for me to be this emotional. I went through a week where I had an emotional meltdown accompanied by hysterical sobbing every single day. On one such day, I called my friend and I told her that I have never been the "crying friend." I didn't know how to ask for comfort instead of give it, and it had been causing me tons of stress and anguish.

My typical role in life is the steady friend. I have always been the one that doesn't get emotional; that person that is known for always being chipper and smiling, and able to brighten someone else's day. I have always loved that I could be that support for people, but I have not felt like that person this last little while. In fact, it was exhausting to try to be her. As a result, I have recently learned that when people ask how you are doing it is ok to admit that you are struggling. It is ok to unload, and to ask for advice, and even (heaven forbid!) to cry sometimes. Those are not things that I have been willing to do before, but I learned.

Another friend was asking me a week or so ago why life can be so hard when you are trying so hard yourself. He was frustrated because he felt like he was doing everything right, and everything was still falling apart around him. He felt anxiety over his calling, over his family, over his job, and also over other relationships in his life. I knew exactly what he was going through. It seemed to parallel my own life perfectly. I told him that I think that life is the hardest when you are the toughest. God knows what you can handle, and He would never overload you. Then I realized how wise I sounded, and that up until then I probably wouldn't have believed those words from someone else. I needed to apply my counsel in my own life. Then, I realized that it was all going to be ok. I could get through this.
This has been the lock screen on my phone for a month or so now.
You are strong enough!
I think that Heavenly Father waits to give you the hardest trials until you are doing what you are supposed to and giving extra time to the Church. That way you will have the spiritual strength to handle what is being thrown at you, because if you weren't so strong in the Church at that moment then how on Earth would you handle it all?

Now, I'm not telling you all this so that you can feel bad for me. I don't want pity. I pretty much just want to vent, and then share what I've learned while going through it all. So here goes: I have learned that it is just as important to support others as it is to ask for others' help. You need to let others in. Share not only happy moments with them, but difficult ones as well. Don't be afraid to give others that chance to be the strong one, and to help you out when you are hurting. I've realized that our challenges can be as much for those around us as they are for us sometimes. I have also learned that God is there. I knew this before, but it was reaffirmed to me so many times throughout these trials. He loves us immensely - more than we will ever understand. He knows exactly what we are going through, because he suffered for our pains and anguish already, through the atonement. His suffering wasn't just for our sins. It was to cover all the pain we would experience in this life, including emotional pains. He knows perfectly what we are going through, because he has experienced it and He is there to help us get through it. He just wants us to remember to ask Him for help. I have learned that sometimes I have to admit that even I can't do everything by myself, as much as I want to be able to.

After all these lessons, the biggest take-away that I found in all of this is that, as I mentioned above, God only gives us what He knows we can handle. So while I may feel broken, I'm not. I'm really just stronger than I thought I was.

Happy Sunday. :)
♥, Meagan

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Small Bit of Perfection

I've kind of been in a funk the last few days. Life hasn't gone as planned, and I've had things I've wanted to work on, and felt like I just kept falling short of where I wanted to be.

But... I met with my bishop yesterday for tithing settlement, and after I told him that I am a full tithe-payer, he told me that I should take a moment to be proud of myself. He looked right at me and said "Even if there are other things you are struggling with, or want to work on... Take comfort in the fact that in this one thing you are perfect." That was such a pick-me-up! I had never thought about it that way before, and it really helped me to see that as a whole, I am far from perfect, but I do have small bits of perfection mixed in.

I think we all have a tendency to pick out the things we don't like about ourselves, and focus on our downfalls. We get so caught up in the things that we are not good at that we forget to notice and celebrate the things about us that are "perfect". Maybe I'll make that a New Year's resolution - to try and notice more good things about myself. I think life would be a little happier.

I love you all! Don't forget to notice those things that are perfect about you. And if you are having a hard time figuring out what they are, ask someone. I would be glad to provide a quick ego boost to anyone who needs it. :)
♥, Meagan

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Teaching, Round Two!

As an intern I was required to keep a weekly reflection journal. In trying to psych myself up for school starting again tomorrow I read the positive note I left last school year on. (It's easy to be positive when summer is staring you in the face and it's full of endless possibilities. Like sleep. Yeah, I was mostly just excited about sleeping.) Anyway... It was really great to read through this and be reminded of some of the specific reasons why I love this job so much. 

"As demanding, difficult, and utterly exhausting as this year was… It reaffirmed my love for this career. I love teaching. I love being that extra influence in a child’s life. I love being the reason that they know something as basic as multiplication, or cursive for the rest of their lives. I love celebrating small achievements with them. I love knowing that I changed their lives and helped them to grow not only academically, but in character as well. I love seizing every teaching moment, and opening children’s eyes to the world around them. I love inspiring them to be better; to love learning and to love reading. I love when a child calls me “teacher” instead of my name. I love it because I am proud to be a teacher. I love when a child accidentally calls me “mom”, then gets all embarrassed. I love silly stories and jokes that don’t make sense. I love pretending things aren't funny because they’re inappropriate, then telling my friends all about it later. I love laughing with my students until none of us can breathe, and bringing it up weeks later. I even love the bad days, because they make the good ones that much more special.


I am so excited for a fresh start with a new class, and at a new school. I will miss Riverton Elementary and all of the amazing experiences that I had here. But after this year… I honestly feel like I can handle whatever next year throws at me."


I loved reading back over this, because I am now nervous for this fresh start. I am nervous for a new school, a new team, and not having the fallback of my BYU mentor teacher when I need her. I am nervous for new curriculum and methods. But at the same time I am so excited for this. I am excited to only be a teacher. Being a student simultaneously was so difficult! I am excited for first impressions, and to start new with new students that haven't had a chance to frazzle me yet. I am excited that I am not a first-year teacher anymore, and am confident enough, even at the beginning of the school year, to contribute in team meetings. I am excited that the first-year teachers look up to me and are coming to me for help. I am excited that the veteran teachers are coming to me for fresh ideas. I am just excited. I have missed teaching. Ask me again in a few weeks, and I might tell you a different story. But for the time being...? Bring on year 2!! :)

♥, Meagan

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Teaching is...

I wrote this way back in September to answer some interview questions a friend of mine had about being a first year teacher. It is interesting to re-read what I wrote as a wide-eyed, fairly fresh intern. I still share many of these same sentiments but I have accomplished so much and come so far since then! 

...


I chose to teach because I wanted a career that would feel rewarding. I see every day the difference that I am making in these kids' lives. I also wanted something that I knew I would never get tired of. Teaching is new and different every day. I never feel like things are routine and boring, because there are always things to be done, questions to be answered, and fires to be put out. It definitely keeps me jumping. When I got to BYU I almost talked myself out of it, thinking that I was just following a childhood dream, and not something that I still wanted to do. I thought about many different paths, but all of them led back to kids. I thought about psychology, and child counseling, I thought about school psychology, I thought about social work in the schools, and finally realized that my passion was with children and helping them to have the best future possible. The natural choice after that felt like teaching.


The thing I love most about teaching is the look on a kid's face when they finally understand a tough concept. I also love knowing that I personally am responsible for teaching kids super basic concepts like multiplication and division. These basic things that we know how to do, that we take for granted, and that are such an integral part of our lives...? They know those things because of me. I love knowing that I am making a difference in not only these kids' lives, but in every life that they are going to touch as well. I love the teachable moments that aren't necessarily academic ones. I love those moments where I am not just teaching them about math, social studies, writing... but also about life. I love knowing that I am teaching life lessons and showing them how to be not only good students, but good people. And I honestly love being their crying shoulder, knowing that they love and trust me enough to clue me into the more personal parts of their lives.
A specific example of this may be the other day when one of my boys was being so bad all day. He would not listen, he was talking back, and being openly defiant of me. I dealt with it all day until afternoon recess when I pulled him aside as the others were leaving to question him about his behavior. I asked him if he was being very respectful, to which he replied "no." I asked him why, and he said "Because I'm angry!" I asked him why he was angry and he said "because my dad won't talk to me!" At this point he just broke down crying. I was very grateful that I had asked him what was going on rather than simply reprimanding him, because that would have made the situation worse. Instead I told him I am so sorry that he and his dad are fighting, but that he should not treat other people badly when they are not the ones that he is angry with. Moments like these are powerful teaching moments, and I am glad that I can be there to be that positive example that kids need.
I think one of the hardest aspects of teaching, honestly, is pleasing every parent. Things that work for one kid don't necessarily work for another. I have one child in my class that is severely ADHD and the family refuses to medicate him. That is their personal decision, but as a result, I feel like I am giving this particular child way more attention than is fair to the others, because I am always having to attend to some inappropriate behavior or checking that he is on task or even attempting to get his work done. I have tried countless strategies with him, and I just feel like no matter how hard I try, I am just not getting him where he needs to be. I had been trying to get ahold of his parents for a few weeks and they were not responding. Realizing that I wasn't going to get any help here, I decided to try collaborating with his past teachers, and with some of the other 3rd grade teachers at my school. After this I finally felt like I had some good ideas, and was trying to put them into practice. That very day his father called me, terribly upset that I had been communicating with the mother instead of him, and got mad at me for nobody communicating with him about his son. He was upset that I was sending his kid to one-on-one reading instruction with a reading aid and claimed that "it should not take more than one person to educate his child." He was also upset with some of his sons behavior problems that I "could not control", informed me that I must not be strict enough, and because I was getting reading help for his child and could not eliminate his behavior problems that I was "obviously not doing my job right." He attributed this to my first year teacher status. He was very rude, and his comments quite uncalled for. He raised his voice with me and gave me an earful for 10 minutes, and then hung up without letting me come back with anything or try to get to the bottom of things and figure anything out. After this phone call, he decided to give the principal a call and let him know exactly what he thought of me and my methods. The principal sided with me, but it was still an emotional experience for me. Negative parent contact is the worst, especially when they do not try to actually see the full picture. You can only do so much for a child, and when you feel like you are truly trying your best, giving it every effort you can, and the parents are still not pleased, that's when it gets tough. Parents do know their children better than their teachers do, that is not even a question. But.. Parents do not know how to teach like teachers do. They have not had 4+ years of training for it.  Along those lines, I don't know how to parent like they do. We each have our specialties, and I believe that they should stay separate.
Now that I am actually teaching, I think I am more confident in my abilities as a whole. Lesson planning and grading, and everything like that is tough and incredibly time consuming, but it is not as challenging as I anticipated. However, when it comes to reaching each individual student, I think I am slightly less confident. I did not anticipate such a wide range of abilities all in one classroom. Sure, they are all the same age and in the same grade, but I teach 3rd grade and I have students in my class at anywhere from a 1st grade reading/writing level to a 5th. It is tough to make sure that my instruction is developmentally appropriate for every child. I don't want to lose my lower kids, but I do not want to bore my higher kids. There are also those kids that will ask for help when they don't understand, as well as other students who will silently struggle. They will never approach me or ask for help with anything, because they are either too shy to talk to the teacher/authority figure, or simply don't want me to know that they are struggling. Because of this, finding that balance and making accommodations for every child is a huge challenge.
I think that my teacher program was fairly effective in teaching me how to teach, in theory. It taught me all of the needed content knowledge, and many helpful strategies. However, I think that something as all-encompassing as actually teaching really only comes with sustained practice. I did have hands-on opportunities. I did 2 month-long practicums, but that was in someone else's classroom. I was only teaching a few lessons a day. I was responsible for the grading for those lessons, but that was it. Now I am in charge of everything! Grading, planning (for all day, every day), parent communication, and really, truly knowing as much as possible about each kid and where they are/should be academically, emotionally, and socially. My hardest struggle with my first year of teaching is classroom management. This is something that I am constantly being encouraged to improve on. I had a 3 credit class my junior year at BYU called "Classroom Management", and I got tons of great ideas from it, but once again- this is definitely something that you really just learn by doing. In practicums I used someone else's management system. The kids were already used to it, so they responded to it. Coming up with my own and successfully implementing it has been difficult.
I fully believe that teaching is a profession. Obviously I'm a bit biased, but I can't stand when people say it is not. Teaching is a career that requires specialized training. Not just a few months, but at least 4 years of it. It is one of the fastest-changing fields, so it requires professional development and training quite often. Teachers need to stay up to date on new technologies, and the ever-changing new and best practices. Teaching is also a job that isn't just a job. It's my whole life. I am at school from 7:30 to 6 almost every day and after that I take things home with me to grade and plan. Work does not stay at work. When that much of your life is devoted to something that you've trained so hard for I would definitely call it a profession.
Teaching is being busier and more stressed than you ever thought possible, but so rewarding.

...

I see every day what a difference I am making in these children's lives. Not only in their academic abilities, but their life skills as well. Regardless of tough situations and a tough class, I really have loved this year and I love this profession. :)
♥, Meagan