NJEA Teacher Convention and the glorious four-day weekend!

2019 NJEA Convention Theme

Ahhh, pure heaven! You know what I mean; the glorious 4 day weekend given to teachers all across America to take classes to be better at what they do; teaching children. But many of us get our professional development hours elsewhere and use this time for relaxation and reflection going forward after a demanding start of the school year.

I don’t know about you but this year has been challenging! As a third-year Special Education Teacher, I thought I was beginning to have it down. I thought I knew what I was doing. You know, classroom management, behavior plans, great lessons and the like. But this year’s kids threw me for a loop. I had to figure out more than just how to motivate them, what their interests and career choices were and how to include them in their classwork.

Nuh-uh, what these kids wanted to know was did I really care about them? You see, when you care about someone, really care about someone, you can ignore their insults, rolling of the eyes and misbehavior because you are going after something more indelible than getting them to temporarily follow directions. You are making an impression on their hearts that someone cares about them and that they matter.

I did this first hand with one of my students. Oh was he tough! Day in and day out he insisted that he was not doing any work and I couldn’t make him. Giving him detentions, failing grades and phone calling home didn’t work either. But what I did give him was a vision for his life and how his life could be. That although his home life may be less than ideal right now, he needed to finish school so that he could get a job, move out of his house and live his life differently than how his parents lived theirs. For him, that’s what he needed to hear in order for him to tolerate school and produce his work. 

I still have a few students I haven’t reached yet and who continue to oppose me but these few days off for relaxation and reflection give me new hope and determination to keep persevering with them. And when I will finally get to their hearts it will be the most satisfying feeling of all.

How do you use your 4 days off for Teacher’s Convention?