Sunday’s Reflection: “Building My Legacy”

The students I’ve taught are my legacy.

Sunday’s Reflection: “Building My Legacy”

As I sit and reflect, I thought about how I’m Building My Legacy.

Last Saturday, I received an e-mail from a former parent and her daughter. They wished me a good school year.

Upon reading that message, I reflected on my time teaching that student. When I first got her in 4th grade, she was a student who apparently needed a little extra help. I didn’t think any type of program that would label her would be necessary, so I made the choice to develop her myself.

She made growth but was behind most of the school year. Then a seminal moment happened. After a failed test(her second of the week), she was downtrodden. So, at recess, I sat with her and had a quick conversation.

Me: “Did you get the reading log that we gave you?”

Her: “Yes.”

Me: “Did you read your minutes?”

Her: “No.”

Me: “Well…”

Me again: “Go ahead and cry for a bit. After that, it’s time to get to work.”

The next week, she passed both of her S.T.A.A.R. Prep test. She came up short on her S.T.A.A.R. test but kept grinding over the summer. (Reading every day.)

In 5th grade, her performance improved. She passed her Reading and Math S.T.A.A.R. test and made honor roll once.

Now, her teachers love her “work ethic.”

That student’s story parallels many in my first classroom—The Greatness Room. They were my foundation.

It was so awesome to watch them evolve. They went from the worst performing classroom on the floor to the highest performing. It took place in one week, too.

I remember it vividly. The kids took their Math Benchmark and were the 4th. So, I told them let’s go up to third tomorrow. One of my kids said: How about 1st?

They were first on the Reading Benchmark…woop woop.

The momentum built in the second semester, but I felt that my kids weren’t growing. So, I asked the Literacy Coach, Mrs.Dixon(now Hall), to model a lesson. Why would I not ask? 95 percent of her kids passed S.T.A.A.R.

It took her a week or two but when she came in, it was worth the wait. Her energy level was off the charts. Watching her, I knew that was the level I wanted to be on.

To prove that, I started teaching from the gut and being natural in my delivery. My kids’ performance soared in Reading and other subjects. It culminated in a 90 percent performance on a S.T.A.A.R. Prep test. My babies felt like rock stars.

None of that would have been possible without the support I received. Mrs.Day, the assistant principal, got me through those tough meetings. Mrs.Scott, the Student Support Specialist(Awesome Math teacher, too), always told me what was up and had my back in a few situations. The Math Coach shared her dope lesson-plan structure. Ms.Gilley, the ESL Coordinator, told me to watch teaching videos. Mrs.Avington taught me how to be organized. Mrs.Kelley, the SPED team lead was a light. Mr.Neblett, my mentor teacher, helped me become a professional. And Mrs.Dixon showed me what Greatness looked like.

The next year, I looped with my kids, and my classroom became The Phenomenal Room. This year is what shaped me–as I learned many lessons.

Lesson 1: Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate

My second group had every label in the book: SPED, 504, Dyslexic, Emergent Reader, ESL, ESL/GT, GT, GT/Behavior Issue, Kicked Out of a School(Multiple), ED. (I might have missed a few)

So, I had to differentiate and fill many roles. I can’t say that I did it perfectly , but they learned the content. They might have misbehaved a time or two or 100. But we worked through the issues. One co-worker even commented that I must have the patience of Job.

Lesson 2: How To/How Not To Deal With Tragedy

My classroom experienced so much pain and loss. One of my student’s mother died. Another student’s sister died. A third student’s grandmother died. A fourth student’s birth parents died. On top of that, my Dad had a stroke, and my grandmother passed away.

For the most part, I feel that I coached my kids through the losses appropriately.

But when my grandmother was sick and eventually left us, I didn’t handle it the right way.

Initially, I found out that she had 24 hours left on the earth while teaching Figurative Language. I kept teaching. My student checked me calling me “dumb” for not going home.

After attending the funeral that weekend, I arrived home at 2:30 and clocked in at 6:30, which wasn’t wise. For two weeks, I ran on fumes and ultimately broke. The next day, I changed the theme of the classroom that week from “Push Through The Pain” to “Reach Out.”

Lesson 3: Teaching Through Adversity

My kids were subjected to more than any group of young children should be subjected to in an educational setting.

In February of that school year, an authority figure told them that they were the worst kids in the school and that they had never accomplished anything…whoa. Thankfully, I was able to immediately rebuild their confidence.  That Friday, they balled out on their Math test. God has a sense of humor sometimes.

About two weeks before the S.T.A.A.R., that same authority figure told them that he didn’t see anything Phenomenal and the words should be ripped off the wall. It was wack , but it didn’t shake them. They balled out on their state assessment. I’ll forever remember them giving me a round of applause when I walked in after the test.

At the end of the year, they had accomplished much. Half of them were on Honor Roll. Four got admitted to the Roberson, the district’s magnet school. And they were part of the best performance year in the history of the school.

They were Phenomenal.

Following that year, I moved over to Krahn in Klein I.S.D. I worried about teaching a different student population. Would they like my style? Are the parents going to like me? Will they appreciate my expectation level?

Turns out, they loved the high-energy and the weekly themes. Not to mention that got on tables a few times. One student even nicknamed me “The Motivational Maestro.”(Yes, her vocabulary is that extensive.)

Sadly, before I could go into S.T.A.A.R. mode, my kids were torn away from me. An event I’ll probably never get over. But I kept it pushing and helped my new scholars grow.

They Were Inspired.

Coming into a new school year, I knew it’d be a challenge. I’d never worked with such a young age group. I’m a high-rigor teacher. Teaching in Primary(K-2) isn’t my jam. One co-worker even asked me if they could say Phenomenal. I told her that the thought never crossed my mind.

Then came “Meet The Teacher.” Most of my new students visited the room. Upon entering the classroom, I welcome them to The Phenomenal Room. After that, I’d asked them to say it. Several could say it, but a few struggled. One child sounded out Phenomenal perfectly as he left, though. It was too cute.

One cool interaction set the tone for a tremendous year. When I introduced myself to the student, I inquired as to what book he liked. He didn’t like many. Then I asked him what athlete he liked. He responded: Steph Curry.

A friend had purchased a Steph Curry book from my Amazon wish list(Thanks Dre). So, I looked through it with him.

I asked him: “How does he look in the picture?”

Student: “He looks sad.”

Me: “How do you know?”

Student: “He has a tear in his eye.”

Me(In My Head): “Let’s Go!!!”

I’m ready to keep Building My Legacy.

I leave you with two things.

1. What’s your legacy?

2. What would you like to know more about?

Say Back

1. What did you like about the reflection?

2. What would you like to know more about?

Application: Reflect on your life, write about who you’ve impacted.

Jeremiah Short, Educator

Published by Jeremiah Short

My name is Jeremiah Short, and I'm a educator with six years of experience. I love to teach and the overall craft of the profession. I've written one book on my journey(As I Took My Walk With God Volume I: I Stopped Wasting God's Time) with a second one way (As I Took My Walk With God Volume II: Greatness Was Upon Them). In addition to writing books, I've created several instructional routines: Word Power, T.I.D.E., Bloom's Units: Reading and The Phenomenal Classroom.

One thought on “Sunday’s Reflection: “Building My Legacy”

  1. Sometimes in this life, we may not be where we want to be or where we feel we should be! But we are right where God needs us to be.
    Good job Mr. Short and stay the phenomenal course!
    My son is so much better academically because you saw him individually and his potential.
    Thank you!


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