Two years ago my older and much wiser sister, Stacy Cassio and I had a conversation over the phone about how we were both looking for a new challenge. We had both been in our current positions for more than 5 years and just needed something new. I mentioned, that in a perfect world, I would write a book about supporting special needs preschoolers. She suggested that we start a blog!
Little did she know, I knew nothing about technology or blogging and with her business background she knew nothing about the world of education let alone the world of early childhood special education that is a whole world in and of itself. . . but in blind faith of one another we launched Considerate Classroom in September of 2012.
WOW! What an adventure it has been. In the beginning, we would text and email each other daily in absolute shock of the following we were getting. It is a humbling to know that educators and parents across the country enjoy reading our blog and find it helpful.
Who knew two sisters with completely differently lives, (me, a mom and teacher in rural Kansas and her, a big city business woman in Charlotte, North Carolina) could come together and make a difference in the lives of others, especially young children.
I am blessed to have such an amazing older sister who can transform my ideas into something enjoyable and educational for others to read. Without her, my posts would make no sense. They would be full of typos and run-on sentences. Afterall, I am a preschool teacher!
This post is a good example of exactly that! I am doing this one solo as a tribute to my sister, our partnership and where we are both headed. So please bear with me, my editor will be back next week.
Since starting this project together, I can honestly say I have gotten a lot closer to my editor and sister, Stacy Cassio. I look up to her now more than I ever have before, and those of you who knew us as young children can attest that I was pretty much a super fan, who idealized her every move when we were kids. I admire her talent and work ethic and am very pleased to share with all of you her recent success. This spring she found her dream job in business management.
It is wonderful to see her happy and loving life. I am very proud of her. She has worked very hard over the years and deserve every bit of success that is coming her way. Currently her and her husband are building and moving into their dream home. Hence another reason, I am going solo this week!
Since our launch in 2012, we have blogged on a varied of topics but I have never shared with you exactly, why we named our blog Considerate Classroom. By now, I am hoping some of you may have figured that part out on your own.
I am a firm believer that if we are considerate of each other’s time, energy, talents, strengths and weakness we can all accomplish more.
Unfortunately, I have to share my downfall. I am often so excited about sharing the latest and greatest in our classroom, I rarely think of the extra time and energy my sister has to put forth in getting my message out. Stacy, even though I rarely show it, I am very grateful for all the time and energy you dedicate to our blog for free. You are the best! Without you, there would not be a Considerate Classroom. I am not exactly sure how or why I have missed considering or acknowledging you time and time again because it comes so naturally in our classroom.
For example, whenever new students and staff come into the Buddy Bear classroom, I like to accept each of them as individuals by being considerate of their abilities, interests, and experiences. By doing so we can learn from each other and create an individualized program for each person.
Yes, that includes staff, not every paraprofessional, or therapist is cut out to be an art teacher, singer, scientist, nurse or comedian. As a team, we examine each other’s strengthens and considerate how we can best meet the needs of our students and families together as one. I don’t think I truly understood what this meant or looked like until I met my dream team.
This was the staff I had the pleasure of working with last school year. Wow, what a difference we made together! We laughed, we cried, and most importantly we helped our students meet their highest potential.
That being said I have to let you in on a little secret, with high anxiety, excitement and nervousness, starting today, I am no longer on the Buddy Bear Team. I have taken a position as the Early Childhood Coordinator for the State of Kansas’ Autism Team. Many of you know this project as the Autism and Tertiary Behavior Support Team of the Kansas Technical Assistance and Support Network (TASN).
Although it is my dream job to collaborate, consult, and support other Early Childhood Educators, it is bitter sweet to pack up my classroom and move forward. The Buddy Bear Classroom was like my second home. Long before, I had my little Payton and Emmitt, I had a classroom where I could make a difference serving, nurturing, and loving so many small people. I only hope I can love, support, and nurture educators and staff as effectively.
As I reflect back on the last eleven years in the classroom, I realize I have learned so much over the years. . .
1. I have learned that you can never underestimate the power of a student or individual. If you set your expectations high, with the right supports and a good plan you will never be disappointed.
2. I have learned that children want your presences not your presents. In the fast paced world we live in, it can be hard to remember that face to face contact and interaction is the most important. Playful interactions, socialization and treating all students with respect and dignity help build student rapport in turn building student success.
3. I have learned how important the small things are. Celebrating a student’s eye gaze, first steps, or spontaneous greeting is important. It is all perspective . . . a good day is not a day without trials and tribulations but rather a day in which we learn from our trials or make progress with our tribulations.
4. I have learned that you aren’t doomed when something doesn’t work out. It is just time for a restructure. If you don’t try you will never know. Try and then restructure for as long as it takes to get success.
5. Most importantly, I have learned the power of a team! Originally the 'Buddy Bears' was just a phrase I stole from a well-respected colleague in the field, Mrs. Vicky Hepler. Based on the thought of Conscious Discipline and everyone belonging to something bigger than themselves, I took her lead and used the phrase as our team name. Wow, do I owe you a big THANK YOU Vicky! Over the years, our Buddy Bears Preschoolers have found a home in so many hearts. I never knew my students and staff would become a family in and of itself. Nor did I know my co-workers would become my best friends. It is with a heavy heart and lots of tears I must say so long to the Buddy Bear students and staff.
(This message was posted on our marker board the last day of school.)
I would like to think that everything the Buddy Bears taught me over the years will continue to be shared through me throughout the state with my new TASN-ATBS team.
And no worries Considerate Classroom Family, I still have plenty of classroom ideas, strategies and tips to share on the blog. Just bear with my sister and I as she gets moved into her beautiful new home and I get adjusted to my new job.
Maybe if I am lucky, she will let me visit her dream home for my dream vacation of kid free blogging, as that is definitely not happening in my home. I am either up late, up early, or blogging with a 3 year old in my lap and a 6 year old's favorite Netflix movie streaming in the background.
But it is all worth it to have met colleagues as passionate you through virtual learning! Until next time. . . Best wishes, Lindy