Posted in Personal Growth, teaching, Therapy, Uncategorized

Doing the work

As a teacher, I used to hesitate to say no when asked to do things. I worried that I would be labeled as someone who is not a team player. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of the time I became the team, because “I was good at ____”. Saying I was good at something, made me feel validated, but it’s also how many of us burnout. I was overwhelmed and my anxiety was through the roof, and it went on like this for a couple of years. I still gave my students my all, but my family had a more exhausted, emotionally drained version of their mom and wife.

When it became too much, I did what no one likes to admit, I asked for help, real professional help. That’s right, I saw a therapist- who stated the obvious, “you’re doing too much,” but unlike advice that I would have customarily blown off, since I was paying for his service, I listened to him. And then took his advice and put it to use. 

I started saying no to projects that didn’t make me happy. And you know what? It was okay, no one retaliated, and someone else who was glad to do it did it. So contrary to what we believe, things can get done without us. Therapy taught me to seek balance in all aspects of my life. 

I also learned the importance of creating my core values, a set of standards to guide me personally and professionally, something that I now realize was missing. My core values, a few which I am sharing, encouraged me to narrow down my motivations and goals for how I wanted to lead my life. 

Mrs. Tolman’s Core Values:

1. Engage fully or, as I prefer to say it- be where your feet are. If you are at school, you focus on school; if you are on the field, your feet are there. If I’m at school, I am a teacher and a colleague. At home, I am a mom, wife, and doctoral student. This balance is essential for me because my family deserves the same energy level that I give my students. 

2. We are servant leaders. I grew up without so many basic things- electricity, sometimes food, at one point without a bed. This is why in my heart, I find it important to serve. I believe to whom much is given, much is expected. My students are learning about servant leadership as well- we make sandwiches for the homeless, donate clothing and food, and serve every month. And I like to remind them, this is done with the most valuable resource-time. 


3. We choose joy. We practice gratitude daily during the first five minutes of class. It helps students shift their mindset and find small things that we are grateful for. This could be- my socks match, my mom made my favorite dinner, whatever it is that made a difference in their day. This reflection is how we avoid spiraling out, the small gesture resonates and makes a difference. My favorite part is that students are now actively seeking things to write in their journals. 

I don’t have all the answers, but the one thing I am sure of is that I didn’t want to lose my sense of self because I am a teacher. I can say no. I can find joy. Make no mistake though, I did the work. I did the work that we often hesitate to do because it seems selfish or frowned upon. Making time for myself was not selfish. In making time, I have created balance without sacrificing my mental health and I am a better teacher, mom and wife for it.  

Posted in Personal Growth, teaching

I’m intentional 🤷🏻‍♀️

When I interviewed last week, I told Doug, that I’m pretty sure I held my own. And that I forgot what leadership traits I have used to help my colleagues🤦🏻‍♀️
But here’s what I said:
I’m intentional with how I approach teaching them during professional development. I like to ensure that they leave with tangible lessons that they can implement in their classrooms. I respect their time and want them to feel like it has not been wasted.
If nothing else it is a true statement. Whether it’s a leadership trait 🤷🏻‍♀️
But here’s to a new adventure.

Posted in Servant Leadership, teaching, Uncategorized

Teaching to Serve

Guess how I spent my morning?!

That’s right another drive by collection, this time in preparation for our April service project.
I do get strange looks from people in the parking lot when they see students hop off their cars to place their donations in my car… but this has been the best solution for me.
From here, Doug and I will assemble 65 Easter boxes and stuff them with the goodies the kids dropped off and deliver to a local adult day care facility next Friday.
I’m proud to say that we have successfully completed a community service project every month this school year, which is no easy feat during a pandemic.
I am incredibly grateful that the parents have found it in their hearts to allow participation to even occur.

I will continue to say that the ability to serve doesn’t/shouldn’t stop and if it is within your ability to do so, please do. Time is as valuable as money.

Wishing everyone a happy Saturday!

Posted in edtech, Personal Growth, teaching, Uncategorized

Creating solutions

I am seeing so many educators struggle for so many reason and I decided to create something that would alleviate some concerns. I have decided to add content to my YouTube channel that gives MINUTE long lessons on how to bring technology into your classroom. The videos are created in real time to show that we are heavily overthinking what we need to do for this new and revised version of teaching.

I am both a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer, so I know a little about what I am talking about.I am currently only at 3 but have a whole list of topics in mind.

I respect and value time and learning which is why I kept them short but relevant. Anything I suggest is because they have proven effective and I am not being paid by anyone to promote them. Here’s the link- I hope you find something that helps.

Yours in service.
Posted in teaching

Teaching from home

I’ve got this stuff down. Assignments for my students are sent every Monday. I send Remind announcements on the days we don’t Zoom. I troubleshoot virtually. I communicate with parents. All the things I was doing in real life except now without the in person experience.

But here’s the thing- I miss my students, all of them… (most of the 😆) I miss my Interact and CFA students too.

I miss serving my community with them. I miss exposing them to a world outside of their own drama. I miss them asking me questions on the lesson I explained minutes ago. I miss 👊🏻 to ✋🏻 to hear how their weekend was.

I just miss teaching in person. Not because I can’t handle teaching from home, but because the impact just isn’t the same.

Happy Wednesday!

Posted in co-parenting, parenting, teaching, Uncategorized

Not your average teacher

As an educator, I am in a very unique situation during all of this. My own kids learn from 8-2 and I have scheduled Zoom meetings with my 125 students M-W-F. They don’t all show but they’re doing the work and they know that I’m available in real time on those days. As the campus webmaster, I take care of campus website stuff whenever admin requests it, however, I recently provided access to the TST to balance my workload. My Google voice phone goes on at 8AM and to Do Not Disturb at 4.

However, this type of learning is not a leap for me. I implemented digital notebooks in the beginning of the year and have used Edmodo as a means to communicate. My students know what to do.

The district has been paying for Office 365 so why not use it?! This is 21st Century learning.

What this means in my scenario is that my students faced and resolved the connection struggles in the beginning of the year while in class.

My kids have 3 parents who are educators and need to work during the day, so structure was always a given. They’re going to work. It is disrespectful to disregard the work the teachers are creating for them. Parents will disagree. But as a teacher, if they have work they’re going to do it. And here’s the thing-they look forward to it.

My administration has been nothing but supportive, but I work in such a way that what is being asked is a norm and not something extraordinary.

So I get that teachers are overwhelmed. But what we’re looking at is a crash course in what was designed as a technology plan for the State of Texas in 2006.

I pray that everyone is safe.

While I may not be the norm, I felt it important to at least share that some of us are ok. We’re not overwhelmed, overworked, or feeling unappreciated. We’re doing what we love for the students who need us to show up.

Happy Saturday!

Posted in teaching, Uncategorized

The lockdown discussion

Lockdowns happen. We’re preparing our students for emergencies and teaching them how to respond. Yet my question is- why are parents tearing down our responses on social? So if you missed last weeks episode we had a lockdown discussion from our perspective as a teacher and an administrator.

These drills aren’t easy for anyone involved so we decided to remind everyone that yes your kids are safe. And two many of us have families at home to.

Our demeanor during this time is solely to ensure your kids that’s they’re ok.

Happy Sunday!

Posted in teaching, Uncategorized

Teaching is not for the weak

Today was a hard day at school. We sat in the dark for over 30 minutes. I comforted kids. I did what I could to make sure they felt safe. And for the most part, I want to say that they did. I did slow breathing techniques with the class that followed after the lockdown was lifted.
So yes today was hard.
And when they walked in I still smiled and as they left I still wished them a good afternoon.
Parents please make sure you’re teaching your kids if they see something, say something.
That’s what made the difference in how today ended. Because even though it was hard, we all made it home safe.

Today’s lesson:

I loved seeing this because it shows that they’re watching us. They see the journey and the result. We think we can only teach from a book and not from our hearts. We can do both. I choose to live an authentic life, because any other way would be exhausting. I’m teaching this female student and all my other students that they determine what the future looks like.

Happy Tuesday!

Posted in teaching


As my students were walking out yesterday, one of them turns and says Mrs. Tolman I really enjoyed today’s lesson. It felt like a lesson from Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World.

That’s an exceptionally high compliment (to me) because we all learned lessons from him. More importantly I’m blessed that the lesson resonated with them.

Happy Tuesday Ya’ll!