Thursday, January 13, 2011

One Down, Another to Go

Today was the last day of my first "year" of teaching - since the school I'm at is advanced block scheduling, each semester is like a year. So today I said good-bye to my first group of students and on Tuesday I meet a whole new group of kids. It's been a fascinating 18 weeks and I feel like almost everything that could possibly happen to a first year teacher happened to me. Within the first 6 weeks of school, I had to contact CPS, had a student punch another in front of me, and was called a F-ing idiot by a student. If there was ever a time when I could have been tempted to quit, it was then. I was working late at least three days a week and was constantly stressed. I kept telling myself it would get better one day. One day I would be able to go home before 5:00 and not have anything to grade. One day I would know what lesson I was doing before 9:45 the morning I was supposed to teach it. It took a while, but finally those things did happen.

In the beginning, my lessons were extremely bland. I hated my lessons, I felt like I wasn't doing a good job, and, worst of all, there were times that I felt like the students were not learning. It was about halfway through the semester that I found my passion for teaching again - it's when I began to put that passion into my teaching. I began to have fun with my lessons, made them interesting. The students got to put some of the absolute monarchs on trial, listen to a story about the beginning of World War I as if it was a cafeteria fight, and fight a trench war. When school let out for winter break, teaching had become easier and so had classroom management.

Now it's time for a new "year" and I'm excited to see what's going to happen this time. I have all these new ideas for activities and lessons that hopefully will make the students interested in the material. I've actually texted myself a couple of times with ideas because I know I'll forget them by the time I get to a piece of paper and a pen. I know it's still going to be a bit rough, but it will continue to get better. By the end of the school year, I will have taught the world history course twice and will have come up with more ideas to improve my lessons.

On a different note, I completed all of my Christmas projects (one was a little late, but I was able to make it a birthday gift) and almost finished all of the books I wanted to read. My only problem with the books was I kept buying new ones to read. Now I have a new time line for crochet gifts - two of my closest friends have gotten engaged and both will be married in the next few months. I'm making each couple a blanket for their wedding. The first wedding is in just a couple of months, so I've already started their blanket. Here's to hoping I finish it on time while surviving the new school year.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Rush of the School Year

It's been a very busy month for me - inservice and then the start of school. Some days it doesn't feel like I have enough time to breath, but it's all worth it. I'm in a job I love at an amazing school. I have a great group of students. I finally feel like I have time to relax this week. I've made all my copies for next week and all I have to do for tomorrow is redo the seating chart.

I feel extremely blessed to be where I am in my life right now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Real Reason for Teaching

Okay, normally I am a pretty laid back person. It takes quite a bit to get me riled up, but tonight is one of those times. So please excuse me as I get on my soapbox.

I was reading this story on Yahoo! news titled "20 Worst Paying College Degrees in 2010" because I knew they were going to include education jobs and I wanted to see what they had to say about it. It's your typical "Don't major in these areas because your salary will suck" story. Then I moved down to the comments section - bad idea. The first thing I read was this jewel of wisdom:

"Yeah, teaching is so hard. That must be why it's the favored career path for head cheerleaders and "mean girls". I guess you can't leave school mentally, Peter Pan. I bet you volunteer to chaperone the junior high dances, living vicariously through today's twelve year olds. Yeah. Challenging career."

That was then followed by this:

"Exactly! This is the real world, come out and live in it."

I wanted to respond to those comments but decided not to on the page. So here is my response to these fine gentlemen and their nuggets of wisdom.

Oh My Gosh! Thank you two for explaining to me why I'm a high school history teacher! I didn't understand my reasons until now! Wow, I thought I became a teacher because I have a passion for my subject and for the job. I thought that I was a teacher because I love seeing a student's eyes light up when they understand a difficult question or problem. I truly enjoyed going into the classroom every day with activities that excite my students and make them want to learn history, but now I know that I was only lying to myself. The real problem is I just can't grow up. I am socially stunted and only want to live out my teen fantasies through my students. Everything makes so much more sense now!

Get over yourselves! Get your head out of the sand and realize that people (men as well as women) go into teaching because that is what they are passionate about. I cannot stand the self-pretentious people, such as yourselves, who claim that education is a soft major and an easy job. It's not easy. I can attest to that fact right now as I am going through my new teacher orientation and realizing that I am not as prepared as I want to be. My job does not consist of just standing in front of the class and feeding the students information. I have to actively monitor the students to make sure they understand what I am trying to teach them. I have to make my lessons interesting. I have to integrate technology into my classroom to accommodate the current generation of students who have grown up in a technologically savvy world. I have to set up a plan of classroom management, implement it, and then make sure I enforce it fairly. I have to keep an eye on my students to make sure they are doing okay mentally and emotionally. I have to deal with parents who don't care and parents who don't know how to let go.

I do all of this because I love teaching. I don't do it for the salary or the recognition or because it's popular.

Teachers are dismissed and looked down upon by many in our country. Enough! Teachers deserve respect for their profession - it's not as easy as it looks, as I tried to demonstrate above, and people need to recognize that. We are living in the real world and are trying to prepare today's students to live in it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Start of a New Year

Okay, so it's been a while since I last wrote. I apologize and am currently trying to think of a good excuse. I did go on vacation with the family last week, so that's one thing but that's the only one. Vacation was great, a nice break from life and also an amazing break from the oppressive heat of my home state. It felt so great up in the mountains I almost didn't want to come home. But home is where family, friends, my significant other, and potential job opportunities are.

Speaking of potential job opportunities, I had a fantastic lead dropped in my lap a couple of weeks ago. One day I sent out almost one hundred emails to principals in districts I had applied to asking if there were any job openings. That night I heard back from one of the principals in the district where I am currently employed as a sub - he said that he might have a position opening up in the next week. I was pretty excited about that lead and then it got better. The day after I got the email I got a call from the department chair of a local high school (I'm going to nickname it Pan High) saying they had a job opening. To make a long story short, about fifteen minutes after the first phone conversation I was on the road to my first interview in months. It went really well - I felt like I impressed the principal and the department chair and they really sold Pan High to me.

The department chair said she would try to reach me next week about what was going on with the position. So that lead to a week of freaking out every time the phone rang and also when it didn't. Then on Thursday I got an email saying they would make their final decision on Wednesday. More waiting and worrying. Wednesday rolls around and I nearly jump out of my skin every single time the phone rings. Finally, I decided to call the department chair and see what was going on. She said they had decided on who they wanted to fill the position, had sent it on the HR, and they would call that lucky person late that afternoon or the next morning. More waiting - I feel so bad for my family and my SO because they had to put up with my neurotic self while I panicked about if I got the job or not. By yesterday morning, I hadn't gotten a phone call and I was beginning to think I didn't get the job. So I figured I would check my email and see if someone sent me a consolation email. There was an email.

The HR rep for Secondary Ed had sent me an email saying that I had been recommended for the Social Studies position at Pan High. I was bouncing off the walls of my apartment when I read that! After over eight months of looking for a job and disappointment after disappointment, I had finally been offered a position. It's at an incredible school, I think I'm going to love the staff, and I'm just so excited to know what I'm going to be doing come the start of school.

I spent the rest of yesterday morning talking to people in HR about what I would need to do next week, calling family to let them know the good news, and calling the principal and department chair to thank them for recommending me. I found out that today is my last official day of summer and starting Monday I get to spend the next couple of weeks in meetings and inservice. My sweet little sister and her awesome roommate have already offered to help me set up my classroom, which is going to be a big help. I actually get to see my classroom tomorrow, when I go to help the department chair clean it up and dig through the old posters to see which ones I want to keep. I'm extremely excited about getting to see my room! I need to figure out how much space I'm going to have on the walls and how I might set up the desks. Definitely looking at a very busy week coming up.

Now I'm a little nervous about the school year, planning lessons and meeting my students. This is going to be the hardest year for me since it's my first, but I think it's going to be a great one.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Today was one of my favorite kind of days - I got to curl up on my couch reading while I listened to the rain falling outside. I finally made it out to the library today. I've been promising myself for days that I would go to get more books, but something always seemed to get in the way. So now I have a fresh supply of books to get me through the next couple of weeks.

I also went to see "Toy Story 3" today and it was amazing! It was sweet, brought up a lot of memories and was consistently funny. I even teared up a couple of times. Definitely the best movie I've seen this year. When my friends and I first heard they were making a third "Toy Story," we all said that the plot was going to revolve around Andy going off to college. We were right, along with every other person making a guess about what the movie was going to be about. The story hit close to home - the first "Toy Story" came out when I was a kid and now with the current one I've just graduated from college. It feels a little like my generation and I grew up with Andy. We remember playing with our toys as children, creating elaborate story lines and acting them out with those toys. Then we get older and stop playing with them, abandoning them in toy boxes and under our beds. Sometimes we gave them away or, occasionally, threw them away. Finally, we're 18 and going off to college and leaving those toys behind.

If you haven't seen the movie yet and want to, skip over the next couple of sentences.

At the end of the movie, Andy gives his toys to Bonnie and spends some time with her playing with them like he used to when he was younger. When he leaves, he asks her to take good care of them because they are very special. I loved this, the way the movie ended because it started the cycle all over again for the toys. They were able to spark another child's imagination and give them some great memories. It made me wonder about all of my old toys that I gave away. Did another little girl or boy have as much fun with them as I did? Did they create new adventures for the toys to go on? I miss those toys a little bit from time to time but giving up childhood playthings is a part of growing up.

I think sometimes we try to grow up too quickly. As children, we look at our parents, aunts and uncles and we can't wait to be like them. We're asked what do we want to be when we grow up, constantly being influenced to look towards the future. Maybe sometimes we forgot to be a kid. Now that we're adults, or at least considered adults, we every so often wish for those moments where nothing in the world matters but the time we have to play or the nap we get to take. A couple of my friends like to joke that nap time is wasted on preschoolers - why not just let them play all day, so that when their parents come to get them, they are completely worn out? Oh well.

Anyway, "Toy Story 3" was a great movie and if you haven't seen it, you should. I'm hoping to see it on the Best Picture ballot for the next Academy Awards.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Blessing of Friends

I drove down to the City in the South this weekend to spend some time with my mom and also just for a change of scenery. My mom and stepdad are getting ready to move, but first they have a lot of work to do on their house before they can sell it. I helped while I was there; however there was more to do than the three of us could handle. So, my mom (many days ago) had asked their life group from church to come out and help her. On Saturday, they slowly began to trickle in and started to work on the house. One guy brought his power washer and washed the exterior - it looked so much better when he finished. Several of the women in the group helped my mom clean the cabinets in the kitchen and I ran errands. With all the help we had, it only took a few hours to clean up the house and then it was time to move on to packing.

I was amazed to see how quickly my mom and her friends packed up each room. There were five of them and it took less than thirty minutes to finish each room. Throughout the day, as I dashed in and out of the house, I could hear laughter drifting out of the rooms everyone was working in. At one point I had to stop and just think about how amazing it was that my mom and stepdad had these friends who were willing to give up their Saturday to help them. I think sometimes we forget the blessing that are friends, these people who are not our biological family but care for us as if we were related. Friends help each other when asked, laugh with each other over things they've done, support each other, and get to experience life together. I feel blessed to have been able to witness the love my mom's friends have for her, the support they have offered her. I am thankful that since my siblings and I live two or more hours away from my mom and stepdad and can't always be there to help, there's a group of people willing to help them with anything they need.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Today was the last day of school! Yay! I was lucky enough to have sub jobs for today and yesterday at my favorite school, which is where I did my student teaching last semester. It was nice to be "home," as my dad calls it. This is the one school I'm most comfortable at because I know most of the teachers there and I know my way around. I would love to work there as a full-time teacher, but that's not looking very likely. Oh well. At least I got to spend as much time as I did working there.

The kids were absolutely nuts today and I cannot blame them for it. The district I work for is one of the last to be done for the year and the kids were so ready to be out. I'm not quite sure why they were going so late, but what matters now is that we're done! I'm really excited to be on break for a while - I do have a couple of things to do this summer (a professional development event and vacation) that I'm really looking forward to.

I was a little sad today when I left because I realized that today is probably the last day I get to work at this school. I got to start the school year there and I was able to be there when the year ended. I've made some great memories there and I learned so much from the staff, especially my mentor teacher. She was the best mentor I could have ever asked for and continued to help me when I started subbing. Any future teacher who gets her as a mentor is going to be so blessed and is going to learn a ton about teaching. I definitely plan on keeping in touch with her.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with myself starting tomorrow because I'm so used to getting up early and getting ready for work. I guess sleep in. One thing I hope to get done this summer is finish a few more Christmas projects, including an extremely complicated blanket. Summer, here I come!