Sunday, June 3, 2012

My 1st year's over?!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. In fact, it’s been a really long time, but I’ll make up for it with this really long recap of my school year.  It doesn’t hurt to be reflective, and it also makes my ls Jazmin happy when I do this. 

Hands down, I really can’t complain when it comes to my first year of teaching especially after comparing stories with some of my friends who were also teaching their first year.  When I think about it, my first year was an absolute cake-walk compared to theirs. I had great days this year.  My great days made me smile and beam because my students were behaving, did something magnificent, did some higher level thinking, or even displayed a great role of character. These were the days that made me happy to be a teacher; the days I lived for and wished would happen on a daily basis, but they didn’t.  On the other hand, I also had bad days.  Days that made me leave work thinking, “what the hell have I gotten into”, or my personal favorite, “being a journalist wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.” I can say that the later thoughts were few and far between, and that I’m okay with my career for the time being. 

Before, I said this post was going to be long, so to make it easier for my readers with ADD like myself, I’m gonna break it into sections, that way you’re not so overwhelmed by all the print! I know…I know…I’m very considerate! 

What my first year has taught me……
1
    Get every vaccine possible: This year, I’ve caught everything. From the stomach virus to strep throat to minor sinus infections, I’ve had it. These short term illnesses have taught me that kids carry everything, and it’s just best to be vaccinated….this is something I plan to do whenever a shot is available. 

      Take time for yourself: I think every first year teacher has the goal of being the super teacher….. I know during the first semester that was my goal. I was coming to work at 7:30 am, leaving at 5:30, and even spending most Sundays getting things graded and arranged.  It finally hit me in November that I wasn’t superwoman, and there was no way I was going to have all of those essays graded overnight and I needed to stop trying. After I realized that, my long work days were short lived, and it made it so much easier to come to work because I was rested…and the students work was still graded. It may have taken a while longer, but they got it which is what really matters.

3.    Don’t take yourself too seriously: Sometimes as teachers I believe we take ourselves too seriously.  When I say that, I don’t mean it in a harmful way. I think we forget that students are people and that they shouldn’t be reprimanded for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in discipline…trust me, but at the same time I don’t believe students should be crucified for every bad behavior.  Like adults, they make mistakes, and let’s not forget that, my students at least, are only twelve and thirteen years old. They’re still immature and are going to do things that we believe they shouldn’t be doing.  This year has taught me to take most things lightly because if I didn’t I’d be signing planners and sending kids to the office all day.  I’ve learned that when I laugh at their behavior and/or ignore them, they’re less likely to repeat it.  This is something I will always stand by because it helped tremendously with discipline problems.

4.    Start each day fresh: This is key!! In my classroom, every day is a new day. I believe that this is so important, especially when dealing with behavior issues, not to hold on to the bad things because often times we let the bad overshadow our thoughts, and we can’t see the good a student may be doing.  Every school year, I’ll receive a new batch of students, and I would prefer not to know anything about their pasts because what they did for one teacher, they may not do to me and vice versa.  I want to make my own judgments and observations without thinking about what former teachers have to say.  

5.    Forming relationships makes life easy: This is on a personal level with colleagues and also with students.  This year and in my internship, I did my best to make a connection with each student. Pay close attention to their likes, dislikes, and what made them tick.  Making these small observations made my school year successful…it helped me know how to approach a child when they were angry, how to talk to them when they weren’t meeting my expectations or not working to their best ability, and it also made it easier for my students to come to me when they had problems.

6.    Everybody wants to feel special and deserves respect: My mother instilled in me at an early age that everyone is equal; no one person is better than the other, and most importantly everyone wants to feel wanted.  This year, I made it a priority to treat all with the same respect. Everyone from janitors to lunch ladies to colleagues and most importantly my students were treated with equal respect.  It doesn’t take much; a single hello, a good morning, or even a smile in the hall in passing shows that you care.  I always made sure to give my students a smile or a hug whenever they looked like they were having a rough day. It shows them that you care, and that you’re human. Last year in my internship, I decided to start a tradition that I plan to do every year. I wrote each of my students a letter.  A letter just to tell them how much I loved them in class and so on. I personalized each letter because kids are good about comparing things.  This small act really makes a difference….people don’t realize how far a compliment goes, and how it can effect someone’s day. 


7.    This isn’t permanent: Honestly, I don’t see myself in the classroom much longer;  I really enjoy teaching kids and interacting with them, but I also feeling like I’m cutting myself short by teaching for twenty or thirty years.  I’m giving myself another four to five years because there are a few things I want to do before hanging up my SMARTboard makers. For instance, I want to get my national board certification. I’ve heard from several teachers how great and challenging this experience is, and I really want to give it a go in the next two years.

I attended my ls/sorority sister’s pharmacy school graduation a couple weeks ago, and it kind of gave me a push to go back to school and get a second masters in educational leadership and eventually get my doctorate in something else.  I’ve started looking at different doctoral programs, so I’ll know exactly what I want to do, and it’s better to do it now while I’m young and child-free.  It’s weird to even say that I want to be a principal one day because I wanted to have a career completely different than my mother’s, and now it seems that I’m following in her footsteps and taking it one step further. 

Future changes
1.      I know I’m not the most organized person in the world, but next year, I plan to change that.  I want to be more like I NEED TO BE more organized.  My cluttered desk is a reflection of my life and how I function. I work better under stress and chaos.  My desk is also a reflection of my brain; my brain is everywhere. I have random thoughts entering and existing all day. If it’s a good thought, I need to place it on paper, or it’s gone for who knows how long…a day, two minutes, three hours…I think you get it.  I work fine like this, but I often times misplace things. (what a surprise) I have a lot of procedures in place for my students which helped them stay organized this year, but next year I plan to place procedures in order for me…..that way everything will be easier to find, and I won’t clutter more things while looking for others.

   . My school receives several new students.  I think I received at least ten or more new students after the school year started.  It seemed liked by the time I got a new one caught up they were leaving and another student was taking his/her place.  Since this is going to continue in my building, I was thinking about creating new student folders that will provide the kids with the materials they need in order to know what’s going on in class. 

3.    Makeup work…..another thing I need to improve.  Last year, I had a folder that contained all make up assignments, but that system didn’t flow as well as I wanted, so next year I plan to have organized files that will have work labeled by the day of the week for absent students to pick up.

I think that’s enough…..this summer, I plan to do a better job of keeping this updated. Now back to enjoying my time off!  I’ll leave you with a few pictures of my classes. 

2nd Hour Class

5th Hour Pre-AP

7th Hour Pre-AP

1st hour: I got to start the day with this lively bunch!

4th hour


One of my favorite students that I will miss dearly next year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Update

This August, I believe I was a little too ambitious with my thoughts. I felt like I would be updating my blog weekly, but I quickly learned differently. After spending five eight hour days with needy-demanding seventh graders, the only thing I want to do at the end of those days is sit in silence….at least for an hour. Although I’ve had a few changes in my personal life, most of the changes have happened in my professional life.

Instead of a traditional blog, I’ve decided to just write a huge list of changes, both professional and personal, that have transpired throughout these last four months.

1. PAYCHECK: Probably the best part of my job! I always feel like a kid in a candy store on payday. For the past five years, I’ve been living off of my parents and any other family member who wanted to donate to my bank account. I do miss those random deposits, but I don’t miss my mother micromanaging my money and asking why I spending so much money on frivolous things. These days I buy what I want, and I don’t have to worry about someone looking at my bank statements saying “well, if you would stop shopping and eating out, you may have more money.” Along with just receiving this paycheck, I’ve learned how to become more disciplined when it comes to spending. I’ve quickly learned that I don’t have to have everything my heart desires. In fact, when I’m finally able to get something that I really want, it means more to me whenever I have it.

2. LIVING ALONE: This was a big adjustment, but I really enjoy it. Last year, I lived in a house with a roommate. I really enjoyed coming home and having someone to talk to and go places with. I think it took me a couple of days to realize that no one was coming home after I got there when I moved into my apartment. Now that I’m use to it, I don’t think I could have another roommate. I’m use to having my own space. I plan to keep it this way…well at least until I get married.

3. TEACHING: Where do I start? (hahaha) Like any job, you have your good days and bad, but overall, my experience in the classroom has been great. This year I’ve been blessed with an amazing team! We work so well together. It’s amazing how our personalities just fit. They always look out for me, and I really appreciate that. I don’t think my first year would be going so well without their help. We never have a dull moment in team time; I just really can’t complain.

I’m enjoying having my own classroom, but I do miss having one of my mentor teachers sitting not too far away just in case I mess up a lesson. This is the main reason I’m so happy that I’m in a profession where I can make a mistake in my classroom, and it’s ok. I can easily come back to it the next day and redo it. I feel bad for my first hour class because by second hour the lesson is completely different and taught soooooo much better. I usually just re-teach my first hour class the same material two days in a row, so they can get the better lesson. (it doesn’t hurt them anyways)

Monitoring and adjusting are my best friends. When I think about it, I teach each of my class periods differently. As far as my 7th grade English classes, I know my first hour catches on quickly, second hour is a little quicker, and my fourth hour needs information remediated and broken down so go SLOW! Just having that information makes teaching a little less stressful. It also helps me with planning. Same goes for my Pre-AP English classes, my fifth hour is full of my over-achievers (as they call themselves), and seventh is my laid back accelerated students that need information to be broken down a little more than my fifth hour. I’m excited to teach them again…I miss them a little…just a little! They’ve been so patient with me! They just roll with the punches and all of my constant and ongoing changes. They do whine, but they get over it quickly.

Aside from teaching them, I’ve learned so much from them! I’ve learned that less is more when it comes to giving them options, building relationships with them is key, rewards make them work harder than ever, it’s possible to be laid back and stern, it’s ok for your students to realize that you’re human and do things that regular people do, make sure to remind them that 7th grade life/being 12 isn’t how it’s going to be when they’re 16, and hands-on projects/instruction makes class time go by quickly and more enjoyable J. I really hope by May these students will be more well-rounded and have a love for English just like me!

4. HEALTHY LIVING: This year, I’ve taken a liking to working out. I started working out because like any other twenty-three year old female, I wanted to be smaller, but now I actually enjoy walking/running on the treadmill or doing some type of exercise DVD. I feel so much better after working out especially if I’m stressing about something. Next year, I’m going to change a few of my eating habits that can turn into lifelong changes; then maybe, I can drop a few pounds by my birthday! Hahaha

I think that’s all for now. I plan to write a little more on break…..which by the way is going by tooooooo fast!!!! Until we meet again!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Little Things That Make Me Happy!

So, I've been really sad since Oprah has gone off air! If you know me, you know I love OPRAH! Instead of watching her on TV these days, I have to settle for the emails! Recently, one of her emails talked about being the happiest you! Well, I'm a pretty chipper person, so I didn't think any of these activities would help me. When reading one of the articles, I found this activity that instructed you to write down all the simple things in life that make you the happiest! I shared this activity with a few of my besties, and we had a blast creating our lists! I think everyone should try it! It's quite therapeutic! I'll close this small blog post with my list! ENJOY

-BTW! If you decide to create your own, I would love to read it!

_________________________________________________________________________

1. God: This year, I can honestly say I’ve grown as a Christian. I’ve always wanted to grow in my faith, and grad school has made that a reality!! I realized so many nights that when I couldn’t depend on anyone else, I could always depend on God. He quickly lets me know that I’m nothing without him, and I can’t do anything by myself! #praisebreak

2. Family: I LOVE THEM! Although they annoy me at times, I can’t see myself going through life without them. I cherish all the moments we have together because these days I don’t get to see them when I want.

3. Mother-Daughter time: My mom is really my best friend. We talk to each other probably five times a day! I always have a great time with her even if we’re just sitting outside people watching! I’m sad that we don’t live closer to each other, but it makes our visits with one another that more special.

4. Friends: My friends are great! What would I do without my ride or die chicks! They are always ready to wreck-shop when needed! I know that my friends are real because we don’t talk on a daily basis, but when we do it’s like we’ve talked all the time. We always enjoy each other’s company, and there’s never a dull moment when we get together.

5. Reading: It really soothes my soul! I finally feel at peace when I’m wrapped up with a book. One, I can make the characters look like I want them too, and I can interpret the written words anyway I want. I believe everyone needs to find a good book and fall in love with it.

6. Delta Sigma Theta: I LOVE MY DST! I mean you can’t get anymore legit than DST! Since becoming a Delta, I’ve become a better person! I’m stronger and not afraid to try anything. Delta has also blessed me with thousands of sisters, especially my LT sorors, who work hard and realize the importance of working towards something bigger than ourselves.

7. Bookstores & Libraries: I really lose my mind here! I just love the smell of books and touching books. It’s something about the sound that comes when you’re turning the pages, or the smell of the paper. Bookstores and libraries are filled with so much information and knowledge. It just shows me how much I still don’t know, and new topics I could learn about.

8. Sparkles, animal print, & jewelry: Everyone knows I have an addiction to anything that sparkles, anything decorated with animal print, and jewelry; all of these things just catch my eye and make me feel beautiful. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing sweat pants and a white tee…if I have hoops, a chunky ring, and a sparkly bracelet…I feel super sophisticated!

9. Writing: This is a new thing! I never appreciated writing until this year when I had to reflect on my life on a consistent basis. Whenever I’m having a bad day and I write about, it seems like everything’s better. I got it all out! I don’t have to tell anyone about it; my notebook does me justice. I hope one day others will see the power of writing and enjoy it!

10. 7th graders (middle schoolers in general): I love my 7th grade babies! I can always count on them to make me laugh. It’s something about their innocence that’s just beautiful. They’re old enough to understand the concepts of life, but still na├»ve and see life for its beauty. They make me feel young, and keep me energized and excited!

11. Teaching: I really enjoy my job! Although I’m tired by the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoy what I do! I can use all of my creativity and make learning exciting. Who’s to say I’ll be doing this five years from now, but I will always remember how great I felt at the end of each day!

12. Entertaining: I love having people over for dinner, girl’s night, or just random conversations. I can’t wait to have a house to throw dinner parties and cook for my friends! I get excited when I see new dishes and pots and pans in the store! This is probably my true calling…to be a homemaker or entertainer.

13. Shopping: I have a shopping addiction! I really do! I just love going to the mall! I don’t have to buy anything; just being in the atmosphere brings me joy!

14. Black TV: Since I have TVONE now (moving on up in the world), I just love watching original black comedies. Martin, Eve, Sanford and Son, Living Single, Fresh Prince, The Cosby’s…just good quality Black television.

15. Pedicures and Manicures: I always feel like a girl when I get these. Just the feeling of being pampered! Love it!

16. School & Learning: Being out of school for the past couple of months, I realized that I actually enjoy it! During the MAT program, I constantly said I would never go back to school, but I’m really considering getting a doctorate in the future! Who knows! We shall see.

17. Cooking: I really enjoy cooking! I’m not great at it, but I try my best. I love to experiment with new foods and recipes.

18. Traveling: I love going to new places! I’ve done a lot of traveling in the US, but never outside the country. I want to see what the rest of the world has to offer. Before I’m thirty, I hope to have gone to Italy, Greece, and Egypt.

19. Purses and Shoes: Getting new shoes and purses makes my day! It’s hard to believe this because during my middle school years, I was the ultimate tomboy who hated to carry a purse and wear shoes other than Nikes! BOY, how time has changed! I love shoes; any kind of shoes! Wedges, stilettos, flip-flops, clogs…I love them all. I love purses as well! These days, I don’t buy them as much, but I love getting new ones. I’m saving for my new purse of my dreams as we speak!

20. Working Out: Working out makes me feel so energized. For the longest, I hated working out. I don’t necessarily always want to do it now, but I feel so refreshed afterwards. I want to continue this lifestyle change and put it in my future family’s life.