Why I chose to teach another year

Before leaving on maternity leave, I truly was miserable.

Add being hormonal to the every day struggle of teaching 8th grade students writing and basic English skills, I was dead set on not going back to teaching.

My school is far from perfect. Discipline and teacher support needs work in the administration department, the students tend to come from broken homes, and the state is constantly monitoring and changing the way we teach and how we are meant to teach.

All the extra paper work, meetings and trainings were adding to my exhaustion and I had had enough.

49f55c653a0969175fb973932b0f9288I use to go home and cry to my husband whenever the talk of going back after the baby came up. I hated every bit of my job and the thought of another year made me sick to my stomach.

(Luckily, my crying face was not nearly as ugly as Kim K’s, but still, you get the idea)

Then I had my daughter.

At first I was still set on not going back to teaching. I was enjoying maternity leave and not seeing students on the daily.

However, a few months after my daughter was born, I had a moment of adulting and realized I needed to go back to work soon…and teaching was the best option.

No, I did not change schools. I chose to stay at mine for another year (this will be year 4!). You may wonder why someone would stay somewhere that makes them unhappy… let me explain.

  • At my school, I know my administrators and principal will be understanding if I need to take off any time for my daughter. Whether it is for a doctor’s appointment or her birthday.
  • I also know that I LOVE my fellow teachers. My school has one of the best groups of teachers! We are all supportive of each other and friendly. If you even need a moment, someone will come help you out.
  • Teaching, in general, has a great schedule when it comes to having kids. Holidays and summers off. Brilliant!
  • Health insurance. My husband can’t get my family insurance through his job, so I need to work somewhere that will provide that for my growing family.
  • I really do love the students. At the end of the day, whether they make me cry or laugh. I know they only w13615447_10153632459888038_3664311718244452109_nant love and attention. I am happy to let them know someone in their life cares about them.

Yes, teaching is a hard job, and teachers are not paid nearly enough. However, if the love for the kids is there, especially with the middle school age group, why wouldn’t I continue.

I am not saying I will teach forever, but I can certainly handle another year if it means providing for my family.

I mean, look at my chubby little peanut! How could I not want the best for her and her future. ❤

 

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Back at it

After a lovely 7 months of maternity leave, this week was the start of a new schedule.

I came back to work.

I figured summer school would be a nice transition to fall when I start full-time, since it is only 4 days a week and a few hours in the morning.

I am currently in day 3 of summer school and am already exhausted. It seems like the baby knows of the changes and is all out of sync, she is not sleeping nearly as well as she usually does AND she is not staying in her crib for long.

My mornings start now at 5:30 AM, which is horrible. I am not remotely a morning person. I knew that having a kid would add time to my normal routine…but I did not think I would need to be up nearly 2 hours prior to leaving the house.

With pumping, packing the baby bag (if I forget to do it the night before), eating breakfast, getting myself dressed and then finally getting baby changed and dressed is how things happen now.

I also now have to add extra drive time to my commute because of taking the baby to daycare.

Don’t get me wrong, I was getting extremely bored with staying at home all the time…so summer school was the perfect solution.

It is nice to see some of my students…even if it is because they are making up their credits. I am also getting to meet potential 8th graders who I will most likely have next year!

Despite being exhausted, it feels pretty good to be back…and it will continue to feel better once I get more into the routine of work again.

Middle schoolers and pregnancy

Being ‘about to pop’ and teaching middle school students has been frustrating, but full of laughs as well.

Thankfully, one thing middle schoolers these days are still quite naive about is pregnancy. They don’t quite get how it works, which has led to many funny comments and conversations in my classroom.

Let me share some of these student thoughts with you so you can enjoy as well.

Pregnancy in general:

  • “How does a baby get made in only 9 weeks?”
  • “What if your baby has both boy and girl parts?”
  • “What if you have an ugly baby, would you switch it at the hospital? I would.”
  • “What happens if your water breaks in class? That would be cool!”
  • “You should have the baby at school.” (ew, NO ONE needs or wants to see that, thanks kid)
  • “Your baby should be born on Christmas!” (Doesn’t matter that Christmas would be 8 weeks AFTER my due date…no big deal)
  • “Did you already have the baby? Your stomach looks smaller today.”

Baby name suggestions:

  • “Is the baby’s name really going to be Peanut?” (Obviously, we don’t get the nickname thing in middle school)
  • “You should name her Aldina, it’s the girl version of my name so you always think of me.”
  • “You should name your child a country, like some of your students. You could name her Canada with a K. Or England, since she’s half English.”

Student advise on how to make the baby come out faster:

  • “Just poop…it’s the same thing practically.”
  • “Eat tacos. Lots of tacos.”
  • “You should play in the teacher v. student volleyball game!”
  • “Jump up and down.”
  • “Can’t you just grab her and pull her out?” (uhh…this is NOT a horror movie)

My favourite moment of it all though has to be from a couple of weeks in my WORST class. 22 kids, all but 3 are boys, and I see them right after lunch. Yup. You get the idea.

I was teaching them and they weren’t listening and the baby did a big move and all I hear across my room is “DID YOUR STOMACH JUST MOVE! COOL!”. They now pay a bit more attention, at least looking at my stomach, to see baby moves for them again.

I must say, although teaching up to the day I pop has been a bit stressful and exhausting…engaging in conversation with my students about my baby has been quite amusing. They truly have no sense of time…or how baby’s work.

Oh my darling students, thank you for at least making my pregnancy more amusing than the average persons. 😉

How to make a teacher “love” their job

I would hope you can all sense the sarcasm in my voice as I write this post.

Lately, I have been less than pleased by the education system as well as by my school’s procedures on certain things. As teachers, we are here to help brighten the minds of our future. However, lately, all I feel is the collar around my neck being pulled tighter and tighter.

Thanks to that lovely feeling, here are some ways I have found that truly make teachers just love what they do…and never want a career change.

1.Have a horrible disciplinary system.

There is nothing worse than knowing that your students know that you hold no authority when it comes to discipline. At my current school, this is without a doubt the case. I can write a kid a referral and all they get is a slap on the wrist and a “you do better next time.”

What a joke.

And to make it even worse, the district has cut back DRASTICALLY on the amount of days per semester that we are allowed to suspend a kid out of school. Use to be, you punched a kid or got in a fight…automatic 10 day OSS (Out of school suspension). However, now, if Johnny punches Joey in the face, he only gets a day or two because suspending a child for more than 2 days at a time needs to be “approved” and we can only suspend kids out for 10 days total a semester.

Seems like the kids are really learning their lessons, right?

2.Walk-throughs at the beginning or end of a class period.

I recently had a district walk-through. My counterpart and I had a GREAT lesson, so I was feeling confident and knew they would be impressed. However, they decided to walk into my 2nd period class with less than 10 minutes till the bell rang. So, obviously my class was putting things away, collecting projects, talking to me about their grades…normal end of class stuff.

The lovely district ladies wanted to come back, but nope..our awesome Literacy Coach decided it would be a fantastic idea to stay for the class transition AND the first 20 minutes of my class. Freaking fantastic. Thanks so much.

Needless to say I was not thrilled. I pee in between classes so the kids have to wait outside the room, I did not have bellwork and I had to B.S. my way into my lesson so they would at least see something of use.

So, a round of applause for making a teacher’s life more stressful than it already is. Really appreciated!

3. Having everything you do questioned.

I won’t rant about this one because every teacher knows this too well.

Every little thing you do is questioned like we have no clue what we are doing. “So tell me how you plan on chunking your lessons to help students process”, “and what exactly will this look like in your room?”, “how do you plan on proving that the kids are accurately tracking their own process”, “why do you breathe?”.

Let us do our jobs without being critiqued and perhaps the kids would learn something. If the political side of education would get its big, hairy nose out of our business the school system might actually stand a chance.

4. Being indirectly told to “fix” the amount of failures you have every grading period.

My school has just finished up the first quarter. Meaning, grades are due and I am getting to see how awesome (or not) my students did.

Every year it is the same. 8th grade shows HUGE amounts of Ds and Fs for final grades, the teachers get talked to and questioned about why this is happening, our lesson plans get critiqued and we indirectly get told that we have too many low grades and we need to count our big assignments for less to fix the problem the next grading period.

I have a better idea. Why don’t we STOP lowering our expectations for students and make them step up their motivational level.

And the we wonder why we have so many kids today who think they automatically get an A for sitting in class everyday. Obviously teaching students that they barely need to try to pass a grade level will really help them in the future. I can’t wait to see what type of future we have based on the lazy, unmotivated students I have. Should be great!

At the end of the day, the turnaround for teachers in my county is awful. Most new teachers will change their career within 5 years due to the many problems we face in the education system.

Sometimes, loving the children is not enough to keep you happy doing your job…isn’t that something we should think about when looking at our education system.

Without good teachers, how do you ever expect students to improve and meet their full potential?

Guest Speakers: Aren’t they just adorable?

Just the other day my school held a “title one” training. We had a guest speaker who was from some North Western state and use to teach.

He spoke to us about the new Marzano evaluation standards and did some activities with us that we could do with our class….supposedly.

No offense to the school district, but why is it we bring in guest speakers and “education experts” from other states, who clearly have a different demographic than our school, and expect their strategies and experiences to work on our students?

1385471This guy was adamant that no more than 20% of the students in a class can be the ones unengaged and be the behavior issues…Please sir, if you had come sit in my 8th period class last year…I would say your percentage was extremely incorrect.

It just seems silly to pay butt-loads of money out of our school’s title one fund to have a speaker come in and tell us things that we can’t really take away with us at the end of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, the information he gave us about the new evaluation scale (which I will save for another post) was helpful. I like knowing just what I will be evaluated on. However, don’t try to relate to our school if you have not experiences it first hand.

Yes, the way I connect and deal with my students would vary if I taught on “the other side of the tracks” as the speaker so nicely put it at the training. But let’s be real. I don’t teach at a school that has amazing parent involvement and student engagement. I teach at a turn around, title one school where a majority of my students come from low-income families who, at the end of the day, don’t care about their education.

I would love to have a guest speaker who understood the school I was working at and the students I was teaching and could give me some real-life examples of strategies and activities that made gains as well as built that student/teacher relationship.

Because at the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. I can attempt to add more rigor to my curriculum, but if the kids can’t even grasp the basics, how do you expect them to do anything on or above grade level? bullying-teachers

The entire training this guy was attempting to tell us how to become a 90 percentile teacher… well, hate to break it to you sir, but unless you have students who can actually perform on grade level and fart candy, I just don’t think any teachers at a rough school could live up to that percentile.

Thank you though, for 7 hours of training and making me feel worse about myself as an educator, it was super cute how you tried to relate your experiences and “expertise” to what we are going through at my school. Hope you made some good money adding to the list of reasons why I dislike the education system.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

That statement means more and more to me being in the teaching field. As I have mentioned in the past, I work at a title 1 school. Meaning, a majority of our kids come from lower-income families. So, needless to say, we have our fair share of discipline problems and some days are a lot harder than others.

Last year, I started out with a great group of teacher friends who helped me settle in the teacher life and gave me guidance along the way. This year, we have a new group of teachers who I can help and give advice to.

unnamedWe plan together (and try to help if we are different grade levels or subjects), we eat lunch together, we hang out on weekends. This is what we do.

Recently, I have had some really rough days in general, not just with teaching. These select few ladies and gentlemen I work with help me keep my head held high and a smile on my face.

Without them, I truly believe the teaching life would have gobbled me up and spit me out, right on my tush.

I hear of friends who work at other schools and say they don’t really get along with or get to know their coworkers. That baffles me. Perhaps it is just certain schools hiring like minds, but my school has an amazing staff that help everyone and keep everyone sane, especially when middle school drama is around every corner.

So, this short little blog post is to say thank you to my teacher friends who keep me sane and support me more than I deserve! You are the best and I am truly thankful to have you in my life. ❤

*Also, Stephanie forgive me…but the Grumpy Cat photo was going to waste so I figured this was a good opportunity to use it.

Finally, I can almost taste the success!

So, as an out-of-field teacher, life has been challenging; Start working at a job you have NO IDEA about how to do, taking a teaching training course to make up for the things you did not learn in college, and then taking extra courses that you have to take to add to your certificate.

(Not including the countless amount of time and $$$ you spend on taking your official teaching tests so that you are somewhat legit.)

Luckily, my county has a great program where I can get my real teaching certificate through their classes. This program is called TTT (Transition to Teaching). Which, not going to lie, has been way better and cheaper than spending my days at an actual college with 18 year olds.  

However, today is THE DAY. I finally finished uploading and editing up every piece of paper, rubric and video i needed to say, “I have completed the program…GIVE ME THAT CERTIFICATE!”

It is crazy for me to think how 2 years ago I would have been sitting at home, talking to my mom about needing a real job (but finding something not freelance, that you LOVE in journalism is harder than it sounds) and her suggesting teaching. I know I looked at her like she was crazy, but because I love her, I humored her and sent off my transcripts to the DOE.

BAM!

Temporarily certified middle school teacher! WOAH!

Even though the past two school years have not been the easiest, I certainly have learned a lot. Of course, I also would not change a thing because I love knowing I am helping kids…even if it is in the slightest way.

However, at this exact moment, all I can think about is how far I have come and grown up in the past two years. Teaching has helped me do that. And now, with the help of my friends and family, I am finally going to get me Teaching Certificate and have no excuse to call myself “out-of-field”.

This may be one tiny step in the right direction, but this achievement is one giant leap for my career. 🙂