The following a post I wrote on my personal blog about why love teaching at my school. I haven’t written much lately, so I thought you’d like a little peek into what I’m up to.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how much I love teaching at SMHS this week. I have been so blessed by my students and coworkers and just had to share some of the highlights of the week.
I have one student (a 9th grader in Dance I) who has had a major injury every week of school. He came back to school today after being in the hospital all day yesterday as a result of two stab wounds. He came limping into class, but had a great attitude and always participates as much as his doctors notes will allow. After class, I started talking with him and the two other boys in the class and had the opportunity to encourage them that gang life and the drug world do not pay off. One of the guys told me he figured that out for himself after witnessing a drive by shooting. I’m so glad I’m able to have serious conversations with them so early in the school year!
Another reason to be thankful is the new way I have been able to relate to students. Since I am coaching the dance team, I have a lot of time to spend with my students. I have been getting to know them on a much deeper level than last year. Two of the girls have been extremely open with me and we have already had several conversations about deep “real life” topics. I have been so thankful for the opportunity to be involved in these kids lives more than I ever could if I were only in a core-curriculum classroom. I have worked hard to be transparent and show them my personality in order to be a mentor for those who need one.
Lastly, I am so thankful for all my students and their hard work. They keep me giggling all the time and I look forward to every moment with them. Here are some photos I took from our assembly two weeks ago.
It was spirit week this week and the Homecoming theme was HOLLYWOOD! I’ve included pictures of me all dressed up and thought it would be fun for you to guess what the spirit week days were.
We even danced to The Lion King
Those tights have sturrups on the bottom and are authentic '80s.
Yes, that's purple eye shadow.
Time to start guessing!
If you know teachers still looking for a job, please pass this on to them!!
St John Mary International School in Saraburi, Thailand is hiring 5 elementary positions and a few middle school teachers, as well as high school positions in Math, Spanish Language, and Social Studies. School is open from August to June. There are about 750 students enrolled, most of whom are Thai, but school is conducted in English.
The salary is 50,000 baht ($1,669.73) per month as well as a housing allowance and travel expenses.
If you are interested, contact me or contact the school directly. If you contact the school, let them know you heard about the position through a friend of George McBride (he is a friend of mine living in Thailand). If you know anyone who may be interested, please pass this info along!
Several months ago I showed my 9th grade students October Sky. As a quick end-of-class assignment, I had them write Homer Hickam letters expressing their personal reaction to his story.
I expected a few fluffy sentences finished with, “thanks for making your movie” type statement.
I received well-crafted, insightful letters expressing their gratitude for knowing Mr Hickam’s story. They could relate to Hickam’s rocky relationship with his father and feeling trapped by a blue-collar community that tends to discourage higher education.
A few weeks ago I finally mailed them and today I received a reply! The letter was from Mr Hickam’s wife, but it included his photograph signed just for us! I cannot wait to get to school tomorrow and share it with my students – now I need to find a special frame to treasure it always :)
Homer Hickam himself!
I can not say how much I am loving some time away from school.
Honestly, the last few weeks I have been unfairly patient with my students and completely lacking creativity.
After some quality time with the pool this week, I think I might be back on my A-game by Monday :)
Nothing like the Vegas sun to put you in a better mood!
What do you do to recharge when you’re starting to feel burnt out?
…I was finishing up my high school student teaching placement.
I only realized that this afternoon when I happened to read my student teaching reflection from that week. Funny how life changes!
Last year I was teaching in an upper/middle-class, college preparatory high school with students who didn’t expect much from me since I was a lowly “student” teacher. This year I am in an impoverished, Title I high school with students who do not understand the importance of earning a high school education.
Last year I was frustrated with the lack of time to develop relationships with students. This year I have earned the trust of my students and have had the opportunity to offer wisdom and advice for their life struggles.
Last year I was taking teacher certification exams. This year I am coaching students to pass exams required for graduation (and taking some more exams of my own).
Last year I was satisfying requirements of a graduate program. This year I feel like I am actually making an impact in the lives of young people.
So thankful for all the changes and growth that has happened in the last year and can’t wait to see what kind of teacher I have become in the next year!
The beginning of my career as a general science teacher of 9th grade was rough. There were lots of tears and angry moments!
Now that 3rd quarter is almost over, I have been thinking about what has been successful. Here’s what I found:
- Being “mean” – I have had to go way beyond normal human levels of mean and anger. In order to get 9th graders to put their ear buds away and stop tagging on each others’ notebooks long enough to even take attendance took so much stern talking that I could feel my blood pressure go up. My husband even remarked that I was more mean around the house. Obviously, I can’t teach this type of class much longer without burning out, but at least I have them trained to behave more like students.
- Bathroom ticket – I think these little beauties were the major success of the year. I have had significantly less classroom management issues since initiating this policy. Each 9th grader gets four bathroom tickets for the quarter that can be exchanged for passes to the bathroom or excused missing assignments. Since they feel they have more control over when they can and cannot “go”, I have had much less of a headache! It has also cut way back on students asking to go every day since they used up their tickets in the first week!
I have one more trick up my sleeve for the rest of the school year; I have challenged each of my classes to finish the year with a class average of at leave 7% higher than it is right now. I am planning on clearing off the bulletin board and putting up the goal for each period. I’ll update it every week so they can keep each other accountable. I promised them a big surprise at the end of the year if they achieve their class’s goal. I have yet to figure out what that surprise is, but the kids seems to be really excited, so I hope it is a good motivator for them!
I’m curious to hear what tricks you have found successful with your tricky classes!
Phew! Four days into my first winter break as a teacher and I can finally relax enough to write a few updates!
The last week of school went much smoother than I had anticipated. I had a guest speaker on Tuesday and Thursday and Friday we watched videos: Physics saw October Sky and the freshmen watched the Life series. The faculty had a Secret Santa event going on all week long, so it was a huge encouragement to find little chocolates on my desk each morning :)
The end of the week was capped off with a door decorating contest. My 2nd period freshmen got very motivated and came up with a great end result. While we did not win, I am so proud of how hard they work, how creative they were, and how maturely they cooperated with each other; they just raised my expectations!! It was a great moment of camaraderie that we have not been able to experience until now.
Over winter break, I have the privilage of writing two more finals before heading back East to see family. I am so excited for a mental and emotional break from the kids. As one of my colleagues told his students, “Vacations are not for students, you would survive without them. Vacations are for teachers so we don’t kill you.”
With that, I leave you with a picture of 2nd period’s creation:
Merry Christmas from The Grinch, Max, & Room 1007!!
- Students explaining what it’s like to be 16 and having emotional ups and downs. If only they could have seen me!
- “Miss, are you annoyed with us?” Ya think?!
- Kids owe me quarters when they use inappropriate language, but can sit in another teachers room for 2 minutes if they can’t afford it. The kids prefer the quarters because the other teacher is “scary”. Phil is one of the least scary people I know.
- My kids don’t believe I’m a first year teacher because I’m better than most of their “old” teachers. Haha.
- I have better stories than other teachers – my kids think I was a trouble maker after telling them of all that my peers got away with in my 10th grade spanish class (e.g. a kid jumping out the window and going to study hall without getting the teachers attention)…and then they tagged on the wall in washable marker. Just another story to add to the list!
A week and a half ago I was relatively entertained by my students.
Entertainment quickly turned into frustration and maybe a bit of resentment when I realized the energy it takes to be entertained by my 9th graders leaves my husband without dinner and clean clothes. I’ve always known I don’t do well with middle school aged kids (I put 14 year olds in that grouping) and this teaching assignment has only confirmed that.
I feel like it’s important to share my thoughts/ideas via the blog because I know there are other teachers who experience the same emotions (a la my kids got me so angry I was pretty sure I would enjoy staying up all night with a newborn a whole lot more than teaching them!). I am so thankful for my colleagues and mentors who have encouraged me through the last few weeks.
On this side of the situation, I’m doing much better – there are no resignation letters in the works, I promise!
The issue IS NOT:
- me not caring enough
- my kids being absolutely horrendous, ugly, evil people
- being at the wrong school
- being in the wrong job/profession
The issue IS:
- I am not suited for (or even have positive feelings about) working with large groups of young teens
- my goals as a teacher include giving students skills for the “real world” – 14 year olds could care less
- I am a Physics teacher; I don’t want to do anything but teach Physics!
I will certainly be finishing out the year with my crazy 9th graders, but after this year it’s only Physics for me! It’s just a good reminder of what my limits are and how well I know myself.
For all those teachers who are feeling like they’re not in the right place, I encourage you to talk to people who know you as a teacher and as a human. While friends and colleagues have good intentions, you need to work through a situation like this with people who know the context of your life.
My attitude changed when I set out to find something fun to do – only having school in my life is not good for my stability. Looking forward to seeing how my new hobbies progress!!
Thanks for reading. I hope you might be encouraged!
I was talking with a teacher-friend today about why I started this blog and why I’ve stuck with it. It all started as a way to catalog all the great resources I was receiving in graduate school in a way that I could easily search and access them once I was in my own classroom. Once my student teaching began, the blog became the ideal place to process my experience and seek help from veteran teachers. Now that I am teaching, I am utilizing my grad school resources and finding it just as important to process my days in writing.
I blog because it gives me a connection to other teachers, it provides an outlet for my thoughts, and it records my experiences so I can read back through them in the future. If you have found any of my posts useful, I’m glad; if you have given me advice and suggestions, thank you(!!); and if you just read to be entertained by my antics, I hope you enjoy them – I am so thankful for technology that allows all of this to happen in one place!
I sometimes wonder why other teachers blog – feel free to share your thoughts…