Teacher Tip Tuesday: Own Your Curriculum

Teachers get frustrated with teaching, new initiatives and things changing constantly but we continue for the love of the profession. As a veteran teacher more has to be done to bridge the gap between experienced and new teachers to create a common ground for growth.

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Sadly the teacher turnover rates increase by the year resulting in 50% of new teachers leaving the profession within five years because they experience burnout.

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A common pedagogical phrase is to begin with the end in mind. However, for a new teacher, to begin with the end in mind is difficult because they’re just getting started. It takes time and effort to get procedures, routines, and structure implemented succinctly in the classroom.

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This is what beginning with the end in mind looks like:

1️⃣ Take ownership of your content and your classroom. The more knowledgeable you are, you can plan easily. Own your curriculum.

2️⃣ Instructional planning and Classroom Management are a perfect pair. Establish order and structure from the start.

3️⃣ Education is a continuum of change. Be flexible!

Check out my ebook store for more books about teaching and balancing your life within this profession.

latilyarashon.selz.com

Teacher Tip Tuesday

I’m sure all educators can attest to the obstacles they faced when they first began teaching. Taking a walk down memory lane I can laugh at the good times and bad, as well as put things into perspective about approach, instruction, and impact.

#FirstYearTeachers and #VeteranTeachers learn that:

-Finding balance in your work and home life takes time. Each class, month, year is different.

-Finding solutions to instructional planning and classroom management is individual. Your approach determines your effectiveness.

-It’s bigger than oneself. Teacher are preparing and educating the future of our society. We must add compassion to our skill set.

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1️⃣My Fourth Year In Middle School: The Truth About Teaching (Teacher Focused)

2️⃣12 Ways To Survive Your First Year Of Teaching (Teacher Focused)

My books give insight on how to teach with fidelity, be your authentic self in the classroom, and finding balance in your career.

LaTilya Williams, Ed.D. (Professionally)

Social: @drlatilyarashon

Check out my ebook store: latilyarashon.selz.com

Mother.Teacher.Author

Taking a personal inventory of myself and my skills, I knew that I wanted to do more than ordinary things. Ever since childhood I have had words floating around in my head that I have forced out onto paper over the years. Recently I sat down and faced my business, my approach to book marketing and my journey into entrepreneurship and realized I needed help. Furthermore, I needed to help myself get better positioned and edpreneur.

I base a lot of my writing on education because I began teaching in 2008 when I was over halfway done with my Masters in Public Administration. I had a plan for how my career would go as I completed requirements for my new teacher portfolio for the TAPP program. When MGRESA changed the submission dates for program completion, I was already a month into my Educational Specialist program because I had no traditional training or pedagogy. I set goals early in my teaching career based on where I would be in 3 years, in 5 years, and even 10 years. I met my 5 year goals within 3 so I know the power of manifestation.

https://LaTilyaWilliams.selz.com

By the time I had completed my educational specialist degree in 2010, I was ahead of my 5 year plan. Towards the end of my 4th year of teaching I had the bright idea to pursue my doctorate and from there my idea to write my book was outlined. It was not until 2013 that I put my most memorable experiences onto a word document and I began sifting through the details. I have always been ambitious and in between a divorce in 2011, school transfer in 2013, getting remarried in 2014, and stalling on my dissertation proposal I managed to graduate in 2016 with another degree, Doctor of Education with an emphasis in Higher Education Leadership, while simultaneously self-publishing my book.

Being a mother is my single most important job in my life but offering ebooks online, becoming my own boss, creating helpful content for other moms, teachers and ambitious individuals infusing my passion for writing and helping people together. Through my education, mixed work experiences, skills and training I’m confident that’s reading my books will help with personal development of individuals who struggle with finding balance in their careers and personal lives.

I have journaled and set new goals for myself my whole life and made the necessary adjustments when needed. Being asked was getting my degrees hard, do I like teaching, if I weren’t teaching what would I be doing, and are you going to keep writing is the reason I keep creating.

There’s no one size fit all but I like to think that I have a way of naturally understanding people and not judging their individuality. I have something for everyone!

Being You is Your Superpower

By definition pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching.  Regardless of your training as a new teacher, being you is what will make you relatable to students.  Books give you the idea of student-centered and teacher-centered instruction, but as the facilitator of you classroom you have to use common sense.  I say use common sense because teacher approaches and style is not one size fit all.

Using your superpower in your classroom means to tap into your strengths and your opportunities to grow as a teacher.  Your personality should be heavily embedded in your lesson plans and teaching style because that becomes your voice. Your style of teaching becomes your trademark.  Ironically, when out your strengths and personality together in your classroom, that becomes your brand as a teacher and no one can take your style away from you.

I personally am known for being firm, loud, and serious about my content.  That is my classroom persona because while I want my children to have fun in class and engage with me, I still have to let them know that I am the boss.

Show your human side to your students because that is what they will respect the most.  For instance, during my fourth year of teaching my students uncovered an invent from my past while browsing the internet.  See the misconception about teachers is that we are always in teacher mode and we do not have a home or personal life. Also before getting to the point of being you, please know that your students and administrators will search for you on social media and the internet just to see what will come up about you.  So with that being said, I had assigned my students a tic-tac-toe board of assignments to complete that went with a novel study we were doing in my class. One of male students quietly called me over to his computer and began to whisper.

“Hey Ms. Bird look what popped up when we tried to find the page to complete our work”.  I had not thought about my students finding a mugshot of me from years before but they did.  The student went on to explain that he was not sharing it with anybody but the majority of his classmates knew about it.  I did what I felt was right in the moment and said to him, “Baby that is from three years ago, it is a matter of public record so I’m not embarrassed.  Just know that it did not affect my job.” It was a lot to say, but it was a teachable moment for my students and I felt the need to address it with all of my students class by class because I wanted them to know that I had nothing to hide.

It completely had escaped me when I gave my students the assignment.  All I knew is that I wanted them to have a discussion board about posted topics and blog posts created by me that were book related.  See I used differentiated instruction to get my students involved because technology is the way of the future. I just did not anticipate that piece of personal information popping up on them.  Even though I gave them step by step instructions on how to access the assignments through my schoolwires page, my students opted to just google me and go from there.

I became a hot topic for a couple days but it died down and we got back to the business of teaching and learning.  One of my strengths based on skillset was to face the problem head-on and not sugar coat a thing. Students respect your truth as a teacher over perception.  Now adults on the other hand go by perception and do not care enough to ask for your truth. Knowing who you are and what you are comfortable sharing about yourself adds to you invincibility as a teacher.  Theoretically, you are a superhero to your students and they like when you put on your cape in chaotic situations. Your life is the canvas for your classroom.

Being you goes a long way when you are trying different approaches and instructional strategies in your classroom.  Students pick up very early on when you are nervous about doing something new in your classroom and they will exploit that opportunity.  This brings me back to not being a pushover in your classroom. There will be times where you have to walk students through assignments and tasks one by one.  There will be other times that as you set the expectations for the lesson students will be able to shift without disrupting the learning environment. Honestly there will be times you have planned a great lesson and after couple of attempts, you strike the whole idea.  

You decide what best for you in your classroom and when your students understand the method to your madness, it makes for a shared learning experience.  There’s a quote that says being transparent and vulnerable keeps you transparent and vulnerable, so be open anyway. So try not to doubt yourself and your ability because the students will only know how far to push you if you know how far you are willing to stretch yourself.  Be you like no one else can inside of your classroom. Staying true to who you are is the best approach to teaching because no one will have the ability to manipulate your style.


The Reason Behind “12 Ways to Survive Your First Year of Teaching”

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Walking around my house at the very end of the summer I could not find rest for my hands or my thoughts as it hit me that teachers would be returning to work very soon.  I was not ready and I could not wrap my head around why I was reluctant to return then immediately it was revealed to my psyche that the start of a new school year is always rough.  New rules, new administrators, new colleagues, new initiatives, and new students. In 180 days we all are supposed to work miracles and pat ourselves on the back at the end of the school year and say, “Job well done”.

See when I entered the field of education I had a five year plan which was quickly exceeded due to my determination and commitment to teaching.  I entered into the classroom not having the slightest clue about what to expect from my students but I learned very quickly.

I was certified through the Georgia Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (GATAPP) and I was taken aback by the amount of work that I had to do in order to gain my certification.  Let’s just be clear, there is a major difference in being traditionally trained through brick and mortar colleges of education and alternative programs.

I have developed a sense of humor about teaching and I just want to be real and say it louder for the people in the back that, “There is nothing easy about the first year of teaching”.  I have been through enough first days of school to know that as an educator we walk in hoping for the best then find ourselves overwhelmed and maintaining the status around mid-year. So yes, I learned to march to beat of my own drum and do what works for me.  

My first year of teaching almost broke me in half emotionally and mentally.  Emotionally because I was no longer behind the security of a military base and cypher locked door.  I was now a civilian facing a world I had no idea how to maneuver in comfortably. Mentally I was not prepared to teach while learning how to be a teacher through my teacher alternative preparation program, so at the first thought of hostility, I was ready to say goodbye to the profession.  It was a tough first year for me which is what prompted me to write this book. The simple fact is, that rookie teachers need support and not be ridiculed. They need true mentorship and guidance, not to be picked on for what they do not understand.  

My first three months into teaching looked vastly different from my third year of teaching.  And even now here in my eleventh year of teaching I’m still learning things but coping with the copious changes and trends in education by the day.

As a new teacher it is very easy to become overwhelmed with lesson plans, professional development, additional duties such as being a club sponsor or coaching, but I had to take care of my mental stability at the same time.  No one told me that in the beginning there are long hours and none of those hours are paid overtime. No one told me that I would be in a meeting almost daily. And lastly no one told me that I had to learn how to separate my home life from my work life and focus on them one at a time.

Needless to say in my second year of teaching I grappled with separation and divorce and my two young sons were on an insane schedule that shifted them to daycare by 6:30 a.m. while I had to be to school by 7:15 a.m. daily.  I cried so much this particular year of teaching but I had to find balance.

I had a job to do and I had to do it despite my emotions being all over the place.  My family was a priority and so was my career. I found my balance in letting go of the things out of my control and let all of the work I was doing speak for itself.  My school obstacles became the backdrop to my career which led me to want to help new teachers.

People think teaching is about holidays and summers off.  But a lot of times we become second parents to the children we teach and have to fight off jealousy from other teachers in order to be effective.  My students always showed up for me because I never not showed up for them.

I walk in and stand by my truth that though my method is questionable for those outside of my classroom, and the least liked; people will have to respect what I do. I am guilty of telling new teachers not to follow my example when I’m marching because my teaching style is different but yield results. I laugh a lot at myself because the things that I took so seriously my first year are miniscule in terms as I reflect on my years of teaching.  Perhaps I should take everything seriously but that would make teaching boring and being in my district is far from boring.

By year ten of being a traditional classroom teacher, I had seen enough to know that as long as I followed the rules and did not color too much out of the lines, I was safe.  I spent nine years between two middle schools, five different principals, and a lot of misunderstandings before deciding to move up to high school. Moving up to high school was the best decision I could have made, I felt more at ease in my classroom and besides I knew the student population well.  I did not leave my zone. I pretty much looped with them.

Now after a decade of teaching, I feel that it is time to reinvent my identity.  Yes I have multiple degrees, all the way up to my doctorate, but I will not hide behind my degrees and be defined by the titles.  I would rather display my hard work by doing what I love doing. I love to write so I’m channeling my energy into being an educator, author, and entrepreneur.  Just call me an “edupreneur” or a “bookpreneur” because I’m not a one dimensional person.  

It is good to find your voice when you know who you are as a teacher.  I know that my first book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching made a splash, but I’m sure that the 12 Ways to Survive Your First Year of Teaching will enlighten my readers in a completely different way.  I’m not out of colorful stories to tell. My approach this time is to offer tips to make that first year a little more manageable. 

Realistically, a bad first year contributes to teacher turnover rates.  As veteran teachers, we are responsible for helping our new colleagues adjust just like we are responsible for teaching our students.  

I feel strongly about mentoring new teachers because even though I was blessed with an awesome mentor teacher, everyone is not fortunate enough to have what I had.  Sure, things have changed as far as brick and mortar training, and even alternative preparation programs but teachers come into the profession to become stable. Surviving the first year lies heavily on the professional development new teachers receive and the support they have as they are learning their true duties and responsibilities.

I want to help new teachers acclimate to teaching and not be overwhelmed by the daily tasks and responsibilities and it is my hope that the lessons I’ve learned along the way will be helpful. Teaching is a great career to have and I want to tell you how to survive.

Subscribe to my email address for weekly updates as I start year 12 in new school district. This is going to be exciting! You will also receive a freebie when you complete the form.

Stop Letting People Play In Your Face

So last month in June I did a thing…I spoke at a conference for the first time and I will have the opportunity to speak at the Total Belle Royal Retreat this month and I’m so excited.

Teacher Self-Care Conference, Atlanta June 21-22

For the past four weeks I have been doing “Motivation Monday” on my FB Live and IG (@latilyarashon) because I find that while people are following others on social media, there is disingenuous interest in creativity. People are looking beyond the message and offering unsolicited criticisms about things not even associated with a persons vision and brand.

I felt triggered in a conversation one day and it spawned three thoughts in my mind that some people need to hear. Let’s just face it, if we spend so much time focusing on the mistakes of others there is truly something wrong with you individually on the inside.

First of all, stop letting people play in your face with their backhanded compliments. There is no sincerity in being fake. People will watch you long enough to figure out how to tear you down. Don’t let people trick you into thinking they have your back. The truth is unless they are “like-minded” as you, looking out for yourself is your best bet.

Secondly, in this new month of discovery and endeavors, you have to Be Diligent in everything you set out to do. It takes planning and commitment to get to the next level. In the process of planning, you have to be willing to learn something new daily and make sacrifices of your time. As you are working, be sure to research but don’t try to implement everything that you come across. You will wind up overwhelming yourself and stopping before you ever get started. So in your research, keep what you need and use it, but toss information that you find to be not helpful.

Lastly, Figure It Out! There is no blueprint or shortcut to you reaching your next level of success. Learn what you can and set your own timeline. There is no rush. Create your content, write your business plans, develop your marketing strategy, and most importantly…Be Yourself!

I have rebooted my drive monthly as a self-published author and I continue to nervously step out of my comfort zone. I’m doing what I can and I’m keeping people out of my face. LOL!

4 Reasons Teachers Face “Burnout”

The many misconceptions about teaching is that the career field is easy.  I have written about the 9 Reasons Education is Confusing but right I want to tackle a topic that is close to home, “teacher burnout”.  Inside the walls of a school, there are decisions being made that rattle the adults more than the kids and it makes completing your tasks each day extremely difficult.  If you ever wondered why teachers throw in the towel to an easily assumed career, this blog discusses the 4 reasons teachers face “burn out”.

Meetings

Each academic year is started off with a big meeting, “Convocation” in most places where teachers get a pep talk and inspirational thank you’s for their commitment to the school district and profession.  Some teachers are engaged in the long, drawn out meeting, some steal away to the restroom midway through the keynote speaker’s address because the formality of convocation is boring, and new teachers take it all in as an exciting experience.  

Convocation is the first of many meetings to come. At your school all of these committees and teams are formed, in conjunction with content area meetings, district level professional learning and training, staff meetings, grade level meetings and school-wide professional learning; teachers begin to ask when will they have time to work on content that they were hired to teach.  Meetings and micromanagement does not work for teachers that want autonomy of their classroom.

Lack of Support

When problems begin to arise in the school, teachers think back to all of the meetings that have been held about procedures.  There are protocols put in place that tells you how to handle situations.  But when you see that disturbances are handled on a case by case basis and situational depending on the involved parties, there is a breakdown in how teachers feel supported.  When teachers feel that they are not being supported based on what they have been told, more and more teachers walk away from the profession.

Paperwork/Documentation: Teachers and Students

The amount of paperwork that teachers are introduced to makes you wonder what exactly have you signed on to do.  The universal screeners, individual education plans, behavior intervention plans, red tabs, discipline trackers, and parent contact logs must be in place to make sure students are receiving the right services required of teachers.  But if teachers are negligent in their duties, they are tracked by means of code of ethics violations and personnel files that are kept at the school level, that then can be turned over to the local board of education for termination issues.  It is a bit cumbersome to progress monitor behavior issues in a classroom where multiple behavior issues exist, and teachers are drowning in lesson plans and parental contact. One false statement or wrong signature can cause you your livelihood.

Environment

Staying in the same place for too long can be detrimental to one’s mindset and causes lack of motivation to stay in the profession.  Change is good for anyone, and in this generation of students, the complexities that they face in life are far more different than what educators ever imagined.  In at-risk, poverty stricken, low-socioeconomic status populations; homelessness, abuse, death, and previous retention of students consume work environments.  Sometimes students have experienced so much, they come to school as a formality just waiting to turn 16 and dropout.

As an educator this is heartbreaking, and witnessing so much tragedy, and seeing the generations of students diminish in talent and respect, you find yourself wanting to do something new.  Teachers may not be able to control the environment, but they leave it behind in pursuit of something better.

Ironically, a lot of teachers are taking their skills and transferring them to different fields such as writing books and other entrepreneurial endeavors. I myself am working on my third book on the ways to survive teaching your first year as a newbie. I love what I do, but I’m feeling the burn.

~LaTilya Rashon

Figuring This All Out: Brand, Business, and Marketing

One of the realest things I read so far on this road to entrepreneurship is that THERE IS A LOT OF BAD INFORMATION OUT THERE!

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Now one would think that with 10 years of traditional classroom teaching, six years of active duty military service, and six degrees (2 associates, B.A., MPA, Ed.S. and an Ed.D.), I should be where I want to be. Wrong…Wrong…Wrong! I’m trying to crack the self-publishing market and offer a message to aspiring and new teachers (THAT IS MY PURPOSE—To Inspire!)

When I initially wrote my first book, My Fourth Year In Middle School: The Truth About Teaching, I was and still am completely behind on not doing enough to properly market my book to get it into the hands of the people that I feel could benefit from it the most.

I would attribute writing this book to being just like the formative years of education because in my first three years I learned A LOT.   Mostly through trial and error and faulty circumstances.  But in those first years I found my purpose and knew that I have a lot to offer as an educator.  As an individual.  As a person who is not afraid to make mistakes and take a risk.

Since the release of my book in July 2016, I still want to do more with it.  I am almost desperate to do more with it because I know that there is some really good information embedded inside to keep teachers motivated.  Now I’ll be honest, I have definitely taken some heat for my book but this was about some real stuff that I experienced as a new teacher.  Much like my recollection of a having a teacher tell me I’d never be successful; I never wanted a child to feel that way about themselves in my classroom. I do not want new teachers feeling left out and ostracized unnecessarily… even with the good support of my mentor teacher, I felt alone when I started teaching.  So I ask myself, was I supposed to paint a pretty picture of the people that were hard on me or was I supposed to tell my TRUTH.

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MY BOOK AT A GLANCE

Year One: This was the toughest year ever and I remember feeling like I was being tested to see if I could really hang in there with my high poverty stricken kids.  But the thing about the students is that once I won them over, they were not the problem.  IT WAS THE ADULTS.  I cried a lot that first year because I felt like I was failing miserably at teaching.  During pre-planning I had been whispered about because of a skirt that I thought was appropriate, but clearly it wasn’t.  I felt so embarrassed by my assets…the skirt was long but that wasn’t the problem.  I was body shamed before body shaming was a thing.

Dealing With Divorce: My first marriage fell apart during my second year of teaching.  I was holding on by a thread.  I had had a huge fight with my husband, got a mugshot for bursting out his truck window, separation, and watching the security I once felt in my marriage be shattered.  All of this was going on while my boys were toddlers (Lil Phil-5, Preston-3). I was home alone with my two boys, cooking for them, dropping them off at daycare, working my full-time teaching job—stressing and wondering when my husband was going to come back home.  HE DIDN’T! The divorce was finalized September, 2011!

Is This Really Happening: So many things happened to me in a few short years that I am blown away at the fact that I’m still in the classroom.  I admit my very first administrator was hands down the bomb.  She had very high expectations and as a new teacher  I had no choice but to meet them.  I’m extremely proud of my results after my first year of standardized testing…I can boast that 97% of my students passed the Criterion Referenced Competency  Test (Phased out CRCT).  But I dealt with a different administrator my 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of teaching that was so passive, it was difficult to feel productive under his leadership.  I dealt with my car being stolen from the school campus my 5th year and instead of being sympathetic his reaction was, “It was a simple repossession.”  That made my blood boil, and I knew it was time to GO!

A Different Perspective: Transferring to a different school was what I thought I needed and while I was yet again able to foster relationships with my students…I also had to deal with adults.  I will say that I am brash and unfiltered at times, but I’m committed to my stance on things, and that doesn’t make me wrong; it makes me passionate about my kids.  I respect other people’s opinions, but I think I have run into others not really respecting mine.  In my ten short years, I have dealt with court cases with my now second ex-husband in 2014, the murder of my half-brother in 2015, middle of the year moves from one content/classroom to another in 2016, and truly feeling undervalued for my experience and knowledge. In a one on one conversation about leadership I once told an administrator, “Your perspective is skewed by what you think you know about me.  Until you see me or in action, you have no idea what I’m capable of.  I take my content very seriously.  I’m not changing!  But you’d have to talk to me to know that.”

Even through all of that I have experienced, the nonconstructive criticisms, and being told I’m not qualified or experienced enough to be an academic coach I still forge ahead.  I’ve also been told I’m “social media heavy”, whatever that means.  I mean, is this the wave?!?!?  Criticize others for the moves they are making because you are not making them yourself?!?!?

Yes my career is teaching but my vision is much bigger than being in a classroom forever.  I refuse to be one dimensional.  Just as I heard today…not everyone wants you to be successful.  I’m building my platform one blog, discussion, experience, post, and video at a time.  I am not a traditional teacher…I have a bit of an edge about me and I’m not afraid to share my experiences.

As I’m figuring this all out I know that the LaTilya Rashon brand and PSB2 Publishing  will rise as I coach myself through the necessities.

To learn more about my self-published titles please check me out here.  Be sure to connect with me on social media.

Be sure to share and leave a comment.  Thanks for reading.cropped-20170110_153240-e14840823819536.png

My First Year In High School

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I have not neglected my teacher hat by focusing on self-care and writing more consistently in other areas of interest, so today I will chat about my transition to high school.  I’m undecided about writing a book about this experience.  Maybe after a couple a years I may do a follow-up to my debut book.

Based on my experience in high school and having the deep rooted thought that I would be a high school teacher, it took me nine years in middle school before I leveled up to high school.  I must admit that I LOVE IT!  Even as I’m asked how do I feel about being at my school I tell people that’s not a fair question because I have been in my particular zone for 10 years, so these are MY KIDS!

I admit it’s a different world teaching in my area because I live 30 minutes south of my zone and it’s like night and day.  But I often say that if I was anywhere else I would be bored out of my mind because my kids are very entertaining.  Now much like with my  first book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching, there have been some bumps in the road, but these minor detours have been more manageable than they were when I initially began teaching in 2008.  I think it’s safe to say that I have reached VETERAN status…LOL!

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I didn’t know what I was embarking on when I decided to step up but I see from the whispers, uncertainty, questionable approaches, relationships, and sticking true to who I am and I how I teach…I’m Good!

Now in 2008 when I took the steps to get certified to teach through the old Georgia Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (GaTapp) I thought I wanted to start off at high school, but I’m so glad that I took my time getting here.

For starters, in my sixth year of teaching, the current seniors in my building were my 8th grade babies the 2013-2014 school term.  The current juniors in my building were my 8th grade babies the 2014-2015 school term and we packed up and shut down the old middle school at the end of that year.  Recombining middle schools the 2015-2016 school term, I taught some of the 8th graders through my reading connections class, then the 2016-2017 academic year I taught half of the 8th graders after abruptly being moved from the reading connections class into the English/Language Arts classroom.  But that is another story for another day.  It turned out to be a good move even though the way I was moved was not handled the best way in my opinion.

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I knew that when I graduated from Nova Southeastern University with my Doctor of Education degree in 2016, it was only going to be a matter of time before it was time to move on.  I thought that my interview went fairly easy, but to move up with my kids was a big blessing for me.  I was ready for the challenge and to be a familiar face for my students that gave me a greater feeling.  To be honest to see the students that have made it to their senior year warms my heart because so many students get lost along the way.

My classroom management has not been an issue since my first year of teaching so that was the least of my concerns.  But building relationships and reestablishing relationships with my previous students has been so much fun.  The junior class of students have a very special place in my heart. So stepping back into their lives daily even though they are not in my actual class, seeing them, and having them visit my class as often as they can has been the warm welcome that I needed for high school.  It’s also safe to say that building relationships has not been an issue for me in the least bit.

This is year 10 and there is still a lot for me to learn.  I enjoy being an English teacher, and adjusting to the curriculum was more of a matter of the content versus the standards.  The great thing about my content is that the standards are the same, but I admit I have enjoyed the stories we read in class and the dialogue that was created.  “The Gift of the Magi” and “Everyday Use” have been my absolute favorites.  Aside from teaching though the only thing that blows my mind is where colleagues place their value when it comes to teaching the kids.

There is no denying the fact that I have favorite students, but what teacher after years of building relationships don’t?  There are children that seek genuine support while in school and that very often misunderstood connection students establish with certain teachers is shamed.  Everything is not always fair and as a teacher my only conversation majority of the time is what can I do to better myself?

Now I had a mentor teacher when my journey began and she was absolutely the best and very supportive.  I have been lucky enough to work across the hall from a “football mom” and friend that I’ve known for years and she has been my rock.  We truly have a safe place in her room as we “debrief” from the daily shenanigans and goings-on in the building.

The take away I have for this year is that I must continue to always take care of me first.  Students are still going to twist the events of the day.  Some adults around me will question, “Why I’m still the favorite?”, “Why do kids like to come to my room?”, and a multitude of other things but that will not deter my purpose for my classroom and why I love doing what I do.

I’m still trying to figure out my next move beyond the high school classroom and ultimately would love to be a Dean of Student Affairs because my strength lies in being among people.  I don’t ever want to lose touch with what is going on in the classroom and trending in education period.  It only takes one child to show you that you are doing something right.  But when I look around at all of  my students at my high school I have reached a lot and I’m glad to have had partial impact on their educational journey.

This is only year one with a few in me left to go.  High school has been a hoot with 12 days left until graduation.

I Have A Story To Tell

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I am often asked my age and when I boldly say that I am 36 years old I am then told that I don’t look my age and I have accomplished a lot to be so young.  Now when I think about being four years shy of 40 I feel like that I need to have more of my life in order.  That’s a lot of pressure I put on myself after already having two self-published books and a doctorates degree in the field of education.

Yes I know that I should chill out but I can’t!

I have also been told that there is no way they (individuals) could do what I have managed to do over the past 10 years.  I birthed the idea in me that writing is my purpose and I plan to pursue writing fiercely and fearlessly.

I have candid conversations with my friends about life, relationships, children, and my self-published books I still find it rather amazing that those that inquire the most have never peeked at my blog or downloaded a book, but I digress.  I wholeheartedly believe everyone has a story to tell, but I share my story with hopes to inspire.

All of my life I have written things down.  I have notebooks and old journals full of ideas that I keep telling myself I’m going to turn into books. However right now I’m honing my writing skills to write with more emotions and not so scholastically. Quite frankly I want to be a bestseller and one post at a time is going to get me there.

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My first book which I playfully refer to as my baby is about my teaching journey.  I highlight in detail in my recollection of how my teachers treated minority students in the classroom.  They were unfair and outright disrespectful at times.  Going to school in the mid 1990s versus now is very different, but let’s just say my brown face in a merged school  system was not kindly welcomed with all of the questions I posed on a regular basis.

I write to share my story because when I stepped into the field of teaching I was all the way GREEN!  I had no idea what I was getting myself into and found out very quickly at my inner-city middle school.  So here is the story that I want to tell!

Ironically, my stream of consciousness when it comes to writing in to unveil my truth, my background, my passion, and my drive.  I share my own life experiences and as a certified teacher this is my approach because I want people to learn from my risks and mistakes.  I feel that every lesson that I have learned over the years from my career, divorce, and relationships are teachable moments.

My blog serves as an extension of my mind as I search myself and relive the many places that I have been and recall some of my most painful truths.  It is no secret that I have been married twice and each one shaped a different part of  my continued existence.  It’s no secret that my sons are the absolute loves of life and there is nothing that I won’t do for them.  But a lot of times the journey that my life has taken has opened my eyes, made me extremely happy at times, and reclusive in some of my darkest moments.

My writing process is a self-healing process that takes me back to my feelings of the exact moments that I choose to write about.  Some days when I’m recalling love I feel so vulnerable, uncomfortable and exposed.  I often ask myself am I sharing too much?  Am I being as transparent as I proclaim to be?

I have had the idea about a new book, and I read and reread my work often to channel my likeness and flow of my chapters.  I have a black and white striped journal notebook that I jot down my many thoughts and ideas then revisit those jots and plan my attack to my project.  My sole purpose is to share my experiences and offer encouragement.

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My newest project I want to launch without a hitch and really step my game up as this will be my third book.  I write nonfiction and I feel that the thought-provoking inspiration and realness that I’m serving will be around for a long time.

I find the most time to write while I’m in school.  Being an English teacher, when my students write, I write too.  I am really taking my time with this next project because the content that I choosing to put into this book is the back story to who I am, my thought process and why I want to continuously share my story and my life.  I’m real life thinking beyond the books and want to be center stage encouraging, inspiring, and motivating.

Now my first book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching went live by mistake and from that point forward I want to be more intentional with my products/books/minibooks/ultimate guides/etc.  Creating the the superb writing environment requires a little bit of white noise and spiral notebooks everywhere.  I write when the urge hits me and lot of times I save notes in my phone and refer back back to them when my ideas begin to connect.

I do not have a set time to write because I write part-time while teaching full-time.  I find myself admiring the writers with bigger audiences.  I’m not comparing my work to theirs, I just know that in due time it will be my turn.

I have a lot of stories to tell and whether I’m balled in the corner sitting on my feet at the end of my couch, sitting upright on the chaise lounge in my bedroom, or sitting in a meeting at school typing away; I’m moved by my thoughts and the words that are burning to get out at the moment.

Writing is one of my favorite things to do.  I can be as candid with my words as I choose and dare someone to hold my words against me.  I’m having fun on my writing journey. I am discovering my voice.  I am developing my flow.  Most importantly I’m taking my time and I am having fun.

I’m doing my personal best even with the amount of pressure I put on my shoulders to be a great writer.  I feel like I am getting better each day and I know for those that follow me they can see my growth.

Whenever I’m asked what is my dream job, I say to sit on someone island writing books because I want to be a well known author.  I’m continuing my journey to writing greatness.

Leave a comment if you like what you’ve read so far and visit Amazon to check out my book reviews.