My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching

I am learning a very invaluable lesson since the accidental release of my first book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching.

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Available on Amazon

 

Although this book is my first literary baby I see that regardless of my effort to produce quality writing about my journey into teaching, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes.  I did not set my sights astronomically high, but I did hope that it would be better received by my peers.

Now this is not a blog about “whoa is me”.   I am merely noticing that in this self-publishing world in order to be noticed, your platform needs to be larger than your Facebook friends. Perhaps my chosen genre of nonfiction is not as entertaining and interesting as fictional stories.  My intention was not to entertain, but to provide a heads-up to new teachers that teaching is more than lesson plans and pedagogy.

To read more click here!

 

I Don’t Want to Coach, I Just Want to Write

I Don’t Want to Coach, I Just Want to Write

 I’m not anti-coaching, but I know that’s not for me.

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Photo credit: Dave Morrison Photography via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND             

Yesterday I compiled a list of bloggers, networks, and websites and I am blown away.  Everybody has services and products they are offering and as I read all  I say to myself is,   I want to write.

Literature is my thing.  Books, words, life, and processing all of the above.  I think about my journey and my writing as a way to provide insight about my career field (teaching), and my personal struggles (life).  I by not means am trying to coach anyone through their profession or life decisions.   So why does everyone want to be a coach?

I must reference StephRoyalty because there are just some things you should not be paying someone for.  I think experience is the best teacher, because if you never make mistakes, you will never learn.  I can honestly say that I write down many thoughts, and blog ideas, revisit those ideas, then write.  But today’s blog came on a whim!

This morning when I prepared myself to visit and register with blogging networks, I hit up twitter and was immediately shocked, maybe not shocked, but just over the coaching aspect of blogging.   I admit, I just don’t get it! You either want to write or you don’t!

I do feel however that once people gravitate to your work, you find ways to keep them engaged, but how is coaching someone through creativity the way?  You need coaches for competition! Is there a blogger olympics that everyone is being coached for that I don’t know anything about?  Who’s coaching the coaches in this industry?

Now don’t get it twisted, a workshop on monetization is a necessity.  A webinar on strategies and networking will give you key ideas and points to ponder.  We all want to make money, but what happens to the creative writers that blog because they have a constant stream of thought?  What becomes of the writer’s that publish books and write just to relieve tension?  What about the people like me that really don’t offer services and just want to WRITE?

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Photo credit: MyEyeSees via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle because we all want to get “PUT ON”.  But if everybody is offering coaching services at competitive prices, are we “one upping” the competition?  There are some really amazing bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs out here and I’m losing track.

I can’t focus on my brand long enough to see if I actually have one, because everybody trying to assist in branding!  Now does that make sense?  It does and then at the same time it doesn’t.  My message is so simple…

Discipline…I am focused enough to make this writing career happen. Authenticity…I am staying true to myself in the midst of this blogger world pandemonium.  Perseverance…I am willing to stay the course as long as possible, to see my words come to fruition.

Let me reiterate!  I don’t want to coach, I just want to write.  If I happen upon an audience that likes my honesty and transparency, then good for me.  Now let me get back to my compiled list, and let you get back to your regularly scheduled program.  Tootle Loo!

What No One Tells You About Blogging

What No One Tells You About Blogging

When I made the choice to dedicate my time write more, work on building my brand (which I’m still sorting through TilyaRealEyes “The Educated Butler”), publishing my book, and networking, I had no clue about the amount of time I would spend obsessing about the details.  For a creative with a fluid stream of thought, bottling up my emotions into multiple blog posts is delicate.  When I read numerous social media posts about brand building, mail list, and content launching, I begin to ask myself “Am I doing something wrong?”  So I decided to cleanse my mind to tell you all what I am learning so far about what no one tells you about blogging.

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The Experts

The first thing no one tells you is that the blogging industry is full of experts that have been around for YEARS!  And I do mean they have been building steadily for five or more years and somewhat already had a platform when they began.  Their platforms from corporate America, pageantry, and other connections already created a buzz, so people that have worked closely with influencers already had a captive audience.  That does not mean that in the blogging start-up market you do not have a chance.  It just means that you have to work harder to meet your mark.

Workbooks/Workshops/Webinars

In information overload keeping up with the trending concepts is overwhelming.  Lifestyle, fashion, inspirational, relationships, everyone is offering advice.  There is tons of help being offered at low and high prices.  Oddly, in start-up, investing in books, workshops, webinars, and other online content comes with an expensive price tag.  It is exciting to see gifs dancing all over your screen, then as soon as you decide you are interested, you are hit with costs ranging from free to hundreds of dollars.  These resources are helpful, but the information is recycled and tweaked to individual liking from author to author.  It is true, you have to spend money to make money.  But don’t go broke investing, take it one day at at time (note to self).

Social Media

It is up to you to separate your personal life and your business life.  Presenting your content on various sites is time consuming and confusing.  Trying to follow a content checklist to be sure to share, tweet, stumble, tumble, press, and pin is both beneficial and aggravating at the same time.  It’s worth it if your followers engage in your content.  But no one tells you that you need to recycle, update, and revise your content continuously to make it more appealing.  So next time you see your favorite blogger, note that they aren’t creating new content as often as you thought.  So your content should be consistently impactful each and every time it is shared because impressions really matter.

It Is Not Easy

In the beginning of the week, your ideas are fresh, your journals are attached to your hand, and your fingers skip along the home row keys on your keyboard as your ideas flow.  In the middle of the week none of your ideas are formulating and you think that your writing needs an overhaul.  By the end of week you are in tears because no one seems to be paying attention to your work.  It is discouraging!  But be reminded that plenty of others have felt this very same way.

I am learning that there is no true right or wrong way to launch, and that consistency is key.  Bloggers write to establish their platforms, create useful products, and produce content driven to keep their audience engaged.  No one is telling your the perfect formula for creation, because you have to do the work!

*image from wordpress.com*

The Meaning of TilyaRealEyes “The Educated Veteran”

The Meaning of TilyaRealEyes…“The Educated Veteran”

TilyaRealEyes has been around for a long time since my first blog when I was registered with blogspot.  I had so many things going with me in 2010 that I needed and outlet because I was beginning to realize a lot about my life, about myself and about my situation.wp-image-2072040792jpg.jpg

When you look at my first name, LaTilya, I just decided that TilyaRealEyes was befitting because I was also seeing the transformation in my thought processes, my level of maturity, my growth as a woman, and facing divorce after accepting my separation for what it was.  I was realizing that my life was going to be what I made it.

I began writing as my escape to unload my feelings out into the atmosphere to begin my healing process.  I was devastated by the events of my marriage and I had to find a way to let it all go to an unbiased, listening ear that would not hush me or tell me that I was being overly sensitive.  Tilya, as is I, was realizing that I had to take care of me or the anger was going to consume me.  I was seeking God, I was venting, and I was secretly hoping that my estranged husband would stumble on my words and see my hurt.  Through TilyaRealEyes, I established my voice and realized that I had the strength to take control of my life and turn my life into a platform free of judgement filled with encouragement and transparency to others who have experienced loss and humiliation in life.

I initially bared my soul and deepest thoughts into my blog, but I became stagnant and the blogspot went to the way side.

Now as I have revamped my blog, I have moved past the heartbreak and now I want to use my platform to speak and write about persevering through tough situations and hardships.  I want to talk about having the discipline to stay committed to your endeavors no matter how overwhelming life gets.  The reality is, “Shit happens!”  Everyday will not be glittery rainbows, and you will want to cry and just throw everything down and walk away.  TilyaRealEyes snatches you back to reality and encourages you to stay true to yourself, your goals, your ambition, and recommit to your life.  I share my struggles and how I have grown to represent the best authentic version of me.  Free of crippling insecurities and full of thought-provoking vulnerabilities.  20151208_083123

I want my readers to feel inspired and keep checking back for updates and inspiration for their lives.  I would like my audience to know the woman behind the words.  My writing demonstrates my emotions as I work on other things such as books and various ideas that float through my mind.

So on one layer I deal with life, the good the bad and the ugly.  The unpredictable, mundane, and the melancholy.  But on a philosophical note, I am also “The Educated Veteran”.

The Educated Veteran is my teacher hat where I systematically discuss issues that arise in education that I see daily as a classroom teacher.  It is a play on my profession and legal last name combined.  As an educator I hear the complaints from teachers, students, administrators, and parents and this drives me to be the non-standard leader. I will rock my hair shaved on one side.  Be down to earth with my colleagues, but wear my professionalism where it is needed.  I don’t like the feeling of my hands being tied with the constant reforming of educational policies.  So I’m taking it upon myself to share my perceptions about new teachers, classroom management, teacher retention, and all things related to education.  I’m striving to be a change agent, reshaping the look of leadership.

Since receiving my Doctor of Education degree, people look at me like I have three eyes, waiting to see what direction my life and career is about to take.  Ironically, my drive makes me want to inform others of the ills and wills of education.  I love my career, and I’m a firm believer that I am most beneficial to students whom I identify with.  Until I have a major career change, I’m satisfied being The Educated Veteran due to my various degrees and my quest for knowledge. 

cropped-20160718_120948.jpgCheck out my debut book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching which gives your personal stories of my teaching journey so far.  I bring relevance and credibility to The Educated Veteran.

Now you know the meaning of my site.  I am TilyaRealEyes, The Educated Veteran!  Ask me anything and I will gladly help you realize your truth.

20 Facts About Me

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  1. I am my mother’s only child.
  2. I have half siblings on my biological father’s side.
  3. I was in a secret relationship my Junior year in high school. (I hate him now!)
  4. I began my college journey at the University of Florida.
  5. Seafood, specifically snow crab legs and shrimp are my favorite food.                       
  6. I have attended 8 different colleges and universities from 2000-2016.                  University of Florida, Burlington Community College, Western International University, University of Phoenix, Community College of the Air Force (A.A.S. 06’), Thomas Edison State College (A.A. and B.A. Liberal Studies, 07’), Bellevue University (MPA 09’),  Nova Southeastern University (Ed.S. 10’ and Ed. D. 16’) img_20160518_110904.jpg
  7.  I am from Waycross, Georgia, Home of the Okefenokee Swamp. 
  8. I joined the United States Air Force in 2001, and served until 2007.
  9.  The first time I got married was in 2003 until I got divorced in 2011.                                                                                                                   
  10.  I have visited 12 United States and 1 U.S. Territory:  Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and U.S. Territory-Puerto Rico
  11.  I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.20160116_112608-1-1.jpg
  12.  I have been on 3 Carnival Cruises: Bahamas twice, and Cozumel/Key West once
  13.  I worked for the Office of Child Supported Services for 8 months, and hated it.
  14.  I love the The Real Housewives Franchise, except for the Miami cast, they don’t do anything for me.  The Real Housewives of Atlanta are my favorite since I’m a GA Girl.
  15.  I have twelve tattoos…three of them are butterflies that represent the changes in my life.
  16.  I have two wonderful sons, Phillip who’s 12 and Preston who’s 10.
  17.  I have been a middle school teacher since 2008.
  18. I got remarried in 2014.wp-image-1457144966jpg.jpg
  19. I have played tennis as a hobby since 2012.
  20. I self-published my first book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching
    20160702_170048Comment and let me know what you find the most interesting, I’ll be sure to respond.

9 Reasons Education is Confusing

9 Reasons Education is Confusing by LaTilya Rashon

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I attended Center Junior High School under the esteemed Dr. Robert T. Bussey, who was my mother’s principal when she was in school.  The city of Waycross  schools and Ware County schools merged the 1994 school term and contrary to some of the horror stories of that merger, middle school in 1996 was way different than middle school now in 2016.  Other than being two decades apart, I will explain the nine reasons education is confusing.

9. Grading System Changed: Before teachers had more autonomy of their grades because simply speaking, students either completed their work or they didn’t.  There were no categories like Assessment of Learning, Assessment During Learning, Homework, Classwork, Test/Quizzes/Projects or anything else for that matter.  There were no percentages for the categories such as 50% classwork, 40% assessments, 10% homework.  Teachers graded work as it was assigned, recorded it in the grade book, averaged the all the grades and that was what went on the report card.  Now, teachers have a certain number of assignments per category so now it’s almost impossible for students to fail a class unless they choose not to complete any work.

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8. Limited Class Options:  I had the option to Agriculture, Life Skills, Health, and Career Connections with Mrs. Ganas where we learned about the Occupational Outlook Handbook and was able to job shadow someone for a full day and receive a class grade.  Now middle school students are limited to P.E. without the Health class component, Band, Reading or Math/Study Skills class, Technology, and Art if it has not been cut from the budget.  We were somewhat ability grouped, and changed classes by crossing over with other homerooms which made a competitive and productive roster.  In my teaching environment students travel from class to class on their grade level with their assigned homeroom everyday, and the class roster is split into fours assigning these chunks of students to the same connections classes.  There is not enough variety in the day.

7.  Apathetic Students:  I was required in middle school to do a Social Science Fair project or a Science Fair project.  Teachers communicated the expectations to students, sent home parent letters, and gave ample time in school and after school to work on projects.  I was lucky enough to attend the regional science fair at South Georgia College in 1993 for my project, Does Artificial Light Effect Plant Growth?  Now students majorly choose to not complete a science fair project and accept the grades of zero that come along with it.  It seems as if students have given up to the point science fairs are optional.

6.  Standardized Assessments:  The ITBS test is now used for instructional planning and a formative assessment.  It gives your child a ranking in school based on their results, but its an ability grouping tool.  Students did not feel the pressure to test well in 1996 because everything counted, so you were expected to do well.  I am guilty of this, but when my students enter the door I start the year off mentioning state assessments that they know are sure to come.  My class is based on test results, so my students learn fast why they are placed in my Reading class.  It’s tough for students that know they struggle, but are now in middle school trying to play catch up.

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5.  Teachers Are Younger:  Now you would think that age is nothing but a number when dealing with professionals, but I know that when I was in school my teachers were older, or shall I say their dress code was.  My teachers hardly wore jeans, always wore dress pants, blouses, and dresses with modest make-up.  Now when you walk into schools there are a lot children that look more mature than their teachers.  It’s hard for urban middle schoolers to respect someone who is the same age as their older siblings.

4.  Teacher Preparation:  I came in as a TAPP (Teacher Alternative Preparation Program) teacher from a different career field, the military, so I had life and work experience.  A lot f the teacher pedagogy that is learned traditionally is valuable, but teaching by the book is a no-go for middle school.  This works well for early childhood educators, but at the middle school level when students are trying to find their identity, you have to play it by ear.  The bricks and mortar way to teacher preparation gives teachers false interpretations of a classroom, so sometimes at the middle school level, teachers don’t last long.  I’ll touch on this later.

3.  Social Media:  There weren’t computers in the classroom 20 years ago.  The classroom equipped with computers was the computer lab and that was the typing class.  We had the old typing lessons that taught you your home row keys and by the end of the semester you learned basic typing skills.  The only phone you had was a house phone.  Now kids of all ages have cellular phones, and some of those phones are better than adult phones.  Social media is how kids communicate, rather than writing friendly notes.  There is a whole new language (text talk) that is being spoken by this generation.  I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t have social media, however in school it is a major distraction.

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2.  Parental Involvement:  Open house, report card pick-up, parent-teacher conferences, athletic events, PTO meetings,  and awards banquets have low parent participation.  I remember being in school and my mom never missed an event.  Now we can barely get a parent to show up for their highly disruptive child.  New age parents are not like parents from decades past.  It is heart-breaking to know that a lot of the students today are raising themselves.  Schools need parents to meet them halfway.

1. Lack of Consistency: I entered into the profession of teaching eight years ago and I am now on my seventh district superintendent.  I live in one city, but teach in another and I see that changeover is more severe in my district.  From formative assessments, progress monitoring tools, academic expectations, and changes in district wide leadership nothing has been placed for longer than two academic years to see progress.  It doesn’t help that new state assessments have changed, so have promotion requirements.  I’m not a strategist, but it appears that once leaders leave the classroom, they become out of touch with the classroom struggle.  Teachers are now simply collecting a check rather than genuinely teaching.  Education represents stability, but in some cases teachers are providing a disservice to their students.

I’m sure there are more reasons, but these stood out for me the most.

 

5 Things My Single Mom Taught Me

I grew up in the small streets of Waycross, Georgia where there was a clear division in the sides of town, dirt roads that you didn’t drive down, and noticeable identities of jocks and band geeks.  No matter what, when I looked around me I always knew who to lean on, and other than God, my mom was my strength.

I didn’t live in Cherokee Heights but was fortunate enough to be inside the homes of my cheerleading friends that did.  No matter what was lacking in my life on my side of town throughout it all my mom modeled self-sufficiency to the fullest.  I learned a lot of things watching her and those things shape my continued existence.

Thing One:  Independence

My mom had me when she was 18 years old and my dad was around for a quick minute before he was never thought of again.  He made appearances in my life, but my mom set the ground rules.  I was a latch-key kid at a very early age so many times I looked after myself until my mom came home from work.  Not having others around all of the time, made me rely on myself as I was learning to navigate through life.  I studied my mom make things happen for herself and how strong she seemed all of the time.  She displayed her independence by going without when we didn’t have what we need and not placing her small family in vulnerable situations that we couldn’t return from.  She worked, she paid the bills, food was always on the table, most importantly she survived the social woes of single parentdom.

Thing Two:  Provision

In kindergarten I left for school one day and there weren’t any presents under the tree, but when I returned home the tree was full.  My god-father had purchased every single toy that I wanted, but of course who could resist my six year old face.  However, by the time I was 15 Christmas was not that big of a deal and I found that money was hard to come by.  I never really knew my mom’s financial situation growing up.  I just knew that sometimes we had and more than what was needed and other times she stretched what she had to cover the necessities.  I can recall things being a little tight here and there, and one year for Christmas she uttered the words that she’d do what she could.  She was my only provider, and watching her work tirelessly I know she had to be a praying woman because even when money was scarce our needs were always met.

Thing Three:  Imperfection

My mom worked crazy hours.  While working at a plywood factory called Champion, she would pull 12, up to 16 hour shifts and would come home smelling like wood, mildew, and steam.  I hated it!  Unfortunately the long hours would be accompanied by mood swings.  We disagreed a lot during those few years and I said some pretty horrible things and so did she.  Some children look at their moms and see mean women that don’t understand life.  I looked at my imperfect mom and loved her with all my heart.  My mom was perfectly imperfect, making mistakes raising me, and we we learning and figuring out life together.  That’s what happens when you’re an only child, and you work through the imperfect moments to learn a lesson.

Thing Four:  Trust

It is true that it takes years to build trust and only a second to lose it.  However, I instinctively trust my mom.  I can not recall a single time in my life that I doubted who would be here for me.  I didn’t want to trust her advice as a teenager because I wanted to make my own mistakes.  Growing into an adult in my hardest times, my mom listened to my deepest fears without judgement, hugged me tight, and reassured me that there was always a bright side to every down side.  I don’t have to second guess her loyalty.  When I am reminded of failed trust relationships, I question if and when I ever had second thoughts about someone being in my life.  When I think about my mom I smile and if I think about others and frown, they are not worth my trust.  It may seem juvenile, but one thing for sure is that my mom is not going anywhere.

Thing Five:  Love

Love is a word that comes and goes, few people really know what it means to really love somebody.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13: 7).  Unconditional support comes from her direction.  No matter how many times I feel inadequate, unworthy, and outright lost in my decisions and life, I know that I can count on my mother’s love.  I strive to love my children each day as much as she has loved me.  I strive to love my neighbor as I love myself.  My mother’s love is never-ending, so when people I allow people into my life I’m optimistic.  When I hold on to people it is with the kind of love my mom showed me.  It’s hard sometimes when you want to shut down, but love is a safe place for me when it comes to her.  I in turn want love to be a safe place for my sons when they think of me.

My mom did it alone, but I learned so much.

My Father Was Absent

On the year mark of my brother’s death I was overwhelmed with the grief as I made my way to school.  I immediately texted my sister to let her know she crossed my heart and mind but that reopened a wound inside of me that has yet to heal.

There is still one man…biological father…he spread his seed and produced children that really don’t know him at all.  At least I feel like I don’t know him.

At times in my life I remember reaching out to him to simply ask him to be more present in my life.  It was never about money,  I was just a little girl who knew her father but didn’t understand why he wasn’t very present in my life.  I had a daddy, my godfather, who did an awesome job being a father figure, but my last name is Williams…and that is the man who should have been there.

Four women had their lives affected by his handsome charm I am sure.  But a woman only knows a man that is hers in the moment. I’m sure each mother loved my father, but did he really love them?  After all, there are five children.

Five children grew up estranged because even though we know each other, the centerpiece to our connectivity, our father…didn’t bridge those relationships.  I have an older sister, regardless to the circumstances, two older brothers (R.I.P. Tim), and a younger brother. There is a 10 year gap between my youngest brother and I, and for me I’m somewhat cherishing his presence.

Sadly, we are all still 1 father, 4 mothers, and 5 children because my father was absent.