3 Lessons I Have Learned Since Becoming A Teacher

img_3764

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 Alterative 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 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.

Today I am going to share my experience as I transitioned into teaching and how I found my calling in the classroom.  Come along for the journey!

Lesson 1: Transitioning Careers

In the back of my mind even in high school there was a thought that I would become a teacher.  I thought that I would major in English when I first went off to college and minor in Spanish because I had big dreams of completing a semester abroad in a Spanish country and broaden my horizons.  My educational journey didn’t quite happen that way.  I graduated high school in May of 2000, attended the University of Florida for a glorious year (July 2000-April 2001) then took a six year detour in the United States Air Force from August 2001 to August 2007 before ultimately landing in a middle school classroom.

I had big ideas when I first got out of the Air Force but much to my dismay those plans went to the left and I found myself unfulfilled in the civilian sector.

I’m a people person and while at times I can be off by myself rarely interacting with others and enjoying my life when I first got out of the military working for the Georgia Department of Human Services, that career path was not the choice for me.  So it made sense to plan an exit while still performing my duties as a Child Support Enforcement Agent.  I will be the first to say that the system is not fair and I saw a lot of struggling fathers do the best they could while some fathers simply dropped off the face of the earth.

Some of the noncustodial parents I encountered were decent in their efforts, but the office politics was enough to deter me from this career field and really put my education to work.  I knew that in the classroom I must showcase myself as a lifelong learner, and acquiring my master’s degree was a necessity.

I knew that my willingness to continue to learn was heavily influenced by my past teachers, and in transitioning careers, I wanted to give back to students what had been given to me in a positive way.

In my book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching I share an experience I had with a middle school teacher and a high school teacher that fed the fuel inside of me to let education be my escape.  I learned that education was my stepping stone to a better future and I wanted children to believe in themselves the way I had while matriculating through school.

When I found my way pursuing a teaching career the natural leader in me accepted my calling.  Read an excerpt of my journey hear:

51-ykyw6rfl-_sx331_bo1204203200_
Kindle Edition

Lesson 2: Maintaining Balance When My Life Was Falling Apart

My first three months into teaching looked vastly different from my third year of teaching.  And even now here in my 10th 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 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 school me and I had an at home me.  At school I didn’t talk about my personal life with anyone really other than my gracious mentor because I didn’t want pity or for anyone to feel sorry for me.  But my face was telling of my troubles at home.  At home my sons watched me cry often then wipe the tears away and carry on with my day even though I was screaming on the inside.

I had a job to do and I had to do my job 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.

Lesson 3: I Found My Purpose and Niche

Over the course of the years of teaching, I have acquired multiple degrees.  As mentioned I exceeded my five year plan which was to obtain an educational specialist degree.  I completed that degree program entering my third year of teaching.  I had no educational pedagogy so I wanted to learn more about curriculum, instruction, and assessments.  Being a lifelong learner propels my energy to help, teach, speak, and write.

As a blogger and teacher, my journey inside and outside of the classroom has been impactful to those that have sought my help.  Writing is my purpose and education/teaching is my niche.  My platform is my classroom.  And my audience is those that want to hear my stories and follow my career and I surge into a bigger light.

My book, my journey, my transitions in life give me a story to tell and I want to share my story and experiences as often as possible.  I am my brand.  My career and writings are my baby.  New teachers, old teachers, brick and mortar schools and alternative preparation programs need a voice that speaks from experience.  I have not degreed myself out of positions.  Being a lifelong learned has positioned me to take the stage.

I love teaching and it is in my DNA.  Go read a free sample of my journey and share my experiences.  My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching is a worthwhile investment found on Amazon ($4.99 Ebook or $7.99 paperback).

Grab a book, leave a review.  Feed a writer!

51-ykyw6rfl-_sx331_bo1204203200_
Kindle Edition

What No One Tells You About Blogging 2018

When I made the choice to write more, work on building my brand (which I’m still sorting through) publishing my book, and networking, I had no clue about the amount of time I would spend obsessing about the details.  Matter of fact I got side-tracked, off track, and overwhelmed by my vision and everything I was trying to do.

For a creative with a fluid stream of thought, bottling up my emotions into multiple blog posts is delicate.  It is also nerve wrecking because you want your audience to believe in your brand.

I have read numerous social media posts about brand building, mail list, and content launching, I begin to ask myself “Am I doing something wrong?”   I have even completed a few email challenges which is why after my last starter kit download I decided to revamp my epic blog… originally posted August 13, 2016.

What No One Tells You About Blogging

So I thought that I had it all figured out then and sadly, I didn’t then and I’m still figuring things out now.  I’m still tackling the same topics of the experts, products, social media, and the effort it takes.  But I’m also adding another component…NETWORKING!

The Experts

The first thing no one tells you is that the blogging industry is full of experts that have been around for YEARS!  They are the gurus, the go-tos, the coaches, and the mold.  They have been building steadily for five or more years and have their niche, audience, and branding down to a science.  They use every technology tool imaginable and create material that us novice bloggers are working hard at some day creating ourselves.  Having had to learn how to pitch ideas, and step out of faith allowed them to establish platforms and connections that further build their credibility.  I could name a few experts but there is no need, if you simply google them they are everywhere.  So now I’m trying to get in where I fit in so that I can grow my audience and build my platform.  To be an influencer you must learn to move and network like one.  Starting can be hard but they too were once where we are.

The Products:  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.  Some tools are even available as free downloads and starter kits that are helpful.  Others are confusing as shit so I keep what I like and toss what I found useless.  I’ll be honest some things are more complicated inside some of these free email courses.  Since I’m Type-A, I need things to be simple and spelled out.  If I’m stressed out reading these helpful “tidbits”, I wonder what these creators felt like when they were writing.  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.  Now I admit some of the leadpages and magnets are fire as hell, but my next big investment is going to be a newer laptop before I go all out.  Besides I still teach full-time so blogging has yet to pay my bills.  But I’m working on it. Don’t go broke investing, take it one day at at time (note to self).

Social Media

img_3670-1

It is up to you to separate your personal life and your business life. Presenting your content on various sites is time consuming and intimidating.  Trying to follow a content checklist to be sure to create, share, tweet, stumble, tumble, press, pin and repost across multiple social sites is both beneficial and aggravating.  I’ll be the first to admit that my posts, my blogs, and my images were not that great when I got started but I can definitely see how I have grown.  Graphics really make a big difference, now if I could just get more into some of the other tools like mailchimp to help me with list buiding, I’d be 100% in the game.  In between using the pen name LaTilya Rashon for Amazon but TilyaRealEyes for everything else I can see how everything is starting to come together.  Setting yourself aside is 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.  Which is why I’m offering this blog update.  Whew!

All I can say is let 2018 be my year for greater GROWTH!  With that being said, 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 consistent.  Be impactful! Shared content impresses followers and lasts longer.

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!  To top it all off you are expected to follow different people each day, leave meaningful comments on others’ post, and respond to the people that write to you.

Establishing your network and doing your research is important. 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 create but as a creative you have to be mindful of your voice and the style you create for yourself.  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!

xoxo

My Love-Hate Relationship with Fitness

imageAt my heaviest I weighed in at 190 pounds at five feet one inch.  I said to myself HELL NO this is not my life.  When I saw my clothes size balloon for me up to a size 12 and 14 I was secretly devastated but I was also upset about the things that had happened in my life.

Being a size six all throughout high school and even in my early 20’s was the best feeling ever so I knew something was up when after working out my size 6’s didn’t fit anymore. Surprise…You’re Pregnant!  I was elated about my first little bundle of joy.  I had a c-section so working out was not an option for at least eight weeks because for one I had sutures and had at least six weeks to wait for clearance from my doctor to do anything. Needless to say my mother-in-law at the time was extremely rude and insensitive about my weight gain and said to me when my baby—Lil Phil—was two months old, “You know what you can do to lose weight don’t you?”  I was emotionally unprepared for such a statement to come out of her mouth.  I immediately called my husband in tears while guzzling some Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.  Postpartum hormones on 10!

I lost my weight by running four times a week at the time while in the Air Force.  Of course my second blessing was born while I was on active duty so the pressure to get back right was important to me.  Then next thing I knew in 2007 I was moving to my home state, in a new house, and relearning a familiar town but now as an adult.  I joined the gym but then that eventually got boring.

I fought with my then husband, we separated, I changed careers, I gained weight from lack of exercise, I lost weight due to overwhelming stress, I drank some, I slept a lot…I was unhappy and scared to start over.  Then one day I looked at my stomach full of stretch marks, my thick ass thighs, size 14 pants and decided that this was not healthy.  I hated feeling like I couldn’t cross my legs or feel completely comfortable in my clothes.  I was self-conscious but hid it with a smile.

Stress caused me to gain at one point because I was not active at all.  All I did was take care of my sons, go to work, and sleep.  I was trying to figure out my life and starting over.  I was 30 years old and my life was in an uproar.  I took charge!

So post divorce in 2011 I picked up a tennis racket and went to a private lesson with a group of friends.  It was fun and the tennis pro was fun.  I didn’t put the racket down and my true weight loss journey began.  I was determined to lose about 40 pounds because I felt entirely too heavy to be so short.  I have been playing tennis since the top of 2012 and I love it.  It keeps me active.  I was not good when I started and the way I play now is a major improvement.  So here I am five years later still playing, I have been on different teams under different captains, I have even been the captain…  My love affair with staying fit is a struggle especially when life gets in the way.

On top of playing tennis I was at the gym and at times spending up to three hours on some days working out.  Not the plan, but after leaving the gym I would get a text asking who could play tennis so I would jump at the opportunity especially in the summer time. I even jumped on the P90X extreme workouts and would tap out at about day 60.

I had a time or two that I took to the pavement again, playing around with the C25K running app.  I’d make it to week five and then get totally thrown off.  Life would interrupt my workout schedule and next thing I knew I was slowly gaining weight.

I saw my dress size begin to shift.  Those 14’s dropped to an eight and suddenly I felt too small.  Right now I am at a steady weight, some days I’m okay at 165, then it’ll drop to 160 and I’m okay with that.  I have a love-hate relationship with fitness.  I work out to relieve stress, take my mind off of things, and weight maintenance.  I still have a belly full of stretch marks and some days my stomach appears flat; other days I look at it and I’m reminded that life was carried there.

I am an active person.  I’m always going to show you something real.  This body takes work…cardio…elliptical…tennis…ministepper…running.  I don’t want to be pushing 200 pounds ever again.  I took control.  Besides I have to be around for Lil Phil and Pressy. They keep me young!

My journey to staying fit is ever evolving.  I’m not going to pay for a body.  I’ll just work on the body God gave me.

~LaTilya Rashon