Tip Tuesday

Listen teacher moms… you have a whole life outside of the classroom so some days it’s going to take a little more effort. I mean let’s be honest, good teachers obsess about observations because they want everything to go perfect: students engaged and on task, even transitions from task to task and a positive learning environment.


We spend countless hours planning engaging lessons because we want leave a lasting impression. Then on the day of observation nothing goes as planned. On the flip side of this is that good administrators understand which is why they randomly visit your classroom to catch you on your “good days”.


So here are more tips on surviving:
1️⃣Being observed comes with the profession. At times you will have multilevel leadership in your room, It happens.
2️⃣Show your students that you are human; you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes you’ll learn from them.
3️⃣Some days you just won’t feel like teaching, and that’s okay. Nobody’s perfect‼️

Check out my ebook store latilyarashon.selz.com for my tips on maneuvering the classroom as a newbie teacher or even a veteran teacher.

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

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.

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.