Diving Into My Brag Bag To Be More Creative

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth so everything I got in life has been because I’ve worked hard for it. Growing up in a single parent home the odds were stacked against me. If society had it’s way I would have been another statistic as a teenager; teenage mother, living off of government assistance, and quite possibly a high school dropout. My mother was not having that for me at all. I knew my father but he was not an active part of my life, so watching my mother work various jobs to always provide for me was the best example of hustle and heart.

We lived in the family house until I was four and starting head start.  We moved across the street to Fort Bailey housing projects.  Walking to the store for a bag of pink cookies and a cream Ritz soda was a treat, now I live for my crab legs and moscato…LOL!  I was a project kid, with a key at the age of five letting myself into the house each day by myself then waiting for my mom to get home.  Life was sweet in the 80s.  Now it’s not that easy to leave kids home alone because too much can happen with predators lurking at every turn.

I grew up being very independent and doing a lot of things for myself because the fact is I spent a lot of time by myself.  My mom worked and that was understandable, so throughout middle and high school, during my mom’s off time we spend time together, then when she was gone, I’d read a book or watch t.v.  So by the time I graduated high school in 2000 having worked at Wendy’s and Shoney’s I could make a little money for myself but in the back of my mind I always wanted to just write.

I went off to college to the University of Florida and partied my life away.  I was introduced to beloved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., met some amazing people but ultimately blew it.  I joined the United States Air Force in 2001, lived in New Jersey my entire enlistment, got deployed to Bulgaria and Italy, got married, had my two sons, then separated from active duty status in 2007.  My background had set the tone as I share my story because it was not easy being active duty, married, tending to babies, and pursuing my studies all at the same time.  I was very overwhelmed and emotional a lot of times but I pushed through anyways.

By the time I relocated to middle Georgia, I had acquired 3 degrees and had multiple ideas of starting a women’s magazine, writing a book, short stories, or just something creative because I have always had the passion to write. By the time I began teaching in 2008, I was halfway through my Masters in Public Administration program and still had no idea what I was going to do next. But the yearning for more was peeking over my shoulder and in my subconscious. I kept digging until I outlined my first nonfiction title. In 2013 I said to myself that my book was going to be great and everyone would want to read it… Well that didn’t happen. See I wanted more but I didn’t have a plan. Now the plan is for me to TELL MY STORY, so people really get a true idea of who I am, what I represent, and what I’m all about. I defied the odds and I have a story to tell.

Achieving my advanced degree in 2016, my Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership was personal.  It was a checkmark to be place of my list of life goals and accomplishments.  There have been others that did it younger than me, but see at the age of 34 with two kids, a second marriage, six years of honorable military service and eight years of teaching, I was doing damn good for myself.  So where is my POP?!  When things got rocky and I thought I had a clear vision of what I want to have happen, a second divorce happened on 2017.  I wasn’t devastated, but I was derailed so my goals for pursuing speaking and writing more took a backseat.

Now here I am 11 years into teaching, having taught roughly 2000 students, each year I wonder who will or who has been that one?  I have highlighted some of my most memorable students in My Fourth Year, but beyond that when students come into my room to hug me midway through a lesson, or stop by my door during transition to class it has been too many to count or name.  My colleagues are hit or miss, but some of them know where my heart is.  I simply refuse to give up on my population of students, but good God some days it is hard.

When I look at my mixed career I have done a lot and take a stand for individuality. I’m often confused and people like to put other people in a box and you shouldn’t. Creativity is an extension of who a person is and you have to tap into your greatness better than anyone else can and tell your story.

Be vulnerable because someone needs to hear from you.

Feeling Renewed in Business, Career, and Love

July became my month of yes and I took a huge leap into something that I was not sure I was ready for.  The internet is full of copycat ideas and recycled presentations so I’m sticking with what I know…I’mma just DO ME!

When I log into my social media and I see ads for “FREE” this and “FREE” that I’m slightly intrigued.  I click, I enroll, I listen, then I receive countless emails.  There are a few people that I pay close attention to because they consistently push the message of authenticity.  So I’ll continue to be authentic and transparent in my approach because that’s all that I know how to do.

I had to gather my thoughts for this post because I have taken a lot in over these few weeks for summer break and I just wanted to be clear in what I was saying before I posted my thoughts about anything.

Business|I was obsessing about book ideas and then I was struck with one that I cannot abandon.  I find it ironic that as fictitious characters speak to authors, my real life thought processes urge me to write in that discipline…EXPERIENCES from my classroom mixed with life lessons.  Sure other educational experts focus on the needs of our students but I like the approach I’m taking with my writing.  I’m focusing on ways to help teachers because honestly so many times in my career I felt alone and misunderstood.

img_5542So I’m turning that around to pour into my writing and helping other teachers as well on their academic journeys.  Once I got my services in order I began to see how I help more teachers than others would have probably thought possible when I first began teaching.  I had to BOSS UP just a little bit and be unafraid.  For every one thing about me that was misunderstood, I’ve taken back control of my business and writing and I’m pushing the envelope.

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I’ve stepped into my purpose and I knew that things would take time.  I have even tapped into my entrepreneurial spirit and realized that in order to live the life that I want to live, I must pave my path and create in my own lane.  Books and business are only the beginning and I’m staying the course because I have two precious boys (no matter how badly they drive me crazy) that are paying attention to my every move.

Career|This summer went by in a flash.  It seems like we were just getting out in May, and we return tomorrow.  I had the wonderful experience of attending the Model Schools Conference in June.  I felt inspired to keep writing in my discipline of teacher mentorship and set a personal goal that I will be speaking at the conference in June 2020!  I have to speak things into existence because I feel strongly about these next few years of teaching.  Putting things into perspective, my oldest is going to be a Freshman in high school, and my baby boy is going to 7th grade.  Entering my 11th year in the classroom, my career clock is ticking and I’m feeling like I just might be done anywhere between the next three to six years.

See I’m 3 1/2 years from 40 and with my new business venture (started my own health and wellness business) I’d like to create wealth in that, continue to write, speak~guest speak~facilitate~or host workshops in the future.  I’m not a radical voice, but I’m dedicated to newer teachers because experience has taught me.  Entering the field of education is political, but new teachers and I mean those that have been in the classroom less than three years need SUPPORT.  I know I did which is why I wrote my first book.img_5177

I have been asked about leadership and if I have thought about transitioning into that level and to be honest…NO!  After being passed over to become an academic coach because the other candidate “looked better on paper” I realized that maybe it was not for me.  I was not deterred, but like I told another administrator, “You never know what someone is capable of doing until they are given the opportunity to show their leadership skills.”  My candor is a gift and a curse and I am not compromising that for anyone.  I’ll practice my delivery, but the reality is that people hear what they want to hear.  When you think outside of the box like I do most of the time, you will face rejection and scrutiny from some, but encouragement and support from others.

In teaching I have had to adjust and not let my feelings be stronger than my mind.  I’m not saying that I’m unemotional, I’ve just learned how to manage my feelings better while teaching.  In a roundabout way, I’m desensitized and situations that would get me upset before, really don’t now going into this 11th year.  The only thing I don’t take kindly to is anyone discrediting my teaching and attacking my career.  That’s a big NO-NO in my book.  But I’ve realized people don’t like my style because of how I disturb their approach.  What happens in my classroom is just that!  I’m in control of my content!

LOVE|I have not ventured into this topic in a while and it was with GREAT intention not too.  And it’s not because I’ve been unhappy in love, I was just on hiatus from dating and putting all of my eggs in one basket.  See I dated an older guy for a while.  He was GOOD to me but he had some extra baggage that held him back from dating/getting to know someone/trusting ONE woman exclusively.  He started off saying I’m only interested in getting to know you, then ALL of that changed.  We began to see each other less frequently and it was hard at first because we SPENT a lot of time together initially.  He’s still a decent guy but we are just FRIENDS and we both are okay with that…NO PRESSURE!

When I walked away from that, not exactly a clean walk away, but when I took a step back to focus on BETTERING ME and my VIBRATIONAL PATTERN, I saw the beauty is organic chemistry.  There are familiar strangers all around, and you’d be surprised at who would treat you right if ever given the opportunity.  People make a big deal about commitment and dating to the point of it being exhausting.  I for a fact don’t look at each person I date as marriage material.  I mean after a couple of dates you know if you want to be around someone and enjoy their company without the complications… I NEVER have been nor will I EVER be the, “So what are we doing girl?” LOL…

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Then I met HIM and all of that has changed.  Solidifying the FRIENDSHIP!  I’m renewed in LOVE because I’ve always believed in the possibility of genuine and organic connections.  Hmmm…when BAE said, “I pray for you, and I pray for US.”  That changed the trajectory of EVERYTHING.

I’m fully aware that my business, career, and love won’t look like anyone else’s; I’m okay with that.  I’m staying true to what I know and believe.  So what is for me, is for me!

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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

3 Lessons I Have Learned Since Becoming A Teacher

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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:

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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!

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Kindle Edition

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.