New Teachers: Try EVERYTHING

I’m preparing to meet with some new teachers in my department, and I just came across this amazing resource from @itsssnix, which I highly recommend and will be utilizing myself, but that’s another post for another day.

Her post and my upcoming meeting prompted me to think about what I should say to my colleagues tomorrow. One is a first-year teacher, and two are second-year teachers. I’m not that much more experienced than them, but I feel like year three, which I just completed, is where a teacher really finds the roots of their style. Where things really start to solidify and stick and grow.

My first semester as a teacher was just survival. My second was experimental. I tried all kinds of strategies and procedures and techniques.

My first semester as a second-year teacher was better, but I didn’t think I needed to be as strict about procedures and rules as Past Me and told Future Me to be. And I was wrong. 

But last year. Last year I finally got it. I was firm, but friendly. I had high expectations and welcomed all my students to reach them. It wasn’t a perfect year by any stretch, but the experience helped with the day-to-day management, and collaboration helped refine the teaching practices. And I still experimented with stuff, because that’s what teachers do.

So tomorrow, when I meet with these teachers, my main advice will be two-fold: follow through and try everything.

Follow through with all instructions for behavior and expectations. And don’t say anything you will not actually follow.

Try every kind of vocabulary activity, reading strategy, writing process you can find. Just see what works for you and for your students.

You’re going to have a very long mental list of all the things you are doing wrong (according to you) and all the things you want to start doing. And since that list will be so long, you will have to prioritize. And you’ll check things off this year, and then a few more things off next year, and so on. Don’t burn yourself out trying to get everything perfect this year. No year is ever perfect.

Teaching can be all-consuming during those first two years, and that is when anxiety can start (for me it had never been a problem until that first year) or peak (for others already battling anxiety, it can get worse), and self-care is essential. You actually will have 15 minutes before bed to read. Make that time. Drink your tea. Or wine. I love wine. And beer. Mmmm beer. 

Sorry, got distracted there.

Watch your favorite show. Hang out with your dog. Or that person you share a home with who may have forgotten your name since they never see you.

Make time for you. Don’t be a martyr. No one is still here because they go into their room with the Freedom Writers mentality. We’re here because we go in with realistic expectations of ourselves and we know that it’ll all get done eventually, or that June will come and even if it’s not done, it’s over. And if it wasn’t done by June, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with, and should probably be cut out next year.

You’ll make it. And so will your students. 

Just follow through, and try everything.

My EduPD video is up! Finally! 

I decided to focus on sharing strategies to use to engage students of all ability levels in the rigorous Common Core Standards.

It’s far longer than I intended, but I hope it’s helpful nonetheless. Eventually, I will put documents in the Google Drive folder.

Also, this is my first appearance on youtube. It’s slightly terrifying. Though I did say doobly-doo in reference to the description. DFTBA!

Summer on campus

I never spent time on my university campus in the summer. I didn’t take summer classes, and I worked a lot instead.

Now that I spend an hour a day hanging outside eating lunch on my favorite shady bench, I see what happens on campus during the summer: tours. Lots of tours for incoming students.

Right now I’m watching a large, diverse group of students crowd around the statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos for a picture, some raising their fists in solidarity. Or maybe in gratitude? Definitely with hope for their future.

I hope they’re not too overwhelmed by the opportunities before them, as students of color about to embark on an educational journey. But maybe a bit in awe.

They look so happy to be here.

The students in the classes I’m teaching are also transitioning to college. They have worked so hard to get here, only to be placed in remedial classes. So they will work even harder.

I admire them so much. They have the grit we all want in students. They persevere. They possess growth mindsets and thrive on feedback to improve.

And now I see what goes on here in the summer.

Summer on campus is full of hope.

Edupd

I just watched the first 5 minutes of hithertokt's video and girlwithalessonplan's video (love them), and I'm both excited and slightly terrified to post my own edupd video. Excited because I hope people benefit from spending time watching a video I made, as I benefit from them (and I'm sure others when I'm not in bed buzzed on gin and tonics), and slightly terrified because their videos are so professional-looking!

This is legit pd. I realize that was the goal, but I think we all wondered if we’d get there. I think we’re there.

And another huge thank you to the teachers who organized our first edupd. I think you’ve started something special. :)

Welcome to the first ever tumblr #education professional development!

edupd:

This blog will have all of the info that you may need as you participate in this awesome opportunity!

Thanks to everyone who responded on the survey, we were able to get a sense of what topics members of #education are interested in learning (or teaching) about. And don’t worry if you didn’t reply to the survey—you can still participate!

Presenter letters have just gone out, so if you volunteered to present, you should find a letter from one of us in your inbox. Please make sure you acquaint yourself with the expectations contained within that letter and ask us ASAP if you have any questions or concerns. If you expressed interest in presenting during the survey and have not yet received a link to information, please let us know so we can guide you in the right direction.

Now for a couple of points:

  • This week, presenters will be busy starting to get their materials together. If you are just participating as a learner in this professional development there is nothing you need to be doing right now.

  • On July 7th, we will be posting a link to our google drive folders into which your presenters will have put their materials. This is when the learning begins!

  • Your presenters will also be making a video which will be posted to our YouTube channel.

  • After you have had time to view the video, your presenter will be hosting a Q&A session via google hangouts. These sessions are completely optional, but are a great opportunity for you to interact and learn directly from your presenters.

There will be more information to follow in this coming week, so make sure you follow us and stay tuned! If you have any questions, please send them to us as we will be putting together a FAQ shortly.

Happy Learning!

-Your EduPD2014 team

 

A huge thank you to the ladies who are organizing this! I’m so excited to present!

EDD Question - at the buzzer

Living on the west coast is usually awesome, but when most of my Tumblr friends live in easterly time zones, I miss out on some things, like EDD days! That said, here’s my at-the-buzzer EDD question!

What are the top three most valuable features on your teacher website? Which features are most useful for you, your students, or their parents? I’m revamping mine this summer and am looking for ways to make it more functional, and a more integral part of my class. So, what works for you?

poetsorg:

Read Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy,” which inspired Maya Angelou’s famous memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.


One of my favorite lesson plans of the year:- students read and annotate this poem and write an analysis of the metaphor- students read and annotate Angelou’s “Caged Bird” poem and write an analysis of the metaphor - students read and annotate Alicia Keys’s song “Caged Bird” and write an analysis of the metaphor- students then write a synthesis paragraph that explains how the authors use the metaphor similarly and differently, and how the meaning of the metaphor develops.This lesson happens alongside To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s just splendid. It also covers key reading and writing standards. And this is why my kids were respectful when my principal made the announcement to the school about Maya Angelou’s death. They understand the significance of her work and how it fits into our country’s history and present.

poetsorg:

Read Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy,” which inspired Maya Angelou’s famous memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

One of my favorite lesson plans of the year:

- students read and annotate this poem and write an analysis of the metaphor
- students read and annotate Angelou’s “Caged Bird” poem and write an analysis of the metaphor
- students read and annotate Alicia Keys’s song “Caged Bird” and write an analysis of the metaphor
- students then write a synthesis paragraph that explains how the authors use the metaphor similarly and differently, and how the meaning of the metaphor develops.

This lesson happens alongside To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s just splendid. It also covers key reading and writing standards.

And this is why my kids were respectful when my principal made the announcement to the school about Maya Angelou’s death. They understand the significance of her work and how it fits into our country’s history and present.

(via englishmajorinrepair)

You Guyz

markct:

Whisper Post Underneath

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I’ve never interviewed anyone using skype, but here are some thoughts:

- follow all other rules of interviewing: dress nicely, smile, make eye contact, turn off your phone, etc.

Usually the interview environment is controlled by the employer, so be mindful of what they can see behind you and hear on the background.

- find a place free from distracting noises. Away from your neighbor’s loud tv, away from the dog, away from the fan.

- find a place that isn’t visually distracting. Avoid clutter, distracting photos or other potentially distracting wall decorations if possible.

Usually interviews don’t involve computers, so make sure it’s not an obstacle.

- close and quit all other programs to avoid computer distractions and lagging.

- I’ve never used skype, but I imagine there’s a feature that allows you to share documents. Have your lesson plans and student samples ready to share with them while you talk.

Hope that helps!

Living in Poverty as an Adult

learnhowtoadult:

I’ve been receiving a lot of Comments and Asks about how to adult when you’re living at or below the poverty line. The messages are all beautifully written and poignant, and I would post specific phrases but everyone has requested that I keep them private. I respect those wishes.

We’re going to…

Important.

Since I’m technically well below the poverty line in my county, I thought I’d share. I know I’m not the only teacher who’s struggling financially.

This is an awesome YouTube channel that I think many #education-ers would love!

Interview Tips for Teachers

Today, I was on my third interview panel in the last week, so I thought I’d give some advice. It’s weird being on a panel, though it’s not stressful like interviewing is, I realize. It’s weird to think that you can learn so much about a person in 30 minutes.

Here’s what I’ve noticed this week:

- Smile. Convey your enthusiasm and personality. It goes a long way. Even if you don’t think you’re naturally enthusiastic, if you talk about what you love (teaching) and allow yourself to be authentically you, it will show.

- Eye contact and hand gestures are important, especially when your hand gestures are awkward and distracting.

- Bring a binder of materials, and use them to answer questions when appropriate. This isn’t a must (we hired someone who just came in with her keys and phone this week because she’s fantastic), but I do recommend it. It’ll give you a place to put your hands and you will be prepared.

- Answer questions specifically. Give examples. Show samples. If you don’t remember part of the question, ask them to repeat it. Providing specifics shows confidence and experience, whereas vague answers make you hard to remember.

- Don’t assume anything about the school or the panel. We may not get your sense of humor just yet. I am not as young as you seem to think I am.

- It’s true what they say about phone interviews - we can hear you smiling! Let that personality shine even if you’re on the phone.

- We do read your cover letters. We read your rec letters. We notice when there’s fluff and spelling errors, and we notice when rec letters are short and vague. So, ask for the letters well in advance so that the person can do a good job and represent you well.

- References can make or break you. A good interview with mediocre references isn’t going to cut it. Choose your references wisely.

- Ask good questions! When I interviewed for my first job I had no questions because I had no idea what I wanted in a school. Now that I’m at a school I love, I can’t imagine going somewhere else without knowing answers to some key questions. Here are some question ideas for you new teachers:
- What type of support do new teachers get at your school?
- What type of professional development is planned for this year?
- Do teachers have time built into the week for collaboration? If so, what is the department you’re applying to working on?
- What is the class size max?
- What type of technology is available in most classrooms?
- What is the daily schedule like?

Here are more questions that I personally would ask if I were interviewing for a job tomorrow:
- Do the district and teachers union get along? How do negotiations usually go?
- How are campus-wide decisions usually made?
- What is the role of the department chair?
- Describe your last accreditation process. What are the goals the school is currently working on?
- How is the school supporting its struggling populations?
- Are AP classes open enrollment?
- Is there a strict curriculum map/pacing guide or are teachers free to teach how and what they want? Are there common assessments or district benchmarks? If so, how many?

Write down the questions you want to ask and bring them with you. You will forget them otherwise.

Lastly, don’t get discouraged. If you don’t get the job, it might be a good thing. I’ve seen many teachers deflated by schools that just weren’t the right for for them. I am seeing it happen at my school. I’ve also seen teachers hang on during difficult years because the school is a great fit and they feel supported. This is happening at my school as well. I was turned down for three or four jobs before I got my first one, and it was miserable. But I’m happy where I am now. I’m not a “everything happens for a reason” believer, but I do believe in making the best of what happens.

So smile, and as 2Pac would say, keep ya head up.