Employment

Being an Introverted Teacher in an Overwhelmingly Extroverted Profession

PLCs.

Collaborative structures.

Team-based learning.

Parent meetings.

Group work.

Are you getting anxious just thinking about these words? I am.

These past few weeks have been very trying on me, to the point where I considered not teaching. Just…stopping. And doing what? I don’t know.

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Go West, Young Man

I took a hiatus from blogging because I felt like it was becoming a slightly toxic part of my relationship with this incredible, full-speed-ahead and TIRING profession. I felt like writing was a chore, which isn’t the way I wanted it to be. The springtime is always difficult, and I’ve been vigilant about not becoming burnt-out with regards to my job and the things that help me get the most out of it.

As some of you know, my husband and I are relocating to Denver, Colorado because he is finishing medical school. He will be kicking butt and taking names on the wards at Colorado University-affiliated hospitals. We are both immensely excited but sad to be leaving Cincinnati and Ohio in general. To the mountains we will go!

Knowing that I will not be around next school year brings me a weird little melange of emotions. I’m heartbroken. Excited. Fearful. Calm. And at times, a smidge depressed.

My cooperating teacher during student teaching told me that “the kids you have your first year of teaching will always be the ones you remember the most.” I can already feel myself writing certain moments on my brain. I cannot believe two years are almost over. While I am still getting my bearings on teaching, I have graduated from ‘no’ experience to ‘some’ experience. I have unit plans logged away, ready to be re-accessed whenever I need them instead of staying up to the crack of dawn just to finish them.

I will be taking it all in during these next month, just enjoying being with the kids and working the most cohesive and awesome staff I’ve ever seen.

 

Oh, and if you hear of any jobs in the Denver, CO area, let me know.

 

-S

From a Recent College Grad to Future College Grads, With Love

Dear Future College Graduate in all your glory and wide-eyed anticipation,

Much of career advice today is focused on achievement. About impressing the boss, working long hours to compete with others, making money, making a name for yourself, or building your résumé. It seems as if the advice is more about appearance than authenticity.

As someone who has been through at least one round of job searching (and is by no means an expert on the subject), I come at this in a way that is less advice-preaching and more of a way to frame your intentions for how you will interact with this world while earning a paycheck at the same time. This is not to make you ashamed or feel inadequate with your job searching. I am offering this perspective because I desperately wish someone could have shared something like it with me as I was contemplating my life’s purpose, future, yada yada. (Metaphysical crises, anyone? We all have them at least three times in college alone).

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Anything for a year

When I took this job, I remember telling myself and anyone who looked at me skeptically (mainly my mom) that “I can do anything for a year. If I want to back out after that, I can.”

Now I want anything but backing out.

I just finished my first year of teaching last week, ending with watching my students walk across our little gym stage to receive diplomas and various awards. They come up to me afterwards, demanding pictures (I demand them too) and demanding hugs (sideways hugs). My mom visited the school, and was welcomed by students showing her around our school garden—chicken coop and compost pile included. She got to see my work; not just where I work, but the work I do. The kids I teach. The projects completed on the walls in my classroom, that I describe with pride like they’re almost the work of my own children.

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The Joys and Sorrows of “Winging It”

I had about a week and a half to move to Cincinnati and start teaching grades 7-12 (and a Creative Writing class) when I snagged my job last August. A week and a half to mentally prepare and get my classroom in order (which was easily a week-long endeavor) and plan curriculum for my classes. I had no time to properly unearth materials from English teachers past (apparently I was the third one in three years), no time to understand the students I am responsible for, and no time to thoroughly lesson plan. Not for six preps. Six! For those of you not in the education sector, the average teacher has 2.5-3 preps. However, I have only a fraction of the students in an average school, so I guess it evens out. Or it’s supposed to even out.

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Back From Hibernation

“Holy Saint Francis,” it’s been awhile.

I guess I forgot I had a blog (not). Actually, I’ve been refusing to write until the sun came out. And it’s out, so I guess I’ll write.

These days I’m working out at the gym on the daily to make myself remember I have a body that moves in ways other than running around my classroom all day. Teaching burns energy, but the only muscle it really challenges is my brain. I don’t even think the brain’s a muscle. Whatever.

I guess tackling Romeo and Juliet with my kiddos occupied a lot of my time too. At the beginning of the year, if someone told me “you will be teaching the trials and tribulations of Will Shakes’ most popular characters with your inner-city students who haven’t even heard of the Bard, and you’ll be teaching them dramatic irony,” I would have said “yeah right. Maybe in three years.”

But it happened, and I’m not to say I was successful (a few of ’em couldn’t tell me who Tybalt was on their tests), but I don’t really dwell on that. The fact is that I can look at myself and say “self, you have grown. You are teaching great works of literature to some great kids.”

There isn’t much more I could ask for. I haven’t even cried yet this year (not even once!) in regard to my job. For many teachers who teach in schools with little angels who stand in straight lines and do their homework, I don’t think all could say that. I cry more watching Grey’s Anatomy. I think I’ll probably cry during graduation, though. I can’t imagine my own little angels going out into the real world. Craziness.

There is no way I’m even 1/8th on my way to being a great teacher, but I’m learning what it takes. It takes time, chocolate, support, a lot of research, asking for help, courage, stepping outside your comfort zone, sleep, a strong exterior, communication, forcing yourself to be creative when you don’t wanna be, and asking yourself how you can be better. Every day, ask how you can be better—because you always can.

Next week is our Spring Break. Expect some elaboration about what has been going on in my classroom in future posts sometime next week.

-S

A New Foray

This will be short because I have to lesson plan…

BECAUSE I HAVE TO LESSON PLAN BECAUSE I HAVE A JOB NOW.

I spent all summer searching for my first job as a (paid) teacher, and I found it. This past month I have learned more than I could have imagined—my job is wonderful and makes me feel like I’m making a difference. To be able to use what I’ve learned in college feels great. I teach at a charter school, right in the midst of school reform battleground. I am excited to share new things that I come across while I’m teaching that apply to school reform, and how I can begin to make a difference in the lives of many, many people. I have a wonderful staff, crazy awesome students, and I get to teach! You all can expect some interesting posts this school year—I will update as often as I can!

Preparing For Interviews

As many of you know, I’m still on the search to land a teaching job. In preparing for future interviews, I like to type out my responses to sample questions. I’ve been lucky to score some sample interview questions from colleagues, Career Services at Miami University,  from my own experience.

But I need some help.

I need those who’ve been through the process, have gotten the job or not gotten the job, old and young, to give me some pointers. It’s hard to get feedback from interviewers because I would feel weird going to them and being all dejected, like a let-down lovesick girl, crying “WHERE DID I GO WRONG?! WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!”  Although I have gotten feedback from interviewers before when it has been appropriate to ask, so I’m not totally in the dark. I would like YOUR help though! Many of you know me and my teaching philosophy, and some of you may not. Either way, if you have any suggestions about my responses and how I could improve them, please comment. Target anywhere and everywhere—I can take it.

I especially need help with the non-theoretical, practical, experience based kind of questions. I have spent more time thinking about education than teaching, for obvious reasons. What are your experiences? How would you answer these questions? What questions were you asked that I didn’t add here? I have 24 questions—it’s A LOT to read through. Don’t feel obligated to read every one if you don’t have the time, but I would greatly appreciate it if you could scan some of ’em.

And we’ll start with…

1. Why do you want to be a teacher? 

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