Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My "Training"

I am currently in my fourth week of school in my very first year of teaching. I can tell you that there are very, very few things that I can say I was prepared for. And the ridiculous thing is this is no secret to anyone. I was told countless times throughout my college career that nothing they would teach me in my education classes could ever really prepare me for life within the classroom. And they were right. This feels like something entirely new. And yet, I was actually taught to expect that without question.

I was never taught that the school would just automatically expect me to know each and every procedure without a handbook or appropriate training. I was never taught that I would often be the first to arrive or the last to leave without much help/assistance from veteran teachers. I was never taught that the system-wide pacing guide would be useless, and I should simply know how pacing should work by sensing the brainwaves from my fellow teachers. I was never taught that I would want to strangle a kid and hug/take them home with me within a thirty second time-span. I was never taught what to do when the school takes my entire class away for the greater part of the "first" week to redo schedules. I was never taught that being the youngest, and one of the few, available young women teachers would mean that I should be set up with any and every available man by my fellow teachers. I was never taught how expensive simply decorating your classroom could be. I was never taught how tired I would be when I arrived home on Thursday.

I'm sure I could continue on for awhile, but I don't want anyone to think that I don't appreciate my current school or my training. In all reality, I have been supremely blessed. I absolutely adore the leaders within my school system, and my fellow teachers within the Freshmen academy are absolutely fantastic. My school helped me through Calculus I can't owe much more to them than that. There is simply so much you learn about teaching by doing, and I feel like I'm learning so much more than I could ever process. Daily, I am realizing that I am adapting, and I'm becoming better. I'm adapting to the various needs of each of my thirty kids. I'm learning what works best for them, and what to do when they are simply giving up. I'm learning still. And I'm sure I have a lot more to learn, but maybe next year when I have some novice teachers looking to me, a "veteran" teacher, I'll be able to teach them a little more too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thriving Not Just Surviving

                  Alright, so school is pretty much in full swing, and at times I literally feel like I'm drowning in everything I feel I need to do. There is simply not enough hours in a day. I'm trying so hard to not fail that I'm starting to think I'm doing just that. My expectations for myself seem to be a little bit... unrealistic. I'm going to start working on that about... now. Well, maybe.

                  Which brings me to my writing a blog week one prompt from Sam Shah's challenge found here. Why, oh why, did I choose the name Thriving Not Just Surviving? In the last four years, especially in the last year, I've been told how epically I will suck at the career I've chosen. (I'm sure looking back I'll think I sucked too.) But especially teaching in Tennessee with the new evaluation system, I've been told countless times just to make it through this year. If I can only make it through my first or third year, then I'll be set. I'll start enjoying my job and all my hard work will make me the awesome teacher I so wish to be. But, I refuse! Absolutely refuse to accept that. I refuse to just consider this year a thing to survive. I admit I may not thrive, but I can do a whole lot better than simply survive. Especially, now that I've found all of you. I also have a wonderful support system within my school that I think will help me become an even better teacher. And, I know there will be days that I do epically suck, or that I simply count the seconds until I get to go home, but that doesn't mean I will ever simply accept that this is the way things are and that this is all I can expect from my year.

This year, I am excited.
This year, I am passionate.
This year, I am constantly learning.
This year, I am constantly working.
This year, I am avidly searching for new ideas.
This year, I am challenging myself and my students.
This year, I am giving my students the benefit of the doubt.
This year, I can really relate to my students within the classroom.
This year, I have quite a bit going for me.
This year, I'm going to thrive not just survive.

A poster I have in my classroom.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Made4Math Mondays

Okay. So, I'm a little late for the Made4Math Monday extravaganza, but this post will mark my very first ...

 How exciting! It almost makes this whole I'm a brand new teacher thing that much more real. I really cannot believe that I am about to have my very own students in... eleven days. Gah! Excitement!!

Anyways, Made4math... Having been inspired by stalking the previous Made4Math posts. I was inspired to make my own hanging file organizer, such as @fourkatie's post and @misscalcul8's post. But alas, after much searching throughout my town, I could not find any super awesome duct tape to match the file folders I wanted to use. So off to pinterest I went to find an alternative method for hanging file folders. There were so many options, but I fell in love with this post. So, I sat down with my materials. But once again, I found myself at an impasse. My non-crafty mind could not sort out I'm sure her very useful instructions. So I decided to test my non-crafty skills and make one sans directions.

Here's how it went:

First, I laid out my five folders. I laid them roughly four inches apart, which allows for plenty of space for regular papers to stand vertically without obstructing the title of the folder above them. It looked a little something like this.

Once, I had figured out about where I needed to make my whole punches. I measured and put a small mark on each side (left and right) of the folders. I started with the second folder. My thinking was, once I create a hole punch in that folder, I would be able to see where I needed to place a mark on the folder beneath it. So, all the holes would line up nicely like these pictures.

Then, once my holes were punched right through. I layered the third folder on top of the two I just punched the holes into. I put this one at four inches as well, and punched holes into it. Now I have four sets of holes punched into three of my folders. I pulled ribbon through, like this,

Then I knotted the ribbon and tied it into a pretty bow. 
Then I repeated the process with the next two folders. And ended up with a product that looked something like this.

Tada. My very own hanging file folder! I'm very excited about how this turned out. Let me know if you have any questions. My roommate also helped me complete some other #Made4Math inspired awesomeness. I'll put the pictures below.



*Note: My camera was dead so I had to use my cellphone. Sorry, for the low quality pictures.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Today I signed my very first teaching contract and received way to much information about insurance.
But it's finally sinking in. Two months ago, I graduated with a Mathematics degree and received a teacher licensure. One month ago, I was offered my very first math position. I am about to begin my dream. I'm about to enter my very own classroom for the very first time.
I cannot believe I am actually doing it. I am actually using the degree I paid way too much money for to educate this future generation. I have no idea what this year will entail, but I'm ready for the whirlwind adventure.
I have not yet tackled my very first classroom, but I just finished writing my first syllabus and letter home to my student's parents. While writing this syllabus, I became pretty frustrated by the lack of experience I had been given in communicating with parents/students. I also found that it was pretty difficult to find a syllabus/classroom policy/discipline plan for high school students that wasn't a copy-paste excerpt of some school's handbook. I wouldn't have been able to communicate as appropriately as I think I succeeded in doing, if I hadn't had my (also recently graduated) roommate's syllabus to help me out.
So here is the very first thing I have completed as an official employee of a school district. Feel free to provide any constructive criticism you may have.
Ms. R