A new job, a new year

After two years at a small private Christian school, I was ready to try something new. I had way too many responsibilities there, on top of teaching (which takes a lot of work, time, and energy), and improving the French classes there!

So I have a new job at a public school. It’s a wonderful school district. But, people said there’d be more paperwork, and I thought, “No problem, I’m a quick multitasker”. I see what they mean now, 2 weeks into the year. I have to come up with better, more strict, and multi-layered organizational techniques. It’s exhausting. But- we get more random holidays, so the upside is that I have the time to post write now.

Teaching is a whole-time job, not just a full-time job.

Unless you don’t care, or are a bad teacher. Eventually it may get easier, but you still have to put a lot of time and energy in- there’s always grading to be done, and credits to be earned to keep your teaching certificate current!

A Turn for the Better

Sometimes life really is about how you approach it. I also believe in the philosophy of The Secret– the more energy you put into thinking about something (negatively or positively), the more will come out of it (negatively or positively, depending on what your stance is). The old “what you resist, persists”. I was starting to get in a bad mood about this year, before it began, based on some of the troubles of last year. And part of it has to do with personal matters which have caused me to lack enthusiasm for the upcoming year.

However, I know that, once it starts, I will remember the charm of those wacky high school students and their voyage into learning a wonderful foreign language. (I will also be reminded of why I hated them at times too).

Anyway, because of my lack of interest in thinking about school this Summer (natural for most teachers, isn’t it?!), I wasn’t on top of my setting-things-up game. I was preparing, but not attentively. Planning, but not adequately. I was scared because there weren’t even chairs in my classroom and it was mid-August!!!

And then I got chairs. And though I didn’t have bookshelves (moved into a new classroom), I’m going to get them tomorrow. And because I got up the guts to ask around, I will get a Smartboard for the beginning of school while I wait for one to be mounted and installed in my room.

Some teachers who stumble across this blog might be flabbergasted that I was upset about not having a Smartboard for a few weeks when they don’t even have enough chairs or books for their students. And I do sympathize with the upset feelings that can come with education, schools, funding and all of that unfairness. I am teaching in a private school (same school as last year), and every school has its ups and downs.

So I’m happy. I kicked this good thinking, good feeling stint off by marching over to the office where you get your keys (the guy was on vacation), and I got keys. I thought since he was out of the office I wouldn’t get any, but I wanted to see if his assistant knew if or when I could get them. And lo and behold, he was actually there! And I got keys that day!

I wonder how many teachers out there feel like nothing ever goes right for them, and how much that expectation sets them up for the same scenario to be recreated? Just like having low expectations (or even worse, biased expectations) can predict learning outcomes?

I know I may be getting a little too far into the mind-body-spirit side of things, but I’m just trying to remind other fellow teachers that you never know what might happen this year!

Today was a huge shift of attitude about this year, and it all started with moving a filing cabinet, sending an email or two, and a spark of belief somewhere in me that knows that it will most likely be an easier year than last year in many ways.

(Yes, I do still need to do some last minute cramming planning and classroom prep, but I know it’ll all pull itself together enough at least to get through the first few days until I can get a small break around Labor Day!)

Summer’s flown too quickly, have to do lots in a jiffy

It is amazing to have a Summer, but you really do have to work during it if you want to have a good year the following year. I have not done this, and furthermore, I have to do some curriculum mapping, which is not going that well. I think it’s difficult to know how to pace if you’ve only taught for a year, and there is a new book this year. It’s going to end up being more of a guesswork guideline that will be changed with years of teaching.

I can’t believe how fast the Summer went. I had some very difficult times, including the sad news that my father has stage 4 cancer. I’m concerned about it affecting my ability to be present and balanced in the classroom. It all depends on how things go with him, as I guess it would whether I was a teacher or something else.

So here I am, cramming in planning and preparation at the end of the Summer. Do other teachers find the Summer flying way too fast?!

Summer Tutoring by Teachers- Ideas?!

Hey Teachers!

Have you tutored in the Summer?

Do you have any tips you’d share with me?

I know the “economy is bad” right now, but students (and/or their parents) probably still want tutoring, and some maybe even more to ensure success in school if they’re paying big bucks for it.

I read this article on Teachers Advertising Summer Tutoring which had a few good points (pick and emphasize a specialty area (mine could be French and possibly even Spanish), utilise word-of-mouth advertising (didn’t start that during the year which I should have), and creating professional literature such as business cards, a website, bumper stickers, and anything else. I guess I’ll have to be more committed if I really want success with it!)

A friend suggested going to some local college campuses and putting up notices. If I’m not too lazy, that just might be a good idea. I’m hoping anyone with ideas will respond. Craigslist would probably have a low success rate, and I think they charge for job postings now. I’d love to hear input from seasoned tutorers:

1) Where do you find your clientele?

2) What methods of advertising your services did you use?

What worked? What didn’t? What might work?

3) What rates did/do you charge (if you’d please share)? Based on how much experience?

I’m trying to get some work, but not a regular job. Please let me know, thanks in advance for your input!!!

My Oh May!

May has come and (almost) gone away!

And tomorrow, Saturday, I’m going to the graduation ceremony.

All that’s left is grading, and I got a good head-start on motivating myself to do it, because I had to turn in Senior grades early.

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year (I know- it’s not over ’til it’s over) but it’s here. I’m done teaching my first year of 4 different French classes (French 1, 2 French 2’s, and a French 3) and boy was it a year!

Of course I wish I had blogged more at the time, but I have plenty I’m really itching to talk about and the best part:

I’ll have the Summer to blog!

I know that’s not completely true, I’m sure I’ll be doing schoolwork (prepping with a new book!), and I’m going to have some side jobs, but I am so excited. I’m already really excited, and I know I won’t even realize it until a few days from now most likely.

Well, I better go tie up some loose ends, and/or do some grading, OH BOY!

Once You Hit Spring Break, the Year’s Nearly Over!

This is what a cousin of mine in his second year of teaching told me. At first I didn’t believe him, especially since my school has a really early Spring Break (beginning of March), but now that my long Easter weekend is here, I see what he was saying.

As the year turns into countable days left (the kids have a very accurate count of exactly how many days, and how many more school days there are remaining in this first year of my teaching), I realize that I am now looking at working backwards from the end of the year, to try and figure out what’s most important and what overall goals I’d like to see achieved by the end of the year.

And it’s crazy to think how few weeks are really left, and how I have an upcoming project, some important concepts for all levels, a few neglected activities, and then BOOM- it’ll be exams before I know it. I guess my pacing this year is really a practice test for next year, when I hope to have a much more solid hold on my plans. I anticipate some good outlining of possible time lines for each level, both because we’re getting a new book, and because I know a lot more about what to expect.

So I guess there is some logic to that reasoning after all. It’s going to fly, and then I’ll be writing backdated posts all Summer to make it feel like a worthwhile site to have 😉

Organization- a crucial skill for an educator

I’m exhausted from coming back after Spring Break (went to California so there’s a 3-hour-jet-lag and then the time changed!!!), but I wanted to write something. I could complain about being tired and always feeling too busy to post anything, but instead I’ll share a few thoughts about planning and organizination and organizing planning!

Planning for me takes way too much time. I guess first-year you’re coming up with a lot of lesson plans, activities, and ideas, and I could use them next year. I also have a textbook from 1998 that I really don’t like, and we did order a new one so even though it’ll be different I know that will cut down on planning demands. (They have much more comprehensive supplementary materials and it’s not old and confusing).

If I really focus and do my planning in large chunks, I can get it done earlier in the afternoon/early evening and not feel like that’s all I do. Grading is still a changing variable. So the first step is trying to organize planning into 2 or 3 small segments (maybe one right after teaching, one 1 1/2 hour chunk in the early evening, and one during a prep or free period?). This is something I aim to do (when I focus solely on planning and don’t get distracted it does go quickly and is somewhat enjoyable).

Organization is also very important in readiness and preparedness. I find that I can end up with tons and tons of papers and handouts. I need to do a better job of recycling and organizing. If you start of by making an extra copy and a “key” for some sheets and promptly file it away into a binder, you’re already ahead of me! I suggest to anyone who is not that organized to try this, or to pencil in 30 minutes in your schedule to organize notebooks, your office, etc…very important. And you must have a system for keeping handouts/graded papers/papers to grade in order. I’ll admit I’m still working on this (unfortunately I’m not terribly organized in my outside-of-school life). But I’m getting there.

It’s not just materials that need organizing- it’s also the little side things like make-up work, rewards, and that other administration stuff (emails, blablabla). And of course lesson-organizing is a whole other subject.

Organization is something teachers preach to students, and it goes both ways!

Too Young To Teach?

I’m just past the mid-20’s mark. I know there are teachers under 20 out in some classrooms. But I occasionally think I’m too young to teach. Now what does that mean? I feel like in general young teachers might not get as much respect as older teachers. On the other hand, I think they can be respected and be part of a healthy classroom environment because they might incorporate more technology or be able to relate appropriately to the students.

In my case I literally feel like I’m too young to believe in myself as an efficient, quality disciplinarian. I also realize that I shouldn’t have cracked a smile before Christmas.

I think I’m doing a great job of bringing in technology and balancing learning with fun in ways they can relate to. I have a website that I put up the homework, reference links, and also online games and activities they can hopefully enjoy (while they’re texting and IMing and watching TV and everything else).

I’m not good at being stern. Sometimes I’m too tired to care. Other times I’m more tempted to laugh. And I do not have a good teacher’s look mastered.

It’s something to think about, and I’m not married yet, and I’d like to be someday, and I’m not going to find anyone at the school to get into a relationship with- they’re all either married or old 🙂

I could see myself coming back to it later, but maybe I should give it 4 more years! before I hastily give up. We’ll see how the next few months go.

Back to school after the holidays

I guess I could have a worse feeling about going back to school. In fact, as I watch myself write it, I think that I’m kind of in the middle. Definitely leaning more towards another week off, but I am not horrificly panicked. I haven’t planned enough, but I know that students are going to be slow to come back as well.

Christmas vacation was great, but it went way too fast and I did not do hardly any planning.

Oh well, my cooperating teacher from student teaching (who I talked to about getting together soon) said it takes her a few days to really get back into it after such a long break.

We’ll see how it goes, there are a lot of changes coming!!!