The Calm Before the Storm

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The day I walked across the stage and received my bachelors degree, is a day I will never forget. I’m the first in my family to get a college degree and I couldn’t have done it without my family and friends.

After returning home from campus, I had to wait 4 long weeks from our schools online software to go from “Pending” to “Award” in the Degree status section. This prevented me from being able to apply for my teachers license, which of course caused me to stress out. I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting. First I had to wait to apply for my license, I’m still waiting for my diploma, and now I’m waiting to hear back from schools I have interviewed with. While I was thankfully warned ahead of time that it’s nothing but a waiting game until it gets crazy right before school, I can’t help but want to know where I will be teaching sooner rather than later.

I’ve been wondering how other teachers handled the waiting game. Do you try to think of anything but getting a job? Or did you apply to absolutely every position you could? As a marketing teacher it’s a bit different from being an elementary teacher as there aren’t as many positions and it’s a small community even within the state. I’ve been blessed to know all the right people, but sometimes I feel as if I’m doing all that I can and it’s just not enough.

I wanted to keep this post short and simple and plan to really get into the swing of things with more blog posts once I start teaching.

Expectations of Students

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I am currently fulfilling my 30 hours required for my practicum in a very under privileged school especially compared to what I graduated high school from. After being shocked at what a difference there is in suburban and urban schools, I started thinking about a lot of those differences. After a day of presentations in my Fashion Marketing class, there was one subject I couldn’t stop thinking about which was expectations, which begged the question…

Are my high expectations of students a product of my own education and community I grew up in, or is it are they because I want students to be able to succeed in todays society?

The learning environments are certainly different but could this also change the expectations a teacher has set? Then there is the difference between the lower, middle and upper classes. And those classes differ greatly when you look at them in a suburb compared to the same classes in a city. What I view as middle class being from one of the richest counties in the country (please do not confuse this with me being rich, my family has always lived in the country where most are products of the military), would be considered high class in the school that I am currently observing/teaching in. The same goes for the lower class where I am from. Those students are lucky compared to the students in my classes. You would have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of the high teen pregnancy rate and it is common sense that the less wealthy a community, the higher the teen pregnancy rate is. However, I was not expecting to have 3 pregnant students in 1 class and another with a 2 week old baby at home. This is also my first experience with a homeless student. The first day I came in, he slept through the whole class and I wondered why the teacher allowed this. During her planning period she explained he recently became homeless and had not found a place to sleep until 4:30 that morning. Having not been exposed to this in high school, it was a shock to me and at first I was not sure how to handle it, but this student turned out to be the one who wanted to learn the most and loved asking questions.

I also wondered if the expectations my teachers had of me had an effect on the expectations I have of students. I was always expected to do my best, give 100% effort and to not slack off. I took these expectations seriously and did everything I could to never let anyone down. I’ve contemplated whether teachers think they must lower or raise their expectations based on the area they teach in. After the Decades in Fashion presentations, it was obvious these students did not have presentation skills, computer skills, or the knowledge necessary to properly research a topic. Could this be because they were not taught these skills, or because teachers did not think they could accomplish these things or is it because of the lack of access to technology? It could be any or all of these things, or it could also be due to a lack of care or respect for an education. This also made me wonder how to gauge their abilities and if I should take into account their surroundings. I may not be able to do this until I have a class of my own and figure out what works best for them and the situation.

All of this made me seriously wonder if I could successfully teach in a city and not in an area that is comparable to the one I grew up in. This was until I taught my first lesson. The school I am teaching in is predominately black with under 10 students of mine all day being white, and I am a young while female. While taking roll and ensuring I was pronouncing students’ names correctly, it became apparent that they thought they could walk all over me. It wasn’t until I basically told them I don’t put up with crap, in a much nicer and politically correct way, that they stopped talking to each other and listened to me. I now feel more confident than ever about teaching and am excited to get a classroom of my own and to learn about my students and how I can best teach them the skills they will find necessary upon graduation.

 

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think about this subject!

Why Teach?

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I plan to use this blog as a way to communicate what I think about teaching, good techniques I have come across in the classroom (as both a student and a teacher) and my opinions on education as a whole. What better way to start a blog than to answer the million dollar question?…. Why teach?

Its a question that teachers and teachers-to-be will always be asked. Why in the world would you want to teach? Everyone has their own individualized answer, but many have the same: I want to make a difference in a child’s life. Mine doesn’t stray from this too much. To better explain why I want to teach, here is my philosophy of education:

When asked why I want to teach it’s simple, I want to give students the same, if not better, experiences and opportunities, that I had with the CTE Program and DECA when I was in school. It is important that students get all that they can out of their schooling, and I will do everything I can as teacher to achieve that.

            I believe that when a student leaves the classroom, they should truly understand the material and not just have memorized it. In order for this to happen, the material must be presented in a way that allows students of all learning styles to be able to grasp the concept presented. This can be done by incorporating textbooks or presentations or with hands on activities to get the student involved. This engages them, shows them real world examples and discourages monotony in the classroom. By using traditional methods of teaching and hands on activities, it engages all aspects of the students mind. Activities can include many types of technology such as smart/promethean boards, laptops, PDA’s, and many more that are now becoming available to schools. Many of the activities I plan to incorporate into my lesson plans will involve creativity and thinking outside of the box to solve a problem. These are characteristics that a student will find necessary even after graduation and once they enter the workplace. There is a Chinese proverb that says “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand”. This proverb I will carry out in all that I do as a teacher.

            When a student finishes their proper education, they should be prepared to be productive citizens and I feel it is my duty as a teacher to do all I can to ensure this. A teacher should help the community by bettering the student. This can include helping the student overcome cultural or societal barriers that they not only may encounter in school, but that they will inevitably encounter beyond the school property lines and throughout life.

            For a student to understand what is being taught, a teacher must get to know them as an individual. Being a teacher is not all about teaching, but is also about getting to know your students. This can help you figure out what learning style they are and you can then tailor your lesson plans. Getting to know the student also shows them that you care about them which can lead them to caring. Even if a teacher can only show one student that they do really care, and that causes a change for the better in that student, then it is all worth it. A teacher should be passionate about the subject they are teaching. When a teacher truly is passionate about the subject the students can tell and this causes them to be more open to learning and understanding the material.

          The experiences a teacher has throughout their lives shapes how they will teach their own students. It is important to take each experience for what it is and to learn from it. Each teacher has their own style of teaching but whatever this may be, it is vital that they are able to tailor it to fit the students in their classroom so that they may benefit from the class.

          Marketing and DECA are what I am passionate about and I strive to get others involved and to understand what each is truly about. Throughout my teaching career, if I touch the life of just one student, I will have accomplished all that I have wanted to do. The teachers that I had as a student have shown me the best ways and the worst ways to go about things and I plan to use both to better my teaching style. I want to make a difference in not only the students’ lives, but to make a difference in the community as well, and by doing one, I accomplish the other.

Everyone always comments that you could make more money in the field than you can by teaching. But it isn’t about the money, the little amount that teachers are paid is a whole other story. It’s about your passion to teach, your passion for the subject, and a desire to help as many students as possible. This is my first blog, so bear with me in finding my way and I hope you enjoy 🙂