I HAD THE SAME REALIZATION A YEAR AGO.
so so so so bad
Those of you who have been following me for awhile know that this year I moved back to the high school where I student taught. Last year, I taught 8th grade at a middle school in a different district. I am excited about my new position and think that I made the right choice, but I really miss the connections that I made with my students last year.
It’s early in the year. Hopefully I will build those connections with my new students at my new school. But part of me wonders if part of the connections I had were partially due to the close knit nature of a middle school. I also was the middle school girls soccer coach, which helped me connect with a lot of my students. If I had stayed at the middle school, I would have had the opportunity to work with the JV and Varsity teams at the high school. I am really disappointed that I had to turn down that opportunity, and I hope that the opportunity comes up somehow in my new position… I would love to coach.
Anyway, I just find myself wondering about how the year would be if I had stayed in my old position. I can’t really imagine doing another year there, and I know that I will grow a lot in my new school. But I feel like I am grappling with first year issues a second time around. There doesn’t seem to be time to do all the things I want to do so far this year, and I think that strain would definitely be less if it was my second time through the curriculum like it would have been if I had stayed in my old position. I wonder if my lessons would be better, more engaging, and more conceptual.
I miss my old team of teachers. I miss my old school. The high school where I am now is big. Even the math department is bigger than the entire 8th grade staff that I worked with last year. But the workload is more managemeable, and the professional development is far better. The system is better, and the morale is way higher. And I am a nostalgic person. I have a hard time with change. And I have a hard time letting things go. (Which is pretty rough if you’re an 8th grade teacher and your kids move on to high school.)
Ultimately, I made this decision because I believe I will become a better math teacher at this school. Then if I decide I want to return to my old school, I will have so much more to give to my students.
But it doesn’t feel like home yet, and I miss that feeling too.
This is my baby. AKA my Wikispace for the courses I teach.
This is the page for my Geometry Quarter 1. I want it to be a resource for all of my students, whether they are in class or not. It includes all of the handouts we’ve had in class, the powerpoint from each day of class (including the Do Nows, so absent students can make those up), and solutions/notes from whatever handout we had. I am working on getting the same resources up for my Algebra 1 and Algebra 1 Honors classes.
Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika’s design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic.”
Not only did her design win a International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s become the core of Veronika’s nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats. Now, three years later, the 24-year-old social entrepreneur expects that her team of 15 seamstresses will produce over 6,000 coats in 2014 — all of which will be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets.
Veronika originally designed the coats seeking input from people at a homeless shelter. After receiving feedback from people who used the prototype over a Detroit winter, she refined the design to create her final version which, in addition to being a waterproof and windproof coat and sleeping bag, also transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag with storage in the arm sockets.
When she started out, Veronika states,
“Everybody told me that my business was going to fail — not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring. They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong.”
And, their impact is growing — according to CNN, which recently honored Veronika as one of their 10 Visionary Women of 2014, “The Empowerment Plan expects to launch a ‘buy one, give one’ program that will make it sustainable beyond the donations and sponsorships that keep it running now. Hunters and backpackers who’ve asked to buy the coat will be able to do so, and the Empowerment Plan will still create coats for homeless people who need them.”
Veronika is also excited to show other clothing producers that local manufacturing is possible: “I think we’re going to show a lot of people: you think it’s outdated to do manufacturing in your neighborhood, but I think it’s something that we have to do in the future, where it’s sustainable, where you invest in people, where they’re not interchangeable parts.”
You can read more about Veronika’s organization on CNN, or watch a short video about her work here.
To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or how you can support their work, visit http://www.empowermentplan.org/
For a wonderful book about women’s great inventions throughout history, check out “Girls Think of Everything” for readers 8 to 13.
For those in the US who would like to support efforts to end homelessness and help the over 600,000 people who experience homelessness on any given night, visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness athttp://www.naeh.org/ or to find a local homeless shelter to support in your area, visit http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/
Important in so many ways.
This is amazing and wonderful.
Day 8: What’s in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?
My drawers mostly just have miscellaneous office supplies… and a set of permanent markers that I like to keep separate from everything else because I like to color code things for each of my classes. So infer what you will.
And also deodorant. Because let’s be real… I smell.
Day 7: Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?
I think the person that I miss working with the most from my previous school is the literacy teacher, who I still see and talk with fairly often. He was inspirational because he clearly cared about the kids and his teaching so much. He was at school late, involved in too many projects for his own good, and involved with mentoring at least 2-3 new teachers. He is also in the process of finishing his master’s degree, but he somehow always had time to listen to me complain or vent or destress. I’m lucky to have him as a friend, and I really miss having him as a coleague. He was definitely one of the reasons it was difficult to leave.
I think I like the routine of:
Day 6: Explain: What does a good mentor “do”?
I’m going to answer this in regards to being a mentor to a student teacher or a new teacher in the district.
For me, a key component of being a good mentor is providing constructive feedback, which includes pointing out what the mentee is doing well. I feel like it’s very easy as a new teacher to get bogged down with all the stuff you are not doing well, and a little encouragement in the form of praise goes a long way. I also feel that feedback should include a reasonable suggestion for improvement - what’s one thing that the mentee should be working on and how can he/she work on it?
I feel like the mentor teachers I had while student teaching were good because they providing me with a solid classroom structure in which to work. They already had systems in place within which I could operate and focus on teaching. This was immensely valuable to me when I got my own classroom because I was able to copy their class organization for the first year (or even two years). It gave me a solid place to start.
My mentor teacher while I was a first year teacher was wonderful because she was so positive and encouraging. I actually wish she would have given me more feedback of how to improve, but I know that my first year was good largely because she was such a positive influence on my day every day (she was also my co-teacher).
Today was one of those wonky Mondays where I had no periods off.
I am happy it’s over.