Teacher Tired

Well, everyone, week 3 has ended with my students at Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania Charter School. I am teaching 4th and 5th grade Science and Social Studies. I have 81 students, 9 periods in each day that consist of 40 minutes each. I have a home room of 21 fifth graders who love to have jobs and to help me every day. It has been comforting to know that they enjoy learning, school, and being a part of a community. All have come to school with smiles on faces.

Every day’s schedule is different; every day has shown me unique challenges. Learning to fit within the existing parameters of a teaching team has been challenging. But getting to know all of my fabulous colleagues at school has been so fun.

I have also really enjoyed the students so far. All of their messy, loud, and loving ways that they show me they care about learning and growing every day has brought so much joy into my life.

Consequently, maintaining balance is always hard. And something I personally struggle with. Finding time to reflect has fallen by the wayside in these first few weeks. I will try and do a post at least once a week. I am feeling fairly close to ready for next week already and need to spend some time on self-care this weekend. 💅

Here are some photos of these first few weeks.

My Amazon Prime Day Baby!

I know that I am super late to the Amazon Prime Day unboxing fun that many of the teacher bloggers I follow have posted. But with the honeymoon, wedding, and travel in general, I have been really looking forward to today so that I could receive my brand spanking new Acer Chromebook 11. Slim, sleek, functional, and less that $150.

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I loved having a Chromebook while employed at Bedford County in Virginia, and because I cannot afford another Macbook Air, which is the Cadillac of laptops in my opinion.

I know what you’re thinking, I know I am shallow when it comes to my technology. I have an affinity for Apple products in general even though their processing power is certainly not that of many other devices with similar price tags. I am a glutton for beautiful design and intuitive OS. Not to mention I love my iMac, iPad Pro, and iPhone. I am spoiled, lucky, and bragging about it. I realize this and will shut up now. There are multitudes of humans better than me that do not even have clean water.

With all of that being said, this little Chromebook packs a convenient punch that I have needed this past year while substituting. I have missed being able to word process easily to reflect on the fly about things that I should remember ‘when I get my own classroom again’. Hopefully more news about all of that later. I also do not like bringing the massive, expensive iPad Pro into the schools that I am in. It’s like I have nightmares of breaking it. Usually when I had to use the iPad Pro to set a timer, check off something on my to-do list on Evernote, or take a picture of a paper schedule for lunch duty it was greeted with a “WHOA-is-that-an-iPad!!!!!” reaction and heads turning from every corner in the room.

Truth be told, I am very seldom without a wifi connection, as many of us are. Ironically, I almost always use every drop of data from my data plan every month…It is also out of habit that I sync most of my ‘stuff’ (photos, docs, lesson plans, and the most important content) even if it is to just back up in case of a crash of some sort. Plus many times, I take picture with my phone and want to blog from my iMac. It is very easy just to turn on Google Photos and it will be there as soon as I need it. I am very excited to be able to use it for job interviews and word processing with ease. This time, the device is mine!

Here is a link to the Chromebook I purchased from Amazon on Prime Day.  Not too shabby for $136.00!

 

Word Wednesday 

Today, I got to be a Special Education teacher for the fourth grade. This particular mix of students was great. They are such hard workers! We prepped for the math state test, practiced spelling words and using a protractor. I also got to have a bit of fun with them and ask about their favorite word they have learned this year for “Word Wednesday”. In case the photo is not legible, some of the answers they gave are:

  • Lunar
  • Overdrive
  • Overheat
  • Exclamatory
  • Magnificent
  • Multiply
  • Pink
  • No school ( 😝)

Monday Sorta Tuesday

So, today was the first day back after a “Spring Break” at the school I am substituting at in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Apparently it is not a thing to take a full week for Spring Break here in PA. I think that is so strange, but I will have to get used to it.

This whole not planning lessons, assessments, or making educational decisions thing is very difficult to get adjusted to. I really miss making instructional decisions that are best for ‘my kids’. I miss Hargrave, which is totally weird because I have literally never missed that institution since I left. Have missed some of the people like crazy, but not many of the decisions that were made… Also, it is weird that I haven’t had a group of ‘my kids’ since 2015. {I mean my own student learners in my class. I do not have children. Lawd help me.}

What happened to being a classroom teacher?! I so miss that.  Don’t quite remember why I gave that up in the first place when I started focusing on the adults instead of the students. I think that’s where I got lost.

Printing resumes and cover letters now. My resume is attached below in case you want to take a gander. I must say, I think they are pretty A-OK! 😍🥇

Michele Shull

Substitute Planning Goodness

Today, I thought I would share a few of the ways that I use my Erin Condren Teacher Planner to help me when I substitute on a day-to-day basis in different districts and schools each day.

I love the clutches made especially for the Erin Condren products. They are super helpful to just throw them in a bag & go. That way nothing will dog-ear pages or spill on your important plans!  And now that I am hopefully adding Greensburg-Salem School District to my substituting calendar in the very near future, it is going to be so important to stay organized when as a sub, one is expected to execute another instructor’s plans.

How I am currently using the Erin Condren Teacher Planner:

  1. Month View: day-to-day assignments, whether they are full day or half day, which    days of work I will be choosing to put on each paycheck. Highlight if I have input this day into Aesop.
  2. Day Plans: My daily takeaways and reflections go in this spot. I also detail any great student helpers in each classroom, any tips for next time I am in that teacher’s classroom, and details about anyone I had to leave a negative note about.
  3. Page Protectors: I use these so frequently! But only the most important documents get placed inside these. When you customize your teacher planner, you can choose fewer or more of these. I love having 6. I have had an EC Teacher Planner for the past 3 years & have found I really use them!
  4. Social Events: I place these throughout so that I can put in non-work days for these days I cannot fulfill any substituting jobs.
  5. Bullet Journal: I used to use a separate notebook for bullet journaling, but it has gotten too tedious to switch back and forth. I use the pages following the monthly plan view for longer to do lists.

Some of my favorite go-to products that I use daily with my planner are:

  • Heidi Swapp at JoAnn Fabrics
  • American Craft at JoAnn’s
  • Mrs. Grossman brand stickers
  • Highlighters
  • Post-its 
  • Sharpie Brush Tip Markers
  • Staedtler Fine Tip Pens

This I Believe

These past few weeks, as we have been living in the various hotels surrounding Pittsburgh, I have been able to do lots of thinking and reflecting over my past 8 years as a classroom teacher, consulting teacher, co-teacher, and even burnt out teacher. I have remembered my love for igniting the fire in a young person’s mind about a topic that he feels passionate about. Today I get to take my first Pennsylvania Praxis Core test over my pedagogy as a teacher. This has really gotten me thinking about what I solidly believe in as an educator.

  1. I believe in granting students choice as much as possible in their learning. Yes, this is part of what I was supposed to advocate upon in Virginia, but as I think about what Young Adolescents need in order to develop their own unique ideas about the world they live on, the first word I land on is CHOICE, and if there cannot be choice about the topics that they wish to learn about, then choice in its delivery. I think I can safely say that I still plan to create flipped videos for my future classroom, once I pass these ridiculous tests AGAIN (Didn’t I pass these in Ohio, then in Virginia again?!) I will still be using Explain Everything to create videos of my instruction, if not only to catalogue it, but for the use of my students on their devices. And they will have devices, if I have to write grants for them until the end of time.
  2. I believe in being an adult advocate for every learner. Students don’t learn from people they don’t like. This is not me saying that students are my friends. They just must know, especially as a young adolescent learner, that their teacher will always be in their corner. Their own cheerleader. Because, sometimes ‘parents just don’t understand’. Every child needs a champion. If you have never seen this video, check it out. Rita Pierson was simply the best. 
  3. I believe that passionate people bring out the best in others. This passion I plan on bringing daily to my own classroom.

Let’s get on with taking this Praxis test, Shull. Photo on 2-13-17 at 8.47 AM.jpg

1 Thing Teachers Must Demonstrate

This year in our pilot programs at the middle school I am employed at, I have experienced more joy in teaching and in learning than I ever have experienced. Students  given choice has, so far, been invigorating and challenging at the same time. Teachers are very stressed and uncomfortable, but knowing that this will bring along many rewards, such as teaching responsibility, self-reliance, and grit. Not being the end-all, be-all to technological knowledge has been a difficult transition, but has said more about me and my ego than it has anyone else. Taking the ego out of my career has been the challenging part. And i am growing. But, as I stare at a bulletin board called “The Power of ‘Yet'”, I know that although this year is definitely not going to be easy. It IS going to be worth it.

Joy breeds enthusiasm! Or does enthusiasm bring joy? It is very much a chicken and the egg situation and one cannot exist without the other. New educators must create joy in their classroom by demonstrating enthusiasm! I will never forget the years where I got dirty in science class and I really think that those days prepared me to be a good teacher. Even though now I teach adults, I certainly miss the adolescent learner.

This quote posted on the Clif Mims’ blog by guest writer Ann Monroe says something near and dear to my heart:

A teacher can demonstrate enthusiasm by…

sharing the JOY of learning.
having a PASSION for science, math, language, etc.
making learning FUN.
showing an APPRECIATION for art, music, literature.
sharing their EXCITEMENT for learning.
demonstrating a CURIOSITY for the world around them.
being OPTIMISTIC.
having an EAGERNESS to learn and grow.
providing HOPE.
creating a STIMULATING learning environment.

Deeply moved by this post, my question to you all (few) readers is this: is it possible to motivate a student learner without enthusiasm? In reflecting on my years of education, these ways that teachers can create lifelong learners can  create an environment that can affect change. Joy is the key.

Another Type of Coaching

In about a month from now, I officially get a chance to continue my career in the direction of educational consultation. I will be working within the same school district and at one of the schools I was placed at this past school year. This school is a rural middle school in Central Virginia. I am excited and extremely humbled that after such a rocky first year, the amazing teachers in the building and rockstar of a principal want to work with me again this year. Aw shucks.

I will begin a new position within my school district as a Personalized Learning Coach formally at the end of July.

I will be doing many different things within this new role, not many of them are truly different than what I have been endeavoring toward throughout last year as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT), and some I am still learning. Well, I am definitely still learning all the time.  I will be aiding instructional facilitators (teachers)  in the planning & implementation of 2 mass customized learning environment pilot programs. I am no longer responsible for the technology that aids instruction, but am working to become even more a part of the instruction itself, which is very exciting! The ability to begin this transition throughout June in aiding facilitators to develop curriculum for the upcoming school year has been a true blessing. The vision to transition education out of the industrial model of “sit and get” knowledge needs to change and I am proud to be a part of that change. It is going to be another year of growing and changing to fit the needs of my school and my district.

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