Sunday, April 14, 2013

And This is Why You SHOULD Be a Teacher... (Part II: My Top 10 for Teaching)

We're having a Linky Party and it would be great if you would join us! Check it out here.

My Top 10 for Teaching!
10. It is true that the best teachers are still students. Teachers should be lifelong learners and, if that is something you desire, this is a great field for you. I heard once (from somewhere?) that the trick to teaching is pretending you've known your whole life what you just learned that morning. So true! Some things stick (Shakespeare possibly died from eating improperly pickled herring...) and there are other things I have to reteach myself over and over again (past participles GAH!). I find myself constantly researching things for my classroom to make my lessons better. This, I love.

9. Talk about autonomy! In your classroom, you are the boss. You set your rules and guidelines and it’s your way or the highway (which has a MAJOR impact on your skills as a classroom manager, but more on this another day…). For those Type A personalities (or, like myself, Type AAA), this is a very, very good thing. Not many other careers provide you with this.


8. You get to be creative. This is a huge part of the field for me. I enjoy being creative and teaching is a great outlet for me. It's a great excuse to design my own templates, download tons of free fonts, play with Prezi and PowerPoints, and come up with the most interesting, multi-faceted lessons I can.

7. There is more to teaching than teaching. To some people, this is a big negative. To me, it is a huge positive and one of my absolute favorite things about being a teacher. I get to participate in pep rallies (dance off, anyone?), go to sporting events, decorate hallways and shopping cart floats, and be a part of this huge, amazing community.

6. You are not stuck in one spot. It's true you spend a lot of time in your classroom, but you have a whole classroom! It isn't a cubicle. And you have a school building, or maybe even a whole campus. I love the freedom to mozy around.


5. You don't have to take yourself too seriously. Sure, there is a time and place to be serious, but what I love best is when I don't have to be serious. The first few weeks of school are always kind of tough because I'm a total hard ass. It's that whole "it's easier to get nicer throughout the year than to get meaner" philosophy. Once we get past that point, it's great to joke in front of the kids and to be able to laugh about it when you fall down in front of them.

4. Every day is different. Hell, every hour is different. I'm often asked, "Doesn't it get boring teaching the same thing six times a day?" You know, even though it sometimes feels a bit tedious when you read Act IV, scenes 1 and 2 of Romeo and Juliet six times a day, it's never boring for me because each class is different. Things can be so unpredictable. My class periods are all completely different from each other, so I never know who's going to get the dirty sword jokes from Act I and who's going to ask me why Romeo needs a rope ladder for the wedding night.


3. You will laugh. I guarantee you will laugh I get in at least one good belly laugh almost every class period! Who wouldn't want to laugh?

2. You will make a difference. Sometimes it takes a while before you ever find out, but you definitely will make a difference to some kid. Probably more than one. On Tuesday, I am going to a banquet at my old school because one of the now-seniors asked for me to be there. I'm going to be recognized for having an impact on his/her academic success. How many other careers will you have a chance like that to see your efforts paying off?


1. You will grow as a human being and you will be a better person for your experiences. I have laughed with my students, I have comforted them at their darkest moments, I have shared advice with them, I have cried for them. I have seen them (and their families) at their best and at their worst. I have seen amazing community outreach when a family loses a home to a fire, and I have seen kids love each other a little extra when one of their peers has died. There are kids who lead lives you just can't even imagine, and I know that my heart has opened up tremendously in the last three years. You will learn the meaning of gratitude, and you will recognize how blessed you are to have come so far in life.

Don't forget to link up with your Top 10 for Teaching! Share the teaching love!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

And This is Why You SHOULD Be a Teacher... (Part I: The Soap Box)

(Let me take a moment to apologize to my Mamaw, my mother, Uncle Rob, and any one else who may be offended by my colorful language in this post. Please forgive me and maybe turn on the censor in your brain that changes bad words into totally ridiculous words. What the smurf...)

Lately I've read  so many blog posts and articles written by frustrated, heartbroken, or plain-old pissed off (or maybe all three!) teachers encouraging young people to never go into education ever ever ever! Quite frankly, they have some pretty good reasons behind their plea.

But... that's not what I'm all about. At all.

I would by telling a lie if I said that I've never felt like I made the wrong choice about my career, or that I've never considered a career-change in the last few years, or that my job is never frustrating, heart-breaking, or angry-making! There have been times over the past few years that I've wondered what in the hell smurf am I doing here? Usually this happens when I'm up to my eyeballs in research papers, or I'm staring at my paycheck, or I'm fending off angry emails, or I'm trying desperately to help my English 10 kids get ready for the ECA and they are searching for trucks on Craigslist.

But... let me tell you something. When I was in my senior year at college, we had a guest speaker from the state teachers' association come in to talk about educational law. While that was interesting and helpful and pretty smurfin' terrifying! she also imparted some wisdom that I would like to share with you.

She said that the year you don't want to go out and buy a new outfit for the first day of school is the year you need to change careers.

That has really stuck with me, but I think it's more than just buying an outfit. It's the spark, the reason that you go into education in the first place. When the spark is gone, you shouldn't teach anymore.

A handful of teachers go into the field without the spark. They don't have a true desire to be in the classroom... they either don't know what else to do, or they like having "summers off" (HA!), or something. It seems like they don't last long. Some teachers go in with the spark, but it is quickly extinguished. It wasn't the spark of their life, their real source of passion... it was just a spark. For some teachers, the spark lasts a while, but then it ignites other passions, like administration, or counseling, or teaching college, or a whole other career entirely. And there are a few who have the spark forever.

Honestly, I don't know yet if I have the lifelong spark. But I do know that this is what I'm meant to do with my life right now, and I want to defend it.

It used to be that teachers had to defend their profession from others who weren't in the field. Honestly, who can truly understand what it's like to be a teacher until they are one? But nowadays we are being attacked by our own kind! While I understand that our value as educators is often undermined by the powers that be, I can't help but wonder why we are trying to extinguish the spark. Is that at all fair? Is it right for us to say, "Well, yes, I had the spark, and I lost it... it was taken from me... so that means you shouldn't have it either"? I think that's smurfshit (erm... nvm), quite honestly. Every other person in every other field is allowed to test the waters, to figure out if this is what they want to do. Why are we discouraging young people who may very well have that lifelong spark, who can make a difference? I agree that education in the U.S. needs serious reform, but I'm not here to talk about that. I'm writing this because we aren't helping anything by discouraging people from being teachers. We are only making matters worse.

For once, I want to see legitimate lists of reasons you should be a teacher, and not some of the smurfing awful ones I've seen online that say stuff like "You get summers off and you get paid for them!" and "You will only have to work from 8:00 to 3:00 five days a week." That's more smurfshit, right there. That being said, I'm hosting my first Linky Party!

If you're a blogger, I'd love it if you would join the party! Share with everyone what your personal top ten reasons are for teaching, whatever your grade level, subject matter, etc. may be! Let's share a little inspiration!

Want to share, but you aren't a blogger? Email your Top 10 for Teaching and your list may be featured on Eat.Write.Teach. Email your lists to:

To get this party started, I've written a separate post with my Top 10 for Teaching, which can be found here.

Happy Teaching! I can't wait to see read what you all have to say!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Activity Planner 6000

Today I completely forgot to prepare materials for an activity. How crazy is that? I've had so much going on lately that, while I knew exactly what we were doing in class today, I completely forgot to prep my materials. Then, when I got to work later than planned on top of that, it made for a very hectic morning.

I hate hectic mornings. I'm not a morning person anyway and the very last thing I need is to come to school to a mess of my own making. When I sat down and tried to figure out what went wrong, I realized that in my lesson plan for today (which I wrote three weeks ago), all I had written was "Peer Editing." I have a peer editing lesson that we use for the majority of our editing lessons, and I've gotten so comfortable with the lesson, I didn't bother to list the materials that I needed for the lesson. So I forgot to get them together.

Have you ever had this happen? Have you ever built up a wonderful, awesome activity in your head only to realize (too late) that you aren't anywhere near as prepared as you should be?

Allow me to introduce The Activity Planner 6000. I kind of love the name. :)

This is my newest template, designed to (hopefully) help me do a better job of preparing my materials in advance for lessons that require specific materials. This isn't something I would use for all of my lessons (although I guess you could), but I think it will be helpful in planning my big activities that require some prep work.

Here's the way it works. Besides the usual planning stuff (lesson title, date, class, objective, and standards) it also includes space to write down materials that the students will need to bring for the lesson and materials that I need to prepare before the lesson. I've also included a spot for miscellaneous notes and a spot for feedback. That way, at the end of the lesson, I can jot down a couple of things that I want to remember about the lesson for the next year while it's still fresh in my mind. Here are a few examples to show you how I plan to use them.

This sample shows how the template can be used to plan a single day event.
(This is actually the lesson that I forgot to prep today).
This sample shows how you could use the template to plan for a long-term project.
(This is a project I do with my 9H classes each year.)
As I'm sure you can tell, this is definitely not meant for thorough lesson-planning. I designed this with the hope that it would be an at-a-glance list of materials needed to prepare a lesson. I hope this will replace the current system I use, which is usually bits of paper scattered on my desk that say things like "70 copies" or "Book in a Bag stuff."
In the past, I've put my templates to work before I've shared them on the blog. This time, I thought I'd give you the trial runs. Download the PDF or the Word document* here and let me know what you think! Are they useful as they are? Do they need reworked? Have any suggestions? I can't wait to hear your feedback. :)
Happy teaching! Hope you have a better day that I did today!


*If you download the Word document, you will need to download the free font Rolina to see it as it has been designed. You can get that font here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blog Lovin'

Hey Kids!

Just a quick note that the retirement of Google Reader has prompted me to join in on the Blog Lovin' fun. I'm kind of loving how simple it is to use! Join the fun! I'll be adding a button to my sidebar shortly, but for now...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Happy reading!