Wowza

Ugh. <enter obligatory bad-at-blogging post here>

So, it’s been a while.

I am teaching. High school English (and newspaper). And it is hard. I definitely enjoy it though (most days).

I’ve survived my first years of HIGH-STAKES TESTING! My juniors took the Arkansas state literacy exam this week, and I can finally take a deep breath after months of worry, stress, anxiety, nightmares, migraines and general misery with regard to this test. And, remarkably, I really think my kids did WELL! They all seem to think so. I won’t even get into my thoughts on high-stakes testing like this (bad) or how high the stakes really are for this test (super), but I can say with confidence that I pray I never had to go through that again.

I’m trying to shift my energy (what little I have left) to really thinking about Common Core and how it will all look in my classroom now that we are finished with this test. In general, I have no problem with the Common Core State Standards except where they focus on standardized testing. But, having not yet seen the PARCC test (as I don’t believe it’s even fully been written yet), I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Time will tell.

I am very excited to really teach English this last quarter, though. Teaching test-taking strategies, even when they do involve English skills, is draining. Our next unit (Roaring 20s and Harlem Renaissance) will be so fun!

Grad school is exhausting too. I’m so ready to graduate. Come on, December!

On the plus side, I love teaching memes. They make me happy when skies are grey (and students’ attitudes are black).

Image

I needed a little inspiration

Goodness. It has been a long, hard week, and it’s just now Thursday. I’m really amazed that I have enough mental energy left to even write this post.

On Tuesday I got two job rejections. Both were positions I really wanted in school I really liked. So, I was really sad. It was a rough day. Then, that afternoon, my husband and I found out that the house we were planning on moving into at the end of the month was no longer an option for us. So, all of a sudden I was plummeted into a state of near depression filled with images of me jobless and homeless and cuddling my two sweet dogs in the street. I know that would never happen because we have people who love us, some money in savings and I would never accept being jobless but it was a pretty freaky image in my head.

Needless to say we have some decisions to make in the next two weeks. We need to figure out where to live, what my chances are of finding a job in the two regions in which I’ve been applying and what exactly to do if I don’t get a job this year (a very real possibility).

On top of all of this, I have the Great Bear Writing Project for this week and the next two weeks, the husband will be in real estate school the next two weeks and we are both in classes right now. June is just about the busiest month either of us has had in probably ever, and now we have to add house hunting to the work, school, projects, packing, moving and job hunting we already had going on.

So I needed a little inspiration today, something to make myself feel a little better about our situation. I turned to my Words board on Pinterest and found these gems that I had saved before.

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Thanks Pinterest. I needed that.

New to taylorloveslearning: Tech Tuesday

Did you know school has changed DRASTICALLY just since I graduated high school (a mere five years ago)? Turns out, schools and teachers have almost completely embraced technology in the classroom, and the number of tech sites for students and teachers is astounding! No longer are the days of students receiving detention for having a phone out in class! Gone are the days of students not being allowed to have computers on campus! It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the sheer amount of technology in classrooms today, and I’m only 23! I grew up with technology. But as it turns out, I didn’t go to school with it like the kids of today.

So, for Tech Tuesday, I will introduce/discuss/explore/get-lost-in some kind of useful classroom tool (or maybe even a couple, I’m pretty sure the number of tools are nearly unlimited). And if any teacher/student/human reading this would like to suggest something new, please! I’d love to hear your feedback about new technology or how you’ve utilized tools I discuss within your classroom or in your life.

Tech Tuesday Tool #1: Prezi!

You know, I hate PowerPoint. I won’t get started on my issues with most Microsoft products, but PowerPoint is something I just really can’t stand. Yes, it has it’s uses, but most PPT presentations I’ve seen are pretty much DOA. As a student, PPT presentations were particularly tiresome, because we would spent far too much time worrying about animating the slides or creating WordArt (*shudders*) or trying make the timing work or trying to make sure pictures and videos all were embedded correctly. Basically PPT requires students to worry too much about the FLUFF and not enough about the content. So, what’s the alternative to use in the classroom?

PREZI!

Prezi

I love Prezi. Prezi is the answer to PPT fiends everywhere. I first used Prezi this spring for one of my MAT classes, and it was so user friendly, so visually appealing so not a giant time suck. I immediately fell for the interface, and the fact that presentations are stored in the cloud, so there shouldn’t be issues with students forgetting flash drives, having technology issues or having issues about Mac/PC conversion (the worst). Additionally, users are able to add images and videos from Google, with the search engine build directly into the software. Prezi also autosaves regularly to prevent a loss of data should the computer/Internet/browser shut down or malfunction.

Finally, the templates provided with a free account are varied, eye-catching and easily customizable. I’ve really had no issues with Prezi. A few people used the wrong link to share their presentation, but it’s easy to correct that or find the presentation. It also doesn’t deal with timers, which are just unpredictable, unreliable and unrealistic.

I’ve done two so far, about Constructivism and about dystopias. Click to view.

So, in conclusion, Prezi wins. PowerPoint can go the way of some of Microsoft’s other disasters, like Windows Vista and Clippy, the little nightmare that attempted to ruin Word so many years ago.

Clippy

Booooo Clippy. Go away.

Interviewing is not for the faint of heart.

Whew. What a week. Or weeks. It’s all starting to blur together now.

Searching, applying and interviewing for teaching jobs is really exciting, but I’m starting to feel drained by the whole process. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thrilled every time the phone rings (it’s been four times) and someone wants to interview me. But interviews are (and always have been) a form of medieval torture where you’re forced to walk into a room and tell strangers that you’re great and that they should trust you to meet all of their expectations and that they should hire you. And then, inevitably, some of those people pick someone else. And you’re understanding, but also you’re crushed, because you really believe yourself when you tell someone that you’re cut out for this job. 

Doing all of this without even being licensed is like the normal amount of stress times a billion, because I am willing to bet that someone else has applied for the jobs who has a license/experience/isn’t in school/has spent more than 23 years on this planet. I don’t feel unqualified for the jobs I’m applying for. I really don’t. I just feel overshadowed. 

I had one interview a few weeks ago, which I did not get. Then I had two interviews on Monday, and I am probably getting carpel tunnel from keeping my fingers crossed so very hard. I haven’t heard from either of those yet. And then a fourth interview this morning. And you know, I have yet to meet someone in an interview who is anything short of very nice. But still, the stress, oh man. I’m so ready for some answers.

And you know what else? It’s expensive. Over the course of interviewing, I have paid for some new clothes, lots of gas, resume paper, folders, ink, a new printer, more resume paper and some more gas. I’m amazed that I’m not broke(r) and crazy from the experience. 

But I’ll keep it up. I will wait for the phone to ring, I will miss work to schedule the interview, I will wake up early, print my credentials, get dressed up, wear high heels and drive wherever I need to. Because no matter how stressed/exhausted/afraid/overshadowed I feel, I know I am in the right place, doing the right thing. And that is worth all of it.

One down…

Wow! I can’t believe that it is nearly June, and I have finished my first semester of graduate school! The past few months have really flown by, and I can’t wrap my mind around that fact that, if everything goes as planned, I will start TEACHING full-time in August! Amazing!

Looking back on this semester, I am amazed at how much I have learned, and not just about teaching, but about getting to the point where I can teach. I’ve been so busy with school and work and life and looking for teaching positions that I haven’t even had time to post since February.

I had some really great classes this semester (and one that I would rather not ever think about again). I’ve gone from understanding very little about actually being a teacher to honestly thinking that I will start teaching in August and know what I’m doing! It’s amazing to me that two professors were able to impart so much knowledge into my brain in just a few months, but I’m thankful they did. There’s still so much left to learn, though.

I took my Praxis II: English Language, Literature and Composition: Content Analysis test on April 29, and it’s been so stressful waiting for my scores, which should come in ANY DAY. I really think I did well, but I’ve never really taken a test quite like this one, so it’s impossible for me to say if I did well enough to pass. Fingers crossed! And toes!

I do have some pretty exciting plans for the summer to help prepare me for teaching this fall. This semester, I took classes on the analysis and practice of teaching, classroom management and research methods (*shudders*). This summer, I am taking two MAT classes, Models of Teaching and Literacy. THEN, in June, I will be a participant in the Great Bear Writing Project, the chapter of the National Writing Project. For those three weeks, I’ll be writing constantly and learning about ways to teach writing to students! Such a great opportunity, PLUS the credits are free, PLUS it’s taking the place of another class, PLUS at least two of the other people in the program are MAT students. I’m pretty pumped.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to receive full funding to attend the Advanced Placement Summer Institute in July at the University of Arkansas. In four (not-so-short) days, I will be certified to teach AP Language and Composition. Even if I don’t teach AP classes for a while, but hopefully eventually, it will be really good for me since I don’t have formal teaching experience. Anything I can do to better prepare me to teach students is a welcome opportunity!

As much as I have going on this summer, it’s going to be stressful. I am applying for jobs left and right. I’ve interviewed for one, which I didn’t get, and I have another interview next week. That is the one I’m really praying for, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up!

I’m excited for this summer, but I’m ready to know some answers to the many questions I have.

And soon. That would be nice.