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Friday, September 20, 2013

In Real Life, there are BILLS to pay

I have come to a point in my life and my career that I need to make some tough choices.  I want to be in the school working as much as possible, yet I also need to be guaranteed money to pay my bills.  Unfortunately, with the way today's economy is going and the budget cutting, I can not be guaranteed to be in the school everyday. 
As much as I love my job as a teacher, even as a substitute (that dreaded word), I need to allow my second job to be able to schedule me as needed in order to be guaranteed money to pay my bills.  This, however, causes a conflict with being available for teaching in the school everyday.
Do you see my dilemma?
I would love to be in a situation where I am able to keep my availability open to the school so they can call me whenever they needed and I would be available.  I just can't afford to gamble with the chance of not being called and not making money that day.  Whereas, if I allow my second job to schedule me whenever they want, at least I know I will earn money towards my bills.
I need some of your opinions. Please share them with me!
Thank You.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day to Day

So, it has been months since I have blogged. Now that I am back in school, I feel the need to try and spread a positive message.
This is my 7th year subbing. Yes, that's right. SEVENTH.  I have 6 full years in with a school district. People have asked me "why don't you just give up and go get a full time, secure job some place else?" and "isn't that frustrating?"  To some people those questions may sway a person's decision to stay in the field.  As for me, I love teaching.  It is frustrating to be back day to day.  But I am not going to look at this as a negative.  If anything, I am very lucky.  There are not many people with a college education that are able to say that they work in the field from which they graduated.  Not to mention, that I still bring home a paycheck.  There are so many teachers getting laid off because of budget cuts and then they have nothing.  I can say that I go to work, and work in the field that I love.
There are substitutes that I work with that are feeling so down on themselves for not being hired yet.  The part that they need to realize is, it's not their fault.  Our district has a problem... it has A LOT of really good subs.  Now, if you ask me, if you're going to have a problem then that's the one to have!! We have very qualified teachers that are still subbing day to day.  I try to encourage everyone by reminding them that this is a state wide problem, not just in our district.  I know it hard financially and emotionally.  We just need to try and stay positive.  I am currently working two other part time jobs aside from subbing to try and keep up with bills.  But am I the only one? Absolutely not! There are millions of Americans trying to make ends meet.  Being negative on ourselves and being upset that we aren't contracted yet isn't going to bring that contract any faster. 
Since I have am a huge fan a Randy Paucsh, I need to bring up some of my favorite quotes from him.  We are hitting a 'brick wall.'  That wall is going to keep out the people that don't want this job bad enough.  We need to take on what life brings us as an experience.  "We can't change the cards we are dealt, just how we play that hand." (The Last Lecture)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Being Naive or Just Learning?

I recently had a pretty lengthy conversation with a coworker which got me thinking about how much I still need to learn…
I came to the conclusion, with help from that coworker, that even though I may not be (that) young I am naïve.  At first, I was really disappointed in myself that I can be 33 and be so naïve about certain aspects of my field.  For instance, I still have a lot to learn about the ins and outs of our Union and the difficult decisions our Administration (beyond the typical things) need to make. 
As I thought about it, I realized that it’s not such a bad thing to be naïve.  It would be bad if I shrugged off these circumstances as something that I shouldn’t care about.  I’ve always said that I enjoy learning.  That also goes for life learning, not just books.  I will always look at learning as a life long process; which is something that I’ve tried to instill in the students I teach.  I love being able to have conversations with people and being told to try to look at something from a different perspective.  I enjoy listening to how and what others are thinking and try to learn from what they have to say; whether I agree or not. 
As far as my future… I will continue to try to push for what is best for education however I know how.  I will continue to do my best for the students I teach.  Most of all, I will continue to have conversations that will challenge what I know to try and make education better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teaching and Videos... Good or Bad Idea?

Recently we have been exploring new ways to incorporate on line video in a technology class that I have been taking. The two sites that I am going to focus on are Discovery Education and Kahn Academy.
There have been political debates stating that on line videos can eventually replace teachers. Is that really possible?

Just in case you haven't heard of either of these online sites, here is some background...

Discovery Education exposes teachers and students to a variety of media for all learning types.  This site will provide video, articles, lessons, practice and much more for teachers, parents and students. This site also allows you to add specific assignments to particular students or whole group. The learner is able to search for any subject from Language Arts through Social Studies.

The Kahn Academy is a site that students, parents and teachers can access over 2700 videos.  These videos consist of math, science and history.  The students are able to watch a video, then practice the skill and take an assessment if desired.

I have used Discovery Education many times. I have not used to it to the extent that I just learned recently, however (which I am excited to do so now!).  I also tried to show a video segment of the Kahn Academy to my 2nd graders. The reactions from using both media are very different.  No matter how I use Discover Education, my kids are engaged, interested and are able to discuss what they have done.  After showing the Kahn Academy segment, the students were bored, and many responded "I didn't like it because it wasn't Mrs. Dodson" and "I didn't like it because he confused me."  Keep in mind the segment I chose was a skill they knew. 

My belief, is that on line video can NEVER replace the value of a teacher. No matter how much certain politicians or groups can try, the teacher is a valuable resource to every student.  The video, on the other hand, is just an accompaniment, an extra, an anticipatory tool, etc...
I love using technology in my room and I love being able to show my students how they can access information in so many different ways.  I also look at this from my students view, they love what/how I am teaching them... but I will use my students' words "[the video] is not Mrs. Dodson" which tell me kids enjoy having a teacher in front of them, opposed to on a screen.
Please share your thoughts on this matter. I would really like to know what other's think!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Having Fun with Parents

One of the most difficult things to do while teaching our students, is to also have our parents involved. This is difficult for all of us for a number of reasons. As difficult as this is, I try my best to keep parents involved whenever possible.
This past week, my Principal allowed me to have a whole day dedicated to family traditions. The parents were allowed to come in at whatever time that was available to them.  They would help their child explain a special tradition that their family would do around the Holiday season.
When I first had the idea, other teachers were skeptical.  They were not sure how successful the day would be with parents coming in and out. Not to mention that I was not giving the parents a certain time limit to stay. I told everyone "the more the merrier!"

So how did the day go?

I can't say enough how GREAT the entire day was!!! The kids loved their parents their, the parents loved seeing their kids in school, and everyone loved sharing about their families!! We had pictures, ornaments, recipes, Italian fruit cake (baked for us to share), Menorah's, dreidels (enough for the kids to play with), reindeer food (everyone made some), latkes (cooked for us to try), decorations, and we even had a parent share a gingerbread house making kit for EVERY student in my room!!
I posted some of our pictures on our class wiki space.  I received so many "thank you's" from the parents. They had just as much fun as the kids!
Now it's your turn... please share a wonderful idea that you had to keep parents involved!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I have often said that the best way to teach our students is to teach/lead by example.  I love being able to come into school and tell my students how much I enjoy a class that I am taking. Last night we were lucky enough to Skype with Ginger Lewman, Kevin and Michelle Honeycutt!! I was excited to talk to my kids this morning for a lot of reasons;  one being that I have never Skyped! The biggest reason that I was so excited was who we were able to Skype! Keep in mind my students are only 7years old.  When they see how excited their teacher is to learn, I hope that I can make them feel that same excitement!
We were asking our trio of experts about PBL: Project Based Learning.  It was so amazing to have three motivating and innovative teachers answer our questions.  Personally, I love the idea of PBL.  I have tried little projects in the past that the kids have loved.  These are the projects that Kevin Honeycutt would call the ones that aren't "time vampires."  I liked that term because it's a simple phrase to show that you can do a project with the kids that is fun, and they are learning yet doesn't take up a lot of unnecessary time.
I think the biggest lesson that I was able to walk away with last night was that PBL will start to eliminate the question "why do we need to know this?"  In PBL, the students are 'caught' up in finding the answer to their big question that they forget they are doing math, writing, SS, and/or science. 
I have mentioned head fakes in a previous post.  I think that PBL is the ultimate head fake! Not only will the students be learning one subject, they will be learning about multiple subjects AND learning how to use proper resources on their own!  The kids will actually know how to be independent! Something that we all have been striving for our kids to learn!
So are you asking the same question we did? How do you assess? Easy! You talk with your students! You reinforce as you make them discuss what they are doing, again and again. By working with your students on a project, you will know what your students are learning! The best part, is the publishing part of PBL. Every project or assignment needs a culminating activity.  Well, this is the best assessment yet! What if your students can give you more than just a regular poster? What if they can give you a recorded diolague on a Voicethread, or a video on Animoto?  These are just a couple of the best example that your students can give you that they are learning!
Please share your thoughts and comments!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Great Time to Give Thanks

I have decided that with all the negativity against education these days, to break up the monotony and talk about the reasons I am so grateful to be in this profession. The order in which I list them is in no specific order...
  •  Parents: Okay, why do I love my job and say 'parents' first?  We have all had very difficult parents. I'm sure we have also had the wide variety of parents. Every parent from "not my kid" to "I think my son/daughter is a genius."  How I like to look at these situations is that we all have a common goal; making sure their child has a what s/he needs in the proper environment to gain the most. I have reminded parents of this common goal when they are more focused on the means than the end. So far, with some help from coworkers, this has been successful... and I am grateful.
  • My coworkers: I can't say enough about the people I work with. I have been a LT for 6 years, and have been in every building. I am very grateful to be in a district with a wide range of teaching strategies and methodologies, yet we all still work as a team! We all have our own philosophies on teaching, which makes us all unique. However, we are all willing to listen to coworker speak about their own philosophy, as well as new ideas! Moreover, with the professional relationships that I have been able to build over these 6 years, I have no problem calling a coworker from anywhere to ask for help. Which leads into the next reason to be grateful...
  • WASD: With out me being blessed to be working in this district for the past 6 years, I would not have built these relationships. I am so lucky to be a part of such a 'student based' district. I have been able to grow and learn so much from being a part of this district!
  • My students: I am so thankful to have such a wonderful group a students. Not only this year, but every year. Of course, I may have difficulties throughout the year... but that is part of what makes me, and all teacher, life long learners. As much as I may have taught my students every year, they have been able to teach me in return.
And for all of this, I am truly grateful.
Please, share what you are grateful for...!