Monday, June 22, 2015

Never Be Afraid to Dream Big

Week two of the TPT seller's challenge is upon us and the hosts have challenged us to think about our dreams.  Most of us started out on Teachers Pay Teachers hoping to add a little to the wealth of resources already there, reach other teachers and students, and maybe just maybe make some money to compensate for all the time we spend making things for our classes already!

Now that I've been on TPT for awhile now I'm seeing the potential and my dreams are growing bigger.  Here's what I hope to accomplish with my little store:

1.  I want to reach as many students as possible.
2.  I want to be able to donate money to each charitable function that crosses my path and inspires me. (I specifically set aside 10% of all of my earnings to accomplish this.)
3.  I want to be able to make an extra house payment or two every year to pay of my mortgage faster!
4. I want to be able to make an extra car payment or two this year to pay off my car faster!
5. I want to become a better more thoughtful teacher because of the resources I make.

Anything else I make is icing on the cake!

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's Makeover time!

Thanks to a boost from a challenge among sellers on TPT I've revamped my reading powerpoints!  These three powerpoints review key terms that students need to understand for many of the standardized tests we give them.  I originally created them when teaching at a school that used the NWEA Map tests, but the terms are universal.  I've given them a face lift and even added a few terms!  Check them out! Here's a look at how I updated the cover for my bundle of powerpoints!  What do you think?

Thanks for reading! Don't forget if you'd like to join the TPT family Click Here

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Classroom Management: Using Questionnaires to Aid Your Teaching

In college I got to evaluate my professors every single semester in every single class.  Since I was fresh out of college when I began student teaching I brought that idea with me.  In fact, about half way through my student teaching stint I had each student write down anything they thought could be done better.  I also told them to soften the blow by telling me at least one thing they liked about me.  (I had one class that was incredibly stressful and I wasn't sure how they'd react.)

Now of course some students said "we read to much." "I don't like the homework."  However, several students mentioned that many times the definitions on their vocabulary tests were very different from the definitions in the classroom dictionaries or they didn't know which definition to focus on.  My cooperating teacher and I discussed this and realized, they'd proven they knew how to use dictionaries- we were more concerned with increasing their word knowledge so we gave them the definitions and other activities to do with the words instead of having them look them up.  Problem solved.

I came away from that experience realizing that sometimes there are easy fixes that can aid your class.  Since then I've done it in almost every single class I've taught.  I typically ask them a few weeks into the semester, half way through, and at the end.  I allow them to be anonymous, but truly I build it in such a way that no one is worried about me being offended.  I explain to them how and why I use the information and that I will consider any reasonable ideas.

Outside of being able to address issues a teacher may or may not be aware of, this strategy also allows a teacher to build a rapport with the class.  Students see that you care, that you're trying to improve the class, and they feel that they are heard.  It's definitely a win win win situation.

Check out my classroom questionnaires product on TPT for ready made, paper saving questionnaires to help you implement this easily and quickly!  It also includes a "get to know you" questionnaire for the first week of class that gives you a quick glance at the make up of your class.

 Don't forget if you'd like to join the TPT family Click Here!

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Pros & Cons of Teaching

I love teaching and I don't think I'd like anything else as much.  However, people seem to romanticize what it is to be a teacher and don't realize that with many of our perks come some decently major downsides.  So, I'm going to break down what I feel are the pros and cons of being a teacher.


Autonomy- well, ok, this can vary based on school but its best when we can have control over our dominion.  We get to choose our classroom culture and nurture it.  I love that.

Changing the World- honestly it's amazing to see students grow while under your care.  Or, sometimes, to see, finally, that they've grown under someone else's eye and now have reached the potential you know they had.  We shape lives, we impact lives, we can change the direction a student is heading.  Either way eventually we see our students grow up and become adults. My first group of students that I consider mine are the ones who I student taught.  They are 24-26 years old.  I've seen several, who I am in contact with on FB graduate with degrees, serve in the military, buy houses, and begin families.  Whoa.

Breaks- I'm not going to deny that it's nice to get 10-14 days off at Christmas, A few days at Thanksgiving, a week around Easter, and then a 2-3 month vacation in summer.  It is nice.  But it is earned.  That will be explained in the cons.

Passion- I get to teach what I love every single day.  It is so great to go to my favorite class from school day in and day out and to try and get my students to feel the same way!  Plenty of other jobs can offer this but I know too many people who just don't have a passion for what they do.  That would suck.

Unions- at least here in Ohio we are a union state.  I love being in a union.


Bathroom Breaks- most of the schools I taught at it would have been impossible to take a bathroom break other than in your planning period or lunch.  The students simply couldn't be left unsupervised for longer than 30 seconds.  Trust me.  Disaster would strike.  We as teachers literally train ourselves to hold it.  FOR HOURS.  You don't even want to think about when you are having gastrointestinal issues...  In the corporate world you can leave your desk to pee and not think twice about it.

Vacation Days- Yes, we get tons of time off.  But, we can't take time off when we want to.  A friend's destination wedding in October?  No go.  And the breaks we do have are peak times so we often can't search for the best deals.  This isn't the most major issue, but it is something to consider.  One teacher friend of mine wanted to take the two days before her wedding off in November and she was allowed but only if she paid for her sub.  The honeymoon would have to come much later.

Work load- This is where we earn our vacations.  I typically get to work at least 30 minutes early every day (that's 2.5 extra hrs a week) then I usually stay at least an hour late every day, and sometimes much more (That's an extra 5 hrs a week).  There are about 36 weeks in a school year so that means I am in the school typically at least an extra 270 hours a year which equals out to an additional 6.75 weeks of work.  Just with that I've earned Christmas break, Thanksgiving, spring break, and the first couple of weeks of summer.  Add into that the several hours I spend at Panera grading on Sundays and very quickly I've worked my summer to.  I know that plenty of people work more than 40 hrs a week but considering that our pay is only for 9 months of work it's a bit ridiculous.

Pay-Our pay is decent (depending on where you live/work) when you consider it's for 9 months out of the year.  However, as described before we do way more work than that.  And, it has to stretch out for 12 months.  Yes, we can and do get summer jobs however we rarely can find ones that pay as well as our education should dictate.

Evaluations- More and more our evaluations and security in our jobs is being judged by test scores.  Let me be clear- I'm fine with being judged on my skills as a teacher, I just don't think one test on one day can show whether or not I am a good teacher.  I don't know of any other career where the employee review process involves your boss judging 50% of your efficacy on just one day and on someone else's actions on that day.

Hopefully that dispels some of the misinformation.  I LOVE my job and even as the negative list grows with changes in education, I can't imagine changing careers.  And at least now, teaching college, I can go pee whenever I want.

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Summer Reading List

Julie Faulkner strikes again!  She had the brilliant idea of doing a link up of summer reading!  I love reading and I love that I have a little more downtime in the summer to do some reading for fun.  Hmmm, how many books can I read this summer?  I'm going to list 10 that I'd like to get through.

1. My Best Everything- by Sarah Tomp I am currently reading this YA novel about a smart girl who finds herself needing to get in the moonshine business to pay for college.  So far I like it so I plan on finishing it soon.

2. 5 to 1- by Holly Bodger  The cover art on this book is gorgeous.  I love books with differing POVs and writing techniques.  This has both as it has two POVs and part is in prose and part is in verse.  I can't wait to check out this YA novel.
3.  The Postmortal This book is the book chosen for a common read program that my college is instituting in the fall.  I've signed on to use it in my classes so I need to read it and start planning some awesome lessons to accompany it!

4. Wild- by Cheryl Strayed  This is one I was lent awhile ago but never read.  Now's the time to read it right?  I had a friend attempt the PCT so I know a little about it and can't wait to read it.  One of my students used it as her mentor text during our memoir unit and she seemed to really enjoy it.

5. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption- by Laura Hillenbrand This book, along with the first two listed I received for free at the NCTE conference I attended this fall.  Like Wild it has now been made into a movie but I want to read the book.  I don't read enough non fiction.

6. Dark Places- by Gillian Flynn  I really enjoyed Gone Girl, well until the end (What was up with that?) and so I am interested in reading this second novel of Flynn's.  I watch a lot of crime shows on TV so I think this is the book equivalent.

7.  Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls- by David Sedaris I've read several of his essays and thoroughly enjoyed them but I've never gotten one of his books.  I would like to get ideas for more readings for my students by doing so.

8. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel- by Ray Bradbury  I have a confession to make.  I've never read this book.  Somehow none of my teachers in high school, college, or graduate school required us to read it.  I feel this is ridiculous so this will be a classic novel I conquer this year.

9. The Bluest Eye- by Toni Morrison I can't remember if I've read this one or not but it's set outside of Cleveland and I love me some Morrison so I will try to read it either for the first time or the second.

10. And last, but not least, the novel we've all been talking about for months: Go Set a Watchman: A Novel- by Harper Lee  I mean do I even need to say anything else?

See other teacher-blogger's reading lists or book choices by stopping by Julie's Link Up!

Oh- and after I read the YA books I'll be reviewing them on my sister blog YA Lit The Good The Bad The Ugly where I review YA books from a teacher's perspective.  (I'll admit I haven't updated in awhile)

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 1, 2015


I've had a rocky career so far. I didn't get a job right away after college so I started getting my MEd in counseling as a Masters was required at that point in Ohio.  Then I worked as a homework helper in a library while taking more graduate classes out of town.  I returned home to sub, care for family members, and continue my original MEd.  Finally, I got a lead on a job. I spent a year as a long term sub in a drop out prevention high school knowing that two English teachers were retiring that year and hoping I'd get picked up.  Then due to lower enrollment neither teacher was replaced.  I spent two years as an assistant teacher in a school for students with cognitive and emotional issues.  I started my third Masters program in English.  I quit at the end of my second year to avoid the need for RIFs and intended on going to school full time.  A middle school job fell in my lap at a charter school.  I took it.  I'll write more about that later.  I quit that job with no plans other than to finish my MA in English that summer.  I finished it and decided to pursue teaching college.

I worked hard for that goal.  I taught at several campuses and several schools.  I taught in person, online, blended courses.  I taught developmental ed, first year writing, and bachelor degree level courses.  I attended more PD than required.  I funded two trips to national conferences.  I applied to present at a conference and it was accepted.  I asked to be appointed to a committee for NCTE and was accepted.  I tried innovative things in my classes.  I collaborated with colleagues.  I researched how to teach college writing vs high school.  I never stopped.

Today, it paid off.  Today I found out that I beat out over 200 applicants to be selected as the newest tenure-track professor at the community college in my area.  I am so happy.  So honored.  So proud.

Thanks for reading!