Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Teacher Persona Today

As I reflect on my first month of my seventh year teaching, I think of my self now and who I was in the beginning.

Picturing my self now-- the way I dress, my bike-- this is what Brooklyn has done to me! I am not the teacher who started out as a NYC Teaching Fellow six years ago.

I went to my first interviews in a gray skirt suit from Ann Taylor, black pumps and stockings. This was in the August heat mind you. I even took out my then nose stud. That was until I met an assistant principal with a nose stud and dreadlocks in a well-fitted suit. She was herself, she was gorgeous, and she was professional. She was my subtle welcome to NYC.

Fast forward six years and I'm interviewing for my second teaching position. I'm wearing a mustard pencil skirt, purple top tucked in, gray cardigan, brown pumps, and my nose ring. Unwavering. Confident. Truly knowing my stuff.

I used to wear stilettos and wide skirts to work, but now I wear pencil skirts and pumps. Part of that is a body consciousness change-- I've embraced my shape, there is room for hips in middle school-- and stilettos?! What was I thinking? Not all heels are purposed alike. Mid to kitten heel pumps are more professional. That and my feet will not tolerate the nonsense.

As for my bike, I've been riding to work since my third year of teaching. The first year I walked, the second I took the bus and by the third I had a bike. I've always ridden an old-school, cruiser-type bike. Except now I graduated from my rusty, but somewhat trusty, vintage Free Spirit with the extra wide seat to a polished, contemporary Virtue.

My six plus years of teaching have taught me something. I am not stagnant. My style has evolved; I voluntarily left my old school; I've deepened my professional knowledge; I've held leadership roles; and got a new bike.

My teacher persona has evolved, and will continue to do so.

Miss M

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Warm Tones on Rainy Day

cream and black polka dot sweater from old navy, mustard skirt from j.crew, black tights from hue, brown pumps by frye.

i'll smile next time.  promise!

Another Side

I had to show my other side to my sixth graders today. As I told them, they mistook me. I am calm. I am extremely patient. I like to understand all that I come across. However, I do not tolerate rude children.

I realize now as I write this, that's what it is. When your teacher needs your attention, you give it. Yet, there I was waiting and repeating myself over and over. It was ridiculous. I did not have that class under control. Control as I read--- means getting students to choose to do what you want them to. It was the opposite of control. They were choosing to not listen to me.

If my principal was not outside the door conferring with my co-teacher, I would have let them know sooner.  Not that what I did was wrong, I just know that not everything you set out to do involving children works out. So I waited. And I monitored my energy.

When my co-teacher returned, I spoke firmly without yelling.  And then I took a risk.  I moved seats in the middle of class. Not recommended, but it worked.

By the end of class, not a sound. So-and-so started to complain that his desk neighbor, who happens to be the girl with many ailments, was touching him. I told him them I do not have time for the nonsense. Enough.

Tomorrow we'll review the expectations and what it means to be respectful in class.

Miss M

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Individual White Boards

I use student white boards in my Remedial Reading class.  I have a mixed group of five, and they love to write on the white boards!  Here a student just finished reading a level A book and is retelling the story in three parts.

Here a student is sorting pictures by vowel sounds and spelling them as he does so.  

Another great use of white boards is as a check in.  You can have the students jot down their answer and hold up so you can quickly access who understands and who needs more support.

More ideas to come!
Miss M.

Jacket Weather

 Cape/Trench from H&M, chambray shirt from Old Navy, black pencil skirt from Target, navy tights by Hue, brown leather pumps by Frye. 
 This is probably how I look to my students sometimes.  I am very expressive when I talk.
 I love mixing neutrals.  Yes, my stockings are a beautiful, navy blue!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Self-Contained, Six Years

A colleague thanked me this morning for Friday.  A student bumped into me as she forcefully pushed past him into a hall where she was not supposed to be.  I walked after her, mainly because we happened to be going in same direction, and calmly spoke to her behavior. She eventually slowed down for me, and I said my piece.  I use this language because it was after the bell, and I was not about to reprimand an unfamiliar student of her demeanor and potentially lose be ignored.

It felt good to tell him in response self-contained, six years. To which he replied, "So you speak the language?" Yes. I nodded empathetically. Yes. I am fluent in you-can't-tell-me-nothin'-I'm-mad-at-the-world-ese.

He spoke on about the student mentioning that she has control issues.  I told him, I felt her energy.  I could relate to him too, as I vividly remember pushing kids out the door at the end of a long day-- using my energy and with the thought that tomorrow is a new day, but for today, I'm done.

But I was headed in the student's direction, so I addressed her conduct in a way that she may not have expected: a simple reminder to be mindful how she moves through the halls, as other people also occupy the same space.  And I used her name, which I had just learned from my co-worker's interactions with her.  This surprised her in a good way, as did my tone.

So yes, in four words, the story of my first six years of teaching is:  
 self-contained, six years.

Miss M

Jumping into Fall

 Snakeskin denim jumper from the GAP, flowered blouse from Forever 21, tights by Hue, navy cardigan by J.Crew, go-to pumps by Frye.
 Hue tights are excellent for my body type.  They fit!
 My Frye pumps are breaking in nicely.  They are super comfortable.  I wear them several times a week, and on the weekend with skinny jeans.
My navy, OPI gel manicure is lasting nicely.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

TT: Stickers!

Teacher tip: Invest in supplies that make you happy. I paused to write this as I grade class work using a pink, rolling ball pen and "awesome ant" stickers... Oh, and of course a rubric as I am also separating the students into three groups for my next lesson.

Other supplies you may show your personality through-- scented markers, colored chart paper, a patterned teacher binder, and fun paper clips.

Friday, September 21, 2012

TT: Give Kids a Fair Chance

Teacher Tip:  Our reputations always precede us, but do your best to give all children a fair chance when they get to you. You owe it to yourself and your peace of mind to not allow the bad reputation of a kid to taint your idea of him.

My students' reputations often precede them.  Unfortunately, I've heard everything under the sun about students, but guess what? Most of them performed and conducted themselves differently in my class, under my explicitly taught expectations. It can be done.

From the infamous gangbanger to the notorious authority-challenger, gathering your own data and observations on a student is ultimately what leads to you being most successful with that student.

Pretty in Pink and Pants

  flowery blouse from Target, pink Jackie cardigan by J.Crew, wide-legged pants from the Gap, Frye pumps.

Some frilly detailing...

Dress For Where You Want to Be

A co-worker commented today: don't dress for where you are, but for where you want to be.  Well, said.  Sometimes teachers get too comfortable, I know I struggled in my last year at my old school.  But for me, someone who always took pride in dressing my teacher persona, wearing more weekend-type outfits was not a good thing.  It symbolized an unhappiness with my then position.  I felt stagnant and less motivated by the overall school community.

Needless to say, I am back on track.  I once again dress everyday with the thought, I am going to work.  It's important to me, that I am able to separate my teacher-self from my overall self.  A teacher is just one of the many things that I am.  On the weekend, I dress differently and in the summer, you can find me in short shorts.  When a teacher dresses professionally at work, it also communicates that she takes her job seriously.  I've actually heard people at my last school say, why dress up?  We're just coming to work.  I can't even begin with that!  All I can say, is thank goodness I do not have that outlook on life.

On that note, I'm going to pick out a weekend outfit-- probably high-waisted skinny jeans and platforms-- and enjoy my Friday night.

Miss M

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Denim and Mustard Yellow

 Denim button down, Gap 1969; mustard yellow, double-serge wool skirt, J.Crew; shoes, Frye; green and gold studs from Express
I love the pop of color on the bottom and on my earlobes.

 A sturdy shirt paired with a sturdy skirt.  (Now that I got this skirt tailored to me, my bike short lines are visible! And yes, I ride in a skirt.)

 I love the mixing of textures.

TL: Monitor Your Energy Closely

Teacher Lesson: I learned on my second day of teaching ever, you cannot out yell a student.  When a student's energy is negatively high, monitor your energy closely.  Come down in voice, choose your words carefully, and breathe.

That was also the day I learned that my 12:1:1 special education class did in fact have a paraprofessional, who I met when she returned with one of the kids who had just gotten into a fight.

It was a small room, big enough for a related service provider's office.  My class was mostly boys and yes, there were many more fights that year.

A Blast From My Educational Past

I found this Touch N Tell Me when I was home helping my mom sort through some things.  I used this in first grade! 
I vividly remember taking this to school for some reason, and sitting at my desk pressing these buttons.
Ah, so simple yet effect.  If only teaching could be so clear-cut!  Here's the challenge, try it out in your head, press for answer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sniffles at Work

I forgot to take my allergy medicine today.  I had something to share with a student who always has an aliment.  So far she's had a hurt finger, headaches, stomach problems and has been so tired she could barely lift her head off the desk.  I asked her how she was this morning, she pointed to her throat.  I empathized and told her, "Good to see you here today."  She kinda smiled.  It's interesting how even the younger students show so much personality.

Miss M.

All in Blue

 fitted button-down from Uniqlo, capri pant by J.Crew
 bronze flats by J.Crew
 Great length for fall.

And yes, there are pockets.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TT: Teach Behavior Explicity

Teacher Tip: One way to establish and maintain classroom management is to to teach behavior by laying down clear expectations from day one. Review these expectations daily for the first few days and re-teach them as necessary. And of course, keep your rules expectations posted.

Thrown Together Teacher

Lace cotton top, pencil skirt and tote bag by J.Crew, pumps by Frye

Positivity and Rewards

Something I value deeply is positivity. One way I bring positivity into my classroom is by focusing on the good.  This year, my co-teacher and I are using props to quickly celebrate and show resect to the class or specific students. Teacher calls two claps! We all double clap creating a positive energy.

Last year I used snaps and student of the week celebrations. Every Friday, I would choose a member of each of my small classes and spend thirty seconds acknowledging something they did well. For one student it was coming to school at the end of first period instead of just before third, for another it was doing all her homework for the week, and for one kid it was for politely correcting students' rude  behaviors.  I would start off saying, "This student is someone who...."  By the end of my spiel,  the students would have thrown out a few guesses, and the room would be charged by the time I did say who it was.  After I'd announced the student of the week, I'd present them with a star student sticker-- love that Target dollar section!-- and he would riffle through my prize box as the class celebrated him with snaps.

Despite the busy and rigorous year ahead, it's nice to tie some of the positivity and acknowledgement that has kept me going on these years.

Miss M

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bright at Work

Tippi sweater from J.Cew, pencil skirt from target, Frye pumps, leopard tote by J.Cew.
  Love these colors, next time I'll stand up straighter. 
 A strechy pencil skirt is the best kind to ride in.
These pumps are quickly becoming my school-year favorite.


It's Friday!

The kids were especially energetic today.  One boy even got his foot stuck under his chair this morning.  As my co-teacher taught, my paraprofessional circulated, I calmly instructed him to remove his shoe, moved the desk, he shifted a little and his foot was free.  How did that happen? Who knows!  You gotta just act first and then smile later sometimes.  I'm learning that working with six graders is a lot different than the usually over-age seventh and eighth graders I'm used to teaching.

That and I was asked to write a recommendation for a girl.  She wants to join the school's esteemed robotic club. Two claps!  (That's one of the props my co-teacher and I use with our classes.)

Okay, time for happy hour and dinner.

Miss M

A Sweater and a Pencil Skirt

 Polka dot sweater from Old Navy, pencil skirt from Target, pumps by Frye.

 Watch by Guess, bracelets were bought in the DRC.
I am loving this splurge! They are padded and good, sturdy leather!

Class Expectations or Those of the School?

Last week as my colleagues and I discussed which routines and expectations to teach first.  Our dialogue got me thinking: which do you teach first? Your individual rules, expectations and procedures for your class? Or do you, as a co-worker put, teach community first?

I've always taught my classroom expectations first. To me they lay the foundation of what's required to be successful in a classroom setting.  Coming from a self-contained, special education background, where class community is paramount, I couldn't imagine teaching a piece of a procedure for the school at large on day one.  My thing is, before you can even be part of a community, you need to have an understanding of who you are and what your role is.

I get the other side-- it is important to show a united front-- but I think it'd take much more planning to pull off a seamless day one of each teacher, teaching a part of all that a student needs to get through the school day successfully.

Regardless, just make you sure teach routines and rules expectations explicitly.

Miss M

Blue outfit

 Me and my bike by Virture reading to rush to work.  Blouse from Old Navy, skirt from Target, flats by J.Crew, leopard suede tote by J.Crew.
 I need to work on my expression!
 Okay, I'm getting there.
I'm loving this bike seat!

A Nightmare

It's only a few days into the school year, and I've already had a teacher nightmare. This is not including the dream I had earlier in the week about school. In the nightmare I was late for work. At most  jobs, being late may not acceptable but it's not like a group of 12-30 students are waiting for you at your office door as you fly down the hall all out of breathe, looking slightly frazzled.

And in this nightmare in particular, I was a good two hours late. In the dream, I awoke in a panic with the thought, "I didn't even call!"

That day I did got to work without a second to spare. I arrived just as the secretary pulled my time card. Whoops!  She gave it back though. And in my haste,  I locked my bike to the school gate and in the afternoon, part of my beautiful kickstand on my beautiful, new bike was missing. Yup, I do teach middle school.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bold at Work

 My pup and I right before I rode off to work. Leopard dress from Old Navy, red pumps Nine West, glasses from Warby Parker.
 my sister gave me these from her closet a few years ago.  It took some gut for me to rock red pumps to school.
some fun detailing.  I forgot to showcase the pockets!

In a State of Transition

It is fitting that it took me seven years to start this blog, but everything is in time. I am in a space of transition. I have moved into a new apartment; I have started new work at another school; and I am going through a few personal shifts as well.

I am learning that not all changes, transitions, shifts, whatever you choose to name them as, manifest in obvious, unmistakable ways. My new apartment is literally two floors down in the same brownstone; my new work is still with special education students but in a different capacity and in addition to teaching mainly general education students; and my internal shifts, well all it took was thinking a few new thoughts and some deep breathing.

 As I near the end of my first full week, I know that my decision to start a new position was the right one. I am at a school where I will be challenged in new and exciting ways, and I know that I will continue to grow as an educator. It was a very hard decision to leave my old school, where I taught for six, heartfelt years, but it was a very necessary one.

Prior to this shift, I had one foot out the door. I had what I call a love-strong dislike relationship with teaching. I was so ready to quit by year five, and I even started a blog originally titled "I Quit So Hard." It makes me chuckle now to write this, but that was a sentiment that ran through my head one day as I took a seat at my desk in the middle of my teaching period. As I reflected, some clear statements came to mind, such as: I can't. I won't. I refuse. This is too much.

And it was. Teaching has been such an amazing experience, I don't know where to begin sometimes. Hopefully, this blog will chronicle many of those stories, observations, lessons and tips that I've accumulated thus far, and will continue to as my seventh year progresses. In between, there will be some fun, never too serious, photos of me in my work outfits.On that note, here's to the many learning styles, and the respect that they all warrant.

Miss M