Rules For Posting To This Blog and Weekly Blog Question

1. Only use your first name (no last names, addresses, IM screen names, etc.)
2. Show respect and consideration of others when posting and commenting. This includes individuals, students, organizations, political parties, colleagues, etc.
3. Check all posts for spelling and grammar errors before posting.
4. Protect the privacy of others. Gain permission from other people before you write about them. Avoid sharing someone else's last name. Use job titles or pseudonyms when writing about experiences with your co-workers or students.
5. Watch your language. Use politically correct and non-offensive language.
6. Make sure you write about things that are factual.
7. Keep your postings education-oriented. Avoid discussing plans for the weekend, etc.

This week I would like you to use your imagination. You have just won the lottery and will leave your teaching post immediately to travel around the world. As you leave your keys you meet your replacement. You are asked to give this new teacher just ONE piece of advice. What would that be, and why? Enjoy your world expedition!

Blog Post - Week 7
This past week in my own teaching I felt a little disconnected which prompts my question to you, "What was the moment (or moments) when I felt most disconnected or disengaged as a teacher - the moment(s) I said to myself, I'm just going through the motions here?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 6
For the past couple of weeks you have experienced asynchronous online learning (doing modules by yourself). Previously this semester you have experienced synchronous online learning (all together in the Collaborate room). Which do you think is more effective and why do you think that? Which do you like better, and why?

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 5
This week we have what we call "open mic." You can write a post about anything related to your teaching that you would like responses from your classmates.

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 4
Here is this week's question: "What was the event that most took me surprise this week - and event that shook me up, caught me off guard, gave me a jolt, or made me unexpectedly happy?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 3
Please write a post about the following question, "In thinking about my past week teaching what is one thing I would do differently, and why?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 2
Please write a post about the following question, " In thinking about my teaching activities this past week, of what do I feel most proud? Why?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 1
Describe something you used in your program in the first weeks of school that you learned in the summer NTI program. How did it work? Did it get you off to a stronger start than last year?

Monday, September 30, 2013

What is being a teacher all about?

The first thing that comes to my mind about why teachers are so important, is that we impact the future people of our world.  The last few weeks I have felt very disconnected and overwhelmed with my job.  I feel as though I am not impacting the kids and it is hard to think about that.  So many of them come in excited about what we might learn and I have been a disappointment as of late.  I just cannot do it all and for some reason, someone thought I could.  Even I did for a little while, but as a new teacher, how much did I really know about what it entails to be a teacher?  No much.  I think I'm learning that there is fine line between the feeling of letting the kids down and the feeling of letting yourself down and that is the biggest struggle for me.  I wish so bad I had that moment this week or even the last few weeks of knowing I'm making a difference as a teacher to these students, but I haven't.  How do I get motivated again?

Daddy Maddox his home.

I know the title is a bit much. But I know there were moments when I my parents wanted to ship me away because I was getting on there nerves. As educators we all see our kids as if they are really ours. Last week I was out of the building for  a professional development class. My kids were very upset when I told them I would be gone for four days. Well long story short, when I returned to class today my entire class stood up and gave a standing ovation. They then went on and on how I can not have any more absences or they were going to go crazy. I laughed right before I told them I would not be in on Wednesday. This is the moment when I realized the influence we have on our kids. I smiled inside and said "Thats what if feels like to be a teacher. " It was indeed a rewarding status.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is this all it's "cracked up" to be as a teacher?

September 25 - October 2

What was the moment (or moments) this past week when you felt most connected, engaged, or affirmed as a teacher - the moment(s) when you said to yourself, "This is what being a
teacher is really all about"?
I especially felt most connected as a teacher when I was at a gas station today at the local Kroger where I live. It was ironic that I would fill up the gas to my wife’s car for her before the night wound down and some of our favorite shows were coming on like “Once upon a time”. We watch that series once a week as a whole family, I, my wife, and two kids. So today while I filled up my gas tank I looked to the right and noticed one of my very own students gathering the buggies in the Kroger parking lot. I hesitated a moment as I saw him look at me and I then quickly waved at him. He raised his hand and waved back.
I know this may not seem like much to the normal eye, but to me it was a connection to know that while I was out in the “real world” I had a student that I had JUST given props to the week before, someone I never connected with before, acknowledge me in his own world. He didn’t have to wave at me or even act like he saw me but he did and honestly that is what made my week in that very moment.
Connecting with students on their levels is something I had heard about for a long time but never truly experienced until today. To know that you bridged the gap between being a boss or being an authoritative figure to someone that someone else would acknowledge in some way, well, for me it has made all the difference. That same student by the way has been a quiet one that gave little response to my questions in class.
The question now would be is this newfound connection something I can use to my advantage in the classroom to help him open up more and express himself to others as he did me on a random Sunday afternoon? Only time will tell…
Mr. H.

Little Birdies Leaving the Nest... 9/25-10/2/13

September 25 - October 2

What was the moment (or moments) this past week when you felt most connected, engaged, or affirmed as a teacher - the moment(s) when you said to yourself, "This is what being a
teacher is really all about"?

Bibb County CTAE has had the opportunity to work the concession stand during several Mercer University football games.  Hutchings Career Center was included in the invite and my some of my students have had the chance to put their skills into practice.  While we only prepare a limited menu, they have to follow the sanitation guidelines taught in class and the same cleaning procedures.

Several of the other schools have also participated, but it obvious which are Culinary Students.  They have been overheard telling each other "Remember what Chef says..." or "Don't forget..." by other adults helping in the stand.  They came back to me to tell me how knowledgeable these students are, how hard they work and great it was to hear them working as a team and helping each other remember what was taught and why.

These students are ready to 'leave the nest' and per sue a career in Culinary Arts. 

"Where are you?" 9/18-24/13

September 18 - September 24

Please answer the following question after careful reflection:

Of everything I did this week in my teaching, what would I do differently if I had the chance to do it again? And, why?

Part of my standards include cooking for functions.  Unfortunately, this means that students are pulled from other classes to prep and cook for these events.  At first, I took the students word as enough evidence that they had permission to participate and 'skip' their other classes.  I was getting all sorts of emails - during the functions- from teachers asking where the students are or stating that they were marking students absent because they were with me and not in class.

I actually have the chance to "do it again'...This week I have created a slip that each teacher signs and indicates Yes or No before the student is allowed to participate in the function. This gives the teachers the information about the function and the ability to communicate with me as to whether they can 'skip' class.

Candy and Confirmation

This week was a little crazy ( I know you are all thinking, how is that different from any other week in the classroom, right?).  I have really been feeling the pressure to "have it ALL together".  It seems like every time I think I am close to feeling like I might make it, something else is placed on my never ending to do list from administration.  So many things are asked of us and so many times we are expected to just know stuff that a "real" teacher does.  I guess where I am going with this train of thought is this;  I haven't felt like a "real", college degree toting, acronym knowing, teacher. I feel like a student most of the time. Teaching is kind of like parenting, it doesn't come with a handbook that explains everything we need to know.  At some point, instinct just takes over and we DO. Everyday I learn something I feel like I should have already known.  I may not know how to collect and analyze data in the format I am supposed to, I may not fully understand how to differentiate or at least not know how to write differentiation in the terminology I am expected to, nor do I understand the importance of endless meetings that leave me with more questions than answers.  However, I do understand my content area and kids. What I KNOW is this:  kids want to know where they stand with you, what your expectations are of them, and what the consequences are if they choose not to abide by your rules.  I have spent the past 7 weeks trying to form relationships, model behavior I expect of my students, and as difficult as it may be, hold students accountable for the choices they make.  I feel like I am chasing my tail most days and wonder "are they getting it"?  This week in class we were doing a review of chapter 5: Infection Control.  In the middle of the review I remembered that I had bought some candy for the kids for good behavior during our GAPPS review visit.  I passed out the candy and said "Thank you".  I could hear some murmuring among students, so I listened.  I was afraid they didn't like the candy I bought.  Much to my surprise, they were talking about me.  The kids were saying, "she is a good teacher, she cares about us, she treats us nice, she respects us, she does what she says" and the like.  I knew at that moment I am in the right place.  I may not have a college degree or know how to express myself in the terms others are so comfortable with, but I do understand the importance of sharing what I DO know and that a little goes a long way if your actions speak louder than your words. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What I would change about my teaching this past week

     If I could turn back the hands of time in a teaching moment this week I would probably take a different approach to how I re-enforced one of my lessons this week. I felt as if I had a pretty solid lesson plan with good activities and handouts. My second year students are currently completing their standard on career planning and portfolio development. It includes learning how to fill out a job application correctly. I spent about 15-20 minutes lecturing step by step how to fill out an application correctly including giving time for questions and answers. Students took notes as the information was presented. I then gave a group activity and had students look over a job application that was filled out that already had multiple mistakes. Students had to identify as many errors as possible, highlight the errors, and discuss with group members what made the errors incorrect according to the notes from lecture. After they completed the assignment. I put a copy of the completed application up on the document camera and had each group notify me of the errors they had identified. I highlighted the answers given from each group on the screen for the entire class to see as each group gave their answers. I also gave positive feedback on why the answers were correct when given. Everything was going great until I gave them a blank practice application to fill out...
     As thorough as I though I was during the lecture I soon found out that what I thought was common knowledge was not so common. Questions like what does "title" or "wage" mean. Vocabulary words I learned in school that I assumed the students already knew. Even though we had discussed salary and terms like supervisor some of the students did not make the distinction that these terms were synonymous. The biggest surprise was when my suspicions were confirmed  that over the overwhelming majority of the class does not know how to write cursive, therefore, potentially making the signature line on the application virtually impossible to complete! One day last week my son had informed me that he and his classmates had not learned cursive writing yet and he is a gifted student in 5th grade in CCPS. Of course I decided to take matters into my own hands to ensure that he learns. It was then that  I realized that most of my students' work is turned in in print. I kept the conversation about this subject light and positive with my students to avoid causing the students to more insecure about it. I just told them focus on learning to write their names in cursive for the time being and taught them the importance of a signature and what it signifies when a person signs their name on a document.  Most of them said that they believed they could manage signing their names.
     As for what I could have done differently, I have decided that I should have gone over the blank application line by line with the students on the document camera before asking them to fill one out themselves. Despite all the other work done to teach this concept they probably needed me to model a blank application not just show them one done incorrectly. As for the cursive writing thing...that is something I have decided to discuss with the higher-ups. It concerns me a great deal that either it was removed from the curriculum or teachers just are not teaching it. As for me,  the focus remains on my goal of being committed to teaching my students to the best of my ability and affording them opportunities for success every chance that I can!

I need a LAB-otomy

Last week, I was excited to get my level one classes back into the editing lab for the first time this semester. Perhaps, I bit off more than I could chew. I am very limited on equipment, but decided to test my limits (and patience) with a lab activity that I wish I did not assign. In the past, I would have the students perform skits in small groups that highlight some professional ethics topics we covered in class. This year, I decided to have the students do a small group video assignment about copyright. The assignment was supposed to last three days, but ended up going three extra days. I am struggling with the resources to engage my students in lab related activities. I thought I could take on the world with this assignment, and I was eager to do so. The limited number of computers and student absences made this lab activity one week-long headache for me, but the students were engaged and really enjoyed it. It’s all about the kids!

Second Chance.

Of everything I did this week in my teaching, what would I do differently if I had the chance to do it again? And, why? Today was a disaster.... Can I please get a redo? This week the students have been learning about measurement. Measurement is extremely important in the graphics industry and you'd be surprised how many high schoolers don't know how to measure accurately. Today I tried to make the lesson a little more interactive and I created a measurement scavenger hunt. The students were to go around the classroom/laboratory and seek the items listed and measure them. In my first block class this went amazing. The students loved it and I had no problem at all transitioning them into the next activity. For my third class, this was not the case. The students were going crazy and to top it all off I got evaluated right in the midst of it. I was trying to get them settled and into the next activity when my administrator walked in. My students were all over the place trying to get situated. I had 2 students helping me put a cart together which was fine but somehow a student found her way into the empty box. I don't know what it is about cardboard boxes and students but they love them but getting inside them is a separate issue. Seriously, just fire me already. I know that in CTAE interactive assignments are essential but I feel as if administration doesn't quite understand. If I could get a second chance, I would have have been more attentive to the students and made sure they were a little more understanding of the directions and what to do upon completion.


Trying to be Superteacher can get you in trouble. Hands down, the one thing I would have done differently this week is a decision I made in the process of finalizing the grades of my students for the first 6 week period. Our grades were to be finalized by 9 a.m. on Monday morning. I went through the entire process except for the last step which was clicking the “SAVE” button. I stopped at this point in the process with the intention of adding in some conduct comments. Enter the inevitable “teacher distraction”. Getting pulled off task is one of many potential pitfalls teachers face. My attention was redirected to another task needing to be done before homeroom. The next thing I know, it is deep into second period and an Administrator has sent an SPA to my room to inform me I was the ONLY teacher which had not finalized grades. I was holding up the entire process. Containing my horror and embarrassment, I told the SPA to please inform my Admin this task would be done immediately. So, what would I have done differently? Manage my task and the time needed to complete it better. The decision to add conduct grades was well founded. The decision to allow something to separate me from the very important task I was on, not so much. Going forward you can rest assured I will not leave an important task incomplete to accomplish a less important one.
This week I taught safety in all my classes and some strategies worked while some didn't. I noticed the first set of students were more motivated with the fun activities provided whereas the other group of students found it boring. I was able to tweak it by adding drama skits to highlight safety procedures and get the students more involved. It worked out better but I'm still working on it.

5th Period

Please answer the following question after careful reflection: Of everything I did this week in my teaching, what would I do differently if I had the chance to do it again? And, why? Of everything I did this week in teaching I would definitely make sure I am completely prepared for my 5th period class. I was given this class the day before the students came back to school. There was no pre-planning for the course on my part so I felt like I was chasing myself to catch up. There have been times when I was thinking of activities right on spot for that particular class. Towards the end of this past week I finally caught up with myself so-to-speak, with preparation and planning. I don't operate well when presenting information when I'm not prepared. I want to make it my number one goal this school year to be as prepared as I can be within my control for every class. I know there are things I won't be able to control and I'm not concerned about those. I want to make sure my "i's" are dotted and my "t's" are crossed for myself.

Of everything I did this week in my teaching, what would I do differently if I had the chance to do it again? And, why?

Today I had my first observation from Dr. Montrois and I must start by saying it was an amazing block with my students. While I was a little nervous at first, once that bell rang and class began, I was on target and taking care of business. While the overwhelming worry that I would draw a blank during the lesson instruction or had an unruly student loom over me the entire hour and a half, I was truly surprised at how well transitions moved between content areas.

I had spent a great deal of time working with my students going over their actions for group assembly and what was expected of them, but really no amount of preparation could have been done in some instances. Sometimes things just happen and this time was no different. Needless to say the entire class went by and everyone stayed on task as best they could. The bell rang and before I knew it, it was just me and the good Doctor alone in the room. This was the moment of truth, the hour of my doom… Then it happened. The unexpected happened.

Do you know what happened in that moment when he started giving me feedback?

Do you really want to know?

Well, I will be honest here and say that we both knew the areas of weakness I had in my classroom. While an overwhelming majority of the package I presented was exemplary, there was that moment that we connected. It was an honest moment when I said to him, “You know you are right. I know my kids could do better in presentation. I don’t push them hard enough.”

It was in that moment that I realized that the things that really got under my skin with some of my students (I.E. The few who I had to keep on reminding to stay on task) were a drop in the bucket; rather, a drop in the ocean to him. The areas of growth he saw were the ones I knew all along I had. It was just a matter of someone sitting me down and saying, “Hey, try this.” Once that happened I realized that the areas I needed help with were an area many teachers have problems with.

So upon reflection of the events that took place today and looking back this week already, if I had one thing to do again differently it would be to have already implemented what Dr. Montrois shared during our post-conference. The answer is simple as to why… I would want to do that so I could have another area that he would have suggested for me to improve upon. And another, and another, and another. I know I am just starting this journey, but the opportunity I have to help impact students lives, be a role model to them, and help support my fellow teachers makes it all worth it in the end.

My "Do Over"

We have been on Fall Break this past week--YAY! However, in thinking back to the week before, I think about a lesson I taught in Forensics on trace evidence and the Locard Principle. I put some powder all over the table where I had my assignment sheets and when students came in to class they got powder all over them--thus, illustrating the Locard Principle which states that evidence is picked and moved from one location to another. It was a great teaching moment because they students were like, "Coach, what is all over your table?" So, I started explaining the concept to them and they loved it; however, it put me ahead of where I wanted to be in my lesson and then it seemed as if I was back-tracking and I didn't like that. I lost my flow of the class. I realize we have moments that we turn into "teachable moments" that we don't have planned, but in this case, I wish I had done the activity later on in the class rather than at the beginning. Live and learn!!


Needs Improvement

This past week I presented the drill to the intro students. The day’s prior to the task I had gone through safe work practices and done a full demonstration with a student replay. The day of the task I had five drill operation stations set up in which the students were to conduct a number of drilling tasks and familiarization. One of the tasks was to use a screw to attach a piece of sheet metal to a wooden block. The sheet metal and block were from the previous weeks hand tool tasks and were prepped by the students during that operation. All that needed to be done was to clamp their material drill a pilot hole and drive a screw into it. The students repeated back to me their objective and the safety concerns with the drill and the material. When the students were released to complete the task all out chaos ensued. Students did not follow protocol with the “stations” I had created. This chaos was caused by, students leaving no drills for the pilot hole drilling because it was carried away with them, students piling on top of one another, and others sitting at a table not doing anything. Thank goodness it was not observation day. I had to put my managers in place to correct the student actions and monitor each station. All ended well, eventually. I was able to recoup and all of the students got the task done with close support from my manager and myself. I don’t believe I will be allowing the students to work freely on another task as an entire class. They shall either be in groups or be called out into the shop in small groups. It is too much for twenty-eight students to work independently on a number of objectives in the shop. I am not sure why I thought it would work, I used checklists and groups to perform hand tool operations and that worked beautifully. Why I changed I am not sure. Lesson Learned.

Creative Compromise

This past week has been very busy for me. Instructional wise my classes were to begin a very big project. However I have been waiting for equipment since day one of this semester. I pushed this project back way into September because I just knew it would arrive. Well of coarse I am still without cameras. As I sat in my seat reconstructing my lesson plans I let me angry distract my creative juices. My cell phone then rang and it was a picture from a friend. It hit me. Why not have the kids just use their cell phones to take the pictures. This was a great way for me to get started with the project as planned without messing up my wonderful NTI lesson plans. Seriously what I learned was to keep my mind open and creative. I have complained about lack of resources but its like by now I should be used to it. I will be sure to see the glass as half full instead of half empty.

Needing to "trim the fat"

If I had the past week to “do over” I honestly wouldn’t change anything I did inside the classroom. My change would be all of the stuff I have to handle when I am not teaching. I heard it 100 times before I entered the world of education, “I would be a great teacher if they would just let me teach”, and I am definitely feeling that way. I have been pulled in several different directions and I feel that I have allowed myself to get taken advantage of in a way. In my coaching role I have somehow been put in charge of creating the athletic practice schedule for ALL fall sports. In my role as an advisor I have filled up my plate with t-shirt orders, after school events, and budgeting paperwork (not a strong skill of mine). In my new position on the Homecoming committee I have taken on a few more projects than I wanted to and I am now feeling overwhelmed by that. And finally, in my role as the teacher in charge of the morning announcement show, I have found myself in a miniature battle of sorts with administration. I don’t mean to complain, because I honestly love what I do, but as I reflect on my mistakes of the week, I now see that I need to learn how to say no, and just focus on what I want to do, which is teach!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Comments

The little comments that students say to make you smile, are really motivating to keep working hard.  My desk is in the back of the classroom looking at the students from behind.  Very often at the end of the period, I leave a few minutes of class time for the students to complete homework I have assigned for that evening.  Today, a couple of the students that sit in front of my desk were done with their work and talking about school.  The senior in the group states to his peers that he really enjoys my class and wishes he took it before his senior year.  He goes on to say that he has fun, it's not very hard and the information is actually very interesting.  It basically just validated that I have been doing a decent job.  It has been a much more difficult year for me and I have focused a little more on the negative and what I'm not getting done for the classes I have no curriculum for.  Whether I have a lot to teach or a little, it is all new information for the students and if I can make it interesting enough to inspire them, then I am doing something right!

Be More Thorough and Don't Be an Island

This past week was actually one of my best weeks so far! Feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer 17,000 feet away, it's only 16,999 feet away now.....yippee, progress!! If I had it to do all over again, I would have really analyzed the rubric forwarded to me from another teacher regarding the Current Event Articles that my students were assigned to bring. The rubric was fine for her and her students, but not for us. I read the rubric and it seemed great at the time, but I failed to consider how my students would do following it. I forgot, that most of my students only want to do the absolute bare minimum to get by. I do have a few that are over achievers, but a lot of them are hardly willing to do the minimum.  The rubric listed a criterion, then gave a range from 0-20 points. I learned that rubrics for my students should be more specific and detailed. I also learned that its more challenging for me to be equitable when the range is so general. I found myself being more lenient with the students that generally perform better, than I was with the consistent "under whelmers", if you will. Favortism is definitely as game that I don't want to play as a teacher.

I also attended the New CTAE Teacher Workshop in Macon last Tuesday and Wednesday, and I enjoyed myself. I found the information very helpful. In the small groups with other teachers from my content area, I learned that I am not the only one struggling. I learned that some new teachers have a much more challenging situation than what I am dealing with. I can't imagine being a first year teacher and having a newborn at home!! I learned that the fellowship of others in a similar situation was encouraging for me. If I had to redo this week, I don't think that  I would!

Floor framing nightmare

I tried to teach floor framing to my carpentry 1 class. After spending class time, one on one time, and my co-teacher worked with student we were shocked to see how poorly they did on the test. We talked today and agreed that we did not think the test was too hard. We decided that we would go about it differently this week. Today they had "art time" where they designed cards with the terms from the test on them for the word wall. They seemed to enjoy it and we judged who's was the best. The will be up tomorrow and until the next floor framing test Wednesday. Tomorrow we will return to parts of a floor frame and try a new game to help all of us do better Wednesday.

Finish what you start

Something I learned this week that I would never do again is to assign a project when students are not completely done with another project. Last week my students worked diligently on a video project, however some of my students finished a lot earlier than I anticipated. I anticipated that some of my students would finished before other students would, however I didn't expect them to be done so fast which threw me off. It's a good thing to a certain extent because their projects were completed very well and I was impressed. Typically when students finish so fast, their work isn't good. However, I was completely wrong. I thought to myself, I didn't want my students who finished early to spend two days doing busy work so I assigned them the next project which was a group project. As a result, some of the group members who were still completing the previous project were not able to participate in the planning stages of the new project, and there was confusion among some groups. I know having an activity prepared for students who finish early is something which I have to develop. However, I know more importantly, I have to make sure that I have to finish what I start because if I don't, I may have a bunch of confused students and that is never a good thing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This week I can honestly say I had a pretty good week. I would have not changed anything, as a matter of fact I did try something different with my students though. I was out Wednesday and my students had a sub and their assignment was an open book quiz. When I returned Thursday I decided that we would take some time and go over the quiz as one large group. In the past we have done this and I felt there wasn’t a lot of participation, so I tried something different. That morning I stopped by the store and picked up some Airheads, I was determined to have a lot more participation no matter what. So the bell rings and my students come in, start on their warm-ups, and I take attendance. After we go over the warm-up I told the class we are going over the quiz. As we start going over the quiz, the usual happens, just a few students are participating and want to answer the problem. After the first student answers the question I tell him thank you and I went to my desk and pulled out the Airheads, I had all eyes on me then. I walked over to the student that answered the question and handed him an Airhead. Before I could go on to question 2, I had all my students raising their hands to answer the question. It’s crazy what they will do for candy, especially Airheads, they love Airheads and the thing is they were answering the questions correctly. So I think I will change the way we review in class, the Airheads worked and I feel the students did learn a lot from this.

If I could turn back time....

If I could turn back time, (can't you hear the music in the background?) I would not have had a melt down Wednesday after a parent meeting.  Thankfully, the meltdown occurred AFTER the meeting.  I had an incident in my classroom with two sisters (they should not be in the same class period if you ask me, but nobody asked).  Eighth period is my rowdiest group.  They are sometimes hard to wrangle, and often very vocal; for those reasons, they are my favorite intro class.  Anywhoo, on a normal day, ONE of the two sisters is usually off task, or distracting others, or both.  Wednesday was my lucky day and they were both off the chain.  I used the tactics we learned over the summer with no avail.  I decided a phone call was in order to "nip it in the bud" as Barney was famous for saying.  I called mom and had an excellent conversation, hung up the phone very proud of myself for how I handled the situation.  I explained the problem AND told her positive things about the girls.  All was well in my world (for 5 minutes), and the phone rang.  It was mom. She said one  of the daughters was hysterical and she wanted to meet with me.  I let her know I was on my way to a meeting, but I would find her child and talk to her.  I searched for the little darling and found her.  She went OFF, said she was getting out of my class, and she was done with me.  I was fine with that and walked out of the building.  As I walked to my car, I saw a lady stepping out of hers.  I knew it had to be mom so I walked over and introduced myself.  The student followed me over and proceeded to call me a liar; blah, blah, blah.  Then the student  got in a yelling match with her mom.  What an amazing day!   Got in my car and cried.  You may be asking what I would have done differently.  I am not really sure in this situation.  I handled it professionally and according to school policy.  Funny thing is, on Friday when I had the student again, she was very subdued in class.  I asked her if we were good and she said yes, she was just mad Wednesday and now she is fine.  Suggestions???

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Being Supportive of my Students 9/11-17/13

What did you learn this week either formally or informally that
will help you grow as a teacher? You may have learned this from another teacher, through an experience, from a student, in class, etc.

There was an instance this week where I felt I was not supported by my Department Leader and my CTAE Director.  I know that they have policies and procedures that need to be in place, but they cannot jeopardize the effectiveness of one of their teachers.  I attempted to explain to them that going around to several grocery stores to obtain estimates on food items needed for labs and various catered events was not effective or efficient for several reasons including the fact that prices change and items are not always available.  The new procedure of submitting this estimation and requesting a check 3-weeks out sounds good in theory but doesn't work in reality.  Rather than attempting to understand the obstacles I face with this new procedure, I felt I was dismissed and my concerns were disregarded.

It made me realize that as a teacher, I cannot simply give my students assignments for the sake of completing tasks or checking off standards.  I want to give my students assignments and tasks that are meaningful and have a purpose.  I want my students to feel that I am supportive rather than overwhelm them with tasks and requirements.  Getting to know more about how they learn, why they want be in the culinary class, will allow me to make the learning more of an opportunity rather than an obstacle.  I don't want to dismiss their hesitations and hinder their chance to succeed.

Teamwork/Building Relationships

This past week SkillsUSA hosted the annual Fall Leadership Conference in Saint Simons, Ga. I was the advisor they selected to attend along with 10 students. At first, I was nervous about attending my first SkillsUSA trip alone but then I realized that if I just calmed down a bit I could prepare and organize and eliminate any "issues" that may come along. I went in to super, crazy, organizational file (complete with schedule, medical information, emergency contact), control freak mode. haha I was under the assumption that i was in complete control. I however, did not take into consideration that 4 schools would be sharing the same school bus and we'd all be in different hotels. That cramped my style a little and threw my schedule off a lot. But we all adjusted and things went smoothly. I admire the way the students worked together, the way they adjusted to change in plans, and ultimately the way they bonded. The trip was a huge success. We all learned how to work together, how to get along, and to be leaders. It's so funny how I am supposed to be the teacher but I end up learning so much from them as well. I am so proud of my students. I look forward to this years SkillsUSA Chapter. :)

Learning From Students

What did you learn this week either formally or informally that will help you grow as a teacher? You may have learned this from another teacher, through an experience, from a student, in class, etc. Please keep in mind our blog "rules." What I learned this week was from my own students. I learned that even though some students may not be interested in a particular subject or how I as a teacher may approach a lesson, I need to keep pushing and keep trying the strategy on how I deliver my lesson. I keep repeating to myself what Dr. Burns said about trying something new in the classroom. KEEP TRYING! Some students won't ever be interested in the subject at hand, but me as an educator must know that what I am doing (educating youth) is not in vain. Years from now a student may tell me that what I did in the classroom sparked their interest in pursuing a career in the healthcare field. Some students, if not all respect me for the educator I am. That alone helps me get through those days that I have a difficult class period.

Patience is a Virtue

This week I learned the value of being a patient teacher. Although this may seem like an elementary virtue for all teachers, and we like to think we are models of great behavior, but then a true test arrives. I have a full plate of duties that extend beyond my teaching obligations. Additionally, my studio is still not functional after a year and six weeks of my high school being open. I am constantly trying to find creative lesson plans to keep the students engaged and aligned with the academic standards of video production for which I am accountable to teach. Finding enrichment activities with limited production equipment is a challenge. After all, a third of my program is nonfunctional. Consequently, I must always be on my game. That is easier said than done for a second year teacher. I have learned to be patient, to overcome, and to adapt to my teaching environment.

Lesson Reminder

Over the past week I experienced an important reminder that, as a teacher, you are potentially never more than one or two degrees removed from your students. Many teachers have experienced similar situations and not fared as well. In this particular situation, I passed the test. I have a student that was disciplined for a major infraction while at school. (Thankfully, the breach did not occur in my class.) This student was suspended for 5 days because of their poor decision. Unfortunately, this student came to me with a stained reputation and although he may have helped his “street cred” he did nothing but solidify the image which preceded him. The reminder actually occurred outside of school late into the punishment time. On the evening of this student’s 5th day of suspension, I was at my youngest daughter’s volleyball practice. After practice, my daughter introduced me to one of her teammates. Once the introduction was complete, I realized the young lady had the same last name as the student in my class who had been suspended. Since this last name wasn’t a common last name I was suspicious they may be related. So, I asked if she was related to him. They were. This young lady was the younger sister of the suspended student. This was an eye re-opener. As a rule, I never speak of any of my students outside of class unless it is a positive mention. What if I had spoken poorly of this student around my daughter and she then passed that opinion on to her teammates? This would have been a disastrous and, in my opinion, unethical. This experience taught me that as a teacher you cannot lower your guard as far as talking about your students. The moment you do, you can make a serious mistake.

Plan, replan, replan, succeed!

As a teacher there are so many times when we think things are going to go perfect. Perfect because we have took all the time to plan as much as possible. This past week I planned to have a smooth week. Unfortantly  due to every technology issue possible noting went as planned. I won't get into details but Id rather focus on the positive. The positive is to make sure that I replan effectively when the original plan does not work out. This is a key quality in being a good teacher. We have so many things working against us we have to build up a strong organization system to fight the bacteria. 

One thing I have learned to help me grow...

This week in the midst of trying to plan and teach and coach, I received an email telling me to request a sub so I could go to SLO training. First, I thought, wow, I am so far behind they are sending me to training for being SLOW?! Does anyone know the feeling? Then, I do what I always do to avoid looking dense, I asked my wife what SLO stood for. She explained the Student Learning Objectives and how they fit into the Teacher Keys Evaluation System or TKES. Realizing that I am going to be evaluated (50%) on student growth could be a scary thought, but then I realized that this is what teaching is all about. It is about getting a group of students at the beginning of the year and teaching them. When I give my pretest, I will see what they know or don't know, then I do what I have wanted to do all along, teach. Then, at the end of the year with the post test, I assess what they have learned. If I have done my job, then I will see student growth. The great thing about it is the SLO's are individualized, it isn't that all students have to make a 70 or above to pass, they have to raise their score from the pretest from the post test by a certain percentage. To me, this is far better than using a meets or exceeds for all students, because they come to us with all different types of backgrounds and knowledge. So, I felt like this process will help me grow as a teacher--granted they could have used a better acronym than SLO.


Mission Accomplished

     This past week has been a busy one as usual. In the midst of deadlines to upload and post grades, annual reviews to prepare for, and loads of emails to respond to I have finally to been able to accomplish one of my most desired goals - taking a formal PowerPoint class! Yeah!!! This has been something I have tried to do four times over the past two years. Each time I saught to register for this course it was either full, not offered at the time, or my schedule would not accomodate it. As a Registered Nurse for 15 years now, I have taken many classes for professional development. I thoroughly enjoy increasing my personal and professional knowledge in different areas. I firmly believe in being a lifelong learner. This is something I practice both in my personal life and my professional life. I also teach this principle to my children and my kids at school.
     I have now attended two of the six classes for PowerPoint offered at the Professional Learning Center in my school district. I have learned SO much in just these two classes! One may think "what can be so difficult about creating a powerpoint, what's the big deal?" Well, let me tell you. When you are trained to do assessements and to document everthing you do hands on as as a nurse there is no need to create a PowerPoint presentation. It is nothing something you do as a nurse. The technology aspect of healthcare is mainly in use of the high-tech equipment that we must operate. It is not hard to create a couple of simple slides for something here and there or to take a PowerPoint from Ctearn and "make it my own" but I do NOT enjoy doing that...there is SO much in my heart and mind from experiences in Nursing and life that I want to create during my OWN presentations and now I will have the ability to do that!
     I now have the ablility to express the quaility work I would like to create using technology. I now tools to do so. Such a great feeling. I highly recommend this course to anyone who has access to it. There were employees from many different departments taking this same course.
      Some of the things we have learned in addition to creating PPTs are how to create banners and posters, invitations,  how to upload videos and personal pictures, and how to create your own template/background...wonderful! Each task we learned was taught in a manner that caused us to create what was being taught at that time (hands on). I chose to use my own laptop instead of one the computers at the PLC. Made it more relevant and useful for me.There are four more classes to attend and lots more to learn. I am SO happy to be able SQUEEZE this class into my schedule right now. I cannot wait for my students to start reaping the benefits of my PowerPoint training!!!

There Is No Peace In Excessive Planning

It's no secret that this is my first year and I am struggling. To say that I am overwhelmed, would be the understatement of the century!!! I spend so much of my time away from work planning for work, that it causes me to dread work. Not a good spot to be in! I have been told by multiple people at various times in the last 6 weeks that I am over thinking the lesson planning. It's funny how you can hear the same message stated the same way for a long time and then one day, you hear it and it finally sinks in! My family life is suffering because I am spending every waking minute trying to plan and keep up with the demands of school. I was sharing my burden with another teacher in my department on Sunday and she told me that if I did not slow down and find another way, I was going to burn out before the end of the school year. She told me to draw a line in the sand, meaning that I should set a time limit for planning. What isn't done is going to have remain undone until the next time. She said, "your family was with you before this job came to be and it is your family that will be with you long after this job dissolves. Don't sacrifice your family for the sake of your job". She reminded me that I should always do my best and be sure to reflect over what I have taught the students, but I could not allow myself to be totally consumed by work, otherwise, no one benefits.

Hearing those words the other day was such a liberating feeling. I can't say that I have exactly put it into practice, yet, but knowing that I can, is a freeing feeling. The advice came from a former Teacher of theYear, which made me feel even better. Yesterday, one of my students asked if I was planning on returning next school year. When I asked her why she would ask something like that, she said  "We like you and you teach good, if you are not going to be here, we don't want to take healthcare!". Wow!!! That comment really touched me, especially since thoughts of not returning have been swirling around in my head. I discovered that I like teaching, I just hate planning! So, that means, if I want to keep teaching and being with my students, I HAVE to streamline the planning process so that we all can be happier. Life if too short to be stressed out and unhappy and there is no peace for me in excessive planning!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giving hope and new aspirations

What an experience I encountered today. We as teachers can be really hard on ourselves when it comes to obtaining high expectations for our students. Going into my official first year as a teacher, I constantly think of ways to aspire my students and challenge their thinking to go to the next level. In the midst of planning, meetings and trying to find that outlet to process and rethink new strategies to teach students on different levels, I received the most memorable comment from one of my students today. After discussing several upcoming projects, a student from my design club basically praised my efforts and told me that I gave him as well as other students hope. He shared his aspirations as a proud upcoming graphic design artist and thanked me for leading him along the way. My student also expressed how other students from other schools were enrolling due to the good things heard about our schools graphic design department. My heart melted and yet I received more passion and a new sense of hope to teach in the midst of challenges. It's amazing how both my student and I were aspired in different ways.

I am not alone in my struggle.

After talking to many teachers at my school and others, I have learned that I am not alone in my struggle. A teacher I spoke to at another school said one of her friends was going back to school and changing careers. She is leaving the teaching profession. I thought I would teach school and have more time, however, it is not working out that way. Teaching is not a profession that you can leave work and forget about. You are always thinking how you could have done a lesson better. I heard that a teacher in MCSD stood up in a district meeting and told everyone she just came back from Afghanistan and war was less stress than teaching right now. That is an eye-opening statement. With more accountability and less support, it is not surprising teachers are feeling overwhelmed.

Don't under estimate the heart and the will of a teenager!!!

Just when you think students won't grasp a concept or a process that you have taught, they go above and beyond what you ask for. This week, I learned that you can't under estimate the heart of a teenager, because they will surprise you every time. This week my students are filming their first major film project. One thing that I was worried about was the fact that I gave my students a lot of information in terms of the planning process and the actual filming of the project. The planning process took about two weeks and as I observed one of my classes I said to myself, "This class probably won't do as well as my other classes." Much to my surprise they did better than any of my classes by far. One of the groups in my class asked if they could film in the class with a teacher that had a planning period. When the student first asked me that question, I wanted to say no but I said to myself, "Well if they want to try it fine, but this will be a learning experience for them." After about 20 minutes of walking around the school monitoring the other groups projects, I went to the classroom with the other group, much to my surprise the teacher in the classroom said to me, "Wow this is an amazing class, they came in here, they looked and acted so professional, they knew exactly what they wanted to do, and the director took charge of the group and everyone was cooperating with each other, they looked so professional." I wanted to say, "Is this the same group but is in my class?????" However as I observed them I couldn't believe how good they were in terms of putting together their project. One of the students from the group told me that this was one of the best classes she has been a part of because she was really shy and this class allowed her to come out of my her shell. Another student told me that he appreciated the long process because now he appreciate that it takes time to produce something good. That really made me feel good because that's one thing I'm passionate about, teaching my students that you have to be able to embrace the process of whatever you are working on. It definitely taught me that you can't under estimate the heart and the will of a teenager!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This week taught me...

This week has taught me that there will always be adversities, even when you think things could not get more difficult. It would seem that everything in my life has turned to shambles. I don’t believe that I have dealt with more difficult things, in such great multitude, during my life than I am now. But then that is how it always seems when you are in the thick of problems I suppose. I have always been a person with a never ending “to-do” list. I come from a family background of hard work, and doing for others before you do for yourself. Even on holidays when my family gathers, we do things for the members of the family in need of help with choirs or home repair projects. This being said, hard work and dedication come as no stranger to me. But of late, it seems that things are piling up to the point that I cannot find relief, even in my sleep. All of these weights that have had me pulled down come to a head last weekend when I found out that one of my top students had passed away during a basketball game from a, then unknown, heart condition. He was 15 years old with a world of options available to him. He was a D1 college basketball prospect during his freshman year as a varsity player, a honors society member, and probably the most respectful young man I have ever met. He was a definite favorite of mine (though I know that I am not supposed to have favorites, but then, we are after all human). So it goes without saying this was a difficult week to say the least for myself and my students. With all of my inability to turn my mind off this week to sleep, I was able to finally come to the realization that all of these pressures I have been feeling, all of this weight surmounting on my shoulders, it is all self inflicted. Things can only get to you if you let them. I attribute this fruition to Twon, no matter what he was always facing his adversities with a smile on his face. No matter what you can only do what you are capable of. It matters not what others can do; only what you can do. As long as you are giving life all you have to give, you are living a fulfilling life. Twon lived his life to the maximum and he was able to finish it doing the thing he loved the most in life. I also want to give a big thanks to my friends, their daily support and ideas helps me to continue putting forth my best efforts and keep the passion alive in my class, even during the worst days.

I know we're not supposed to play favorites, but....

I have realized that I have a soft spot for special needs students.  I have the absolute most fun working with the autistic children!  All it takes is a little patience and being able to control the remainder of the classroom through the disruptions.  I have a student this semester that I have attached myself to.  Watching him process how to act within a social setting, correcting his actions, and seeing how he understands to do it differently the next time has been my favorite thing to watch in the classroom.  I'm sad at the fact that he is in the class period that I will stop teaching after the new hire is completed.  So my "cup half-full" in this situation is that it is during my prep and I can go in there when I get a chance to check in!  The next step on my professional development after GSU is going to be passing GACE tests.  One of the first ones I take will be in special education and I cannot wait!

Let go, and let THEM do

Simply put, I learned that I can let go a little and count on my kids to do exactly what I expect them to do. I had the privilege of taking ten students to the SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference in St. Simons, Georgia Thursday through Saturday. It was my first time chaperoning a field trip solo as an advisor, so I was nervous about everything going as planned. Our advisors (and even our students) have set very high standards that we expect everyone to follow, so I started the trip by reiterating the importance of following the rules and behaving at all times. As soon as the wheels on the bus started rolling, it’s almost like a switch flipped and every one of my students acted like little angels. I didn’t even have to remind them of our rules. Other students, from our school system and others, were misbehaving, and my students just turned their heads and repeated our school motto (which has to do with pride in our school). As nervous as I was to not disappoint the other advisors, I learned that my kids know how to behave and set an example for other students. Also, while I was out of school for the field trip, I left sub plans for my classes. All of my students had two projects to finish and turn in while I was out, and when I returned to the school Saturday afternoon I was surprised to find that everyone met their deadline and the substitute had nothing but nice things to say about my students. This just further shows me that I need to worry less, and know that I can count on my kids more.

How bountiful is my harvest?

 Try as we may to provide a positive environment for our students to grow and learn, it doesn't always turn out like we imagine.  I am a planner and a perfectionist.  I like to know the who, what, where, when, how, and why BEFORE I tackle a project. If you give me a task, I need to know that it has meaning in order for me to give my usual 110 percent. I don't understand asking someone to do something if there is no purpose behind the request. Today's kids are so overstimulated with technology, they have a hard time sitting in the classroom doing an assignment that is not fun or exciting. They may fill in a worksheet (or copy their neighbors) but are they retaining any of the information?  As a teacher, how do we fill in the gap?  How do we capture their attention?  Are we there to entertain or teach?   This week I realized  that my students are really no different than me.  They may not require all of the details I do ,however,  if I plan to answer the basics before I ask them to act, I reap a much larger harvest.  The biggest gift I can give my students is to show them the value of the lesson before I ask them to learn.  If I take that into consideration with every lesson I write, I feel as though my barns will be full...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A little of this and a little of that...

One of the greatest tools I have learned to use more and more since I became a teacher is my ability to ask a question. While so many people fail to act, to innovate, to inspire; most, if not all of them fail to do so because they did not ask a question. This is the most basic of all principles of life, and one that our most basic instincts never “forget” to do. If you are hungry then ask for food. If you are cold then ask for warmth. You get the picture.

With this being said, I have found that most of my fellow teachers are a venerable treasure trove of information. Some of their answers are not what I am looking for, and that is okay. I say that is okay because for every answer deemed unimportant I have found a dozen more golden opportunities to help me develop as a teacher.

A few years back when I was just a mere Technology Specialist, I ventured into the unknown with a teacher Who Shall Not Be Named. This teacher wanted to incorporate technology into every facet of his classroom. I worked hard with him, showing the countless Web 2.0 sites that could change the very landscape of his classroom. It was his success and ultimately his “question” that led me to where I am now in my journey as a teacher. Using HIS inquiry I have been able to build upon a firm bedrock of understanding how teenagers use the Internet nowadays.

I can safely say that on my last TKES walkthrough I was given a proficient in the Instructional area of the assessment. The administrator left a comment that had me scratching my head in confusion. He wrote, ‘Demonstrates an extensive overuse of technology in the classroom that keeps students focused at every moment of the assessment.” That word overuse worried me a little, but after asking my fellow teachers what they felt the statement meant made me see it in a whole new light. They want technology totally integrated into the classroom and anyone who is considered using it too much is where they want everyone apparently. So in me asking a simple question to a problem that was worrying me to pieces, I learned that nothing is ever truly as it seems.

In closing, a lesson I learned years ago still lies true today. Ask and ye shall receive…
Mr. H.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Real World Application Not Reality 9/3-10/13

September 3 - September 10

Question: What surprised you the most this week at school and why? (This could be something about your own reactions to what went on, or something that someone did, or anything else that occurs to you.)

Part of my standards are to teach culinary students how to price out menu items - or as its called in the industry:  cost control.

I was shocked when so many of my students struggled with the math process involved.  While some of the kids admitted to being 'bad in math', even those that self proclaim to be decent math students, couldn't wrap their head around taking their math skills and applying it in the kitchen.

1 case pork chops is $25.00 and = 10 pounds; each pork chop is 4 oz.  What is the cost of 1 pork chop?

1 case of corn is $20.00 and = 20 pounds.  What is the cost of 2 oz of corn? 3oz of corn?

After dividing the students into groups - placing at least one 'stronger math student' in each group, I sat with them group by group to discuss the math steps involved in costing out these items.  Once they realized they were multiplying  and dividing like they would in math class they broke out their calculators (yet another surprise) and began to work out the problems but still with great difficulty.

It was really surprising to see that not only did they lack the math skills to figure out these situations but that they couldn't see how their math lessons applied to  these real world instances.  

Getting to work.

This past week one of the most surprising things happened in class. I am sure it wasn't a sudden change, but I paused for a moment during class while the students were in groups to observe what was going on and was pleasantly surprised. All of the groups for the first time all semester were actually focused and working on their assignment. Typically I am going around to each group that is goofing around to check their progress and encourage them to get back on task. It could be due to the fact that they are more interested in the current project or that they have finally gotten into the routine of being back at school. Whatever the reason, it was great to see each group being productive without being constantly reminded to get back to work. They have been almost more productive in class the past week than the past two weeks! I believe it proves that if you can find a way to make the work more relatable  to what interests the students, then they will put fourth their best efforts on the assignment. This project of creating a music video also is the first video where they get to be fully creative and follow a less restricted project outline. 

My faith in humanity has been restored!

The thing that surprised me the most this week... My faith in humanity has been restored. In my 4th block class I have 29 students, (which I realize is dangerous in a CTAE class because of safety issues), I have several students with disabilities. One student which has Autism struggles to maintain. I work closely with him to help to keep his studies as "normal" as possible but at times it's very complicated. The other students obviously know that he is special need and instead of pushing him away they have completely embraced him. I see students reaching out to make sure he understands or even helping him stay on task, without me having to prompt. I have never seen teenagers react in that way. I gave the student the opportunity to present his project to me, my paraprofessional, or to the class. I didn't think that he would feel comfortable presenting to the class because his speech at times is very hard to understand. When he chose to present, I was shocked but also I felt as if it could turn out very ugly, after all we are dealing with teenagers. The class grew silent. They had talked rudely during every other presentation. This could go either way at this point. I was nervous, trying to sort out in my head how I would handle each situation. The student continued on with the project, he was precise with his time. I gave them 3-5 minutes and he timed his presentation to the 4 min mark. He checked his watch several times during his presentation. You could tell he had prepared before hand. His presentation was extremely hard to understand, but he was determined to complete this project just as everyone else had. When he finished, a smile came across his face as the other students clapped. Everyone clapped... His dedication and hard work was unlike the other students, and they knew it. He who struggles with concentration, speech, writing, and communication had out worked the students by far. He never complained, he never made excuses, he didn't beg or plead with me to be excused from presenting... He offered, when he was the only one with another option. I was so proud of him, but equally proud of my other students who accept him for who he is and constantly help to build him up not bring him down. :)

A Great Surprise!

I have had experiences with co-teachers that were not all that positive in the past. Co-teaching in my mind was not very successful in Carpentry. It seemed as an excuse to load up a class with students that needed extra help, but then not provide the help they needed. However, this year, to my surprise. My co-teacher has totally changed my outlook on this subject. She is incredible. She seeks ways to help all of the students (not just the one's she is assigned to). She takes an extra interest in the subject matter to make sure she is explaining the tasks appropriately. I can now see what a powerful model this is for all students not just SPED.

2 Days out of School

What surprised you the most this week at school and why? What surprised me the most this week at school was the fact that I was out of school 2 days, a Thursday and a Friday and I got a report back that my 1st period student's behavior was great. I have 5 PEC kids in my 1st period, so the class can be a little difficult to "wrangle" at times. It's not the actual fact that their behavior was good those 2 days or that they usually misbehave. It was the fact that they perform a higher extremely high level. They completed 2 projects and 2 Vocabulary Contracts in my absence. They are fully capable of "doing school" but I know they can easily be distracted a lot of different circumstances. One main circumstance is the teacher being absent. The teacher across the hall brought them donuts because they performed so well. I was highly impressed.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I am currently working on a professional ethics unit with my level one class. We had a good class discussion on Friday about character. Monday, we discussed some copyright terms. One of the terms we highlighted was plagiarism- a term with which students are all too familiar. I asked the students if anyone has every plagiarized in the past. Perhaps the admissions to this question were to be expected, and the results certainly did not disappoint. Nearly every student in both of my level one sections raised their hands. I took the survey a step further and asked how many students currently plagiarize. Again, the response was surprising. Nearly half of both classes admitted to plagiarism as a current “practice.” I was shocked. Although I was floored by their honesty, I was surprised to hear that so many students are repeat offenders. Do I abandon my entire curriculum of video and film production and discuss ethical issues and the honor code until the year’s end? Is this simply another case and point that kids are going to do what they are going to do?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Classroom Manager and the PR Manager Argued!!

I was surprised this week when I announced to the class that there would be a Classroom Manager postion and 5 people raised their hands to indicate that they wanted the position. I ended up having to interview them. I was surprised by their answers. They all were very professional and gave great answers. I had to call 3 of them back for "second" interviews. The day after the Classroom Manager and the Public Relations Manager had been "hired", I asked the Classroom Manager to pass out papers. We had also been using colored pencils that day. The PR Manager asked if he could collect the pencils, so I agreed, not realizing that WWIII was about to break out. When the Classroom Manager saw the PR Manager doing his job, he demanded an explanation. The two of them began to argue over which position had which job responsibilties. I was overjoyed that they had taken their responsibilities so seriously and I was equally amused. Luckily, I thought of a quick explanation as to why it was acceptable for the PR Manager to assist by collecting the colored pencils. Not only did they accept my explanation, but I noticed today that the Classroom Manager was giving the PR Manager helpful tips on how to answer the classroom phone.....H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S!!!!!

Reality vs. Television

This week my Forensic class examined Crime 360--a television show that follows detectives, medical examiners, and forensic technicians as they work to solve a crime. I previewed the episode prior to showing it to my students and created guided notes for the students to complete as they watched. I was simply amazed as I watched my students engage in this activity. They were asking me to pause it, so that they could reflect on the questions. Some even said, can you rewind that Coach so that we can make sure we get it? That just doesn't happen that often and I was very pleased with how the entire activity went. They even asked me when they would get to watch another episode. The discussion that followed was invaluable and we were able to discuss as a class how different this was from say an episode of CSI--basically we discussed the differences between reality and television. This was a great opportunity for my students to be introduced to the topics that will be covered in chapter on evidence.


Some students surprised me with their choice of music

During lab activities, I generally allow my students to listen to music. In the design industry, listening to upbeat music is very common and enables the creative juice to flow freely. Today, some students were enjoying music dated back in the 80's. I was surprised to see how delighted they were listening to it as if the music was fresh and relevant today. Lots of creativity came out as a result. This observation allowed me to think of ways to engage this type of music in their set induction especially when referring to designs that were popular during a certain music age.

Even this generation of students like "old movies."

Something that surprised me this week is how well my kids responded to the "Back to the Future," movies. One of the activities I do during my film and scriptwriting unit is show the kids the "Back to the Future" movies. I believe those two movies are two of the most beautifully directed movies of all-time. Before I showed the movie some of the kids asked me "When was this movie made?" (1985) When they found out how old the movie is I heard some grumbles so I thought "Uh Oh this probably isn't going to go well." However once the movie got started and we had discussions throughout the movie, my students said..."Oh this isn't that bad!" One thing that I noticed about my students is they were amazed at the amount of thought that went into the storyline, the special effects, and the acting which is good. Although the students were amazed with the movies, some were afraid that my expectations were too high and that they couldn't make a movie or short story that were good (which I understand). However I reassured them that although Steven Spielberg is a professional director and producer, even the best at their profession make mistakes. After we completed the two movies, I showed them the 30 plus directing mistakes that were in the movie. That eliminated some of the self-doubt from my students. It was a pretty quiet week for the most part but how my students really like the movies surprised me. It shows that we as teachers have to be patient and to remember that sometimes we just have to mix the old with the new!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Skills USA and My New Classroom

It never surprises me how students forget everything. I have been planning to take my kids to the Fall Leadership Conference for Skills USA since the first day of school. I outlined all the due dates for funds for students to pay. It amazes me how many excuses kids can come up with. I tell them that they can not write checks, seeing how our school does not accept checks. Nevertheless they bring a check and have it written to me. As if Im just suppose to go an extra mile and cash it and turn the money in. One kid actually had the nerve to bring a check written out to "Mr. Maddox" . Not Henderson Maddox, I was shocked and amazed. And to think that his mom wrote the check.

I aslo got the chance to visit my new classroom in the new Maynard Jackson High School building. As soon as we arrived for the tour, I sneaked off and headed down the hall searching for my new home. Following the maps I ended up in the art room. I quickly realized that I was in the wrong place. It was an easy mistake seeing how all the room are basically unpainted dry wall with concrete floors. When I made it to my room it was like I was in heaven. A few co-workers and I joked about how the new building was heaven and that not everyone was going to make it into the pearly gates. I started to plan out every inch of the room and what the new rules would be. Then I was hit with the news that the Mac lab I fought so hard was not going to happen. Apparently my seminar portion of my lab was not set up for a lab. I fought for the lab because I only have 6 edit bays but 30 kids. It really is not best for learning in the beginning foundation courses. I did speak with a contractor who informed me that it could be set up to accommodate. Now I have the challenge of convincing administration yet again to make alterations to the plans to accommodate my program.

Running the show!!!

The thing that surprised me this week was when one of my students took charge in the shop. Now this student was very quiet in my class and is a female. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being quiet and a female, but this student really didn’t show any interest in automotive, so I thought. In class we have managers that have extra responsibilities. We just picked new managers and one of my managers is a female, I was very excited they she stepped up and decided to take on this role. Well hey, let me tell you guys something Jack, (sorry had to do it) this young lady is awesome!!! She is running the show in the shop and the fellas are actually going with the flow. I am very glad I started using the manager positions we learned this summer, because it works. The students get very excited about the positions and run with it. Thank you Dr. Burns. That’s what surprised me this week.

The Dilemma Of Time

Oh my word!  If there were only enough time in the day to get it all done.  My question for everyone is:
Being a new teacher, how have you figured out how to get it all done?

I still cannot figure out how to do it and I will take any and all suggestions!  Toward the end of the summer, we were approved for a part time person to be hired to help me in the classroom and with my after school coverage of sports.  This was amazing news, however, we still haven't found anyone to take the position.  Since all of our programs are dependant on the amount of students interested, I know that the various substitutes "babysitting" my classes are not going to help keep students interested.  My personal class schedule is 1st & 2nd - period with Intro A, 3rd & 4th - treatment in the athletic training room for athletes, 5th - Principles of Physical Medicine A and Concepts of Physical Medicine A, 6th - Prep, 7th - Applications of Therapeutic Services.  The New Teacher's class schedule is suppose to be 5th - treatment in the athletic training room for athletes, 6th - Intro A, and 7th - Intro B.  Since the new teacher is not in yet, I'm teaching their 6th period class (while the substitute is in the room) and have tried getting lesson plans ready for the many substitutes for the 7th period Intro B class, but it seems impossible because they are constantly switching.  I've had to neglect the athletic training room during some lunch periods because I know the classroom portion of my job is most important, however, I was specifically found for this job because I am an athletic trainer that was needed for the lunch and after school coverage.  I know many teachers stay after school to get some work done, but I am out at practice, getting ready for games, or in class with all of you on Tuesdays.  WHAT DO I DO?
The thing I was most surprised by this week in class was how critical students are with each other on their work. The kids turned in their first video project and their fellow students gave very constructive criticism on what could have been done differently to make the videos better next time. I was very relieved to see the kids encouraging each other while at the same time pointing out some mistakes that I may have missed if I was watching the videos alone. We also had a vocabulary activity in class where each student is assigned a word. They must define the word and draw a picture displaying the word to display in the classroom. The other kids were so hard on the students presenting their words, saying things like: “you didn’t simplify the definition”, “why didn’t you color your picture?” and “slow down when you read so the rest of us can keep up”. The comments never got nasty, but I was just shocked that the students held each other to such high standards.

Suprise! Surprise! Surprise!

I think the thing that baffles me most is teacher behavior.  I feel as though we should all be on the same team, however, most of the teachers I work with are only concerned with themselves. If I have a good idea I want to share it with others and if I see someone presenting an exciting lesson, I would love nothing more than for them to share their secret so that my class will be as engaging as theirs. I have witnessed this with veterans and newbies alike. The overall attitude is "I had to come up with it on my own, you need to do the same".  That quote doesn't necessarily come out of their mouth so much as it is spoken with their body language.  I thought if you signed up to teach, you would not have age discrimination amid your students.  I have a hard time believing that we will all be successful unless we realize the value of working together.  The ultimate goal or win is for our students to learn.  Kids are smart.  They pick up on underlying attitudes and quickly model the behavior they witness.  If we will not support each other, how will they learn the value of helping others?  What are we teaching them with our selfish actions?  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What surprised me most this week is that I was able to reach my students on a higher level just by trying something new. This week I used Edmodo to issues several Polls to my students. The students were instructed to read each Poll and choose the answer they felt was the best for the given scenario. (We have been covering Work Ethics in class this week so it has been an interesting three days that is for sure.) I told them that no answer was wrong and that everyone was entitled to their opinions on a Poll.

The surprise came when not a single student chose a negative response to the ethics question! For some reason I thought for sure that my trouble-makers would be the ones to choose the negative ethics response, and yet they all chose either the most favorable, or second to most favorable. I know when I was in school I was “that” student that easily would have chosen the “morally wrong” answer just because I could.

While I know this will, more than likely not happen again; it is a comforting and truly surprising thought that my students actually made the right decision. Even if it’s only this one time, it’s good enough for me to smile and think somewhere in the back of my mind, maybe I am reaching them.

That also goes for the students that I feel don’t want to be in my class in the first place!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

School Thus Far

I know last year was my first year teaching, and it is suppose to be the hardest, but for some reason I feel like this year has been much more difficult.  I'm beginning to think it is because I know what I'm doing wrong now; more-so than last year.  However, all this stress does not even compare to how excited the kids get some days, or seeing how they process the information and that "light bulb" turn on in their head when they understand it!

I've noticed that almost every person at my school has more than one roll and title; some up to four or five.  Last year, I only had two requirements and I made the mistake of not saying "no" to people when they asked me to do more.  So up went the responsibilities and the thin stretching of my brain began.  I know that if we did not get done what we did at NTI this summer, I would barely be floating right now.  All the work really set the foundation for what I needed to at least have my classes be functional.  I keep having a desire for breaks to happen so I can work on more lesson plans and finish decorating the room, and every other item to check off my "to-do" list.  Apart from other jobs I've had in the past, this one's stress has been positively motivating and I think that is the golden nugget in teaching.  When we invest in other people, we are motivated to continue and push and strive for the best so that people get the help they need.


We teach, repeat and repeat and repeat. Sometimes we wonder if they really do get. My surprise this week is to know that they do. I do my best to take the information I learn from my NTI classes and model it within my lesson plans and teaching. However, I’ve learned that many of the things we have learned can be used in our everyday lives and with our students within their extracurricular activities. Two weeks before school started, I had a few of my HOSA students at the school working on their program of work. We discussed their goals for the school year and the activities they wanted to execute. While they were working on their goals, I spoke to them about the given, what, and how well. We discussed action verbs for rules and procedures and protocol (proper planning) for their expected activities.
The same students are in student council. As they were discussing ideas for homecoming and the remaining school year, they actually implemented the action verbs and the given, what and how well. I was sitting in the background truly cheesing on the inside.  They actively decided how everyone should be grouped based upon ability and making it diverse. I see the growth within myself highlighted through my students. I’m learning and still growing.

I’m considering allowing them to complete the group activity from this class also. I'm curious of how they will group the students together. 
The past week at school provided many mild surprises. However, there was one that stood out more than all the rest. It isn't every day you have a student go completely AWOL on you. But, that is exactly what happened to me in my 5th block on Thursday. A student stated they were finished with their task and asked to go to the restroom. Innocent enough request, I thought, so I gave approval. The student then grabbed the hall pass and out the door they went. After a short time had passed I noticed the student had not returned so I made a mental note of the actual time on the clock. Seven minutes later the student was still not back from their jaunt to the potty. Concern began to set in. Luckily, the class I have during this block is all upperclassmen so I knew they would stay on task if I stepped into the hall. Positioning myself just outside my room I surveyed the hallway. No students belonging to my class where present there. After a few more minutes of hallway loitering my concern turned to angst. What will my administration think of me? I have lost a child! Swallowing all remaining pride, I meekly walked to the door of the classroom next to mine to ask for assistance. Thankfully, this teacher had 5th block planning so I was able to have her step into my classroom as I made my way to the nearest administrator's office. Once there I explained the situation to the admin's assistant. She too was concerned for the student because by this time nearly 20 minutes had passed since I had last seen them. Just before the assistant was able to put out the all-points bulletin via the school walkie-talkie system, the student casually strolled by the office; merrily swinging the hall pass as if not a care in the world burdened their mind. I was both dumbfounded and miffed. Did this student really not know how long they were gone? I told the assistant thank you for her help and quickly walked out to the hall to catch up with the student. Once I had the opportunity to talk to the student and explain the seriousness of what had transpired the rest of the story became clear. It seemed the student had stopped by the classroom of another teacher who was a valued mentor. During this visit the conversation had turned to college plans and the need for recommendation letters and other important topics and the student had lost track of time. Only when the other teacher asked if the student's current instructor knew of their present whereabouts did the student realize perhaps they should return to class. At this point I knew I had a great opportunity to teach the student about the importance of thorough communication. I was able to explain to them in a situation such as that all they needed to do was communicate the change in plans. I was also able to explain to the student I would have had no problem with them seeking council with a valued mentor as long as everyone involved was okay with this. The student realized their lack of communication had nearly gotten them into a lot of trouble and was understanding of the concern. Going forward, the student has committed to better communication and planning with anyone and everyone which may be involved.

Differentiation is not just a teaching method; I'm realizing it's a skill.

So October 29, 2013 will mark my first complete year as a teacher and I'm still learning to differentiate my students. In most cases, within a few days to weeks, I can point out my advanced/low to medium skilled students by their productivity yet I find it challenging to give them differentiated assignments. There are some that are extremely intelligent when it comes to writing, reading and testing, yet they fall in the low rate when creating projects. At the same time, most of my students who can care less about turning in assignments score higher and show more creativity during production. While juggling through various assignments and trying to teaching a standard to several academic levels, I'm finding that teaching by differentiation is a skill I have to master. I refer to differentiation as a skill because I have to find ways of meeting the students current level of achievement while not letting their levels become obvious by the rest of the class.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lesson Planning, Time Management, Work Life Balance......

I have so  many things that I want to improve very soon!!! This is my first year teaching, and it has been quite a struggle so far. Lesson planning seems to consume my life! I think that my attention to detail is a downfall in this area. Because the lesson planning is taking over, there has been very little time for administrative work, and for my family. My kids say "Mommy is in class, again".  This has been quite an adjustment that I was NOT prepared for. I knew what was expected of a teacher, but I think I under estimated the extent to which it was expected. Does anyone have any tips as to how to survive the first year?
The areas in which I would like to improve most is organization and procrastination. I tend to be overloaded with work and I think that my style of organization is working but when it comes down to it, it's not. I find myself putting off things for a more convenient moment but the truth be told, there isn't a more convenient moment. We all know that as teachers we are overloaded with tasks, meetings, lessons, and of course trying to please everyone...but I've got to find a better way to multitask/prioritize. I have went out and bought file folders and tabs for organization, a label maker, and I'm currently seeking advice from my mentor teacher about the "best" time to complete tasks. Ya'll bear with me, I'm a work in progress. :)
A follow up on me. I had my first "official" walkthrough for the new TKES evaluation and I must admit that I got a proficient in both areas I was observed on. The best news was that my differentiated instruction was marked proficient, which made me very happy.

I have worked hard on trying to incorporate as much as I can between lessons learned in our class, and advice from fellow teachers around me. While I will always consider myself a lifelong learner, I want to continue to improve in areas beyond just proficient. I want to exceed in every way.

So, in a sense I have already begun to improve on the one area I was most concerned with. At the same time though, I won't ever let complacency replace my hard work. That is why I feel I will Always be a lifelong learner.

Mr. H.

Stick to the Script...

There are several things that I am actively working on improving as a teacher this semester. The one thing that I rank as most important to work on is "sticking to the script" that I have made for myself. I have a plan that includes arriving to work early and staying to about 5:00pm daily to complete more work instead of taking so much work home with me. The problem I am having is that I have a big heart and I love to help people which is one of the reasons I went to Nusing School. Even though my classroom is in the back of my school I am often call upon to help with emergency situations in the school with students and faculty when they are injured or ill. I have to run all the way to the front of the school and to they other side of the school in response to these calls. I guess you may be wondering by now "where is your school nurse?". Well, we now have a school nurse, however, she is not scheduled to work a full day and she only works three days a week. Now, to make it relevant. Often times I have been called upon during the school day to address immediate issues and after school when I am trying to check my emails, grade student work, and do lesson planning and classroom set-up for the next day. I find that I am not able to complete my own work and then I either have to take more home with me or I have to try to complete it in the morning which is NOT good. I have got to find a way to stick to MY script so that I will be able to complete all the things that are required of me as a teacher since that is the capacity I am hired in. I was recently called to the main office for an injured student and stayed about 45 minutes along with administrators. I have got to figure out a way to say "no" to these types of situations without coming off as rude, non-compliant, or insubordinate.