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?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Make It Relevant

     One of the things that I really enjoy about teaching Healthcare Science is that I get to teach what I love primarily to a group of students who chose my class. I am sure that many core teachers wish they had the option to teach students who chose to be in their classes versus being required to take their classes. However, I am very much aware of the handful of students who are placed in my classes as a second or third choice for their career pathway. One or two of them did not list Healthcare as a choice at all. I take time to ask if there is anyone in each class that did not request Healthcare Science during the first week of school. With these students I make sure that I take the time to stress that whatever the topics are that we are covering, they will be beneficial to them whether they pursue a career in healthcare or not. As a matter of fact, much of the content we cover is just good information to know to live a healthy lifestyle.
     For example, my second year students are covering a GPS on infection control and prevention right now. The principles and guidelines discussed are useful to healthcare providers and laypersons as it will help prevent and control the spread of infection. Hand hygiene is one of the most important skills a person can acquire. Most people do not wash their hands properly and do not know when it is appropriate to wash hands. The most obvious times are before meals and after toileting, however,  we specifically cover about 12 times that you should wash your hands along with the proper technique using a step by step process. Each student does a return demonstration with the instructor in which they must repeat the process if it is not correct. They learn the rationale for performing proper handwashing and the consequences of failing to do so.
     Throughout the school-year I also ask students if they have relatives or acquaintences with various issues that we discuss during the classes. This makes the information relevant for them and teaches them to respond in various situations/scenarios regarding health and wellness even if they do not want to pursue a career in healthcare. Lastly, if all else fails and they just absolutely want nothing to do with Healthcare Science (which is rare), I serve as a mediator between their parents and their guidance counselor to help get the student transferred to a CTAE course that is a better fit for them. My students are informed  from day one that I am happy that they are in my class and I want all of them to remain, however, I do not take it personally if a transfer is desired or requested. I tell them this is their life and their decision and that they should choose their CTAE courses wisely to prepare themselves for a successful career in the near future

Find Out Their Passion

I run into the problem of having students that have no interest in graphic design on constant occasions. However, I've found a formula that so far has worked and brought them in. It's not easy, and can be discouraging to a teacher some times, but eventually they buy in. After I realize the student has no interest in my field, I inquire about their individual passion. For example, I have students who want to become doctors. In this case, I tie in graphic design projects with healthcare by explaining that graphic design affects our daily lives. Their interest in becoming a doctor is more prominent when reading healthcare marketing material and watching doctor television shows that rely heavily on graphic arts. Once they realize graphic design plays a major role even in their profession, in most cases, I win them over. If all else fails, and their behavior becomes a problem, I turn to the counselor as the very last resort.

Roll With The Changes

A student reluctantly enrolled in my class is a hurdle I did not anticipate as a new teacher. Initially, I was not alarmed by it on paper. However, once the students infiltrated my class, I knew I was in for an instructional battle as a new teacher. My remedy was impulsive. Instead of trying to sell a student on my video program, I simply attempted to sell the student on “me.” I found this to be an effective strategy. I found that once the students bought in with my teaching strategies, my curriculum was more easily processed. I discovered the seniors placed in my class are the most difficult. They often come into the class with false expectations. That is, they think they will do minimal work and only do the “fun stuff” (as they put it). I believe this is something we will always see in CTE, so we have to stay true to who we are as teachers. After all, our professional expertise is not the only trait we rely on daily. Our passion to want to be teachers has paved this new career path for each of us. Our passion and our persistence to be engaging will keep us on firm ground when all else is seemingly crumbling before us. Scheduling headaches will come and go, and so will those wayward students. Teaching is all about the kids, even the tough to reach ones. The challenge to impress our programs upon them may make us better teachers.

Think outside the box...

This is definitely a common problem that we face. When I first started teaching, I went to my coworkers with this same problem and I was relieved that I was not the only one but also discouraged that so many had the same problem but no real solution had been found. I was able to get a few suggestions from fellow coworkers. I had a health occupation teacher tell me to show them the way my occupation was already in their daily lives. For her being a nurse, she was able to relate sickness, because everyone gets sick. She was able to encourage them by seeing the benefits of knowing how to prevent sickness and also be helpful in the event of an accident. So, I thought about what she said and I began to think outside the box. In graphic communications that was an easy task for me. Graphic design is EVERYWHERE!!! No matter if you want to be an all-star baseball player or a lawyer at some point you could use graphic communications. I put them on the spot and I tried to find one career that didn't use graphic design at some point and it was impossible. After a few students talked about their choice of career and I connected the two, the students started in. Whether it's business cards you need designed, a sports logo, an album cover or promotion poster, I can find a way to related graphics into their lives. It may not be as easy with your content area but think outside the box, I'm sure you will find a way to make that connection.

Public Safety--a class where everyone can learn something....

Yes, this is an issue—for example in my third level course only two students have had all three courses to complete the pathway. The others may have had class one or two, both not both. This is disheartening especially when you expect to be able to teach students that are really interested in your program. It is also disturbing that the state is putting such an emphasis on pathway completers and earning industry credentials. How can that ever happen when kids are in classes they don’t want to be in? I try to remedy this issue by drawing them in to the field with interesting projects, etc. One project in particular is the Serial Killer Project. All students seem to enjoy this one—perhaps because it sparks their interest, but they usually finish with the desire to learn more. The same can be done in all my other classes with forensics it is usually crime scenes and in the other classes they love policing tactics. At this time, hands-on activities is the best way for me to get my students interested whether they want to be in the class or not. In addition, I tell all students they can all get something out of Public Safety including how to be a more productive, more aware citizen.


Make the Connection

When it comes to my class, I make an attempt to tie together things they learn in science an math to real world situations. I hook the students with the promise of electrical experiments, melting metal, and having the opportunity be involved in a little controlled destruction. Most will usually catch an interest in one of those topics. If there is a students that still feels a little distraught about their class placement I revert to their career project we begin with at the beginning of the year and try to connect some part of my program to their "Dream Job" or the alternate they gave in the project. If all else fails, I bring up the money possibilities in the career fields and the option of a career at Pratt and Whitney (a large supporter of my program) a local air craft engine manufacturer that offers to pay for up to a masters degree for any of their employees.

What should i have done different?

Can someone tell me what to do with this kind of situation? The students that have been thrown into Automotive and they don’t want anything to do with it. I have tried a lot of different things to get them interested but it doesn’t seem to work. I don’t get a lot of students that don’t like Automotive but when I do, I do and they will let me know quickly. At the beginning of every semester I have the new students write down why they chose Automotive and I usually get a lot of good reasons. But there are those few that say, “I didn’t pick this class, they just threw me in here, I don’t like getting dirty and I feel I shouldn’t have to work at school.” I actually had one student tell me this and I didn’t know what to say. Well long story short, I tried my best to get this student interested, but I failed and so did the student. Unfortunately he didn’t pass my class; he just stood around and did nothing. I called his parents to let them know, but that didn’t help. Now I feel that was a waste of a semester for the student and he should have been placed into something else. What could I have done better?

To be or not to be....what am I doing in Cosmetology?

In a perfect world we would all have students that could not wait to get into our classrooms and learn what we are teaching. Too bad Eve ate the apple... I find myself comparing my program to what it was 25 years ago when I was enrolled in the same course (same classroom too). I make myself crazy when I do that. Times have changed, students have changed, I am learning to change. I think that is the key to a successful program. We no longer live in a world that is driven by people that want to make their own way, work hard to achieve their goals, or even work at all. The kids today have a sense of entitlement. They act like everything should be given to them or that they should be able to have what the next guy has even if they didn't do anything to earn it. In my program I would say that about 20 percent of the kids really want to do hair, 60 percent or higher thought it would be an easy "A", and the rest just needed a slot filled on their schedule and my class just happened to have an opening. It can be disheartening if you concentrate on the numbers. I am learning to concentrate on the kids. If I can make them feel like they are more than a number and help them to find success in my classroom (even if it is not where they want to be) I am adding to their life skills and hopefully changing their mindset from entitlement to pride of ownership. CTAE is the perfect place for a child to be successful. Not everyone is designed to attend college but that does not discount their value in society. We need folks to cut our hair, change our oil, build our house, fix a leaky faucet and so forth. If we as educators in the CTAE program embrace that there is a possibility we can have the kind of CHANGE our society truly needs. A workforce that wants to work and takes pride in what they do. Of the 20 percent of kids that really want to be in my program, I would say only 10 percent of them are naturally talented. It is my job to take the other 90 percent and teach them the value of the skill set I offer. They may not BE the best, but I can teach them to DO their best. If that is my goal, with time I am certain the "numbers" will reverse themselves and I will wind up with more students that want to learn and less students that are just filling a space on the roster.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recommendation Process

I definitely have had my good and bad experiences with this recently. It is really a hassle when you have students in your class who automatically turn themselves off after finding out they don't want to be in my class after they were placed there. What I try to do is to relate as much of my material to the real world as I possibly can. I had a student who wanted to be a rapper and said that my class didn't have anything to do with what he wanted to do in life. What I did was break down everything from my broadcasting class that he should know about rapping. For instance, I told him that if you want to be a rapper, you have to be able to tell a story, then you have to know how to organize your thoughts, which is the same thing that my class does when they do a project. Then I explained to them that you have to know how to edit your video because it's your vision and you have to know how to put it together. After he heard my explanation, the light came on and he didn't realize that so much went into rapping. From that point on he really understood that CTAE classes play a major role with him being successful. For me it's all about knowing your kids personalities and really trying to figure out what makes them happy. Something that I thought about that might help us is to have an application only class for your level two and level three kids. Honestly, not all of the kids in the level two classes have no business in being in some of our classes. Some are in our classes because our administration put them there. I understand that you have to put the kids somewhere but why is it always in our classes? It's unfair because some of the worst kids in terms of discipline are placed in our classes. I believe if there was an application process, I believe the students who really want to be in our classes will have a chance to be in there. This is better than a student to receive the news that the classes are full, especially with students who have no desire to be there in the first place. If it comes to that, I believe that the kids who apply for the classes should be the first ones enrolled in the class and not the kids who just need their schedules filled.


What’s in it for me? (“me” being the student) That is one approach I take the very first day of class. I do this in the hopes of throwing a blanket over the entire class and covering them all with the details of how this particular class relates to each student and their future. If the students buy in from the beginning and can see what their next steps are, they usually at least come along for the ride.

Another tactic I use to reach students that may not have a high interest in my subject area is I explain how we are going to attack this class as a group and accomplish all of the needed areas together. I do this with the hopes of building a team/family type of environment. Hopefully, this will begin to shape an attitude in every student that reflects an “all for one and one for all” approach to the content. These two approaches are generally effective in getting every student to have at least some level of interest.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Show Off a Little

I would say that I am blessed in that you can split my class right down the middle and half of them show a genuine interest in broadcasting, while the other half like what they do in the class. Very rarely have I had a group of kids who absolutely hate my class. Now don’t get me wrong, I have had a few kids come through my program who would rather be somewhere else, but I have worked with them to find something they enjoy during the semester. One of the reasons I luck out in this situation is that my high school is the Mass Communications Magnet Academy. That means the students in our county can apply to magnet programs (every high school has one) and find a school that fits their needs and interests. A lot of my students are magnet kids, while the others see the great things produced in our class and want to sign up. As far as offering advice, I feel the only thing I can offer is to encourage your current students to brag about the fun things they get to do in CTAE classes, and spread the word for you. We also do a good job of taking on projects around the school so that other kids can get a better idea of what we are all about.

CTAE is the best elective program ever!

After reading a few of the blog posts about this week’s discussion I couldn’t help but be a little discouraged in some ways. I know in my area of the state (Pickens County in Jasper, GA) there is a massive interest in agricultural and culinary education pathways. Those two programs are pretty much maxed out with teachers taking extended days to meet the needs of the students. However, in the past two years there has been a shift in interest to the business and technical end of the spectrum.

The good news for many of us back in CTAE is that the counselors have begun to shift more and more of the student population in our direction. I would say a majority of these kids at least show SOME interest in the course offerings that we teach back here. I know at least in my classes I am at max numbers of 32 with the exception of my third period class.

I know in my own experience the students I have love my classes because I have done things totally different than any other teacher before me. I have posters of comic book characters, movies, video games, and popular TV shows like Duck Dynasty. I have a few video game figurines on display as well and I have made it my mission to tailor all of my lesson plans using MODERN day subject material. I talked a little about this at our in class session back in August and I must say now that I have actually been implementing this stuff it has shifted the students interest in ways I never thought possible.

A lot of the kids just talk to me about movies, video games, and comic book characters. Giving them a common ground to at least SOMEWHAT relate to me on has helped me to keep them on task and doing what they are supposed to do. In my situation at least, it has been good for me to share that side of me with them. My wife teaches fourth grade and the biggest thing she said is that your classroom should have SOME part of you in it. Something that the kids can look at and say, “So that’s what he’s all about…”

Taking this practice to heart has made a difference at least in my situation so hopefully this encourages some of you to do the same.

Mr. H                                                     

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Realistic Unit Plans

Given the opportunity to change anything in CTE would definitely be the Unit Plan. In my field, the unit plan creates standards designed around using creative software to produce projects which is essential. However, there is no standard that focusses on teaching students how to use the software. Time has to be alloted to teach students how to use industry software and its functionality. I find that I spend more time teaching students on using this technology and less time on the actual project. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month just to get a basic understanding of using design software. Including this standard in the Unit for all levels would be extremely helpful.

2 Bosses

This week I would like you to think about CTE program issues. If you could change just ONE THING about your program, what would it be, and WHY? (You may want to post about curriculum, student selection, pathway, industry certification, local school administration, etc.) The one thing I would change about my program is the fact that I have 2 bosses. CTAE have a set of requirements for me and then the principal at my school has another set. What CTAE requires isn't a hassle to complete, what they require together with what my principal and my individual school requires can be a complete nightmare at times. TKES, lesson plans, SST, focus walks, planning period professional developments, multiple indexes (too many to name), data, benchmarks, surveys, morning duty, lunch duty, book study groups, meetings, end-of-pathway assessments, etc. It can all be so overwhelming at times. I would prefer if all CTAE teachers were at their own facility and the student were bused to us. Our labs with expensive equipment would be protected and we would have one boss to give us direction instead of 2 and sometimes conflicting instructions. I don't want to be completely separate but it would make my classroom and teaching career flow a lot better.

Remember the Name

If I could change one thing about the Audio and Video and Technology and Film Pathway, it would be the new curriculum name. Formerly Broadcast Video Production, the pathway’s new name has created quite the buzz in both teacher and student circles. I think the word “film” in the curriculum title is not only verbose, but misleading to the course standards. We are not shooting film, we are shooting video. Although instruction can reference cinematic aesthetics that mimic the film industry, we are lacking the celluloid that makes film, well, film. I do like having a reason to showcase film more. Students really enjoy that element of the class. Nevertheless, “BVP” roles off the tongue and has been a recognizable brand, if you will, in the CTE. Audio and Video Technology and Film, truncated to “AVTF,” is still finding its footing in conversation. I do not think it’s a case of re-inventing the wheel as much as it is as putting a fresh set of tires on the car. So, that is a good thing, I guess.

Lack of Equipment!!! Same old sad love song!

We all have song the same love song. The biggest issue I have run into while cooking CTE is the fact that I never have equipment to teach the class. For me that is a big issue because 80% of my standards are based on students using certain equipment. Its a never ending begging process at sometimes to get what we need to teach. At a previous school we had equipment but it was broken. This does not motivate administration to buy more. Equipment in my pathway is very expensive so having to replace it is not a good thing to have to do. If we can work hard to solve the equipment issues I think we can better do our jobs and prepare students for success.

Curriculum Changes

At the end of my first year, I started to just get familiar with my career pathway--Law and Justice. Then, I attended a conference in the summer where I was informed everything was changing. All the sudden my program area became a career cluster and the name changed to Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security. Then, my pathway became Law Enforcement Services. And as I was just getting familiar with the curriculum and standards, they changed them, but wait just for one course. So now I have new standards for my introductory course which overlap with the old standards for my second course. Therefore, I feel like I am starting over again. Not too mention how I am supposed to juggle overlapping standards in two courses. And if that wasn't enough, I will get a new course next year and the following year. My fellow CTAE teachers say not to worry that they went through this same thing just a few years ago, but I am struggling. Trying to figure all this out on top of TKES, IEPs, RTI, SST, and NTI--I am drowning. They say change is be continued.


It's definitely not easy!!!

One thing I would like to elaborate on is just how difficult it is to actually run an effective CTAE program. A lot of people and some of my collegues don't really know what it's like to work in a career that was not teaching, switch careers and then teach. When someone asks me, "Could you put together a small piece for me in two or three days?" Yes, I'll take out my magic camera, call my 24-hour on-call editor, and unlimited hours in the day wish genie and I'll be glad to do it for you. It's not that easy!!! It takes time to do something like that and I wish that people understand me when I say in order for me or some of my students to do a project right, it takes a thorough planning process!!! Something I would change about CTAE courses is the amount of students that are placed in my classes. I can honestly say it's a blessing and a curse. The fact that my classes are full is job security, however when there's over 30 kids in my classes, it's hard to focus on certain kids even though they need the extra attention. Although the high numbers are great, I wish that there was a more thorough selection process for the level two and three students because honestly, some of the kids don't belong in level one or two classes. I would rather have 15 students students who are actually interested in Audio and Video, than 30 who don't want anything to do with broadcasting. Other than the factors listed above, teaching CTAE classes are great, we're all going to have our ups and downs, it's just a matter of how we handle them.

Not the Career Path they want.

The one thing I would change is the way the counselors just through students into our class. These students don’t even want to be in our class and sometimes they will not participate and fail the class. I’ve even had some cases where the student would have a behavior problem just because they did not want the class. I thought the students were supposed to choose their path not just pushing them to anything that’s open. It’s right for the student and the teacher. I think the class would flow a whole lot smoother if everyone was interested in what we are teaching.


If you could change just ONE THING about your program, what would it be, and WHY? (You may want to post about curriculum, student selection, pathway, industry certification, local school administration, etc.) If I could change one thing about my program, I would choose to change the numbers of students that are thrown into these classes without any interest in the program. Our Graphic Communications Program is the Magnet at our school and also, the largest program in our school. There are two teachers, 5 available levels of completion and 160+ students taught daily. It's a mess. Because, we are the largest program we often get dumped on. Our classes are full of the behavior problem students and that hurts the students that actually want to take these courses and serious about their work. Sometimes, you are able to get through to those students and interest them in your program but not often. The administration and the counselors know that these students have no interest in the program and yet they do nothing. It's a constant battle to try and gain students interest and attention when they could care less. I do the best I can but I also realize I can't get through to every student. There has been a couple of times where I've been surprised and a problem student actually turned around to love my class and be one of my best students. So, I guess there is always that part of me that's hoping for the best, hoping that I can be the one teacher that can get through to that particular student, and trying my best to teach them the skills that no matter what profession they choose they can use.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thorough Orientation Process

I hope these posts aren't held against us, but since I was asked, here goes my two cents.......

I would love to have had a thorough orientation process as a new teacher. I think that I may have had more than most, by beginning NTI the summer before school started. Even armed with all of that wonderful information, I still felt MASSIVELY unprepared when school started! There were those well meaning folks who offered their "first year war" stories as consolation, but it felt like anything but consolation. I mean, the worst thing you can tell someone who is in the midst of the battle is "keep fighting because the war will end in 3-5 years". I was told that almost daily for the first week or so! An orientation process where you are paired with someone who has not only the experience, but the desire and the TIME to help you would be ideal. I have been paired with a mentor, since I am a new teacher, but my mentor is 5 times as busy as I am!

There just always seems to be such a chasm between what you learn in school and how things work "for real". Receiving "realistic" orientation would help to better manage expectations of new teachers. I came in ready to save the world and make a mark that couldn't be erased. The reality is, that I have been so incredibly overwhelmed my first year, that it is considered an accomplishment (for me) just to remember which class periods I see on which days (we have block scheduling). And lets not forget the acronyms! No one prepared me for the acronyms!!!  I would liken my first year of teaching to being taught how to swim while standing on the pool deck fully clothed. No matter how frequently you rehearse how to swim while standing on deck, it is a  TOTALLY different experience once you are actually in the water! An effective, realistic, thorough orientation process would be quite beneficial and very much appreciated. Maybe once I make it out of the war zone in 3-5 years, I will create the program that I think would help others that find themselves "on deck" like me.

Lesson Plan Plan

Two years ago, as a brand new teacher, I was presented with the challenge of teaching a class with little to no information or lesson plans available to assist me. This was very surprising to me. I was shocked at how little guidance was available to a new teacher in respect to actual “stuff” that allowed the teacher to convey the required standards to the students. That is the one thing I would change about CTE, multiple lesson plan options for every part of each unit within a concentration area.

My background in professional training tells me an organization is only as good as its newest employee. These new associates will most certainly be your weakest link and there should be a program in place for the newest people on your team to follow; a blueprint for success if you will. This plan would allow a “newbie” to have a trainer with them at all times in the early portion of their new career.

This plan should have a vast amount of information to pull from as far as available lessons and techniques. For instance, if every Marketing teacher from around the state were to provide the lessons plans and activities they use for each class you would have literally dozens of options to present to a brand new teacher in need of direction. These lesson plans and activities could then be performed by the new teacher in order to get them acquainted and comfortable with the material. Eventually, as all teachers do, the plans could be tweaked or replaced based on the specific need of the teacher. In addition to getting the new teachers off to a good start, this type of plan would free up a tremendous amount of much needed time new teachers currently use to ……… wait for it …… lesson plan! Imagine how much easier your first year would have been if you had to spend minimal time on the actual building of lesson plans and more time in learning the material and perfecting your delivery.

CTE Change

(Am I the only one who feels like this is a trick question? haha) I would have to say that since I don't know how any other departments are run, and I have only taught one subject at one school, I am not really sure what needs to be changed. But from what I have heard “on the street”, our department is quite strict and we are held to different standards. For instance, we are not “allowed” to wear jeans to work, even on spirit days and/or Fridays. We also have department meetings that apparently last a lot longer than other departments’. I know that the subjects we teach aren’t traditional or core curriculum, but I wish we weren’t seen as different by other teachers in the school. It becomes frustrating when we are always referred to as “the fun class” or teachers think our job is easier because “kids want to take our classes”. I apologize, that was technically two things.

What Would I Change?

I suppose if I were to change something it would be to resort back to my old curriculum. What I was hired to teach. The new standards that have been recently pushed down for my program are a bit to advanced for some of my students and to be quite honest there is very little of it that relates to my fields of expertise. I teach Manufacturing, which put simply is taking a resource or material and transforming it into a usable product. Well in the older curriculum I taught material science, Computer Aided Design, CNC (automated machine tool), Material handling, measurements, hand tools, power tools, equipment, basic electricity, pneumatics, and hydraulics. All of which I could easily focus students towards projects and hands on learning. Now my curriculum is consumed with electronics, electrical theory, and logic control systems. Nothing pertaining to the basics of how to measure, how to design, how to build. I am struggling teaching this new class due to my lack of knowledge in the field of electronics. I am literally learning what I am teaching a day or two prior to presenting it, which leads to a number of problems as you could imagine. I am not even sure if this curriculum would aid them in job placement for our area. Many people have told me to teach them what they need to be successful in the workforce, just be sure to hit the standards. But, hitting 15 standards and teaching them the other components is nearly impossible. It will be some time before I can find that happy medium.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Substitute DRAMA!!

Last week I was feeling a little ill and so I went to the doctor to find out I had strep throat. I haven't had strep throat since middle school and I had forgotten how annoying and painful it was. My doctor required that I take at least 2 days off from work and that I could go back on the 3rd day if I refrained from talking. So obviously, I took 3 unexpected days off in a row which definitely threw me and my students for a loop. Thankfully, my emergency lesson plans were extremely helpful. Finding a substitute at the last minute can be stressful but I was able to get one... ahh relief... NOT! Little did I know that the substitute would be old as the hills and very grumpy. The assignments I left were interactive activities that I knew the students wouldn't mind doing. From the stories I heard the substitute was miserable even walking and grunted and moaned with each step. She wouldn't allow anyone to use the restroom, she didn't take any roll or turn in attendance sheets and wrote 25% of my students up. She left me sub notes that included, "Student with black shirt farted several times and stank up the classroom." Really.... Like I knew which student was wearing a black shirt, not to mention a not about a student farting. The students even video taped her sleeping and snoring for 7 minutes. Is this real life? I was in complete shock. My students were very upset with me when I returned but at least now I think the appreciate me a little more. I've kept them calm and under control this week by threatening them with that substitute again. LOL! I really do have a great group of students give or take a few that I enjoy teaching. I bet I missed them almost as much as they missed me.

On A Good Note

My students were selected to participate in an internship program with Morehouse, Grady, and Emory. They will have the opportunity shadow physicians in various disciplines. Tuesday was their first day and they were so excited. It's going to be amazing the wealth of knowledge they are will be able to bring back and hopefully it will encourage other students to participate when the opportunity arises.

My Heart Hurts...

We have to stand in the doorway every morning and urge the students to get to class on time. You will not believe the number of bellies I see turning the corner before the body (or maybe you will). Teenage pregnancy is so prevalent now and it’s definitely difficult when it’s one of your students. Last week, one of my students told me she had to go on bed rest. I believe in following the doctor’s orders, but my first mind went to her grades. She is a very intelligent young lady and I would hate to see this semester’s work be for nothing. I had to tell her to make sure she speak with her counselor so they can work out something with her teachings, that maybe homebound can be an option. We’ve spoken about various plans and avenues she can take once she graduate that will help keep her on track for her future goals. I’m just hoping the support she says is there, truly is.

For this next week we are going to have "open mic." This means you may blog about anything related to teaching, your school, CTE in general or life as a GSU student. This week has been super crazy at my school! We had several different gang fights in 2 days where several students were arrested. Two dogs came on campus and attacked a student and he had to be transported to the ER (I'm sure you heard about it if you watch the news). The day our department went to the HOSA Fall Rally in Perry, Ga. the school was on lockdown because of gang fighting. Yesterday was our 1st day back from the students having 2 days off and then today we are having a school wide PSAT exam. Our principal has put in several new procedures that have calmed everything down. There never seems to be enough time in the day and there is always something unexpected happening at our school but I'm ready for the challenge. This is my second year teaching and although it is better in certain areas, other areas are more difficult. I'm optimistic that things will calm down and the student will get more serious about their education overall.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"My Landing Gear is Activated"

     As I looked at the topic for the blog this past week I paused for at about 24 hours before mic...hmmm, what should I blog about? There is a multitude of topics related to teaching and being an NTI student that I can think of.  In a world of constant planning, teaching, grading, emails, meetings, unexpected issues that interrupt instruction and the demand to respond to administrative directives. These are the few things my weary mind can think of right now; and all the while balancing it all with precious time with my most valuable assets, my children. Tonight I chose to talk about the main dish on my plate right now. I AM IN MY FINAL SEMESTER OF NTI! Yes, one month and eight days of NTI left for me. Wow, I am SO grateful that I have been able to complete the process of going back to college after so many years of being out of school.
     When I started NTI out of sequence last January I had so much going on personally that I had to step out in faith to even start. With each day that has passed I have been graced with more strength mentally and physically and have found a new sense of accomplishment and ambition that has caused me to start the process of reaching toward some of the other goals that I have for my life. As I attend classes online, complete required assigments, and beat the clock to meet deadlines I find myself slowing down to give hugs, fix snacks, check homework, and tuck little ones into bed. I am very thankful for the gift of a deep inner peace inside that keeps me grounded. I find peace and strength in knowing that what I am doing does make a different in my students' lives and in the lives of my own children.
     As I work hard to improve myself personally and professionally, I like to think that other teachers are doing the same thing in hopes that ALL (mine included) of our children will receive the best educational experience possible. In my self talk I lean on my faith and I tell myself that I can do everything that I need to do to be successful - and I go for it! When things get really hard and seem overwhelming I find my quiet place, I think of my students, and I remind myself of how fortunate I am to have the opportunities that I have. My landing gear is down and as I prepare to land at the destination of full certification, I realize that it is actually a "layover" before I take flight to  the next venture - or shall I say ADventure! this thing on?

Fulton County had a teacher work day today. I would like to get a teacher “work week” just to catch up. There is a lot going on this week, so sometimes it is nice to stay in the groove. Having Monday and Tuesday off, plus PSAT proctoring on Wednesday, really throws the proverbial wrench in the works. Why is year two more stressful than year one? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? I am not the only one who feels stressed. Some of the veteran teachers share the same sentiments. Last year, I was told by my faculty mentor that year one is all about survival. Year two is improving on year one, and by year three, “you should have it right.” It appears that year one has seeped into my year two. It is no wonder because it still feels like year one. I guess I will feel better when my studio is set up and functional. Two months into the second year of existence, and limited resources are making it difficult to survive.

Who Knew!?!?! Free Style!!!!!!!!

Wow. I must say, this career is like no other. I have worn many hats in my time: construction, metal fabrication, machine tool, retail management, sales, business owner, and more. None of which could compare to the level of dedication, emotion, and planning that is involved in teaching high school students. I say high school because it is all I know. I am sure there are a number of eccentric variables in other levels of education. Much like a teenager eager to jump feet first into the real world, no explanation could describe or prepare me for what to expect going into it. My grandfather has always been my biggest role model. Growing up I spent as many opportunities around him that I could. Being from a single mother home, I suppose it was in search of a male role model (and what a great one). He taught Metal Tech for 35 years at the high and tech school level. I remember then (and still now) there wasn’t anywhere within 15 miles of Columbus we could go without getting stopped. Most always it was to thank him for helping them, teaching them, or supporting them in some way. There was always a story involved concerning what they had taken from an experience with him. As a child this was of course lengthy and unbearable. As I got older this became a source of great respect and further admiration of him. Granddaddy did warn me of the many complications that were involved in teaching, as did a number of other previous teachers I know. It was always a warning of the “politics” involved in teaching and of the red tape and regulation. This seemed trivial to me from an outside perspective. I thought “most of your time is spent with the students, teaching. How much other stuff could there be”. Well, in retrospect, their warnings were completely ligament and never over exaggerated. But they were also correct in the fact that it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I have also met some big hearts and beautiful soles in students and teachers alike I may not have found otherwise.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Do not pass go... Do not collect 200 dollars...

In my previous blog response to JT I mentioned the daunting task of trying to motivate those students you have that really don’t even want to be there. With each week that passes, I find myself learning more and more about my students while at the same time I am learning more about myself. My story is no different than many of you who chose to take up the mantle of teaching. Before I became a teacher this year, I was working tech support for the High School I now work at. For seven years I entered countless classrooms, saw countless moments of inspiration, and also the shortcomings of students. It was near the end of April that I was given notification that it was a good possibility that I could get the job that came open at the high school and just like many of you I said to myself, “I can do this. This is going to be a walk in the park…”

Looking back on that simple arrogant statement, I realized just how untrue that was. While I still struggle to keep my head above water, I am finding my second wind in this game called teaching. I am moving more towards the realm of efficiency than I was at nine weeks ago, and yes, I am really starting to BELIEVE I CAN do this. Now that the inspirational part of my message is out of the way, it’s time to move onto the dilemma.

While I love teaching and I feel I have been called to teach, I still cannot get over this feeling that I can do more. I have two students of my ninety plus on my roll that will receive grades in the sixty percentile. While my principal and other administration assure me that this is something to be proud about, I don’t think I can ever be “okay” with any student of mine that fails. I’ve contacted parents, made phone calls and countless emails and neither parent even bothered to return my calls or emails.
I looked deeper into these two kids situations and I find it ironic that while one fit the bill of environmental factors, the other one was exact opposite. One of the students lived in a broken home, and mom works at Subway, while the other student has parents that are well known in the community. The other student lives with both parents and even attends church often. Now I know that sometimes a student is just going to fall into that five percent category, but to me, it is a travesty. I have set my class up in a way that as long as you put forth SOME effort you are going to pass my class so when I have two students who simply refuse to even TRY to pass go or even TRY to collect 200 dollars it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
So in closing I think what I am trying to say is how do you deal with those who simply do not care or lack any motivation to want to succeed? How do YOU reach them? How do you turn that light on in their heads to make them snap back to reality and actually care? Is there a magic word? A magic pill? An answer out there that can push these kids to motivation?
Mr. H.

Help me I am drowning....

I felt that title was appropriate because I think we all feel or have felt that way at one point or another in our teaching career. Granted, this is my second year doing this, but I still feel that way. Maybe it is because I was just oblivious to how I should have been doing things last year, but I am exhausted. Trying to keep up with NTI and all these new concepts and terms I have never even heard of, lesson plans, evaluations, TKES, and oh yeah just teaching, I feel like I am slowly going under. I will just be honest, if I didn't have a wife in education that can help me when I feel clueless, I would have already hung it up and went back to being a police officer. NOTHING could have prepared me for what it was going to be like as a teacher. I used to sit in my office as a School Resource Officer and think I can do that. Boy, was I mistaken as to the actual responsibilities that fall on teachers. We are asked to teach, keep up with tons of paperwork, IEP's, complete lessons plans for multiple classes, not to mention the other hundred things that we are asked to do on a daily basis. Then, as someone else stated, we are asked to motivate what seems to be the most unmotivated group of kids. For the most part, when they come to class, they don't want to do their work and they don't care if they get a bad grade or not. Now, this isn't all of them, but it seems we spend most of our time on them. What is the saying, you spend 95% of your time on 5% of your students--there is much truth to this.

I have also decided I need a class in organization, that being organized is essential to surviving in teaching. This has been a very eye-opening second year for me. I have definitely realized that teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated. This is one hard job--rewarding, but difficult.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Learning and thankful, but tired

Wow! What a busy nine weeks. I have learned so much from NTI and this class, but I am tired. The five weeks we spent driving four hours a day in the summer and now trying to keep up with this class, has really made for an exhausting first nine weeks. In addition to the rigorous demands of this course, teaching, skills student organization, and just being a dad and husband, is a lot. Don't get ,me wrong, I do not regret the classes because the friendships as well as the learning that has taken place has been a valuable experience. I am hoping for a nice long and peaceful Christmas break. It will be here before you know it, we are already a quarter of the way into the year.

Blog early,,,,,and often!

I decided I would use our “open mic” opportunity to challenge myself and all of you, my classmates. Over the first half of this semester I have done a poor job of timely blogging. Waiting to the last moment to brainstorm, pen and publish a post doesn’t allow me to effectively read all of the other writings on the blog site. This usually means some VERY good blog posts go lonely and unread. Poor little blog post; standing out there in the cold all alone with no one to appreciate it. They deserve better.

I spent a good portion of Sunday reading through many of the past posts and most are really, really good. These writings reflect situations and feelings which all of us can likely relate to. Going forward, I am going to push myself to get my blog posted earlier so I can read through all of the other postings and attempt to respond to more than one.

We all strive to write an exciting blog post which everyone will want to read and respond to so let’s help each other out and make the extra effort. Overall, this class is a strong group of teachers with individual areas of talent which have melded into a good team. Unfortunately, we are spread widely geographically so it is tough to really appreciate our talents outside of the blog.

I feel like I'm running a business!!!

Over the last few weeks, I feel like a manager running a business and I can see how you have to be really organized to make everything work. In July, our school was fortunate enough to have a new video board installed which is beyond amazing. I've been working with professional directors, photographers, and graphics operators during our varsity football games. When I'm working and training with all of those people I have to train myself as well as my students to do the jobs I listed before for next football season because it must be student rean next football season. It's organized chaos because even though I have good kids to work with, they are still kids. I have to make sure they are doing their jobs (which is filming footage to go on the video board) making a rotation schedule to ensure they train at some point during the game with the professionals, and as I said I have to make sure I'm getting the training that I need. Even though football on Friday nights in the south is known as "Friday night football," I call it "Friday night organized chaos." We are also starting our morning announcements pretty soon and since it wasn't done before in a news format, again, I have to be the one to organize it!!! I have to hold anchor tryouts, purchase more equipment, make sure I have the right software......It's really starting to get overwhelming. However I pride myself in getting things done when I said I would so it's going to be done, however some days it can be very stressful. It's funny when I hear the general public say that teachers don't do anything other than baby-sit kids....REALLY!!! My saving grace this year is that I have a great group of kids who are really interested in learning for the most part. Of course we all have those group of kids in the class who don't want to do anything but fortunately they are few and far between this year. With everything I'm doing it I definitely have a lot more respect for business owners. I've always had respect for them it just went up times 10! It just feels like I'm running a business and that's a good thing and a bad thing. The good part about it is I'm gaining management skills and I'm definitely learning how to be a more efficient multi-tasker. This school year has been busy but as always, I'm up for the challenge and I'm going to come out on top!!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What happened to motivation?

We are about 9 weeks into the 2013-2014 school year. I have experienced a wide range of emotions this year. Most of the emotions are related to my adjustment as a new teacher. However, I am consistently flabbergasted by the lack of motivation that the students exude. This is a generalization. In no means, does this statement or observation apply to all of the students. There just seems to be a lack of motivation in a lot of the kids. Maybe the emotion is apathy...I don't know. They seem content to do the bare minimum, while expecting the maximum return. They are quick to tell me that I am "doing too much". When I gave them a quiz on medical abbreviations, more than half failed. Initially, I internalized it that I had failed them as a teacher. So, I went back and retaught the lesson. We did multiple examples together and they practiced independently. We did it so much, that they began to whine and complain that they knew this already and were tired of reviewing the 20 abbreviations. So, I gave them the opportunity to take the quiz again. I didn't change ANYTHING!!! Same quiz, same questions, same answers. The results were overwhelmingly the same!!!!!!! Some of the excuses I heard were "But Ms. Jones, I had other stuff to do.", "I wanted to study, but I had math homework last night".  So, this time, I knew that it was them and not me.

Then came test time. I formulated a study guide from the test questions. I gave them the study guide about a week and a half before the test. They completed it independently first. Then I spent an entire class period reviewing them and answering all of the questions on the study guide with them. They had an opportunity to ask me any questions on the material....guess what?! "We don't have any questions". Can you guess what happened when test day came? I heard "What test, Ms. Jones?", "You didn't give us a study guide!"  Did I mention that I used to send text reminders to their precious little cell phones about the test?!?!? I am grading the test this weekend and I am flabbergasted again at the number of F's. I just don't get it. Where is the motivation to do well? Where is the motivation to have passing grades? Where is the motivation to learn? As a teacher, I feel like I can only do so much external motivation. How do you inspire intrinsic motivation in your students?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Look back to know what lies ahead

My title may seem a little strange, but hey, I AM a little strange.I think when we take time to review our past it gives us a clear direction to a more successful future. Some of us may look back with no regret, while others, and I think most fall into the others category, would love a re-do. Looking back at the time I have spent in the classroom, only pushes me to be better in the future. Sure, I get bogged down in the endless paperwork and assignments that have NOTHING to do with teaching, but what I really want, is to be THAT teacher. The one that makes a difference in a kid's life. Students may pass through my doors and not give a rip about doing hair. I am ok with that. I learned a long time ago to not take it personal. What I want more than anything is for them to pass through my doors and be a better individual. Some may question my motives for teaching. Afterall, I am supposed to be graduating successful stylists. I, on the other hand, think my content is the 2nd most important thing they learn. If my actions speak louder than my words then I want my actions to scream "You CAN do it, you CAN be somebody". Speaking to the child that is "different" in the hallway, asking a "not-so-popular" student to be my helper, encouraging a student with a behaivor problem rather than scolding them. These are the lessons I want my students to get an "A" in. Looking back this semester, I hope that my actions, rather than my words, resonate the loudest.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jamaica Bound!

Every now and then we get rewards as teachers. Being a teacher really does gains us respect in our communities. At our school we have a partnership with an organization that has programs in South Africa and Jamaica. Today I had a meeting with the founder of the program. I was asked to join her staff on an all expense paid trip to Jamaica. They are in need for someone to document the trip and help with a presentation that will spotlight the work done at my school. I know that my name constantly bounces around in the community. Every now and then I get a lead to for job. Or when I film my independent projects the parents line up to help give me locations to film in. This by far is the greatest offer I have received. I will make sure that I blog and post pictures so everyone can be there with me along the way.

Rome wasn't built in a day

Time and time again, as a teacher, I realize that I can not do it all by myself. This is going on my first full year as a teacher and it is clear that students are more of a help than I thought. So many of my students offer to help me with decorating, organizing and other small things that can turn into major projects if not completed. They saved me so much time. I formed a graphic design club and I've seen how my seniors have committed their time in participating after school and creating extra projects. I realized that most students want to offer their extra time and talents where it could be of a great help in the long run. Most projects take time and I realize that Rome wasn't built in a day. Together with the students, we continue to make progress together.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Timesheets, Employability Skills…All these things I wish I had either implemented at the beginning or was not as slothful in taking care of them (grades). In Summer NTI, we learned that structure and routine is something the students needs and is required and also to be proactive and not reactive. Of course, that was the purpose of completing our classroom rules and lab rules. There were a few things I did differently from the previous semester. I decided not to delve deep into lessons until about the third week of school. This was a pro considering, I was still getting new students the fifth week of school. If I could go back, I would still implement my timesheets and employability skill sheet from the beginning. There are things my students are doing that are wrecking my nerves (it may not affect other teachers), but I feel it may be unfair or come across as a punishment if I implement it now. We haven’t discussed careers yet, so I’m thinking this may be a great time to squeeze it in. I do know, next semester, I will implement from the beginning. It worked so much better when this happened. Plus, I truly believe the students appreciated the structure, enjoyed the signing in and out, and they adhered to the deductions for employability skills. Any thoughts?




The past couple of weeks I must admit have been extremely stressful. I personally feel that I can hide my stress and work through what needs to be done. I don’t know per se if I can say, this is what being a teacher is really about, but I can say that my students saw me as human. I know I was wearing my stress, etc.  on my sleeves, and I was tired. My students stepped up and did what they needed to do and did not take advantage of the situation. There were many times, I had to alter my lessons which required a great deal of flexibility from my students and there were no complaints (at least I didn’t hear of any). Where I may have fallen short, they pitched in. It was a moment where I knew there was much respect for me. It wasn’t an “aha” moment, but it provided insight that they can be and are self-directed learners.  I’m not sure if they would do that for every teacher.

Preparation is Paramount

This past week has taught me that preparation is paramount. I was so overwhelmed with my first few weeks of teaching that I was spending hours, like 8 of them, planning for one class period. I was stressed out, exhausted, mad at myself and I was not enjoying my job at all. Then, I went in the opposite direction for a week or two. I just made broad, general plans and resolved within myself that I would not touch anything related to work once I left school. That decision resulted in a happier home life, but made school life a bit chaotic. I found myself concerned that I didn't have enough for the students to do. They were happy, but I knew that I was short changing them and me. So, this week, I tried to merge the over analytical side of me with the lackadaisical side of me to see what would happen. It was a huge success!!! I planned a general lesson over the weekend and then went in and planned out a day in specific detail. I learned that detail came more easily when I worked from the broader plan. I recognized a big change in the students' interest level, as well. They were more engaged. I learned that there is a happy medium between over planning and not planning at all.  I am still working at becoming more efficient with it, but at least I know that I can do it. I like the "I know what we are doing next" feeling better than the "I hope this works and I wish I had something else for them to do" feeling.  Balanced preparation is the key.....too much is stressful and not enough is equally as stressful. I just might be onto something with this teaching thing!

A week of reflection

Since Cobb County had this week off, this week was a week of reflection and self-evaluation. I looked back on the year so far and there are a couple of things I need to fix. The most important thing for me is to stay more organized. Something that always gets me behind is putting of grading papers for a week or two. Even though sometimes we all say, "I'll get to it tomorrow, or next week etc..." that always gets me in trouble and I'm doing better at it, I just have to make it a habit and be disciplined. Something else that I have to work on is breaking down my lessons even more, piece by piece. Something that I believeis that some of us take for granted is the fact that all of the kids know the very basics of what we are trying to teach them. Something which I found out early in my teaching career is that you always want to break down every piece of the lesson which you are trying to teach because you truly don't know which students know the very basics and what students know and don't know. Even though as teachers, we sometimes feel the need not to break down the simplest of details, the students will appreciate it. The last thing which I need to be more mindful of is that even though I am teaching my lessons in different ways I always need to walk around the class more often to check on students' understanding before the end of class. Even though students say that they understand something, nine times out of 10, they really don't but they don't want to be embarrased by asking a question. I've found out that if you check with a student individually they will open up to you if they don't understand something. I just have to be sure I check more frequently!

2nd Place.......

The last few weeks have been very challenging. In addition to the tremendous pressures of every day teaching, I started a skills club after school. We had two weeks to complete a project for the state fair. I stayed until 5 pm everyday with the members of the club and they worked really hard on the project. The day of the judging, my co-sponsor took the students and the project to the Perry Fair. The students were excited and honestly I was happy for them, but not too hopeful. To everyone's suprise, we won!!!! Second place in the state is not bad for our first entry. The students were so proud of their work and I was proud to be a part of it all.

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Moment

I had my first TKES evaluation of the year this past week and I have a new administrator observing me. I had been out of the classroom two days that week for training and had a substitute in my class. I was teaching several new concepts and feeling really overwhelmed, when she showed up on a Thursday 7th period for the new course that I am teaching this year and to be honest, the one I least familiar with the curriculum. I have to learn much of the material as I go. This particular lesson was on crime sketching and I really enjoy teaching that topic, so I proceeded with the lesson and my assistant principal stayed and she stayed, really getting in to the lesson and what the students were doing. My kids were great, my administrator was really intrigued and everyone in the room was learning something. I felt the most at ease at a moment that I probably shouldn’t and to me that was the moment that I thought, “maybe I am right where I need to be.” I ended up getting my evaluation results the next day and was most pleased and encouraged to hang in there.


Teacher Status

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've had so many of these moments over the last year and a half that it's hard to choose just one. I work with so many students from around the school because of SkillsUSA and somehow I got roped into co-teaching a math class. So within a school day I am directly involved with 120+ students. I have students pass me in the hall and tell me hello and I have no idea who they are, that always makes me feel teacherish. lol Last week, I had a member of my SkillsUSA volunteer to help me with paperwork and straightening my classroom. We had an activity that dealt with magazines and clippings so there were little pieces everywhere. I told her how much I appreciated the help and to stop by the next morning and I'd have something for her for helping. I made her a little goody bag with candy in it, just to show my appreciation. When she came by to see me she said I have something for you too and she pulled out an apple and laughed. She said, "Aren't you supposed to give your favorite teachers an apple or something?" hahahah I died laughing. It hit me, I was a real teacher. My mom was a teacher and always had a collection of apple stuff from her students and I've always been like, NO! I will not be that apple collecting teacher. But that simple gesture made me think and even though it was a joke, I know that I have made an impact on student's lives just as they've made an impact on mine. p.s. - Sorry this was late, i've been sick.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Remember what's most important...

     During the past seven days I have been blessed to have several moments that I felt connected, engaged, and affirmed as a teacher. The first thing that made me feel this way was when one of my second year students raised her hand in class and asked me if I planned to ever return to working in "the Nursing field". When I responded yes, I will when I feel as if all my children are old enough for me to the goals that I have in healthcare. She then smiled and responded " well just don't leave until after I graduate", and then several others students echoed "me too". Another thing that happended that made me feel like this is what being a teacher is really all about actually occured today. I was working with my third year students on assessing blood pressures during the last block. They will have to check fifty blood pressures accurately by January as a requirment for the CNA program.
     I unexpectedly had to  have a teacher come in to relieve me for a few minutes while I excused myself to the restroom. When she came in and saw the students checking blood pressures  she said "someone can check mine" and about three or four students enthusiastically exclaimed "me, I'll do it". I was so proud of them. Today was their day to dress out for uniform inspections so they were in uniform and had their medical equipment. They were looking and behaving professionally when she entered without my prompting them to. When I returned from the restroom the teacher quietly told me " I love that you're here...I just love what you do and what you are teaching them. You are doing so much for them. I believe they are really loving this" . I responded, "thank you so much, I love being here with them". Lots of times I think about how much they do for me, they keep me going what the work behind the scences becomes overwhelming...One of my students in this same class told me on Monday that last year the only reason she came to school was because she wanted to come to my class. It's times like that when you have to remember what is most important and know that you are making a real difference.
      Last, but certainly not least, the time this past week that I knew this was what teaching was really all about and I REALLY felt connected was last Wednesday after school.  I decided to stay at work until 6 pm instead of 5:00pm that day to catch up on some work. My usual 2-3 students came by to work on upcoming assignments which is always rewarding for me to see them take responsibility for their grade. However, three other you ladies came in around 4 pm. They all stayed until 6:00! I felt as if we were keeping each other company as we worked and talked. One young lady in particular had missed close to 20 days last year, slept most of the time she was there, rarely dressed out and hardly ever turned in any work. This year she has been attentive and alert in class and has only missed a couple of days so far. That Wednesday after school she stayed the entire time, completed her career timeline, AND presented it in class the next day! I love it!  ENOUGH SAID :)


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." One of the moments this week that affirmed me as a teacher was a student stating this, "Dang, Dr. Acree, I have such a bad day when you're not a school." Now, of course I knew she was exaggerating but she still made her point. Later she stated she liked my class a lot and hasn't learned anything like this before. I have a good connection with this particular student and she understands the level of preparation it takes for class sessions. Sometimes I get lost in the negative comments because my class, although an elective, can be difficult because of the terminology. Some students tend to “give up” because they think the information is too difficult to understand and recall. I try my best to encourage students and give a few “easy” concepts. That conversation and statement with her made me feel that what being a teacher really all is about.

An Inspirational Moment

So far this year, my feelings of inadequacy and levels of stress have really been interfering with my ability to come up with exciting lesson plans and creative projects for my class. Summer NTI really taught me to keep things moving in the classroom and move away from the lecturing stance I would take from time to time. So, with the standards changing and the great instructional information that I had acquired, I felt a surmounting pressure (self-inflicted of course) to perform in the classroom. This being said, I felt as though my performance had been below par, especially for my intro class this year. I am not sure if it is due to the fact that the class exceeds the set limit in seat numbers, the students are a bit unruly, or it is due to my inability to keep them engaged. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me as though I had been able to teach them much of anything this year. Last week, we started the first full hands on project in the shop/lab. I gave instruction on what to do when we got to the shop, but did not include a process sheet due to the fact there were numerous new machines that students would be using that I wanted to go over with them personally as the project progressed. The students listened and followed through, once finished they moved back to their lab seats to layout their hole locations and awaited further instruction. After all students had returned to their seats, I began to give further instruction, but there were a couple of groups that continued to talk. A few students spoke up and quieted these groups down. Something I am used to with the students I have had in the past, but this was the first occurrence for this class. This was a good sign to me, showing that students were interested in knowing what was going to need to take place next. When I completed safety and final instruction on all the remaining machines, students went to work, all of them. My wild, uncontrollable class was following instruction to perfection. I had only one safety violation (that I observed) and it was corrected by another student, students were helping one another, and not a soul was off task. Not even my log bumps that usually want no part of anything resembling work. I felt as though I had reached a point with these students that I did not see coming in the near future. I congratulated them upon the close of class by literally applauding them. Even all of the closing questions were answered by a number of students unlike most days when the same four answer them all. Since that day, most all of the students have been much more attentive and interactive. Their interest has increased and involvement is more common. Students have become more apt to quiet one another down when instruction begins, relieving me from dealing with discipline. They’re attentiveness has redirected my thoughts of inadequacy, letting me know that I am getting through and being successful in my efforts.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Applause" for taking a risk

Let me start by saying I am THRILLED that we have a positive blog topic, because I need a little pick-me-up! One of my proudest moments thus far in teaching actually took place last week and I am so eager to share it with everyone, because of how happy it made my student. Our high school has the highest hearing impaired population in the district. I have a deaf student in my class, and for the sake of privacy we will call her Z. She is the first hearing impaired student to take a broadcasting class, so the two of us are working together in regards to accommodations and modifications. At our school we have a morning announcements show, and Z has expressed to me her frustration in not being able to hear or understand what is going on in the school because we do not have closed captioning. Her frustration led to an amazing idea. The last week of September was National Hearing Impaired Awareness Week and I thought that in an attempt to include our hearing impaired school population, we would do an all deaf morning announcement show. I asked Z how she wanted it formatted and she said “we suffer every day, let’s make everyone else suffer for one day”. The show was completely silent as Z sat on the news desk and signed all of the announcements (she did allow me to put subtitles at the bottom of the screen). Shooting and editing a completely silent show certainly had its challenges, but Z was so excited to be a part of it made it worth it. On the day the show aired, I grabbed Z and her classmates out of their room and brought them to my classroom to watch. It was the most silent a room full of teenagers has ever been. All eyes were glued to the screen and the hearing students were blown away by Z’s performance. She absolutely lit up while watching herself on the big screen! I had previously taught my students the sign for “applause” and when the show was over the class all “clapped” for Z. I was so excited that our experiment worked, and it absolutely warmed my heart to see how proud Z was of her contribution to her deaf classmates. I have had several students and teachers tell me it was the best morning announcement show yet, and they would love to see more of her.

Blown Away!!

I had an all-time "This is what being a teacher is really all about" moment this week. One of the classes I teach is Work Based Learning. This class is designed to take upperclassmen that have decided what their career is going to be and match them up with a local business in the same category. So, if a good student thinks they want to be a Vet I will go to a local Veterinary Office and attempt to get the student accepted as an intern. Last spring I had a senior who was interested in marketing as a future career. I was lucky enough to get her placed at Kennesaw State University in their Sports Marketing Department. Once the semester ended, she left the internship as she was going to attend a different college. Fast forward to last week and upon opening my e-mail one morning I noticed an e-mail from this same student. Here is the e-mail:

Hey Coach Kemp! I thought that you would like to know that because of the experience I got at Kennesaw State University in the sports marketing program I got hired to be a part of the Athletic Event staff, and I am the only freshman that got hired! I have so many doors that are open to me now and it is all because of your effort that you put towards me in your internship class. My boss is Joshua Clendenin, and he graduated from Harrison in 2004, so it's a small world over here in West Georgia. Anyways... I just wanted to take the time to thank you because I really could not be where I am without you and I don't come across nice and genuine people like you.

Insert misty eyes here! I was blown away by this action. For a teenaged student to take the time to email a thank you letter to me was very impactful. This was a much needed spirit lifter at a time when the grind was becoming quite tough.
What made me feel most engaged, connected and affirmed as a teacher was when I had two of my quiet students open up and talk. I finally found something that got their interest to share information with the class. Previously, one of the students gave me a hard time by not participating with their group and had no interest at all. It wasn't until a group project was assigned that involved each student to share something unique about themselves. Not only was I shocked, but the entire class was in awe when the student not only shared their story but volunteered to speak more than once. I felt as though my creativity of forming the groups was a success which helped students who normally wouldn't participate. To add, I was so excited to see this particular group of students again. The successful observation of recognizing the quiet students transform not only helped me proceed with the rest of the assignments, it also helped bring the class closer together.


This past week in one of my my classes we had a few minutes to chat before the bell rang to dismiss class and a student brought up the topic of colleges and a possible route he should take. After a few minutes of explaining possible routes and options one of my students asked me out loud, "Mr ........... have you ever considered being a counselor because I know you would be really good at it." After the student said that about five students said something similar to "I was thinking the same thing." "I think so because Mr. .......... takes the time to listen to you and breaks down a situation." I can't tell you how good that made me feel because I made a promise to myself to make sure I was making an impact in both inside and outside of the classroom. Another example that made me feel good was when I talked to a parent of one of my students earlier in the week and her father said that she always wanted to become a doctor. What made me feel good was her Dad said, "Even though she has always expressed interest of being a doctor, ever since she has taken your broadcasting class, she wants to become a reporter now." I had no idea I made an impact like that on her, when a student wants to change her entire career dream just by taking my class, you can't beat that! I can't always say that I wanted to be a teacher but from the response of that discussion, and the way my students tell me how good of a counselor I would be, I couldn't help but to think, "This is why I became a teacher, this is why I do this everyday."