Kids, Love of Teaching, Mental Health, school, Students, Teach, Teaching

Teaching after a School Shooting

Today, I write with a heavy heart.

I am an educator in the U.S.  This week, we once again saw another mass shooting at a school.  My heart breaks.  My stomach churns.  I cried as I watched the videos.  Yet, our country turns against one another instead of coming together to find solutions to keep our kiddos safe.

Why?

A statistic was released this week that 18 school shootings have occurred since January 1, 2018.  Then different stories came out about each of these shootings.  Some shootings were due to suicides on school campuses but not in school hours.  Others were from bullets hitting a window.  A round of bullets being fired in a school parking lot.  The stories continued.  Here is the fact though: There have been multiple school shootings this year.  That is appalling.  For those screaming “There were only three, not eighteen!” Shame. On. You.  There was one, more than one.  It’s an issue. A large and scary issue.

As teachers, we go above and beyond to keep our kiddos safe.  We will, and do, put our lives on the lines to save your child.  We put our own families and children on the back burner so your kid is safe and learns in a welcoming and safe environment.

So why do I write this?  For many of my international readers, I always value your opinions.  Why?  Simple:

  • The UK has not had a school shooting since 1996.
  • Australia’s last school shooting was in 1996.
  • Germany, Finland, and Scotland have responded to attacks on schools with large policy changes.
  • Switzerland has high gun ownership, but school shootings do not exist.
  • In Germany, you must pass a rigorous psychological and medical exam if you are under 25 and trying to obtain a firearm.

Here are more facts:

  • Parents are waking up this morning with their child no longer alive in their bed.
  • Parents are planning their child’s funerals.
  • Bright minds and futures were extinguished this week quickly and violently.
  • The gunman legally bought his firearm, even after being flagged by the FBI for speaking about becoming a professional school shooter.
  • Our children need to be safe at school.

As a teacher, I find myself reading comments from individuals saying that teachers are “sitting ducks” and “too merciful” if a gunman entered the school.  Little do they know that teachers will fight to the death to keep their students safe.  I’ve watched, heard, and read individuals fight more about guns and firearms, instead of discuss the issue at hand and speak intelligently and respectfully about ways to protect our future.

Our kids come to school with problems–abuse, financial burdens, hungry, homeless, hurt, and broken.  They carry the worries of their parents and families.  Some do not know where their next meal will come.  These kiddos depend on our schools to keep them safe and away from harm.  School shootings should not be added to their worries.

Whatever your stance may be, let’s get one thing straight: We must protect our kids at all costs.  Instead of becoming divided on this issue, let’s strike a spark in our country to make a change and keep our children safe. 

We have parents, teachers, and students afraid to go to school, worried if it will happen to them, and planning what to do if the event happens.  Being prepared is a must.  However, what can we do as Americans to get this issue under control?  Other countries have, why can’t we? Let’s not forget this event and merely move forward.  Let’s spark change.

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, school, Students, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Traveling

Top 10 Teacher Pet Peeves

Let me say. this first–I LOVE my profession.  Just like any profession, we have our own pet peeves that make us want to pull our hair out and bang our head against the brick wall.  So what are our top 10 pet peeves?

 

TOP 10 TEACHER PET PEEVES

  1. No Name on Paper–Please…please, just write your stinkin’ name at the top of the page.                                           name on paper
  2. Repeating Myself...for the hundredth time–When I spent 10 minutes explaining the direction, and a hand immediately raises and asks “what am I supposed to do?” my eyes slightly bulge and I have to count to ten in my head.              frustrated gifs
  3. Losing Planning Time–Yes, let’s take my 30 minute planning period that I am supposed to grade papers, create a differentiated lesson, answer emails and phone calls, create materials, and set up lesson preps and just get rid of it for something else that is a waste of time.                                 frustrated gifs 1
  4. Talking during the lesson–Maybe you’d know what to do if you stopped talking to your friend….                                       teacher gifs 1
  5. Long meetings–A short meeting?  What are those?  They do not exist.            meeting gifs
  6. Misbehaving during an Observation–We’ve all been there.           ill_kill_you_office
  7. Extra Credit Requests–Sure, extra credit is sometimes needed if a massive group of students don’t do well on a test (when in reality we should re-evaluate our teaching methods and re-teach the lesson), and sometimes one student does bomb a test.  I’m not talking about that.  We know that kid.  The one who never studies.  The one who has an excuse for every homework assignment or project.  No…no you may not get extra credit.                                            willy wonka
  8. Will This Be on the Test?–Yes.                            yes
  9. Seeing the Classroom as their Bedroom–I’ll never forget my second year of teaching.  I had a fabulous group of kiddos.  Yet, I will never forget a student who constantly lost his papers.  Finally, I asked him where he was placing them.  “I put them right here on the floor!  Someone must have stolen my papers!” No kiddo.  No.  That’s when I explained my room was not his bedroom.  It was an eye-opening and ground breaking moment for him.                                  why would you do that
  10. Do We Have To?–What do you think the answer will be? Yes.  Then Yes.             teacher gifs 4

 

But at the end of the day, we wouldn’t trade our job for anything else!

 

xoxo

You Wanderer

Anxiety, Anxious, Career, Food, Help Needed, High Functioning Anxiety, Job, Kids, Mental Health, Questions, Students, Teach, Teaching, Time Management

Anxiety Tips

In my last post, I explained some triggers for anxiety.  Dealing with anxiety myself, I was able to see some of the five biggest reasons for anxiety coming on and coming on strong.

As stated before, I have high functioning anxiety.  However, there are multiple types of anxiety that range from looking completely normal to outsiders to not being able to leave your house or enjoy social outings.  So how does one function or overcome anxiety?

Honestly, I don’t know if I can say you completely “beat” it, but you are able to cope with it.  One of my longest friends has dealt with anxiety for years, but it worsened when she was hit hard with depression as well.  She felt helpless and didn’t know where to turn.  As I spoke with her this week, she followed some of the same tips I did when my anxiety seemed out of control.  After a month, she was able to have a positive conversation and see the importance of mental health.  Is this a cure all post? Absolutely not.  However, I wanted to provide some tips for those who may not know where to turn, what do do, or how to get their mental health under control.

Included are 5 tips to help you cope with anxiety.

  1. Breathing Techniques–While in counseling and even seeing medical doctors, I found that breathing techniques became a way to give me a moment of peace.  Sure, it didn’t cure the anxiety, but it gave me a moment of help when things were hectic.  The saying “just breath” makes every single person with anxiety want to hit you over the head with a frying pan.  Learning how to breathe is a different story.  Counting to ten did NOTHING for me.  Alright, 1,2,3….this does nothing. For some it helps, but I found focusing on my breathing was what I needed.  Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.  The breathing was quick and short when I started.  I had to learn how to take in deep breaths and zone out everything else.  Only my breathing.  I also found that sticking my head between my knees while breathing truly helped.  It calmed down my heart rate, lessened any dizziness, and I could focus on just my needs.  Instead of focusing on my anxiety, I would purposefully turn my thoughts to something positive.  It wasn’t easy at first.  Plain and simple.  It takes time folks.  You have to retrain your brain how to think and even your body on how to respond.     breathing gif
  2. Therapy/Counseling-Going to talk to someone about your problems at a large financial rate seems silly and pointless to many individuals.  Why should I tell someone else about my problems?  They can’t help me.  Talking about it won’t do a thing, I need actions.  Well, for some individuals, this is a life saving action. Therapy and counseling has changed over the years as well.  Sure, you can talk to someone one-on-one or even in a group setting.  However, mobile apps, texting, video chats, email, and online chats can be a form of help as well.  If you’re unconfortable meeting with someone (especially those with social anxiety) try a form of email, phone call, or even texting at first.  Let me stress this though–mental health apps are not an alternative for professional therapy, but it can help with day-to-day issues and stress.  Going to therapy was a big step for me.  An embarrassing step to be completely honest.  It took almost 6 months before I saw results.  One session does not fix years of anxiety and stress.  Yet, I saw results. Going and seeing a professional was a life changing experience for my mental health.  I no longer saw it as a weakness, but strength because I was reaching out and asking for help.  My therapist gave me techniques and tips for managing my anxiety (many that I’m sharing with you), and gave me “homework” to do at home to help with my specific issues.  If you’re sick or have a physical problem, we go to a doctor.  If you’re having problems with your mental health, go see a mental health doctor.  There is no shame.                                                     therapy gif 1
  3. Media Hiatus-Why does taking a social media break help those with anxiety? Well, recent studies have found that social media has changed peoples lives…and not for the good.  More people have reported feeling worried and/or uncomfortable when media outlets are not accessible.  People panic without their phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The fear of “missing out” on something increases, and, believe it or not, social media is more addictive than cigarettes. Social media prevents individuals from even sleeping!  Those with anxiety are more prone to compare their lives to everyone around them and despair when it is not living up to this fictional picture.  Yes, I say fictional.  Marriage is not always perfect.  Your house, not perfect.  Your life, not perfect.  However, through the lens of social media and picture filters, everyone else looks perfect.  As stated in my previous post as well, this makes a perfectionist’s anxiety go through the roof.  Take a break from social media!  When my anxiety was at it’s highest, I shutdown my Facebook for 40 days.  Woah!  Tough, but as each day went by, it became easier and easier.  I didn’t care about someone liking my post or photos.  My relationship with my husband (at that time fiancé) became closer, and my anxiety slowly lessened as I couldn’t compare my life with those around me or worry about how many likes I may receive.  Although it causes anxiety for some at the beginning, it’s almost a time of rehab and getting a true reality check.   Read more here.                               social media 1 gif
  4. Body–Part of anxiety includes multiple aspects of taking care of your body! So what should you do/try?
    • Exercise–Not only does exercise help you become healthier and stronger, but it also releases endorphins, which triggers positive feelings into the body.
    • Eating Healthy–Eating better helps clear up your skin, keep your mind sharp, and give you energy for the day.  Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks for energy boosts throughout the day.  With anxiety, comes indulging in junk food or “comfort” food, not eating, or eating too much.  Find a food that is healthy and you like.  This is probably one of the hardest aspects of life to change, but it can help you balance and control the anxiety.
    • Sleep–Aim towards 8 hours of sleep each night.  Oh no.  Definitely difficult with anxiety as I stated in my previous post.  So what should you do/try?  Limit screen time before bed and even turn it off completely. Do NOT check social media in the middle of the night.  Again, turn it off.  Have your phone set for only your alarm and emergency calls.  Try a few things before bed like reading, listening to music (I prefer classical or instrumentals), yoga, and breathing techniques.  Set a routine.  We do this to our children, why not yourself?  Set a bedtime and stick to it.  Again, it will be difficult in the beginning, but over the weeks you will see results.
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol–these two can trigger or aggravate anxiety.  Drink more water instead!                                                                                       exercise gif
  5. Medicine–This is always a touchy topic.  Why?  Some people think that medicine shouldn’t be used to treat mental health.  Others don’t want to depend on medicine for the rest of their lives.  Some are simply embarrassed at the idea.  My experience with anxiety medicine–it took the edge off, but I needed the other four tips from above too.  A small pill (with a low dose) did not fix me over night.  The side effects of the medicine did not settle well with my body, and I had to adjust my dosage and type of medicine to combat that issue as well.  For some individuals, medicine helps and gets them to a place where they can fully manage the anxiety.  Others don’t need it.  I am NOT a medical professional.  Speak with your doctor first on this issue.  They will know how to help you in the best way!

 

Will all of these steps heal your anxiety? Probably not.  Can they help? Yes.  Give them a try and see the results.  Worse case scenario, it doesn’t work.  On the other hand, it may just help you and your mental health.

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Continue reading “Anxiety Tips”

Career, Graduate Degree, Graduate School, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, school, Students, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Traveling, Time Management, Traveling

Teacher and also a Student

Last year at this time, I found myself neck deep in work–completing the Ohio residency program, planning a large wedding, and finishing my masters program…all while also working full time.  As I reminisce this chapter of my life, I truly wonder now how I survived.  I had to take every day one step at a time.  I could get ahead in planning with teaching, but my nights were filled with making phone calls to the wedding coordinator and writing paper after paper for graduate school.

Here I am.  A teacher. A student. All at the same time.

So how does one work full time, attend graduate school with max hours allowed, and have a life on top of that?  What are the best and worst things about graduate school?  Are there ways to make it easier?

Let me break down the five most basic questions everyone in this position (or pondering this torture) will encounter at some point.  These are things I wish people would have helped me when I earned my degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

  1. How do I pick a graduate school and major that fits me?  Ask yourself:
    • Do I even want/need to go to school?  Yes. Read on.  No. Read one of my other posts. 😉
    • What am I good at?  What aspect of my undergraduate degree do I want to expand
    • What do I want to improve?
    • Online or Campus?  Let me recommend online as long as you can work basic computer programs.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I loved working in my PJ’s at home on my own time.
    • What can I afford?  In the good ol’ U.S. of A. we sadly have to pay most of our schooling bill.  It’s a sacrifice, but that’s the road to success.  When picking a graduate school, I looked at schools that had my major, provided online options, and would not dig me deeper in a debt ditch or contemplate paying student loans or eating.  student loans
    • Find what works for you.  Figure out what you want.  If you’re spending this money and time for another degree, it needs to meet your needs and wants.
  2. What is the workload like? 
    • Depends on your degree and work ethic.  Generally…it’s a lot. Plain and simple.
    • Can you type quickly or know shortcuts to search for key words to insert in a paper?   Can you use Google?  Sounds silly, but you’d be surprised.  Everything depends on your skills, work ethic, and time management.  For example, reading the entire text book in three days may not be likely (especially if you value your life).  However, I recommend using an online textbook.  Why? Ctrl + F baby.  Looking for a specific word or need information for a research paper. Ctrl + F.  It allows you to find what you need quickly and cut down on some time searching through hundreds of pages.  That’s graduate school.  Yes, you learn, but you have to find ways to eliminate times of waste as well.
    • Word smarter not harder. graduate-meme
  3. Is it possible for those with a family? 
    • Is It possible?   Absolutely.  Single mothers do it.  Parents do it.  Older individuals do it.  Young people with zero money in their pocket do it.
    • Sure, you’ll be busy.  You’ll need to set a specific amount of time each night (or day) to work on school work.  You may need your spouse to take care of the kids for an hour each night.  Maybe it ends up being video game time for the kiddos for that hour or two.  You’ll be exhausted, don’t misunderstand me, but it is possible.                     family and school
  4. What should I expect that no one will tell me upfront?
    • In my situation, the thing NO ONE told me about was the amount of group projects.  Oh….I LOATHE group projects!  hate hate hate                                       As I stated before, I earned my degree in Curriculum and Instruction which involved educators from around the country.  It shocked me how many teachers were lazy.  I felt like I was dealing with my students.  I found myself begging individuals to do some of the group work (as the workload was enormous since it was supposed to be split), and teachers would either not respond at all, put the work load on other individuals, or do 1/4 of the work, while I was left with the other 3/4.  What a pain in the behind. group project Furthermore, I found that professors–you know, the people who are teachers to the teachers, were giving those who did nothing the same grade as those who did all the work.  Sure, I told my professors what happened.  Yes, I explained the situations in the group evaluations.   Didn’t matter.  I only had ONE professor that graded us fairly.  You know…the way we are supposed to grade our own students.  So what’s the point of this rant?  There are things you will absolutely encounter and no one mentions–people are incompetent.  It doesn’t matter which department, which professor or peer…it happens.  The financial aid office “loses” your payment or scholarship aid.  The professor punches in the grades wrong and confuses your 96% for a 69%.  The dean stops reading your emails when you explain you’re not paying the university to edit and fix their technology issues on a daily basis.  Not like any of that has happened to me…                                      rolls eyes                                                          Hang in there folks, the end is worth it.  I promise.
  5. Is it worth it?
    • In the end (and for those of us who have to pay), yes.  Within my first 15 graduate credits, I received a pay bump.  By the end of my masters degree, I was given a more significant pay bump.  Although it may not seem huge right now, in a few years I will be making close to 10k more than those with an undergraduate degree.  Additionally, I will be making more every year as I get closer to that time where the pay gap is larger.  What about more than just the price?  Let’s talk about the fact that I did actually learn things essential to my career.  It helped me become a better teacher.  I learned new methods, technological tools, strategies, research, etc.  I came out of it more educated about my field.  Even with my frustrating time pursuing my graduate degree, I am so happy to have my degree.

Is this time stressful? Yes.

Is this time of stress, tears, frustration, dedication, and sacrifice worth it? Yes.

Learn more.  Better yourself.

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”~ Aristotle

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Job, Kids, Love of Teaching, Students, Teach, Teaching

Why Teaching?

Why did I choose the teaching profession?

Was it because I loved having parents degrade my career?  How about people referring to me as a glorified babysitter?  Maybe I love politicians pulling funding from my career every year, leaving me with very little and paying for much of my classroom out of my pocket?  Summers off?  Wait…maybe it’s because I loved being demeaned in college and that my work was simply coloring and using glue sticks.  I can give you a for certain head nod that those were not the amazing reasons I joined the teacher work force.

So why did I begin teaching?

“I am a teacher. It’s how I define myself. A good teacher isn’t someone who gives the answers out to their kids but is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed. That’s the way I see myself, so whatever it is that I will do eventually after politics, it’ll have to do a lot with teaching.” ~Justin Trudeau

A little bit about your author:

  1. I said I would NEVER become a teacher.  I had no intention of stepping foot back into a classroom.  When I threw my cap in the air at graduation, I had every hope of entering the medical field and trying to erase my memories of my own schooling.
  2. I could not enjoy my current career path.  I loved interacting with people in the doctor’s office.  I loved learning new theories and information in the scientific department.  Yet, I didn’t love medicine.  Was I doing well in my studies? Yup.  Did I have friends? Yup.  Did I love it? No.
  3. I made a conscious decision that I wanted to love my future career.  Even if that meant making a financial sacrifice.  The words “teaching” kept running through my head.  I decided to take one education class to get my feet wet and see if I even enjoyed it.  I was immediately hooked.

A few years later I found myself in my own classroom.  Shaking.  Feeling like I had to puke.  Nervous about making an impact, maintaining classroom behavior in an inner city school, and wondering if I could do it.  From that first day to now, I have been loving every moment of it.

It’s true–I don’t get paid very much for my qualifications.  I not only have a bachelor of science, but I also have minors in English, Science, and Religion.  I then received my Masters degree and continued my education after that as well.  I soaked in learning about research based methods, utilizing data, curriculum mapping and planning, child psychology, and becoming a better teacher.

I love learning.  That’s why I also love teaching. 

Teaching kids the love of learning is one of my favorite parts of my job.  I love having those “light bulb” moments where they finally understand and connect the dots.

Why else do I love teaching?

  1. I love watching kids grow academically, emotionally, mentally, and as a person.  I get to have an impact on that child (that may be remembered for the rest of their life).  Woah.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  More than anything, it makes the weight of my responsibility even heavier and sacred.
  2. I chose teaching, because I can be silly and crazy.  I get students excited to learn and explore the world around them.
  3. Personal Growth–I’ve seen all backgrounds of students, which helps me get insight into different perspectives.  I’ve worked with farm kids, rich kids, inner city kids, and many more.  I’ve seen students excelling in school.  I’ve seen kids who need love, because they don’t get it at home.  I’ve seen kids with strong wills and those who are still learning to stand up for themselves.  I’ve seen kids who go to bed hungry, listening to gun shots in the street, and wake up not knowing where or when their parent will return.  It’s an emotional job.  I get attached to my kids.  I care and their problems become my own.  I stay up at night wondering and praying for their safety.  Since I’ve become a teacher, I learn more and more that my life is about others.  I’ve become more patient.  I’ve become diplomatic when conversing with parents and colleagues.  I know when to speak and when to hold my tongue.  Most importantly, I have learned from my students what it is like to come from a plethora of backgrounds and how to meet them with their needs.
  4. enjoy working with kids.  I’ll never forget as my husband was around a group of children that were not his own at a party with friends. His patience was wearing thin and he eventually had to go into a different room.  I quietly went up to him and whispered “I do this every day.”  As we came home from that party and talked about our time, he simply stated, “I couldn’t do that every day.  Even with a summer off…”  He understood.  I love working with kids, your kids.  I get excited the first day of school and can hardly sleep.  I love coming in on Monday mornings to little chatters and kids racing to tell me about their weekend.  My job is a joy.
  5. I can be a voice for those who are too afraid to speak out.  You teachers know exactly what I’m thinking about.  We have all had to report a situation to social services.  We gain the trust of the child.  We may be the only one’s that child feels like he/she can talk to or express their concerns.  We listen.  We love.  We speak up for them and we do everything in our power to give them the best life.
  6. I inspire change.  It’s hard to not let politics get in the classroom, and I do keep the classroom neutral.  However, we discuss justice, injustice, history, peace, and becoming a better person for society.  We teachers want your child to inspire change for the future and promote goodness.  In the words of Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
  7. I have a purpose.  My purpose is to teach, train, and mold our future.

Teachers choose teaching, because of those seven points (there are more too).  Some want summers off, but I can assure you they hate their profession (and usually don’t last long).  I knew my profession would be difficult.  I knew I would never become a millionaire.  I knew I would have to grow and learn constantly.  I have to beat my personal best every day.  I engage, love, care, and teach kiddos daily.  I LOVE it, and I have never looked back since I chose my calling.

“Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honour for me.”~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam