Thursday, September 1, 2016

How'd I Get Here?

When I was in high school, I can remember deciding to go to engineering school and make a ton of money as a female engineer, who at the time got paid more because there were so few of them and it fulfilled affirmative action plans. I was graduating from Waxahachie High School in 1989and the Superconducting Supercollider was billed to be the most amazing thing in technology, science and the world since the discovery of penicillin. Engineering was going to make me much wealthier than my teaching parents and teaching grandparents. I remember growing up with the knowledge of how much extra work teachers put it and how little they were compensated. I knew first-hand the difficulties of raising a family of five on teaching salaries and was determined to be different. I also grew up seeing how much my parents cared about their students, how my worked hard to make learning Biology fun and hands-on, and how my dad would look to find a better way to reach a struggling math student.

 Somehow the good of teaching penetrated my soul more deeply than the bad and I found myself miserable while studying to become an engineer. While trying to figure out what to do, I got a job as a tutor at a local tutoring franchise. It was weirdly rewarding, so I applied for a teacher's aide position at my local school district; the same school I graduated from. If I thought teachers were underpaid, boy was I in for a shock! I remember my checks were only about $630 each month, but I continued to enjoy my position and found such contentment in feeling like I was part of these students' lives. I had two children and took a year off after each but always found my way back into the classroom, and always at the secondary level. I did substitute three days in 4th grade and it rained all three days- it was awful trying to keep all of those same kids happy for three solid days and keep my sanity. I learned very quickly that teaching at the elementary level required some extra dose of "specialness" that I did not posess! (My hat is tipped to all the amazing elementary teachers out there!)

 I worked in alternative placement programs, taught low-level math classes, classes to help students pass our state assessment and at one point even taught an ESL math class (which was comical as I have no second language; English is it.) I finally landed in what we call Content Mastery in Texas. It is a classroom where Special Education students can come to receive a more focused, one-on-one approach to their guided practice, quizzes and tests. I found my niche in this classroom and it was never a dull moment as we serviced all levels of disabilities and learning struggles as well as every subject area that was offered to high school students at the time. We would often have a room full of students working on everything from Biology, Algebra or World Geography to Journalism, Art or Spanish. After about 12 years on and off in eductaion, I finally decided to go back and finish my long-abandoned engineering degree to get my teaching certificate in secondary mathematics. I quit work, went to college full-time and finished 84 semester hours in 2 years of college with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on math, science and education. By design, my degree is intent on finding solutions to issues utilizing more than one discipline and to improve on ideas by drawing from other disciplines which has been very helpful in my journey as an educator. I find myself drawing on ideas in other subject areas, and looking at my ideas to see how they cna be used in those same areas all the time.

That was 11 years ago, and I have been teaching Algebra 1 to ninth grade students ever since. My heart will always be that of an educator and those students are all "my kids." I am currently working to become certified in other core subject areas and will also be pursuing my Master's in Curriculum soon. I have always been someone who is not afraid to try something new or to investigate how to do things unconventionally in order to reach my students more effectively. So, I decided to start a blog to talk about ideas I have used in the classroom and how they have impacted my teaching, and most importantly my student's learning. Maybe through my trials and errors, another young aspiring teacher can glean some insight and wisdom into their classroom. I will post about all kinds of things from classroom management, technology integration, ideas specific to mathematics and ideas that are cross curricular. I have been blessed to spend most of my teahcing years at the same school and to have had amazing administrators who have provided support and encouragement through the years. I hope that if you are reading this and are a fellow educator that you have been and will be as blessed as I have been. So from this 3rd generation educator to you, I wish you all the best! Don't ever stop learning and improving and looking at things from a different perspective! We owe it to our students to strive to bring our best and to get over our anxiety and fear of trying to do what we can to make learning interesting and fun. It is a growth process and I am proud to say that I am still trying, still improving, sometimes striking out, but learning all the time!

Mrs. R

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