17 April 2014

NAILED IT: addendum to pt. 1

A good teacher always knows that when things are working pretty well... they can still get better! (seriously- say that quote in an interview).

I received an email from a sweet lady a few days ago called my attention to some other things that could be added to the part 1ish section of last summer's NAILED IT series. I would go ahead and copy/paste the entire convo here, but we all know I'm already fairly wordy, sooooo let me give you a run down of the basics: "A" is looking to get interview for a job and has been searching websites for 2014-2015 openings, but is "worried applying without my certification which [she] won't be taking the tests for until the first week of May would be a bad choice because [her] application wouldn't be complete since they are online apps and therefore that part would be empty." 

That is an absolutely valid concern, and something that I thought about a lot during my own job search process. Remember, I am not a wizard hiring genius by any means, but speaking from personal experience, here is what I would recommend:
"I would say definitely go ahead and apply without your certification, and attach a note somewhere on the app (even as a PDF if the application requires a PDF of your cert) that says the exact date of your tests and that you will communicate the results as soon as possible. That's what is had to do, too, because even though I'd taken the tests, they were only valid pending my graduation (which was in May).
Also, I would shoot very brief emails to the principals of the schools letting them know when you graduate and take your exams, that you are interested in a specific position, and ask 1-2 specific, educated-sounding questions about the job. That way, your name is out there and if they come upon your application in a pool of 100000, the principal may recognize it and remember you are interested in THEIR school's job (as opposed to ANY school's job... which may be your thought at this point, but the former looks better to an employer😉)."
What do you think? Am I crazy?

In my afore mentioned personal certification dilemma, I had the results of my TEXES tests and looking back, I think I could have easily taken a screenshot and/or downloaded the results (showing that I'd passed) and made them into a PDF to attach to an job application online or email to whomever is concerned at the district, explaining that they would become valid as of May __, 20__.

My last words of wisdom: Make friends with the HR and/or secretaries in the district you want to work in. Those beautiful women (or men!) could make your life so much easier when it comes to job applications and explaining what is really necessary vs. what you can bring it when you get it!

15 April 2014

i'm a helper

Y'all. I have a confession.

I like being a school helper. 

From pretty much day 1 in kindergarten, if you needed a paper passer/pencil sharpener/buddy to a sad kid/general all-around brown-noser... I was your girl!

That being said, I was obviously bound and determined to become a teacher from day uno of school (and now, I LOVE working with the "bad" kids children who have challenging behavior and am a teensy, tiny, little bit annoyed by the suck ups... maybe opposites attract?), but I think I really didn't know what teacher was going to mean in my life.

In my current job, I am a teacher of students, first and foremost. My little pumpkins in the morning pretty much light up my life, one kick/punch/screaming fit in the hallway at a time. I couldn't imagine being at school and not spending the first part of my day with those precious nuggets, because I tell you what: when I walk in the room from being at yet another mid-morning ARD and one of my guys (on the spectrum, generally hates being around people, etc.) drops his favorite toy and walks all the way across the room to grab me in a bear hug, I melt. When I get 10 solid seconds of work on a file folder task out of another handsome young gent... even though I spent a full minute spinning him in an office chair (p.s. get with me about propriosensory behavior interventions. I am ON the bandwagon, baby!)...I am tickled to death. I love working with students pretty much more than anything I do all day at school.

Because I am a grown-up LOL I unfortunately have a laundry list of other tasks I am assigned to. (I say unfortunately, but honestly... I kind of like it because teaching adults how to help children in their class is a lot more efficient than trying and failing to get to every single kiddo every single day on my own). I work with gen ed teachers a lot to help them understand differentiation, modification, accommodation, data taking and assessment, proper documentation, etc. I work with my paraprofessionals a lot to help them understand why the heck our kids can't say their own name, but can tell you exactly what they want by putting a picture in your palm.

I have been delighted to start a new kind of teaching gig- one I definitely wasn't planning on... For the last few months, I have been getting more and more emails from people in response to my NAILED IT series, asking for help learning how to navigate the interview process. I recently had a great conversation with a young lady and I think her questions are super valid- check back on Thursday to get a peek into our conversation!

P.S. I promisepromisePROMISE I will start talking about teaching things more and interview things less one day. (:

11 April 2014

5 For Friday

Y'all, this has seriously been the longest week. I have been in my classroom like a total of two half days, Monday-Friday. And guess what? I actually like to teach. It's what I wanted to do when I took this job.And when I'm there, I can make sure my room doesn't have to be rearranged because apparently kids do things like, oh, I don't know... climb halfway out the window (story for another time, my friends) when you aren't watching them and following the set routine and classroom protocol.

I wasn't at school this week partiallu because I was attending a professional development session on Tuesday. It was actually great. Real life lawyers presented on hot topic legal issues that special education programs are facing. Sometimes it is tough being in a non typical sped teaching situation, but in cases where I get to go to super helpful info sessions instead of having to get the info second hand from a district rep, I like it.

I haven't been grocery shopping in two+ weeks. So my lunches at school have been dismal. We are seriously living on like Greek yogurt and whatever take-out leftovers we have from the nights we've gone out to dinner. I thought maybe I would step up my game this weekend and go to the HEB, but then I remembered that we are heading to Htown. Which is still 3 hours away. And it is 9pm. Awesome.

I am going to Houston for a coaching conference because I recently started volunteering to help out the local swim team and when they offered to send me to a really cool conference and hook me up with a hotel downtown... I really couldn't say no. I'm also dragging my boo along because we've spent 4 of the last 4 weekends apart and sometimes we like to spend quality time together. He is going to have SO MUCH FUN doing our taxes while I'm in the sessions tomorrow afternoon. 

 I am really trying to motivate myself to do some fun cutey things with my littles for Easter next week (crafts, dying eggs, some painting maybe?), but you best believe it will mostly depend on how long it takes me to finish up freaking Alt. Which, speaking of, I learned about the changes coming for it today and let me tell you what: extremely standardized. Which I are two sides of: 1) we are supposed to be individualizing like champs, but we want the measure of progress to be the same? That is mildly confusing 2) there does need to be a way to hold teachers accountable- even those who teach LID/Life Skills classes. It truly breaks my heart to see that population pushed to the side. And by "breaks my heart" I mean, pushes me right to the edge and brings out my sassy side. ALL CHILDREN DESERVE TO LEARN. PERIOD. DOT. NO QUESTION. #minirantcomplete

03 April 2014


Ok, can I just say that Farley is my girl? [or I want her to be]. Seriously. This is the most simple reflection piece and if I actually did it every month, I think it would be sweet to look back on. Also, love that she does this with her class. Um, hello, 4th grade reflective writing. Um, hello, rapport building. 

Um, anyways.

Have I ever mentioned that I have a 45 minute drive to work on a dark, unlit highway (or that I have an elementary school literally a block from my house... another story for another time)? Every morning, I call my lil nug Al and we complain strategize for the upcoming day, since we have kinda matchies jobs. She usually gets to school before I do, so I finish my ride by listening to my boos on the Bobby Bones Show and/or iTunes radio. Then I workworkwork and finish my day pretty much the same way.

Can I just get a hallelujah for Fridays? I am taking a life guard course this weekend, so I will be pretty busy, but at least I get a smidge of a break from s-c-h-o-o-l.

I know it's only April, but I have been thinking about next year for the last couple months and it is starting to get real. I have some kids aging into new settings, so there will be lots of schedule/transition planning over the next few weeks to make sure we at least attempt an appropriate placement for next school year!

STAAR testing is not my boo. Somebody get me into a primary job, STAT. Oh wait... Because I am at a teeny tiny school and I am sassy and kids seem to tolerate me, I get a lot of special jobs. For instance: ALL of the STAAR Alt testing for elementary. For instance: Administering STAAR & STAAR-M to nuggets who probably need a swift kick in the hiney an extra encouraging face to help them remember that they can do their best and this is just a test and it's not a big deal, but please don't sandbag, kthx.

I have been a step counting machine lately. I use a FitBit Force (which I know has been recalled, whatever, I don't have any blisters) and I set my goal at 10,000 per day. I would say I hit the goal about 4 days a week. Also, fun fact, it is quite durable. Just ask my students who use it as a fidget in class when we are singing songs that they don't actually like.

First off, I am the kind of person who does well under pressure. Thus, I usually leave my room a hot mess in the afternoon and then magically clean it and set it up for the next day between approximately 7-7:30am. At 7:30am, the lil chica I am tutoring, aka life coaching, comes in and we work on some reading. Then, she leaves at 7:50, and I go outside to start the pick-up process with my PPCD. I think school starts at 8? I'm not sure. I am usually in the cafeteria at that point. My PPCDs leave at 11 & 12:30, and then school technically gets out at 2:50 for some kids, and then the ones who need a little extra loving (aka didn't pass the STAAR last year or didn't pass the benchmarks) stay for mandatory tutoring from 3-3:30.  I think we get out June 6th, maybe? Who the heck knows. I am probably going to get suckered into teaching summer school, so I get out never, maybe?