Teacher Tuesday

When brainstorming post ideas recently I noticed that there were several teaching-related ones. Instead of turning this into a partial-teaching blog, I've decided to start a Tuesday feature called Teacher Tuesday, highlighting different things I do in my classroom, strategies that have worked well for me, changes I've made, anecdotes, etc... 

This week I though I'd just give a quick background on my career so far. I started off premed at UCLA, changed to psych for a second sophomore year, and then landed in English, since I was an avid reader and loved writing. And what's an English major to do? Typically, we teach, try journalism, go into various forms of marketing, or become lawyers. Admittedly, part of my decision to become a teacher stemmed from the idea I could complete the credentialing program in a year and then land a stable job. I had no interest in law and was nervous about trying anything else. Plus, I did enjoy kids and thought I'd probably be decent at the gig, since I was the oldest of four siblings and had been bossy since I'd come out of the womb. Despite my English degree, I decided to be elementary teacher- I was 21 and barely out of high school myself! I went to a Cal State for my credential and decided to try to stay out in the Riverside area, since my boyfriend at the time, now husband, lived out there. 

After getting my credential I immediately got a job working at a school I student taught for, which I was at for three years as a fifth-grade teacher. This was during the Great Recession and California slashed a ridiculous amount from the education budget, so I received a pink slip for the first time, despite being tenured. It was devastating, but a huge wake up call. It taught me a valuable lesson about not trusting so-called dependable things as much as I did, but also that I should get MORE credentials to solidify my teaching spot once I was rehired back (I was two weeks later, after our district "found" money). I was transferred to another school as a fourth grade teacher and went to work getting my English and Biology credentials, as well a my master's, knowing that those things would basically make me lay-off proof in the future. Yes, I know my need for control, terror of being unemployed it really shining right now. 

At the the end of my fourth year teaching elementary school I was once again up for lay off, but my English credential saved me, allowing my to snag a spot at the lowest performing high-school in our district, which was being forced by the state of California to restructure or force being taken over by the government. I was hired in as a part of a staff that was 50% new to that school- it was a huge adjustment for everyone. I was in charge of the yearbook, a few sections of sophomore English, and a now defunct class called CAHSEE Prep, which helped kids who couldn't pass the high school exit exam (which we no don't have). It was a really challenging year, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. Yeah, the kids were bigger and swore, but I also got to teach Julius Caesar and To Kill a Mockingbird! I loved how I now had six class periods as opposed to being with the same kids all day, and that they understood my humor. I was able to finish my bio credential that year, further cementing my place in the employed column.

The following year I was given some AP Language sections and soon after I took over an IB English spot and the rest was history. I now teach four sections of IB English to seniors, who I had as juniors, and IB Theory of Knowledge class (IB stands for International Baccalaureate, a highly advanced and rigorous honors program). I advise IB Extended Essays as well, and basically am willing to do whatever I need to for the program, since I too am a proud IB graduate myself. 

The work load is definitely insane. I pretty much always have a few hundred assignments waiting to be grade and many more on the verge of being turned in. It's controlled chaos, though, and for the amount of papers being turned in I do a pretty good job of keeping up on things. I've instituted some different systems that I'll talk about on later posts to explain how I've gotten this area of my professional life under control.

I've been at the high school level for ten years, which brings me to year fourteen. I don't have any ambitions to get my administrative credential and move out of the classroom, and as long as I am happy with what I am teaching I'll stay at the secondary level. If things ever change I may return to elementary some day, since there are elements of that level I do miss. 

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