Things I never knew . . .

Installment #16:

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • that teachers actually worked over the summer
  • that teachers working over the summer are not just working summer school
  • how much work *I NEED* to do over the summer
  • that back-to-school catalogs come out entirely too early
  • how short summer actually is

Why do I teach?

Installment #8:

I teach because I can, and do, make an impact–even when I doubt it, even when I don’t see it; I make an impact.

I started teaching in 2007; I was a kindergarten teacher. I didn’t think I would make a career in K-12 education, I thought this was a stepping stone to my ultimate goal: a professor at a university.

I had heard from lifelong teachers about seeing, meeting, and watching their students graduate high school, even college. I had heard from lifelong teachers who taught a student and then, eventually, taught that student’s children. It seemed magical and incredibly distant. I talked about the future with my kiddos, I imagined it, but I didn’t think I would be a part of it–not truly. It was just a wish. Not to mention I was in kindergarten–I had a long wait ahead of me!

Whelp, it’s 2020, and guess what? My first group of students, my little kindergarteners, are graduating high school. It had dawned on me in a conversation with a friend recently and I was stunned–how did I get so old? That much time had passed?

And just as I had come to terms with this realization and began to fancifully dream of what my former students looked like, what they were like, where they were going, and all kinds of hopeful thoughts and thoughts about the future, all of that saturating my mind, a former student contacted me and invited me to their graduation in May!

As soon as I saw the name and the invitation, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was more than an invite or a thought, it was this feeling that after all this time, I was one of those teachers–the kind you want to keep sharing achievements with, the kind you remembered, and that’s what makes teaching all the more special, all the more powerful, all the more important.

When someone chooses teaching, they choose to become a role model, a mentor, an adviser, and so much more–and in this way, they choose to make an impact in the development and lives of people. It’s an incredible opportunity to do good, and in this way, it’s why so many people choose teaching.

Things I never knew . . .

Installment #14:

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • how many calories are needed to stay alert and “on” all day
  • how many calories can be burned, just by working
  • how many calories I can consume at work, and still be hungry
  • how many calories are handed out to teachers (potlucks, gift cards, breakfast bagels, Valentine’s Day gifts . . . )
  • how many calories I don’t need or crave on the weekends

Extra Money? Added Benefits?

I am a firm believer in making a little extra cash, a little extra money, on the side. Somehow. Whenever possible.

I don’t necessarily want a part-time job on top of teaching–though I have done it. I am not advocating it either, per se–I know we all have physical, emotional, and time constraints. However, if you are curious and you are interested, here are some education-based, money-making endeavors I have done . . . to earn just a little more money . . . and maybe a little more experience.

  • summer school: classic (great way to dip your toes into another grade!)
  • tutoring:
    • after-school tutoring: classic (can be at your school, can be at another school–at another school is a great way to scout out other schools, or see how other schools in your neighborhood are doing)
    • unaffiliated tutoring: this is what you find through your own network and is not necessarily affiliated with your school or your dominant subject matter. For instance, while I taught elementary I tutored a friend’s daughter in Algebra II, which led to tutoring a few of her daughter’s friends, once rumor spread I was helpful 😁.
    • online tutoring: this can take many forms. I joined WyzAnt one year, I had some success. I have recently looked into VIPKid, DaDa ABC, and EF (Education First)–though I haven’t started anything on any of these platforms yet. The beauty of online tutoring is not being tied to a particular location, you don’t have to travel anywhere to earn money.
  • district training(s): during my second year of teaching I finally had room to breathe, to have some shorter days. I could have enjoyed some me-time away from work; instead, I pursued every kindergarten training available within the district. I earned a few hours of added pay, I gained a whole new world of ideas and professional development, I expanded my primary teacher network. Win-win-win!
  • teacher store: I have known a few teachers who have worked at their local teacher store — Lakeshore, Learning is Fun. It was not an option for me, given my schedule and needs, but I will add it to the list for inspiration.

If you have the time and the energy, if your schedule and life circumstances permit it, I like to encourage you, people, anyone, to pursue added money-makers. Every little bit helps–and sometimes it’s not even the money that becomes the goal or the achievement, sometimes these added pursuits can lead to a new job opportunity, more ideas,  and more connections–and these are some amazing added benefits too.

Monthly Advice–September

Give yourself a goal.

What do you hope to accomplish this year? What do you want to learn this year?

We are wrapped up in student learning goals, their presence and the pressure around them, that sometimes we forget to think about our own learning. We forget to sit back and think deeply about our professional development. We also forget to take care of ourselves–personally and professionally.

I know we have observations, but they aren’t daily or weekly–usually.

So, I challenge you to give yourself a goal. Create a weekly or monthly goal for yourself. Create a singular goal for yourself. Do something that enhances your work. Do something that ensures you operate at an optimal level.

Say: This year I will . . .

  • make sure to complete all my lesson plans by Thursdays, so I can go home right away on Friday 😉
  • collaborate with another teacher on a reading unit
  • make sure that my student folders have two items per month
  • attend one professional development training, of my choosing, that is outside my comfort zone
  • schedule tests on different days, not just Fridays
  • park in the last spot to get more steps in
  • only allow one day a week to work and eat lunch, every other day I will just eat lunch
  • create a more diverse classroom library

The goal does not have to be lofty, or even completely teaching-centered.

What I desire is a goal that provides you the opportunity to enliven your personal and/or professional experience. Whatever that looks like for you, whatever you decide, I support you. So, go ahead, think of something–and go for it.