Tag: teachers

Lighting up your community!

Lighting up your community!

It’s been a busy few months for some really great things at the school where I teach and the community I live in.  There may appear to be a lot of division, chaos, stress, negativity, sad stories, awful news, maybe even hate in the world, but what I have found is there is actually even more positive stories where people are doing great things.  Here are a few examples of some awesome community kindness stories:  David Muir shared a story about a community in Milwaukee where a bus driver helped a homeless person in need who was on her bus.  I also saw a story where a community is rebuilding a school and students and teachers served Thanksgiving dinner in Panama City, Florida where there community suffered extreme devastation due to Hurricane Michael.  It’s our responsibility to spotlight amazing stories and make those the focal point today and every single day of the year.  That’s what will help make the world a better place and I think that’s something we can all agree we want and hope to see for the youth in America.  I recently reached out to the local Army National Guard to assist with team building for an entrepreneurship and leadership program.  What I got from involving the Army National Guard was awesome!  I teamed up with a recruiter who has helped with team building, boosting self-confidence, and demonstrating how to use the skills of each member on your team to accomplish goals.

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Curriculum that comes to life!

Curriculum that comes to life!

It can be a lot of work to be a teacher that truly takes the time to create ‘fun’ curriculum which to me (as a teacher) actually means meaningful curriculum that makes the topics and concepts come to life.  Books have tons and tons of definitions, topics, and concepts, but they aren’t always exciting and thrilling.  They don’t always make learning fun and often times as teachers we recognize that making learning fun is actually a lot more work.  After all, students often want things that are interactive and hands-on, but what they don’t realize is that the ‘fun’ things that teachers plan require a lot of organizing, coordinating, and most of all time.  Remember that this is the type of curriculum that helps the students retain important information, but also provides life lessons.

This past week I have done quite a bit of self-reflection on my activities and lessons in hopes of becoming a better teacher and improving my projects for future classes.  I recently planned my annual ‘Cutthroat Food Truck’ project where there is auctioning and chaos within the classroom.  It’s during my Supply & Demand Unit which makes it really fun.  There’s a shortage of ink in the marketplace so there is no printing allowed, there is an unlimited supply of white computer paper available because there is a major supplier producing it, markers are readily available and not in short supply, but due to the demand of scissors, glue, tape, and colored paper there is a limited number of premium resources available and the groups must bid to obtain these wants.  It’s quite entertaining because I do most of the auctioning while students are creating their food cart which adds an extra layer to the project.  Students must pay attention to items that are up for bid as they create and brainstorm on their food truck.  They get a set amount of ‘money’ (yes, it’s fake!) to use toward bidding on items.  They must consider whether they will bid each other up for items, trade-off items, or how they will strategize to create a cool and fun food truck.

It is quite exhausting to coordinate, organize, and implement (and a bit costly because I bring in patterned decorative tape and paper, special stickers, etc), but it turns out to be a cool project that teaches supply, demand, wants, needs, scarcity, and limited and unlimited resources.  What is most important about this project is that it brings these complex, boring economic concepts (okay, let’s be honest I am a Financial Economics major so it hurt to have to type ‘boring’ to describe those concepts, but for most students it is the reality) to LIFE!  It gives meaning and excitement to these students.

This also helps bring your students that have different learning styles and levels to an area that connects with real life.  Nearly all students can relate to some of the concepts and it puts money in their hands!  They have to figure out how to spend it efficiently or else they learn a lesson on how not to spend money (which can be equally as important)!  My point is that if you bring your lessons to life you will find so much more success in your classroom.  I will guarantee that!

This one is for my fellow teachers, economic lovers (me!), and all those that strive to make a difference in every single student’s life.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Finding meaning among structured chaos!

Finding meaning among structured chaos!

This new adventure at my old high school has proven to be a very fun one.  I love getting involved and supporting the students.  The atmosphere is awesome and that’s probably what I love most about being there.  There are great ways to give back and that’s what I find really cool about it.  I have the opportunity to impact the lives of young high school students and that’s pretty remarkable.  I have the chance to inspire, motivate, and encourage them to follow their dreams and find something they are extremely passionate about.

Since joining the CCHS team, I have helped at a robotics competition (which I knew very little about), volunteered to judge our school’s talent show, and on a more personal level I have begun working on a project to collect backpacks for Carbondale students who cannot afford them.

I have learned that some things work really well in the classroom and some ideas don’t come to fruition the way I anticipate them to.  I have taken notes and written pointers, hoping to improve projects and activities for next year.  I have gotten to know my students much more, and that’s something I really enjoy.  Beyond the quizzes, handouts, projects, presentations, and work that I do with my class, I hope I leave a small imprint upon their life that inspires them to go out into the world and do something for others – to give back, be kind, and be willing to offer a helping hand to someone else.  I hope I inspire my students in ways that help build their self-esteem and confidence.  More than anything, I want my students to know they can come to me when they need a listening ear.  After all, teachers are not only there to teach their students, but to motivate them, mentor them, and offer positive reinforcement along the way.

I challenge teachers who feel stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted (which I do!) to remember to channel the reason why you entered the profession to begin with.  You have the power to do so much in your classroom.  While there are benchmarks to make, topics that have to be covered, and work that has to be completed, remember that your students need you.  They need your support, kindness, and help because while you’re pushing papers around and doing work, you are also shaping a person.  We, as educators, have the ability to change a student’s life!

As this second semester wraps up, be sure to consider your role in your students’ lives and in the community.  As a new high school teacher, I feel a bit overwhelmed, at times lost, and sometimes surrounded by structured chaos.  Sometimes adding more stress, more projects, more chaos, or more anything seems impossible, but it is actually always possible. With a wedding in less than a month (that has turned into something far bigger than I wanted or anticipated), the publication of my #ProjectKindnessBook, and planning meaningful lessons, I feel like my life is zigzagging in lots of directions.  Some days I feel defeated, but I keep swimming.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Will I sink or will I swim as I teach?

Will I sink or will I swim as I teach?

It feels very appropriate to be writing a new blog entry now that I have officially survived my first week in a new chapter of life.  My new chapter was opened last week when I started my position as a Business Teacher at my old high school (Go Terriers!).  It’s also my first ‘snow day’ due to freezing rain, which I am thankful for because it gives this new teacher a chance to play catch up!

I have found myself sitting at my desk each day during my plan period trying to keep up with the endless grading.  Not only during my plan period, but at every spare moment – morning, afternoon, and evening – I find myself grading, planning lessons, or doing something that revolves around teaching and inspiring my students.  I leave school and find myself working at home planning lessons, and trying to keep my head above the water that seems to be inching ever closer.  After just a week, I have found that I love working with my students, I am getting used to my schedule, and I am starting to find a rhythm that I hope works for me.  That doesn’t change that I am still at the very beginning of this chapter, and I still feel as though I am swimming, paddling, and kicking my legs in the water to keep my head above it.  I know other beginning teachers, seasoned teachers, and even retired teachers can relate to how I am feeling.

As I was grading, and grading, and grading some more I was beginning to become overwhelmed and exhausted by it.  I was also getting a little sick of it because the piles seemed like they were never ending.  My ‘To be graded’ and ‘To be entered’ folders always seem full and I’m not giving an overabundance of homework or class assignments (nothing more than other teachers in my department or in the building, in general).

Then I realized something as I was sitting at my desk grading papers.  This wasn’t just endless grading.  It was meaningful information.  In fact, it was great information because my students were teaching me.  Students included things I didn’t expect in their assignments, made inferences I was amazed by, and allowed me to learn something new.  I have come to recognize that I not only love my students, but I also love what grading has given to me.  They are actually teaching me a lot when I grade their assignments, things about the world, sports, and life.  For example, I was reading one student’s research on computer programming jobs and he had said that the computer programming field is actually declining.  He said that the job outlook is not good and I was surprised by this.  I actually thought computer programming would be a rising field since so many things revolve around technology and computers.  On another occasion, a student taught me that wrestling is a year round sport.  I haven’t watched a lot of wrestling and it was surprising to me.  I learned something new from him!  That was pretty cool, and it was something I wouldn’t have known if my student hadn’t shared that with me.

I am sharing this because if we think outside of the box and color outside of the lines we may be surprised by what we see or learn.  It allows us to see things from another person’s perspective, appreciate life more fully, and understand why we do what we do.  Why we do something (such as grade papers) may seem obvious, but if we think of it in a different context we are able to see that it can be more than just grading.  It can be a learning experience.  We often go through life doing our job tasks mindlessly because they have become mundane and repetitive.  I hope this helps you put things in perspective and find new ways to bring meaning to your own life whether you’re a teacher, social worker, electrician, construction worker, or film director.  We can all find ways that our job provides meaning.  This is precisely what my #ProjectKindnessBook is about.

Oh, and by the way, I will most definitely be swimming during this chapter, not sinking, even if I have to kick and paddle the entire way!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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