Tag: teaching

Giving love and support to those that need it most!

Giving love and support to those that need it most!

I have had an extremely tough semester for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because I have students that truly and desperately need support and guidance.  The mixture of high school students I have has made teaching exceptionally difficult and left me grasping for ways to efficiently teach consumer education to a range of students whose learning levels range from elementary to college.  The learning differentiation isn’t my only obstacle, though!  The students I am teaching have a large range of lifestyles and home environments that impact how they view education, their ability to work outside of school, and how much support they receive at home.  This is the reality for so many teachers and I  know I am not the exception.

Combine my class concerns with some of the school dynamics I have faced including not having a classroom – wheeling around a cart to four different rooms throughout the day to teach has been a chaotic, mountain-climbing adventure.  To add to the mountain, I had some students going through some major life struggles which included me assisting with several emotionally and mentally draining situations that has left me feeling unsettled on more than one occasion.  Additionally, I teach in some classrooms with computers and in other classrooms with no computers which creates another level of structured chaos when it comes to planning lessons, adding another piece to my puzzle that I have to carefully put together.

BUT, there is a silver lining and there actually always is one no matter what the situation is!  My students may show a long list of emotions in the classroom because of their diverse backgrounds that range from anger, happiness, sadness, frustration, bitterness, humor, fun, and every emotion in between.  Each with a unique personality and style, but many of them with their own baggage, their own insecurities, their own challenges and successes, and most of all their own story.  A story that is sometimes broken, sometimes not broken, and sometimes underdeveloped.  I sometimes feel an overwhelming amount of chaos when there is a group of such a variety in my hands because it makes for a very stressful semester, but these are the students that need love, guidance, and support the most.  I became their teacher for a reason and that’s just the reason.  To provide that support, guidance, and nurturing that they so desperately need.  While it hasn’t been easy and I won’t even pretend that it has, it has been meaningful to be able to recognize and understand that my role is to nurture, comfort, and give to these students the support, guidance, and appreciation that they so need at such a crucial time in their lives.  And, no matter what there is definitely some learning happening…some learning from me, some learning from each other, sometimes the students teaching me, but more than anything some much needed nurturing, guidance, and support.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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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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What is SUCCESS?

What is SUCCESS?

I had to laugh at myself when I typed success because I started teaching in the middle of the year (January) so I shuffled to get my classroom, lessons, and several activities ready over the two week Christmas break.  It was a lot of work to clean out someone’s classroom (who had left a lot behind) and find a way to decorate and organize it so I was ready to teach.  I wanted it to be a very inviting and comfortable atmosphere for my students.  As I completed my bulletin board one evening over break, I got the entire thing laminated, cut out, and put up when I realized I had forgotten a ‘c’ in success.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was overwhelmed with annoyance at how I had misspelled ‘success’ after being in a hurry.

Fast forward a few months and I was talking to my husband who had the question, “What is success?” asked during an interview.  I thought about it for a few moments before saying, “Making other people see the value of making the world a kinder and happier place for all.”  A bit vague, yes, and probably not what most think of when they define success, but it could mean volunteering during the busy times before schools and universities begin or giving directions and a friendly smile to someone new on campus or at school.  After all, there are a lot of new people in unfamiliar places that may need help, have questions, ask you for directions, and feel nervous and stressed about the new chapter they are beginning.

With the beginning of many new chapters for those around us, it is a great thing to consider success in this way of light.  We have lots of first-time college students, middle school/junior high students headed to high schools, young children starting school, and lots of people who are embarking on new adventures and journeys whether it be new jobs, traveling to new places, or struggling with a new diagnosis or unforeseen challenge (for some of us, it may be the unknown of a little thing called the Solar Eclipse 😉 ).  If when we see new faces at school, at work, in passing, or in our community, people took the opportunity to be welcoming and helpful it would help my ‘definition of success’ expand as more people would be helping each other.  Give directions to a stranger, smile and say hi to put a person at ease, provide exceptional service, let someone know you are happy to help if they need it, etc.  This time of year is often very stressful for many of us and we can become extremely focused on our own hectic and chaotic schedules that we may forget to help those around us.  I challenge you to help others this month as they embark on new adventures (and new challenges) so that together we create a kinder and happier world for all.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Make #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday an everyday thing!

Make #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday an everyday thing!

There are lots of organizations, big and small, all around the world that would LOVE to receive a donation from you this #GivingTuesday.  I got at least five or more emails asking for donations today.  I usually give donations to big and small companies or organizations throughout the entire year, but more times than not my time and money goes to local initiatives and events.  I do on occasion reach out to larger organizations because I like helping both in some capacity, even if it’s a very, very small amount it can make a profound impact.  Kind of like being a teacher, while you may only work with a student for thirty minutes, one hour, one day, one month, or one year, the way you approach and work with that student can leave a footprint on their life forever.  It’s the beauty of teaching, giving quality service to others, listening to those around you, and reaching out to those in need – you have the power to make a difference in the life of someone else.  And, to me, that’s pretty cool!

One thing I chose to do this year for the holidays was to give money to the Shawnee Hills Arts Council when I ran their Reindeer 5k to provide additional funding to performing, visual, and literary arts.  Not only was it a great way to give back to a local organization, but it also fell on #SmallBusinessSaturday which is a vital day for many small businesses and communities that depend on that economic boost each year.  It is so easy to order from online retailers where the prices may be a few dollars cheaper, but those few extra dollars you might spend at your local toy store, pet shop, or restaurant really boost your local economy and help money stay in the area.

Another donation I am planning to give this holiday season is my hair – literally!  It is almost time for me to head to the chopping block so that I can donate at least eight inches of hair to a woman in need.  This is something that you can give no matter what time of year.  You can make the commitment to grow your hair out without coloring it to send to an organization that will help change the lives of others.

You can do similar things in your local area to keep your economy thriving.  #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday aren’t just once a year if you make the commitment to help improve your local economy – volunteer, buy local goods, go to your Farmer’s markets, eat at your local restaurants, and make a commitment to helping with events, initiatives, and activities in your area.  After all, your local economy depends on your support and willingness to make a difference in the many lives and communities in which you are a part of.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Thinking beyond the obstacles!

Thinking beyond the obstacles!

My fiancé and I have been working on applications to teach in South Korea or some other place in the world (location will depend on what kind of teaching contracts we can find and negotiate).  It is a long and daunting process, but an incredible learning opportunity if we can make it come to fruition.  It will provide an experience in which we will be forced to think outside of the box, learn about another culture, and reach beyond our own horizons.  This is an adventure that is different than what is considered the “typical” life plan, but an opportunity that can provide an exceptional way to think beyond the American culture that we have both become accustomed to.

So often we follow on a path that society tells us to take or encourages us to follow.  We go to school, go to college (if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford it), get married, buy a house, and have kids. Typically, we are required or encouraged to work for 30-35+ years for some type of company (or companies) to support ourselves.  It may sound perfect to some, or even to most.  The problem is this isn’t always the reality of the chapters that life presents.  For starters, this plan isn’t for everyone. Some people change jobs endlessly throughout their life while others don’t want to follow the typical plan society has set forth. Regardless of how you feel, whether you like society’s plan or want to pave your own new path, life will present challenges and obstacles no matter whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, male or female, gay or straight, and race doesn’t matter either.

That’s because life has a way of being an adventure that is sometimes fun and sometimes not so fun.  It should be a reminder that you can plan your life or schedule as much as you want, but planning life can often leave you disappointed.  It rarely follows plans and always includes obstacles, challenges, and hurdles, most of which give us the opportunity to learn and grow.

So as we set out on this teaching adventure abroad, we most definitely will need to remember that the cultural and language differences will at times present challenges we will have to overcome.  But, that’s life.  We must all remember to put one step in front of the other and move forward despite life’s obstacles.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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