Posted in relationships, Teaching

Back to Work

Hey everyone! I apologize for the seemingly ridiculously long hiatus. I figured that I deserved to spend the summer with my son, and boy, was it amazing. He has grown so much in the past several months, and now more than ever am I convinced that being a mom was always something that I should be.

Now, however, I am back to the old heave ho, teaching my students once more. This year I have my four Creative Writing classes, but I also have College and Career Prep. This class is more or less a class to teach kids how to apply for colleges, and if they choose not to go that route, how to be an adult. My goal is to make the class interesting and relevant.

It’s funny, because one of the students in that class got into a pretty in depth conversation with me. We were having a study hall period, and the student asked me about having a house. She didn’t know that most people take out a home loan and have to pay on a mortgage for 30+ years.

How is it that we are trying to prepare high school students to be able to go out into the world, and they don’t even know things like that? I have seniors who have asked me to show them how to fill out a college application because they don’t know how to do that…and they’re supposed to go to college next fall. They don’t know how to fill out W-4s when they get jobs. They don’t know how to fill out a job application. They don’t know how much a car costs or what a livable wage even is.

So I’m going to try to teach them some of those skills. It boggles my mind that we try to make sure that they can regurgitate answers on a test, but we don’t make sure that they can do things that they will absolutely need to know later in life. No one is going to fill out loan paperwork for them. No one is going to do their taxes for them for free. They’re going to have to figure it out on their own, and even then, I think a lot of them will get it wrong.

In saying that, I pose a question to my readers. Is there anything that you felt that should have been taught in high school that wasn’t? Any sort of skill that is invaluable as an adult that you had to learn on your own through trial and error? I’m interested in seeing what you all think. Perhaps I can take some of those suggestions and put them into my curriculum. ¬†Thanks for reading!

~Aly

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Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

The Trials and Tribulations of Teaching

How’d you like that use of alliteration? Beautiful wasn’t it? I’m not an English teacher…nope. Not at all.

Anywho, I figure since I’ve written at length lately about my own child, it’s time that I wrote about something that isn’t R but my other children. My students.

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from college with a B.A. in English.

And much like our character, Princeton, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. It really did seem like a useless degree…and for the most part it was. I had gone into English because it was the one major that wasn’t going to take me an extra year to finish when I transferred majors from Theatre Education (Yes, I use the British spelling. Sue me). I suppose that deep down I always knew I was going to be a teacher in one way or another. But at that moment, I didn’t know how to get started…didn’t know what I needed to do, what classes I still needed to take, nothing. I was lost.

So I went to a job fair, and there I ran into an old teacher of mine. My old French teacher, actually. And I can’t continue this story without thanking her. Because at that job fair, she gave me the guidance that I so very needed, guidance that has enabled me to have the career that I have had for the past 11 years. Without her, who knows where I would be right now. Madame T told me about a program that the school system had, one where I would take some classes over the summer, get a job in the fall, and have a free Masters degree by the end of three years. I signed up, was accepted, and began my journey as a teacher.

And a long journey it has been. In my eleven years, I have learned so much, not only about myself, but about the people in the community I serve, about the strength of students. Things that you don’t ever think about until you see them with your own eyes.

I started out teaching English to 9th grade high school students. It was not the easiest place in the world to reach kids. I was also 21, and students saw me more as a peer than as an authority figure, so it made things even more difficult. But as time went on, I developed my own style of teaching and discipline, and I’ve managed to make it through eleven years without too much of a fuss.

I currently teach Creative Writing instead of English, and that was a task in and of itself. I had never taken a Creative Writing class, much less taught it before I was given this program. I have never had to learn something so quick! But these past four years have been the best four years of my teaching career.

Where was I going with this? I don’t even remember. I just know that thinking about my students and the career that I’ve had so far fills me with a sort of nostalgia that almost makes me cry.

I ran into a former student two nights ago at Walmart. I couldn’t remember his name, but I remembered his face, and he definitely remembered me. He told me how he and his high school girlfriend were still together, how they had a son, and how he remembered me and my class. I don’t think much about the impact I leave. Sometimes I doubt that I leave much of an impact at all. But gosh darnit, if he didn’t look so happy to see me, and the way that he spoke about my class…it was one of those moments that I suppose every teacher gets. Where they realize that even though they don’t always realize it, they’ve made a difference to someone.

I talk about being a mother as if it’s this wholly new experience for me. But I suppose it’s not. I’ve had over a thousand children. None of them were mine by blood or birth, but they’ve all been mine for the short period of time that I knew them. And even if I can’t remember names any more, I still remember faces. I remember that once upon a time, they were no more than a fifteen year old with wide eyes, and maybe an attitude problem. And years later, they have grown into adults and remember me too.

If I ever have a bad day at work, at least I can sit back and think about those moments and be thankful that I have them. Because some jobs don’t have that. Even when my teaching time is done, there will be some part of me that lives on through the lives of my students. And that thought is comforting.

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer