Change, Life, Rambles

Creatures of Habit

It’s 6:15 AM. I’m usually the last to get out of bed. It’s a known fact in this family and even the dogs know it. Mornings are not my time. I like to ease into my day. Maybe it is the chaos of the move or just the songbirds welcoming the morning light that have me awake today. I knew better than to just lay there. It would be so easy to slip back into slumber, even if it wasn’t actually sleep. I told my husband I was going to shake things up a bit this morning. I’m getting up and I’m taking the dogs out. This is a big deal and one of those moments where we will look back and say, “do you remember that morning when…”. Well, the dogs are shocked. I didn’t do it like daddy. I took Ella and Pachelbel first. Sawyer and Rachmaninov joined. They don’t need a lift down the stairs. I then went back for Benny and Mozart. Mozey was still asleep, oblivious to the whining of his best friend. There are some benefits to being deaf. Mozey has a pretty strong sleep game.

Now that we’re outside and everyone has done their business they are all staring at me like, Daddy feeds us now. Well, I’m enjoying my coffee go smell stuff.

So here we are. Me typing away on my iPad, wondering if this is even going to post when I finish and the dogs just waiting to go back in.

Sometimes it’s good to get out of our comfort zone and try something we don’t normally do. The sounds of the birds and fresh air with my coffee is nice. I love being outside. It inspired me to write, which I haven’t done in some time. I’m easing into my day a different way. No promises that it will become a thing, but I don’t hate it.

In 2020 we all were forced out of our comfort zone, then we developed a routine a new normal- however weird it was. As 2021 threatens to get back to something resembling our previous normal there are a lot of conversations surrounding what we’ve become comfortable with. It’s going to require compromise from both sides of the work from home vs. back to the office groups. We’ve found that we can be effective regardless of where we work. Some of us are comfortable at home, some of us need the interaction of the office. To be effective as a team we have to be flexible, step out of our personal comfort zone and meet the others halfway. It is not going to be one or the other, it can be both and we can appreciate the benefits of what is out of our personal comfort zone.

Even creatures of habit need to shake things up. While the dogs are still waiting to go back inside they are now all relaxing at my feet listening to the birds. Well, Mozey isn’t listening to anything, but he did find a cool bug that has his attention.

Career, Change, Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday January 7

It’s Thankful Thursday hosted by Brian of Brian’s Home. He wants us to post what we’re thankful for. It’s a great way to focus on the positive. Make sure you link up to the Blog Hop at Brian’s Home and get the code to put on your blog. Then visit all the participants.

This is an image I took on my last day of teaching. I taught the day, packed my stuff, and walked away from an 18-year career that I loved. The school was wonderful. Administration was supportive. I had a great group of students.

Education and classroom instruction has seen many changes over the years. The expectations, administrative tasks, and teaching challenges were becoming too much for my stress management.  It was time for a change.

I left the classroom and stepped into a learning and development role.  Over these three years, the role has changed and grown, and I have been able to shape it into a job that incorporates technology and creativity, as well as instruction. I really love what I do and have a manager who guides me in my weakest areas and allows me to use my strengths. I’m thankful that my husband helped me figure out the skill set transfer. I am thankful for a manager who was willing to take a chance on a teacher, even when others weren’t as certain. I’m thankful for a company that has let me be a part of their learning program and have input.

Happy Thursday. I’m looking forward to reading all of your Thankful Thursday posts this evening. Comment or Linky Link below and I’ll stop by!

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace. 

Change, Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Rambles, Self Improvement

Change Resistance

Dear WordPress,

I know that I do not update my website and ramblings as often as I should. I know that my website deserves more of my attention. I also appreciate how you strive to stay up to date and make website maintenance, navigation, and posting easier. Sincerely, it is appreciated.  This block system, while idiot proof, is not an enjoyable experience for me.  I notice Gutenberg has two stars on your plugins page while the classic editor has a 5 star rating and millions of active users. I’m not alone in my resistance to this change.

Change is inevitable, and one day I will have to adopt the block system.  Today is not that day.  

Sincerely, 

Me

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

Charles R. Swindoll

A few thoughts…Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your eyes. You never know what others are going through. Your project, your idea, while great- it’s probably not the only thing they have to focus on. Negativity breeds negativity and being positive is a choice.  Adapting to change, also a choice.  Sometimes, like using WordPress block editing, we need to ease in to it.  I know that I will probably love it when I decide to utilize it.  Right now, I’m not ready to learn something new.  I am resisting the change that has been coming for more than a year.  As I open my mind to it’s possibilities, I found a plugin that keeps me comfortable while I learn something new.
 
It is human nature to stick with what is familiar and continue with the status quo.  If the status quo is making you miserable, it’s time for change.  That change either needs to be an attitude change, or a situational change.  Either way, something needs adjustment.  Why go through life with such negativity? It’s not healthy.
 
According to Forbes.com 61% of employees are burned out.  That leads to disengagement, decreased productivity, and even profit loss.  That’s just the negative for the company.  What about the health of employees?  Burn out is real.  Sinking to it is a choice. If you are unhappy, find-something-else! Don’t just trudge into work everyday spreading negativity and drama.  Start asking yourself some questions.
  • Why did you accept this position?
  • What is keeping you here?
  • What are my goals?
  • Does this position help me pursue or achieve my goals?

Use the answers to these questions to make a decision. Change your attitude and stay, or go.  The negativity is not good for you and not good for your company. 

Changing your circumstances is hard. It’s work. You don’t feel like it. It takes effort.  Mel Robbins offers a solution that makes it simple.  Take a listen…

 

Career, Change, Life, Rambles

Work Life Balance (Part I)

As June begins, former colleagues are wrapping up their work year, preparing for their “summer off”. This will be the first time since I started school at 5 years old that I have not done the same.  Many of my years spent in education I wrapped up the school year, took a few days, then jumped into my summer school teaching opportunity.  There have been only a handful of years that I remained unemployed over the summer.  Those years, I attended training workshops for teaching AP courses, special needs students, or technology improvement. From 2003-05 I attended classes for graduate school.  Summer 2016 and 2017, my husband insisted that I take the “summer off”.  By “summer off” I mean I did not get paid for any of the work I did, and relaxed a few hours each day.

Disclaimer: This is not a complaint. I chose the path and I chose to work without pay. This is more of an explanation or evaluation of my time in the classroom…

Why work for no pay?  Short answer= Long term planning to make my life easier.  Long answer, keep reading.

In 2015 I went from teaching AP, IB, advanced, and general classes at the high school level to teaching, 7th graders.

Culture. Shock.

Middle school was new to me, a complete surprise, and extremely difficult.  There was NO time.  I had never had so many meetings. I had never had to watch students during my 25 minute lunch. With only three minutes between classes, where students still had to be supervised, there was no time to relax or take care of personal needs.  Life in middle school was a considerable adjustment. My teaching style had to change. Not a new stumbling block, but there was no textbook. Every resource I had for World History was too advanced for this group. Since planning periods were reserved for meetings at least three days each week, I was spending immense amounts of time planning before and after school.  Work-life balance had been completely destroyed. Grading and planning were nightmares, nothing new. Middle school parents? Vastly different. It is very difficult for some to allow their child to grow and accept personal responsibility.  I was not prepared for the level of difficulty and extreme change middle school brought.  Fortunately, I had an amazing teammate who was my sounding board and middle school adjustment counselor. Others were also helpful with resources, and guidance. At least there was a support system, and one that I desperately needed.

Middle school students cry rather easily. Their parents pounce rather quickly. The transition to increased personal responsibility is difficult for both student and parent.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know this, I simply did not grasp the magnitude until I was too far in to get out!

After that extremely stressful school year, I vowed to not struggle like that again. My “summer off” was spent gathering resources, planning lessons, and building my entire course in Canvas LMS. When August came, I was ready. The year was planned and I was not planning on spending all of my personal time, after school hours, working.  Yep, I felt good about the upcoming year.

Any teacher reading this knows what’s coming. It happens all the time and there is little to be done.

My principal called.

School starts in less than a month, and I’m assigned to 8th grade.  “Do you mind?” YES I MIND!  “Well, all of my plans are done for 7th grade and I already have the course built in Canvas.”  After explanations of being needed etc…  “No sir, of course, whatever is needed. Thanks for letting me know of the change.”  RIGHT BEFORE CLASSES BEGIN AND NOT AT THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER TYVM!  “Yes, you have a great rest of summer too.  See you in two weeks.”

In hindsight, I should have said no.  I should have insisted. Despite explaining how 7th grade was 100% planned and I was ready for the school year teaching world history, I was needed in 8th grade. I politely tried to maneuver out of the change. I did not insist.  Would, shoulda, coulda.

August was spent scrambling for 8th grade. At least it was predominantly US history and I would figure out the state component.  The bulk of my career focused on US.  That was why the change was “needed” and crucial that it be me.  Yay, experience.  I still should have said no.

My first year in 8th grade was not as difficult as my previous middle school year.  Despite abandonment by my middle school adjustment counselor who chose to pursue new adventures, I still had great team mates and I have come to a place of forgiveness for said abandonment. There was still a support system and the content was much easier. The year was still difficult, and I still hadn’t found my way out.

2017-18 was to bring new challenges. The school was moving to a brand new building, the other team went from 4 to 3, and all would have to teach social studies on top of their regular preps.  All were inexperienced with the curriculum. The bulk of planning and course guidance fell to me.  I embraced the challenge.  Why should they have to struggle with the extra prep? I have to plan for myself anyway and it is mostly done.  In an effort to reduce the upcoming chaos we met as an 8th grade and as a social studies PLC numerous times during the summer. I outlined the course pacing, matched it with state and local requirements, and took the Canvas course from the previous year and improved it.  By August, we had met several times over the summer and the team was essentially planned and ready to go for the year. It was a great “summer off” and I was starting the school year prepared. Just like I like.

Summer work and summer planning make the school year smoother. Summer workshops bring new ideas, and reinforce known tactics.  Training is an accepted part of any profession.  In education, sometimes it is paid for by your district, and sometimes not.  You become a borderline hoarder of ridiculous materials…just in case you find a lesson use.  I can look on my side shelf now and see a gallon bag of marbles, a tub of beads, and a container of pipe cleaners.  I used marbles as currency once. Beads and pipe cleaners were part of an assembly line simulation. Last week I consolidated my books to a single bookshelf.  I have various US History textbooks, each presenting a different perspective on the same topic. With difficulty, I donated many of my grad school books. It’s been 13 years, I didn’t enjoy them the first time I read them, and I wasn’t planning to read them again. I kept my favorite history reads, a few classics, and books that I want my children to read to their children. Most of what I read these days, I read on my device. It is portable and I have an unlimited library through a monthly membership service. What I describe here is a characteristic of most teachers. Books and lesson plan materials are what we collect.  Our minds always on our students. Consuming knowledge and collecting supplies. It never stops. From August to June we harbor guilt for papers ungraded and time spent not preparing for the week ahead.

From 1999 to 2018, I suffered from an unbalanced work-life.  The above very long explanation is only a snap shot. My entire summer was not spent planning and creating. Only a few hours each day. I still had some to do during the school year, but it was reduced and manageable.  The summer sacrifices made the work year more balanced. Grading was the only major concern. Grading is like laundry, it will always be there for you.  During my teaching years, my mind was always on school.  It was constant, and I couldn’t turn it off.  Common teacher problem.

Now that I have left teaching, I clearly see how unbalanced my work-life was. January of 2018, I reclaimed my personal time. In the six months I have been out of the classroom, taking work home has been minimal. There is no longer Sunday stress, prepping for the upcoming week. Grading is no longer looming over my head, inspiring guilt and building stress.  I don’t know what I could have done differently in my teaching career. The last several years were mostly easier than the first few years as a new teacher.  You learn how to manage.  Middle school threw a wrench in that for me, but adjustments were made.

Changing careers has been the #1 factor for me restoring work-life balance. Stress is reduced. Enjoyment of personal time increased. Evenings and weekends are mine!  Even without “summers off” I am happier…and probably easier to live with.

My next step is to take a look at what work-life balance means in this new world I’m in. Right now, I’m feeling pretty balanced.

Change, Life, Rambles

What does it look like?

Today I was asked what a future in corporate looks like in my mind.

Great question.

I have a clear idea of what it is not.  It is not a 22 minute lunch that includes monitoring 200 students and being constantly interrupted. It is not zero opportunities to take a restroom break without sprinting and hoping you beat the change of class timer. It is not asking someone to stop licking their shoe and pay attention. There are a lot of things that it is not, but I will not bother listing all of the things causing my consternation in education.

What does it look like?

For me the attraction is adult interaction. Research. Discussion. Contemplation. Creation. There are days where the pace will be frantic. There are days that will be lonely. I will embrace the solitude. I will embrace the requirements of multi-tasking. Technology will continue to be the core of the road to success. I look forward to the analytics, collaboration, and management of multiple projects. That part will not be so very different from my instructor requirements. Webinars. WebEx meetings. Team calls. . . All will be part of the transition. All professions have their frustrations and obstacles.  If you approach change with rose-colored glasses you will be disappointed and frustrated.

It is important to pursue a new adventure with an open mind and recognize that it will not perfect. All will not go smoothly. Success is a choice. You can pursue it, or you can turn away and say that the path is too difficult.

I always prefer the road less traveled and that has made all the difference in the joy life has brought.

 

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Career, Change, Life, Rambles

Hire a teacher…no regrets

I recently spoke with a recruiter who brought up a few points that I found interesting. The recruiter recognized my experience and acknowledged that I had the qualifications for the position and would likely do well in it.  A few concerns were raised. The recruiter felt the position would be a step back and that I would be bored with the role. I asked for clarification. She pointed out that the position only required 2-3 years of classroom experience and that was mostly who filled the role.  I have 18 years of experience and am seeking a career change. Here’s what I wish she understood…

Someone with 2-3 years of classroom experience barely has experience relevant enough to offer any understanding of the classroom.  If that is all you have, you did not make it long enough to develop professionally. That is not a slight, but a truth. It takes at least 3 years for an instructor to get acclimated to the demands of k-12 education.  It is not easy. Most teachers will tell you that the first year was awful and they don’t know why they stuck it out.  They didn’t figure things out until the 3rd year. I stuck it out because I refuse to fail.  Lasting 18 years is the result of diversifying my experiences. I was fortunate to teach in rural, suburban, and urban (inner city) teaching environments. Opportunities for curriculum and course design were given to me.  Developing and coordinating programs to increase achievement and graduation rate were a part of my inner city adventure. My job description, although still in the classroom, was changing on a semi-regular basis and I embraced each opportunity.  That change kept me in the classroom during times when I was ready to walk away.  I learned how to manage a classroom, deliver content, and make a difference in my organization. Now I seek a career change and bring to the table a variety of educational experiences and a skill set that is easily transferable.   I know that I will not start out a manager level, but I hope that through hard work and dedication I will eventually be able to make a difference in the organization that will give me that opportunity.

Why should a company hire a former teacher?

They have a lot to offer. Think about it.  A veteran teacher can offer instruction and explanation that is clear, concise, and relatable.  Multi-tasking is an everyday requirement for teachers. Juggling multiple projects will not be a problem.  Planning, both short and long-term, is essential to the success of a teacher and a new hire to any corporate role.  As an excellent researcher, both as a historian and educational specialist, I am able to quickly find what is needed.  Analytics is also a part of the teacher’s role. Today’s schools are data driven and instruction is frequently adapted to improve areas of deficiency. That brings me to one of the most important skills and characteristics of a good teacher, adaptability.   Flexibility and the ability to adapt at a moments notice is essential.  Technology fails. Students fail to grasp an essential concept and instruction has to be quickly adapted. Schedules change regularly.  Finally, teachers are trainable. New technology, requirements, and assignments change regularly. Implementation requires training, and exploration of whatever new tool is the requirement.

As for being bored in a new position, I am seeking a career change and have done so with great research and thought. Interacting with adults on a daily basis and working with technology is what I am seeking. I assure you there will be no boredom with the new adventure. I will not miss a classroom of 35 students all with different learning abilities and instructional needs. I will not miss my 21 minute lunch taken with 200 of my favorite students where I am interrupted numerous times for “I forgot” requests.  I am ready for a new career challenge and I am ready for a new opportunity to grow.  If the pace is slower than the classroom, I am embracing it. If it is just a fast and furious, I will still embrace it.  It is the choice that I am making. If the salary target is close, the other benefits will far make up the difference.  I am ready to be out of the classroom and accept all the differences that come with it.

Recruiters, if a candidate has the required qualifications and seems like a good fit, give them a chance. If the only thing holding you back is  your perception of them being bored in the role…let the candidate decide after more investigation.  Let the candidate decide if the compensation and benefits are enough to pull them away from their current position.

Give a veteran teacher a chance.

For more information on why teachers make excellent additions to a corporate team, check out the following:

7 Reasons to Hire a Former Teacher

Why You Should Hire a Teacher

10 Reasons You Should Hire Teachers

 

Thanks for reading. Remember: Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Career, Change, Instructional Design, Learning and Development

In transition

I am opening the door on the next step in my professional journey. I wish to transition from the secondary classroom into corporate learning and development/instructional design. My research is proving to be disheartening. There is so little respect for the k-12 educator. There is little understanding that the skill set required to educate young minds transfers to the corporate world. In fact, I presume that it is easier.  Let’s face it, no one in corporate America is going to require an IEP or 504 plan so that their instructional experience is differentiated to their very specific learning need.  No one in corporate America requires a PEP for their specific learning need…actually, you know, that is probably not true.  If corporate America is anything like working with my teacher colleagues (and my husband works in corporate America so I know that there are shocking similarities) some absolutely need a PEP in order to complete the technology tasks expected of them.  It amazes me how many professionals in the 21st Century cannot perform basic computer tasks.

I recently completed a brief synopsis on why I am seeking certification in Instructional Systems Technology.  My response is below.

With 18 years of education experience, a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Science Secondary Education and a Master’s in American History it is time that I broaden my career options. I am applying for the Instructional Systems Technology certification program so that I may further explore instructional design and current theories of learning.

I have a proven ability to design instructional models to meet the needs of a diverse audience.  Flexibility, creativity, and management skills have allowed me to successfully implement curriculum requirements and deliver content in an efficient, appropriate and beneficial manner.  I am skilled in technology usage and evaluation models, as well as possess excellent communication and time management skills.  My current classroom is 80% paperless using Canvas as my LMS platform. I am familiar with multiple LMS systems and with Instructional Design programs. Achieving certification for Instructional Design is the logical next step for me to transition my career to a corporate setting.

My diverse teaching experiences have prepared me for this area of study. In my previous post as teacher and site coordinator of ‘”my school’s” online credit recovery program utilizing APEX learning systems I was able to design multiple courses using the platform available and discussing curriculum needs with subject matter experts.  Data from student use and program completion was a key tool in our push for implementation of school improvement goals and program use increased graduation rate. It was my responsibility to utilize course instructional modules and site coordinator reports to monitor progress and ensure completion to improve graduation outcomes. Working with a small team of educators, I helped grow the Apex utilization program from a brief, twice a week, credit recovery program to a year-round program- taking place during school, after-school, and as an independent credit recovery option for struggling students.  Initially we were using the Apex program as designed, but found it necessary to customize content to suit “state and local” course requirements.  I was responsible for the design of multiple courses. As Apex course offerings and our own understanding of what Apex could provide improved, our credit recovery program was enhanced. We expanded from using Apex as a credit recovery tool to a comprehensive credit recovery program; I was instrumental in creating teacher-training tools and implementing broader strategies for utilization.

In preparation for this career transition I have begun the process of further refining my personal brand and enhancing my skill set. I am refreshing my understanding of learning models and studying current trends for instructional design and adult learning theory.  I am also gaining additional knowledge and expertise with programs such as Captivate and expanding my utilization of blended learning strategies in my personal classroom. I have begun providing professional development for colleagues who need assistance with k-12 technology implementation and tools.

In the future, I plan to transition out of the classroom and offer my expertise in the field of learning and development, as well as instructional design. The Graduate Certificate Program in Instructional Systems Technology will help further my career goals and provide the necessary means to transition to areas outside the k-12 classroom. It will also allow me to hold the necessary endorsements to continue in K-12 technology instruction if the opportunity presents.

The delivery format of the certification program allows me to continue my career in the k-12 classroom. The content knowledge gained will also help me be a better instructional specialist for my clientele.

My next considerations have to be: Is a certification program enough?  I feel like it should be. However, my research shows that industry leaders look down upon educators. There is no confidence in the transferable skill set.  I assure you, the skills are there. The juggling act of a k-12 educator is rather impressive. Until he met me, my husband had no idea what teachers faced on a daily basis.  He has been shocked and saddened.  I think that corporate America shuns the transitioning educator because they are uninformed and lack the knowledge that a personal association provides. Also, currents trends are to vilify teachers who are overworked and (I would say underpaid, but I don’t think that is always the case so…) underappreciated.

Thanks for reading. I will leave you with a quote from fellow teacher Keith Hughe’s

Where attention goes, energy flows.

 

#livelifegivejoybeatpeace