Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Tips to Survive Your First 3 Years Teaching

Dude. Being a teacher is some hard stuff. I won't lie to you, my beloved blog readers, when I first started teaching, I imagined this magical life where we all sat down together, read novels, discussed our findings within them and there was 90% participation from students (come on, I'm a realist! I know it can't be 100%). Any troubled students I faced would be easily redirected with a discovery of the right book for them.

It all seemed so right.


Now, I'm certainly not saying we don't do those things. We definitely do. But there are some realities that didn't hit me until the end of this "Probationary" period of teaching. 

Here's some of the things I tell incoming teachers now:

  1. Get really good at emailing. It may seem weird that this is first, but seriously, it will save you so much time. Learning to send meaningful, concise, friendly, and professional emails right out of the gate is key. As a young or new teacher you have to make sure that all of your interactions are professional. So, brush up on your use of commas. Think about how you dealt with angry customers at your college retail job and apply that to every interaction. This will make parents and other teachers connect with you more. Don't be afraid of a smiley face, and invent a professional looking signature.
  2. Find an ally in the building. You are going to face conflict, and that shit is going to suck. Just being for real. You will conflict with an experienced teacher who is thrown off by your enthusiasm and naivete, or another new teacher who doesn't agree with you, or a principal who wants to redirect you. That does NOT mean you are a bad teacher or are going to be a bad teacher, it means you and that person are different. Find someone in the building you feel comfortable with that will help talk you through that conflict. Probs not someone that will spread any drama further but that can gently redirect you when you need it or motivate you to keep going. Conflict is healthy, learning to manage it will save you a lot of stress. 
  3. Get plugged in to some kind of program. I know a lot of teachers that dislike working after school hours. We work a lot, we work really hard, we don't get enough wine or naps. This is true. Don't feel like you have to take on a club or program, but if you love basketball, go to a basketball game once in awhile. I love volleyball but coach a different sport, so on the evenings I can I help to run the line judging so I can stay involved. The community sees me in that role and it helps! Plus seeing the kids is great.
  4. Let your weird flag fly. I jump on the desk when I teach the Gettysburg Address or act out my funny stories about my dogs hiding in the bathtub. Kids love it. If you are a nerd about a mascot or a cartoon character, let your kids know. I love the Little Mermaid. I have 6 mermaid related coffee cups and an entire upper cabinet filled with memorabilia that is of the nautical sort. Whether it is your love for fish, favorite song, sports team, or movie, let kids see you as a real person. 
  5. Give yourself some grace. If you don't want to stay home and grade papers on a Friday night, don't do it. If you don't want to grade outside of school, don't assign work that needs extensive grading. I pre-plan my courses before school even starts at the beginning of each semester so I know when is the most packed. I plan on one assignment a semester I'll bring home. Since I travel a lot for my coaching roles, its made a big difference. Also, Teachers Pay Teachers  is a life saver and filled with great stuff. You don't have to invent a bunch of worksheets. Someone probably already has. 

Have other advice for new teachers or want more tips and tricks? Comment below or post it on Facebook! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

6 New Things You'll See on #TMB

Helloooo, again, everyone!

I am back and you may have noticed... This Messy Business has a new look! It's pretty fantastic. Stream-lined, simplified, and easy to manage. Now that we've got a new look, we're also going to have some new content. I'm super excited about it!

Here are 5 of the things you'll spot on the new and improved #TMB.

1.  You'll still see house updates! I love my little house and plan on still sharing any and all updates that I've got going on. It may not be anything major, like a kitchen remodel, but it'll still be great and fun!

2. Finances! and our Debt-Free Journey. We are working on becoming totally debt-free (except the mortgage) by 30, so you'll see some tips on how to stay motivated, what happens when you lose steam, resources, and money saving help. This will be linked under the "Lifestyle!"

3. Clean living. We are also making a shift towards more clean living and eating in our house. From changing products to investing in our community and learning to grow our own herbs. We are working to minimize, simplify, and live more with less. Check out the "Cook Book" tab for recipes!

4. Fashion! Though we want to minimize and live more simply, I still love my clothes and shoes! So, that's gonna happen. You'll see more posts about that and more! Another one for the Lifestyle tab!

5. Colorado lifestyle and adventures. We are looking to take advantage of the great country and county we live in! We are going to go on some fun adventures this summer from helping with weddings, to camping, hikes, wine tasting, or whatever strikes our fancy. Find these under the"Lifestyle" tab.

6. Teacher Tips. I'm a high school English teacher and High School Speech & Debate Coach. I absolutely love my job. But it is hella hard sometimes. I'll be posting ideas on how to manage and balance teaching, life, and staying sane. Check these out under the "Teacher's Corner" tab!

Have something else you'd like to see featured on the blog or advice as i get restarted? Let me know in the comments below!

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

This Messy Re-Vamp: A New Journey

It has been a very long time since I have made any blog posts. Obviously, I guess, right? There's a number of reasons that I haven't felt compelled to write a post and a couple things I plan to do about it.

The top five reasons I haven't blogged:

1. I'm poor. When I first started blogging in 2008 I was super pumped- I mean seriously so excited! I had a new house! a new college! new roommates! new boyfriend! freedom! I had so many things I wanted to do to my house to make it a cute version of all the blogs I saw online or the pictures on Pinterest. The hard part? All those things cost money and it isn't feasible to redo rooms over and over because you want to keep your blog going.

2. I can't say no. This is a terrible problem, and I am definitely working on it. I agreed in my first 3 years of teaching to do too many things at the same time. I was worried that if I said "No" I might get fired, non-renewed, people wouldn't like me, any number of things. Reality is, none of the above things are true. I'm stepping away from a few responsibilities to focus on my personal life, coaching, and teaching career.

3. Discouragement. I feel as though discouragement is a product of the first two. I didn't feel like I could write anything anyone but my mom would want to read, so, what was the point? I lost sight of the fact that I enjoy writing my blog, even if no one really reads it. I love having an outlet for my creativity that goes beyond just who I am as a professional educator.

4. Intimidation. Dude. For real. There are some AWESOME blogs out there. They're letters are cool, their headers are cool, they have 6.89 billion followers on Instagram. They have newsletters. They're #bombdotcom. That can be a scary thing to feel like you're up against. I sort of doubt my little tiny segment of the internet will ever get that big. Which is fine! I think it might be easier that way.

5. Burn out & disappointment. The result of all of the above. I started feeling more disappointed in myself and the things I hadn't done for my blog or for myself in the last few years that I could keep writing.

What I plan to do about it:

1. Read some blogs and get inspired. I've spent the last few weeks talking to my Best Blog Friend Forever, Sam, at Away She Went. She recently revamped her blog and brought new life to it that has been super exciting to follow. Find a few blogs that I love to read and want to be active with will help me find inspiration.

2. Revamp the "niche" or purpose of my blog. I love doing home remodeling and DIY projects, but I've owned my house for 8 years (as of May) and am nearly out of major projects that need to be done. Now we're down to the boring and expensive stuff like repainting the exterior, getting new blinds, fixing the car port, putting up a privacy fence. The major stuff is finished. Plus, I spend more of my time trying to live simply, my boyfriend and I are shifting to a more natural vegan lifestyle, and I am a full-time teacher. I think finding a way to shift my focus will really help me reconnect to the writing that I love to do.

3. Give myself some grace. I don't have to have the most #totesamaze blog on the planet. There will always be someone in a better situation that can do something cooler, create something better, or be wittier then I am. That's okay. Popularity shouldn't be my motivation anyway.

So, my plan is to get it together and get my blog going again for the right reasons this time. I'm going to get a redesign, clean up old posts and categories, and do something that I love. I am excited for a re-vamp and redirecting my blog to be more about living a simplified fulfilling life.