A J In The Delta

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My MTC Experience

Where do I begin? I spent the entire first year thinking “What the HELL did I get myself into?” Seriously, I asked myself that every day. I spend every morning forcing myself to get out of bed. I cried every afternoon and morning. I was sooo emotionally unstable last year. It took so much for me to continue working and living. I didn’t really enjoy my personal life very much last year. I did however enjoy my students. To become a teacher I had to become a whole other person. I had to transform my normal personality into that of an assertive leader. I struggled with this transformation a lot last year. I took so much out of me. The dramatic change just drained me daily. But I learned how to be a responsible adult. I have grown up and matured so much in the last two years. It is amazing to me. I am not the same sweet, kind Ashley from two years ago. The real world is no joke!

I have also grown a lot as person. I am much more aware of my surroundings and my environment. I feel as if the way I see things has also changed a lot. I am more aware of other’s perception of things. I must say I am a much more liberal thinker than I was when I began this journey. Being from the south, I was raised very conservative. Teaching has changed many of my views. I have been able to form my own ideals. I don’t necessarily believe everything my parents, family, and friends believe. This experience has encouraged me to become more educated in all aspects of life. This new enlightenment has challenged me to question the laws and many of the conservative ideals. But at the same time, I must say that my relationship with the great Lord has grown dramatically!! I read my bible and pray more that I have ever done. I truly believe that even after my MTC experience is complete; my relationship with the lord will continue to grow. I feel that MTC gave me a chance to get rid of much of the junk I had in my life. It has given me a chance to clear my mind and think. I have become my own person. I am no longer the person people want me to be. I can’t describe how much this program has changed me as a person. Majority if not all of the change is for the better. I will always be great for that.

This opportunity has also given me a chance see how strong I am. Any other job will be a cake walk compared to teaching. I faced adversity everyday my entire first year of teaching. And…..I came through that adversity with my head held high. Because I changed schools after my first year of teaching, I was given the opportunity to see the other side of the tracks. I went from an all black school to a majority white school. I went from being in the majority to being the only minority teacher. I must say that the transformation was tough. It made me realize that this is still the good ole south. And that we have a long way to go in the “good” schools nevertheless what has to be done in the “bad” schools. Changing schools also gave me an opportunity to observe different leadership styles. This was important to me because I want to become a principal one day. I truly believe that the principal I had in Greenwood was a better hands-on, down and dirty principal. I think she is doing a great job at working toward a vision. It just seems as if she is against all odds and running an uphill race. Many of the things she does at Greenwood would improve Desoto Central. If only things could be different. Greenwood has a good principal; she just needs good teachers that believe in her vision. And if that combination occurs I truly believe Greenwood Middle could be a level five school. The students I taught in Greenwood were much smarter and able to learn quicker than the students I teach at Desoto Central. But the students in Greenwood don’t work as hard and have no goal or vision. The Desoto Central kids work extremely hard; good grades are important to these kids. They also have attainable visions and goals. The Desoto Central principal works on the “good ole boy” system. If you are not a part of this system, it almost impossible to be successful and to advance. He is a hands-off principal; he has the luxury of having very good teachers. This made me realize how important good teachers are. This just drills the importance of MTC. MTC gives bad schools good teachers. Good teachers can help a lot; they are able to cover for a bad principal. Good teachers are more important than good principals.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just Being Me..

I am so confused about what I want to do with my life. I have no idea what I want to do next year. I am considering teaching here or moving back home to good ole Tennessee. Hopefully I will figure it out before too long.

I am coaching track, which I know nothing about. So if there is anyone out there who can help please e-mail me at arjohns2@gmail.com . We have our first track meet tomorrow. I am very excited. My girls seem to be real nervous, and so am I.

Update: We had our first track meet today, and I am happy to say that it went well. All of my girls completed their events. I even had a few finish first. I am so proud of my girls. They all looked like deer in head lights at the beginning of the meet. I am so proud of them. I actually like track. But there is a lot of sitting and waiting…which sucks.

2008: Most Improved Student (MIS)

My most improved student is in my Science Skills and Reasoning class. He began the year sitting in the back of the class with a constant gaze in his eyes. I am pretty sure he spent the majority of the beginning of the year high. What I mean by that is that he has been on drugs while in my class. His behavior was so bizarre. He was constantly zoned out, and he rarely completed his assignments. He had an I can care less attitude. But lately his grades have improved greatly. I moved him away from his friends to the other side of the classroom. I also pulled him into the hallway and asked him if he did drugs. I told him that I thought the drugs were affecting his performance in my class. I asked him to not do drugs ever and especially before attending my class. I also began to show interest in the things he seemed to be interested in. I discovered that he enjoys skateboarding. After I discovered this, I went out of my way to ask questions and show interest in skateboarding. Once this occurred, I saw a great improvement in his grades and participation. He now asks and answers questions in class. He has shown great improvement. I am so proud of him. Since his grades and participation have improved, I have seen improvement in his behavior. I now enjoy teaching this student…….some days :)!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb. 19, 2006

I am finally finished with basketball and I am so happy it is over. I have been finished with basketball for one week and now I am starting track. I am excited about the track season, but I don’t know much about track. I had the first try-out today. I think the try-outs went well. What I don’t miss are the long hours. I did enjoy my weekend!! I got to go home and see the family. It was fun and I miss them like crazy. I am considering moving back to Nashville next year. I’m going to start looking for jobs soon. I still have not decided whether I want to stay in education. Hopefully I will figure it out.
Just because I am in a “good” school district doesn’t mean the kids are bad. These kids are a different kind of bad. They are spoiled, and they awful attitudes. These kids are so used to getting what they want. They do not understand what “No” means. Also I have some of the craziest students I have ever seen. I am pretty sure that many of my kids do drugs. I have written this one student up four times, and he has gotten nothing more than a paddling and lunch detention. This student has walked around and smacked 5 students just because he felt like it. He runs around the room and jumps over desk. He is out of control. On the days of this behavior, his eyes are dilated and he is sweating!! It’s like he can’t control himself!! It is very strange to watch. I can honestly say that I cannot control this student. Also the administration is not making my job any easier. Same problems no matter where I go!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Favorite Students in the Hills

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
-Albert Schweitzer

I can honestly say that I don’t have a favorite student. I know this sounds corny but I enjoy all of my students. I find positives in them all. I can’t honestly just name a few. So I will describe my classes.

First period is my basketball girls, who I enjoy coaching. They are so crazy and energetic. They tell me everything you can imagine. It’s crazy they just open up to me. These girls just come up to me and ask, “Hey coach what do you think I need to work on.” I tell them. The next couple of days they stay after school and work on it. I must say these girls work hard; they just have so far to go to become good ball players. But I hope that they are learning something about life in the process.

2nd period- These are my Greenwood babies. They remind me of the kids I taught last year. I absolutely love these kids. It is easy to draw them in and get them interested in a lesson. But they sure can talk and walk around the classroom. I still give out write-offs in this class. They are the students that I feel need the most attention and love from me. They always speak to me no matter where they are. “Hey Ms. Johnson!!” They love to tell me stories and ask me thousands of science and random questions. I really don’t want to leave them next year.

3rd period- These are my angels, up to this point in the year that is. They are the sweetest group of kids ever. I have never raised my voice at them. They do what I ask of them. I push them to limit. I give them homework every night. I cover a Chapter a week. I teach them Biology I, which is a state tested subject area. They have somehow figured out that one of my ex-boyfriends plays in the NFL. They love teasing me about it. I have to threaten write-offs and outlaw certain names!! But I push them hard!!

4th period-Now these are my talkative, IEP babies. All but five students in this class have IEP. Many of these IEPs consist of behavioral or social problems. So can imagine how out of control these students can get. They drive me crazy, but I somehow find ways to enjoy them. The diversity of the student’s learning levels are so vast. It is really hard to plan for this class. I struggle with keeping them interested.This class is very dynamic with a lot sensitive personalities.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beginning of semester Reflections

I am still coaching girls’ basketball, as I did last year. I enjoy it more this year. I feel, I have more input and my opinion actually matters. I am getting a lot of hands on practice. I head coach the freshman team. We are not very good, but I really enjoy my girls. They are very respectful and try to do what I ask. The girl’s basketball team is doing better this year than they did last year. Last they only won three games; this year we have already won eight games. At this moment, I am happy with my choice to move.

Teaching is fun and stressful as always. This year I have a wide range of students. I have two classes of the “Delta” students and one of “Suburban” students. The Delta classes are very similar to the kids in Greenwood. I have to tell them to be quiet five times a day. I still give out numerous write- offs. At the beginning of this semester, I went over the classroom rules again. I said each rule five times in every way I could think of saying them. They still don’t get it. How hard is it to follow my rules? They are simple.
1. No Throwing and Tossing
2. No talking while the teacher is talking.
3. Bring all materials to class.
4. You need your book every day.

There are only 4 rules. I still can’t figure out how you can make it to fourth period without paper or pencil. I am so tired of saying that you need your book every day. Ok let’s focus on the positives; I must say that I do like my students. I have realized that helping children is my calling. I really enjoy kids. I don’t want any right now, but I enjoy teaching them. Their smiles and comments, I enjoy everything about them. They all show so much potential. I must say it is tougher teaching these students. It’s like they don’t catch on as easily. The difference is that they do their homework and some of them actually study.
My suburban kids are great. I have never given a write-off in that class. I have never raised my voice either. But some of these students just don’t do the work at all. A few of them already have two zeros. They only have three grades. I have found that some of them are just lazy!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

MTC Applicant Qualities

1. Compassionate- First and foremost an applicant must care. They must care enough to be a part of the change. They must be sympathetic to the situation of the students.
2. Tough- An applicant should be tough. They should be able to with stand pressure and stress!!
3. Honest- These are the kinds of people who should be around students. They also need to be able to be honest with themselves and with others.
4. Balancer- Need to be able to balance many tasks at the same time.
5. Role Model- because this is what many of our students need today. Many of our students don’t know the difference between a positive role model and a negative role model.
6. Resilient- They should be durable. This must be a person who can bounce back after failure. Needs to be someone who can pick themselves up.
7. Dedication- Need to be dedicated to being a good teacher and dedicated to changing the lives of students.
8. Prioritize- Need to put first things first!!!! They need to know when helping one student is harming a class.

My Favorite Teachers

When asked to complete this assignment, many of my past teachers came to mind. Some of these teachers were good teacher some were bad. My favorite teachers were all good teachers. They all reached me. The first teacher I will discuss was my fourth grade teacher. Before I got to this teacher I hated school. I spent majority of my third grade year calling home pretending to be sick. My third grade teacher was awful. Well, she was a good teacher, but she was very mean to me. The reason, I think, she was so mean was because in second grade, I was what you would call an at-risk student. I was also a discipline problem, a major discipline problem. As I grew up I always felt bad for the way I acted in the second grade. I actually apologized to that teacher when I got older. She just happened to be a first year teacher that year. And now I know how it feels, so I feel really bad. Since I have been teaching, I have learned that there are reasons for every discipline action taken by students. So this summer I asked my mother if there was something going on in my life during second grade. Sure enough there was. I guess it was something I blocked out all these years. But I now truly know that students that act out are seeking attention and sometimes even help. This provides background to why I hated school so much. My fourth grade teacher, I guess had not heard the rumors about my behavior. She gave me a fresh start. That is when I began to like school and to have confidence in myself. My grades improve dramatically. They went from barely passing to having all A’s. The thing I liked most about her is that I truly believe she cared about her students. I felt special in her class, and I felt as if I could succeed. Ms. Neece was a great teacher. She restored the confidence I needed to a better student. The next teacher I will discuss was my high school geometry teacher. Up until I got to Mrs. Rittenberry, I had never challenged myself in my studies. I took the classes the counselor suggested for me with no fuss. Well, Mrs. Rit saw a better student and a better person. She encouraged me to take honors and AP courses. She even went to guidance counselor and had my schedule changed. She also encouraged me to join the National Honor Society. Because of her, I was the only minority to graduate with honors from my high school in 2002. She rarely taught in class. She would give us problems and we would figure them out for ourselves. When she noticed that I could grasp a concept fairly easily, she encouraged me to tutor others. I began to tutor other students every day before school. Mrs. Rit would spend majority of her class time telling us stories that always ended with a life lesson. She had taught half my family and was well known and respected by many. She was the first teacher one heard about when rising to the high school. People would say I hope you get Mrs. Rit, you will love her. After I graduated I began to tell my younger family members the same. She made me feel as if I was somebody. And I will always appreciate that. Now that I am a teacher I can only hope I can be as good a teacher as these two great teachers.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

In it to WIN it!!

My life in North Mississippi has been wonderful so far. I love this area and the people. I would love to stay in this area for a while. At my school there is a first year teacher who is going through everything I went through last year. It is so hard to see her struggle. I see myself a lot I her. The last week for her has been hell. She has cried everyday. Crying because she is coaching her first year, because she feels unappreciated, and because she feels she has no control of her class and no administrative support. She is crying for all the reasons I cried last year. Everyday I try to give her advice about how to improve classroom management and what to do about coaching and other issues; after all I just went through that last year. But no matter what I tell her, she is the only one who can change her situation. The first year of teaching is all about seeing what works best for you in your classroom. It is about trial and error. It is almost like you are supposed to fail. But you have to get up and keep going. You have to try new things. You have to take and use advice from others. I remember last year people tried to give me advice, but all I thought was that they do not know what I am going through. But I have realized that no matter what school district you are in your first year, teaching is really, really hard. You can only make it easier on yourself. It is important to stay positive and to try new things. My heart really aches for her. She is having such a hard time. But it is up to her to change that. Sometimes we have to become different people to survive, which in my opinion is fine, as long as you don’t lose sight of who you truly are. I know that my senior year of college basketball, I had to become an assertive, outspoken leader. For me being assertive and outspoken are the hardest things to be, but I had to change for myself, the

The Decision

The decision to change school was a very hard long thought out decision. If I can recall it took me about a month to make the decision. For me it turned out to be a great situation. That is at least so far. I really enjoy the people I work with. Last year I felt so alone as if I was the only one going through the first year and the only one in teacher in my school in a new place and new culture. Last year was so hard and depressing. At this time last year, I was beginning to cry everyday. I am proud to say that I have only cried one time this year. Also I have much less feelings of anxiety and frustration. I really feel as if I am making a difference. At the new school I still have the chance to work with at-risk students. Although these students are in a better situation, they are still being left behind. Many of them end up dropping out or receiving certificates of attendance. I am happy that I have gotten the chance to see both sides of the spectrum. I have worked in a bad and in a good school district. I now can see why the bad school district is bad. And in my option it was not the leadership, at least not at the middle school level. There so many little things that go into running a school. This experience has given me the courage and desire to continue teaching after the two years are over. I would like to take the things that I have learned from the good school district back to a bad school district. I would love the chance to be an administrator one day. I feel that if I would have stayed where I was at last yea, this year would be the last year that I taught. I have realized that just maybe I do want to spend my life teaching.