Another life update…

Several things have changed at Woodson – just in the time since I have graduated from high school (which wasn’t thattt long ago)…

  • Updated flooring
  • A big, heavy mat that the football guys use to practice rolls and tackling
  • Security cameras and fobs to unlock the outside doors
  • An intercom system
  • A second portable building for pre-K/K
  • New bell sounds (including funky dance music played when school dismisses)
  • Tutorial periods built into every morning and afternoon
  • New teachers, staff members and students (many in different rooms, too)

…but so many things are the same…

  • People still proudly wear black and gold.
  • The building still looks much like it always has on the outside, since being built in 1928.
  • We still call the our gyms the Old Gym and New Gym (though this is the New Gym’s 20th anniversary!).
  • There are dogs that everyone knows and loves, and we give them treats but also have to chase them off the football field during games at times.
  • You can turn to anyone for anything, and they will help you (Thanks to Mrs. Briles for teaching advice, Mrs. Matthiews for candy and Mrs. Lester for markers!).
  • We’re still a little family – just with a few different members – that works super hard, whether we are serving chili at Homecoming, driving bus routes after school, taking money at sporting events, decorating for school functions, counselling kids about love and life, spending our weekends and evenings at extracurricular functions, grading homework, making copies and lesson plans or researching new ways to present the correct information to students.

I ❤ Woodson ISD

I have been around education my entire life. My dad started out as a math teacher and head football and basketball coach then worked his way up to being principal and, eventually, superintendent. My mom has taught sixth grade, as well as family and consumer sciences, health and physical education classes. Almost all of this has been done at Woodson ISD, my second home. I started kindergarten there in 1997, as the “new” gym was being built on campus (right behind my house, since my family still lives in the school-owned, two-story house they moved into in 1991). I remember crying in Mrs. Bellah’s fourth grade classroom when my favorite childhood cat died. When 9/11 happened, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bundy, tried to explain to us what was going on. I graduated from WHS in 2009, after years of basketball, academic events, breakups and makeups and being taught everything from literature and exponents to lessons on how to be the best I can be and to bloom where I was planted.

Hook ‘Em

The University of Texas at Austin was my next stop for learning; as an 18 year old, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I started out in business, to be generic, realized that was not for me, began writing for The Daily Texan (one of the oldest and winningest college newspapers) and transferred into the school of communication, to study magazine journalism.

Adulthood

After graduating a semester early, I wasn’t in a school setting – but I was still learning! From 2012 to 2015, I had some amazing moments (started my own freelance marketing/writing business, attended New York Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities like Ryan Gosling and made many fun memories with friends and family) and some growing moments (like a quarter-life crisis, where I didn’t get a dream job – even with a degree from UT – so had to work six jobs and live paycheck to paycheck).

Back To Woodson

I heard that journalism was a dying art, but I was determined to make a living writing…but in the meantime, as a backup, I decided to get a teaching certificate. It seemed neat to pass my passion for writing and reading on to others, especially since I wasn’t finding that full-time magazine job I wanted. When I completed my training, there happened to be an English opening at a high school near me in Austin, so I applied and made it to the second round. When I didn’t get that, though, I heard that Woodson had an opening. I joked that I should apply…and then I did. I interviewed with the principal and teachers and was presented in front of the board and got the job! My at-the-time boyfriend, Tommy, and I picked up, left our friends and beloved ATX and moved to a small town so I could teach in an even smaller town.

My Thoughts On Teaching

Pros:

  • You do get to pass your passions on to others.
  • Your work schedule is nice, with long holiday and summer breaks (You still have to plan lessons and attend trainings – but it’s better than a 9-5 every.single.day.ever.).
  • I got to help with basketball.
  • I was surrounded by other creative and caring individuals.

Cons:

  • Not everyone loves writing and reading, but some people seem to love complaining about not loving it, which makes trying to get them to learn nearly impossible.
  • Even if you’re super organized like me, the preparation never ends, since there are state standards to adhere to and essays to grade and full lessons to plan…and some kids rush through assignments and some days bring substitute teachers, so you need back-up lessons…and some schools, such as the small WHS, need one teacher covering many areas, meaning planning for four different English levels + journalism + high school theater + junior high theater.

As said, I’ve always been around education, so I heard my parents’ stories of students and classes and TAAS/TAKS/STAAR and extracurriculars and inservice. I never thought I’d end up teaching, but I was SO excited to give back to Woodson, to share my knowledge and to use my experience/creativity/organization in the classroom and beyond.

However, here are some things people don’t realize…

  • People can be lazy and rude. Yes, different personalities and interests and people are what make our diverse world so neat. In a school setting, though, a certain level of effort and respect is expected. I know perfection is impossible – from anyone, in anything – but I was surprised at how many students seemed to not care about failing grades or bad attitudes. I know school can be challenging, and balancing activities + homework + life can be a lot; I was in this exact classroom not that long ago, though, and while several people failed tests and got d-hall (myself included, at times!), there was that level of effort/respect. We knew that we came to school to learn and work and study, so there was no point in complaining – just get it done! We joined the extracurricular activities we were interested in, and we showed up to practices and games, ready to work there, too, resulting in state championship football games and competitions/trips at Galveston and gold medals, blue ribbons and pride. This year’s volleyball team made it to the playoffs, and that’s the first time that any of these high school students have done that in anything; there are many factors that could play into this (tougher competition, changes in coaching staff, fewer players, etc.), but I have to wonder about the effort + success correlation.
  • Teaching is a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize the amount of behind-the-scenes details that go into this job – even someone like me, who saw Mom grade papers after the bell rang and had to wait on Dad to get home from practice/games/board meetings. The lovely STAAR test alone leads to certain things having to be taught to certain grades at certain times, all to try and pass this one test that keeps changing and getting harder. On top of that, there are normal concepts that each subject brings – such as making sure students understand fractions, commas, cells and the history of our country – and you have to find the textbook and worksheets and accompanying texts/papers and quizzes that go along with all of that. Finally, we are also responsible for instilling these young people with deeper lessons; there isn’t a state-issued list somewhere that says this, but a. students are sometimes with teachers more than their parents and b. at Woodson ISD specifically, we’re all taught character traits – like determination, honesty, punctuality and respect – and to “be the best we can be” (our school motto:).
  • Last but not least, Woodson’s population is only 296. There are less than 50 students in high school, and these students share a building with every grade, down to pre-K. Many of these kids are also bussed in from Graham and Breckenridge, as parents like having their children in more one-on-one settings and able to participate in more than one activity. As mentioned, with a smaller school and staff, your English teacher is also your UIL and OAP director and assistant basketball coach, and your principal and superintendent teach classes and coach teams, on top of all of their other responsibilities. This is how it’s always been, and for many years, Woodson had the same staff members, who were familiar with their jobs/roles and became family. Over the years, retirement and graduating children have brought in new, younger teachers – teachers who like starting out in smaller settings. Changes are going to happen in any school, and people move for numerous reasons. It can be said that Woodson is at a disadvantage, since we’re small and in the middle of nowhere and don’t have baseball. But we do have…
    • Exciting six-man football (State runners-up in 2008. State semi-finalists in 1980 & 2001. Quarterfinal champions & state runners-up in 1978 & 2007. Regional champions in 2006 & 2009. Bi- district champions in 1993, 1994, 1995 & 2000. District champions in 1957, 1960, 1967, 1973 & 1996. The boys’ teams saw success under Coach Gordon Thomas from 1992-2002, and under Coach Reece Walker from 2002-2008.)
    • A staff that hustles and cares (Do you know these people? You probably do, ha. They’re amazing.)
    • History (such as the town being named after J.O. Wood and his son, an impactful tornado, a railroad and a Japanese balloon bomb)
    • Awesome community members (and many are graduates of Woodson AND started booming businesses here – like Jones Trailer, BJB Transport and the Woodson Inn – where other current and ex-students work)
    • A high reputation (Woodson ISD was started by passionate people who hired other upstanding faculty members…members who helped make all the positive things mentioned in this very long piece possible…winning games and building a new gym and earning awards/praises from the state/surrounding schools and sending kiddos off to state competitions/top universities/high-paying jobs…and then possibly having them come back to spread some of that goodness around (i.e. Ashlee Sullivan, Kim Miller, Nanci Baxley, Melissa Vickers and Richard Sullivan).

Life Now

I don’t owe an explanation of why I came here, how I feel about it or what I will be doing now; but, as a writer, I wanted/needed to get all of this out. My now-husband, Tommy, is working to get job back in Austin – since we miss it terribly! – and my last day as a teacher at WHS was May 23. He actually fell in love with teaching when we were here, passed his content test with flying colors, spent the last year teaching at Olney and would love to be passing on his smarts to an ATX school. Since I started my own biz in 2012, I’ve kept that going on the side, and now it’s grown so much that I can write and tweet and blog and pitch publications all day, every day.

I loved being back at Woodson, and I look forward to continuing to give back to this amazing community, no matter where I end up or what I am doing. Thank YOU for helping to make Woodson so amazing, thank YOU for making the past two years so eventful, and thank YOU for taking even a tiny bit of inspiration from this and realizing that life is short, so we must bloom where we are planted and be the best we can be!

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70+ English Resources!

I have only been teaching for a year and a half, but over that time, I researched numerous sites, attended several workshops and built up a huge list of resources; I teach English I-IV, journalism and theater arts…and if you do, too, here’s some assistance!

Below, you will find over 70 links to websites full of assignments, projects, worksheets and more!

I also sell lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers and have a Pinterest board dedicated to all this creative/hard work we put in! Follow me! Tell me what awesome links I left out! We’re all in this together…(cue High School Musical dance;)!

ENGLISH

General Lesson Plans (with some linked directly to my fave page on the site!)

http://www.varsitytutors.com/englishteacher

Grammar

Writing
Reading
Vocab
Worksheets/Quizzes
STAAR (resources, practice, details, info)
ACT
JOURNALISM
THEATER ARTS

I am a teacher.

Halfway through my first year of teaching, in the midst of preparing for the STAAR test and directing a one-act play and planning a wedding, I did a little research, to make myself feel a little better, and to learn from others who have been/are in my shoes…

 

Juice Boxes & Crayolas – a cute teaching blog – points out the following facts…

Support system = needed item (and thankfully I have great people I can vent to/lean on!)

Outlet = a creative, de-stressing way to leave the day behind you (and when I have time to blog or read or watch Bravo, it’s a great de-stressor!)

Boundaries = things that must be set, in all areas of your life, especially as a teacher, when it comes to how you interact with kids and when you leave work each day (these have been interesting/different, since I’m teaching in a town of 296…at a K-12 school with 150 kids…from which I graduated…meaning I teach people I went to school with and have known since they were conceived…and teach with some of my old teachers…and my parents)

All those little creatures = precious babies (even if they’re not pure angels all the time…love ’em all anyway!)

Celebrate the small stuff – and the big stuff!

A First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide taught me that…

Nothing is perfect (so know that not every lesson, test, day, activity will be 100 percent amazing)

No is a word that should be in your vocab (even though it’s hard at a small school, when we’re expected to chip in everywhere)

Not everyone learns the same way (so make sure you’re not centering lessons towards one type of learner, one type of student or one human being)

Raid the supply closet (especially since bratty little teens will raid your closets, leaving you with zero pens come Spring Break)

Track memories (because it will all fly by, and you’ll want to look back and remember who gave you that cute little “I Heart My Teacher” sign)

Fake it (until you make it or until you look like you’re making it enough to get through eight periods, six weeks and/or August through May)

Vent (often. to trusted people. and then suck it up and get on with life again.)

Connect with your kiddos (so that they’ll want to learn more often and so that you can learn about/from them)

Love, Teach – a blog I think I’m now obsessed with – got really real…

…stating facts on how many students this teacher has, what type of students they are, how early this teacher gets to work, how his school deals with discipline and how “even though I love my job and work harder at it than I’ve ever worked for anything, the loudest voice in my head is the one that is constantly saying you’re not doing enough. I hear it all the time.”

 

It has NOT sunk in that I live in Graham, Texas, not Austin, and teach at my old high school – that I teach at all! I majored in journalism and dreamed of being a writer, so I’m glad I still get to write at times (even if it is just sappy, weird blogging). I thought education would be a good back-up career, and I thought that, someday, it would be nice to raise a family in Small Town, America. Now, I’m here, though, and I love the joys of teaching: when I have a kid tell me he gets it, watching students work hard in class so they can work even harder in multiple extra-curricular activities, seeing them take something they know/love and combine it with an assignment, showing that they truly understand and enlightening us all! The cons are…difficult…and I know the first year is the toughest, working in a small school means I’m not just an English teacher but 80 other things, and some kids just do not want to learn or listen, and when punishments nor failing scares them…what can you do?

I, personally, can…

  1. learn from my mistakes
  2. keep being the best I can be (our school motto!)
  3. bloom where I am (what my high school English teacher still tells me to this day)
  4. get creative in finding new ways to get sh!t done
  5. and remember that I’m young, life is short, possibilities are endless, and anything is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

transition into a deeper level of adulthood – and a smaller town

Sooo…a move happened…

…and I’ll jump right in with the hard facts, then trail on for a bit, using lots of commas, like I tend to do, explaining the logistics, which I hope you read, to understand it all…:)

I will be teaching at Woodson ISD. Tommy (my bf) is training. We live in Graham.

After graduating from UT and not landing a dream writing career, I enrolled in iteachTEXAS, an alternative program with classwork and a test (I took/passed the ELAR 8-12 test, meaning I’ll be the high school English teacher:).

I’ve had a couple of other interviews over the past couple of years, but this one worked out the best; a great rental house came open, a nearby gym has been looking for trainers (more details on this later), my teaching cert expires this year, and the familiarity with the school helps!

As I explained in my application and throughout my interview process, teaching in Woodson will be a dream come true; sharing knowledge with tomorrow’s leaders is a hard, inspiring, amazing thing, and to do that in the same building where I earned an education – the one that was my second home and prepared me for being a Longhorn, interning in NYC, covering Fashion Week & interviewing Ryan Gosling – wow.

I’m honored to take the position, and Tommy is excited to share his education/skills (His certs include CSCS, TRX & NCCPT, so you should hit him up if you want to lose weight or gain muscle or stay healthy or boost your mood:). And although we’re super sad to leave Austin, it will always be a home to us, and we’ll be back all the time.

Okay, if you made it this far…Congrats! I felt I needed to explain such a big life change – a big, exciting, crazy, awesome life change.

…but now the fun stuff…

I meant to post some of this last month, but now – lucky you – you get a recap of the past few weeks, such as:

-our going-away party, which included a July Fourth full of watering holes, BBQ and giant/outdoor/alternative pong

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-Tommy’s new biz, which allows him to travel to clients’ homes and gyms (in surrounding/great/little Texas towns), offering personal training through one-on-one and group sessions (Go like his Facebook page – He’s way too talented and passionate with this stuff!)

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-and our new house, in Graham, Texas, which we’re loving

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We both grew up in small towns and sort of knew we may move back to one in the future – and now, I guess, the future is here! I’m thrilled to start teaching (so much left to do in the next couple of weeks!), excited to be in my old stomping ground (missed some people/places!) and blessed to have a BFF that picked up and moved four hours away with me (so I’m also definitely looking forward to TB Str3ngth lifting off, too!).

Thanks for reading/Bye ’til next time, -bt