Changed My Mindset, Changed My Day

Without going into personal details for fear it will ruin my future New York Times best selling novel about my life, I can reveal that this past week has been a trying week. But on my way to work, I thought I should take my own advice to change my mindset when things get chaotic.

Work can be the biggest challenge in my life. I don’t mean the students. They are the least of my problems. I love teaching middle school. Interacting with them about novels and poetry is fantastic. I’d love to run my own school one day but I wouldn’t want to give up leaving the classroom.

Lately, I’ve become more of an observer to avoid clashing with others in the school who are considered “adults” but it is quite the challenge. I say this because hypocrisy is the one thing that I seem to not handle well in the work place.

Recently, I didn’t have to chirp up as much as I thought I would because my other coworkers did it. It’s as if there is a handful of educators who truly value instructional time. They want to be at parent conferences, they don’t want a gazillion interruptions while they are teaching, they grade with high expectations and they won’t tolerate disrespect of any kind. I consider myself a part of this group.

There was an incident this past week that really could have set me off and thrown me off the holiday cheer train. But I changed the way I looked at the situation. With the help of someone else who said, “they will never value your thoughts because your standards are too high for them.” There you go! I realized that maybe I was expecting something from people who despite having an educational degree, just couldn’t deliver the same high standards that our kids deserved. Once I realized that it wasn’t personal against me, I felt my anger float away.

I wish I could have applied this a long time ago. It would have saved me so many hours of getting upset. I used to wonder, “why won’t these co workers step it up? Why won’t they raise their standards? Why won’t they give these students quality education?” The answer is clear. They can’t.

The air condition unit wasn’t working at work this past week. Luckily for Miami weather, it was a chilly week. Yet my classroom was musty and warm. With students coughing up a lung, this environment could become a breeding ground for more just a flu epidemic. Once again, I thought let me change my mindset. So I took my students outside to continue doing the work that they would have done in the classroom. I didn’t say free time or play time or do whatever you want time. But once we got outside, my students saw their classmates doing just that with other teachers.

It’s not easy being the “tough teacher” but later on some of the students will realize that my job is to make sure they have the skills to succeed.

Until then, I will be the “tough teacher” and if my coworkers stumble up on this website, don’t take it personal.

Step By Step Isn’t Always Easy

I’m about to share a video that literally took over 60 hours to produce, direct and edit. I would love to take the credit but all I did was supervise, pull my hair out, shed some tears, yell and laugh throughout the entire process. My first year teaching theatre and the first year our k-8 school ever had a theatre class. Producing a play was not going to happen but that’s for another post.  But then an idea hit me.

All of the students were asked to get into groups to lip sync a song. One group of boys chose Step by Step by New Kids on the Block. I love that song! They did such a great job that I offered them extra credit if they redid the video like the one in the original music video by NKOTB. Two boys, Kevin and Elijah took on the challenge. The other boys in the group also pitched in when they were needed. (THANK YOU TO NKOTB for making a fabulous song that my middle school students love as well!)

Miraculously other theatre and non theatre students pitched in to help with the filming, stage setting, and choreography. Even two former students who had come to visit me were giving tips during parts of the filming. We even thought we had our fifth member but he sprained his ankle. Tsk Tsk, Daniel. (Just kidding, feel better!)  However, you might still see him if you closely look at the step scene. (Thank you, Luis Z. and Nathalie D. for helping me there!)

Our vision was bigger than our time, our patience, and our abilities but it came to fruition the night before my last day of work.

Thank you for not giving up! Thank you, Kevin, Elijah, Jorge, Joaquin, Nathalie, Mrs. Breiter, Mr. Mojica, Pepe, Luis Z. Mrs. Gutierrez, Ms. Garcia, Mrs. Hernandez, Mrs. Calis, Mrs. Desimone, period 6, period 2, period 1. A special thanks to our principal, Ms. Arango for letting me teach Theatre in our school.

Here is our reproduction of Step by Step.

All music and singing is from the original group, New Kids on the Block.

If you happen to know the musical group, let them know about this video.

Is Your Child Really Gifted?

Gifted Not Plan B
True Gifted Soar

I’m hooked on the CBS show Scorpion. It’s about four gifted adults who work with the government. Supposedly it’s based on a true story. As a young girl, I was given the “gifted” label. I had one of the best gifted teachers in Miami Dade County Public Schools. Mrs. D didn’t just have us think outside of the box, we had to forget there was a box and just think!

When I became a teacher, I had the amazing opportunity to teach gifted students at Southwood Middle School in Miami, Florida. Continue reading “Is Your Child Really Gifted?”

BYOD: Positive or Negative Factor?

BYOD Bring Your Own Device
To BYOD or Not to BYOD. That is the question.

Have you heard of BYOD? It stands for Bring Your Own Device to school.

Yes! We are now asking students to bring their iPads, iPhones, and other electronic devices into the classroom.

I guess we are supposed to be jumping up and down for joy over this. So why aren’t I joining the hip hip hooray bandwagon?

Electronic devices have their purpose in the learning process but there are pitfalls to this grand push for BYOD.

Here’s my take on it. Continue reading “BYOD: Positive or Negative Factor?”