In Order To Write a New Chapter, You Must Close The One You’re On

I started student teaching straight scared. Up until then, I had been in my fair share of classrooms and spent time with some great students. However, this time was the big show. This time, I had somewhat of a major responsibility. This time, it meant something.

I remember thinking that there was no way I could willingly walk into this classroom where who knew if the students would take me seriously and teach them what they need to learn. How would I be able to create and implement lesson plans without simply just being told what to teach?? How am I up to par with experienced teachers to be able to collaborate with them and make my voice and opinions heard amongst theirs???

It was scary stuff.

The thing with scary stuff though is that when you jump in, though you’re eyes are shut tight, whether you like it or not, you’re in it. It’s just up to you to make the best of it.

Looking back, I think it’s funny how scared I really was. Even though it was a new chapter in life teaching is something I was made to do! It’s what comes natural to me and I find my home easily within a classroom.

Did I have rough days where I contemplated why I made this decision of going into teaching? Oh, absolutely. Did I snap out of it within an hour or so by remembering something a student did or say that same day that was hilarious? Obviously.

I was welcomed into the Washington Woods family and found my place quickly. I made strong relationships with students and staff that I will hold as the standard for any other school I become a part of. You never realize the importance of people’s presence in your life until there is an absence of it. Saying goodbye to The Woods was a great realization for me. It was so hard for me to leave this supportive staff and relationships I had built with students – which showed how important this support was to me. It showed me that this is the kind of school and support system I need to become successful.

On my last day I was showered with hugs, drawings, mementos, things students had made, candy, cookies, and overall lots of love. Even the students who are constantly on their own planet and did not give me any indication they knew I existed gave me ‘I’ll Miss You’ notes. Needless to say I bawled my eyes out – approximately six times.

I would have never thought that it would be so hard to close a chapter of my life that I was so scared to start. With this closing chapter I am writing a new one. I might label it “Job Search”, but I hope I can think of something more witty soon. The cover art of said chapter is of me in my Abraham Lincoln t-shirt, holding my diploma from Central Michigan University in one hand and my Michigan Teaching Certificate in the other, and facing the world … (maybe listening to Ed Sheehan. I haven’t decided).

You might say that I am scared again. I wouldn’t say so. I would describe it as somewhat cool and collected, but only enough to mask the panicked-give-me-a-brown-bag version of myself in the inside.

So with this new chapter, here I am jumping. I have my eyes shut tight again and my fingers crossed hoping I don’t land on my face. I’m hoping that when I look back I, again, find it funny that I’m terrified at the start. Either way one has to jump.

I mean, it isn’t going to write itself – right?

 

 

 

 

Camp Central for College Candidates

You know you’re a middle level teacher when you credit the wonderful-ness of the past three weeks to being surrounded by 7th and 8th graders. Yes, you heard (read) me right. In the middle of the Michigan summer, I was not at the beach, camping out, or even tubing down the Chip River. Instead, I had the very fortunate experience of working with young adolescents at a STEAM camp the College of Education and Human Services sponsored here at Central Michigan University.

This academic camp, Camp Central, focused on the growth of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in these young learners. Camp Central helped students look to the future, whether that be life after college or even college in general. Throughout the weeks, students engaged within their creativity in regards to math, science, and engineering. Students made goals of earning college degrees in these fields and making careers out of what they are most passionate about achievable!

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Out of the many sessions that were offered to these students, I helped run the Fashion Merchandising and Design portion. Within this STEAM session, campers learned the sciences behind different textiles and why we wear what we wear! They explored the textile’s lab in the Engineering Building, where a one-of-a-kind mannequin, Norman, is used to measure sweat. Sweat! Norman is used to show engineers how different materials are affected in different environmental situations to better clothing design. Along with Norman, students were also to engage in thermography and learn about the different zones of their bodies. These were “thermal selfies” where campers were able to experiment with different objects to change the way the temperature from their bodies is displayed.

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Another great part of running this session was being able to help out with Tie-Dye Chemistry. In this session, students were able to tie-dye a t-shirt and learn how the chemicals in the dye reacted with the cotton in the shirt. This was a really great experience to see how students used their creative skills to express themselves. Just like every tie-dye shirt, all students are different in their learning styles and who they are in general – which this was a great representation. 

CKYm63xUcAAX_H5After these morning sessions, students then chose three out of five mini-sessions to attend. The mini-session I taught was called “Squishy Circuits”. In this mini session, campers experimented with conductive dough, insulator dough, battery packs, and lights to create sculptures to light up. Even with science not being one of my specialties – this was a really interesting thing to teach. I loved seeing their faces light up when, not only when the light bulb lit up in their dough, but the light bulb in their head as well! That’s why I want to teach, to see that “light bulb” moment. 

Now with academics aside, being able to get to know these kids was a huge part of this experience. Throughout the weeks of this camp, I was able to get to know many of these campers and connect with them on another level. There were times where homesickness came into effect or energies were low. In these times of need, they needed to know that you can be their rock to lean on to get them through that next activity. I had a phenomenal time being able to joke around with the campers and see them bust a great dance move. Since the camp was divided into two waves, unfortunately we only had a few days with the campers each time. Even with the minimal interaction, I was able to make connections with these kids that I hope benefited them for life!

I love these moments in my life that reassure me I made the best decision of finding my place in the middle ❤

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AMLE 2014

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the American Middle Level Association conference for the second time this year! It was held in Nashville, TN and was 3 days full of information that strengthened beliefs, tested my beliefs, and opened my ideas to practices I can use in the classroom. 10421128_10203380831896612_2278306813754250755_n

I absolutely love the atmosphere of AMLE. To be surrounded by hundreds of people that share the same, strong, passion for middle level education gives you a feeling that you are a part of something much bigger. This ‘something’ is something that will eventually change the view of middle level education.

Unfortunately, the kids in the middle level are often forgotten about. In many cases, they are treated as students who are in preparation for high school education. It is that awkward phase of learning between carpet times in elementary school to intense bell schedules of the high school. With many people having this mindset, the needs of young adolescents are often being forgotten about. It is somewhat a different “species” of students that are usually being taught by teachers who do not understand these needs, have little passion for this age group, and generally just want to be somewhere else and ended up being stuck there.

As for me, I love the middle level. I have said it multiple times before, but teaching this age group is something that I want to do with my life. I do not want to be stuck in the middle, I want to find myself in the middle. By being around people that share this idea with me gives me the push to continue on to teaching these wonderful kids.

I want to be a middle level teacher that changes the outlook of others when they look at young adolescents. I want middle level to be the age that EVERYONE wants to teach – because it should be. With going to these conferences, I can see my dream of being a middle level teacher – who reaches out to her kids, makes them want to come to class, makes learning interesting, and overall makes a difference – more of a reality.

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My Place in the Middle

And just like that, I have officially completed the Middle Level Program at CMU.

IMG_6647I came into CMU knowing I wanted to teach — but teach who? It wasn’t until Dr. Norma Bailey came into my ‘Introduction to Education’ class that my eyes were opened. She talked about what it took to be a Middle Level Educator and how different middle schoolers were compared to high schoolers and elementary school students. She challenged us to observe in a middle school where we could learn first-hand whether or not middle school students could make or break us – so I did.

 

I observed at my old middle school – which just so happened to be my younger brother’s current school. I fell in love immediately. Just by observing during that week, I realized how funny young adolescents were and how great of a fit it was for me to work with them. I had to be a part of this Middle Level Program.

That decision has been the best decision I have made thus far in my life.

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By being a part of this program these past two years, I have grown as a teacher, a student, and overall a human being. Dr. Norma Bailey has inspired me to stand strong to the values and beliefs that I cherish as a person and a teacher that I will forever hold on to. My fellow 27 other peers, quickly turned into friends and are now forever my family. Thank you to everyone who joined me in this journey and who supported me in finding my place in the Middle ❤