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The written word has always been a joy for me.  I can not remember a time in my life when I did not have books. Before I was able to read them, my mother read books to me. As soon as I could read independently I was never without a book in my hands or very nearby.  As years passed, writing developed into a passion for me as well. I tried novel writing while home with my two children during their early years and was challenged to focus on the craft.  I never gave up the love even when I had to give up the pursuit.  Now, with grown children and the fact I am sitting on the other side of fifty I can pursue my dream of writing.  I have continued the reading quest but now the writing is attainable as well.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Teacher Challenge: Top 5 Non-Negotiables in teaching.

Let's just begin this post by saying I am humbled to be tagged along with the amazing teachers challenged to post their top 5 non-negotiables.    I came to the teaching realm through a unique path.  Personally, I have always believed that God brought me to the place I am, through unique and maze worthy means.

I never saw myself as a teacher, certainly not a teacher of secondary education students.  But, I have learned in my life to trust and pray and follow.  I have trusted in God and prayed for his guidance, I prayed for direction, and no matter how scary it was, I did my best to follow the path I was being lead upon.
Risk: I faced many risks, but I trusted the path so I kept sticking my neck out because I felt a passion for the students He put in my path.

I began this journey as a paraprofessional for 5th-6th grade learning disabled students.  I fell in love with fostering learning through fostering confidence in the gifts each student was blessed with from the beginning.

I eventually became a high school paraprofessional for the local education cooperative.  I loved the job and the students.  In time I was given the opportunity to interview and accept a position as an ESL paraprofessional.  I had studied languages, linguistics, and English secondary education in college so this seemed like a perfect fit.

 I do not have a teaching certificate, but do have a Bachelors of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences which includes hours in English, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences.  I felt like the perfect para, I could tutor the students in most classes and teach English to non English language students.  The only problem, I didn't have enough ESL students.  I was bored.  Not something I take lightly.

I refuse to not be used to my full capacity so...I wrote to my assistant superintendent.  And I  prayed, oh how I prayed, I knew saying that I was not used to my full capacity was risky for my job but I could not take money for a job I did not feel that I was adequately earning.  My administrator told me to think of a better use for my abilities and let her know.  Again, scary....but I did and told her that I needed more work to do or I needed less hours, I was simply not cost effective in the current educational climate.

 Then I offered my extra hours to assist in helping an Impact classroom and the lead teacher, Jason Kohls, thankfully allowed me to come into his classroom.  I was in love with the students!   These were MY kids!!! Students that struggle and need guidance due to various factors.  Finally I found my niche.  But I needed to be accepted to the position.  The assistant superintendent kindly agreed to allow me to teach these students and through a waiver I was allowed to facilitate three hours of Impact classes!!!!

That was last year.  This year, my colleagues have agreed to supervise my classrooms to continue my quest to facilitate as many Impact classrooms as the district will allow me to teach.  God knows this is my passion.  God also knows that at my age attaining a teacher's certificate is not money well spent.  But He always finds a way for me to pursue my passion to help students succeed and for that I feel unconditionally blessed.

Through this menagerie of teacher existence I have had a classroom of students to tutor, facilitate, and care for the past six years.

And yes because I have had a classroom the past six years, I do have non negotiables.

1. My classroom is a safe place for all students. Students may share feelings and thoughts without fear of reprisal from others.  I will ensure that all students treat each other with respect. Everyone in my classroom can talk without fear of ridicule.  Any students that cross this expectation will be held accountable to ensure a safe environment for all students at all times. My students know that it takes a great deal to make me hold them accountable to the administration but this is a deal breaker, and the students respect this.

2.The class time each day must be shared by all students. This may sound strange in a regular classroom setting, but in a class where each student needs tutoring it is a real issue.  I will give everyone some attention during the class period but everyone must share the time allowed.  This I honestly feel is the hardest part of my job.  Each and everyone of my students need the full class hour of instruction each and every day. However, I have many students each hour. I do my best to go from student to student throughout the class hour.  Trying my best to give every student some assistance every day is a non-negotiable.

3. Students must take responsibility for their own actions.  Many students that find school challenging blame others for their struggles.  Yes, many factors lead to the problems that are faced in life, but one must take responsibility for their own actions.  It is not the parents, the other teachers, or anyone else's fault if work is not completed.  It is your own.   Own it and resolve the issue.  If there is an extenuating circumstance I will help to resolve this, but I won't make excuses, and neither should the student.

4. I will come before school and stay after school to help a student but will not invest more care for the subject than the student involved. I learned my first year on the job that it is dangerous to care more for the student's grades and classwork than the student themselves.  I follow the quote by Mark Twain, "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself  to be their option." I will love unconditionally but expect the student to work for the success they achieve, and will support the student who wholeheartedly works unceasingly.

5. I will watch and learn from my co-workers each and every day.  I struggle to call my licensed teacher colleagues peers.  They earned that certificate and I have just achieved my work credos through tenacity and perseverance.  Yet every opportunity I find myself in their midst I am awed and inspired.  I watch and learn and feel privileged to be in their arena.

The Story Cure

It is my firm belief that everyone who can read is also a writer.  I concede that some individuals are more talented in the composition of written passages, but all can write.  Everyone has a story to tell, in one fashion or another.  I, profess to be a wannabe novelist.  I have always wanted to easily tell engaging stories that make others want to read and become part of the imaginary world of  characters that live in my mind.  I can create the characters, the situations that happen to them, but weaving the entire plot and theme of the book are very difficult for me.

Blogging for Books to the rescue.  While looking for my next book to request I happened upon, The Story Cure- A Book Doctor's Pain-free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir by Dinty W. Moore.  Voila! The perfect answer.  The Story Cure offers a diagnosis and the prescribed cures for the main elements of a novel.  Along with the written information, The Story Cure also includes interactive lessons to put the cures to practice in fixing a book.

Moore, refers to himself as a book doctor, having taught many classes as well as working with individuals create the book that lives inside of them.  I found the information very helpful.  I plan to work through the exercises and try to bring life to the story I know I can tell.

I would sincerely recommend The Story Cure to any writer struggling to bring their novel to life.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.