Nerdy Teacher Building Relationships In the Classroom

So, I was rapping the verse from “Satisfied” from the amazing Hamilton Musical in class the other day and some students heard me. They were impressed. And this got me thinking about how the students view me. Cause, let’s face it, I’m pretty white. (Regardless of my ancestry I present as white.) Plus, I don’t speak with the typical kiwi accent. I can blame that on years of speech therapy and travel. I guess that this makes it hard for students to categorise me and, if they haven’t been taught by me before, they can often be confused or, at the very least, a little intimidated by me. (Trust me, I find that strange as well. I mean, I’m a short, stocky, nerdy gamer girl who drinks far too much coffee and has a tendency to lisp…oh let’s throw in the glasses as well…who can be intimidated by that?)

But what I found more interesting was the fact that the students seemed interested in the musical and the fact that I like rap music, (from the late 80s/early 90s mainly…)  which leads me into my main point – building relationships in the classroom. I tend to get along with most people, regardless of my introverted nature, I can talk to people from most walks of life. I just need a lot of alone time to make up for it if it goes on for too long. However, the students often find us, as adults, fascinating. Whether they are looking for some kind of inspiration or someone who they can respect I don’t know.

Building relationships is one of the key elements to creating a safe and powerful learning environment. Students have to know who you are or, at least, have a small sense of who you are in order to listen to you for four hours a week. And it is through these relationships that respect begins to grow.

Some of the ways that I build relationships between my students and myself are as follows:

  • Being honest. (To a degree, obviously.) I always try to be myself and, if I’m having a bad day I let the students know and then I move on. Students are smart – they pick up cues that others miss. It’s fascinating.
  • Being myself – this is part of being honest. I’m a huge goofball and nerd. And it shows in my classroom from the Tardis Cookie jar to the Literary puns that adorn my walls to the pop culture references in my lessons.
  • Allowing them to see that I make mistakes. Teachers are human, contrary to many beliefs. Making mistakes is important to show them that it’s okay.
  • Being passionate about my job. I truly love my job though it’s stressful – paperwork aside I find much of my time consumed with worrying about my students. And questioning if I am doing enough to help them. (This is something that, I’m told, is a sign of a great teacher…I don’t know if I agree…)
  • Talking to students. Actually sitting at their level and talking about things that they are passionate about.
  • Showing them that it’s okay to like things – i.e. video games, musicals, anime – students often feel so isolated that they often love the fact that adults also have likes and dislikes – who knew that teachers were actual people, right?

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My apologies for the rushed blog. For the sake of honesty, I’ve had a headache for most of the day so actually came straight home after school. Now I’m trying to prep for tomorrow, write this blog and tackle my to do list.

Anyway, what do you do to help foster a safe learning environment? Sing Disney tunes to your classes? Dance around the room? Do dinosaur impersonations? (Guilty of all three…)

Peace and pancakes,

XJaime

Passion, Purpose, Pride and Performance

Every Monday our principal provides us with a bulletin/newsletter of sorts that outlines the week, gives us some thoughts to ponder and reminds us where we are in the grand scheme of things.

Today’s bulletin had the following questions attached at the bottom so I thought that I might answer them.

Question One:

What is your purpose as a teacher in 2016?

You may be wondering why I struck out in 2016 and that’s fair enough. I have my goals for the year, which have been mentioned in other posts and I’d like to focus on that main part of that question – what is my purpose as a teacher…? To answer that I would say to share my love of learning. To help students view the world around them through multiple perspectives while they strengthen their own.

My purpose as a teacher is to guide students – it is not to do the work for them but to allow them to find new ways to do the work themselves. As I constantly remind my students – I’m here to guide and facilitate their learning. Hopefully, I’ve started the year off well with that line of thinking.

Question Two:

What performance goals have you set yourself in 2016?

I have numerous goals but the one thing they have in common is that they rely on the students and their engagement with the topics chosen. I don’t have precise statistics on where I want my students to be but I have expectations.

I expect students to aim for their best.

I expect students to challenge their idea of their best.

I expect students to attempt every standard offered.

I want students to find their own strengths in English.

I have already started a class website which I am updating weekly with mini progress reports. From that I want students to critically engage with the world around them in order to improve their general knowledge.

I know that every one of my students can pass and my aim is to help as many do that as possible.

Question Three:

What passion and energy will you bring to your purpose in 2016?

I know that I will have off days. I know that I will have days where I am anxious and that I feel like I am failing my students but I hope that they will always see the passion I have for the topics I teach.

I will have a multi-media approach to everything that I teach, from performing in front of my class to giving them scaffolded assessments. I with bring my passion to help fire up their own.

As mentioned before I already have my website and, in combination with Google Drive and Edmodo I hope to create stronger connections to students and their families. It is through my website and (of course) my teaching that I hope to show my passion.

Question Four:

Be proud to be a teacher at Trident High School in 2016.

I don’t think it matters what school you teach at. If you are happy in your work, see and enact positive change then you should be proud. I am proud of the accomplishments my students do, regardless of whether they are for Trident or just goals for themselves. I am proud to be part of an established community. I am privileged to be allowed to teach about the things I am most passionate every day…although I get tired and stressed and feel lonely at times, I truly love my job and am proud to do the job I do. After all, it is the students who come first.

Until next time – here is a look at the beginning of my class decorations. Just cause photos are fun.

 

 

What are my goals? Classroom Edition

goals

As week three hits I’m already well into deciding what goals I have for myself and my students. These are not to be confused with the goals I have for my self care and looking after myself – rather, these are with regard to my students. The ones that I see in front of me on a day to day basis.

This year my timetable is a little different but I still have individual goals for each of my classes.

My timetable is roughly this:

Level 3 Internal – One main class and 2 one hour relief lessons. (So 3 level three classes in a way.)

Level 2 General

Level 1 Advanced

Year 10BYOD

My goals for each class are as such:

L3 – Critically engage with written and visual texts in order to make meaning with the world around you. And, think about the impact that you have on those around you.

L2 – Think critically about how texts can manipulate you. Think critically about your place in the class and in the world.

L1 – Critically engage with the world around you and think critically about the texts that we study.

10BYOD – Build on your general knowledge and expand your vocabulary in order to improve deeper level thinking.

These goals are all very similar but each is actually very important. I think the overall skill that I want students to improve on is deeper level thinking. There are so many connections in the world and I’d hate for students to miss out when we have a wealth of information at our fingertips.

In order for me to help the students meet these goals I have started a class weebly that the students and parents can check on to see important information and weekly updates. Although it may seem that I’m doing extra work I’m actually hoping it will cut down on unnecessary time spent sending letters or emails – but we’ll see how that goes.

My personal goals in my classroom include:

Regulating my voice more. I don’t like raising my voice and, although I very rarely shout, I have a tendency to fall back on a loud voice to get attention.

Focusing more on my teaching rather than everything else that I need to get done. (To Do lists are my friend.)

Allowing students more time to discuss and develop their understanding. I want them to build their growth mindset and I have to continue to build mine in order to help do that.

As for my self care – if I am honest I haven’t been as good to myself as I could be. Even as I type this I feel as if I haven’t done enough, though it is just Monday. This is something that will always be a work in progress.

What goals do you have for your classroom? Life? Day?

Type A Personality…

I got a lot done last week, over the weekend and today. And, as I sit down to write this I still have this feeling that I should be doing something more, something else, just something that will make me appear as productive and proactive as I am told that I am.

You see, I’m a worrier and tend to be Type A personality – if you read into those sorts of things. I’m not talking about horoscopes because I believe those are utter tripe but I sometimes like to play around with online personality tests. (I’m aware that they aren’t necessarily accurate but they are fun.)

According to much of the information I have read some things that Type A Personalities do are as follows:

  • Time is important – Type A personalities hate wasting time or having their time wasted.
  • They can become overly passionate about something
  • Very prone to stressing (worrying about everything and anything.)
  • Trouble sleeping because their mind is always racing.
  • They are highly efficient.
  • Their career is at the front and centre.
  • They walk fast and with a purpose.
  • Love solving problems
  • There are many lists – task lists, to do lists etc.

This, by no means, is the entire list. I will include some links down the bottom for your reading pleasure.

I look at lists like this and realise that my friends are right – I am Type A. It’s not a bad thing and it’s not necessarily the most accurate thing out there but I do identify with many of the traits and it does help me when I try to rationalise when I’m feeling overly stressed or struggling not to worry about something. All of this relates back to my job as a High School Teacher. Knowing and being aware of my tendencies will help me prepare for any nervous or stressed moments.

I also redid my Briggs Myer Personality test and I got INFJ again. Every damn time. I enjoy reading about the traits but always take them with a grain of salt. Humans are much more complex that we allow ourselves to believe. That being said, I did identify with many of the traits listed. The strengths and weaknesses struck a particular chord – and match rather well with my Type A personality.

My weaknesses, in particular, were interesting. According to this one my main weaknesses are that I am :

  • extremely private
  • sensitive
  • perfectionist
  • always need to have a cause
  • can burn out easily.

These are true for me. All of them. This often surprises people because many think or believe me to be quite extroverted but I’m not. My alone time is incredibly important to me and needed every day. My routines are part of my way to cope with being in a bustling job. I mention this because teaching is not an easy job – especially for introverted people. Add to that the statistics stating that most new teachers are leaving before they reach 5 years. It’s not the best profession to be an introvert.

I’m in my fifth year…but I’m still enjoying it. As long as I get time to myself to recharge.

Anyway, what is your personality type? Are you more laid back than myself? Let me know if you believe in all this.

Read more in this great Huffington Post article. Or this Elite Daily article.

Enjoy your week.

XJaime

Back To School…First Day Nerves

It’s the first day back at school tomorrow. (Well, it’s a Teacher’s Only Day, but it still counts.) And, just like every year, I am a bundle of nerves and anxiety. I feel as if there is so much I need to get done and I haven’t even stood in front of my classes yet.

Logically, I know that it’s going to be fine but I still get those nerves. I also get them at the end of every break that I have. Random bursts of negative thinking seem to loom and I have to reassure myself that I am good at my job and I am doing my best.

So, I thought I would write a post where I outline what I do to help calm my nerves and go over my ‘self care’ plan for this year. Also, I’m not a doctor nor a medical professional – remember to always seek medical advice if you are worried. One thing I have been struggling to learn is that you are the most important person in your life. If you aren’t well then you can’t do or be your best in front of that class…

Sunday/Day Before School

  1. I prepare my outfits for the week. I’m that kind of organised person. I set out 5 days of clothes – normally all on one hanger – so I don’t have to worry about what I have to wear. (This takes me about 5-10 minutes because I wear a combination of dress/tights/cardigan etc – it works for me).
  2. I listen to music and dance around my living room. The act of moving (and sometimes singing) does wonders for my nerves.
  3. I have a pinterest board with positive quotes and other motivational things to help me feel more positive.
  4. If I’m really feeling antsy I’ll have a hot shower or bath in the evening.
  5. I drink tea – normally chamomile if I don’t think I’m going to sleep well.
  6. Then, while drinking the tea, I’ll watch some Netflix or read before turning in for an early night.

you-are-important

Image Sourced From Here

My Self Care Plan

Those who know me know that I work hard. If you believe in those personality type tests etc I am a INFJ and Type A personality. I take my work very seriously and give more of myself than I probably should so this year I am trying to put into place some plans to ensure that I look after myself a little more than I have done in the past.

I feel a little guilty even thinking about putting myself first for some strange reason but that is part of the ‘fixed mindset’ (to use educational terms) that I want to move away from. So, I plan to attempt the following in order to make sure I’m the best me that I can be…

  1. Leave before 4 at least twice a week. (Though this might not always be possible but it is a starting point.)
  2. Use my non-contact time extremely efficiently.
  3. Learn to say no a little more confidently.
  4. I have scheduled in movie/tv nights with friends once a week.
  5. Exercise regularly. I walk to school but I want to add more onto that as well.
  6. Meditate frequently.
  7. Try not to take too much work home – and try to keep my weekends to myself.

Obviously this list is a work in progress and I will have lapses but I am focused on making this year really positive and rolling with the punches, so to say, more readily.

So, fellow teachers and friends, what are your self care tips? What do you do to calm yourself? Feel free to leave a comment below with ideas or advice.

Peace and Pancakes

XJaime

P.S. I’m going to move my CURRENTLY listing to another day. I want to regularly update this blog so I want to have scheduled days for things. 🙂

Things I’m Looking Forward To: SDCC2016

I’m going to San Diego Comic Con again. Well, I’ve known that I was going since the end of last year as I had to get up at the butt crack of dawn to get online to get in line. For those of you who have never gone through the “hell” of purchasing tickets you basically get sent a link that you have to open at a certain time and then you get shuffled into a waiting room where you are subjected to the 7th level of Hell in the form of the blue circle of fate/doom.

I managed to get tickets for four days and preview night. (First time I’ve ever managed Preview Night!) Then I managed to score some amazingly priced plane tickets direct from little old New Zealand to LAX. Although SDCC isn’t until July I am already feeling the excitement and the stress of it. (Good stress not bad stress.) Accomodation is next on the list but I was fortunate enough to have met two amazing people* in line back in 2012 when I attended SDCC for the first time and we’re going to share costs. This makes the adventure so much more fun and exciting.

I love going overseas and I love attending conventions like this even though large crowds scare the crap out of me. There is something about being in a city where, really, no one really knows you and you are surrounded by thousands of people who share the same likes as you. The enthusiasm and copious amounts of caffeine make it a fun time. Then there are the panels and the lines – so many lines and the merchandise. Graphic novels are hard to come by in New Zealand – for reasonable prices that is. So, whenever I go to SDCC I stock up on as much as possible.

There is also the fact that I can get resources for my classroom, not to mention great ideas for texts to teach and study. Plus, it gives me serious nerd cred with a lot of my students. Especially when they learn that I game…the boys never believe me until I list some of the games that I’ve played and then I have to give details to prove it…

Anyway, this post is part of a little series that I am experimenting with – basically things I’m looking forward to. The next post will probably be about films that I’m excited to see…

Feel free to recommend post topics because I have no real clue as to where this thing is going…It’s an adventure.

Currently Watching: The 100. I just finished series one on Netflix last night and I’m keen to start on series two. I love the gritty feel and the plot twists. It’s basically a cross between Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale and maybe a smidge of The Hunger Games thrown in for good measure.

Currently Reading: I just finished Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green. It’s a 509 page graphic novel which shows how the author developed and then overcame (not really the right word…maybe learned to control) not only disordered eating but abuse and severe anxiety. It’s a heartbreaking but beautiful read that I truly recommend.

Currently Listening: In November last year my drabble challenge was Ipod Shuffle. I finally got around to making a playlist from that.

A Drabble A Day November 2015

*Actually I’ve met many amazing people in line but you don’t always meet up with them again and again

Peace and Pancakes

xJaime

 

I’m Not a Hugger…

I’m an awkward person – I’m also a bit of a dork. When these powers combine you get someone who never knows quite how to act in most given situations. This often results in me somehow saying or doing something that is not always considered appropriate – like somehow directing a conversation to poop…why poop? I really don’t know. And I don’t do it to be disgusting or anything it just happens. Like the time I attempted to “flirt” with someone and brought up a specific scene in a film called Deliverance. (You know which scene…) It’s a great film but it’s not exactly the kind of film that you talk about when you are trying to create a bond, if you follow my drift. Or the time I talked about… well, I won’t go into detail…

What I’m trying to explain is I’m not always the best as social interactions or cues – often misreading a situation or standing so far back that the perks of being a wallflower (pun intended) aren’t even perks. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out and hanging out with friends but that’s because I have a great group of people who kinda understand my oddities. And these great people have, sometimes, stepped in and explained to people that I’m not really a (insert word) kind of a person.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. I’m not a hugger. In certain situations I am but, in general, I am not a hugger of people I have just met or even relatives really. The exception being my nieces or other young cousins…I mean, I will hug people but it’s not my preferred method of interaction when first meeting someone or even seeing someone after a break. I’m also not much of a hand shaker either. I don’t think it has anything to do with germs it’s just something that I’ve never been a fan of. Hugging people has always just seemed awkward to me – or I seem awkward to hugging. People lean in and squeeze you and I am suddenly in someone’s personal space and they are in mine. And, in a way, I guess I could describe it as a form of sensory overload and uncomfortableness. I never know what to do with my arms because often I realise too late as to what is happening and my arms are trapped at my sides…

It’s strange as I can talk to anyone – I ramble on and have been told I can talk the ears off a/n (insert animal). I have no worries about talking to people but the conversation will be erratic and, without fail, I will jump from topic to topic – a master of weaving a tale and making tenuous connections as well as directing a conversation away from something that I don’t understand or don’t particularly want to talk about. I am verbose and articulate but hugs and handshakes from most people make me super uncomfortable. So – yeah – that’s a thing…not enough of a thing to make it a challenge or resolution – I’m not going to go around and randomly hug people that I don’t know. But it is something I’ve noticed about myself over the years…so, are you a hugger? (Hopefully not a face hugger…)

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Current Obsession: Making a Murderer on Netflix. I maybe a little late on this train but I started watching this the other night. Only a couple of episodes in but already hooked.

Currently Reading: The Chimes by Anna Smaill – recommended by a good friend.

Current Earworm: “Alone” by Selah Sue

Current Game: Still playing Alice The Madness Returns

Peace and pancakes… mmm pancakes…

xJaime