Friday, December 22, 2006

My two years of Blogging

Ok. Here are my thoughts on Blogging. It is useless. More useless that Dr. Plants. Maybe some of you have the time to sit down in front of the computer to type out our life story, but I don't. Plus, there is no way I'm getting on here to tell how I really feel about my school or administrator. That is job suicide and I need my job. Anyone can get on Blogger and print the posts. But I must Blog in order to complete the program. This means that most of these posts are superficial and barely scratch the surface of the issue that is being Blogged about. Then to have this tied to a grade is extremely crazy. But since it is, I will continue to Blog until my two years of Teacher Corps are up. After that, this Blog will never be used again. And those are my thoughts on Blogging.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Teaching and Coaching

This year, I am coaching softball, basketball, and track which means that I will be coaching basically year round. Although, the time that is required to coach and teach is stressful here are some ideas on how to make it through:
*Use your planning time. I schedule my planning time each week. Two days are set aside for grading and two are for planning. The other day is my team meeting day. You must learn to close your classroom door and use that time wisely. It will save you lots of heartache in the end.

*Don't overpractice. We practice about 2 and a half hours each day. Whatever we can't get in then just waits until the next day.

*Take Saturday off. If you practice, make it early. Then take the day off and do nothing. Don't grade papers or plan. You need time to rest, relax and recuperate.

* Have fun. Coaching is fun. It should be your time to relax and unwind after a stressful day. Spend time with your players and enjoy what you're doing. The time will fly by.

If you still are stressed, remember the season does not last forever. It will be over in a few moths and you will be home in the evenings with nothing to do. That is no fun at all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Student Update

Many of you have asked about the student that I blogged about earlier. She is now back at school and as undisciplined as ever. We have not observed any more bruises or welts. She is still loud and boisterous. I did notice that on her first day back when I was really sweet and nice to her, she was not happy. She wanted to be fussed at. Because of this our team has adopted a new policy with her which is to calmly reprimand her no matte how much of a rise she tries to get out of her. We've done this for 4 days now and she is definitely frustrated. The implications of this are enormous. We believe that because she is used to being yelled and fussed at, but cannot figure why she needs this at school. We have also placed her into the TST process, however the principal has stated that she only has two more times to get into trouble before she is expelled so we don't know if she will make it to the end.


During my first year as a teacher, I cried every day. I hated my job. The students were horrible and the principal was a nut. There were many days that I thought about quitting. at the end of that year, I was talking with some of the students on class day and we were discussing the year. One commented, "Ms. Bowens, I learned more about life this year with you than I will probably ever learn again." At that point, I realized that not only am I teaching language arts, but I am also teaching about life. Many students spend the entire school year watching their teachers in an attempt to model themselves after someone. I realized that if I carried myself as a lady and a professional at all times then I had the opportunity to positively affect some child without saying a word. I also realized how important those talks were that I always considered a waste of time. I began to see that teaching is so much bigger than we as teachers can imagine during our first year and more rewarding than we will know in our last.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Conscious and Consequences

Paige* is a sixth grader at Brinkley and she caught my attention early this school year because of serious behavior infractions. The things are mostly middle level discipline issues, but on a consistent basis. During the last week of August we noticed several bruises on her arms and a black eye. She was immediately referred to a counselor whom she promptly told that she plays football with the boys. Paige* is 5’6” about 170 pounds. She backs down from no one and gives as good as she gets. With all this in mind we were inclined to believe her.

The next week Paige* was acting out in class and her mother was called. She left school that day and was not seen again for 3 days. Now although we are concerned about her missing class, the team is definitely not stressing over her absences. We are actually enjoying the peace of mind that we were having.

Paige* returns to school unable to move her left arm. She also has bruises all over her arms. She is again referred to the counselor who calls DHS. They investigate, but we have no knowledge of what they found or did.

Meanwhile Paige* is terrorizing the school. Everyone from the principals down to the teachers are afraid to call her mother or institute any type of consequence that could possibly cause her harm from someone at her home.

Paige* continues on her path of destruction for a month before the team begins to go postal. As team leader, I take the responsibility for our actions and call her mother in. The mother and father are now sitting in front of me stating how “the problem is that you have not had a beating in a good while.”

Now we are at a crossroads. Her behavior has not improved and she is most definitely headed for expulsion, but she still has not received any assistance in her dilemma. As a teacher, I can no longer accept her behavior. As a parent and a person, I cannot accept sending her away where she will never get the help she needed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Coaches work harder than you

I've noticed that MTC doesn't think very highly of coaches. There are always jokes about how stupid they are and how they don't do any work. Well here are some things to think about.

*Coaches are still at the school with students when most of you are at home or at work getting something done. Then we still have to do the same things that you are finished with.

*Coaches have to deal with emotions of students that you never see. They come to us with all their problems. We see them cry after a loss or over a season ending injury. We get the late night cell phone calls and make the early morning house calls.

*Coaches have to make sure that all their players are doing the work in all their class and are passing. You just give grades.

*Coaches use more gas taking students home than you spend going to work every day.

*Coaches not only know their subject area, but also know rules, regulations, laws, plays, policies, procedures and information that you have no clue about. And most coaches know this about more that one sport.

*Coaches are the ones who get up on Sat morning and drive several hours to take a player on a college visit because their parents could care less whether they get in or not.

*Coaches can diagnose most minor injuries within one minute and can tell you what to do about it.

*Coaches are the only ones whose results are scrutinized on the news and in the newspaper at least once a week.

*Coaches are the ones that you send your students too when they won't do right for you. And they come back doing right.

*Coaches are the ones that students never forget. We are the people who make the real difference in lives. We motivate students to always be their best. We teach them to be better students and better people. We force them to deal with the hands that life deals them and to make the best of those challenges. (Have you ever had a bad ref, you know what I mean.)

*Coaches deal with scheduling, budgets, transportation, food, inventory, etc and keep track of it all from year to year.

You make fun and joke the profession that I love so much and that's okay because you don't know any better. But remember if you ask 8 out of 10 adults who had the most effect on them, they will probably say a teacher. Dig a little deeper and they will say a coach.

Get over yourself. Coaches work harder than you.


I have found that motivating students differs greatly from student to student. It is important to talk with each student on a personal level to find out what is important to them. Once you know what is important to them then you can use that as your motivating tool.
For athletes, it is almost always sports related. They can't play if they don't keep up their grades. But know that they know, they only need a 75 average so you have to also talk to them about playing in college and what type of grades they will need to get in.
Once you have met your students parents, you can sometimes use them as a motivator. You will know just from talking to them who these parents are.
For some students, the candy and stickers will work. I also always do a contest around State Fair time (tickets), State Basketball Championships (tickets) and any concert that comes to town. I give away movie passes (if you know someone at a radio station then you can get these free) after every district test. These things appeal to any student.
Motivating students is not an easy thing to do. The important thing is to know your students. There is no fix all. Each case requires a different approach. Once you know your students then you can motivate each one personally.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Team Leader

With the change in administration, there was a change in leadership on the lower levels. This mean't that the chosen ones were no longer chosen anymore. I returned to school only to find that I had been appointed team leader. Although, I wasn't too happy with this appointment for vain reasons, I accepted and began the task of bringing together a team of people who really weren't liking the changes that were taking place. At the end, of this first week, I can see a small difference in the attitudes of my team. After the first few days of professional dress violations, classroom management inadequacies, and general defiance. We have seemed to have found a middle ground. I had to learn to be more firm and they had to learn to be more flexible.

Being a team leader means being a part of the school's leadership team. Our job is to discuss and decide what is in the best interest of the staff and students at the school. This role is important and I'm taking it very seriously.

I write about this and I think on my experiences during Holly Springs Summer School. Several times after things happened with the teachers in my room, I would ask, "Why me?" I have now received the answer to that question. God was preparing for the newest assignment he had for me. This year will definitely be easier because of the experience at Holly Springs.

The First Week of School

The first week of school this year has been immensely better than last year, because of the change in administration at my school. The students are better behaved and their are very few problems. Mostly, the school is operating very smooth. As always with change, there are things to get used to. We have a new bell and rotation schedule which is extremely confusing until you've experienced it for about a week. (We finally understood it yesterday.) We have to walk our students everywhere, now. We no longer have morning duty, but now have afternoon duty. Simple things that just require adjusting too. Our textbooks have been passed out already and for the most part there have been no schedule changes. There is no chaos. This is very strange. We even changed classes on the first day of school this year. This freaked us out. No one was prepared to see all of their classes. We'd never gotten past first period before.

I am very pleased with our new principal. He is easy to converse with and even makes jokes. (Can you believe that?) He really values his teachers opinions and doesn't mind suggestions or questions. This is a new thing at Brinkley. The staff is actually happy, which has made a huge difference in the school climate. We come to work early and stay late by choice. It is the most amazing thing.

I'm really excited about this year. Compared to the year we had anything would be better, but it appears that this year is going to really be great.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Summer School Reflection

As I reflect on my time in Holly Springs, I believe that my students and I have gained a great deal of knowledge and a lot more discipline.
Students: The summer began with a class of seven girls. A day later, six more arrived. The next day still more arrived. This continued until we reached our total of 22. This number seemed a bit high for a summer school class, but we made it work.
The students were surprisingly well behaved and I kept my foot on them for the entire first two weeks of summer school. After the first week, we began to have a better repair and learned to trust each other more. Several students did act out and phone calls were made. IÂ’ve probably saw more parents in the first two weeks than I saw during my whole first month of school. One eventually had to be expelled. All in all, I think they werenÂ’t a bad group at all.
They also really had a thirst for learning. I noticed that if you gave them anything remotely interesting, their eyes were glued to you from start to finish. They would often be almost jumping form their seats to answer a question. They even completed homework. Their ability level is much higher than my students so teaching them was much more fun.
Administration: The principals seemed very nice. I had a long conversation with Mr. Chase about the changes he would like to make to the school. He really wants to make a difference for the students. Ms. Gibson was lifesaver. Without, she and Joe, the school would not have been nearly as effective.
Building and Grounds: The building was probably the most well-kept school IÂ’ve ever seen. The cafeteria was clean. The bathrooms had tissue and there was no water on the floor. It is obvious that the staff and students take great pride in the building.
Worst Thing About Summer School: My biggest regret is that I donÂ’t feel that I was at my best. I began summer school already exhausted from the regular school year. I left work on Wednesday, only to drive to Oxford on Thursday. The precarious planning I did on the drive up were not nearly as good as my best lessons. The added pressure of deadlines for online classes, success stories and evaluations were gripping me tightly. I believe that I could have been more productive than I was with my students and mentees.
Best Thing About Summer School: I really enjoyed being with my MTC peers. I think that working with a group of people who all truly want the same thing of the students makes a big difference. We all held each other up when we were about to break. interactionsions really made a difference.
Thoughts for the future: The non-mentor second years should be given more responsibility. They have too much free time. Each classroom mentor needs at least 25 mins of break time when they completely turn over to first-year instruction. Joe will need an assistant (MTC person) if he is going to run the school and do observations each period. He is really doing the job of two people.
Final words: I really enjoyed my summer school experience. I had opportunitynity to make a difference in the lives of students and help new teachers in the process. Great idea.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The class of 2005 B.K.A. the lab rats

One of the required blogs asked us to write about our biggest challenge during our first year of MTC, but what about our second year. The Class of 2005 has become the MTC guinea pigs. If you want to know if something will work, just try it on us. We have on most occasions taken the matters in stride believing that it is all for the greater good of the program. Let’s just see how Teacher Corps has changed.
*We have now instituted a summer school where the 2nd years act as mentor teachers and the first years complete their student teaching. This will take place in Holly Springs and we will be bussed to the school during the summer. This is in place of the previous Oxford summer school students teaching for the first years and the 2nd summer classes for the 2nd years. Because we are not taking the required classes as previously scheduled we are now taking an afternoon class and an online class in addition to preparing lessons and mentoring. Workshops have been added to the 2nd year schedule.
*There are no more Friday lunches for the first and second years. Now you meet with them on the bus ride to Holly Springs.
*Dr. Sullivan is retiring.
*The Class of 2005 will be given laptops to use during their last year of teaching. However, these laptops must be given back before graduation. The rumor is that the class of 2006 and all the following classes will be given laptops that they can keep.
*Joe Sweeney Class of 2005 is now doing the summer evaluations. The evaluation sheet has changed.
* The blogs now have a 350 word count requirement. (This is pretty hard for me.)
*The class of 2005 will take two classes this fall instead of one and there will be seven instead of 5.
*The final portfolios are now being done electronically.
*You don’t get your t-shirt until the second summer.
It may not seem like much, but actually the program has been completely revamped. Hopefully, the changes will improve the quality of the program. Still I wonder what we will say at the next reunion.

My Favorite Student

I know that you are not supposed to really become attached to your students, but that is one of my flaws as a teacher. Each year, there is at least on student I adopt and they become like my own child. For the past two years, there has been one student. Her name is Caitlin*. She is light brown skinned about 5’6”, with short brown hair which she keeps in a ponytail. Caitlin* just finished eighth grade at age 16. I taught her for two years and coached her for one year. She is a moderately outgoing person, who likes boys and sports. I quickly learned that she is very self-consciousness. During one of our first encounters, I asked her why she wore huge t-shirts with tight fitting jeans and she explained that her breasts were too big and the kids teased her about them. We talked about the situation and discussed why she should be proud of her body regardless. What I soon realized was that she had never worn a real bra, but only sports bras. Another co-worker and I got together and took her on a shopping trip to Victoria’s Secret where we had her fitted and purchased several items for her. The next week at school she wore a cute little tight fitting shirt. I was very proud of her for becoming proud of her body.
The thing that bothered me was that her mother had not taken the initiative to do this for her daughter and I began discreetly nosing around in Caitlin’s* business. I soon learned that her mother had five children all younger than Caitlin*. Her mother stayed away from home a lot and son Caitlin* had essentially become a mother figure to her sisters and brothers. She was responsible for cooking, cleaning, bathing the crew and getting them dressed for school. She waited with them at the bus stop and then walked the 5-7 miles from her school home because she usually missed her own bus. When she decided to get a job at the local McDonald’s, her mom required her to pay the rent. After realizing all that Caitlin had to endure, I took her under my wing. She has now become like a daughter to me and I am very glad to see her grow and progress into a beautiful young lady.

New Beginnings

For the upcoming school year, I plan to revise one of my rewards systems. Last year, I created a bulletin board called “Class Stars”. On that board, I would put certificates for good behavior, perfect attendance, highest test average, most hardworking, most creative and student of the month. The certificates would stay on the board for a month, and then I would take them down and give them to the students. The students all loved the bulletin boards and would have a fit each month when the certificates changed, if their names were not on the board. The problem which arose was that there were not enough months or certificates and many students who deserved to receive one did not because time ran out. I also realized that once the certificates came down from the bulletin board, those students could not be recognized again that year and therefore didn’t strive for that privilege form that point on.
After thinking about the problem and conferring with another teacher, I devised a new and improved way to get the same results. Next year, instead of the large certificates, I plan to use small bulletin board stars. On each star, I will write the student’s name and the reason they received the star. I am also creating new categories such as caught being good, caught doing a good deed, great organizer, and teacher’s helper. With the new system, a student can receive a star at any time. Students can receive multiple stars.
I’m also changing the student of the month set-up. The student of the month will be removed from the bulletin board and placed above the dry erase board. It will become a profile instead of just a certificate. The profile will include a framed picture of the student, their hobbies, books they’ve read, their favorite movie, etc. All the students will receive a medal which states that they are student
In May, the 10 students of the month will be given a party and during that time a student of the year will be announced. The student of the year will receive a plaque or trophy and a small gift.

Biggest Challenge

My biggest challenge during my first year of MTC was class on the weekends. I would leave work on Friday exhausted, go home and throw clothes into the car and begin my trek to Oxford. Well, this is how the fall semester began. As the year continued and my activities picked up, the drive became less and less desirable. First football season got underway. My fiancée coaches, so I would try to attend his games before I left. This would usually put me in Oxford around one in the morning. In October basketball season began and I was coaching a game on Friday nights, often taking a bus ride back to Jackson, waiting for all the girls to leave and then going home and packing clothes to make the trip to Oxford. This became too tiresome and I started driving up on Saturdays. After I complained enough, my fiancée began making the drive up with me. This helped a lot.
The thing that was most problematic was how tired I would be in class on Saturday. Generally on the break, I would trek to the gas station and buy a four-pack of Red Bull which kept me awake for the rest of the class.
Another thing that was difficult was that I couldn’t spend time with my son on the weekends. He was already with my mother all week and there was no feasible way for me to make the drive here and then make another two hour drive to Noxubee County and back to Jackson and be rested enough to be effective in the classroom on Monday. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about the time that I was missing with my son. Although I realize that this was what I signed up for and the classes were the most basic part of the agreement, that knowledge didn’t help me when I was dreading making that drive nor did it help me explain to my son why I couldn’t come to get him.
Hopefully, this fall will be better. My son will be in Jackson full time and will probably even come to some of the classes with me. Since we only have the fall classes, the schedule should lighten the burden between the Friday night football and basketball games and the drive up. Either way, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is called graduation.

Five Pieces of Advice

During the last two years, I have had the opportunity to learn many things. So many people will talk about rules, procedures lesson planning and such things, but my advice is much more practical. There are dozens of things that I could share, but here are five:

1. Leave it all at the bottom step. There will be many days when you will be frustrated, overworked, unprepared and generally exhausted. The day’s problems will seem so overwhelming that you can’t let them go. Whatever you do, don’t take it home with you. When you leave work, leave all your problems and worries there. Don’t concern yourself with what the crazy principal did or what the disrespectful student said today. Tomorrow will be a better day and there will be new things to worry about. Go home and relax. Read a book, watch CSI, knit, or anything that relaxes or calms you. Call your best friend and talk about the weather or spend time with your husband/fiancé/child. Whatever you do be sure that it is something relaxing and fun.

2. Become a pack rat. When you enter your school, you will probably have nothing. You may have to generate your own worksheets and tests or a veteran teacher may feel sorry for you and give you things you can use. Keep everything. Find some way to organize the worksheets, put your lesson plans in a binder in order, put all the workbooks on a shelf. If you move take everything. If you change schools take everything. At some point, you will need those resources.

3. Have fun. Teaching is a wonderful experience. Learn to have fun while you are teaching. It will become infectious and your students will begin to have fun. The more fun your students are having the more they will participate and the less behavior problems you will have. By the way, lectures are not fun. They are necessary, but keep them short and sweet.

4. Participate in extracurricular activities. I’ve learned more about teaching, leadership and dealing with students from coaching than from any class or day in the classroom. It gives you the opportunity to let your hair down and it does the same for your students. They are much more at ease and are extremely receptive. You may think that you don’t have time, but make time. This will be the best experience of your teaching career.

5. Fall in love. Love your students despite what they do. Love your administrators despite what they say. Love your fellow teacher despite how they act. Without love there is no enjoyment.

Who Moved My Cheese

My administrator is addicted to this educational practices video called “Who Moved My Cheese”. In the video, there are two mice. Both the mice live in a maze. The two mice have a large amount of cheese and so they sit contently eating when they want to not doing anything to replenish the supply. Each time they find more cheese, they eat and then continue looking for more cheese. Soon the two mice who had cheese run out. The leader decides that he will wait right where he is. He is sure that new cheese must come soon plus he is afraid to step outside of his box to try something new. Both mice begin to starve and the second mouse finally decides to strike out and look for new cheese. The leader refuses to go and stays despite his friend’s warning that if they don’t do something they will starve to death. The mouse strikes out, but does not immediately find any cheese. Still, he continues to look. Soon he arrives at a place where there is more cheese than he ever dreamed.
The basic theme in this little self-help video is that a person should not become complacent in their current situation. Just because you are where you want to be right now or you are satisfied with your current status, don’t think that you can just sit around and things will continue to always be the same. You must always strive for something more than what you already have. A person should never be afraid of change. Change is a fact of life and it will happen no matter what you do.
A good example of this is the upheaval of the teachers in my school. The principal decided to change up the teams, move teachers to different rooms, and even switch teachers to different grade levels. We were extremely upset at even the notion of such a thing, but there was nothing that we could do about it. Soon, we realized that the change was inevitable and it was possible that we had become too complacent in our current situations.
My administrator is definitely not the best and he has made us watch this movie a dozen times but the message is always clear.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Update on Je'

Several people have asked me about my son, so here is an update on my mini-me. Beginning in July, he will be living in Jackson full time. He is extremely excited about this and wanted to know why he couldn’t go in June. He has been accepted into the IB program at Davis Magnet Elementary and will be starting fourth grade. He is still as talkative as ever and has developed a true passion for video games when he is not reading. He is also really becoming interested in playing basketball. Right now, he is planning for a trip to Atlanta with Takeea who some of you met at the Teacher Corps reunion this past summer. They are going to Six Flags. If I ever figure out how, I’ll post a picture so you can see haw he’s grown.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Physical Day

Part of being a coach means doing little menial tasks that most people have no idea even exist. Washing uniforms, making Gatorade, etc. One of those tasks is making sure that all your players have physicals. Now this is something that you really have very little contral over. You tell your players where to be and what time and you hav to believe that they will show up. Usually, univesity Sports Medicine has a day where they complete free physicals for the schools they serve. Well, toady was that day.
It begins outside where there are large groups of players from different schools all waiting together for their school's appointment time. Once they call your school's name, the coaches go to the door to verify that the students going in the door actually attend the school.
Once all the commotion is over the wait begins. There is a blood pressure screening, height measurement, weighing, vision screening, and flexibility. You wait patiently at the end waiting for your students to come through so you can recieve the coveted pink form that says that child can play for you next year. This whole process takes about an hour and a half and there is a hospitality room for the coaches with food, drinks and free t-shirts. Usually, the coaches from the different schools get together and "chew the fat" while waiting for their players to come through. You collect the forms, see your players off and then go home for a nap because, honestly, the whole thing is exhausting.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


All of us have soent this entire year preparing our students for a state assesment. These tests not only gauge what our studnets know, but what we have taught them (or have not taught them) The anxiety of the whole situation is exhausting. You spend the entire second semester on pins and needles. Fear clutches at you as you approach test day. There are numerous workshops, classes, and meetings. You prep your students on how to take tests and what to expect. They see hundreds of questions like the ones that will be on the test. There are test pep rallies and assemblies. And then the test day arrives. The students scribble and bubble furiously. You walk around the room praying the whole time that they will pass and your school will be a Level 3, 4, 5. Then suddenly its over and school returns to a normalcy that is rare. A normalcy that you remember from when you were in school and there was no such thing as a "high stakes test." A normalcy that these students no nothing about. And you wonder what all the hype was for anyway and vow to enjoy the last weeks of school when you can just teach. Funny thing is-that is what you were supposed to have been doing all year. And you realize that you will do it all again next year.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

House Hunting

I've begun a new phase in my life-buying a house. When I began, I had all these ideas about what kind of house I wanted and what type of neighborhood I wanted to live in. Then I began looking for that home and quickly realized that if it did exist, it was way outside of my price range. So I moved on to the next best thing and started to look for a house that I liked, but which didn't necessarily have all the criteria that I had first looked for. Once again, I was surprised to find that out of the 10 houses that I've seen already very few had any qualities that I want in my future home. I've also learned more about foundations, paint, carpet, crime statistics, and square footage than I ever thought I wanted to know, yet is extremely important in selecting a house to purchase. Not to mention the wealth of information that I've learned about loans and bond money and closing costs and ugh. The more I look for a suitable home for my son and future family, the more frustrated I get. Then I remember that patience is a virtue and to have it is to understand that what you want will come to you in due time. (Those of you that are religious will understand that.) So I press on, remembering that this is only a test of my endurance and soon I will find what I am looking for.

Friday, March 31, 2006

A lesson for a coach

Track Season has begun and I've found myself thrust into a head coaching position three days before the first track meet. The girls were out of shape, no one knew what a baton exchange was, and frankly they were lazy. I fought for two days to get them to work hard while they played. I yelled about how this was serious and they said yeah right. Finally, I gave up. On Thursday, at the starting line for the 100 meter dash, one girl cried. Another could clear the high jump pole to save her life. The long jumper got scratched for jumping past the board twice. The relay teams came in 5th. I felt like a total failure. Walking over to talk to a veteran coach, I wondered how we would make it through the season. I mean this was ridiculous. When I reached him, I dropped my head and shook it in shame. He gently turned me around and pointed toward the infield where they were sitting. They were all in tears. He said quietly, "Some lessons a coach cannot teach. You had to let them fall in order to be able to pick them up. Now go pick them up." I walked over to the group and went into my post meet talk. When finished, I saw dried eyes and renewed spirits. They were begging to practice, promising to get better and asking what they needed to do. No one complained when they had to run around the neighborhood at 8:00 in a Saturday morning or stay til 6:00 on a Friday afternoon. No one has had a pain or a cramp since that day and everyone has been to every single practice. Not one has gotten into trouble in school. They are peer managing everything from their eating habits to their personal conditioning. They've all learned what it feels like to be last and no one wants to be there again.
The veteran coach called me up this morning after seeing us on the track. "Never give up on your team. Just be ready to coach them when they are ready to be coached. You cannot coach them if they are not ready to be coached."
Not only is this a great lesson to learn as a coach, it is the life story of a teacher. There is very little you can do when the students don't want any help. Just hang in there and be ready when they are ready.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

False Pretenses

When I decided to enter this program, I was so excited by the difference that I felt it would make in my state. This was a place where I had a vested interest in the future of the program. I mean my own child is going to school in this place. During the first summer, I learned so much valuable information that was useful to me in the classroom and I really thank Ms. Monroe and Ms. Barnes for that. I looked at the schedule of classes that were upcoming and prepared myself for what I knew was coming. Apparently, I was wrong. Suddenly, this class has been thrust into change that is unfamiliar and unfair. We have waited patiently to be the second years and enjoy the perks associated with such. We've looked forward to the summer for a break from the monotony of teaching and a return to something that is closer to normalcy-classwork. But we find ourselves already burnt out, tired and overworked now looking toward an extended school year. Mississippi Teacher Corps has presented us with false pretense. No matter how hard I try, I cannot find one good solid reason as to how this can be any better than the process we went through last year. There is still no guarantee that the first years will be put with a good veteran teacher because who is to say that we are all that good and even if I was good in March, I won't be that good in June because I won't want to be there. Simply put, this will be a disaster.
I must say that I am becoming more and more disappointed with this program. Through everything we've been through nothing has been quite the way we expected and most often not what they expected either. With this program, so very little can be believed that you go in every semester wondering what will happen next. I have learned one very valuable lesson from this experience. With Teacher Corps, don't believe anything.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Me and Je go to the Science Fair

I won the Science Fair. Well, I helped my son and he won, but I had a lot to do with it. After researching an appropriate project and actually completing it, we had bonded on a totally different level. My son rarely ever likes help with his school work. He will finish it then pass it to you to check, but he is already confident that it is correct. This time though, we sat together on the floor surrounded by construction paper, tape, glue, scissors and border. He helped as I glued and centered the essential pieces of information. He was patient as I drilled him over and over on the topics and questions which I was sure the judges would ask. He cooperated as I made him set up the project and break it down numerous times. He even smiled at me when I became frustrated with the results. It was an amazing experience and I will forever be grateful that he allowed me to be a part of it. It is even more special because of how independent he is. Next, will be the ultimate test and that is the district competition at Mississippi State. Guess we get to do it all over again.

Note: Since this blog he has attended and placed first in the Region V Science Fair at Mississippi State.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Classroom Reward That Really Works

At the beginning of the year, honestly because I didn't know what else to put on it. I put up a Classroom Stars bulletin board. It was decorated in royal blue background with gold stars and left blank. At the mid-term, several students began asking whose name would go up on the board. I had actually forgotten about it. That afternoon after school, I made certificates for hardest worker, most helpful, most creative, most improved, best handwriting, etc. I inserted names and stapled them to the board. The next day, the kids went crazy. Those whose names were on the board were bragging and the others were whining. I told them that I would change it every 41/2 weeks so that everyone would get a fair chance and noone could win twice. This prompted the students to really strive for their name to be on the board. They made a big deal about me changing it and giving out the certificates from that term. It has really created a competition of good behavior and action in the classroom.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The other day, I went into the 8th grade teacher's classroom to speak with her about a student. when I walked in she was teaching a class on appositive, verbal phrases, and prepositional phrases. When she finished explaining the assignment to the class, she turned around to talk to me. I hadn't been in the room for more than 5 minutes when one of her students finished. She asked him how he had managed to finish so quickly. He replied, "Because Ms. Rhodes, Ms. Bowens taught us this last year and we had to learn it or she would've had a fit" The teacher and I both fell into a fit of laughter. When I turned to walk out the door, he yelled. "Hey, Ms. Bowens thanks. This is by far the best thank you I've ever had.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It has been an extremely long month already and it has just started. Between coaching basketball for middle and high school, I have games 4 nights a week. It is exhausting. On Saturdays, when I’m not in class, I’m at practice or scouting a team. Although, I enjoy it, it is very hard work. It is my relaxation.
Work. I do that to. Everyday in addition to all the games, I do have to go to work. It’s not as bad now since, I have the reading classes. They gave me an assistant to do all my grading and paperwork so all I have to do is teach. Well, when I’m in my classroom. See, that’s the catch. I’m now on my principal’s good side, (If he had one.) and so I’m constantly called out of class to go to this meeting or that workshop. Did I mention that some of the workshops are on Saturdays? Yep, he takes my weekends too.
Those are the weekends I’m not at class. Class, a whole other task to be tackled. I find myself up at 1 in the morning trying to do my homework or read the 100+ pages that I’ve been assigned. I used to say that I wanted to continue until I at least had a specialist degree, but I’m so exhausted now that I honestly believe that the master’s will do me just fine.
Then there is my son who is at this point feeling extremely neglected. He’s with my mother and I try to call him everyday, but its been 2 weeks since I’ve seen him. That’s where it gets hard. I’m doing so much that I can’t get home like I should to take care of him. I did finally get him registered in school in Jackson so he will be moving soon.
Lastly, is my personal life. What is left of it? My boyfriend is so busy being at all my games and driving me to Oxford because I’m too tired to drive myself that he has really just gotten caught up in my life. He does not have one of his own.
I encourage everyone who can handle it to teach, but don’t take on more than you can handle. Teaching in itself is tiring and you have to find an outlet, but don’t get so caught up I either that you can’t see the next breath.