Teachers Are Professionals

Teachers Are Professionals

You will always have a weakness. Teach to the standard. Collect data for all of your students.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the STEA Fall Conference in Nashville, TN. STEA stands for Student Tennessee Education Association and it prepares students for future teaching. This was my first conference I attended for insight in professional development in the education realm. I sat through the sessions absorbing and writing all of the information being thrown at me. Three key ideas I took away were: you will always have a weakness; teach to the standard; take data constantly for all of your students.

1) You will always have a weakness.

It is hard for us to be content with the idea of having a weakness. As a future educator, you strive to be as close to perfection as you can. The reality of it is that someone will always be better than you at something in your life. The first step to being a professional is realizing that you have flaws. When you discover that flaw, you need to go to someone on your teacher team who strives in that area. Mr. Tarno did an activity with us that supports the theory. Each table group had a strength and a weakness sheet that we were asked to fill out as a collective group. After a few minutes, he took up each table's weakness sheet. Then he started asking who felt confident in patience, classroom management, encouragement, etc. Hands started going up for each weakness. Visually, I was able to see that I might currently not have classroom management down, but a girl in my school group did. She struggles with patience, and that is something I strive in. I learned that teaching is a team sport. As a teacher, we have to communicate in order to be effective. I will not master everything, but I will continue to keep going. (J. "Brock" Tarno, Behavior Coordinator for Henry Country Schools, was the speaker for this specific topic.)

2) Teach to the standard.

During one of my professional development sessions, I learned how to unpack the TEAM rubric. This session taught me to not teach to the test, but to teach to the standard. I have heard time after time teachers complaining about how they have to teach to the test. We do not have to teach to the test. Instead, we need to teach to the standard that names where we are headed. The objectives lead us to how we will get to the standard. Pinterest is notorious for finding creative activities, but how often do they actually support the standard. We need to start with the standard, then find an activity. Often we confuse activity with accomplishment. We need to ask ourselves, "Am I teaching on purpose?" If teaching is uncomfortable for us, then it is right for the children. Being a teacher is not for you, it is for the children. While teaching to the standards and rubrics, we need to ask a question that engages the mind and the mouth. With all of this in mind, we need to the teach the student first, then teach the standard. What I mean is that you will be in a classroom with 7th-grade bodies that have a 3rd-grade math mentality. You have to take that knowledge of them, and bring them up to level. It will not be easy, and you will be stressed out. Although, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs. In order to be rewarded, you have to put in the work. Assess the standard, make a plan of action, communicate the plan, implement the plan, and self-asses. Support your students, and be the example of who you want your students to be. Teach what is given to you as a guidance, and watch your students exceed their own and your expectations. (Dr. John Tiller, a professor at Tennesse State University, was the speaker for this session.)

3) Take data in most situations for your students.

You need to take data of where your students are performing according to the standards. Reflect on the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Keep data of things to focus on with certain students. In order to build relationships with your students, you have to work on building them. You have to know who they are, and where they perform on the spectrum. We are not in the classroom to control children, but we can contain their behavior by taking data. Documentation of students is important. When you document everything, you also leave a paper trail. A benefit of keeping data is the possibility of eliminating unconscious bias. The more you keep up with your students the better education you are providing to them.

Those three points are just a few of the key ideas of teaching that was presented to me at the STEA Fall Conference. For now, I have a desire and passion for teaching because I believe that teachers are heroes and that is who I want to be. Teachers present on their feet, not at their seats. Teachers are thrown shade by test scores, other teachers, negative ideas and opinions. Yet, they manage to keep going and working in the best efforts for their students. They have degrees too, so they might as well hang those up in their classroom like dentists hang their degrees up in the operation rooms. Teachers need to quit apologizing for being JUST teachers because they are so much more. Students crave structure no matter how young or how old, and teachers provide that for them. Their job title encompasses more than just providing a grade level academic education, but they teach manners, social skills, how to be a person, street smarts, etc. It may be their students, but they are someone else's child. Teachers are professionals.

Cover Image Credit: Adrianna Roberts

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved

To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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High School Seniors Should Be Excited For College, Not Scared

Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.


Going into the summer after my high school graduation, all I could think about was college, and how I was going to prepare to go to a new school and move away from home. Just know, it is not as stressful as you prepare yourself for it to be. You don't need to worry about not having any friends or not knowing how to get to all the different buildings because you have to remember everyone else on campus has been in the exact same position you are in, and there are tons of people on campus to help you.

One of the things I was most worried about was classes and how to know which classes to take. My advice is to go to counseling and plan out your classes before you register. Planning out classes will drastically help you stay on track and the counselors will help you make a balanced schedule that you can actually handle.

Another piece of advice would be to not bring as much stuff for your dorm as you think you will need. By all means, bring the essential things that you will need, but remember a dorm room is very small and you share it with another person. You won't have a ton of space for extra stuff and you want to have space to move around and actually live in your dorm.

Finally, if you are concerned about meeting people and making friends, just try and be as outgoing and open as possible. Everyone else in the dorms is just as nervous as you are too meet people, it really helps to try to branch out. Joining clubs or greek life also helps you meet people around campus with common interests as you.

College is not something to be scared of. Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.


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