Tag Archives: teacher

Turkey: The Country and the Lunchmeat

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Istanbul

In three days, I’ll be traveling to Europe 🙂 Rome–>Athens–>Santorini–>Mykonos–>Istanbul–>Capadoccia! One of the things I’m most excited about is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul (the beautiful thing shown in the picture).

I’m not sure what I’m more nervous/anxious/thrilled about: this amazing summer trip or my new teaching job starting as soon as I get back. I am officially moving from 7th grade English to 9th grade English. I accepted a position at Hays High School, my alma mater! To top it off, I’ll be teaching alongside my mentor, my real-life Dumbledore, the guy who’s responsible for me writing and teaching (thanks a lot, I’ll be poor forever). My novel is actually dedicated to him! So hey teachers, feeling down? You never know, maybe a student will dedicate a book to you one day.

I’m really gonna miss my squirrely middle schoolers though. Not to mention my coworkers here in Del Valle that I’ve come to deeply love and respect.

Hence my clever title…lunchmeat, cafeteria….high school? Ok, so maybe the dots aren’t as easy to connect as I’d like to think, but whatever.

Why am I writing one blog to talk about two completely different topics? I’m lazy, y’all.

In fact, I’ve said all I wanted to say already.

Let me sum up (I just love making lists, to be honest):

1. Rome- I guess that coin I threw into the fountain a few years ago for “returning” worked. Now about that other coin…

2. Greece- Was anyone else obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when they were younger? Yeah, I’ll be on the lookout for Kostas.

3. Turkey, the country- Please send good, safe vibes since it’s not exactly a prime time to travel there… Also: we’re going on a hot air balloon ride. Be jealous.

4. Turkey, the lunchmeat- Bring it on, freshmen.

 

Sidenote: it’ll be really nice to get away from all the book marketing exhaustion. THE WAITING ROOM is my baby and I love her…but she has been a real pain in the ass! Sorry to my WordPress/Twitter amigos- if I’m silent for a few weeks, it’s because I’m tanning on a Greek island. NBD.

Authors + Social Media = ?

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Social Media stress

It’s definitely 2014, folks, in case you didn’t realize. Unless you’ve been living under a very large and very heavy rock, then you know this one beautiful yet terrifying fact: social media is truly the current leader of the world.

Self-publishing means self-marketing in most cases and IT IS NOT EASY. Le sigh. If I was rich, I would immediately pay someone to do all of this constant, tedious humble bragging for me, but alas, I am…a middle school teacher.

So what do you do? You want your book to sell. You want a readership that includes more than just obligated family and friends. But you’re just a laid-back WordPress blogger at heart! You have no interest in Pinterest (see what I did there?)!

Facebook was easy. I do love Facebook. So the official author page is up and running! I’m up to 225 likes. It definitely required bullying my friends and family into sharing the page and inviting their friends to like the page. I looked into Facebook advertisement, figuring, “How expensive could it possibly be?” Yeah. The answer is “too expensive.” Hopefully, when the lovely bloggers who have promised to write book reviews post said book reviews, the likes will build!

I was suuuuper hesitant to leap into the Twitter world. I created one years ago to see what all the fuss was about. And “fuss” is definitely the correct word. Twitter is filled with a ton of CRAP that you have to wade through in order to read something that’s actually interesting. You have to be VERY careful about who you follow. I messed up BIG TIME. I had no idea there was a follow limit! Amateur status. In my mind, the more people I follow=the more possible readers. So I became click happy, not even looking at who I was following. Then Twitter informed me that there’s a 2,000 follow limit. So now that I’ve found fellow writers whose tweets I actually WANT to read, I can’t even follow them unless I go unfollow someone else! Way to go, Alysha. I have connected with quite a few great people though, and I’m up to 800 followers.

Follow me here: alyshakaye7

My legit author website is in the works (the address will be http://www.alyshakaye.com).

I am officially on Goodreads. Pretty cool place. Can’t wait for my book to release so I can get my first star review! Friend me here if you’re a fellow Goodreads enthusiast: Alysha Kaye

I refuse to start an Instagram or Pinterest. Eh, I just can’t commit to those platforms, I don’t know what’s so unappealing to me, but I just can’t.

My WordPress continues to be my true social media passion. I just love bloggers and blog-readers! You guys are the best.

Whew. So there you have it. It’s been an extremely crazy time. Keeping up with social media is time-consuming to say the least!

Do I think all of this will pay off? I freakin’ hope so.

Until the book releases in July, the equation stays as is: Authors + Social Media = ?

 

photo cred

Teacher Rant

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It’d be so damn cool if teachers got the respect they deserve. Or the pay. Or the acknowledgement.

I have this dream that I’ll see all those wishes of mine granted in my lifetime. I know that people who make touchdowns and music videos and movies will still be earning over triple the amount of income and recognition, but I have faith that one day after I’m gone, that will change too.

I’ve tried to pinpoint in my three short years of teaching, what exactly it is that makes our job seem so easy and worthless. Most likely, it is the fact that we get summers “off”. I guess most people don’t realize that we are never really “off”…we are constantly planning, collecting, brainstorming- bettering our teaching and our classroom. Our kids follow us everywhere like nagging/loving little hairs flying across our face at all times. They are our motivation. And let me tell you, we are forced to be the most passionate and motivated profession out there- because we’re in the business of “failure is not an option” and “no child left behind” and “give me only your best”.

We are warriors of Potential and Effort and Rigor and Pride. We are champions of Respect and gladiators of Equality. We are artists because we “mold the minds of tomorrow”. We are absolutely, bona-fide crazy- but in a “you WILL find a book that you will enjoy” kind of way. Glorified babysitters? Sure, if a glorified babysitter can stomp the flames of bullying and teach a kid what onomatopoeia means all in half an hour.

I realize we don’t carry briefcases (if we did, they’d be filled with stickers and pencils- you’d be surprised how much a kid will write for a sticker/pencil prize). We don’t wear suits. We spend our entire day with mini adults. But if we had business cards, every millimeter would be filled with tiny text, listing our hundreds of roles and responsibilities. Or they’d just say Professional Badass.

If you think juggling 100 middle schoolers, all with their individual needs, is easy, I welcome you to come trade shoes for a while. Please don’t forget to modify for the language learners and special education kids, scaffold for the different levels, add in each type of learning style, give the kids choice but structured choice, stay on top of behavior management, make sure you utilize technology, keep cultural significance in mind, let them have individual, partner, and group time, and of course, they should be engaged, participating, and having FUN!
P.S. Plus, you have a department meeting, a professional development, a team meeting, a faculty meeting, a parent meeting, tutoring sessions, UIL practice, monitoring duty, a REED, an ARD, an SST, and an observation all in the next couple days.
P.P.S. You have 100 essays to grade.

Yeah.

Sorry to go all Mali on y’all.

The #1 Way to Stay Young

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Three words. Livin’ inda ghetto.

I love, love, love it. Living on the eastside (represent!) completes me. I can get a breakfast taco from a LEGIT, just-moved-here-illegally, mustached taqueria God at any time of the day. I also never have to mess with annoying apartment gate codes because my gate is rigged to stay open at all times. Safe? Well, there are cops and ambulances around regularly, so I honestly don’t worry.

I pay half as much as I would for a place this size in a “nicer” area. I’m close to downtown, super close to my job, and if I was ever in some sort of trouble, I truly feel like I could knock on a neighbor’s door and ask for protection. I definitely live next to some shady people. In exchange, I’d help their kids learn English. That’s when Lifetime would FINALLY contact me. Working titles: The Teacher Next-Door, The Teacher Who Refused to Move, A Project in the Projects. HAHAHA. I don’t live in the projects. But you know Hollywood.

Last night, I woke up at 3:30 in the morning—I thought because of the thunder. But then I heard people partying. Loudly. I guess we Texans really do love our weather, but I didn’t think there was anyone who got wasted in the parking lot (in the intense downpour) and whooped every time lightning struck. This might not have anything to do with livin’ inda ghetto, but it’s awesome nonetheless.

Today I tried to find an alterations shop to fix one of my dresses. You know how you always hear about “fronts”? I’m not gonna lie, when I walked into the hole in the wall shop, the owners definitely looked at each other as if to say, “Oh shit, an actual costumer. What are we supposed to be again, alterations, right? Not cocaine, definitely not cocaine.”

Then we get to one of the best perks about living on the eastside—something no one ever mentioned to me (or else I would have moved here a LOT sooner). There are some FYYYNE-ass people up in hurr. Think about it—everything is cheap. What kind of people are poor (besides the obvious people mentioned above…druggies, illegals, etc.)? Well, there are the starving artists—yummy. The hot, young college boy toys (I can look, OK). The skinny jeaned, scarf loving hipsters, if you’re into that. And then there are young professionals like me who simply refuse to pay $100 more every month just to lower their chances of getting raped. You should see the sexy people at Planet Fitness on East Riverside. It’s very confusing to see so many attractive young people in one place. It’s like college—and it always takes me a minute to adjust and realize, oh yeah, I graduated a long time ago…this is not the quad…none of these people will ever be serving me a cup of trashcan punch. Going to HEB is even better—right when I’m convinced that I’m 18 and I’ve been transported to that tiny HEB right off campus, one of my students pops out from behind the bread aisle. “HI MISS MENDEZ!” Bubble bursted. But so worth it while it lasted—I haven’t felt this young since I was young.

Then there are the hidden gems of bars and food trucks. Eastside is crawling with them. My latest find was The Vortex on East Manor—they have live performances of different sorts. Attached is the Butterfly Bar, which has the coolest 1920’s vibe. And outside is Patrizi’s, the most delicious Italian food truck, with tons of seating and a stage for live music. But can you see any of this from the street? No. There’s a shady lookin’ fence you walk behind and then you’re struck with the awesomeness. As is the story with a lot of bars, restaurants, stores, and food trucks on the eastside. It’s part of the fun.

So basically, if you’re feeling old or bored or stale or lonely or uninteresting, get your ass over here! We are waiting with open, tattooed arms and smiling, gold-toothed, taco-filled faces.

On a serious note, as a post script—the eastside is really not the ghetto. I think it used to be, maybe? But it’s changed a lot. I see more of the hot people I mentioned than the shady people I mentioned, ya feel me? I mean, it’s still not smart to walk around my hood in a skanky dress, but I don’t think it’s 100% safe to do that in any area. That being said, sometimes, when I’m driving down Oltorf, I really forget that I’m in America. Every sign is in Spanish! I dig it though.

The Keiki

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Gangstas v. Surfers

I have officially accepted a teaching job in Texas. You’d think I’d be ecstatic, right? A solid job to move back home to, back to the land of delicious Mexican food, sweet tea, and floating the river. I’ll finally get to be roommates with my best friend, I’ll finally keep a job for longer than two years…

But honestly, there’s something bothering me that I can’t quite shake. It’s not the fact that I’m leaving paradise—perfect weather, perfect tan (see I Heard This Place is Hard to Leave). It’s the keiki, man.

The kids.

I’ve been pampered for the last two years. My students might drive me crazy, but they freakin’ adore me. The biggest issue I’ve ever had is their lack of motivation…and I don’t blame them. I’d rather go to the beach than do homework too.

I remember what the kids were like in school back home. Also, I’m allowed to talk shit about the ghetto Mexicans and the white trash since I am both Mexican and white. Boom. Please remember that for the rest of this blog…

Those two types of people make up a LARGE percent of the population. Rednecks and gang members, knife fights at lunch, “pinche” being every other word out of most of their mouths, and a huge teen pregnancy problem. Ah, Tejas.

While this is an exaggeration, it’s only a slight exaggeration. So basically, I’m scared.

I spent 22 years in Texas, surrounded by a large Hispanic population, most of whom I was probably related to. But as for teaching experience? I’ve taught approximately two Hispanic kids in the past two years. Here in Central Oahu, the student population is comprised of SO many different ethnicities—Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, Samoan, Micronesian, Chuukese, Tongan, Korean, Chinese, and more. They’re so mixed that most of them don’t even know what to check for race on surveys. They think it’s weird that I’m “only two things” and they don’t tease each other about being “too much” of something or “not enough” of something else.

Duh, there’s still racism and homophobia and bullying and drug abuse and all those other terrible things that happen everywhere.

But I swear, Hawaii’s kids are probably the most tolerant human beings in the U.S. It’s all aloha and shaka and howzit and bruddah and sistah and auntie… it’s kind of crazy how happy people are here. Oh wait, the sun shines every day. There are rainbows every day.

The kids I went to school with would beat these kids to a pulp and then tattoo something about it on their necks. Or they’d tie my kids to cows and pour Lonestar all over them. The white kids I went to school with would call my kids Mexicans and when my kids would try to explain that they’re actually a Hawaiian-Japanese-Filipino, they’d say, “Whatever, you’re brown, so you’re Mexican.” The Mexicans I went to school with would call my kids wannabe Mexicans.

I could go on and on, trashing and exaggerating about the kind of kids I went to school with (reminder: I’m allowed), but what I’m getting at is I DON’T WANT TO TEACH TEXAS KIDS, I WANT TO TEACH HAWAII KIDS…BUT IN TEXAS.

Sigh.

Will I be facing a major culture shock? It’s kind of ironic, I realize. I was born and raised in the area, I’m obviously super familiar with the Hispanic culture. But teaching is a different story. I’ve finally reached a point where I feel qualified to teach Hawaiian mythology and “local, Pidgin kine poetry”. I feel comfortable discussing and analyzing the differences and similarities of Asian cultures. I’ve finally mastered the stereotypes, resentments, and unspoken bonds between these groups here—it’s been incredibly hard.

So will my teaching suffer?

Will it be like my first year all over again?

What about my ELL kids? Will I know how to accommodate them? Is it the same?

I know that this entire blog is probably a huge freak-out, completely uncalled for and unnecessary. I’ll adapt, I’ll be fine, and my memory about how horrible all the kids were is probably extremely blurry and skewed. Let’s be real, I only remember one knife fight in my 13 years of schooling.

Every culture is unique, and I know how important it is to learn about my students’ cultures and incorporate them into my work, but does every culture require some sort of special, secret teaching skill? No, of course not. Teaching with love, passion, and curiosity is across the board—that’s all I need…which is good, because sometimes I feel like that’s all I have to offer as a teacher.

Hopefully, my Mexican kids will love me just as much as my little mixed plate loco mocos do here. Hopefully they won’t judge me based on the fact that my Spanish is only at an intermediate level (only when I’m drunk). At least I know all the bad words, that’ll be helpful.

I will adapt and I will do it FAST, just like I did here. I still remember the first time I tried poke and spam musubi, thinking they looked like the most disgusting things I’d ever seen. Look at me now—using chop sticks like a pro and giving directions like a local.

I still say flip-flops, not slippahs. Not budging on that one.

I’ll miss this place and I’ll miss these people so much. I don’t think I’ll ever love my students more than I love these, my Hawaii babies, my keiki. But you never know. All I can do is try.

The Big Complaint

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     I complain about teaching a lot, I realize this. I complain about the cocky 13 year-old who flexes in the middle of our figurative language lesson and shouts out, “Is there a vet in here because these pythons are sick!”

I complain about my students telling me I should wear my hair down, wear contacts, and wear more dresses and makeup (Why, you ask? To get a husband of course!).

I complain about the missing homework, the failures, the tardies, the absences, the laziness, the lack of organization, the disrespectful words and looks, the dress code violations, and the desk vandalism.

I complain about the “IDKs” and even worse, the “IDCs”. I complain about the “As long as I’m passing, Miss” and the “Oh no, we weren’t talking, I was asking for help!”

I complain about the stolen pencils, the sleepers, the creepers, and the girl who looks me up and down, scowling, and asks, “Why do you dress like a Filipino?”

I complain about the ones who could and should be doing better, the ones who could and should EASILY be making A’s, and the ones who should have been held back.

I complain about the awkwardness, the inappropriateness, and the uncomfortable questions like, while writing love poems, “What does a tingle feel like? Is it good, to feel tingly?”

I complain about the sarcasm (the use of it AND the lack of understanding it, which is hypocritical, I know), the smart asses—like when I told a should-be-leader, “You need to step up to the plate” and he answered, “But Miss, I can’t even see the plate! I don’t even know where the plate is!” The “You should really be more strict” to the “You’re the meanest teacher ever!”

I complain about the headaches, the stress, and the strain on my social life (which the kids thinks means no mall cruising or McDonald’s hangouts).

I complain about them making me feel old as dirt. Like “They’re not called HEADphones anymore Ms. Mendez, there’s nothing on our HEADS. They’re called EARphones now” or “What’s a cassette? What’s a Polaroid?” Kill me.

I complain about all the complaining. I guess for the amount of times I say, “I can’t treat you like a 7th grader if you’re not acting like one,” you could probably double the times it’d be appropriate for you to tell me, “Act your age, not your shoe size.” Gimme a break though, I’m in that weird (read: awesome), early twenties phase where my weekends, clothes, and tan are still more important than mailing postcards, my 401K, or sensible undergarments.

I complain about the fact that they notice literally everything, from my chipping toenail polish to the bags under my eyes to “You wear those shoes every single day. Don’t you have other ones?”

I complain about the sweatiness and stinkiness and coughs and sneezes and pink eyes. I complain about the shrimp in 3rd period who sits cross-legged, scratches his balls, and then sniffs his fingers with a damn smile on his face.

I complain about the in-my-bubble, breathing down my neck, over-the-top-curiosity of “Do you have a boyfriend? Do you drink beer? You’re a Mexican?!”

I complain about the poor grammar, the slang (“She’s being so irrez.” Ugh, you’re being irrez by saying irrez, just say irritating!), the cussing, and the PDA. I complain about the rumors (I’m dating their math teacher, I’m 18 years old, I’m divorced).

But mostly, daily actually, in my mind, I complain about the fact that I just love them too, too much. I complain that I’d go crazy without them (yes, crazier than I’m going with them). I complain that I’m only a first year teacher, why am I so attached? Maybe because I am a first year teacher. I complain that they make me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed. I complain that I’ve become a proud mama bear, swelling with over-protective, near-psychotic emotions that could probably cause my head and heart to explode simultaneously. I complain that on random occasions, quite frequently, they make me want to be a teacher forever, just from one high-five after mastering a test or one giggle while immersed, reading a short story.

I complain that they’re about to be in 8th grade, they’re leaving me, they’ll forget me! I need more time! I wanted to do a Hunger Games unit! I’m this close to making a writer out of him, a reader out of her, learners out of them. I complain; this was not part of the plan.

What’s a blog again?

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Here goes…

Metaphorical leap…

Ok. I am officially a blogger. To be honest, that term is under a list in my head titled “lame”. I’m a writer. Writer is a fantastic word. There’s no silly double letter (and g of all letters- how giggle worthy). It puts the facts on the table, it lays down the law, it does what no human being can ever seem to manage: it says exactly what it means.

Writer: (n.) one who writes

But guess what? Writers don’t have this simple, accessible forum for spewing thoughts, rants, poems, stories, or just really long Facebook statuses/tweets. Guess who DOES have that kind of forum? Bloggers.

So like I said, I’m officially a blogger. (:

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, really. My first actual story had something to do with a talking, mystery-solving Labrador. I had planned to make millions off of that one, but I think Air Bud stole a little of what would have been my credibility. Since then, it’s been a mix of horrible poetry, decent short stories, and one rough, rough, rough novel.

Then I became a teacher, trying desperately to relay my ecstatic feeling toward pen and paper to my students (mostly to no avail of course). And my writing? Well, it’s been playing second fiddle for a while now. But I am determined to not let the children win! Hence, blogger. Editing my novel? Pshhh, I don’t have time, I have to teach text structures to 100 pubescent creatures. But blogging? Oh yeah, I can squeeze that in, sure.

Breakdown In Mind: Teacher Antics, 30%; Philosophical Pessimistic Bullshit, 15%; Terrible Poetry, 10%; Life in Hawaii AKA This Rock I Live On, 10%; Short Stories and Novel Exerpts, 5%; Hilarious Quotes, Sarcasm, and Everything Else, the remaining 30%

I mean, it has a double G for crying out loud. How serious can this possibly be?