Figuring This All Out: Brand, Business, and Marketing

One of the realest things I read so far on this road to entrepreneurship is that THERE IS A LOT OF BAD INFORMATION OUT THERE!

51-ykyw6rfl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

Now one would think that with 10 years of traditional classroom teaching, six years of active duty military service, and six degrees (2 associates, B.A., MPA, Ed.S. and an Ed.D.), I should be where I want to be. Wrong…Wrong…Wrong! I’m trying to crack the self-publishing market and offer a message to aspiring and new teachers (THAT IS MY PURPOSE—To Inspire!)

When I initially wrote my first book, My Fourth Year In Middle School: The Truth About Teaching, I was and still am completely behind on not doing enough to properly market my book to get it into the hands of the people that I feel could benefit from it the most.

I would attribute writing this book to being just like the formative years of education because in my first three years I learned A LOT.   Mostly through trial and error and faulty circumstances.  But in those first years I found my purpose and knew that I have a lot to offer as an educator.  As an individual.  As a person who is not afraid to make mistakes and take a risk.

Since the release of my book in July 2016, I still want to do more with it.  I am almost desperate to do more with it because I know that there is some really good information embedded inside to keep teachers motivated.  Now I’ll be honest, I have definitely taken some heat for my book but this was about some real stuff that I experienced as a new teacher.  Much like my recollection of a having a teacher tell me I’d never be successful; I never wanted a child to feel that way about themselves in my classroom. I do not want new teachers feeling left out and ostracized unnecessarily… even with the good support of my mentor teacher, I felt alone when I started teaching.  So I ask myself, was I supposed to paint a pretty picture of the people that were hard on me or was I supposed to tell my TRUTH.

4549909730_542d6bc1d3_z

MY BOOK AT A GLANCE

Year One: This was the toughest year ever and I remember feeling like I was being tested to see if I could really hang in there with my high poverty stricken kids.  But the thing about the students is that once I won them over, they were not the problem.  IT WAS THE ADULTS.  I cried a lot that first year because I felt like I was failing miserably at teaching.  During pre-planning I had been whispered about because of a skirt that I thought was appropriate, but clearly it wasn’t.  I felt so embarrassed by my assets…the skirt was long but that wasn’t the problem.  I was body shamed before body shaming was a thing.

Dealing With Divorce: My first marriage fell apart during my second year of teaching.  I was holding on by a thread.  I had had a huge fight with my husband, got a mugshot for bursting out his truck window, separation, and watching the security I once felt in my marriage be shattered.  All of this was going on while my boys were toddlers (Lil Phil-5, Preston-3). I was home alone with my two boys, cooking for them, dropping them off at daycare, working my full-time teaching job—stressing and wondering when my husband was going to come back home.  HE DIDN’T! The divorce was finalized September, 2011!

Is This Really Happening: So many things happened to me in a few short years that I am blown away at the fact that I’m still in the classroom.  I admit my very first administrator was hands down the bomb.  She had very high expectations and as a new teacher  I had no choice but to meet them.  I’m extremely proud of my results after my first year of standardized testing…I can boast that 97% of my students passed the Criterion Referenced Competency  Test (Phased out CRCT).  But I dealt with a different administrator my 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of teaching that was so passive, it was difficult to feel productive under his leadership.  I dealt with my car being stolen from the school campus my 5th year and instead of being sympathetic his reaction was, “It was a simple repossession.”  That made my blood boil, and I knew it was time to GO!

A Different Perspective: Transferring to a different school was what I thought I needed and while I was yet again able to foster relationships with my students…I also had to deal with adults.  I will say that I am brash and unfiltered at times, but I’m committed to my stance on things, and that doesn’t make me wrong; it makes me passionate about my kids.  I respect other people’s opinions, but I think I have run into others not really respecting mine.  In my ten short years, I have dealt with court cases with my now second ex-husband in 2014, the murder of my half-brother in 2015, middle of the year moves from one content/classroom to another in 2016, and truly feeling undervalued for my experience and knowledge. In a one on one conversation about leadership I once told an administrator, “Your perspective is skewed by what you think you know about me.  Until you see me or in action, you have no idea what I’m capable of.  I take my content very seriously.  I’m not changing!  But you’d have to talk to me to know that.”

Even through all of that I have experienced, the nonconstructive criticisms, and being told I’m not qualified or experienced enough to be an academic coach I still forge ahead.  I’ve also been told I’m “social media heavy”, whatever that means.  I mean, is this the wave?!?!?  Criticize others for the moves they are making because you are not making them yourself?!?!?

Yes my career is teaching but my vision is much bigger than being in a classroom forever.  I refuse to be one dimensional.  Just as I heard today…not everyone wants you to be successful.  I’m building my platform one blog, discussion, experience, post, and video at a time.  I am not a traditional teacher…I have a bit of an edge about me and I’m not afraid to share my experiences.

As I’m figuring this all out I know that the LaTilya Rashon brand and PSB2 Publishing  will rise as I coach myself through the necessities.

To learn more about my self-published titles please check me out here.  Be sure to connect with me on social media.

Be sure to share and leave a comment.  Thanks for reading.cropped-20170110_153240-e14840823819536.png

Advertisements

My First Year In High School

img_4751

I have not neglected my teacher hat by focusing on self-care and writing more consistently in other areas of interest, so today I will chat about my transition to high school.  I’m undecided about writing a book about this experience.  Maybe after a couple a years I may do a follow-up to my debut book.

Based on my experience in high school and having the deep rooted thought that I would be a high school teacher, it took me nine years in middle school before I leveled up to high school.  I must admit that I LOVE IT!  Even as I’m asked how do I feel about being at my school I tell people that’s not a fair question because I have been in my particular zone for 10 years, so these are MY KIDS!

I admit it’s a different world teaching in my area because I live 30 minutes south of my zone and it’s like night and day.  But I often say that if I was anywhere else I would be bored out of my mind because my kids are very entertaining.  Now much like with my  first book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching, there have been some bumps in the road, but these minor detours have been more manageable than they were when I initially began teaching in 2008.  I think it’s safe to say that I have reached VETERAN status…LOL!

51-ykyw6rfl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

I didn’t know what I was embarking on when I decided to step up but I see from the whispers, uncertainty, questionable approaches, relationships, and sticking true to who I am and I how I teach…I’m Good!

Now in 2008 when I took the steps to get certified to teach through the old Georgia Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (GaTapp) I thought I wanted to start off at high school, but I’m so glad that I took my time getting here.

For starters, in my sixth year of teaching, the current seniors in my building were my 8th grade babies the 2013-2014 school term.  The current juniors in my building were my 8th grade babies the 2014-2015 school term and we packed up and shut down the old middle school at the end of that year.  Recombining middle schools the 2015-2016 school term, I taught some of the 8th graders through my reading connections class, then the 2016-2017 academic year I taught half of the 8th graders after abruptly being moved from the reading connections class into the English/Language Arts classroom.  But that is another story for another day.  It turned out to be a good move even though the way I was moved was not handled the best way in my opinion.

palm-beach-banner

I knew that when I graduated from Nova Southeastern University with my Doctor of Education degree in 2016, it was only going to be a matter of time before it was time to move on.  I thought that my interview went fairly easy, but to move up with my kids was a big blessing for me.  I was ready for the challenge and to be a familiar face for my students that gave me a greater feeling.  To be honest to see the students that have made it to their senior year warms my heart because so many students get lost along the way.

My classroom management has not been an issue since my first year of teaching so that was the least of my concerns.  But building relationships and reestablishing relationships with my previous students has been so much fun.  The junior class of students have a very special place in my heart. So stepping back into their lives daily even though they are not in my actual class, seeing them, and having them visit my class as often as they can has been the warm welcome that I needed for high school.  It’s also safe to say that building relationships has not been an issue for me in the least bit.

This is year 10 and there is still a lot for me to learn.  I enjoy being an English teacher, and adjusting to the curriculum was more of a matter of the content versus the standards.  The great thing about my content is that the standards are the same, but I admit I have enjoyed the stories we read in class and the dialogue that was created.  “The Gift of the Magi” and “Everyday Use” have been my absolute favorites.  Aside from teaching though the only thing that blows my mind is where colleagues place their value when it comes to teaching the kids.

There is no denying the fact that I have favorite students, but what teacher after years of building relationships don’t?  There are children that seek genuine support while in school and that very often misunderstood connection students establish with certain teachers is shamed.  Everything is not always fair and as a teacher my only conversation majority of the time is what can I do to better myself?

Now I had a mentor teacher when my journey began and she was absolutely the best and very supportive.  I have been lucky enough to work across the hall from a “football mom” and friend that I’ve known for years and she has been my rock.  We truly have a safe place in her room as we “debrief” from the daily shenanigans and goings-on in the building.

The take away I have for this year is that I must continue to always take care of me first.  Students are still going to twist the events of the day.  Some adults around me will question, “Why I’m still the favorite?”, “Why do kids like to come to my room?”, and a multitude of other things but that will not deter my purpose for my classroom and why I love doing what I do.

I’m still trying to figure out my next move beyond the high school classroom and ultimately would love to be a Dean of Student Affairs because my strength lies in being among people.  I don’t ever want to lose touch with what is going on in the classroom and trending in education period.  It only takes one child to show you that you are doing something right.  But when I look around at all of  my students at my high school I have reached a lot and I’m glad to have had partial impact on their educational journey.

This is only year one with a few in me left to go.  High school has been a hoot with 12 days left until graduation.

10 Things I’m Proud Of

When you are grateful.  Fear disappears and abundance appears. ~Anthony Robbins

pleasure-and-pain

I have been inspired by list posts and recently took a second look at my 35 Randoms Thoughts on the eve of my 35th birthday and the 7 Things You Should Do in 2017 and my oh my have I enlightened my own self.

I am in such a different space in my life from the restart of my blog (March 2016) as I pursue my writing and grabbing opportunities to express myself (Pursue Your Dream Career).  I love lists….I write everything down and look back at the things I affirm in myself and feel a sense of pride when things come to fruition.

Right now there are so many thoughts in my head about what I’m trying to do and where I’m trying to go and I know that the next few years are going to push me closer to my purpose.  In the meantime I’ll just focus right here at Tilyarealeyes.com and put things into the atmosphere and watch them come full circle.  

So here’s to the 10 Things I’m Proud Of

10.  I began my college journey at the University of Florida the glorious summer of 2000.  My #1 school of choice and I had a blast…my very first Blue & White weekend, being introduced to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. by way of the fabulous Mu Epsilon Chapter…endless memories…oh what a time I had.

9.  Due to the fun I had at UF, I subsequently enlisted into the United States Air Force and spent six wonderful years on active duty.  I met some amazing people…but I also walked away with 2 associate degrees and my bachelors when I separated in 2007…Honorable Discharge…Veteran Status

8.  I have given birth to the most amazing little boys on the side of heaven.  I’m supposed to be proud as their mother…that damn Lil Phil (3.4.04) waited 20 hours to make his appearance into this world…after contracting, I stalled at 5 centimeters so a c-section it became and he’s still stubborn to this day.. #Big   Then came the baby, my Preston (2.9.06) my little genius and scheduled c-section.  He melts my heart…so innocent…so sweet…so caring… #Little

7. My trials and tribulations in life remind me that everyone struggles at times and it is a part of life but it’s ultimately about how you handle things.  I have no choice but to be resilient…I have children to take care of.  I am defined by my experiences and that is what completes me.  db42f1c66ab6b254f78baae55b330a64

Taking a deeper look though, my first name has 7 letters in it…L.A.T.I.L.Y.A.

Loyal…Ambitious…Talented…Intelligent…Loveable…Yummy…Amazing

My journey makes me aware of who I am…7…the number of completion!

6.  I have been in the traditional classroom for 9 years and I love it!  It’s not easy each day or each year.  In time middle school will be my foundation as I move up to the next level.

5.  Five years ago…April 2012 I closed on my first home…ALL by MYSELF at the age of 30. God is so Good!  These past 5 months have shook me up…my marriage ended…a financial setback…but I’m home!  The devil got busy, but I’m grounded in what’s mine and I give it all to God.

4. I have survived what might drive others crazy.  I am not ashamed of my second divorce, nope not one bit.  Marriage 1 changed me, matured me, and birthed me my 2 delicious babies.  Marriage 2 taught me what I deserve and I don’t deserve to be cheated on, lied to, disrespected, or unappreciated.  It was not all bad but the truth of the matter it was a struggle.  I have my dignity and I learned my lesson. I’m not sure if 3 times is the charm… Who Knows…But You Already Knew That…I Want The Magic.

3.  Writing my book, My Fourth Year in Middle School will always be a proud moment.  Personal, honest and something I always wanted to do.  So stay tuned for my next body of work.  Because I’m super critical of myself, when The Journey to Here is complete it will be because I’m ready for you to see it.  Being a creative is not easy…I’m passionate about MY words and how I intricately weave them together.

61yromeb5hl
Download from Amazon

2.  My education!  I’m modest about it, but having someone speak life in me and say, “You should introduce yourself as Dr. Williams”, it is a constant reminder of my accomplishments.  Surround yourself with people that SPEAK LIFE into your existence, your being, your soul, your day…those are the kind of people to have on your team. Community College of the Air Force…Thomas Edison State College (now University)…Bellevue University…Nova Southeastern University…Since 2000 I pursued my education and ultimately became Dr. LaTilya Williams.  No easy feat…but yes I did it.

1. My spirituality!  I luh God!  He is the author of my life.  Without him I would not be able to stand strong.  I am where I am in life because of him and I embrace all of my blessings.  My life is changing for the Good…the Great…the Better.

cropped-20170110_153240-e14840823819535.png

The Meaning of TilyaRealEyes “The Educated Veteran”

The Meaning of TilyaRealEyes…“The Educated Veteran”

TilyaRealEyes has been around for a long time since my first blog when I was registered with blogspot.  I had so many things going with me in 2010 that I needed and outlet because I was beginning to realize a lot about my life, about myself and about my situation.wp-image-2072040792jpg.jpg

When you look at my first name, LaTilya, I just decided that TilyaRealEyes was befitting because I was also seeing the transformation in my thought processes, my level of maturity, my growth as a woman, and facing divorce after accepting my separation for what it was.  I was realizing that my life was going to be what I made it.

I began writing as my escape to unload my feelings out into the atmosphere to begin my healing process.  I was devastated by the events of my marriage and I had to find a way to let it all go to an unbiased, listening ear that would not hush me or tell me that I was being overly sensitive.  Tilya, as is I, was realizing that I had to take care of me or the anger was going to consume me.  I was seeking God, I was venting, and I was secretly hoping that my estranged husband would stumble on my words and see my hurt.  Through TilyaRealEyes, I established my voice and realized that I had the strength to take control of my life and turn my life into a platform free of judgement filled with encouragement and transparency to others who have experienced loss and humiliation in life.

I initially bared my soul and deepest thoughts into my blog, but I became stagnant and the blogspot went to the way side.

Now as I have revamped my blog, I have moved past the heartbreak and now I want to use my platform to speak and write about persevering through tough situations and hardships.  I want to talk about having the discipline to stay committed to your endeavors no matter how overwhelming life gets.  The reality is, “Shit happens!”  Everyday will not be glittery rainbows, and you will want to cry and just throw everything down and walk away.  TilyaRealEyes snatches you back to reality and encourages you to stay true to yourself, your goals, your ambition, and recommit to your life.  I share my struggles and how I have grown to represent the best authentic version of me.  Free of crippling insecurities and full of thought-provoking vulnerabilities.  20151208_083123

I want my readers to feel inspired and keep checking back for updates and inspiration for their lives.  I would like my audience to know the woman behind the words.  My writing demonstrates my emotions as I work on other things such as books and various ideas that float through my mind.

So on one layer I deal with life, the good the bad and the ugly.  The unpredictable, mundane, and the melancholy.  But on a philosophical note, I am also “The Educated Veteran”.

The Educated Veteran is my teacher hat where I systematically discuss issues that arise in education that I see daily as a classroom teacher.  It is a play on my profession and legal last name combined.  As an educator I hear the complaints from teachers, students, administrators, and parents and this drives me to be the non-standard leader. I will rock my hair shaved on one side.  Be down to earth with my colleagues, but wear my professionalism where it is needed.  I don’t like the feeling of my hands being tied with the constant reforming of educational policies.  So I’m taking it upon myself to share my perceptions about new teachers, classroom management, teacher retention, and all things related to education.  I’m striving to be a change agent, reshaping the look of leadership.

Since receiving my Doctor of Education degree, people look at me like I have three eyes, waiting to see what direction my life and career is about to take.  Ironically, my drive makes me want to inform others of the ills and wills of education.  I love my career, and I’m a firm believer that I am most beneficial to students whom I identify with.  Until I have a major career change, I’m satisfied being The Educated Veteran due to my various degrees and my quest for knowledge. 

cropped-20160718_120948.jpgCheck out my debut book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching which gives your personal stories of my teaching journey so far.  I bring relevance and credibility to The Educated Veteran.

Now you know the meaning of my site.  I am TilyaRealEyes, The Educated Veteran!  Ask me anything and I will gladly help you realize your truth.

9 Reasons Education is Confusing

9 Reasons Education is Confusing by LaTilya Rashon

teacher-at-board

I attended Center Junior High School under the esteemed Dr. Robert T. Bussey, who was my mother’s principal when she was in school.  The city of Waycross  schools and Ware County schools merged the 1994 school term and contrary to some of the horror stories of that merger, middle school in 1996 was way different than middle school now in 2016.  Other than being two decades apart, I will explain the nine reasons education is confusing.

9. Grading System Changed: Before teachers had more autonomy of their grades because simply speaking, students either completed their work or they didn’t.  There were no categories like Assessment of Learning, Assessment During Learning, Homework, Classwork, Test/Quizzes/Projects or anything else for that matter.  There were no percentages for the categories such as 50% classwork, 40% assessments, 10% homework.  Teachers graded work as it was assigned, recorded it in the grade book, averaged the all the grades and that was what went on the report card.  Now, teachers have a certain number of assignments per category so now it’s almost impossible for students to fail a class unless they choose not to complete any work.

Teacher at Chalkboard

8. Limited Class Options:  I had the option to Agriculture, Life Skills, Health, and Career Connections with Mrs. Ganas where we learned about the Occupational Outlook Handbook and was able to job shadow someone for a full day and receive a class grade.  Now middle school students are limited to P.E. without the Health class component, Band, Reading or Math/Study Skills class, Technology, and Art if it has not been cut from the budget.  We were somewhat ability grouped, and changed classes by crossing over with other homerooms which made a competitive and productive roster.  In my teaching environment students travel from class to class on their grade level with their assigned homeroom everyday, and the class roster is split into fours assigning these chunks of students to the same connections classes.  There is not enough variety in the day.

7.  Apathetic Students:  I was required in middle school to do a Social Science Fair project or a Science Fair project.  Teachers communicated the expectations to students, sent home parent letters, and gave ample time in school and after school to work on projects.  I was lucky enough to attend the regional science fair at South Georgia College in 1993 for my project, Does Artificial Light Effect Plant Growth?  Now students majorly choose to not complete a science fair project and accept the grades of zero that come along with it.  It seems as if students have given up to the point science fairs are optional.

6.  Standardized Assessments:  The ITBS test is now used for instructional planning and a formative assessment.  It gives your child a ranking in school based on their results, but its an ability grouping tool.  Students did not feel the pressure to test well in 1996 because everything counted, so you were expected to do well.  I am guilty of this, but when my students enter the door I start the year off mentioning state assessments that they know are sure to come.  My class is based on test results, so my students learn fast why they are placed in my Reading class.  It’s tough for students that know they struggle, but are now in middle school trying to play catch up.

0327oakland01

 

5.  Teachers Are Younger:  Now you would think that age is nothing but a number when dealing with professionals, but I know that when I was in school my teachers were older, or shall I say their dress code was.  My teachers hardly wore jeans, always wore dress pants, blouses, and dresses with modest make-up.  Now when you walk into schools there are a lot children that look more mature than their teachers.  It’s hard for urban middle schoolers to respect someone who is the same age as their older siblings.

4.  Teacher Preparation:  I came in as a TAPP (Teacher Alternative Preparation Program) teacher from a different career field, the military, so I had life and work experience.  A lot f the teacher pedagogy that is learned traditionally is valuable, but teaching by the book is a no-go for middle school.  This works well for early childhood educators, but at the middle school level when students are trying to find their identity, you have to play it by ear.  The bricks and mortar way to teacher preparation gives teachers false interpretations of a classroom, so sometimes at the middle school level, teachers don’t last long.  I’ll touch on this later.

3.  Social Media:  There weren’t computers in the classroom 20 years ago.  The classroom equipped with computers was the computer lab and that was the typing class.  We had the old typing lessons that taught you your home row keys and by the end of the semester you learned basic typing skills.  The only phone you had was a house phone.  Now kids of all ages have cellular phones, and some of those phones are better than adult phones.  Social media is how kids communicate, rather than writing friendly notes.  There is a whole new language (text talk) that is being spoken by this generation.  I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t have social media, however in school it is a major distraction.

social-media-manager

2.  Parental Involvement:  Open house, report card pick-up, parent-teacher conferences, athletic events, PTO meetings,  and awards banquets have low parent participation.  I remember being in school and my mom never missed an event.  Now we can barely get a parent to show up for their highly disruptive child.  New age parents are not like parents from decades past.  It is heart-breaking to know that a lot of the students today are raising themselves.  Schools need parents to meet them halfway.

1. Lack of Consistency: I entered into the profession of teaching eight years ago and I am now on my seventh district superintendent.  I live in one city, but teach in another and I see that changeover is more severe in my district.  From formative assessments, progress monitoring tools, academic expectations, and changes in district wide leadership nothing has been placed for longer than two academic years to see progress.  It doesn’t help that new state assessments have changed, so have promotion requirements.  I’m not a strategist, but it appears that once leaders leave the classroom, they become out of touch with the classroom struggle.  Teachers are now simply collecting a check rather than genuinely teaching.  Education represents stability, but in some cases teachers are providing a disservice to their students.

I’m sure there are more reasons, but these stood out for me the most.