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!

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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.

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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

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9 Reasons Education is Confusing

9 Reasons Education is Confusing by LaTilya Rashon

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.