Personal

Why I Am Successful

I haven’t thought about it much. I’ve just been doing and doing and doing. Now I’m starting to slow down and reflect – especially since it’s the holidays. This is part ‘why I am successful’ and part ‘my authentic self’. Both go hand in hand. To be one, I have to be the other.

Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s utterly necessary to be successful. I used to be anxious. I used to be depressed. I used to have a lack of fulfillment in my life that I would often fill with alcohol and fake friends – people I didn’t even really like, but called them friends anyway just to have something. I changed all of that. I went from accepting the fact that depression was always going to be a part of my life to waving goodbye to it through a rearview mirror. I went from feeling anxious all the time – especially around other people – to just having stress here and there about major things. I went from fake friends and relationships to authentic ones. I went from unfulfillment to complete fulfillment.

Each change I made was uncomfortable. Each one was hard, and some were downright painful. But they were worth it. I went from a miserable career to one that brings me joy. I went from one terrible partner after another to the best partner anyone could ask for. I went from unhealthy relationships to healthy ones. I went from putting on a major facade all the time to being my authentic self.

I remember my therapist telling me that I was one of her favorite clients because after each session I would go and act on the things we talked about and I would come back with new barriers to tackle. I learned, I grew, I worked on myself, and I made painful realizations and worked hard to correct them. I read books, I had deep conversations with friends and coworkers, I did a lot of self-reflection, and I met with my therapist regularly.

Realizing I was co-dependent was painful. Facing the fact that my parents fucked up was even more so. I got angry, I laid blame, but ultimately I decided it was my responsibility to fix it because I’m the one that it affects. By the way, co-dependency is not what you think it is, and most people are a little bit co-dependent. As funny as it sounds, I highly recommend the book “Co-dependency for Dummies.” It really helped me learn what it is, what kind I was, and how to SET BOUNDARIES (something I never learned from my parents – but I’m not salty about it, I swear). Making decisions based on what I wanted and not what I thought others wanted was also part of it. Along with not taking on other people’s problems as my own. All of this was a major step towards me becoming more authentic. I stopped acting in a way that I thought would please those around me and just did what I wanted. I stopped feeling stressed and responsible when someone talked to me about their problems. I stopped saying things I thought others wanted to hear and said what was in my heart. I was becoming more and more my authentic self. I lost fake friends and gained real ones. And I met the love of my life.

Changing careers was scary. Telling my parents I was switching from engineering to teaching was uncomfortable. Telling my boss was even worse. I almost threw up I was so nervous. Changing jobs was part of becoming my authentic self. I didn’t like standing at a desk, reading specs, calling clients and vendors, and checking CAD drawings. I wanted to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I wanted to build a better community. I wasn’t doing either as an engineer. I have very high patience when it comes to helping others. I have very high patience when someone is learning something new. And I can explain things in different ways. I am caring and passionate and it just made sense for me to use my skills to be a teacher. So, I made the switch, and I have never looked back.

Moving is also uncomfortable and difficult, but new places always come with new opportunities. When I moved to Texas to be closer to my love, I got way better training and preparation for becoming a teacher than I could have dreamed of getting in Florida. It was like the pieces just fell into place.

My next thing to try is also scary and likely to be uncomfortable, if not downright painful the first few times I try it, but I am going to push through and do it anyway because I want to continue to be happy and successful. I am going to try a PBL (project based learning) in my chemistry class after the break. It is going to be very different than any other way I have taught before and has a lot of components. I took a training over the summer and have resources that I’m currently culling through, but ultimately I will not be successful at it if I don’t give it a try and actually DO it. I’ve put it off for an entire semester and that’s long enough. I’ve got to keep pushing myself into new, uncomfortable things because that is how I grow and learn and succeed.

What do you do to be successful? What is the most uncomfortable, yet ultimately rewarding situation you have pushed yourself through? Did you grow? What will you do next?

Please share your thoughts, stories, musings, or reflections. I love to read them.

Education, Personal

Silly Ambitions to be a “Perfect” Teacher My First Year

(This is being posted about 5 days after written because internet was out at the time and I was too overwhelmed to remember to post this later.)

I think I’m taking on too much. Actually, I know I’ve taken on too much. I just wanted so badly to be…perfect. I’ve been told, in one form or another, what makes a great teacher, and I just expected to be able to do it all my first year, armed with all this knowledge and training. That was my mistake. Everyone else made a collaborative mistake of giving me tons of training, resources, information, and advice with no time to actually process it all and come up with a plan. Small bits of time were given in between barrages of information, yes, but that’s not enough for me. I like to take it all in at once, let it soak and simmer, and then sit down and make a plan. But I didn’t have that opportunity, so I dove in expecting to be able to do it all. And I can’t. I have to admit that to myself (but not my students, of course).

What I need to do is pick out limited bits that I know I can do while also creating my own lesson plans, (although thanks to an awesome teacher who has given me hers from the past ten years, modified over time, I don’t have to start from scratch – just tweak it to make it my own) learning all the administrative stuff, getting training on the evaluation system, and also working with someone in the alternative certification department to do everything I need to for my internship year.

First, I need to let go of the idea of homework. I didn’t want to do it in the very beginning anyway. It wasn’t until I read up a little bit on the matter that I decided it would be a good idea to use it as part of my differentiated instruction. But I need to throw that out the window. It’s just too much for me in my first year. The problem is, I already told the student that homework was part of their grade. I’ll just tell them that after a department meeting, we came to the consensus to throw out homework this year, and anything they don’t finish in class can be homework. I doubt they’ll mind, although I did assure that I would use homework to help fill in any information gaps. I can tell them I’ll find a way to incorporate that into class time.

Next, I need to find a way to do simplified differentiated instruction in the classroom. Since all classes elected to have phones in class, I could use that to have the visual learners watch a video, the auditory learners listen to a lecture, and the kinesthetic learners to make something related to the lesson. Maybe my goal for that should be a once or twice per unit, kind of thing.

Finally, I need to let go of the idea that I am going to uniquely engage every single student, and just do what I can when the opportunity presents itself. Handle attitude issues with positivity and attempt to engage, but not be too pushy for those that just refuse to do anything.

I also need to stop caring about push back. It has stopped me from dealing with the back pack issues that I am having. They need to be fully out of the way, and the students just aren’t quite doing that. Maybe that’s something to fix in a class discussion and see how they would prefer to handle it. I’ll start by asking why it’s such a big deal to have their back packs away from them. I suppose, logically, if they can find a way to make it so we don’t trip all over them as we are walking around the room, and keep it with them, then that would be acceptable. I think I just need to have a conversation with them like adults.

Speaking of talking to them like they’re adults, I need to tone that down some too. Great teachers are caring and make connections with their students, which is what I attempted to do, but I opened up too much in the wrong way and have already caused some issues. I can own up to that and correct it though. I am very fortunate to have a principal that has my back and that is super understanding. She explained things in a way that I hadn’t realized and informed me that I have opened some doors for some students, making it a possibility that one or more may come to me with their own issues that are similar to the one I shared and she taught me a beautiful way to handle that. I’m really hoping to avoid talking to the parent, but if I need to, I know I can handle it.

I’m hoping the overwhelmingness of taking on too much is what has been keeping me up at night and keeping my heart racing and stomach turning all day long. The only time I fell relaxed and happy lately is during class when I’m teaching. I guess that’s a good sign that I’m in the right field. I just need to find more ways to lower the amount that I’m trying to take on in my first year without lowering the quality of my students’ education. And I really think I can.

If you’ve gotten through all of this, I would like to thank you for letting me vent all this out. It has been really helpful for me, and I would love any feedback, advice, or just words of encouragement you have to offer. Affirmations that I can do this and words of encouragement are probably the thing I need most in life right now.

Education, New Beginnings, Personal

I am About To Be a Teacher

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

This is what I keep saying to myself over and over until I believe it. I’ve done the training and have all the advice and resource to have a theoretically great start. It’s quite a leap for someone who gets social anxiety and recharges her energy at home alone to go from an office job with social interactions being limited to a few friendly coworkers, to a classroom where she’ll have to guide and interact with over a hundred students on a daily basis.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

So far, it’s been a lot of fun, actually. I’m a very analytical person and I LOVE organizing. This means that I am really enjoying all the planning and learning that goes into my first year. It’s fun to me to put together my classroom management plan, my lesson plans, and organizing all the resources that I think I will find helpful as I continue to create said management plan and lesson plans. I even got a tablet for my birthday so I can organize all my school stuff on it and play around with apps that I could have my students use in the classroom as part of their learning activities. I’m even enjoying researching more resources and reading them. I still haven’t a clue how I want to set up my classroom, but there are lots of articles with information and advice on it that I am more than happy to read.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

Occasionally I’ll think about the fact that one day soon I will be presenting my management plan and my lesson plans to actual students, and that is terrifying. Kids are intimidating, no matter what age. At least to me. Adults are intimidating too. Big dogs running towards me with a big grin? The only reason I flinch is because I hate the slobber. But I’ll take that over talking in front of 30 teenagers. I suppose, if I really think about it, teenagers are a lot less intimidating than adults. Yes, some of them act like tough bullies, but as adults we all know there’s most likely a scared kitten just beneath the surface, and kittens are not intimidating. Part of my training was how to handle major behavior problems and students with any kind of mental disorder like ADHD or anxiety. I know many accommodations that I can put into place for all kinds of different students. It’s just a matter of figuring out what student needs what and putting it into place. And I’m good at puzzles. Being good at organization will also help with this area. And it’s not like I’ve never taught a class before. At least high schoolers are easier to deal with than middle schoolers, which is what I want to eventually teach because they need the most help, but that’s way too much intimidation too early.

I am about to be a high school chemistry teacher.

The more I say it, the more real it becomes. It brings down my excitement level so I can get back into reality, but it also brings down my anxiety level so I can realize I actually do have the tools and the ability to succeed at this. Yes, teenagers still seem intimidating, but if I can keep in mind that they are still kids who just need help and guidance in life, then I think I can handle it. After all, helping others to help themselves is the reason I wanted to switch from engineer to teacher. My job is to give them the tools, resources, and guidance they need to learn to succeed. And that is something in which I feel confident I can do.

I am a high school chemistry teacher.

Education, New Beginnings, Personal

Learning to Swim by Falling in the Ocean

Woops. I recently left the engineering field to pursue a career in teaching and I had my first substituting job the other day. Wow was it awful. It was for a 6th grade class at a school known for disciplinary issues, but I didn’t know to check for that. I just took an available job. That was a mistake. I could tell I might have made a mistake when the instructions from the teacher included three different things to do in case of a problem student and ended with “good luck :)”. “Good luck” is so not a good sign. I did have problems. I could barely get homeroom under control enough to call role, and I lost my entire class at lunch. Yes, lost them. They all eventually ended up back in the classroom, but still. Luckily, a co-teacher came in and started writing lunch detentions left and right and was able to somewhat control the classroom. I was at a complete loss at how to handle something like that. The students ran around and hollered like 4 year olds and did not listen to me at all. It was….a little shocking. And it certainly made me question going down this route. But at least it can only go uphill from here, I hope.

Personal

What to do with My Life??

I would think at 23, with a college degree and a job, I would have a good idea on what I want to do with the rest of my life. NOPE. All I know for sure is that I don’t like my current job and that I do not want to be a doctor or a veterinarian. Or a nurse.

My current job involves me sitting at a desk 90% of the time and on a computer 80% of the time. I have my Engineer Intern certification and I’m working under a Professional Engineer, which means I’m getting hours towards getting my Professional Engineering degree, but not with what I’m interested in. I work in a small Civil Engineering and Surveying firm, so we do all kinds of different projects and don’t specialize in anything. I am in charge of all the environmental permitting, which I don’t mind too much, and I’m the head of a few projects. I just finished putting together my first book of specifications for one of my projects, which was kind of interesting, but mostly boring.

Point is, I want to be outside more. And I want to be doing something interesting. I thought I wanted to pursue water and waste water treatment because I find it absolutely fascinating and I want to design them one day. My current plan is to find a job a water or waste water treatment plant to get a feel for how everything works, rather than just reading about it in a text book and working problems for imaginary situations (which I’ve done plenty of). Then maybe get a Master’s and a job at a firm that specializes in treatment plants or find a related job that doesn’t need a Master’s degree.

However, in addition to the voluntary GED tutoring, I recently started doing some paid private tutoring. I have enjoyed this more than I expected. I thought it would be a fun way to get some extra cash, but I never expected to enjoy it so much. I found that I love making lessons as well as working directly with my individual students.

I also recently discovered this thing called Earthships which is right up my ally of almost all my loves combined: renewable energy, recycling/reusing, home-grown food, reduced water use, AND helping people. Those five things sum up most of my passions. Maybe all of them. I love helping people, hence my volunteer work. I love renewable energy and if I had an interest in electricity, might have gone into that field. I try to reduce, reuse, & recycle as much as possible. I think home-grown food is great because it increases the plants in the area, reduces the amount of fuel used to transport food, and often tastes better. Being passionate about water and waste water treatment, I’m also passionate about reducing the amount of water used. Plus, since these things are built in many different places, it’s a great opportunity to travel, which I also love doing. Honestly, if I wasn’t with the person I think I want to spend the rest of my life with, I’d probably jump right into that. I think continuing with my engineering and water/waste water treatment experience and knowledge will help if and when I do pursue Earthships. The only real problem I see with that is trying to tutor and having a husband who has a steady job that doesn’t travel. Maybe it’s not the best idea, but it seems so perfect for me.

The point is, I’m quite lost with how to pursue and shape my future.

I’ve also looked into working for the USDA Forestry Service because that would include getting to work outside a lot and possible travel.

For now, I’m planning on moving to FL in June and looking for a job in my field or something similar. I put in an application for a waste water treatment plant, but I’m not extremely hopeful. I might even look into some tutoring or substitute teaching jobs. I feel like it would be easier if I knew what my ultimate goal was that I was aiming for. I guess for now, I’ll act as though I still plan on designing water and waste water treatment plants, but there are so many other fun opportunities out there like Earthship or teaching GED classes full time.

I’d love to hear [read] any advice, thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc, that you’d like to share. How/when did you decide on your career path? Have you struggled with deciding what you want to do in life? Do you have any advice on the matter?

Engineering

Work

I was going to talk about a different topic, but work has been bringing me down lately, so I want to talk about that.

Mostly it’s been this past week, but it’s not the first time I’ve felt like this. Things are slow. At least for me. Our CAD guy is overloaded and I can’t really help because all I learned how to do in school was draw lines and make shapes and make everything centered and line up correctly. He would have to take time that he doesn’t have to show me how to do something that he could do in the time he was showing me how to do it. Lame. The other engineers have their own things going on and don’t really have much for me. As a result, I have put way more time that I’d like on General Admin. Specifically this week but there was also a day last week that had about 7 hours on general admin.

I feel useless. It’s a really sucky feeling because I like to do stuff and feel accomplished. As long as I have something to do, even if it’s just scanning papers and saving them in the right location so the company can go paperless, I will work hard at it. I will show up early, I will work diligently, and I will be in a good mood. Today, I was 20 minutes late for work. Why even come to work? – I thought. It’s not like I’m doing anything. I worked on our company website for two days straight. Which looks fantastic, but I’d much rather be doing something more meaningful. Even when I do get work, if I don’t understand what it is or how it’s benefiting anything, I still feel pretty useless. I’ve been starting to wonder why I was even hired. This useless feeling has made me feel very apathetic toward this job and a little depressed in general. I don’t feel like a useful member of society. I’m just sitting around fiddling on the internet with this website until time to go home. It’s awful. I’d rather be outside with the survey crew or do some field investigation or SOMETHING.

On top of that, I haven’t heard back from the college about volunteering to be a GED tutor. The Sims 4 just came out, which is fun and exciting. But it’s hard to enjoy playing games when I don’t feel like I get anything accomplished during the work day, so I don’t feel like I deserve to relax and play games in the evenings. This cycle is going to have to stop soon because I feel like I’m spiraling down into a depression.

Maybe I should have held out for a different job. Although I do like the small office vibe and the perks that come with it, like not having any strict rules. And the work we do is pretty important to society because it’s mostly city/county work. For example, we’re currently trying to find the problem in once of the city’s sewer system to stop it from spilling over. We’ve done parks, sidewalks, apartments, airport strips, roadwork, and utility work. Maybe if I look at all the ways we’re helping the community, I can feel like I’m part of it. I’m just having trouble feeling it. Maybe because I’ve always wanted to have a bigger impact, and these are small jobs.

I have been thinking about doing something with The Green Program. If you’ve never heard of them, look them up. I’m an alum. My fourth year in college I spent Spring Break in Costa Rica learning about different types of green energy hands on. It was a wonderful, life-affecting experience. I’d love to be a bigger part in something like that. Maybe after working here a while I’ll look into that.

I’m hoping that next week will be busier for me and I wont’ be feeling so down in the dumps. This happens anytime it’s slow, but this is the worse it’s been. I usually feel better when I have a lot going on at work because I go home feeling accomplished and to me, that’s one of the best feelings in the world.

As always, I’d love to hear [read] any thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc, that you’d like to share. 🙂

Engineering, New Beginnings

Beginning Career

So, the reason I wanted to do this blog is because I’m just starting out in life after college. I feel like I’m on a decently successful road and wanted to share some of what I have learned. I also feel a little lost in life, though I’m generally a happy person, so I wanted to put down my thought as I figure things out and if you read my thoughts and have ideas or observations or words of motivation or advice (don’t expect me to follow it, but I’ll always take it into consideration and be thankful you care enough to offer it) or whatever, please, please share. Sometimes others see things I can’t and I like to have these things pointed out to me because it helps me understand myself better. Also, I’m pretty knew in “the real world” so I value the advice or life observations of those who have been at it a while.

Interest. As I went through college, getting my degree in Civil Engineering (with a concentration in Environmental Engineering and a minor in English), my interest veered towered water and waste water treatment. Some of you may think that’s weird. Well, I think an interest in being a doctor is weird, but I sure am glad there are people interested in it. So, yes, water and waste water treatment. I am very interested in the chemistry and biology behind it. I like that there are so many different ways to do it and new ways are still being discovered. I love that there are ways to make energy with the treatment, tho mostly on a small scale. The whole thing is so interesting to me and that’s what I most want to be involved with. Often, I don’t feel smart enough to design them myself, but I really want to try.

Career. I graduated. Somehow. Not the highest GPA, but I got the 3.0 minimum. I applied for job after job and became glad anytime I heard back, even if it was a rejection, because at least I knew. Most of the jobs I really wanted, jobs actually at least somewhat related to my interest, wanted 5-8 years of experience. Yuck. I kept applying and interviewing. In the meantime, I studied for and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. I got hired at a small engineering firm in southern MS – on the coast, actually. I like the company, I like where I live, but this isn’t the job I though it was going to be. I knew I wasn’t going to learn to design waste water treatment plants, but I still thought it would be a good job – and it is, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not what I was expecting. I expected get well-rounded experience, but it’s looking like I’m going to be doing mostly project management – the last thing I wanted to do with this degree, by the way. The job started off pretty cool, and I’ve gotten to do neat stuff like climb a water tower, but I’m like the middle man in this project I’m doing and I don’t like it. This firm doesn’t seem to do much designing. They contract out all the work and most of the designing. We have a survey crew, though. Busy days are few and far between, and I love busy days. They make the day go by fast and I feel accomplished at the end of the day. When I spend hours with nothing to do (and I go around and try my best to find something – anything – to do) and have to fluff up my time sheet – I hate it. It makes me tired and I feel unaccomplished at the end of the day and guilty for over charging clients. My plan was going to be to stay here and get PE, then move on. But that doesn’t seem fair to the head of the company, who is teaching me and helping me get my PE, and I don’t think I could stick here for four whole years, anyway. Plus, if I get my PE and I’ve only worked here, I won’t feel like I know enough to have earned my PE. Especially when what I want to do is design treatment plants. I think.

So, I’m a little lost. I don’t know what I want to do, but I know it’s not this. If you read my background, you know I like helping others. I want to do something to help others in the biggest way I can. I think I can best accomplish that with my PE. But maybe I’m wrong.

Please feel free to share thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. I’d love to hear them 🙂