Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teachers - Do they need a degree to teach?

After 12 years of teaching, today will be my last day. I've decided to take a "leave of absence" from the teaching world. Closing this chapter of my life for a little while seems better then saying that I am leaving for good - but I will most probably not come back. Today I will say goodbye to my boys, to the desks and chairs scraping against the floor, to the clattering of children running through the halls and down the stairwells. Today will be the last time that I answer to anyone else but me.

I started teaching right after Seminary. For a hand full of good Jewish girls this is what we do. My year in Israel, I elected to take the teaching course and received a certificate in Judaic Studies Education. When I came home that summer I got engaged to my High School sweetheart. I had originally wanted to go to art school in NY, but chose to move to LA instead. You can read all about that in a previous post here. For the first two years of my marriage I went to design school at night and worked as a teachers' assistant by day.

After Baby #1 working by day and learning at night became too hard so I stopped going to school (giving up my dream of art) and began teaching full time. Being a Judaic Studies teacher, it wasn't necessary for me to hold a degree, my certification was all I needed - Unless, I wanted more money.  So back to school I went to earn a degree in education. This time I studied online, learning around my kids and teaching schedule. The only catch was that NO ONE - NOT ONE SCHOOL would accept my credits from UCLA. Apparently because they were night classes AKA Extension classes - they had no credit value and therefor no school would take them. So I lost 2 years of schooling credits.

Over the past 10 years I have been going to school online. Taking one step back with every baby, and taking one step forward as they grow up. I am now 1 credit shy of getting my degree; so i guess you can say that my entire teaching career was done without holding a Bachelor's Degree.

The funny thing is that I have taught almost every grade and subject out there. From Preschool to 8th grade English and Math, I have taught it AND I always get the Special Ed kids. They are my specialty. Perhaps it's my "out of the box" way of thinking or the fact that I hate working within the perimeters of what's "normal", I pride myself on giving each of my students a unique experience tailored made for them. I have learned EVERYTHING on the job, researching on my own what I needed to know.

I have always been embarrassed that I don't hold a degree. I can't believe I'm even admitting it now, but why should I be embarrassed? I'm a REALLY good teacher! Do you know how many teachers I have seen that hold fancy college diplomas be fired within the first couple of weeks because they couldn't hack it? I honestly can say after going into debt for a degree that I still don't have that the only class that perhaps helped me at all was my Children's Lit class? Everything else was a serious waste of time.

I am writing this post, because I wonder does it really matter that a teacher hold a degree? As a mom my first impulse is to say "YES! Of course!" But as a teacher knowing the behind the scenes of the daily grind, I would say "NO. I don't think so."

I really want to hear what you all have to say about this topic. Please comment.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Motivational Tid Bits

Someone told me recently that I should be a motivational speaker and I laughed! 

Yah, right. The last time I checked, I can't even motivate myself to go to the gym. Motivate a work force? I don't think so.

What I am,  is a realist with little patience for stupidity. I am also a highly self motivated person who strives for excellence while being passionate and determined to get the job done right.

I guess you can tell from my general snarkyness that I've had it a bit rough. My childhood/teenage years were far from serene. From an early age I was on my own and I had a fierce independent streak.

As I see it - the general population can be divided into 2 categories. Those who say, bad things happen to me so I deserve - give me. And those who say, bad things happened to me, so I can sit and cry about it or I can get up and do something about it. Evidently, I fall into the latter group.

While recently visiting my mother in Long Beach, NY, a seal was found on the shore. My sister took my children down to scope out the action and she snapped this image.

That night on my way home to Jersey, my mind would wonder back to thinking about the seal. I know this will sound strange, but I kept looking at it through the seals point of view. Here you have a big fat seal looking out into the ocean. He knows that he has to get back in, but in order to do so he's got to wiggle his way there. See the seal has no legs to carry him. And although the distance from the shore to the ocean is not that far, for the seal it's tremendous. All I can think in my head while looking at the picture is the seal saying "Dude, really? I think I'll wait till the tide comes in to bring me back into the ocean."

It's so easy for each of us to be that beached seal. We can make tons of excuses as to why we shouldn't pursue our dreams or "get back into the ocean." We're too fat (ok that's mine), we have no skills, no degree, people may not take us seriously, ect....  It happens to be that this very afternoon I actually read a fascinating article about this very point from INC. Magazine entitled 15 Worst Excuses Not to Be an Entrepreneur. Didn't even have to go searching for it - came right up in my news feed :)

If you look around at the most successful people out there most of them DO NOT hold a degree from college. How many of your friends are actually working in the fields that they majored in? SO WHY ARE THEY SUCCESSFUL??? Because at the end of the day they believed in themselves and took a risk.

If you think of yourself as a small ant you will stay a small ant. 
The only person that has to believe in yourself is YOU

OY! Maybe I should be a motivational speaker =) 
Nah! I think I'll stay put painting and crafting away in my studio.

Till next time, 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Garden Party Kiddush

My baby is now 5 months old. Little Meira is growing into a beautiful sweet girl. 

There is a Jewish custom to hold a "kiddush" after the birth of a girl. "Kiddush" literally, "sanctification," is a blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. (Wikipedia) When you make a Kiddush, people come and give you brachos [blessings] for you and your daughter. They wish you Mazal Tov. They express all sorts of good wishes to the family and to the new baby. You can read more about it here.

I knew that I wanted to do the celebration in my backyard on a beautiful spring day. We have a really nice size backyard that would fit a lot of guests. The idea for a garden party soon evolved and so I began to make plans for my shabby chic kiddush.

 I love ETSY, it's a great source for inspirational ideas and a wonderful forum to purchase products directly from the crafters themselves. I decided to purchase the invitation and printable designs through paper+pip. She was great! Fast service and when we changed the date due to inclement weather she redid the invitation free!

I knew that I wanted to have TONS of flowers of all different varieties, but most importantly I wanted hydrangeas. I bought a bunch of mason jars in different shapes and sizes, painted them up and distressed them to make them look old and warn out. You can see how I did this in my older blog post - Shavuot Crafting. 
I used Papaya Events for all of my flowers, table clothes, tables, and chairs. Papaya is a full scale event production and rental company. They also have a local boutique floral shop (Passaic, NJ) that offers a variety of GORGEOUS floral arrangements. Devorah Deutsch the owner of Papaya Events was so awesome to collaborate ideas with!  Not only was she extremely helpful, but she was able to bend to my vision and go with all my crazy creative ideas. 

So the next thing I did was have my kids paint bird houses for me. I thought it would go with the whole vintage, shabby chic, garden party theme. I also picked up some pretend books from Michaels (thank God they were 40% off that week!). While I was there, I also got a bunch of wooden crates in a variety of sizes. I knew all of these things would be great do display the food on.  

I also made a bunch of cake plates from martini glasses and plates. I got the project idea from here.

Now the Kiddush was to be on Saturday, as an Orthodox Jew we do not use camera's or anything electric on the Sabbath. So please note that these photographs below were taken the day before the event - on Friday.


Kiddush Color Scheme - Burlap and Dusty Rose table clothes and a variety of shabby chic napkin.

A pretty sign on our fence "It's a Girl" 

Tissue Paper Flower Pom Pom's in our trees. 

A close up of the pom pom


Here is a close up of those sweet little flags in the watermelon. Too cute.

I had the cupcakes made by Malya's Sweet Treats. It was seriously like eating a cloud. They were so good.

Refrigerator stuffed with yummy foods for the Kiddush!
For the Kiddush we served tons of salads, fruits, and desserts. We had a veggie platter with chumus along with those super tasty pita chips. I got some potato kugels from our local take out store Main Ingredient. Daniel the owner was not only extremely helpful getting me checked out real quick on a busy Friday afternoon at the store, but he intuitively knew what I needed - A true gem! Thankfully people dropped off yummy baked goods and treats (I don't bake). There were so many desserts, there wasn't enough room to display it all! Malya from Malya's Sweet Treats, a local cupcake designer, made me my cupcakes. She was so open to my vision and the cupcakes came out better then I could have ever imagined. They tasted unbelievable!

All in all it was a beautiful party and we had over 200 guests show up. Yes, the clean up was a mighty big job, but it was certainly worth it. I can't wait to design another event soon!

- Abbey