Posted in Faith, Houston, Life

Just a Kid From Cleveland: First Year down in Houston!!!

Ever since I was a kid, I KNEW I wanted to experience all that life had to offer outside of Cleveland. I knew I would someday live in another place. And finally after a lifetime of wondering what it’d be like, a chance suddenly arrived, for me to do just that.

1 Year ago I arrived in H-Town, with everything that could fit in my car…ready to begin a new chapter of my life, career, but still very much in the midst of closing the previous chapter…I was excited and nervous all at the same time. On a whim I applied to a job (shoutout to my childhood friend who encouraged it!) and GOT IT. Next thing I knew I had 10 days (give or take) to move to Houston…and I arrived here on July 3rd, to begin a new chapter! 

 
WHEW words cannot even begin to describe how AMAZING this last year has been and how much HELL I went through this last year, professionally and personally.
 
I’ve experienced some AMAZING times here so far! I’ve:

-won tickets to see Peabo Bryson/Jeffrey Osborne
-seen Brian Courtney Wilson in concert (gospel singer, one of my FAVORITES)

-survived a Hurricane
-sat through HOURS of Houston Traffic LOL
-gone to a carnival randomly
-rode my bike through downtown Houston
-been to a Houston Astros game when they played the Indians
-lived on both the north and southside of Houston (and prefer the Southside lol)
-made some INCREDIBLE friends
-joined an AMAZING church, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
-taught the BEST group of kids ever, class of 2024
-been to Galveston and San Antonio

And the list. goes. on. that was only a partial list. lol

 
Not only have my friends back in The Land been INCREDIBLY supportive from a distance, but I’ve made met some AMAZING women here that I’m proud to call friend whose kids have also befriended my son this summer…I promise Houston has spoiled me in SO many ways lol. I’ve grown SOOOOO much as a woman, a mother, a teacher…part of me wishes I’d came here sooner but the other part of me knows God’s timing is PERFECT! As I’m getting ready to leap into the unknown yet again (details when the ink is dry lol) I am Looking forward to what this next year has in store for me!
 
#JustakidfromCleveland
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Buffalo Bayou Park, July 2017 Photo taken by: MissDei
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Posted in Faith, Life, purpose, Spirituality

Teaching…a calling? Hmmm

They never lied when they said don’t chase purpose, purpose will find you.

I said before that I was a latecomer to teaching, meaning I knew I was supposed to be teaching awhile back, but held out to gain more experiences in different areas.

This year tried me in MANY MANY ways. SO many days I wanted to quit.

If you asked me at the beginning of the year, or even the middle of the school year, if teaching was a calling for me…I would have said no. I knew I loved teaching, but did I feel teaching was a calling?

Absolutely not. Even as recent as a few weeks ago, I still wasn’t sure.

But now? Having finished my first year of teaching and facing another major transition, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now. Trust, I tried to look for other jobs. I tried to convince myself I wasn’t cut out for this, I tried to see myself doing something else.

But I could not.

As of right now I DEFINITELY view teaching as a calling for me, but I also am wondering what kind of mark I’ll leave, what kind of impact I’ll have on my students. I see all the other teachers on social media and they all have their thing they are known for. Some have started non profit organizations, others are coaches, motivational speakers, etc.

What will be my lane? I know I’m passionate about self-awareness and teaching my kids to speak up and advocate for themselves and what they need. I cannot wait to continue that and really refine it more as I move throughout my career.

But one thing I know for sure, my path will continue to unfold. I have unspoken dreams that I’ve barely mentioned to anyone that I’ve held close to me…I cannot wait to begin working on those dreams as well.

Life is full of twists and turns, I’m learning to learn as much about myself as I can, use it to my advantage, and to relinquish control in this great adventure called life.

Posted in Life

2017-A Year of Change

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2017 was a year for the books.

I started the year unemployed, living 10 min away from my childhood home, with my son. I’m ending the year in a new career as a middle school teacher, in Texas, 1300 miles away from my son.

If I only had time to tell you everything that happened in between. But it’s not fully my story to tell at the moment…so it will have to wait.

I’ve learned of God’s grace and mercy over and over and over this year. I’ve been blessed to have an incredible support system that tells me the truth whether I like it or not, and loves on me even when I feel like I don’t deserve it.

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There’s alot I don’t know about what my life will look like when the dust settles. But I’m learning to embrace change, and to not fear it. I’m learning to love ALL parts of Dei…flaws and all. The unconventional parts. The parts that I think don’t deserve love…are the parts that need love the most.

In 2017 I:
Was unemployed, filed for divorce, applied for COUNTLESS jobs for MONTHS before finally landing one…in another state…I drove 20+ hrs to Houston with my godsis, began a new career as a middle school teacher and discovered…I love teaching middle school! Survived my first hurricane, hosted my first friend/visitor in Houston right afterwards, traveled to San Antonio and Galveston, met new sorors & friends, grew closer to line sisters. Found a new church home in Houston. The move to Houston itself was surely an adventure and I’m finally beginning to settle in here.

In 2018 I want to:

Learn to accept myself fully, complete my first year of teaching and return for a second, earn my teacher certification, travel more, restructure my finances to begin to chip away at debt and plan for the next phase of life after divorce, get fit and run a 5K, enjoy my first full summer in Houston. Continue to make new friends here and keep in touch with loved ones in Ohio.

Andddd with that being said…2017…it’s a wrap.
2018, I’m ready for you. ❤

Posted in Education, Life

Adventures of a First Year Middle School Teacher-Semester 1 is DONE!

I still remember the first day I started teaching. I was naive. I didn’t think I needed to do routines and procedures practice with my kids. I thought I could just tell them and they’d remember.

Clearly, I’d never worked with kids before.

There were so many things I wanted to do as a first year teacher, during my first semester.

And then right after the eclipse in August, by that Wednesday, we’d gotten word that a hurricane was headed our way. By that Thursday it was predicted that it’d be a strong category 4, maybe even a category 5, possibly worse than Katrina. We joked that we’d still have school on Friday. But when they cancelled school, we knew it was serious.

I spent most of that next week, worried about my kids I’d just met but fallen in love with. Were they okay? Did any of them deal with flooding and lose valuable belongings? How many of them would return to my school or be forced to relocate due to the hurricane?

Fortunately most of them would return but a few of them had been affected by the hurricane. As soon as we returned we had to hit the ground running to make up for lost time.

And everything I wanted to do, went out the window, because, I had to prepare them for testing and cover lost ground. In the midst of all of that I had my own personal stuff going on. I moved immediately after Hurricane Harvey into a new spot and had to fly back and forth to Cleveland to take care of some business and see family, in the midst of me teaching.

To put it simply, I had ALOT going on my first semester of teaching. I struggled with classroom management and pacing and faced a steep learning curve of lesson design. I put in long days of lesson planning and procrastinated with grading. There’s SO much to juggle in teaching, it is truly a juggling act that takes lots of practice and preparation.

It is now the end of the first semester and I can honestly say, I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of my students. Gains are happening, even if they aren’t huge. Many of my kids came to me reading grades below the grade they are actually in and many of them are catching up or are caught up. I actually can make it through a lesson now (I couldn’t say that in September or even October)!

But the biggest lesson I learned, is grace. Grace with myself, and with my students. I look at my students when they ask me why I cant be more like Ms. ____________ or Mr. ______________.

But they’re not asking me to be JUST like the other teachers. They’re asking me to be more of myself. To find those parts deep down inside that my kids need. The humor they need in the midst of not so exciting material. The strictness and structure that provides not just boundaries, but safety. And most importantly…the love they need to grow not just academically but emotionally, and socially as well.

All in all, my first semester of teaching was an adventure. I learned alot. I have alot ahead of me for next semester, as I prepare my kiddos for state testing and moving on to the 7th grade. It’s TOUGH but…I love what I do.

Posted in Education, Life, Uncategorized

No Place I’d rather be…

First Year Teacher Struggles

Classroom management…if I can just get these kids to BE QUIET!!!! I love them dearly, but geez…can y’all wait til I’m done teaching before y’all talk? I promise I don’t stand in front of them long!

How can I engage them in a way that is interesting to them so they will want to listen?

Comparison…comparing myself to other teachers does my students (as well as myself) a great disservice. There’s only one Ms. G…and when I’m too busy comparing myself to others, trying to be something other than me…my kids miss out. My kids need the authentic Ms. G. Not someone trying to be another teacher.

Content struggles. Ahhhhh poetry. Poetry, like much other forms of writing, is an art form. And its’ interpretation is subjective. Trying to figure it out in order to answer questions so I can teach my kids how to answer questions the way the writer writes them? Can we say frustration?

100 minutes. 100 minutes of engaging my kids. Many different levels of learning in one class, 3 times a day. Many different personalities. Many different times of repeating myself, giving consequences, telling kids to stay in their seats, stop messing with another kid, etc.

And yet, I wouldn’t trade ANY OF IT.

Despite the struggles, my kids do actually learn something from me. and it feels good when they do.

My kids actually learn. And it means I teach. and I’m not half bad.

Well I’ll be damned.

And there’s no place I’d rather be!

Posted in Education, Life, Uncategorized

The Long Road Home-A Teacher’s Late Bloomer Story-The Intro

I knew I was supposed to become a teacher, 11 years ago.

11 years ago, I was a college sophomore at a community college in NE Ohio (which would later become my alma mater). I took a summertime math class with a brilliant black mathemetician, Dr. Bilal Bomani. Before his class, I was not really feeling math. I always felt like I was bad at it. Or bored. And I wasn’t looking forward to taking a summer math course. But soon as I stepped foot in his class, I knew this would be different. He wasn’t the first black math teacher I’d had but, he was definitely the first black math professor I’d had. And he told us from the first day that his class had one of the highest drop rates.

But I was determined. I had goals to reach. In order to transfer to the local university within a certain time frame (the following spring), I had to take and pass this particular math course. So here we go!

He was the first professor I had in college that pushed me, that challenged me. I was a naturally gifted writer, I loved reading, so most classes, especially English courses, were a breeze. But me and math, had always been at odds. He pushed us to practice and to think and never told us we couldn’t do it. He was firm yet encouraging. And I ended up getting an A in math for the first time EVER. I felt empowered. I felt like I could do anything if I put my mind to it. It was the best feeling ever. And I wanted others to experience that feeling. Because I knew there were so many other kids, especially black girls, who felt like I did. Who felt like they weren’t good at math.

And at that moment, I knew I wanted to become an educator. I actually almost went to school to become a middle school math teacher but the classes I needed to take, scared me away. Also I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to teach forever. But none of that mattered. I just needed to trust in what I knew and trust that God knew what the rest looked like.

What I didn’t understand at the time is that all I needed to worry about was taking that first step towards becoming an educator and trusting that the rest would be in God’s hands.

After college I worked for the government, in higher education, and for a non profit with after school programs before finally deciding to enter the classroom as a teacher. I was tired of feeling unfulfilled, of not making enough money, of not being able to have enough time with my son. I decided to finally try teaching.

The training during the summer that I went through, I was nervous as heck about teaching middle school, or just teaching in general.

But the moment I stepped in front of my sixth graders on the first day of school, power point clicker in hand, and opened my mouth…I knew I had [finally] come home.

Posted in Life, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Becoming

This time period in my life, has been something else.

Lots of tears shed, for sure. Lots of awkward growing pains.

Lots of moments I’ve wondered why, but never doubted being in the right place at the right time.

I didn’t know becoming would feel so…crazy. I didn’t know becoming would involve SO many sacrifices. I didn’t know becoming would cause me to take some risks that didn’t make sense to everyone, to confront my fears, to allow emotions to flow.

The whole ‘still waters run deep?’ Has been me for so much of my life.

My inner life is rich, one that I’ve kept others out of for SO long. Everyone cannot handle your vulnerability. Everyone doesn’t have the capacity to handle your pains, your fears, your tears, your doubts, your dreams, your laughter in times of sorrow. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just that we were not really created to carry so much of others’.

But one thing I’ve learned is that we work through our own pain and baggage, and as we do that, we create more space within us that increases our capacity to love others. And so many of us are in that space of becoming, and we don’t always know how to release.

When you get burned? You are afraid. Afraid to love again. Trust again. Afraid to ask for help. And often it’s not the burn from strangers that hurts. It’s the burn from loved ones that hurts the most.

I mean, how was I supposed to learn to love and trust again when the people I trusted the most, burned me?

But they didn’t know they burned me. They didn’t know they were running, on fire, from people who burned them, they just know they ran from dealing with the pain they needed to deal with, and in doing so, they hurt others in the process.

I realize now, while writing this, I owe some an apology, while running on fire. I didn’t know at the time I was not really ready to deal with the pain I’d experienced. And often it wasn’t the pain I thought, or others thought.

Hurt people, hurt people, but it’s not an excuse to do it.

It is an excuse to extend grace, and to practice self-care, however.

I’m learning that as I forgive myself, I’m able to forgive others. As I extend grace and love towards myself, I’m able to extend the same towards others.

Becoming isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

Becoming the best Dei, is an ongoing process. It began several years ago, and this move has profoundly impacted how I see the world, both inside of me and out of it. It has changed the way I feel, the way I process, the way I let others in, as well as the way I keep others out. It has changed how and when and who I draw boundaries with.

I am becoming me, still. I didn’t know it would be SO intense. Even though I may be pretty talkative, I still process within FIRST before sharing with others. Most often, I may not share with others, and if I do, it’s with a select few, that I can usually count on one of my hands. And I hate to admit it but this isn’t always family.

There’s so much more I want to write but for now, I will end this by saying, as we all become, at different paces, I hope we are sensitive to the fact that everyone’s becoming looks different. I also hope we can extend grace towards others, but draw boundaries when necessary and show love and extend grace to ourselves first and foremost.

 

Oh and this picture below is a beautiful reflection pool I found here in Houston…represents peace. Calm. Stillness. For myself. Find whatever that looks like for you in the midst of becoming for now. It may change over time. Be okay with that.

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