#466: The Spreadsheet

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When I was still working as a literacy interventionist in Norwalk, I made a spreadsheet that kept track of my students’ test scores as well as their previous scores and anything else that would be relevant to that. I used spreadsheets as an English teacher as well, as they helped me formulate my ideas and make sure I kept all my plans in line. I also used them to keep track of IEPs and 504s and other important legal documentation. As a teacher, there’s no shortage of important documentation you have to keep on you at all times. The profession has become incredibly stressful in that sense, and you’re always expected to have some deep knowledge of every single person who walks through the door. Just realistically speaking, that’s impossible for one human brain to handle at one time. Fortunately for me, I left teaching before it became too much of a burden on my psyche. I got out before it got me, essentially. Hopefully things stay that way in the future while I look for another job in the meantime.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of jobs seem to ask for intricate knowledge of spreadsheets and Excel, as well as Microsoft Office. It’s an important skill to have knowledge of if you’re trying to market yourself.

I’m no expert when it comes to manipulating data and spreadsheets, but I’m definitely familiar with them and the software that accompanies them. They’re basically hardwired into my brain as the most efficient way of organizing information in an online software. Being the kind of person who’s a bit disorganized in the head from time to time, it can be nice to have something out there that actually serves to help you, instead of hinder you and the way your brain tends to work.

#463: The Spite

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It’s a shame that I have to mention this, but never act out of spite. It’s dangerous and can possibly ruin your reputation with people. It can ruin morale in the workplace, and ruin the happiness of students who work tirelessly for you. It’s a real shame because I feel that there are so many good, well-intentioned students who go to school every day, who struggle with what they do and work hard regardless, who want help and receive it from time to time. It’s our job to make sure they are treated fairly and equitably, and that our decisions are always in the best interests of kids. That’s why, when I decided it was time I leave my job and move on, it came as a surprise to me that people would instead choose to spite me over the needs of their own students.

When you act in such a way that damages yourself more than it damages the other person, who really won the exchange? What was gained from it, after all? Did it really serve to better the needs of students in the grand scheme of things? That’s what I would like to know, more than anything else.

School is meant to be a place of learning and investing in education, and yet so often do leaders and administrators act in such a way that completely contradicts the message of their school.

This is the life I currently live. I’m a victim of other people’s spiteful, terrible decisions, and as a result of that, I feel like my life has kind of started to unravel around me. Thankfully, I feel at the moment like this is at least a chance for a new opportunity. I don’t necessarily have to see this as the abrupt end of the world for myself.

#406: The Graduation

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This won’t be about graduating and the process of graduating; rather, this will be about the amazing episodes of The Adventure Zone that Alex and I have been listening to recently. Having the opportunity to listen to podcasts with Alex has been wonderful. It’s become sort of a bonding experience between us, where even though Alex has already listened to the episodes before, we get to talk together and share experiences together. One of the things we’re working on is doing more stuff together, whether that’s watching shows together, enjoying dinner together, or listening to podcasts together while we do other things in the meantime.

Currently, there is an encounter going on in the training tavern, involving the skeletons and the main party. They’re attempting a heist, and there’s this peaceful music playing in the background, and it’s all such a nice, pleasant atmosphere. When I play D&D with my after-school group, it’s always chaotic, hectic, and over the top. The students are so devoted to their characters, but they don’t really role-play as much as I would like. They try to meta-game very hard, which is fun at times but it doesn’t always end up in a smooth story line.

In The Adventure Zone, they are devoted to their characters and role-playing together. They have rich, deep backstories and they’re woven into the overarching story seamlessly, like when Argo’s backstory is mentioned by Jackal in episode two and he’s teased about what he’s potentially hiding from other people. I am a huge fan of this style of storytelling.

Currently, I’m learning about Squarespace, which I already used to create a website back when I was unemployed last year. It was as easy as it seemed, but unfortunately the website is no longer in service because I don’t need it any more. I have another job!

#389: The Retail

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Buying a laptop made me think about what it’s like to work on Black Friday, a terrible time for anyone who’s ever had to endure that brand of torture. Also, in the Discord server I’m in, there were people talking and sharing about their annoyances related to working these next couple of days. While I’m glad I no longer have to work as a retail worker, like in my time at Target and Rite Aid, I don’t get paid over holidays like this because I’m technically not working. The same goes for over winter break, because I’m technically a part-time employee.

Working as a part-time employee of Rite Aid sucked, and I hated retail. I’m not the kind of person who likes working with other people, and I much prefer having the option to just seclude myself and do my work separately from everyone else. Now that I have a new laptop, I feel like I can actually work from home a bit more reliably too, even though my current job doesn’t necessitate working from home. I wish it did, though, as I would love to be able to complete work here, and I would be so much more relaxed. I would wake up on time, do everything on time, and relax without worrying about having to get up from my apartment!

Unfortunately, the people who are working during Thanksgiving and Black Friday have to be there regardless of their whims. These are some of the bravest, most valiant people going today, and I believe in them. They have to deal with people at their most barbaric and voracious, hungering for sales with coupons in hand. Holidays be damned, they’re focused on those sales over everything else.

This season in general is hell for retail workers, so I sympathize with them immensely. Give them respect and please be patient with them during this season.

#383: The Tutor

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Essentially, my job is about tutoring. I feel like, as a tutor, my work entails teaching small groups of kids basic, fundamental facts that they need to know about literacy, while hoping to improve their literacy skills. It’s not easy to just jump into tutoring someone without knowing them first, but I have experience tutoring kids of all types and ages. I worked with high school students who were freshman and seniors, and I worked with third and fourth graders. These experiences came before I even started teaching officially, which is why, after I decided to leave teaching, I went back into tutoring as a potential career option. This gives me the opportunity to work in a school schedule, with school hours and days and what not, without having to worry about being a full-time teacher. I do wish, at times, that I was working full-time, that way I could receive the same benefits as other people, but to me, there are worse things I could be dealing with, I guess. My job works for me as is.

But back to being a tutor. Later today, I’ll be visiting fourth grade to tutor some students. We’ll be working on vocabulary as well as developing their reading comprehension. On the one hand, I’m happy to help kids make noticeable improvements, but on the other hand, I’m not sure how much I’m actually helping, when standardized tests are what we are using to judge their improvement. It feels like standardization has taken over the world of education, leaving it impossible for students to develop naturally. I wish things were a bit less standardized and a bit more individualized, where students are given opportunities to develop themselves outside of rigid formats and outlines. But that’s just me. I know I’m not alone on that, however.

#382: The Review

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Here’s a question I’ve thought about but haven’t come to an answer yet. Should I review games more professionally? Like, as an actual game reviewer, rather than just talking about them briefly and then casting them aside in a blog post to be remembered possibly years later?

I’ve thought about this before, but it’s never really resonated the most with me. I think part of the reason for that is because of how toxic the community involving game reviews can be. It’s not like if I put out a score, everyone in the world is going to throw down and attack me, but it’s more like, scoring something naturally invites opposing viewpoints and criticism. I don’t know if I’m necessarily looking forward to that aspect of reviewing.

When I first started writing opinion articles for Quad News in college, I did so under the impression that not many people were reading them, if at all. When I finally got my first comment on a post, it was overwhelmingly negative and contested the ideas I was positing completely. I felt like I was being personally attacked by the comment, even though it wasn’t necessarily directed at me more than it was directed at what I was saying. There is, of course, a difference between all of these things. Opinion articles aren’t the same as video game reviews, but they all depend on the premise of writing about your personal experience. Your experience can’t be wrong, and it can be different from other people, but people like to argue and nitpick and contest things for the very sake of it. Diving into that kind of professional work might prove to be too much of a task for me, but I’m interested in exploring it regardless, as a way of branching out my writing even more.

#381: The Absence

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Being absent for a day can feel great and rejuvenating. I love the feeling of staying home when there’s supposed to be work, even though I know it might feel bad and unproductive as well. However, being absent on a day that might be extra stressful can fill me with joy. I love the opportunity to sit at home and do nothing, as it can be incredibly rejuvenating and helpful to my mental health. There’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, and I feel like there’s always room for more.

I mention all this because, as I write this, one of the co-teachers for R&P is absent today, and I have to teach his class at the end of the day. I’m fine doing that, but it’s the other side of absences; when someone is out, another person has to fill that space or spot. It’s not enough to just expect a completely calm day when you’re absent. Things on the other side are difficult for the people who require you to be there. Being absent means someone else has to fill the void, and even though you’re having fun staying home, not everyone has the same luxury afforded to them when they’re free for the day. Some people have kids and have to take care of them, or they only are able to take sick days when their kids are sick. I know a few teachers who save their personal time specifically so they can take care of their kids, for example, and I can’t imagine having to do that. Like it makes sense, of course, but on the same token, I feel like I need that time for myself, too. What would I do without it?

That’s all for absences today. Hopefully this all makes sense and doesn’t just come off as me rambling about how much I love not being at work. Sometimes it’s really a mixture of everything, and I just need to relax.

#366: The Math Day

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Math days aren’t fun. I don’t know math as well as I used to; I don’t remember the formulas for completing long division and advanced multiplication on paper. I just complete them in my head, and I do it the long way. If I’m multiplying 60 * 510, I’ll multiply 60 * 500 first and add 60 * 10 to the end of it. It’s just easier for me to do things that way, even if it’s more complicated in the long run. Being able to complete that level of complicated math just isn’t part of my day to day life, and if I need to figure something like that out, I just google it instead. It’s tough to justify teaching quantitative literacy in our current world environment, although it is important regardless.

Math days aren’t fun because I have to pretend to know more math than I actually know. I have to walk around and help people who need help, when in reality I’m the person who needs help on this stuff the most. It’s a bit complicated, having to learn and relearn and remember what I was taught in middle and high school, then teaching that back to other people. It all happens pretty much on the spot, regardless of what else I’m doing. I have to think on my feet, adapt to whatever situation is presented in front of me, and move quickly, especially because I’m in mostly unfamiliar territory. I don’t normally work in the math room; more often than not, I’m either in the computer lab, the humanities room, or between 4th and 5th grade. My schedule doesn’t allow me to spend much time in either math or science, so thankfully I’m not usually expected to know those subjects as much as I have to know and follow along with humanities. That’s just one of the perks of my job.

#357: The Week Ahead, Part 1

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This blog post will go up on Wednesday I think, but I’m writing it on Sunday from the perspective of someone who’s reflecting on a crazy, ridiculous week into the future. A week that’s going to test me and make me stressed out, undoubtedly, but will hopefully give me the chance to reflect on my current job and my happiness there. For that, I’m grateful for the opportunity and hopeful that the future will benefit things further. I just need to push through this week and then hopefully things will be better on the other side!

So, here’s the deal. On Monday, also known as tomorrow for me but two days in the past when this goes up, I’ll be substituting for math the whole day because both the math teacher and math title 1 assistant have personal days planned for that day. What that means is that they needed to pull another assistant from the same building into math to help the regular math assistant teach the class as normal. I just hope he knows everything and understands the rules and all that so I can help him out, rather than having to lead everything myself. Usually when this sort of pairing up happens, one assistant takes the lead and the other naturally takes the assistant role again. When I’m working in Research & Portfolio for example, I tend to submit into the assistant role until Sean is out, and then I tend to take over the teacher role because I’m in all the R&P classes and know it a bit better than the others. That’s one of the natures of this job. It can be frustrating and weird sometimes, but it is what it is and I’m grateful in some ways that I’m being paid at all these days.

#352: The Cover Letter

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Writing cover letters is an intricate process. I mention this because, be that as it may, I have been applying to new jobs recently and have had to write some cover letters as part of the job application process. They’re never easy, but here I’ll be discussing a few of the ways that I’ve gone about writing cover letters in the past. I hope that this proves useful or helpful to someone.

    1. First and foremost, I like to keep in mind that I should be telling a story through the cover letter. Not a narrative with conflict and plot, but a cohesive, consistent story of my career path, without any gaping holes or red flags present, and without covering anything up. To some, that might be hard, but in the end it’s necessary.
    2. I also like to organize my story around valuable traits and responsibilities that the hiring manager included on the job application sheet. If it says that the ideal candidate has to have so and so traits, I like to make sure I mention why I believe I possess those traits in my cover letter, with examples to support them.
    3. Finally, I like to demonstrate total politeness, maturity, respect, and understanding for the place I am applying to. If you haven’t gone on their website and looked at their mission yet, you’re missing out on some valuable diction to put into your cover letter. If they’re insistent about taking personal responsibility for your actions, use your cover letter as a platform to discuss a time when you took personal responsibility in a meaningful way.

That’s about it from me. I hope you learned a thing or two about writing cover letters here. If not, I’ll try better on the next go around. Overall, though, cover letters are about telling stories about your life.