February’s Reflections + March’s Intentions

Posted by Rae on March 1, 2015 | 4 responses

Remember me? Although my presence around the blogosphere hasn’t been too apparent, I’ve been getting a lot of things done behind the scenes. February was good to me. I honestly can’t complain too much about all that has occurred. With all of the good, I’m finding it so much harder to focus on the few bad days that I’ve had.

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I think my biggest accomplishment for February was my acceptance of an opportunity to teach Algebra I sessions to the underserved community, which I talked about in my previous post. I had so many doubts before accepting this duty, mainly because of my disdain for math altogether, but algebra is the only math that I sorta appreciate and enjoy. I was off this Saturday and every 4th Saturday of the month — which gives me ample time to lay in bed all day and watch House of Cards get my future lessons together and organize my lesson plans and prepare for March.

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For March, I’m mostly planning for my sister’s wedding and getting my thesis together. I received some good news earlier last week where I may still be able to participate in our spring commencement ceremony. But if not, I’ll finish when I do. I’ve learned that theses cannot be rushed at. all. The thesis must be respected yall. I ain’t lying.

Besides those two things, and a few projects that I’ve been exerting much of my energy towards (I’ll go into detail at a later date), I really want to continue progressing in other aspects of my life.

+ Constant Release Therapy. I’m pulling this one from Dara and her February Goals post. I, too, get so involved with different projects–from teaching, to my full time job as an Application Test Analyst, to photoshoots, and this blog. I want to try to devote more time a week to all of my part time gigs.

+ Read More Books. According to my Currently Reading section to the right, I’ve been reading The Happiness Project for what.. a year now? LOL! Lately, the only things that I’ve had time to read are Release Notes for new builds, emails, and theses and white papers about robotics. I can typically read about 5 books in a weekend, but my day-to-day activities prevent me from reading as many. But I still want to at least read one book a week, or every other week if I can. At least then, I can get through my To Read stack that’s been resting for quite some time on my nightstand.

+ Physical Health. I haven’t been able to get to the gym like I’ve planned due to a root canal, but I have chosen cleaner and healthier foods to consume, increased my water intake, and I’ve been trying to get as much sleep as possible.

+ Financial Health. I’ve been doing a pretty good job with saving as much as I can. I’ve always been good at separating what we want versus what we need, but I’m much, much better at it. Probably because of my annoying, inconsiderate, loud, trashy neighbors — but that’s a post for another day. The disdain is SO real.

+ Mental & Spiritual Health. This has to be one of my most elite of goals every month. With everything that goes on around me, it’s SO easy to get distracted and let certain things affect you. I’ve decided to completely eliminate my social media intake during the week. And I wish I would have done it much sooner. It’s working so well that I may eventually delete all of them. (keyword: may) Doing this has left me with so much more time to get things done, the ability to be more focused and present in my moments, and has allowed me to escape from the nonsense.

I also created a planner back in December and it is working wonders for me. I think what I like most about the planner I created is my Gratitude section and my weekly page for Sundays to have my time with God. I’ll blog more about my reasoning at a later time as well.

Here’s to a new month. Happy March, guys! This year is truly flying!

March baby, be good to me!

On teaching the underserved youth

Posted by Rae on February 22, 2015 | 5 responses

I woke up before the sun today. That seems to be the normal thing these days. Life has been quite eventful in both good and bad ways. My thesis has been pushed back again, but all for good reason in my opinion. I started a new instructional journey on the weekends with my university’s upward bound program. The program provides additional instructional assistance for high school students. And while this program is supposed to be a supplement, after conversing and working with my students, I’m finding that it’s just the opposite. I discovered that for majority of the children, this is their main source of obtaining all the information they can as their schools are lacking in that area. And while I’m not happy that these students are in this type of situation, I am happy that I have the opportunity to help get them caught up and on track.

I was explaining this theory to a friend and he pretty much downgraded my duty. “Oh so you don’t really teach anywhere important” .. “you teach hoodlums and gangbangers” or something of that nature. I wasn’t appalled. This is what he usually does. Maybe it was just a joke – but for the record, I’ve NEVER made any remarks similar to the ones that he makes when he shares his accomplishments with me. Only a few people have really supported my decision to teach Algebra I for this program. And most of these few aren’t my friends.

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But they don’t see what I see. Half of them don’t even believe that giving back to their community would make any difference so I don’t expect them to understand why I do what I do. But what tore at my heartstrings was the stereotypes some of them applied to the program. It was automatically assumed that because this program is geared toward low-income households, that the students were outlaws and troublemakers. That they aren’t intelligent, capable, and impressionable young adults.

In the past, I’ve taught robotics for a program for high school students where their families were able to afford to pay a hefty fee for their spot in the program. I still loved the program but I often thought about how many students would LOVE to do this but couldn’t afford it. Working for this program gives me a change to reach those particular students that were in my thoughts.

The kids and I have built a decent rapport already. They are respectful and understand that when I say it’s time to be serious, it is time to be serious. I try to make math as fun as math can be — I don’t want to be a tyrant where they do what I tell them to do because they have to do so. I’m starting to see that they do what they’re told out of respect and because it’s fun. They actually believe math is fun. LOL! We joke around, we clown, we laugh — I try to make the environment as welcoming to questions as I can.

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I try to create an environment where we address all doubt without embarrassment. And I think it’s working. Yesterday was our second session and they were much more open and talkative and responsive with me. I teach three different classes and none of them wanted to leave for their next class. Two students actually begged me to write a note so they could stay — in Algebra. Go figure. And that one student who just seemed so hopeless during our first session had a smile on his face and providing much more input this time around.

On a lighter note, my true friends, they get it and at least I know who they are now. And maybe the fact that I understand the phrase “Elevation requires Separation” even more now is a post for another day. Or maybe I can write more about this for my independent study course and that’ll lead to a conference where I can present my findings and observations. But right now, I’m writing this just to release the frustration. I’m writing this hoping that perhaps somebody out there understands. Not for praise. Not for recognition. Just understanding. And prayers — prayers that the words from others who may not get it, never deter me or poison my spirit.

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