Figuring This All Out: Brand, Business, and Marketing

One of the realest things I read so far on this road to entrepreneurship is that THERE IS A LOT OF BAD INFORMATION OUT THERE!

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Now one would think that with 10 years of traditional classroom teaching, six years of active duty military service, and six degrees (2 associates, B.A., MPA, Ed.S. and an Ed.D.), I should be where I want to be. Wrong…Wrong…Wrong! I’m trying to crack the self-publishing market and offer a message to aspiring and new teachers (THAT IS MY PURPOSE—To Inspire!)

When I initially wrote my first book, My Fourth Year In Middle School: The Truth About Teaching, I was and still am completely behind on not doing enough to properly market my book to get it into the hands of the people that I feel could benefit from it the most.

I would attribute writing this book to being just like the formative years of education because in my first three years I learned A LOT.   Mostly through trial and error and faulty circumstances.  But in those first years I found my purpose and knew that I have a lot to offer as an educator.  As an individual.  As a person who is not afraid to make mistakes and take a risk.

Since the release of my book in July 2016, I still want to do more with it.  I am almost desperate to do more with it because I know that there is some really good information embedded inside to keep teachers motivated.  Now I’ll be honest, I have definitely taken some heat for my book but this was about some real stuff that I experienced as a new teacher.  Much like my recollection of a having a teacher tell me I’d never be successful; I never wanted a child to feel that way about themselves in my classroom. I do not want new teachers feeling left out and ostracized unnecessarily… even with the good support of my mentor teacher, I felt alone when I started teaching.  So I ask myself, was I supposed to paint a pretty picture of the people that were hard on me or was I supposed to tell my TRUTH.

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MY BOOK AT A GLANCE

Year One: This was the toughest year ever and I remember feeling like I was being tested to see if I could really hang in there with my high poverty stricken kids.  But the thing about the students is that once I won them over, they were not the problem.  IT WAS THE ADULTS.  I cried a lot that first year because I felt like I was failing miserably at teaching.  During pre-planning I had been whispered about because of a skirt that I thought was appropriate, but clearly it wasn’t.  I felt so embarrassed by my assets…the skirt was long but that wasn’t the problem.  I was body shamed before body shaming was a thing.

Dealing With Divorce: My first marriage fell apart during my second year of teaching.  I was holding on by a thread.  I had had a huge fight with my husband, got a mugshot for bursting out his truck window, separation, and watching the security I once felt in my marriage be shattered.  All of this was going on while my boys were toddlers (Lil Phil-5, Preston-3). I was home alone with my two boys, cooking for them, dropping them off at daycare, working my full-time teaching job—stressing and wondering when my husband was going to come back home.  HE DIDN’T! The divorce was finalized September, 2011!

Is This Really Happening: So many things happened to me in a few short years that I am blown away at the fact that I’m still in the classroom.  I admit my very first administrator was hands down the bomb.  She had very high expectations and as a new teacher  I had no choice but to meet them.  I’m extremely proud of my results after my first year of standardized testing…I can boast that 97% of my students passed the Criterion Referenced Competency  Test (Phased out CRCT).  But I dealt with a different administrator my 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of teaching that was so passive, it was difficult to feel productive under his leadership.  I dealt with my car being stolen from the school campus my 5th year and instead of being sympathetic his reaction was, “It was a simple repossession.”  That made my blood boil, and I knew it was time to GO!

A Different Perspective: Transferring to a different school was what I thought I needed and while I was yet again able to foster relationships with my students…I also had to deal with adults.  I will say that I am brash and unfiltered at times, but I’m committed to my stance on things, and that doesn’t make me wrong; it makes me passionate about my kids.  I respect other people’s opinions, but I think I have run into others not really respecting mine.  In my ten short years, I have dealt with court cases with my now second ex-husband in 2014, the murder of my half-brother in 2015, middle of the year moves from one content/classroom to another in 2016, and truly feeling undervalued for my experience and knowledge. In a one on one conversation about leadership I once told an administrator, “Your perspective is skewed by what you think you know about me.  Until you see me or in action, you have no idea what I’m capable of.  I take my content very seriously.  I’m not changing!  But you’d have to talk to me to know that.”

Even through all of that I have experienced, the nonconstructive criticisms, and being told I’m not qualified or experienced enough to be an academic coach I still forge ahead.  I’ve also been told I’m “social media heavy”, whatever that means.  I mean, is this the wave?!?!?  Criticize others for the moves they are making because you are not making them yourself?!?!?

Yes my career is teaching but my vision is much bigger than being in a classroom forever.  I refuse to be one dimensional.  Just as I heard today…not everyone wants you to be successful.  I’m building my platform one blog, discussion, experience, post, and video at a time.  I am not a traditional teacher…I have a bit of an edge about me and I’m not afraid to share my experiences.

As I’m figuring this all out I know that the LaTilya Rashon brand and PSB2 Publishing  will rise as I coach myself through the necessities.

To learn more about my self-published titles please check me out here.  Be sure to connect with me on social media.

Be sure to share and leave a comment.  Thanks for reading.cropped-20170110_153240-e14840823819536.png

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3 Lessons I Have Learned Since Becoming A Teacher

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When I entered the field of education I had a five year plan which was quickly exceeded due to my determination and commitment to teaching.  I entered into the classroom not having the slightest clue about what to expect from my students but I learned very quickly.

I was certified through the Georgia Teacher Alterative Preparation Program (GATAPP) and I was taken aback by the amount of work that I had to do in order to gain my certification.  Let’s just be clear, there is a major difference in being traditionally trained through brick and mortar colleges of education and alternative programs.

I want to help new teachers acclimate to teaching and not be overwhelmed by the daily tasks and responsibilities and it is my hope that the lessons I’ve learned along the way will be helpful.

Today I am going to share my experience as I transitioned into teaching and how I found my calling in the classroom.  Come along for the journey!

Lesson 1: Transitioning Careers

In the back of my mind even in high school there was a thought that I would become a teacher.  I thought that I would major in English when I first went off to college and minor in Spanish because I had big dreams of completing a semester abroad in a Spanish country and broaden my horizons.  My educational journey didn’t quite happen that way.  I graduated high school in May of 2000, attended the University of Florida for a glorious year (July 2000-April 2001) then took a six year detour in the United States Air Force from August 2001 to August 2007 before ultimately landing in a middle school classroom.

I had big ideas when I first got out of the Air Force but much to my dismay those plans went to the left and I found myself unfulfilled in the civilian sector.

I’m a people person and while at times I can be off by myself rarely interacting with others and enjoying my life when I first got out of the military working for the Georgia Department of Human Services, that career path was not the choice for me.  So it made sense to plan an exit while still performing my duties as a Child Support Enforcement Agent.  I will be the first to say that the system is not fair and I saw a lot of struggling fathers do the best they could while some fathers simply dropped off the face of the earth.

Some of the noncustodial parents I encountered were decent in their efforts, but the office politics was enough to deter me from this career field and really put my education to work.  I knew that in the classroom I must showcase myself as a lifelong learner, and acquiring my master’s degree was a necessity.

I knew that my willingness to continue to learn was heavily influenced by my past teachers, and in transitioning careers, I wanted to give back to students what had been given to me in a positive way.

In my book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching I share an experience I had with a middle school teacher and a high school teacher that fed the fuel inside of me to let education be my escape.  I learned that education was my stepping stone to a better future and I wanted children to believe in themselves the way I had while matriculating through school.

When I found my way pursuing a teaching career the natural leader in me accepted my calling.  Read an excerpt of my journey hear:

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Lesson 2: Maintaining Balance When My Life Was Falling Apart

My first three months into teaching looked vastly different from my third year of teaching.  And even now here in my 10th year of teaching I’m still learning things but coping with the copious changes and trends in education by the day.

As a new teacher is very easy to become overwhelmed with lesson plans, professional development, additional duties such as being a club sponsor or coaching, but I had to take care of my mental stability at the same time.  No one told me that in the beginning there are long hours and none of those hours are paid overtime.  No one told me that I would be in a meeting almost daily.  And lastly no one told me that I had to learn how to separate my home life from my work life and focus on them one at a time.

Needless to say in my second year of teaching I grappled with separation and divorce and my two young sons were on an insane schedule that shifted them to daycare by 6:30 a.m. while I had to be to school by 7:15 a.m. daily.  I cried so much this particular year of teaching but I had to find balance.

I had a school me and I had an at home me.  At school I didn’t talk about my personal life with anyone really other than my gracious mentor because I didn’t want pity or for anyone to feel sorry for me.  But my face was telling of my troubles at home.  At home my sons watched me cry often then wipe the tears away and carry on with my day even though I was screaming on the inside.

I had a job to do and I had to do my job despite my emotions being all over the place.  My family was a priority and so was my career.  I found my balance in letting go of the things out of my control and let all of the work I was doing speak for itself.  My school obstacles became the backdrop to my career which led me to want to help new teachers.

People think teaching is about holidays and summers off.  But a lot of times we become second parents to the children we teach and have to fight off jealousy from other teachers in order to be effective.  My students always showed up for me because I never not showed up for them.

Lesson 3: I Found My Purpose and Niche

Over the course of the years of teaching, I have acquired multiple degrees.  As mentioned I exceeded my five year plan which was to obtain an educational specialist degree.  I completed that degree program entering my third year of teaching.  I had no educational pedagogy so I wanted to learn more about curriculum, instruction, and assessments.  Being a lifelong learner propels my energy to help, teach, speak, and write.

As a blogger and teacher, my journey inside and outside of the classroom has been impactful to those that have sought my help.  Writing is my purpose and education/teaching is my niche.  My platform is my classroom.  And my audience is those that want to hear my stories and follow my career and I surge into a bigger light.

My book, my journey, my transitions in life give me a story to tell and I want to share my story and experiences as often as possible.  I am my brand.  My career and writings are my baby.  New teachers, old teachers, brick and mortar schools and alternative preparation programs need a voice that speaks from experience.  I have not degreed myself out of positions.  Being a lifelong learned has positioned me to take the stage.

I love teaching and it is in my DNA.  Go read a free sample of my journey and share my experiences.  My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching is a worthwhile investment found on Amazon ($4.99 Ebook or $7.99 paperback).

Grab a book, leave a review.  Feed a writer!

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Now I Understand Why It Was Time To Move On

2214327028_55640546a9_oI remember as an 80’s baby wanting to dress, sing, and dance like Janet Jackson.  “I Miss You Much” and “Rhythm Nation” were bomb ass videos but I was always stuck on Janet’s wardrobe.  My mom actually bought me a pair of black patent leather police shoes, with a gold clip on the tip of the toes, and black ribbons as shoe strings.  You couldn’t tell me a damn thing when I got those shoes and when I wore the soles almost out and outgrew them, I knew it was time to let them go and move on.

My love for Janet Jackson in the late 80’s and early 90’s is like my love for my career.  New students and academic gains always excite me.  I’m like a mom each school term ready to see her new babies, but after repeating the same routine year after year, I felt began to myself at a standstill.

I refer often to my past blogs, but the 7 Things You Should Do In 2017 is in the top five of my favorite post because I knew that coming into this new I was going to have to do some things differently.  Therefore when I wrote 3 Step To Living A Better Life blog and did a vlog for it, step two brings me full circle in my understanding that it was time to grow past middle school.

In 2013 I transferred to a different middle school, same population of kids, but the family atmosphere and new leadership was what I was craving after being at my first middle school for five years.  I had not mastered every single teaching strategy, but I had done enough to be considered an exemplary teacher in the English/Language Arts (ELA) content.  In all honesty I just did not want to work under the same principal for a fourth year, and I was over him especially after my car was stolen from the school.  I was finishing up my last two classes towards my doctorate but as I was finishing those classes, my attitude began to shift.

Since my first year of teaching in 2008, I always gave my students 110% of my energy in the classroom because I was eager and wanted them to achieve academically.  Well I felt my fire burning out, and the quality of work from my students began to diminish.  The last thing I wanted to do was give up on my students or my career.  The wheels in my head began to turn and after two years in my new school then the merge, I found myself right back in my old school removed from ELA but teaching reading.  In my heart I was unfulfilled.

There was a lot of miscommunication the year of the merger and even though I was able to get my proposal approved and move to the next step working on my Internal Review Board (IRB).  I felt like a zombie going into year eight.  Nothing felt the same and I had become complacent.  Waking up each day, driving thirty minutes to my school, just feel more tired inside of the building than I did after a full day of teaching.  Something was not right, and I could not put my finger on it until I made up in my mind it was time to move on.

I had been in place long enough finish my doctorate and decide what I wanted to do next.  Much like when I bought my home, I had outgrown my duplex.  It was time to move on and plant my feet firmly in something I would call mine.  Even when I faced my separation then divorce, it was time I chose my happiness and not hold on to something that was keeping me sad and confused.  I no longer wanted to dance through the halls and have fun with the kids.  I barely wanted to be in the building because in maintaining the status quo, I was not teaching with the same zeal I once had before.  So at year nine in middle school, post-doctoral graduation, I understand why it was time to move on.

I had grown too comfortable that even with the teaching I was doing, my heart was not there.  I wanted to be somewhere else.  Any place than my current setting.  It was not about my timing.  It was about a higher plan that I had no say-so in controlling.  I will miss middle school but I am so happy to be moving on to high school.  I will find my rhythm again and I will teach with the same tenacity I initially started with.

On the halls of my new school, I will dance like Janet Jackson again, in my patent leather police shoes.  I will be as sharp in my movements and well organized for execution on the day school resumes.  I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and I’m walking in my authority into the new.  I’m so excited!

I’m pushing myself to do something different and enjoying each moment that I learn more about myself that makes me tick.

~LaTilya Rashon

I Define Who I Am

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WRITER:  I am who I am!  I am unapologetically crafty with words.  It is the very essence of my being the way I move words across the screen effortlessly.  I am in awe of others that do the same whether it is to freely express their feelings into written form just to share or even as those write with the ultimate purpose to make money.  Writer is only one title that defines who I am.  I am defined by my talent because I push it into the atmosphere.  As I constantly define my life and redefine who I am, I am not deterred by setbacks.  To no end I am pleased with the steps I have taken to set myself up to share my thoughts and inspiration for those to grab hold of.  As I keep prioritizing my goals and dreams, I urge anyone to obtain a copy of Brown Sugar Magic as a guide to help you in the right direction.

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Now this is not a just a plug about my last book even as I continue to work on my writing and do some educational consults and writing.  This blog is about the titles that define me.  Unless you walk a day in my shoes you have no idea how much of a blessing my life really truly has been.  I do not dwell of what I cannot change.  I have changed myself from within and I am HEALED from my PAST because it does not DEFINE me!

DAUGHTER:  My mom worked too hard for me not to be GREAT!  Growing up as a “latch-key” kid and becoming independent at a very young age has carried well over into adulthood.  The amount of love and respect I have for my mom spills over into how I love and nurture my children.  As a daughter I have become my moms confidant and I continue to learn so much from her about resiliency and not allowing your troubles to last.  I’m the daughter that my biological father misses out on because I have exceeded expectations thrown on me by society as a “Fatherless Daughter”.  Everyday has not been a walk in the park.  As with anyone if you lose a companion, friend, or spouse you have moments of doubt and utter confusion.  I am the daughter of King who knows that is has been nothing but the grace of God that has walked with me through troubled waters.  Be careful about who you judge!  I have favor over my life, I know where my help comes from.

MOTHER:  I cannot get enough of my sons.  They are everything!  That says so much in such few words.  I love and take care of my sons the way my mother took care of me. Watching my babies grow up over the past few years from elementary to them both being in middle school next year I am emotional.  It has not been easy finding balance, co-parenting, and accepting things that are out of my control.  I certainly did not like experiencing my family being torn apart when they were younger, but they have ADJUSTED extremely well.  I am the ONLY mother they have and they know I will give my life to save them from any dangers.  I’m selfless when it comes to my SONSHINES!  They will definitely remember the tough lessons, mistakes, and decisions that have been made in their best interest.  Spare the rod, spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24).

TEACHER:  I interviewed in May 2008 and walked into my first pre-planning session July 2008.  I have told the story before about one teacher telling me I’d never have a job because of my attitude when I was 13 years old.  Well here I am now, 35 years old with 16 years of VALUABLE work experience that is a mixture of my career choices and education.  I am so glad to be moving up to high school after nine years at the middle school level.  I think sometimes people think that my profession defines all areas of my life, but let me tell you a secret…IT DOES NOT!  I have a REAL life outside of school and the kids are the worst sometimes because they tend to think that we have been adults our whole lives.  That’s until I tell them some of my childhood stories to show my HUMAN side.  Yes I’m a teacher that builds relationships with my students and that’s why I LOVE what I do.  CAREER and EDUCATION choices MATTER!

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FRIEND:  The title of friend I hold close to my heart because I either fool with someone or I don’t.  I am never swayed by what someone thinks of me or other people that matter to me.  One of my good friends has opened my eyes to just living in the NOW.  Too bad some people don’t know how to leave some things alone and let people LIVE.  When you go looking for problems with people to report to your friends, that says more about YOU the investigator and instigator than it could ever say about the other person.  My TRUE friends know that I have a heart of gold and I rarely hold back my thoughts. I have learned to drop the rope and not engage. I am NOT going to be liked by everybody and that is okay.  I ACCEPT that!  See I am not what or who other people say I am.  I am a friend to those who show me genuine adoration and respect because I give them that of me in return.  I am a friend to those who seek my guidance and honest help because the truth is the truth.  I have learned how to be more vulnerable in my friendships and not be so STRONG because I have a life full of AWESOME things to be THANKFUL for.  The ability to have friends that SUPPORT you in good times and in bad times is admirable.  I am one of those that stand by in good times, bad decisions, confusing moments until WE get it back right!

I am defined by my actions.  I am not defined by the chapter of my life that you walked in on.

~LaTilya Rashon

20 Facts About Me

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  1. I am my mother’s only child.
  2. I have half siblings on my biological father’s side.
  3. I was in a secret relationship my Junior year in high school. (I hate him now!)
  4. I began my college journey at the University of Florida.
  5. Seafood, specifically snow crab legs and shrimp are my favorite food.                       
  6. I have attended 8 different colleges and universities from 2000-2016.                  University of Florida, Burlington Community College, Western International University, University of Phoenix, Community College of the Air Force (A.A.S. 06’), Thomas Edison State College (A.A. and B.A. Liberal Studies, 07’), Bellevue University (MPA 09’),  Nova Southeastern University (Ed.S. 10’ and Ed. D. 16’) img_20160518_110904.jpg
  7.  I am from Waycross, Georgia, Home of the Okefenokee Swamp. 
  8. I joined the United States Air Force in 2001, and served until 2007.
  9.  The first time I got married was in 2003 until I got divorced in 2011.                                                                                                                   
  10.  I have visited 12 United States and 1 U.S. Territory:  Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and U.S. Territory-Puerto Rico
  11.  I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.20160116_112608-1-1.jpg
  12.  I have been on 3 Carnival Cruises: Bahamas twice, and Cozumel/Key West once
  13.  I worked for the Office of Child Supported Services for 8 months, and hated it.
  14.  I love the The Real Housewives Franchise, except for the Miami cast, they don’t do anything for me.  The Real Housewives of Atlanta are my favorite since I’m a GA Girl.
  15.  I have twelve tattoos…three of them are butterflies that represent the changes in my life.
  16.  I have two wonderful sons, Phillip who’s 12 and Preston who’s 10.
  17.  I have been a middle school teacher since 2008.
  18. I got remarried in 2014.wp-image-1457144966jpg.jpg
  19. I have played tennis as a hobby since 2012.
  20. I self-published my first book My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching
    20160702_170048Comment and let me know what you find the most interesting, I’ll be sure to respond.