My WGU Experience
I spent several years considering my options to become a teacher. Some things that concerned me were making sure I still had time for my family, being sure we were in a good place financially (since you cannot hold a full-time position while student teaching), getting the knowledge and experience that would make me a great educator, and making sure I would be able to pay for this new adventure.
Western Governor's University was something that I had researched as a licensure path for a long time. Their courses are self-paced and when you pay for a term, you can complete as many classes as you want in that six month period. Their pricing is also very reasonable and there are no textbooks to buy. I was even able to apply for a TEACH Grant for my course of study. They also make sure that graduates of their program will be eligible for a teaching license in their state. This can be a little tricky because WGU is based in Utah, but the make absolutely sure that you will able to get a license. Due to this fact, they only offer certain licensures for each state, so do your research.
I earned two Master's with WGU. The first earned me an initial license in teaching Life Science for grades seven through twelve. With observation and student teaching requirement, this took me three terms. The second, let me add Integrated Mathematics for the same grade band. Student teaching experience is greatly abbreviated for already licensed teachers and I was able to complete my second degree in only six months, or one term.
Is WGU right for everyone? Absolutely not. WGU wants you to succeed and assigns a mentor to help keep you accountable. There are also course instructors that reach out to help. Student success resources have a wide range, but if you are not self-motivated, it is easy to not answer calls and emails and let that six months that you are paying for tick away with no progress. You have to want it and be willing to put in the work. This could mean asking for help watching a little one so you can get a test completed, working late after work, or sneaking studies in during breaks. It is doable, but you have to make the commitment to yourself that you will get it done. Again, you are not alone. Your mentor will help you come up with short and long term goals and instructors will support you academically, but you must do the work.
To get through your courses, there are two types of evaluations, or tasks, you may have to complete: objective assessments, performance assessments, or a combination of the two. Objective assessments are like a traditional multiple choice test. Something I love about these assessments is that each has a pretest that you can take and it will help you find what specific areas you need to study. I always liked to take this once, go over questions and areas I missed, then retake the practice test before taking on the real thing. Don't forget, this is a virtual program, so when you are ready to take your assessment, just schedule with the online proctor service, set up your webcam, and complete your assessment in the comfort of your own home. Another great aspect of this program is that these "tests" are graded immediately, no waiting to find out if you passed.
Performance assessments, on the other hand, can encompass a wide variety of written work. You could be submitting observation hours, writing reflection essays, creating lesson plans, or answering a variety of questions. These are completely open book, just be sure to properly cite any sources you use. These do take a little longer to receive feedback because an evaluator will go over the rubric that you are provided when you read the assignment and they will give personalized feedback on the task. Currently, WGU's goal is to get these back to you in 72 hours. If there are any parts that you did not pass right away, you can just fix that area and resubmit the assignment. Questions on why you missed something? This is a great time to reach out to your course instructor for assistance.
This is just a brief synopsis about some of WGU's benefits and how completing a course really works. If you are interested in furthering your education in a variety of subjects (information technology, nursing, business, education, or more), check out wgu.edu. Make sure you get the $65 off application voucher, so you can apply for free. Have your questions ready, because they will contact you ASAP to try to get you all the info you need to find the program that fits your needs. Happy learning!
What is better that traveling? Getting an amazing discount!
My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Sandals for our honeymoon. It was something that I had been wishing for since I first saw an advertisement for them many years ago. There are many different Sandals resorts on several different islands and things are always changing. At the time, my sister-in-law recommended Sandals Whitehouse(now Sandals South Coast) in Jamaica. We had an amazing time and booked an anniversary trip a few years later. We thought that this resort was a little large for us and decided that next time we would test out Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios. It was also exciting that this boutique hotel(only about 73 rooms) was an all Butler resort. Since this class of room is the most expensive, we thought this might be our only chance to try it out, but as I would learn there are plenty of options for savings.
This is Sandals' loyalty program. Signing up comes with a ton of savings and perks. One great thing is that you accrue points for every dollar spent that go toward discounting future stays. You can also get bonuses for things like booking a stay during your birthday month for travel anytime. You will receive special gifts at certain milestones as well. After 70 paid nights, you will earn the ultimate travel discount, a voucher for a free one week stay. To see all the awesome perks check out sandalsselect.com/benefits.
When you are on resort and book a return trip within the Sandals' family of resorts, you get a special discount based on the room level that you book. This discount is 10% off a luxury room, 11% off club level, or 12% off a butler room. There are some special rules with this type of booking, so be sure to read the fine print.
If you book a seven night stay in a club or butler level room within 30 days of your anniversary and register it here(https://www.sandals.com/anniversaries/free/) within 14 days of booking, you will get one night free! That is 14% off! You will have to submit a copy of your marriage certificate for this one and there are some special rules. If you are already getting a free night through a booking offer, you cannot use this deal. You can also not use this deal in conjunction with the Loyalty Discount.
This is one to keep an eye on. Every week starting on Wednesday at midnight Sandals releases a special extra 7% off of seven different rooms across seven different resorts. If you have your eye on a special room or particular resort, it is worth checking out every week. This great offer can but used with just about any other discount. You do have to watch for blackout dates.
Last Minute Deals
This option is best for people that have flexible travel dates and want a short vacation. You have to check back often to see which dates and which resorts are available, but if you book 3 or 4 nights during these deals, you get one of the nights free! Beware that since these are last minute bookings, you may have very limited room choices, but if you are staying at a beautiful beach resort, how much time will you really spend in the room anyway?
Service Personnel Discount
Finally, if you or your travel companion are military, a fire fighter, FEMA worker, or police officer, make sure to register your booking right away for an extra 10% off! This discount is compatible with all other discounts, which we love! Again, make sure to register your booking (https://www.sandals.com/specials/firefighter-military-police-savings/) right away. You should get a confirmation email. Make sure that when you get to the resort you have your ID or discharge papers. They will be checked and it you don't have it, your discount will be revoked.
There are a few other special options. Sandals does offer a rewards credit card. I have never found it to be particularly helpful since I have other cards with better rewards, but it is an option. Also often Sandals will promote special gifts at time of booking. Be sure to follow all directions to register for them right away. I also find it helpful to mention things like free candlelight experiences or massage credit when you arrive on resort to make sure you can get these things scheduled.
We love these resorts and hope you will too. If this post has been helpful, when you make your first booking and enroll in Sandals Select, contact me for a special referral code to help you start earning benefits fast! Happy traveling and even happier saving!!!
My Least Favorite Position
As you can see, I've had a little experience in many different fields. There are reasons that I have not continued in many. Sometimes the position was no longer a viable option because I chose to have a family. This was the case with touring for both theatrical and promotional purposes. There were times that I loved my positions, but the contracts ended. Again this is a problem with working long term promotions, theatrical work, and even some educational positions. If the position is discontinued, you will just have to find another. Other times I moved on for other reasons. I left banking to pursue my education in education as well as spend more time at home with my then nursing baby. The position I had working at Target ended because I returned to college for my senior year.
There is one position that I walked away from and never looked back. What was it? Telemarketing.
That's right for one and one-half days I trained and worked making calls for a charity to businesses. It was for a good cause and it was kind of like acting. I mean there was a script, right? It just was not for me. To be perfectly frank, during my calls on my second morning, a gentlemen started yelling at me for calling and asking how I had gotten his number and I had to be rescued by the floor supervisor. I was in tears. They asked if I wanted to take the rest of the day off and I did.
The next day, I called and formally quit the position. I don't like to give up on things and I definitely don't recommend quitting anything, but I knew no amount of money was worth continuing in a position that would make me miserable. You know what? It all worked out. A few days later, I was offered a completely different position. It was one that had some benefits, I excelled in, learned a lot doing, and, most importantly, I enjoyed.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is know when your happiness and your sanity is worth more than a position. Know what you are worth. Happy job hunting!
Direct Sales Drama
Direct sales opportunities get personified as the worst of all pyramid schemes. They were designed to distract unsuspecting homemakers from their honorable duties. They must be stealing time and money from all the vulnerable people out there... But what are they really? There are so many out there. It would be hard for someone to not name a few friends that are involved with one company or another. As always, I have had experiences with several of these companies, but I cannot speak for all companies or all people that work with them.
So when I say several companies.... Let me start by saying I like things that I like and if I like them, of course, I want to share them with others. There are things about every company that I have worked with that I truly enjoyed. That being said, I have been a representative for Pure Romance, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, It Works, Damsels in Defense, Java Mammas, and RevitalU. I still am a rep and still utilize products from RevitalU at this time (revival.com/rayna).
While there were opportunities for the people who recruited me to make extra money because they recruited me, I never thought it took away from what I was doing and I never thought it was undue. If you can sell a sales gig, you deserve a percentage. That is kind of what sales is about.
I was very lucky to appreciate all of the products that I worked with. Very important: Don't sell something that you don't believe in. I can attest to this because I still have my Damsel in Defense stun gun, a few It Works wraps, some Java Mamma coffee, and some...special souvenirs from Pure Romance ;). I love the companies I have worked with and no one should be bullied out of this lifestyle.
Some people don't realize that these "party" platforms are a lifestyle. They give representatives a drive to go out and spend time building connections and making new friends. In this TikTok world, real-life connections are desperately needed. These positions also encourage presentation and communication skills that can be used in any avenue of life. Finally, this opportunity is built on teamwork. I have gained some great friendships by joining a company and working with a team to learn about product and how best to present services.
And never underestimate the importance of...FUN!!!
Most of these companies offer great opportunities for rewards trips, meetups, leadership seminars, and more! Who doesn't need a reason to get up and go somewhere and listen to a few empowering speeches? Even better, who doesn't have time to get some free swag?!?! I mean really! What is a conference without a free sample here, a prize there, a complementary drink, even a nice dinner out?
Most importantly, can the average person make money with any of these companies? Absolutely! I can't say that I have gotten rich off of any single company and I will say that I am currently not working with several that I had a relationship with. I have, however, made money, bought Christmas presents, and gotten through my year because of these opportunities. I do enjoy all these products and if sales, parties, and chatting with new friends is your forte, then, this may be for you.
Go out and explore. If you find something great, why not introduce your friends and family to it? Experience the lifestyle. Don't forget to support your friends doing the same. Join a group, like a post, purchase a stocking stuffer, and feel great that you are supporting a friend!
Banking: Pros & Cons
Have you ever heard of working banker's hours? What does that mean anyway? Let's take a look at available positions that you may find at your local banking branch and some pros and cons that come with the work. Each financial institution is a little different, but they follow government established guidelines. I speak to my experience working in this industry.
When you think of banking, the most common position that comes to mind is usually teller, but there are a multitude of positions. These opportunities have an enormous range and could require no previous training or advanced degrees in finance. More common positions include teller, banker, branch manager, wealth consultant, or loan officer. Other positions within the corporation could include Human Resources experts, call center representative, web design or app developer, marketing and promotional workers, loss prevention, and even training and education specialists. Some of these positions do require you to move to a city where the bank you are working with has a hub, which is something to consider depending on the career pathway that you choose.
I found one of the most difficult parts of banking was that most consumers do not understand how banks work. For instance, banks keep limited amounts of cash on hand to help mitigate losses in the event of a robbery. If you ever want to withdraw a large amount, you should call ahead so the bank can order it in for you.
Another issue was that people don't understand why all bank accounts aren't free. They forget that banks are businesses and they make money based on their services. There are opportunities to waive most bank fees if you have a certain amount on deposit or if you have monthly direct deposits. Banks make money on offering different services, however, since they are able to use funds on deposit to earn interest they are often able to reimburse certain monthly charges. They base their models on making this money on the backend not necessarily on small fees that occur, this is why if you ever have an overdraw charge or a late fee if you call and ask for a customer courtesy waiver, they will often (Not, always, so don't "bank" on it.) refund your charge if the issue was immediately addressed. It never hurts to ask.
Does finance sound like fun? Check out your local banks for openings.
The Best job ever!
There are so many options for positions these days that you can really focus on what you love and where you are appreciated. It is not like our ancestors where they signed on for one position and it seemed like a death march until the end. We really have been presented with the ability to explore. That is just what I have done.
The best job ever...at least that I have gotten so far, was this: I was hired by a promotional marketing company for an acting gig! I was so excited. Even when they booked my plane ticket out, I was a little suspicious. Would this really be a performance position where I actually made money?
Now, something that makes most promotional marketing positions so lucrative is their timeliness. This position was a tour, but it only lasted for the summer(Yup, three months.). One of the amazing caveats was that the fourth of July was in the middle of tour and the staffers were afraid that if we went on break that we wouldn't come back. To keep that from happening they paid us to stay on over the holiday.
So, other than being paid to stick with a company, what made this position so wonderful? Well, being well compensated for one's time always helps. Having great benefits is perk too. While this wasn't a long term position that allowed for insurance benefits, I did receive per diem, a phone allowance, and even a stipend for doing laundry (since we had to clean our own costumes). There were many other great perks. While working this tour, I had access to a rental vehicle. Also, we were traveling, which I love! The program paid our hotel costs and also lent us extras(like breakfasts). We were provided a certain amount of reimbursement for our uniform costs, too.
This tour was one of my favorites because while we had a difficult schedule and had a lot of physical labor to support our goal, we were truly appreciated and got a great deal of joy out of educating our audience and working with our peers. We were able to do what we loved! We were all able to perform. We also taught those around us. With the time on tour, we experienced many diverse events as well. We traversed the St. Louis arch, swam with manatees in Florida, and tasted Phillies at Primate Bros.
If you think these things sound amazing, check out touring options now! Good luck!
Taking on Teaching
Are you thinking of teaching full-time? Many individuals find this to be a rewarding position and spend their entire working lives in this field. Schools are everywhere, even online, so there are an abundance of opportunities. There are several key points to consider, however, before pursuing this career path. For the best information, check out your state's Department of Education website. I will discuss my experience which may not be the same for all individuals.
Who do you want to teach?
Depending on the licensure that you are seeking, most are divided by grade level, content, or both. There is a huge range of licenses available and each has a different preparation process and a different amount of available opportunities. It is especially important to consider which positions are in high demand if you are committed to a certain geographical region. For instance, I qualify for a supplemental licensure in teaching drama, but, sadly, there are no positions that require that license in my area.
Are you ready to put in the hours?
Many take one look at teaching and only see the "summers off." Rarely do people account for all the hours that teachers actually put in. Day to day hours also include lesson planning, grading, and administrative duties in addition to actual teaching time. Educators are also asked to take on tasks like after-school detention, lunch duties, or other supervisory assignments. They could also be supporting students through extracurricular activities; including, sports, arts, class advisors, or any number of other clubs. Finally, just because you have your teaching license doesn't mean that you are done learning. Teachers must constantly be taking classes and earning continuing education credits to be able to keep their license current.
What is the best way to earn your license?
In my state, there are several options to earn your teaching license depending on if you are approaching the field as a first career or changing fields. If you are just starting out, most four year colleges offer an education degree. You do need to check to see which specific licenses they support. This can change over time. When I was in college getting my bachelor's, my school offered a program for those who were pursuing a license to teach drama or theatre. Now, that university no longer supports that licensure path, though they still help students get licenses in early education or those who hope to teach certain subjects in high school. This is another reason that it is important to decide what and who you want to teach. Not every school offers every license.
There are a few different opportunities for those changing careers to earn a teaching license. Going back to get an education bachelors is always an option. If you already have a B.A. or B.S. or B.F.A, you may be able to apply for alternative licensure or gain licensure through a post-bachelor or masters program.
The alternative program is offered through the state and is a relatively low cost option to learn the educational theories needed to teach specific subjects. These may include, but are not limited to: high school math, social studies, language arts, or science. All of this is based on what credits you have earned with your initial degree. Post-bach and master's programs are also excellent options and can help you start out at an increased salary, depending on your school district's contract.
Remember, no matter what path you take there will be a student teaching component. This is several weeks of full-time teaching. It is time-consuming and includes having your teaching evaluated and often a large written component submitted. Know that if you are working another job, you will probably not be able to continue it at this time.
Be sure to explore all your options before deciding the best route for you. Certain grants or loan forgiveness opportunities are also available for those who are licensed in a field of high need and work in a low income district. Beware, the schools on this list fluctuate from year to year (https://studentaid.gov/tcli/). Do your research.
My path, as you may have noticed, is a little different from most. I had B.A.s in Theatre and Interdepartmental Science and a decade of varied work experience when I decided to pursue teaching. At that time, I thought the best option was to go through Western Governors University's M.A. Teaching, Science Education (Secondary) program. (Check out my graduation speech!) This allowed me an initial licensure in Life Science for grades 7-12. I, then, took a few classes with the University of Findlay to add Integrated Science to my license. Finally, when the pandemic hit, I took the time to make myself as marketable as possible by completing a second masters with WGU. This time I added Integrated Mathematics to my credentials.
There are a multitude of opportunities out there! Good luck learners!
Baby A: Part 4
As we approached the time to make the announcement, the world seemed in need of a little good news. On Christmas Eve, we lost my great-aunt, who was the sister to my grandfather who we had lost in January 2020. It was this grandfather whose birthday was the twins' due date. Upon hearing the news, I texted my cousin, my great-aunt's daughter, and let here know I was expecting. I was hoping maybe the joy of two new souls as we lost two would be comforting.
Christmas morning, however, still wasn't quite as joyful as I hoped. Getting up with big sister and discovering overflowing stockings and gifts from Santa was thrilling for all, but when we were getting ready to head to my mom's for festivities, I went to set down some gifts that we were taking and...Ouch! I pulled something in my back. Now, I had had back issues before and I know it's a matter of time, Tylenol, heat, and Bengay, it was just a disappointing event. Luckily, mom picked up big sister and brought back Christmas dinner.
A few days later, I was still having pain and on top of the exhaustion of this pregnancy I wasn't sure what to do. I attended the viewing for my great-aunt and felt like I could barely breathe sitting through it. The next morning, New Year's Eve, as we were prepping lunch before the funeral, I decided to call the doctor.
I called in and explained what had happened. I added that the pain had seemed to extend to my left side. I also noted that I had been tracking my weight gain and wrist circumference and both had increase dramatically in the last week. The nurse on the phone just laughed and said that most people didn't keep track of things so well. I informed the nurse that I was at 24 weeks with twins and wasn't sure if all this was a normal growth spurt or if I should come in to get checked out. She asked when my next appointment was (four days later) and how I would rate my pain (Who knows? What is just before tears? Maybe a 7.). She said oh well we close at noon today, so if your pain reaches an 8 go to the emergency room...
I though, perhaps I am just being a wimp, but I am not sure how the next four months are going to go. Needing some cheering, I posted my pregnancy announcement for the world to see, or at least my Facebook friends, I hunkered down, tried to relax, and asked my boss if I could work from home the morning of the appointment until I could get some answers. Thankfully, he was agreeable. Part of me wondered if the doctor would put me on bedrest.
Meanwhile, my husband, who pre-pandemic had traveled extensively for work, was preparing to leave for a meeting in Chicago the day before the appointment. We have had lots of experience being apart and usually it is not a concern, but this time with both expressed unease as his absence. It was a little disappointing because this would be the first baby appointment that he had missed. Not to skip work unnecessarily, I arranged for my father to take me to my appointment, told my husband not to worry, and asked my grandmother to come watch big sister.
Gig Life: Promo Style
Need something flexible. either full or part-time? Promotional marketing may be for you. Never heard of promotional marketing? Have no marketing background? Have never seen anyone in this position? Actually, you don't need any training and you've seen people in these positions all over the place.
Ever gotten a sample of a new product at a fair, gotten to try a new liquor from branded representatives at a bar or club, or visited a booth to enter for a prize? The people working these events likely have no affiliation with the brand they are representing. They are simply hired for the shift of for the length of the event.
Promotional or event marketing companies hire people to work on a short term basis to represent a product or service. There are many different job titles out there that have slightly different job descriptions, but fall under the promo gig umbrella. The basic position entails wearing a specific uniform, learning brand information to share with consumers, and often helping the the set up and teardown of the event. Here are just a few brands that I have worked with and titles I have had.
Promo Gig F.A.Q.s
How much should I make?
This depends on the position. If you are working a single event, you could make between $16 and $40 per hour. Depending on the client and location, you may also be reimbursed for parking, receive gas money or drive time, or be provided with lodging. It all depends on the client. Make sure to read all the details before accepting a position.
On a long term position as a tour manager? Expect to make $800-$1200 a week on average. These positions often come with added benefits and of course, travel!
What types of brands are hiring?
Did you see my list? All of them!!!
How do I get hired for these positions?
Seek out staffing companies and start creating profiles with each of them. You can also look for these types of positions on job boards or even in Facebook groups. I found my first one on Craigslist (yes, really.). Make sure you have a great, recent, natural headshot and full-body shot to submit to clients.
What will get me fired or blacklisted?
Not following instructions, taking unschedule breaks, smoking in uniform, discussing pay, and bad attitude can all be factors in not asking you to return. Most importantly, always show up. The best way to get ousted from the promo business is to miss a scheduled event and not let your contact know. This is known as a "no call/no show."
How often can I work?
This is totally up to you. These positions are available year-round all over the country, so the amount you work is up to you. Be courteous, work hard, and follow directions and local managers will be more likely to refer you for future work. Just make sure you are organized. Keep an accurate calendar of your work and the sky is the limit.
Most everyone has experienced having a substitute teacher, but what do they actually do and what makes a good one? One of the worst situations for both students and teachers happens when the sub doesn't know what is going on, but how do you combat that? While substitute teaching can seem like a glorified babysitting position, to do it well you need to be prepared and ask the right questions. As always, this blog is based on my real experiences in this position.
First, know what you are teaching. When you get a call, you will be asked if you are available on a certain date, if it is a full or half day, and, usually, you will be told the grade level and sometimes the subject that you are being requested for. As one colleague wisely pointed out, "If you are subbing for a gym teacher, dress like a gym teacher." Keep in mind, if you are working with younger students, you need to be sure to be able to crouch down to help with assignments, take on recess duty, or be prepared to complete a messy art project. Likewise, if you will be in a lab make sure to wear closed-toed shoes and long pants. Layers are also helpful to adjust to room temperatures which can fluctuate throughout a building.
Next, get all the information that you can. When you arrive at the office to check in for your assignment, you will usually get a name tag, directions to your room, and, possibly, keys. Check to see if there are any forms to fill out (like a sub log) and if it should be left for the teacher or brought to the office at the end of the day (I always make sure to leave a note for the teacher with specific details about absences and behavior for each class period.). This is a good time to ask about cellphone policy. Sometimes it is teacher specific, but it is good to have a general idea, because this is one of the first things students will try to get away with. Also find out if there is a substitute log in for the school computers. Another great thing to ask is if there are any special events in the building that day.
After checking in, head to your room. Hopefully, the regular teacher has left you specific notes about the day. Take this time to read through the day, locate your teaching resources, find out if you switch rooms throughout the day or have extra duties (before or after school, or at lunch), and get organized for the morning. Morning tasks generally include reporting attendance, taking a lunch count, and showing the announcements. Often, if you cannot do one of these things, there will be a note about where to send students or a student that can be put in charge of the task. If there are no classroom instructions, check with the office or neighboring teachers. In a worse case scenario, you will run a study hall all day. Write your name on the board and be prepared for constant monitoring. Finally, take a few moments to check out the posted emergency procedures. You never know if there will be a last minute tornado drill or evacuation.
Throughout the day, try to move through the room as much as possible. Students know they are less likely to get away with misbehaviors if you are not sitting like a lump in the corner. Also be consistent. If there are no specific instructions, be upfront with your students and let them know what you expect. Can they work with a partner? What is an acceptable noise level? What activities can they do if they are done with their assignment? If the classroom teacher has left a way to reward their students, tell them exactly what you expect to be able to reward them. Unless otherwise stated, I always limit people leaving the classroom for bathroom breaks or locker runs to one guy and one gal and I keep an eye on the clock to let the teacher know if they were gone for an extended period.
Normally, a substitute will have two breaks throughout the day. One is a plan period. This is a great time to run to the bathroom (You should not leave the room while you are supervising students.), check your phone for messages (You should not have your phone out while supervising students.), and relax (Bring a book.). The other is a lunch break. Depending on your school, you may be able to head to the cafeteria and pay cash for lunch. Some schools require you to have an account set up to purchase lunches and may not set one up for the casual sub. This is something you might inquire about with the office. I always found it easiest to simply bring something cold for lunch. Most schools will invite you to use the teachers lounge, but lunch periods are usually very short and taking time to find the lounge and participate in a microwaving cue will eat into your break.
Remember, safety is the most important thing. You want to get all your students through their day safely. Follow your teacher's instructions as closely as possible. If in doubt, call the office for backup. Good luck!
Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore