Monday, February 8, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Well after about two weeks I have decided I made a GREAT decision for me to move schools. I couldn't be happier. I really feel like I have found my home, as far as schools go. The grade level switch is an adjustment, 3rd graders are very different from 1st graders. But 1st graders are so cute and they pretty much love everything. I have a phenomenal team and mentor teacher. I have gotten really close with another new teacher on our 1st grade team and we have been planning TONS of collaborative activities with our classes and the library! We have already gotten our classes together for a Biography Research Project! It turned out awesome! So what's been happening at school for me these last two weeks? It has been busy, busy...

Florida Literacy Week - January 25-29
100th Day January 29th - I dressed up at Rainbow Fish because it was also Story Book Character day!
Groundhog's Day - predictions with adorable groundhogs for our hallway bulletin board
Black History Month Biographies - 34 first graders researching and writing about famous African Americans
Fundraiser kick off - I have already had 3 students earn space monkeys for all the items they have sold!
Mardi Gras - we celebrated by earning Mardi Gras beads for good behavior and enjoying King Cake

Coming up...Valentine's Day and President's Day!

We are having a class celebration Ice Cream Party and are doing a super sweet activity with conversation hearts and The Velveteen Rabbit!

President's Day we will be making George and Abe and thinking about what life would be like if we were President!

This has seriously been a great change for me. I am still getting the hang of things and learning the ins and outs but I am truly a happier teacher. So excited for the rest of the year!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Exciting News

So I haven't blogged in AGES! But I feel like now is a good time to start back up again.

Many of you know that this has been a rough year for me. I started at my second school in Florida and demographics of this school were incredibly challenging for me. I struggled both in my professional career and my personal life because of these challenges. I loved my students as individuals, they were interesting and creative, and smart but teaching them in the classroom wasn't working for me because of their behavior which was affected by their home lives and other outside factors. I didn't blame any of my students for these circumstances but it definitely made my experiences in the classroom very difficult. I struggled with what the best course of action for me was. Do I finish out the year, do I try and transfer schools mid year or do I just leave teaching. After lots of soul searching I decided I did in fact want to be a teacher but that I needed a different teaching situation. I thought this was best for me and my students. I had been applying at other schools since Thanksgiving. Not seriously but just looking around to see what if anything I might be interviewed for or offered. I made it though Christmas and came back with a positive attitude after an amazing break. I started team teaching with an awesome colleague of mine and we were working on things and seeing growth and productivity in my kids. They were actually engaged in the lessons I was teaching and working with their peers collaboratively. It was so great to see. I thought maybe I can do this, maybe I can make it through the end of the year. As luck would have it, I was asked to come in for an interview and then was offered the position at a school in a neighboring county. Making this decision to take this position was difficult for many reasons, firstly I would be switching schools midyear, secondly I would be leaving my current students who already have a track record of adults letting them down/leaving them, and thirdly what would me leaving mid year look like to other districts or schools I might be applying in, fourthly I would be switching grade levels, maybe the grass wouldn't be greener. I decided that I needed to do something for me so I made the leap and accepted the position at this school in the neighboring county. I am really excited about this new endeavor. I was able to meet my new kiddos today and spend some time with the staff at my new school. Today was amazing! I was so happy. I thought about the kids I left behind lots today and will probably think about them often. Sometimes we as teachers put so much into our students and forget to think about ourselves. I am excited for this opportunity and can't wait to share it with my bloggy followers! Thanks so much for your support!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Teacher Week - 5 Fun Facts

I am so excited to be able to participate in this year's Teacher Week. Here goes five fun things about me

My summer binge watching included a new favorite TV show Scandal. I absolutely love Olivia and Fitz together and can't wait until season 5 starts! I also watched Revenge and Orange is the New Black. 

Starburst Jellybeans are delicious. They only come out at Easter and I try to grab as many as I can when Easter candy goes on clearance. The cravings for them didn't subside though so I had to buy 12 bags from Amazon. 

I hate running. But I tried to get into running in January and managed to lose 22 pounds. I ran two 5k's and managed to improve my time. Over the summer it is so hot in Florida that running outside is miserable, so hopefully I can get back into running again and learn to love it. Lucky me that my boyfriend bought me new running shoes for my birthday. They are like running on clouds!! 

I love to read. I don't always get the time to read for fun but love it. I was able to read so many books this summer and it was glorious.

I have a great family and an incredible boyfriend. I am so thankful for them in my life. I wouldn't be the teacher I am without them. Ready for this year to be the best year ever!

Be sure to check out the other awesome teachers and their 5 fun facts over at Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week Linky

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers BTS15 Sale!

So we all know all about the TpT BIG Back to School sale! Who doesn't love 28% off and some of you great teachers had additional discounts too! I was resistant at first because the pay schedule in my county is less than ideal and I had already felt like I had spent so much on my classroom already but I just couldn't resist some of the awesome things I picked up! 

Click the names of these awesome teachers to go to their blogs or TpT stores and see their great products!

Cart #1:

Christopher Columbus Close Reading from Elementary Lesson Plans

Close Reading: Florida from Creativity to the Core
Vocabulary (ELA) from Jason's Online Classroom
Math Vocabulary from Jason's Online Classroom
Science Vocabulary from Jason's Online Classroom
Common Core Standards Third Grade Teacher Planner from Teaching is a Work of HEART
Create-A-Pal Base Set from Polka Dots and Pals

After being so excited about all of these awesome products I quickly got to work creating my own pal and then of course had to have the other Create A Pal sets which is what led to cart number 2. 

Cart #2:
Create-A-Pal Super Pal Set from Polka Dots and Pals
Create-A-Pal Independence Day Set from Polka Dots and Pals

Then I remembered that I posted on Facebook about two awesome back to school items that are great for classroom procedures and policies and needed these two awesome products!

Cart #3 (after BTS sale of course! ughhh!)
ABC Parent Brochure Prek-5 Back to school from TCHR TWO POINT 0
Classroom Procedure Manual for students from Teaching in Room 6

 Hope you all enjoyed my purchases and check them out yourself!: )

Friday, July 24, 2015

Growing Dendrites

If you are anything like me you cringe when you hear the words Professional Development, because let's be honest do you really want to sit in a school chair all day surrounded by other people and be told how to teach your kids? I have had a hit or miss relationship with Professional Development in the my 5 years of teaching. Some of them are awesome and I would recommend them to other teachers (ie. SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) and the read aloud integration in Science lessons, and various others). However most of the others I could do without. They can be overwhelming and add another thing to our already full plates and while the presenter is preaching to you about all the great things that you should be doing for your kids, they aren't doing them for you in the professional development, you're sitting in the chair not moving listening to some teacher drone on about things you should be doing.

However when I was given the opportunity to attend a two day Marcia Tate workshop I was stoked. I had high hopes that this would be interactive, useful and easy to implement in my classroom. I always try to be optimistic about trainings, workshops and meetings and I was right on with this one.

Day 1: Shouting Doesn't Grow Dendrites
Behavior Management that will eliminate most of your behavior issues and guess what it isn't another clip chart, cool interactive app or even anything that is going to cost you anything!! WHATT? How awesome.

Things that you should be doing the moment kids walk in your room:
1. Greet them (this helps build a relationship between you and your student)
2. Play music (calming preferably, and it sets the noise level in your room, you shouldn't hear them over the music)
3. Start out with something positive (a compliment, a joke, a story, something light and fun to start the day off right)

You should spend 75% of the first days practicing the rituals and routines of your classroom
If kids are engaged they will remember 0-10% of what you are teaching, engage them and they will retain the other 90%. 

Six F's of Good Classroom Management:
1. Firm (not being mean, but meaning what you say)
2. Fair
3. Friendly
4. Fun
5. Flexible
6. Forgiving

Did you know human beings need 12 positive interactions daily to be happy.
We need 8 positive interactions daily to maintain life.
And we need 4 positive interactions daily to survive. Wow. That's startling to me. Tell your kids every day how special and awesome they are, because that could be the only positive interaction they are getting. 

These were my big take aways from Day 1. Such a powerful and great workshop. Check out her book for more information!!

Day 2: Mathematics Worksheets Don't Grown Dendrites
1. Greet your kids
2. Play Music
3. Start with something Positive

M - Math
A- Ain't
T -That
How cute is this little acronym?? I love it. I think it would help kiddos feel less stressed about math!

Fun activities to do with your kiddos to get them up and moving!!
1. Math (or any subject) Alphabet Book
2. Math Problems about your life
3. 9 Times Table Story
4. Number Line Hustle
5. Circumference Conga
6. Math Pictionary
7. I have Who has
8. Partner Appointments
9. Create a number 
10. Interactive Word Problem

Again these are just my main take aways from the second day. You really should check out her and her books if you get the chance!

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Book Hoarders 12 Step Program

Hey Ya'll a second Blogpost in a week!! Whatttt?!

Well I have been in my classroom a couple weeks now and have decided since I own so many books which honestly these fabulous books spend most of their time hiding in cabinets or on special "teacher only shelves" where the kids can get their dirty little fingers on them. Yes I am that teacher I hoard books from my kids. 

Don't hate me just yet...The kids have plenty of books they can read in my classroom and I do read these amazing little literary nuggets to the kids. I love reading to my kids. I just don't have these precious books out where the kids can get to them. Have you seen what kids do to books?? It is awful. Dog ear pages, rip pages/rip pages out completely, color on the pages, write on the book, in the book, using the book as a clipboard and the worst of all they take them home and never bring them back! Whatt those are my books they can't keep them! Let's be real, why can't they? They are kid books, and kids should be reading them and loving them. Sooooo....

This year I am trying to overcome my fear of students touching my books.
 I have started this 12 step's a work in progress 

1. Unpack the books from their boxes
2. Go through every single one of them and assess their awesomeness (let's be honest, Kinder books aren't really "Just Right Books" for Third Graders, and I can rehome them to another teacher, student or our little neighborhood library box)
3. Add them into an online database that will let the kids check them out of our classroom library just like they would in the school library.

The online database I have started using is ClassroomBookSource and so far I LOVE this website. I have only gotten about 480 books in so far. But it is a work in progress. It gives you tons of options to add AR stats, Guided Reading Levels, Genre, Location on your bookshelf, etc. You can also download a scanner app and have the kids scan the books in and out as they check them out or turn them in. Upon check in the kids can rate or review the book too! How awesome is that!? I haven't obviously done the check out/check in options yet since it is still summer, but I will be back to blog about that once school starts

4. Sort and put the books on shelves the kids can get to
5. Teach my kids how I want the library to look, feel, sound, and how it should be used
6. Let my kids touch and explore the books
7. Reteach how the classroom library and books should be used (because let's be honest I am going to need to do this haha)
8. No Freaking out if books have to go under the knife at Dr. Books office (Ha I made that up!! But I might make a basket that says that now for books that need surgery). It is okay, well loved people have scars and have had bandages, so well loved books should have them too right?
9. Breathe.
10. Smile.
11. Let it go, Let it go!!! If a book walks off, I can get another one, a student loved a book so much they took it, that means I am doing my job right?
12. Order more books to read and be happy!!

I am hoping this is a positive experience for me and my kiddos. Happy Summer!

30 days until teachers go back for me. :) I am excited to meet my new kids but loving having the summer off!! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Finally Blogging new school and grade level

Here in the beautiful sunshine state all teachers are on an annual contract. What does this mean? It means that all teachers' jobs "end" at the end of the school year. Stressed much? Yes...very much so. Now obviously this doesn't happen to everyone, there are some teachers who were grandfathered in and still have continuing contracts, lucky them. 

I suppose theoretically, it could work something like this: you work at a school, have outstanding observations, great parent rapport, engaging activities and technology, and good test scores and your contract gets renewed. No sweat.
However it isn't always that simple. Teachers get let go all the time. It is crazy. The county I work in loses a quarter of their teachers every year. A QUARTER! That seems like a fairly large amount of teachers to lose every year.

So being new to this annual contract thing, it was always in the back of my mind. I stressed about every little thing that I viewed as negative thinking this is going to lose me my job etc. Finally after going back and forth about whether I wanted to come back to the school I was at and then deciding that I did. At the end of the year I had convinced myself of this thought, "I worked hard this year, my kids saw successes and I learned a lot from them and the other teachers around me. It wasn't a perfect year but next year will be better." 

Then came time for everyone to start signing their new contracts...I waited and then was called in to discuss my placement and was told I would not be returning to the school. I was devastated. While this wasn't the perfect year, I had high hopes for next year and the changes I would make in my class, in myself and in my peer relationships. So now jobless I frantically began the job hunt to find another school to call home. I applied to 20 something positions. Some elementary, some middle school. I interviewed with 4 schools and was offered 3 jobs. 

I now happily call home to a portable classroom at a Title 1 School with 100% free and reduced lunch, 83% minority teaching 3rd grade. I will have to be at school an hour longer than last year (than any year I have taught actually) but I am really looking forward to the new adventure.

Happy to be teaching 3rd grade!