Thursday, August 25, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday! (ignore that I'm posting it on a Thursday)

In honor of new teachers, here is a list of my Top 10 things I learned in my 4 short years in my fabulous job.  Thank you to those who shared these pearls of wisdom with me!

10. Plan, plan, plan!  Be intentional with your teaching and make every moment count.  Over plan and carry over what doesn't get done to the next day.  You never want to be at a loss when you have 25 pairs of eyes staring at you.

9.  Your classroom speaks.  Think carefully about how your classroom reflects the learning taking place in your space.  Everything should be on purpose and for a purpose.

8.   Present yourself as a professional.  You are an educator- not a babysitter.  You should always dress and act accordingly. (This doesn't mean be a frump!  Color that hair when needed- ha! ha!)

7.  Keep learning.  Try to pick out at least one professional book each summer/ year to read that will improve your practice.  We have book clubs at our school that are a fantastic way to explore what others are doing in education.

6.  Find something to love in each and every student.  They must believe that you care about them in order to feel safe and secure, and then they will learn.  (This includes the little ones that make you want to cry in a fetal position under the desk!)

5.  Ask for advise and learn from the teachers in your building (or in another building).  It is so important to have a mentor to speak openly and honestly with on a regular basis.  It is helpful if they have similar teaching philosophies, but it's not mandatory.  The important thing is to have someone to talk with who wants to help you grow.

4.  Research your district/school's resources for learning interventions and special education needs.  There is a system and it will need to be followed in order to be an advocate for your students.

3.  Remember that your family comes first.  It's very easy to let your work consume you.  They must stay your #1 priority.

2.  Learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy your time with your students.  Laughing will make the crying times shorter.  We all get overwhelmed sometimes.

1.  Teach with your heart and never lose the idealism and love for learning that brought you to this AMAZING gift of a profession.

Hop over and check out more tidbits for new teachers and read other inspiring blogs!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher!

In honor of Teacher Week at Blog Hopper 
(Teacher Week), I'm posting some fun (and hopefully helpful) stuff this week.

A little about me...

I am married to a VERY patient man and have two smart and funny boys.  They all keep me very busy, as I follow them around with my camera catching the hilarity as it happens.  Here is a photo of us at the closing of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 3-Day Walk (60 miles!) last week.  It was my second time walking and it was AMAZING!

I am crazy compulsive (I've been referred to as a pitbull by my mother- I grab a hold of something and don't let go!).  I rarely do anything half-way!  If I'm reading a book, I read the whole thing in a day or two.  If I take on a project at school, it gets done.  You get the idea :)  I also have an addiction to office or school supplies and art materials.  I love the smell of fresh crayons!  I am also a photographer and scrapbooker (when I finally get the photos printed!).

How long have I been teaching?
This will be my fifth year teaching.  My first year, I did a long term substitute position in a full-time kindergarten classroom with 29 students (whoa!).  I learned so much!  The following year I was hired by my fabulous district (on the outer edge of my commute time limit) for a kindergarten position in two different buildings (we were on an all day alternate schedule).  It was confusing, but I learned to be even more organized and to treat every class differently.  I was making different lesson plans for each building to best suit the students' needs.  My second and third year with my district, I was teaching all day, every day kinders in ONE building.  Yeah!  I have made this school my second home :)  Due to a drop in numbers for kindergarten, I was able to move up to a first grade position for this coming year.  In case you are keeping score, this will be my 5th classroom in 4 years!  (I get around int he building!)  I am super excited to be making a change and experiencing a new grade level.

What you may not know....
Like many others, teaching was not my first career.  I actually went to the Art Institute of Chicago to study 2D art and sculpture.  I ran out of money after two years and moved home.  Under duress, I started the business program at Oakland University (while working a retail management job).  I actually failed the same math class 3 times (so embarrassing!) and had to leave the program.  At the time, I was taking my humanities credit course (art history) and the instructor suggested switch to Art History.  I did and graduated with my BA nine months after delivering my first son.  I loved the idea of research and study, but museum jobs are hard to come by.  Praise God!  When my older son was in preschool, I found my bliss.  I volunteered in his classroom and realized that it wasn't the art or research that I loved- it was the process of learning!  I returned to Oakland University that year and earned a MAT in Elementary Education with majors in language arts, social studies and early childhood (Remember the pitbull thing?).

What I'm looking forward to this year....
 In a word, EVERTHING!  There is so much I can't wait to experience with new eyes. There is magic in learning and I'm so blessed to be able to help children everyday learn and grow. I have the best job in the world. Where else do you get a hug at the end of the day after you've been on their case for not following directions?

What I want to improve... 
I'm really focusing on Conscious Discipline and using work stations to maximize learning. I'm also working on the workshop model for reading and writing. Although I have been using it for 3 years, I'm starting fresh in first grade.

What teaching supplies I cannot live without...
  • I love my Mr. Sketch Markers!  They make me smile as I write.  I find myself smelling them each time I switch colors.  I even found my kiddos doing the same thing last year during interactive writing!  
  • I also need my anchor charts with drawings/photos.  They keep us on track and help focus on learning.  
  • My books!  I love the way it sounds when the pages turn and the kiddos are sitting, with baited breath, to find out what happens next.
Be sure to "hop over" and check out other lists from the teacher blogging community!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Literacy & Math Work Stations

So, I'm set and ready for my Literacy and Math Stations.  Okay, I have the labels made for the board but not filled or ready to go!  I haven't hung the charts up, but I've got a plan.  I'm attaching 2X4 size labels for the cards that will be in the chart.  I am attaching these to colored card stock (gotta make it pretty!), then laminating them.  I will have 12 stations for each subject. 

I wanted to thank and send some love to Mrs. Meacham for her AWESOME clip art and inspiration.  Please visit her website for more AMAZING ideas and resources at:

Math Stations page 1 labels
Math Stations page 2 labels
Literacy Stations page 1 labels
Literacy Stations page 2 labels

Friday, August 19, 2011

Little things make me happy...

I've neglected my blog or a few weeks, as I've been hard at work in my new classroom.  As I approached the room, I just had one goal in mind- to make our school living space beautiful, with clean lines and welcoming to my new friends.  I've been trolling other blogs, looking at everyone's cute and creative ideas.  I am so impressed by my fellow teachers!

I'm still unpacking boxes so I only have one picture to share at this point.  Truth be told- I'm all that ready to capture the process on film.  I have to share my sweet little bookshelves that I scavenged from my old kindergarten teammate.  They were originally slate blue (to match the ugly lockers in our classrooms!).  My borders in my room are a soft apple green and shades of blue.  Those pictures will come next week.  I just want to clean up more clutter (God help me!).  My new shelves make me happy.  I realize that it's not world peace or anything, but it calms me and I think the kiddos will just love them.  They are a perfect fit for under my white board that spans the front of the classroom.

The photos look a bit greener than in real life.  The color is actually a bit softer.  The bins from Lakeshore Learning it perfectly.  Don't you just LOVE when things fit as if it were made just to hold that item?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons I Know it's Back to School Time!

Inspired by Mrs. Tunstall's List, I noticed that there are CLEAR signs that school time is approaching.  Here's my list:

10. I went into my classroom to check it out (still in a stack of boxes and furniture).
9.  I now check my work email as much as my personal email.  You just never know!
8.  I've been texting with other teachers about work gossip.  I MISS them!
7.  I have a "To Do" list with me at all times.
6.  I wake up at 5am, wondering if I need to be up or not. 
5.  I've been reading professional development books in a panic- It's finally hit that I am changing grades.
4.  I'm in a mad rush to finish those "summer projects" around the house that I haven't even started.
3.  I have a stack of receipts from Lakeshore Learning and a variety of discount stores.
2.  I keep hugging my own children because I will miss them soon.
1.  I've been to Target 3-4 times each week since they put out the school supplies (not to buy- just to smell the fresh stock!).

You can visit and view more lists at Mrs. Tunstall's blog!
Tunstall's Linky Party