17 August 2013

what did i get myself into?

As I sat in my room Friday staring at the bare, boring walls of my classroom and reading/sorting through some confusing filings systems of legal docs that I had no hand in writing, but that I get to explain to the gen ed teachers who will be receiving the kiddos in their classrooms, I started freaking out a little. This is not what I signed up for. My friends back home have cute little mentor teachers and new teacher orientation sessions with people who do their exact same job (aka tons of collaboration and support and help) and I am the only one who is here in this tiny town to play the role of PPCD/resource/push-in/pull-out/self contained/keeping my head barrrrely above water teacher. 

But then, a couple of days ago, I met the mama of one of my most challenging students (or so I've been told). She spoke decent English, and came up to me hesitantly to talk about her last baby. She began to tell me about their struggles with him and told me how his last school year was tough and how she prayed that someone would be able to work with him so he can just learn... and I knew I was in the right place. I may not be this student's saving grace, but all of a sudden I felt like I could do this job. This is what I know. Loving and teaching kids and showing their families and their peers that they are worth something. They are smart and they have strengths and talents just like everybody else. That is what I signed up for.

Looking forward to starting my first official work week tomorrow! Life is good. (:

15 August 2013

for the mamas and the papas

This week, I'm working like a maniac to get my classroom ready BECAUSE next week is a full week of inservice and this week I spent two full days at an ARD conference annnnd had some last minute doctor appointments on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. PTL for helpful friends and family!

This week's resource isn't exactly a pin... I am working on a brochure about special ed that is geared towards parents. I am trying to give them some basic info without being too overwhelming. So far, I have sections to:
  • defines some commonly used acronyms
  • explain the ARD process
  • define RtI
  • explain our CARE team system
  • explain what happens when a parent requests a special ed. eval
I've worked off of what was already in place, but I'm not totally sold on the info... As a parent (or just put yourself in those shoes!) what would YOU like to know about special ed in an "at-a-glance" format? 

08 August 2013

Resource Thursday

This week, my new favorite resource pin is iPad rule posters. I am so, so thankful to have iPads for student use in my classroom. Just off the top of my head, I'm envisioning some extra Handwriting Without Tears practice, communication support, read alouds via iTunes... Technology is a beautiful thing, my friends.

Buuuut, we all know that just sending students off to use a learning tool, especially a learning tool with a pretty hefty price tag, can be disastrous at best. I will be using these iPad rules posters (with some
visual supports) to remind my students how important it is that we treat our learning tools with care.

I'll be printing them today, and then I plan to go over each rule on the posters, do a demo, and then take pictures of students demonstrating proper use to add to them during the first week of school.

Last week's pin for magnet boards is definitely going to be happening... But hasn't yet. This lil lady's gotta finish painting so that I can move my furniture back where it belongs. Cannot WAIT to have a functional classroom so that I can start getting ready to... uh... teach something.

07 August 2013

who, me?

As you may know, the Liebster Award is for up and coming blogs that have less than 200 followers. So what is a Liebster, you ask? Liebster is a German word that means sweetest, kindest, dearest, cute, endearing, etc. Such a thoughtful award! Here are the rules to accept this award:

[1] Link back to the person that nominated you.
[2] Answer the questions from your nominator.
[3] Share 11 random facts about yourself.
[4] Nominate 5 more blogs with less than 200 followers.
[5] Pose questions for your nominees


Thanks to Lindsey @ The Journey of A Beginning Teacher for nominating me!


1. If you weren't a teacher, what career would you have?
I'm not sure on the "career" front, but I think right at this moment I'd trade teaching for getting my masters and being a GA for a college swim team (if I HAD to!)

2. Who was your favorite teacher?
This is SO hard to choose, but I think my favorite group of teachers were my professors at SU. Our ed program was tiny and we had the same five professors over and over for four years. They challenged me to be a thoughtful, engaged, reflective teacher... and helped me grow in my personal life as well. They were always there for me, and I still text them to ask for advice or just to catch up!

3. Share a tip for newbie teachers {like me}!
Be nice to EVERYONE at your school, but especially the support staff (paras, custodians, secretaries, etc.) You will definitely need their help one day, and it will be to your advantage if you've been just a little sweeter than usual. 

4. Cats or dogs?
Dogs, absolutely!

5. What is your favorite board game?
I'm not a huge board game fan, but I recently played Quelf and thought it was really hilarious!

6. What is your fondest memory from your teaching career?
It's hard to choose, but I think one of my fondest memories was reading the notes from my 2nd grade class at the end of student teaching. This especially well-written one tugged at my heartstrings: 

7. Why did you start a blog?
Tough questions... I read blogs all the time and got such amazing ideas from them to improve my teaching or encourage me when I was feeling like maybe teaching was too much (how much money for how many hours of work?!?!). It's a great community, and I guess I hope that one day someone else will read what I've done that works (or doesn't!) and learn from it to help themselves become a better teacher. And frankly, no one else "gets" teaching. The huge investment in the kiddos lives, the amount of money poured out of your pockets and into the classroom, the "8a-3p" hours that are really 6a-10p somedays... It's nice to just see that other people understand.

8. What is your favorite school supply?
Colored pens, hands down!

9. Besides your current grade/content, what other grade/content would you want to teach?
I'd love to teach kindergarten for a year!

10. What is your favorite school related Pinterest pin?
Oh yikes. I'm really bad at picking just one favorite. I'll leave y'all with this:

1. I have lived in 15 different houses/dorms/apartments, 
2. My favorite scent is magnolia. I wear Bath and Body Works' discontinued spray, Magnolia Blossom, and one year my then-boyfriend, now-husband paid a ridiculous amount to order me some off of eBay because I was running out.
3. I got engaged and married pretty young... but that was not my plan and I've spent a lot of time trying to explain to people that God's timing is just perfect and had I not gone down the road I did I wouldn't just be "searching" for a husband at this point in my life.
4. I listen to the Bobby Bones show everyday on iHeart radio. If you don't, you should. They are hilarious and really good people.
5. I lovelovelove the idea of being a DIY, Pinspired domestic diva. But I'm not. So, I craft for my classroom and leave it at that!
6. I have a hard time answering the question, "Where are you from?". #bratlife
7. I swam competitively, year-round for 12 years.
8. I didn't start drinking coffee until last fall and I now have a cup every morning. I've recently started drinking it black, just to spite my husband.
9. I teach in a town that has a population of 1200. My high school had well over 2500 students one year that I was there.
10. I met my goober of a husband when I was 13. He's pretty much my bestie.
11. I've seen almost every recognizable landmark in Australia (Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, Gold Coast, Syndey Opera House, etc.), but I haven't even been to Washington D.C. in the states!

I'm nominating:

1. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?
2. How/when did you decide to be a teacher?
3. What is your favorite pinspired project/recipe?
4. How did you come up with your blog name?
5. What was your favorite summer job?
6. How do you drink your coffee?
7. What is your favorite children's book?
8. Where do you like to buy "teacher clothes"?
9. How far do you commute to school?
10. What's been your favorite linky party so far?
11. Do you bring home work on the weekends?

05 August 2013

Keeping it Organized

Um, 21 days until the first day of school...!!

As I mentioned here, I was in a dilemma as to how I'd be doing my planning this year. My job is a littttttle hectic (more on that later) and I'm planning in various and sundry ways for kiddos all the way from PK-5th.

After some thought on what I actually needed to do (plan for two self-contained classrooms with 5 kids, each in a different grade with vastly different IEP goals, and read lesson plans to help accommodate for 12 other students to so they can be successful in their gen ed settings), I decided that I couldn't justify buying any planner that I couldn't customize on the spot.

I went with a Modern Teacher's Chalk It Up lesson planner- I loved how many options it gave me for different styles of planning, so if I decided in the fall that I didn't like the way things were going I could change it up! My main hang up was the overall cost, but it ended up being fairly budget friendly [see break down below].

There are no office supply stores in my little nugget town, so I was going to take all the printed pages up to school and bind the pages with the binding machine, but then it wouldn't be easy to customize. Duh, Bean. I didn't really want it in a binder because they can get kinda hefty to lug around and don't always lay flat very well. But, when I was perusing our local Dirt Cheap, I saw this guy and knew it would be perfect! I could have probably found one of these Five Star Flex notebooks at out local WalMart, but this one was marked 70% of $8.99 and I am always enticed by a good sale.

A couple mornings ago, I spent about an hour printing all of the pages. It could be a much faster process, but I wanted them printed just so, back to front, blah blah blah #teacherprobs. It ended up looking like this:

each month starts with an "at a glance section"...
...then the full month calendar...
...followed by weekly planning pages (there are about a zillion)
Budget Breakdown:

Five Star Flex: $2.70
Printing: FREEish (because I already had paper and and my printer full of ink was a graduation gift)

Total Money I Saw Disappear From My Pocket: $11.20

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and am excited to put it to use in just a few days! This coming week holds a day of new teacher orientation AND my first parent/teacher conference. Woah buddy.

03 August 2013

Currently August

Linking up with Farley!

The Bobby Bones show is my main jam. I listened to it pretty much every morning on a top 40 station when I lived in Gtown and then it moved to a nationally syndicated country show my senior year, which was... AWESOME because I love love country music. I am a freak and could talk about this little radio show like I am besties with the hosts.

Um, hi KG Fonts, where have you been all my life? So cute and so free. 'Nough said.

I am jonesin for a red velvet bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes with extra cream cheese icing. Too bad the closest one is back in civilization, aka two and a half hours away from here. I wonder if they take orders...?

My classroom has a very, um, cheery paint job right now. I could see it working in another setting, but it kind of makes my head hurt and I'm going for a caaaaalm atmosphere in my self-contained room. Maybe I can just wish some pretty blueygrey paint onto the walls.

I need a pedicure stat. I dropped a filing cabinet (well, really a dolly with said cabinet) on my big toe. Minor physical damage, but it took the top layer off most of my toe nail. Not cute. And that big ol hater Bennett (aka my husband) keeps making fun of it.

I just did a little back to school must haves post, so I'll keep it brief. This little lady needs a coffee mug that won't spill on my excursion to work every morning, flair pens, sharpies, and shimmer BICs for a variety of... organizational needs, and my Vera lanyard (somehow I found three of those puppies stashed away in my house...) for my ID and keys.

02 August 2013

My Favorite Things: Back to School (for the teacher)

Well, the countdown is on... 24 days until schools starts! Linking up with Halle for more favorite things!

In preparation for going back to school this year, I have done (or have planned) a few of my verrry favorite things:

waaay too much shopping. When I was on my extended vacay in civilization last month, I spent lots of time at JCrew (hello teacher discount!), Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy. 

clean house. All summer, we've been moving in and moving piles around and putting furniture up in our little red house. The time has come for a deep clean. There is nothing worse than a tough day at school, followed by coming home to an icky casa.

a good pedicure/manicure. Apparently I have been missing out on the local nail salon that serves wine. I will be high tailing it there ASAP. I'm thinking of doing something tacky cute like this for the first week of school... I mean, you only get one first day of teacher ever, right?! Might as well do it big!

pre-packed lunches and snacks. As I mentioned last week, I try to eat kinda healthy, and pre-packing and planning all of my meals while I'm at school is my saving grace. If I know what I have to eat, I am less tempted to run get fast food (hahaha, don't worry though, the only "fast food" in my tiny teaching town of 1200 is Subway).

a good coffee cup and water bottle. To avoid snacking all day, I drink coffee in the morning and guzzle water all day. I have an insane amount of water cups/jugs/buckets/tervises, but am on the hunt for a good no-spill coffee cup. I'm thinking an Autoseal is going to be my jam this year, because if I spill coffee on my 45 min drive to school there is no way I can turn back to change!

01 August 2013

Filing Cabinets: Not Just For...

Hopefully all of my 1.5 readers got something (even if just like one of my rambling sentences stuck with you) out of the NAILED IT series... Still insanely proud of my main girl Al's ability to follow the steps to find some job success!

Back on real life Resource Thursday. My classroom has improved a great amount, thanks to a sweet teacher friend's advice. We hauled like 3 large tables, 2 student desks, 5-10 large chairs, a rolly cart (like the kind one might find in the library...?), and a bunch of other assorted junk tools and furniture into the hallway to join my 4 trash bags of shredded files. (File shredding was my project last week. It was nuts- like purchase-orders-from-before-I-was-even-in-kindergarten nuts... What a joy to sort through.)

Oops. Ok, really back to Resource Thursday. I'm planning on doing this to my two totally not matching file cabinets:

I'd really like to set this up to be an instructional tool. Probably gonna set up a magnet center of some kind with some sorting games, free time building with those excellent magnet things, spelling words with magnetic letters. The possibilities are basically endless.

Also, did I mention that I'm painting...? Hooray! Stay tuned for that progress!