Monday, June 29, 2015

Rock Your First Year of Teaching

I still remember my very first day of school. Not as a student, but as a TEACHER!  I was terrified of the 'not knowing.' Guess what? It went GREAT! I am so excited to be teaming up with Teaching with Crayons and Curls and My Mommy Reads to share advice for first year teachers. Here's what I got :)

1. Ask your principal for a copy of your school's Employee/Faculty Handbook and a copy of the Student Handbook. Familiarize yourself with the policies of your school. Post it note any questions you have that you may need clarification on. Learn your school's mission and climate. This will help you decide how you are going to contribute to helping the school achieve that mission. The handbooks will also help you understand the "nuts and bolts" of your school. Little things like learning how to "log money" and requesting field trips will snatch up your time if you are unfamiliar with the processes that are specific to your school. Also, sit down with your principal and ask questions about how the evaluation process will work. It's good to know up front what the expectations are so you can meet them! 

2. Buy comfortable shoes and clothes...You don't have to sacrifice your style to still look cute and professional. However, when and if you teach lower grades, I have learned to dress to expect the unexpected. Most days I end up sitting on the rug with my students, bending over and leaning across the guided reading table to help a reader, or crawling under a table chasing the top to a glue stick. Oh the random bus evacuation drill and tornado drills are always fun too!  :)  Just know you'll want to be comfortable and professional. especially your first year!  

3. Build rapport quickly! Start networking with your colleagues and tour their rooms to get ideas. Find a colleague that can mentor you and offer you advice. As soon as you get your class list, start contacting parents to introduce yourself. Let them know how excited you are to be their child's teacher. Go all out, do the phone calls, post cards, etc. Positive communication upfront goes a long way later down the road if you have to make a difficult behavior phone call. If you can build rapport at the beginning of the year, parents are more likely to trust you and come to you with any problems or concerns versus running to your principal. Continue building positive rapport throughout the year with "good" phone calls/notes home and through parent conferences. Also take the time to build rapport with your students. Those first few days, focus on building a community and bond with your students. If they don't feel the love and respect from you, they certainly aren't going to learn from you!!!  

1. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or help. It's okay to have questions. In fact, you'll probably have a lot of them. Find a mentor to whom you can ask, but please don't be afraid to ask. If your district has instructional coaches these people can help you tremendously. I know in my district, our coaches are there simply to "coach," and not to observe. This allows us to risk that vulnerability and ask those questions we are not sure about. Attend grade level planning meetings and any professional development classes that your district or school offers. Both of those environments are there for you to ask questions! 

2. Don't expect to have it all together. For your first year, focus on your instruction and classroom management. Your cute Pinterest classroom decor ideas can come later on. For now focus on mastering your curriculum. Your cute classroom isn't what is going to keep you in the classroom, it's your instruction that will! Many of the teachers that you see through social media have been teaching for MANY YEARS. Don't compare yourself to them, and expect to have it all together when starting out. I've been teaching for only five years, and I'm still trying to get it all together. ;)

Set GOALS! Set yourself mini-goals for each day and month to keep you on track. Goal setting will help keep you from getting overwhelmed. Learn to prioritize your goals. Along with your goals, allow yourself time for reflection. Reflect on things that went well and areas you want to improve upon. Teachers are life long learners and life long goal setters. Each year, I decide one area of instruction I want to really focus on doing better the following year. This summer, my goal is to really think about my writing instruction. I have worked hard to really strengthen my reading and math instruction in the previous years, but I know I could still use some tips on improving my writer's workshop block. So, guess what I'm working on and reading all about this summer?

Good luck on your first year of teaching. I pray that it is the first of many fulfilling years ahead! You are seriously about the enter the hardest, but BEST career ever! Enjoy the journey, do your best, don't forget to get some rest, and TEACH YOUR HEART OUT! 

Don't forget to link up and check out all of the other AMAZING advice too! You can click on the picture above to read it all! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream

So excited for another round of The TPT Seller Challenge. This week was a little hard for me at first, because I've never really allowed myself to think about my TPT really 'going anywhere.' It's always been 'just a hobby.' With these set of challenges I am really beginning to believe in my ideas and my stores so much more now. So here goes...

First, I just want to make a lot of memories with my family. I have a one year old soon going on eighteen. I'm  aware that this growing up thing will happen quickly. So I would love to be able to have as much fun as possible with him and husband as possible. I personally think he and my husband would love a boat, a UTV, and to travel (even though I hate flying). Memories! Memories! Memories! I want a lot of them! 

Second, I have my eye on the new Tahoes. I really, really want a car with a third row seat! 

Third, we are outgrowing our little home. So I would like to be able to move into a bigger house one day. 

Last, which I didn't put in the picture but is vey dear to my heart is that I'd love to give my mom and dad something really, really, really nice. They have also given so selflessly to me. One day, I'd like to be really show them my gratitude! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge 1: Makeover Madness

Wow! I am loving this Teachers Pay Teachers Sellers Challenge. It has really given me the motivation I need to revamp my products and store. The product I chose to revamp is one that I use in my classroom often, so it will be nice for it to feel "fresh" this upcoming school year. Just know, that my before...Yikes! Seriously, borderline embarrassing. But...we all have to start somewhere!

I am so glad I did this challenge. I love my new cover. It is no longer a product that I would be embarrassed about! I decided to use a real cover this time. I also went clean and simple, can you see my OCD coming out. Yep, it's there!

As for the product, it is Common Core Reading Responses for First Grade. This product contains easy prep reading response journal slips that can be glued right down into a journal or interactive notebook. I really like to use these for Guided Reading or the guided writing portion of guided reading rather. They help keep the students on track with their responses. We also use them as an accountability option for the Read to Self center as well too! If you would like to take a closer look clip the picture below. Also, it's on sale for the next week! So grab your copy today!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Two Truths and a Lie

Updated information is at the bottom...

I am linking up with Teach Talk Inspire and My Day in K for their Tell All Tuesday Linky! Here it goes, see if you can spot the lie!

1. I'm allergic to seafood. It's a true bummer really. Luckily, it doesn't even appeal to me, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on much!

2. I've been shot. Like really shot with a gun. Well, it was a BB gun, but that's still a gun! I was five years old. The bullet hole put two holes in my intestines and I was in the hospital for over a month.

3. I've never broken a bone. Nope, not even one! It's hard to break bones reading books and relaxing all the time.

Alright! Can you figure out the lie?

Link up with us by clicking the picture below to share your two truths and a lie!

Thanks for stopping by! And the lie is....

Number 1! I am NOT allergic to seafood. I actually LOVE it! Shrimp, crab, and lobster are my absolute favorites! Yes, I was shot with a BB gun in kindergarten and had to undergo emergency surgery. It was a complete accidental and innocent thing that turned into a life threatening issue. Thankfully, the doctors repaired me right up and I have had zero complications ever since! Praise the Lord! Also, I haven't ever broken a bone (knock on wood)! My husband however has broken 26 bones! Yikes! He raced motocross in his younger years and let's just say he is paying for it now. I figure he has broken enough for the both of us! Congratulations to those who guessed number one! You are the RIGHT!!! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gradebook Be Gone

So I have a confession...I can't stand grading! It doesn't matter how many pretty Papermate Flair pens I buy, I still don't enjoy it. Especially after I sit there grading my papers and then have to gather them to put them in my gradebook. So instead, I started notebooking and only graded assessments. But...I didn't grade them in the typical way, I decided to get down with data. After all, if I'm going to spend precious time grading something, I'm going to walk away with something useful. I know DATA is that big scary word that's thrown around way TOO much these days. But data, when used for its true purpose, and not to beat up teachers, is actually quite powerful. So, here is a peek at my gradebook or actually Data Notebook. 

This cover is courtesy of Haley O'Conner-Teacher Binder. I now have an addiction with pretty covers! I love how easy it is too coordinate her binder covers! It's worth the purchase! 

Next is where I plan my data. I look the upcoming assessment, and decide how to best plan my instruction. Think, backwards design. Just taking the time to do this (which isn't as much as you think) is really powerful for your instruction. When we are always trying to fit everything in, this preparation will help you figure out what the most important take aways are.


Next is where I keep my recording data template. I have other subject tabs (literacy data, math data, etc.) were I store the scoring sheets for reference after completed. I just like the keep the template close for copying purposes. 

This is a SAMPLE of how to do the data sheet. It can look overwhelming, but is is not at all! It takes the same or less time than the old gradebook method. Just from this sample, I can clearly see. Which questions were the most missed and which students I need to pull for further instruction to ensure mastery. Plus, when you go to meetings, you can easily discuss student progress and data.


At some point, and maybe not for every assessment, I try to reflect. After all, data is only powerful if used correctly! I used the SAMPLE to show you how I reflect on the data. But this will look different for all. This is your time to be that reflective practitioner. Also, for evaluation purposes, you have evidence of purposeful retracting as needed.


After that comes my RTI tab which contains district RTi information and this Data at a Glance Sheet I created to help me track data points for specific RTI goals.


The last tab is a page for each student where I can jot down anecdotal notes when grading assessments. Notes that will be important for conferences, meetings, and report cards, etc.


Whew. So that my friends is how to get down with data! If you like to purchase his pack please click the picture below! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blogging Here I Come

So being a mom is hard. Being a mom and a teacher, is even harder. I keep praying that with every TPT purchase I make that I will find some miraculous product that makes finding the balance easier, but so far no luck. It's just a daily journey of praying and allowing God to direct me. But, one thing I know, is I like connecting  with other teachers. It makes me feel more human I think. Like there are other people in this struggle too. With that being said, my goal is to blog more, connect more, get out of my to do list routine more. But, because I can't entirely give up my to do list...I did create some little sheets to help me stay focused! So with that I give you..

My TPT and Blogging Binder
Yep! There it is! This cover comes from Haley O'Connor's Teacher Binder which is awesome! Really awesome! Like, just go get it as a present to your OCD self! Click Here for the link!
Inside I have some pages I created to help keep me on track. 
A master planning page to keep a handy list of all my amazing ideas.


Calendars for each month to keep me motivated. Because let's be real, I'll do anything to be able to check a box off!

And a project planning page! So when I decide to create a project I can plan it out and keep up with  the fonts and clip art used and such. Also, I like to make lists, so that's really half the reason!

If you'd like to snag this pack for FREE, just click on the photo below.

I BLOGGED! NO REALLY I DID! And Currently June!

Hold up! Wait a minute! I ACTUALLY BLOGGED! I've got to get better about it. No, really I will! Wow! I can't believe it's already June. That means it's only 6 months until Christmas! Yep, that's right. Sorry for freaking you out now! But June for me means Summer! I have a one year old, and that means time to actually play! It's awesome! Check out my Currently below to see what else is going on around here. 

Thank you Farley for the link up! Link up with us!