Sunday, June 30, 2013

The REAL Phases of a First Year Teacher

Phases of First Year Teachers
We've all seen that graph. You know, the one that tells us about the roller coaster first year of teaching. I'll admit, I read (okay, skimmed) a couple of articles all about my imminent disillusionment phase before I started. It all sounded fine and dandy with the scientific and professional jargon, but let me break this thing down for us and tell you what it's really like.

May: "WOO HOO! I graduated! I'm going to change the world" (after this summer of CONSTANT FUN of course).
Am I the only one that this happened to? Don't worry, my friends took care of me and yelled out my name correctly. :)
Summer: Pinterest Pinning Spree - "I'm going to have such a cute classroom. I have all of these great ideas for about 7 different grades, but I really, really want to be in ____ grade." Actively applying to every single job that is posted and taking every interview that is offered to me.

Later in the Summer: "WOO HOO! I have a job! I've got a million things on my To Do list, but I am so excited to do great things. I'm going to change the world!"
No, no I AM going to change the world.
August-November: "Oh crap, what did I get myself into?" This begins the constant state of anxiety. There is no time for ANYTHING! You wake up early, go to work, come home, do work, go to sleep (maybe) and repeat. Wait, did you remember to eat dinner? (Not always).


Thanksgiving Break: THE REVIVAL - Something about that turkey and stuffing gives a burst of delightful rejuvenation.

Post Thanksgiving: "Okay, I'm doing alright. I haven't lost or seriously injured any children yet (hopefully). I can make it through the next few weeks! It'll be great, I've got fantastic ideas for engaging my kids until break!"

Winter Break: It's a miracle, we made it! 2 weeks of pure, relaxing bliss!
              Week 1: "I'm not even going to think about school. I'm just so happy to be home relaxing. I'm going      to sit on my couch and eat and drink and watch Ellen all day."

            Week 2: Lesson plans, grades, Pinterest ideas. Schoooool is coming!
January and February: Why do these two months exist? I'll tell you, to torture us! It becomes very questionable as to whether or not we'll make it through the year. Everyone is driving everyone crazy.
Only, this was a conversation that happened in my mind. 
March: SPRING BREAK! This has taken on a whole different meaning than what it meant last year in college. Catching up on sleep is WAY more important than going out.
If he says it's okay, then it's okay.
April - May: OH MY GOSH Standardized Tests are coming. Okay, okay, we'll review. No big deal. Until you realize your students are remembering NOTHING about ANYTHING. PANIC PANIC PANIC!

June: *Collective sigh* I made it. No students were seriously injured, lost, or harmed. We all made it through the year! If you're like me, you may even shed a few tears at the little stinkers leaving.

There you have it. The reality of teaching. If we're lucky, we get to start over again in a couple of months.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

12 Things I Wish I Knew 12 Months Ago

1. Always keep extra lunch supplies in your classroom. 

You know, a cup of soup here, some crackers there, a good amount of chocolate and caffeine back in the back. Oh, and you will NEVER have enough plastic utensils.

I think 200 should be enough, right? 

2. Don't stress about all of that cutesy stuff.

I had so many plans of different things to go on throughout the year. Once we got started, I found out a lot of what I was doing was wasted energy. In the wise words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" Instead, focus on hanging student work. Even better, let them choose what they want to hang up!

3. You may not be ready to be a mother, but surprise you're having 25-tuplets!

It all started with the morning sickness/nerves and anxiety in the morning. These kids will test your patience to the max, that is for sure. However, there is something lovable in each of them. My heart broke for each of these kids at least once this year but, it was also able to celebrate their successes.

4. It's okay to ask for help. It's also okay to smile and nod at someone's advice and make it your own.

Almost everyone is willing to help and support a new teacher. They all remember what it's like. Be weary of those who are trying to push their ideas on you. You alone know what will work best for you and your relationship with your students. Take what others say and make it work for you.

5. Stock up on coffee and Coke.
Enough said.

6. Be flexible.

Meetings change, appointments change, kids change, adults change, bells don't ring, it rains as soon as you walk out for recess, computers break, desks break, kids break, people don't show up, the AC goes out, the internet goes out, you forget your lunch, your students sometimes understand nothing that comes out of your mouth, you get sick, kids get sick, policies are altered; and if you're lucky, they all happen on different days.

7. Create a survival kit for THOSE days.

Excedrin, hair ties, sweater, extra pair of shoes (for when you "accidently" jump in the puddle), toothbrush and toothpaste, chapstick (like 20 sticks because you know you'll lose them all), lotion, nail file, safety pins, cough drops, lady supplies, bobby pins, and gum. My kit has grown throughout the year.
8. The importance of acronyms. 

I mean seriously, can I get a dictionary?


9. When it all becomes too much, close the door and focus on what's important.

It took me all year to realize this is what I needed to do. I spent too many hours worrying about what others were frantic about. When I finally realized it, I had shut my door and had 25 little people to focus my attention on. It all seems so cliche, but it's true. The kids are why we're there and they make it all worth it. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my team and everyone that is around me. But when everyone is going crazy at the same time, put that "Do Not Disturb" sign up (or just do as I do and lock your door).

A bit much?
10. Read the ENTIRE label on your Zyrtec before you take it. 

Otherwise you will miss the "may cause drowsiness" and suffer all day long. Seriously, worse day of the year. It was TORTURE. Went to bed by 4:00 that day.

Should have just invested in this contraption.

11. It's okay to act like a fool.

Some of my best lessons turned out when I was standing on a chair or had kids rolling on the floor. You've gotta do what you gotta do to keep a bunch of 5th graders' attention.

12. Smile.

If you believe in that old saying "Don't smile before Christmas," it's fine. Just make sure you celebrate Christmas in August. Kids are funny, farts are funny, but most importantly, I am funny.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: My Favorite Pins

I'm joining up with Jivey for the first time for her Workshop Wednesday! We all know I'm a pinning fanatic, so I'm extremely excited to share some of my most recent pins. I can't wait to put some to use next year. 

Classroom Set-up: I want to use this quote in some way, any way possible next year. 

Science: I can't wait to do this experiment next year. I love that the class used different types of milk to observe. If all goes as planned,each of my table groups will start with whole milk and we'll all observe it the same. Then we'll do a second round with different types of milk. 

Math: I love this visual. This was such a difficult concept for my skeptical students to grasp. Up until this year, they've been taught a square is a square, a rectangle is a rectangle, and a parallelogram is a parallelogram. They had quite a few debates among themselves on this topic. It was so cool to watch. Next year, I think at the end of our discussion(s), I'll introduce this visual. 

For Funsies: I want to be this guy's friend!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Teacher Blog Tuesday!

I'm so excited to be featured on Fun in First Grade's New Teacher Blog Tuesday! If you have ended up here from there, thanks for stopping by! Otherwise, head on over to learn a bit more about me! You'll find out my favorite item of clothing, my life soundtrack, and more!

Check out my TPT for some freebies:
Follow me on Pinterest:

Thank you so much Dana for hosting me!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cleaning out and Organizing

Woo hoo! I have officially made it through my first year of teaching! Our kids finished Monday and I finished on Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday we had meetings so I didn't get much done in my room. Buuuuut, Thursday and Friday most teachers took leave days so I was one of very few teachers. Therefore, I got the most work done those 2 days!

At the beginning of the year, when I was moving into my classroom, I was obviously extremely overwhelmed with everything. I didn't know where to start or what to do. My big sister (also a teacher), my little sister (the muscles), and my Mom had come and they worked in my classroom when I went to my new teacher orientation. Thank goodness they came because they organized and hung up and set up most of my classroom!

When we were organizing, I didn't want to throw anything away or move anything because, well, I had no idea what I was going to need/want/use. Throw on top of that, when we were getting ready for EOG testing, I threw A LOT of my random junk into those cupboards so they were hidden. So, I had a lot of work to get done.

Here's my beginning/middle. I had already emptied my teacher desk (I don't want it back!) and that is part of what is all over my kidney table.

Look what I found! This made me laugh.

Some afters:

My supplies are organized and labeled now with Post-Its. After summer, I'll make some cuter labels. :)

Same closet! Those binders hold lesson plans, standards, policy manuals, and student information.

This one is blurry but I condensed and organized my FIVE force and motion kits  and measurement kits. So much better than a million boxes!

So excited to go back to a neat and organized room! 

On a side note, this is my summer job. Jealous? :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Surviving without a SmartBoard

As I browse through various blogs, I am often jealous of those of you with extensive technology. I see student laptops, iPads, SmartBoards, and other technological advances. However, after a year without a SmartBoard, I've discovered some tricks and tips to survive without one.

1. Project the image on your white board. Doing this allows you to write on your image just like you would on the whiteboard! I rarely pull down that screen to show anything anymore.

2. Get a wireless mouse. With a wireless mouse, you can involve students in the activities just as you would with a SmartBoard. You don't get the benefit of students up and moving, BUT you don't get the negative of students up and moving. They're not too expensive, around $20 for a cheap one.

3. Download the software anyways. Even if you don't have a SmartBoard to click on, don't let all of those free resources go to waste! Smart Exchange is an incredible source of classroom activities. As long as you have either Smart Notebook or Smart Viewer on your computer, you can download and create your files.

Smart Software                            SmartExchange (free lesson resources)

With the movement towards small group learning, a SmartBoard is becoming less and less necessary. However, occasionally a whole group activity is called for and these tips and tricks are easy to implement.

Any other tips for low-tech teaching?

Friday, June 7, 2013

June Currently!

I'm backkkk! I made it through 2 weeks of testing 4 subjects and 5th grade awards. To help me celebrate, my district gave us a Tropical Storm Day today (our last day of school) to be made up on Monday. So, I'm spending today on my couch, watching movies and the storm, and catching up on my blogging world.

Listening: Watching Safe Haven, remembering when it was beautiful in my part of NC and listening the the crazy winds from Andrea right now! Hope this early storm isn't a sign for the rest of our summer.

Loving: My summer plans. Including working on the beach, sleeping on the beach, playing on the beach. Oh and getting ready to implement my STEM program from my E4 study! I can't wait!

Thinking: My To Do list: 
- laundry
- dishes
- taking out the trash
- organizing my classroom
- finding an apartment for next year

Wanting: A beach day! I didn't get to go last weekend and I'm complaining like a baby about it. I need the sun to come back out!

Needing: To get up and cross those things off of my To Do list! Rainy days make me want to do nothing though. 

3 Vacay Essentials: Books - I've got to have some sort of entertainment on the beach.  Soda - I still need my caffeine fix. Sunscreen - Practicing safe sun. No sunburn for me!

Don't forget to link up your June Currently with Oh' Boy 4th Grade!
Oh' boy fourth grade