Friday, November 30, 2012

Things to Remember as a Teacher...

I'm starting to get the hang of this! It was never the classroom teaching part that I found difficult. Instead it was keeping my head above water as I sorted through paperwork, grading papers, IEPS, parent meetings, responding to e-mails, keeping a clean desk, and lesson planning that has made the first few months hard.

My administrator and feloow teachers told me to slow down---they said I'd burn out before I even truly began teaching and they were right. The late nights--sometimes to 9:30 and 10 at night spent at school caused me to be tired and dread going to work. It was developing into an unhealthy habit.

What I have learned is that you will burn out. You will lose that spark if you run yourself ragged!      You must take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of your self for those students. Here is what I have changed to make sure I'm always the best version of me:
  • Set an afterschool schedule: So you may not be Wonder woman and you can't do everything in one day., BUT you can feel organized and make a plan of attack--Wednesday could be parent contact day, unless there is an emergency of course. My plan is to grade papers on Monday and Wednesday. To lesson plan on Tuesday and Friday, and to use Thursday as parent contact day. Now, things do't always go according to plan and I have to learn to deal with that! At least, I'm not stressed trying to do it all everyday and getting nothing done at all.
  • Take time for yourself and do things you enjoy: I go to the gym. Its my me-time! I go alone and I have it quiet in the car, no phone or radio. When I get to the gym I burn off stress in Zumba! Its a fun way to end the day and its good for me too!
  • Spend time with people you love: Don't miss out on life because yours seems to revolve around youngsters and state standards. Have your adult time and use it to be happy! Talk about the peak and the pit of your day! Smile at the good, laugh at the bad, and move on! These things in life come to make us strong.
  • EAT....LIVE....AND PRAY!! Have great food that makes you weak its so tasty! Go Outside and enjoy life, and lastly pray. Remember God is near and He wants you to lean on and trust in Him. He made plans to give you a future and a hope, so when things seem bleakest, lean on Him.
I hope these tips help others! (Mostly, I wrote them to hold myself accountable.)

Always Faithful,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Student Project!

Two blog posts in one day! Boy oh boy, am I on a roll this Monday. I had to take a minute and share a project one of my sweeties made. We were talking about the Native Americans and he said that the class should make houses for each Indian group. I replied, "I dare you to do it!" Little did I know, my dare could mean so much. The next week he marched in with a beautiful igloo. The moments like that make teaching so worthwhile!
He was so proud of his igloo. He talked about how long it took to make. He used sugar cubes and icing, and he even made it in the spiral formation we talked about. We played a trick on the class when he brought it in because no one else had completed one, so they all wondered if they actually had a project due! I had a bunch of scared kiddies on my hands!

Any of your students doing projects on their own?

Always Faithful,


Teacher Planner

This week's Monday Made It brings you a new planner!

As a new teacher, I have found that there were not many planners that matched what I need. The first planner I saw at Wal-Mart just had the month section and each day was a small section, about the size of a hand written paragraph. Well, when I need to write down my entire lesson plan for three different classes, those types of plan books do not fit my needs! Then, I need to write different plans for the next day when I have three more classes. I needed something that would allow me to write plans for my six classes--honors, C-level, and collaborative classes. Thats a lot of accomodations that need to written down.

Well, when you identify a problem, you have to identify a solution! So what else to do than create your own! I have read a ton of blogs where teachers have created their own planners and plan books. There is no way that the plan books offered in stores are made by teachers.
So without further ado, my plan book is below!

So here is the cover of my book! I made the cover in Power Point. I used a chevron graphic and changed the color of it to gray and white. Then, I streatched a blue rectangle (from shapes) across the front. The rest was easy. I added the title and the date. I think for an amateur, I did pretty well.
The next step was completed by using a table in word: The table is 8x3 so that I can have Monday and Tuesday on one side and Wed-Fri. on the other. My headings along the side are: Date, SOL and Objectives, Bell Work, Teaching Activities, Evaluation & Assessment, Homework, and finally Supplies/Resources. I LOVE my new planner. I also left room in the planner so that I could have a whole month calendar. I took this to Staples to have it bound after making the copies front and back. All total, my planner was less than five dollars! Wal-Mart planner was ten dollars! I highly suggest you make your own!
Always Faithful,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Its amazing how, when you're a student, all you want is a day out of school. as an adult, I cannot lie, I wanted to be out also. Here in Central Virginia, Hurricane Sandy put us out of school for two days. Ordinarily, a storm would have been a great thing and missing school would have been a bonus, but from this storm, I learned two very important things.

First, hurricanes can completely change your world overnight. I was unharmed here in Virginia; it was more like a normal rain day here. In New York, New Jersey, and in other places on the northeastern seaboard, Hurricane Sandy was as vicious as they come. For those teachers and students, they do not have schools to go back to, and in that instance I am both humbled and blessed. My prayers go out to those in need. I should never take for granted the school/classroom/job/students that God has blessed me with. Its sometimes so easy to do that--to get lost in the daily grind of work, but find a moment everyday to feel thankful.

Lesson number two is not as spiritual in nature, but far more practical. Missing days of school can be hard on a teacher. Your lesson plans change; you have to get your students focused! For me, I had a test scheduled that week, and with the even/odd schedule that the school functions on, we are a whole week behind. The most important thig is to be prepared for any change. We were supposed to have a celebration for our students the day we returned to school. I had students sitting in my room when I received an e-mail saying the celebration was cancelled. If my collaborative teacher and I weren't ready, we could have been caught in a huge mess!

Two days of rest was great, but lesson learned: Always be prepared for anything!

Always Faithful,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim. That's how I've been feeling for the last few weeks since school has started. I was feeling like the kids were always one step ahead of me, like I was running a marathon and coming in last place. I can say that I have survived the first month of school and I plan on never looking back. I definitely think I was well prepared as a first year teacher, but you can never be fully prepared. I wasn't anxious picking my kids up from the gym that first day. Going over rules and expectations didn't make me cringe. Actually, those things went quite well. Most of the mishaps were actually out of my control--the office didn't give me enough of the handouts for the class period I was handing them out in, and when a student went and asked for more, the school was all out of extras. That was poor planning on their behalf.

The things that have been weighing me down the most are the things they don't teach you in grad school. Oh, they made sureI had classroom management down-packed and they made sure I knew how to lesson plan and create inquiry based instruction, but what they didn't prepare me for were the constant meetings, paperwork beyond belief, and the 12 hour days: not because you have to, but because in order to survive you must.

I have meetings everyday, and I never have planning time at school because of these meetings: Monday is Team day, Tuesday is PLC day, Wednesday is Cluster (grade level) day, Thursday is Technology day, and Friday is an AWARE/ICU day. I began to wonder, who needs to talk this much? I need to plan, make copies, plan, grade papers, plan, e-mail parents (did I mention I need this time to plan?). I finally have a strong grasp on what is expected...and I'm making myself a schedule for after school. I feel that is going to keep me on track. Does anyone else have an afterschool schedule to get things done? What should I do on which days? It has been a huge blur but I'm feeling (slightly) better as time goes by. I think one of the best things happened today. I've noticed that the best parts of teaching are the little moments that take you by surpirse. Today, I had to arrange to have a substitute for a training I'm going to tomorrow.The sub e-mailed me tonight ( I teach her son) saying that she told him that she would be the substitute tomorrow. He then replied, Wow, mom, you'd better make learning fun for those kids, because Ms. Carr has to be the best teacher in the world. That e-mail, those words from one student, were the best gifts for me today! I hope someone is adding a little ray of sunshine to your day as a teacher. Lord knows, we deserve them.

Always Faithful,


Monday, August 27, 2012

Chair Pockets

So This is kind of my Monday Made it from last week. I spent last week making chair pockets for my desks in my classroom. My classrooom is kind of small and the students are not allowed to have backpacks, so they leave their stuff all over the floor and I end up tripping over things (at least that's what used to happen when I subbed last year). So I got to thinking about what I could do in order to make my room a little neater and a lot safer for me, lol. Side note: The students have a cubbyhole in their desks but i don't like them to use it. All the desks are turned so they can't use them. I just found that my students were trying to hide and eat in class or put trash in them. I hate that, so that was the inspiration behind these!

 I made them in four colors! I thought that would be a cool way to group the students!  I used heavy duty black corduroy (sp) and heavy duty thread and they colored part i just a ribbon. I measured the chair at my school. kind of at the middle so I knew it would be big enough. I used fifteen yards of fabric to make 30 pockets and they were super simple. I cut out each pocket, ironed across the top and made a seam. Then I folded the bottom up, so the pockets are actually only one piece of fabric. I sewed down the sides to make it pretty and neat! They look awesome. I will post a picture of them in the room sometime soon!

Always Faithful,


Forgive me Bloggers, for I have sinnned!

Hello Blog family!!!

Deepest apologies for the extended amount of time in which I have not blogged. Life has dealt me quite the hand recently. I have been dealing with some issues with my family and my personal life. I have been through the fire and the flood. I have been through the mud recently!! But my Christianity is stronger! I know all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and have been called according to HIS purpose! Therefore, I am okay. No matter what a situation looks like, no matter how dire that situation, understand that God knows who we are and whom we are to become.
Jeremiah 29:11 declares "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and to give you a hope." Hallelujah!

Today was the first day of in service teacher workweek, but last week I had new teacher trainings and orientations. Its been a whirlwind! My classroom is coming together. I will have some pictures up of the finished product pretty soon, but here go the before pics!

My classroom is supper small and I have hardly any bulletin boards, BUT where there is a will there is a way! I plan on making use of the wall space  You might notice felt on the botton of all the desk feet. Our floors get really scratched up, SO in order to change that I covered the desks. I also thought it may minimalize distractions so that the students wont make a screeching time everytime they move. So far its been amazing as I have been moving the desks around! The updated class will be coming at the end of the week, and I'll see you then!
Always Faithful,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Made It Monday

Good Evening Everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Mine was blessed! God definitely answered one of my prayers over the weekend.

Today is Monday, and I wanted to do my first ever made it Monday! I actually went to the fabric store today to make some chair pockets for my desks (I will put those up next week) and some vinyl for a map I am making for my class. I actually ended up making a teacher's tool kit. I saw this on Pinterest and LOVED it and knew I had to have it for my class this year. To see the original go to Create, Teach, Share. Her toolbox is so cute! She is using it to replace her teacher desk. I just want mine to be on the bookshelf for student use. If they need an eraser or something, then they can just go and get it. All items should be returned (not band-aids of course, lol).

This is the tool box. I bought it from Home Depot for like 17 dollars. They also have it at Lowe's. This one is gray and they also have it in blue. This is my toolbox now:
I used black and white scrapbook paper and colored card stock paper. It was super simple to make. I used an index card to measure how big each label would need to be. I printed the labels off of the computer, used a glue stick to get them to stick to the card stock. I used spray adhesive to get the labels to stick to the plastic on the iside of each box. That part was kind of tricky because the spray glue was all over my hands and my craft table dining room table! Acetone and baby oil took it right off. I'm so excited to use this in the coming year. If you have a cute trick up your sleeve, I'd love to read all about it!

Always Faithful,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Writing Classroom Procedures

Today I am writing procedures for my classroom. This has me thinking about my first interview for teaching three years ago. I had just graduated from college, where I did not major in education, and had recently decided to be a teacher. The principal asked me about my classroom management plan. I had no clue what she meant, so I said something along the lines of: "Students need chances, so I believe in a three strikes, you're out system." Looking back, I realize why I didn't get that job, and I'm so grateful they didn't hire me.
In grad school, one of my professors always focused on classroom management. She always talked about how a teacher could have flawless lesson plans: your lessons could be inquiry based and differentiated, but without classroom management, your lessons would never come to fruition the way you may have imagined. She suggested have twenty to thirty classroom procedures. When she first suggested that number, I was overwhelmed! How on Earth would I be able to write 30 classroom procedures?? I remember thinking about whether kids could chew gum or not and thinking that was a procedure. At that point, I could only think of about six classroom procedures. I turned in my assignment, and boy did I regret that! Se gave me clarity that day. A class rule is not a class procedure. While my students won't be given a handbook of procedures for my classroom, it is a great tool for me to have. I will need to teach students these procedures, and I cannot make them up on a whim. So far, I have written procedures to address the following issues:
  • entering the room
  • leaving the room
  • heading a paper
  • going to the bathroom
  • handing in assignments
  • returning assignments
  • borrowing supplies
  • organizing your notebook
  • fire drills
  • assemblies
  • morning announcements
  • classroom visitors
  • going to lunch
  • throwing away thrash
  • sharpening pencils
  • completing group work
  • storing student supplies
  • passing out handouts
  • make-up work
  • coming to attention
I am close to having thirty and I can see why she gave that number. I would like to know about some procedures you all may have. Are there any I am missing? What are you doing to prepare for the school year?

Always Faithful,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Linky Party

Good Afternoon! In order to meet more teachers I am joining a linky party. Mrs. Crouse at 6th Grade All-stars wants to know how teachers prepare for the first days of school! I am very interested to see what others have said, but my answers are below. A great resource for preparing your classroom management system is a book called The First Days of School, written by Harry Wong. It is also an easy read.

- What grade do you teach?

I will be teaching sixth grade Social Studies. U.S. History from the very beginnings to 1865. I am also the collaborative teacher this year.

- What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching?

Technically, this is my first year teaching.. My grad advisor always said that you can only teach the subject matter after teaching classroom management. She said you need to have a procedure for everything, because if something can go wrong it will. She said spend at least two weeks teaching your classroom management system, and if the students ever need a reminder, teach the procedures again

- Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)?

No. But I would love to see some!

- What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)?

I have a THINK poster, that I saw on Pinterest. It says before you speak THINK: T-is it true? H-is it helpful? I-is it inspiring? N-is it necessary? K-is it kind?

I love that poster because 6th graders can be bullies, I do not want anyone feeling inferior in my classroom. I want them to share opinions openly without fear of rejection.

- What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom?

Tissues and pencils. Students always need tissues and it can be a huge distraction for someone to have to run and get a roll of toilet paper. Pencils is a given…they need pencils to complete work. I also want a spray bottle and paper towels nearby, just in case I need to clean something.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Are We There Yet?

My church has been collecting school supplies to give to others less fortunate. So in order to be obedient, I trooped to Wal-Mart, so that I could buy supplies to turn in. Its interesting, because as I was walking the aisles pulling notebooks and pencils, I thought about the things I needed to start preparing for my classroom. I started teaching in February of last year, mid-month and I am not ashamed to say I was unprepared. It was difficult too, as the students already had their way of doing things, which was not how I wanted thngs to operate! Through the grace of God, I survived last year, but I still don't feel like I have been a true first year teacher. So there I am in Wal-Mart glancing at lamps and expo markers and a green trashcan (random assortment of things, I know, however my classroom does not have a trashcan suitable for my desk) and I think to myself, what will this year be like?

I run home with my supplies for church, and I had a NIGHTMARE! I was totally unprepared and the students could tell! I went to church today and turned in my school supplies and my pastor reminded us all that it was almost that time again. I got home and checked my calendar....I have 29 days left. That's 29 days to organize my lesson plans, 29 days to create my classroom procedures, 29 days to organiize my classroom, 29 days to get ready for what I consider to be my first year of teaching! I fully plan on utilizing these 29 days, so that my nightmare doesn't come true. If anyone has any tips or suggestions I am open to them....and please forgive me, for this is my first blog posting EVER! I am excited about networking with all of you, and for however many days you have left, I pray that you have much success in getting there!

Remaining Faithful,