Sunday, August 28, 2011

Print, Laminate, Cut, Repeat..

With Hurricane Irene threatening to take down the Northeast, I was perfectly content with staying in the house to chip away at the back to school to-do list today. I know that others were hit much harder but thankfully we just ended up with a ton of rain and wind here. We lost power for about 30 seconds and considering there are thousands of people without it, we were incredibly lucky.

School starts back up tomorrow for staff and the kids come in on Tuesday so my list has been growing by the hour, pretty much every time I check out another blog and find another great idea! I'm addicted. My house looks like one big DIY project between my classroom and the wedding. So first thing this morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee, put together chili in the crockpot, and got to work. Luckily, I had my trusty sidekick willing to help.

This sweet guy worked on my math strategies iPod project inspired by Babbling Abby and then just when he thought he was finished he painted a bookshelf for me so that it would match my new reading area in my room. I cannot wait to show off the finished products!

While Mr. P worked, I wasted all of my ink printed out a bajillion things in color, laminated everything, and began cutting it all out. Luckily, I remembered that I could use the paper cutter at school tomorrow to cut everything with straight edges :) Total time saver because I was able to make my fabric banner that I have been seeing everywhere. I needed to have one for my room! Here's a sneak peek before I put it all together.

We have a delayed entry because of the hurricane and I'm hoping the building will still be open because I am counting on those extra hours to put everything together. I'll be back on Tuesday with before and after pics of my classroom and activities that I have planned for the first couple days of school. I really need to get to bed! Why does MTV always show the VMA's the Sunday before school starts??

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Calling all Middle School Teachers!

Teacher Week has completely taken over my life this past week and I am loving all the new blogs that I found. I am SO excited to finally find some middle school blogs, as if I need another distraction! :) Today I'm linking up with Teaching Tweens in hopes of finding more. If you teach grades 5-8, click on the button and link up. Spread the word!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three for Thursday

I am so bummed out that my room isn't finished so I wasn't able to participate for Where It All Goes Down Wednesday, yesterday. I can't wait to show it off when it is finished! For today, I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Three For Thursday. I'm supposed to just pick just one for each, but I am so indecisive!

My Favorite Font

I really enjoy Digs My Hartbut that's the only fancy one that I *love* that I own. I use Georgia at school because my school computer won't let me upload the fonts because it has a deep freeze that wipes out those kind of downloads at the end of the day every day. I really love seeing all the cute fonts on everyone else's blogs and I need some cute ones in my life!
My Favorite Blog(s)
Until Teacher Week, I really have not been able to find too many upper elementary blogs. It seems like everyone in Blogland teaches K-3! What's up with that?? Even so, I *love* these blogs.

My Favorite Online Resource

Um, Google much? I can't get enough. Google has lead me to all of the great resources that I use but I've lost some of my faves because of the whole deep freeze thing. I also find that I use TeachHub a lot, whether it is to read educational articles or find freebies.

I am up WAY too late checking out all of the great blogs I keep finding! It's bedtime for this girl because I only have FOUR!! hours to get my room in working condition for Monday. Can't wait to show off the pics & to meet my new kiddos!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

I'm linking up again with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week's Teacher Talk Tuesday.

Although I am still a newer teacher, I have plenty of suggestions for new teachers. While I don't feel entirely qualified to give advice, these are things that someone told me that helped and things I wish I knew when I started.

1. Stay positive. Remove yourself from the drama, the gossip, and the negative talk. When I first started teaching, someone told me to stay out of the teacher's lounge and I couldn't understand why. After two years, I finally started eating lunch elsewhere. The gossip and complaining became too much to bear and it makes for a toxic environment.

2. Find a mentor. Find someone that teaches something similar who has lots of experience. This person should be able to guide you without criticizing you. You should also not be afraid to ask questions to them or anyone else for that matter. There is so much to learn and acting like you know it all or have it all together won't do you any favors.

3. Get organized. Figure out what it is that you need to be teaching and make sure that you can cover the lessons and line them up with the standards, within the time allotted. It is so easy to miss something and to run out of time, story of our lives. Don't be afraid to stop and reteach if your kiddos aren't getting it, either. When you make the plans, you can change them, just keep the goal in mind. It's also important to keep your materials organized, whether it's your desk, supplies, or student manipulatives. It will save you plenty of time later.

4. Manage your time. My first year teaching, I was after school most night until at least 6pm and I spent a full weekend working from home each week. I was fully invested in my job and I hadn't found what worked best for me yet. While we will never be able to get away from all of the extra work that won't fit into the day, it is important to find ways to work smarter.  Don't forget about the other relationships in your life, the ones that will be there after the kids go home and when the school year ends.

5. Hold high expectations and stick to them. The kids should be held accountable and the bar should be set high for them. Don't lower the expectation or change your mind about something without having a plan. If you say you are going to do something, do it.

6. Take time for you. The teacher burnout rate is so incredibly high for new teachers that it is scary. The last thing I read was that 50% of teachers leave within the first three years. While teaching may be your life's passion and where your heart is, you need to take time for yourself outside of the classroom. When it starts taking over your life and isn't fun anymore, there is a problem.

7. Give love, praise, and guidance. These kiddos look up to you and rely on you in ways we will never know. No matter how young or old the students, you play a major role in their upbringing and they will remember how you made them feel. I love each of my kiddos with my whole heart, even if I don't like their behavior or actions. They learn from example and they don't know what they don't know. I find that when I love them and praise them, they learn how to do the right thing and how to tell the difference.

8. Enjoy what you do. Is there a better job than ours?!?! My most favorite thing about my job is the kids. They make me laugh, cry, and help me to see life as it is.. real and raw. There is no better way I can think of to spend my time than surrounded by these guys.

The best part about still being a newish teacher is knowing that I will continue to improve in all of these areas until I retire. I am SO loving reading all of your entries! Teacher Week is taking over my life and I'm loving it!

Teacher Week! Meet the Teacher Monday

I have been dying to start my teaching blog and there could not be a more perfect week to start than Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'. The girls at this blog are rockstars and a huge reason why I wanted to start blogging about my adventures in teaching. I am looking forward to linking up and learning from these fab teachers & co.

Tell us a little something about you...

My name is Sarah, but in the classroom I am known as Miss P.  I am getting married in April and one thing I will not have to change is my monogram! Miss P will become Mrs. P :) When I'm not wedding planning or lesson planning, I try to get get in as much time as possible with my sweet niece, who I absolutely adore. My family & friends mean the world to me and I am so blessed to have a rock solid group of girls that I can always be myself around. I am thrilled to be marrying my college sweetheart this spring, after five years of dating. We just bought our first home and I am loving this new phase of life we are beginning. 

How long have you been teaching?

This is my fifth year teaching fifth grade. I started teaching all subjects except social studies and I now teach only math and science and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I was beyond lucky to get a job right out of college and then to be able to keep the same one since then. While I originally thought I would teach the lower grades, my heart belongs to fifth grade.

You might not know...

I went into college undeclared because I was torn between a career in Broadcast Journalism and Education. As the oldest of four, and one of the oldest of over twenty first cousins, I was always the mom when we played house and the teacher when we played school. Around 10 years old, I became the babysitter when I officially started Babysitters Inc. in my neighborhood. My heart was always in education but I also have a passion for writing so when it was time to apply for college, I dreamed of living a city life in a studio apartment, writing for a magazine. Carrie Bradshaw much? After finishing the prerequisites, I could not avoid the calling any further. However,I am the biggest second guesser of all time and about halfway through college, I debated switching my major to nursing. Thank God that I followed my heart because I cannot imagine myself anywhere else.

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I have so many ideas brewing in my head and cannot wait to start fresh with a new group of kiddos. This was the first summer that I did not work and I feel completely renewed and while I always look forward to the new school year, I feel mentally ready to take this year by storm.

What do you need to improve?

A few things that I want to work on this year are time management, reading/math workshop, and differentiated instruction.

1. Time Management - This goes for myself before and after school, and for my kiddos. We have a schedule that I'm not a big fan of and it leaves about an hour and a half of time that I have no control over. During this time, I would like to implement more group work and direct instruction to some of my struggling kiddos. I would also like to tweak my instruction so that I can effectively teach both math and science classes within my wacky schedule. As for me, if I can get to school an hour earlier, I won't have to stay late. This will be a big deal because we are going to a public online grade book this year and there is never enough time in the day to correct!

2. Reading/Math Workshop - Reading and Writing Workshop are the two major times of the day that I have no control over. I teach math and science so the reading teacher gives instruction for independent reading and writing during this time, which also serves as the pull out time for my kiddos with interventions. Since the whole school has the same pull out time, I usually end up with most of my kiddos at this time, due to overlapping schedules, and they end up getting pulled during a different class. I want to get some small group work going during this time and take math workshop to a whole new level. My kiddos LOVE math workshop and I think that if I can use a chunk of this reading time to get it going, they will have a more well balanced independent work block.

3. I took a wonderful workshop this summer for English Language Learners and I cannot wait to try some of the great strategies. Our district has over 60 represented languages and my classroom usually has at least 6 different languages spoken at home. Between that and the wide range of learning disabilities, I am SO excited to try some new things with my kiddos this year to find what works best for them. Every year brings a new challenge :)

{Perhaps by writing them out in great detail, they will really happen!}

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

My wide array of Flair pens are my go-to correcting pens.

My bible binder. This has tabs for daily team meetings, parent communication, IEP notes, MCAS data, DIBELS, and benchmark testing. This binder goes with me everywhere and I am thinking of breaking it into two binders this year because it got pretty serious last year!

I love a fresh Crayola marker on chart paper. Oh, the possibilities!

I have become a HUGE fan of the jumbo sized post-it chart paper pads.
Oh. my. word.

My Elmo doc-viewer is my life-saver.

My Keurig machine :)

I will have a fridge in my room for the first time this year and I am totally looking forward to a fresh supply of Diet Coke around the clock.

* * * * *

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Post!

I have been stalking teacher blogs for what feels like forever and I am so excited to finally start my own!  Something I've noticed is that most of the bloggers teach primary grades and I am a fifth grade math and science teacher. While my degree is in Elementary Education, allowing me to teach grades 1-6, my heart is really in the upper grades, which was a MAJOR shock to me. I love what I do and even when the going gets rough, the kids are what keep me coming back for more. I am so excited for where my teaching career is taking me and now looking forward to sharing ideas and learning from other teachers in blogland. I am crazy for fifth!