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Monday, June 29, 2015

Rock Your First Year!

I am always into sharing my little bits of wisdom with newer teachers, especially because I was one not too long ago. So...

Build relationships: One of the things that helped me immensely throughout my first year teaching was that I had people who supported me, loved me, laughed with me, kept me on track, and saved my life a couple of times when I truly needed it! Teaching is a tough profession that will test you daily but things are so much easier when you open yourself up to the people in your building. 

Collaborate: Teaching is a profession that truly lends itself to collaboration. This goes along with my first tip of building relationships - find people who will show you the ropes when it comes to building expectations, curriculum, etc. And don't forget to share the good ideas that you come up with on your own! 

Have high expectations: Do not make the mistake of being that new teacher who has an out-of-control class because you were afraid to be too strict. Set high expectations and your class will rise to meet them. Kids need structure and expectations - don't feel bad for setting them and sticking to them! 

Doubt yourself: Teachers have enough people who unfortunately doubt them already. Do not be one of them!

Take on too much: While it is important to be involved and show initiative, do not try to do too much that first year! Being a first year teacher is practically eighty jobs within itself, so focus on that and the rest will come later.

Trust your gut! I have always believed that good teachers have this teacherly-instinct they were born with. Own it!

Now enjoy your last summer before throwing yourself into the best profession the world has to offer :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dare to Dream

If you're going to dream, why not dream big?

This is the question that week two of the #tptsellerchallenge poses to us all.  What are some things we hope to accomplish through our businesses as TPT sellers?

When I initially started making things for Teachers Pay Teachers, I didn't really expect many people to buy them. My interest stemmed from the fact that I wanted to buy everything I saw on TPT but of course could not afford to do that.  So I decided to try making my own resources for my classroom.  It's been an ever-changing journey but I am so glad I started!  TPT has brought so many opportunities to create, inspire, and be inspired by others.

Of course, TPT has also blessed me with the added bonus of some extra income. Here are some things I hope to accomplish through selling:

GRAD SCHOOL: I am less than a year away from my Masters degree and am hoping to graduate without any debt! I was very, very fortunate to have parents who paid for my undergrad but for grad school I was on my own. Recently I have been using some of the money earned through Teachers Pay Teachers to pay my tuition.

HOUSE-BUYING: Extra money means extra savings. Next summer, I am looking at buying a house with my man and could definitely use the extra to go towards a solid down payment. This is a huge "grown-up step" for me and I am

EXTRA CASH: Who doesn't love having a bit of extra spending money? While I try my best to be as responsible as possible with my funds, it is nice knowing that I have a bit of extra income so that I can go out to dinner if I want or buy those shoes that were calling my name.

What are your big hopes and dreams? It's not too late to join in on the #tptsellerchallenge fun. Click here to start dreaming!

Makeover Madness!

Although I am a bit late in the game, I am beyond excited to join in on the #tptsellerchallenge fun.  The first week's theme was something I definitely needed, as there have been a few products in my TPT store that made me cringe every time someone bought them. I think a couple of times I might have actually exclaimed aloud Why on Earth would you buy that?! 

Some of the products I ended up deleting but some I have taken the time to update throughout the past six months or so. For this challenge, I decided to focus on what was formerly called "Fantastic Fun with Nouns and Verbs".  It's almost too embarrassing to post pictures, but I guess that's half the fun :)

Okay. I don't think some of the activities in my old product were too terrible. In fact, I have used some of them with a lot of success in my past two years teaching. However, it was just an eyesore. Just look at it. It screams "outdated" and definitely did not match the other products found in my TPT store. Some of the fonts I used were not first-grade-friendly, the graphics were very, very basic (think shapes created on Microsoft word), and it just did not look like a product I would like to buy. Yikes.

So, out with the old and in with...

This past week I have been scrambling to finish this product and I am so excited that it is finally done! One of the most important things about the complete overhaul I did was that this looks like a product I would buy, which is definitely a step in the right direction when you are wanting to pique other teachers' interest!

In addition to a complete face lift (fonts, graphics, formatting, etc.), this product also includes adjectives and has a multitude of engaging resources and printables for use in the primary classroom. The product nearly tripled in size and has a larger variety of activities to engage little learners.  You can check it out in my TPT store.

Thank goodness for the #tptsellerchallenge Makeover Madness!  I am glad it gave me the kick in the behind that I needed to overhaul this product. I am so excited to print it out and use it in the fall with my first graders.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Reading List for Teachers

Summer! It's here! Which means it's finally some time to read a good book just for fun! I love to read but like many of you, I feel like I just don't have the time during the school year. I'm so excited to get some summer reading done this summer and to share some must-reads and reading wish lists with some fellow teachers! If you would like to join, head over to Lucky to Be in First :)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Lay it On My Heart by Angela Pneuman
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen (My all time favorite book.)
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult (One of my favorite Picoult books! Could not put it down!)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (If you haven't read it by now...what are you waiting for?!)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Reflect & Refresh: Part One - Looking Back

Welcome to Reflect & Refresh, a two-part linky party where teacher bloggers share their reflections on the 2014-2015 school year and ways they are planning to refresh their teaching in 2015-2016.

There's no better time than now to reflect on the past school year. Personally, I love thinking about what went well and what kinds of things I am going to change when it comes to my first grade classroom. While I am definitely ready to relax and enjoy my summer vacation, I am also looking forward to using some of that free time to prepare for the fall.

Communication: I love to plan. I think it's all part of that perfectionist-y, type A personality deal that I was born with. My first year teaching, I had time set aside to plan with my mentor teacher. This year, I was off on my own, enjoying doing my own thing. But another teacher from my team suggested that we set aside one day a week to discuss what we are planning in our classrooms, thus increasing the communication and collaboration within our first grade team. I don't know why I didn't think of this fabulous idea and I am hoping we can stick to a good planning routine this upcoming year!

Organization & Management: I also love to organize. I really try to stress how everything has a place in my first grade classroom. This year I amped up the amount of labels on student materials and it seemed to help. Next year, I plan on increasing the amount of labels (especially when it comes to my early finisher activities) and also explicitly teaching students where things go with my beginning of the year procedures. This way, I am hoping my students are overall more independent when it comes to getting the materials they need, knowing what they can/cannot do during certain times of the day, and so forth (lessening the amount of Where do I? What do I? When can I? questions I get throughout the day!)

Content: Oh, writing. What a love-hate relationship I have with you. While I found myself in a better writing groove this year, I still think it is the one area that I can improve most upon. I plan on getting some good professional reading in this summer and investing in some hopefully valuable resources that will provide meaningful and engaging writing instruction for my firsties.

Summer Projects: The list could go on and on when it comes to the things I want to accomplish this summer! For the sake of prioritizing, I decided to share two of my goals with you all. The first is a set of paired passages to use in my classroom to prepare my first graders for the PARCC test. While I have found various paired passage sets on TPT, I have yet to find ones that are at an appropriate reading level for my students and ones that require students to synthesize information from both passages as they are required to do on the PARCC test. So I am undertaking this project to hopefully create a useful tool for my team to use in getting our kids ready!

I am also wanting to organize all my mentor texts. I love using mentor texts to teach across all subject areas, but am currently lacking any sort of organizational system for my books. My mentor texts are separate from my classroom library on a shelf behind my desk in one gigantic glob. I am hoping to find some way to organize/label my mentor texts so that they are more easily accessible for me when I need them.

Come reflect with us and see what worked and what improvements other teacher bloggers are sharing!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Some Summer-y Favorites

There are so many things to love about summer. For example, it's only 11:30 in the morning and I have already eaten breakfast, taken (and passed!) the Illinois Reading Teacher licensure test, gone to the gym, and showered. I wish I was this productive every day...

Anyways, I am linking up with the Teaching Trio to share some of my favorite things about summer. Join in the summer fun over at their blog! We all deserve a little summer celebration, after all.

1. If you know me, it's no secret that I love my sleep. Despite the fact that I'm usually in my classroom by 6:30 in the morning, I am not a morning person. At all. I love shutting off that alarm and feeling fully rested!

2. Before the year even ended, I was already thinking about the new things I wanted to try out in my classroom next year. The summer gives me plenty of time to go Pinterest crazy, try out any DIY projects, cut, print, laminate, design, upload, etc. I am hoping to get some new products finished in time for the fall and am also wanting to update a few aspects of my classroom design. I love the creative aspect of teaching and love having the time off to focus on it!

3. Of course not having to work means extra time to spend with those that I love. When I got my current teaching job, I moved to a smaller town about three hours away from where I grew up. In the summer I can make the trip home and not have to worry about returning in time for work on Monday morning. I can't wait to hang out and catch up with loved ones.

Whether you've already started your summer or are still counting down, join us for some link-up fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June Currently

Anyone else beginning their summer this June? I was so caught up in the end-of-the-year madness that I didn't even think to link up with Farley until now! 

Listening: This morning was my first official day of summer. I spent the majority of it in bed listening to nothing but the sounds coming in from my open window. It was lovely.

Loving: Summer is finally here! And I treated myself to an hour long massage (which was absolutely amazing, by the way).

Thinking: Although school is out for the summer, I still have a pretty busy week. I had to testify in court yesterday (yikes), I'm taking the content area reading teacher test tomorrow, and I also have a bunch of errands to run before this weekend. On top of that, I'm trying really hard to stick to a somewhat consistent workout routine.

Wanting: I hate grocery shopping. Where is the technology that delivers all I need to my house on a magical cloud? Seriously.

Needing: Because of court yesterday, I missed out on my afternoon that was supposed to be dedicated to cleaning/organizing/getting my classroom summer ready for our custodians. Looks like I'll be in more this week to get things squared away.

Summer Lovin: This summer has two weddings, two mini-vacations, and hopefully a lot of time with friends and family. I'm going to try and enjoy every second of it because we all know how fast it will go!

Happy summer to all!