June 23, 2015

Dare to Dream!

It is TPT Seller Challenge Week #2-Dare to Dream! I absolutely love this challenge...I thought last week's was great, but this one is so personal, and I am really getting a glimpse into everyone's heart through their dreams. I am just eating it all up.
So, I have hesitated writing in what I would really like to accomplish through TPT (in conjunction with blogging, of course), because it is all so new to me, and I am virtually only making Starbucks money each month-so these dreams are definitely daring! I am a long, long way off from accomplishing any of this, but I have my eyes on the prize now, and I am planning to put in the work it will take to make it all happen!

Here are my dreams:
MORTGAGE PAYMENT: Ok, so...I'm revealing a little about my personal life here, that only my family and a few friends know about, but my fiancé and I are in the process of buying a home together. It was a huge decision, which has taken a lot of prayer, tears (both happy and frustrated), and celebration. Fortunately, my fiancé is brilliant and bought and renovated a condo long before he met me, so we will be able to supplement some of our mortgage payment with rent money from his place after we get married. My dreaaammmm would be to use TPT money one day to cover the rest of the mortgage payment, so we can save like crazy! We are Dave Ramsey people...we want that emergency fund in tact. The more savings the better!

JOB FLEXIBILITY: I have always kind of known that I didn't want to be a traditional classroom teacher for my entire career. What drew me to education back in college was the idea of truly making a difference in education on a grand scale. Right now, I am simply gaining experience, and I really do love teaching. But it's an exhausting, all-consuming love. When I have children, I don't really anticipate being able to give 250% of myself all day, every day. I have toyed with many ideas of how I could mold and shape my career in the future. Everything from consultant, to instructional coach, to cohort leader within a university has crossed my mind...but I have decided that I don't need to decide right now. I want to invest in TPT right now, and maybe one day I will have the flexibility to make the decision without breaking the bank. :) 

TRAVEL: I have always had a travel bug. I started traveling my freshman year of high school. I went with a team to Peru for 2 weeks with my church. I went on several missions trips through the course of high school, followed by studying abroad in the middle of college. In between the major international trips, I have made a point to do a lot of sight-seeing within the United States. But, sadly my traveling came to a screeching halt when I graduated and started teaching. It's not like I don't have the time! All summer is usually wide open! But I normally cram my summers with tutoring, babysitting, and any other odd jobs I can gather up so I can save money. I get sad when I think about being in my mid-20s, and moving quickly towards my late 20s...I feel like my days of traveling are almost over, and I haven't taken advantage of them. So, one of my major TPT dreams was having money to set aside in the future for traveling, making it a possibility even when I'm not a 20-something!

So, there you have it. My TPT Dreams! I can't wait to read everyone else's. :) 

June 18, 2015

Makeover Madness!!

So, joining this TPT seller challenge is just about the best thing I have ever done. There is SO much inspiration out there! This first challenge was something that I desperately needed to do.
I am not very well-versed in TPT yet. I've been a member, mostly as a buyer, for about 2 years...I've been a "seller" for maybe 5 months, but the first thing I ever uploaded on TPT was probably 2 years ago, and it is almost embarrassing! I uploaded it as a student teacher, because I had wanted to make a Valentine's Day themed center for the 2nd graders I was working with at the time. I had slapped together this quick little product, but I knew NOTHING about using my computer, shopping for clip art, downloading fonts...nothing. To make that dinky little product took me probably 6 or 7 hours of trial and error, and I ended up with something I still didn't love. But...I uploaded it and never looked at it again.
I chose it as my "Makeover Madness" product because it is the one linked for people to assess the quality of my work, and I feel like I have learned a little since then. Maybe people can better assess the quality of my work now? Haha.
Anyways, here goes!

This before/after image shows the cover pages of the old product and the new one.
Here are the pages of the new product:

So there it is! All made over...easier to read, easier to understand, nicer to look at it...I am much happier!

In other news, on the TPT Facebook page, everyone was asked to post their button. I haven't really had an official "button" since I began blogging, just a screen shot of a picture from my blog that has my name on it, and it has not worked out to upload as my button when I link up with other blogs. It looks pixelated or distorted every time. So! In the spirit of making things over, I did a little research and I made my own button. I'm still playing with the colors and trying to decide if I really love it. I would love some feedback!!

What do you all think?? Is it a good start? 

Have a great weekend everyone! Can't wait for challenge #2!

June 11, 2015


First Currently of the summer! Woohoo!

I am an HGTV addict. I'm not afraid to admit it. I spiral deeper into my obsession over the summer. Am I alone?

I've taken on some tutoring jobs this summer, and I really want to make money, but I also really want to stop working...is that bad? I've had sessions scheduled every day this week, but not today! After I write this I am headed to the pool!

I have a lot of big changes happening this year. I'm getting married, switching grades, experimenting with ways to supplement my income...And a big thing to happen in early 2016 that I can't even talk about yet! I just love feeling so refreshed in the summer and being able to reflect on all of the blessings that have come my way. This 2015-16 school year is going to ROCK! But not before I have spent this summer relaxing. :) 

All of this down time has me looking at pinterest a little too much... I just feel like I will be a cuter 2nd grade teacher with new clothes, right?

Getting married is expensive. I'm going to be in the same clothes I have in my closet for many years, probably. I need more money, but I don't want to work! Lazy girl problems, for sure.

Summer Lovin
In 2 weeks I get to do my most beloved thing. I get to go to Michigan to visit with my cousins, and my fiancé gets to go and meet them for the first time! I am also spending a large amount of time at my parents' house during the week to just eat with them. I love, love my family. I truly do not take advantage of living so close to them during the school year. I am trying to make up for that this summer. 

Have a great end of the week, friends!

June 8, 2015

Reflect & Refresh, part 1

Now that it is officially summer, I have the time to notice linky parties as they are actually happening AND link up to write with them! I am super excited about that, and I was thrilled when I stumbled across Mrs. D's Corner (click her name to link up!), and she was hosting a link about reflecting on your past school year, and then getting to refresh over the summer. This seems super appropriate because I am gearing up to change grades, and I am doing all kinds of self-reflection anyways!

So here we go!

I learned last year that sending parent emails at random points in the year just to say "Your child is awesome", builds an amazing rapport with parents. This isn't rocket science, of course, but I never would have predicted how strong the reaction would be! I mean, as a first year teacher I was nominated for teacher of the week by one parent just because she was so impressed that I had sent an email saying her daughter was doing well. That email was maybe 3 sentences long! Never underestimate the power of positive talk in any capacity. 

Organization & Classroom Management
The best decision I could have ever made was color-coding my classroom library. If you don't know what this looks like, please read Molly Maloy's post about it on Lessons with Laughter. It may change your life; it did for me. I followed Molly's technique exactly, and I ended up with a beautiful library that my students totally took ownership of. I wasn't using any of my planning or after-school time to tidy up the library, which was great. Even better, however, was the fact that the books didn't just look neat and organized...they actually were! They were grouped by the author's last name! My little OCD babies would immediately move a purple book out of the green section if it were to happen. I literally set up the library in August, and the books were loved and read by the students all year without any interference from me. In May, I had to pack up my classroom, and the books were still in the perfect order. Oh my goodness...I could go on all day. What an amazing system! Thank you, Molly!

So, I finally felt like I had those 4th grade standards down this year!...and then I requested a grade level change. :) I truly feel that I will grow most as an educator if I push myself out of my comfort zone consistently. Half way through this past school year, I felt like 4th grade was just getting easy. I wasn't on Pinterest for hours looking for ideas, I wasn't laboring over lesson plans, I wasn't working and reworking materials in my classroom. That's great, of course! I had a great second half of the year. But I am definitely ready for something new...so 2nd grade, here I come!

My Big Summer Project
Speaking of moving to 2nd grade...I have to switch classrooms. I feel like that should speak for itself, but let me reinforce why this is my project with a few pictures...

So, I have my work cut out for me. But I am so excited to take some time to REFRESH, and then get in there and set up for 2nd grade! Wish me luck!

June 6, 2015

What is going right?

I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I get angsty.
My computer is telling me that "angsty" isn't a word, but I can't think of a solid replacement.  I look at the developmentally inappropriate standards, the random assessments promising to chip away at instructional time a little earlier each year, leaving less and less room for students to master the daunting curriculum, and the mounting pressure to ensure that they succeed. 
As teachers we serve as a shield every year. We take all of this pressure in stride. We read the crazy standards, and we turn around, smile, and promise our students that they are smart. They can get this. We just need to work a little harder.

And then I think about their home lives. I think about the food that may not be in their bellies, the sleep they didn't get, the care they haven't received for that cough that I have noticed, which keeps getting worse. 
Selfishly, I'll admit, sometimes I think about my crumbling social life. About all of the people I haven't called. About the events I've avoided because I just have too much to do. I think about the people I do make time for who have to listen to me complain. And I wonder how much longer they will want to put up with me. 
And then I get resentful. I feel that angst creeping in. I know it's ugly, and I shouldn't sit around wallowing in my own stress, but it's hard when it's avoidable stress that you didn't create. I'm weak. I let myself get angry at policy makers, superintendents, principals, fellow teachers, parents...all of the people who buy in to the system that we have today. And I start to actually believe that it's too big of a mess to fix.
I start to believe that everything is going all wrong.

I shared on Instagram this week that I am going to be making the move from 4th to 2nd grade this coming school year. This is a change that I practically begged for. I loved 4th grade a whole lot. I connected with my students, and I genuinely loved coming to work everyday, but I really feel that my heart is in K-2. I am really excited!
In the spirt of summer, I have been seeking out some professional development. I am nerdy, and I actually love to see what PD books are big hits right now, and I read them at the pool. I also catch up on teacher blogs that I haven't looked at in a while. In my search, I came across Angela Watson's podcast Truth for Teachers. (You can check her out on thecornerstoneforteachers.com...I highly recommend it!!) I came across episode 17, which is titled "How to reconnect daily with the reasons why you teach", and I may have to listen to it multiple times this coming school year to refresh my memory. :)
The main message that I pulled from this episode is to take what you believe is going wrong, and focus on how it is going right, instead.
For example:
On an average school day, you may say, "A parent just sent me a really ugly email because she believed that the consequences her son faced at school today were unfair". You can totally focus on this situation as a negative experience. In fact, it's hard not to! But, you can also choose to see how it created something positive. You could instead say, "I was given the opportunity today to point out a very difficult truth to a parent about her son's behavior. This may have planted a seed that will benefit this child in the future". 
Angela gave a couple of examples that stuck with me. You can view a standard as developmentally inappropriate that barely anyone in your class could grasp, or you could celebrate the handful of students who did grasp it as a huge success, because it was really hard for them.
You can view a data team meeting as a huge waste of your planning, or you can view them as a time to sit back and share your hard work with your team, and collaborate with others about ways to achieve even more in the next quarter. 
It's all about perspective. I have been given the gift of a fresh start in a new grade. I will choose to focus more on what is going right this school year. And, yes, this can apply to what is going right with education in general. Because, if we let ourselves, there is a lot to celebrate when it comes to teachers. We have created much of what is going right, and I think it deserves more attention. 
Click on the picture to link directly to Angela Watson's podcast. :)