Thursday, September 1, 2016

And so it begins....

Today was our first day back to school... LOVE my new group and ready to tackle a whole new year.  I hope your year is off to a dramatic (or maybe not so dramatic) start!  Go get 'em! 


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Good-bye Currently-s!

It's the FINAL Currently link up, so I feel like I should jump in and join the farewell party.  I'm also about to go enjoy this sunshine HARD CORE, so this is quick.  The Royals are in town this weekend, and I'm dreaming of summer vacations.  To top it off, this week I'm spending some intense time prepping and uploading a few National Board components so that I can move on to preparing for my big test.  My truth...I love school a lot, but this year I've had a lot on my plate and I'm ready for school/June to be OVER.  That will mean I'm done with the school year, finished and submitted 3 National Board components, have found a home that I can live in for awhile, and can be a normal human again.

So there you have it.  Join Farley for her final Currently party, or just pop over there to discover a few new teacher blogs.  


Monday, April 25, 2016

Retirement Booklets FTW

Helllloooooooo out there!  This year, guys.  This year.  It's somethin'.  Mostly I'm just keeping my head above water and being social.  It's really good.  I feel like maybe I hit that 10 year teaching mark and just needed a little breather where I focused more on me and less on school.  You know?  Do you?  Please tell me that's a thing.  Have I blogged this same feeling already this year?  Well, it's true.

National Boards has been a force to be reckoned with... I've been writing, rewriting, and video taping, and re-taping, and watching-ohhhh the watching- myself teach in the videos.  It's been an interesting process and everyone tells me once I'm done it will make me a better teacher.  My deadline is in 4 short weeks and I MIGHT be freaking out just a TAD.

I'm kind of looking forward to this summer to regroup my teaching, organize my school year, and feel like I have my act together.  It will happen.  I'm starting to once again have a few creative thoughts (it's a process, ya know?) and I think I will re-energize.

But in the meantime, school years are wrapping down all over the place.  That means retirement, and that's why I have Retirement Booklets FOR THE WIN.  Plus there is one for teachers (or students!) who are leaving the building.  Easy for last minute print and prep, and super cute when they are all done and put together.  I'll be honest, when I left my last school my teammate had students complete the "We Will Miss You" booklet for ME and it was adorable.

So if you're looking for something fast, easy and thoughtful, I've got you covered.  Plus I added a new donut themed booklet because I'm obsessed with donuts and I assume everyone else is, too.  If you want them all, grab the bundle!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

5 Things to Include in Your Teaching Portfolio

It's that time of year!  If you're planning to make a strategic teaching career move, or just start a new adventure, you're probably thinking about what you need to do to land a great new job.

It was about this time two years ago when I was knee deep in a job hunt and beginning my moving plans.  It was only January/February, but new job postings were just beginning to appear and my new state certification needed to be finalized, and we had already turned in our letter of intent for the next school year.

One thing I learned from the whole experience: I should be keeping my teaching portfolio up to date. Heck, I didn't even have a teaching portfolio put together before I started preparing to send my resume out.  So even if you aren't looking for a new job right now, it's important to update that professional portfolio at least once a year!  (I say this and it's been two years so you know, do your thing).  Keep in mind- it's a portfolio, not a scrapbook!

The great thing about professional portfolios, is you don't have a page limit.  I mean, don't put together a 500 page portfolio because that's ridiculous...but you aren't limited in length the same way a resume can be limiting.  It's the middle ground between a resume and writing a short book about your career.

I skipped the binder and went straight to printing and binding my own book together.  I didn't want tabs and page protectors- I wanted it to look more professional.  While it's not the easiest to update the physical book, I figure I won't be printing it every time I update anyway, since the file is on my computer.  However, it IS easy to leave with my interviewer(s) if necessary, and I don't have to feel bad about it.  Plus, I could email it if it was ever necessary, and I can't do that with a binder.

1.  A Personal Letter
Don't forget a personal letter from you, complete with a school picture (might as well use those somewhere, right?).  Keep it focused and uniquely you.  You want to make an impression, not sound like everyone else.  Play up your strengths.  Now is the time for a get-to-know-you and a little humble-brag.

2.  The Nitty Gritty:  Cover letter, resume, vital information
Obviously, right?  Include a copy of your cover letter and resume, as well as contact information,  education qualifications (B.S., M.S.Ed., etc.), and certification.

3. Educational Philosophy and Career Goals
It's important to know what you want out of your career and how you approach teaching in your classroom.  If nothing else, this is excellent reflection for you to do ahead of any interview.  If you include it in your portfolio, you can easily access it during any interview or leave it for your future employer to read through.  Keep it simple and to the point.  No one is going to include this in their nighttime reading ritual.

4. Professional Development
Make a list.  Check it twice.  Look back at your paperwork.  Depending on the opportunities in your school or district, this can be lengthy.  If it shows your training or experience, then include it!

5. Your Classroom
There is no better way to get a feel for your teaching approach than to get a sneak peak inside your classroom.  Administrators pick up on a TON of small things around the room that lend insight to your management, organization, and enthusiasm for teaching through pictures.

Here's an example from my portfolio table of contents:

The great thing about this is that I can keep a big cumulative portfolio (more of a curriculum vitae) for my own records, plus a smaller one that I can update and take with me if I am interviewing somewhere.  

Once again, I've been curating a professional development Pinterest board that has all kinds of good stuff (and growing!) included- if you want ideas for curriculum vitae, resume help, ideas for developing your own teaching philosophy, or even just what a portfolio looks like, check out the board!


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Something I LOVE: Growth Mindset Video Series

Happy Valentine's Day!  I know it's Sunday funday, and Valentine's day, and really the last thing we are thinking about is school.  Right?  RIGHT?  

I thought I'd share something my students and I are LOVING lately with you this day of love + kindness.  If you want to start your week on an easy breezy note tomorrow, Class Dojo has released a new series of 5 videos about the Growth Mindset and my class is l-o-v-i-n-g them!  So if you don't use Class Dojo on the daily, I thought I'd give you a little heads up.  These are great mini-lessons in the classroom and each video is only 2-3 minutes long (my favorite one so far has been about using the word "yet"- I don't get this "yet"... LOVE!).

Even if you don't use Class Dojo in your room, these videos are pretty great.  This year I have been using it, and my students like to look for their character in the videos.  The videos are posted on YouTube, so you don't even need a Dojo account to check them out.  The last episode was just released today.  

Here's the first of the series for you to check out.  

I've added the link to the first video over on the Classroom Management resources as well!  {below or click the "Websites and Resources" page up top- bookmark it for the future!}

I hope you enjoy a wonderful and relaxing Valentine's Day Sunday!  I'm planning to eat some chocolate and run a few all evens out, right?? 




Saturday, February 6, 2016

From Drab to Flocab {we rap in class}

I've been living in this black hole that is National Boards (I'm telling you, if I don't pass this, I will cry TEARS for YEARS).  

Also, I've been teaching.  And managing.  A lot of classroom management makes for one tired teacher.

One of my saving graces with my charming active and interactive group this year is my Flocabulary subscription.  I'll be honest... when my subscription was up, I really thought about whether it was going to be worthwhile for another year.  I'm usually a big fan of free online resources, but my students last year LOVED using Flocab for vocabulary.  I stuck mainly to using it only for our vocabulary instruction last year in 4th grade.  

So this fall when the time came, I did stop and think.  I tried it a couple times with my 3rd grade class to see if I had the same buy-in...and I did.  Then I spent a little while hopping around and discovered a lot of the videos matched my curriculum, so I forked over the cash yet again. 

WORTH IT.  My class LOVES it!  This year I branched out and we've been using videos for...
...Social Skills
...Digital Citizenship (hey this helps out with that required lesson for my district, yay!)
...Science (rocks & minerals is coming out soon and we are super psyched about it in 3rd grade)
...Math (multiplication facts, they love it)

So basically I just use it completely the opposite from last year.  Last year I used it strictly for vocabulary instruction, and this year I haven't used the vocabulary component but I've used everything else.  Isn't it weird how different classes require different instruction?  

We watch the same video MULTIPLE times.  I do this because once just isn't enough for students to really get the concept.  Particularly with content specific songs, I do a lot of teaching the content prior to showing the video.  The video is really helpful for reinforcing a topic or important words, as well as helping students to remember it.  

Here's one of our favorites for reading/writing this year:

This year I have even used the quizzes that go with the videos (some of them are pretty helpful if I'm teaching an entire unit).  

Flocabulary has a convenient little special happening right now.  If you sign up for a free 75 day trial (it's 15 more days than any other time of this takes you to mid-late April depending on when you start, of course) and you can sign up your whole school for the trial.  That way you can check it out for FREE for a bit!  Last day for the trial is Feb. 29th, so you can even bookmark it and think about it until then if you want.  

We sing.  We dance.  Students feel like pretty hard core rappers.  It's hilarious for me.  So it's pretty good all around.

Disclosure: This has been written in partnership with Flocabulary; opinions, classroom uses, & money I paid for my own classroom subscription are my own.