Sunday, December 9, 2018

Welcome Back to RTL!

tap tap tap Is this thing on?  Is anyone still here?

It's been... well, it's been over a year.  And even then, it had been awhile.  

But in the past few years I've been busy working on some other professional goals.  One of them was more of a fast decision.  

Last September, I was rummaging around online and founds an ELL Endorsement program that was 24 credits in one school year (about a class every 5-6 weeks).  The deadline for applying was in about a week, so I took a couple days to reflect and consider it, and then thought what the heck and sent in an application.  A few weeks later I was neck deep in teaching and taking my own classes.  

Then in December I got the news that I had missed the National Board cutoff.  I know you aren't supposed to say you passed, or didn't pass, or failed and are supposed to say you "achieved certification" or had "not yet achieved certification".  I failed.  As in, I did not pass... by one weighted point.  Two years of work and low scores on the component I felt was my most learning didn't feel like "not yet".  So I decided to retake a couple of the tests from the first component....but I couldn't take that until the window opened in April and then I had to wait until December to hope that it was enough to push me over into "achieved certification" status.  

So I continued my classes for my Endorsement all year.  I retook the boards test in April.  I finished my classes and took my state ELL test in June.  I added an ELL Endorsement to my certificate.

This December, National Boards scores were released and I "achieved certification" after three years.  So now I add the NBCT letters to my certificate as well. 

Now that I'm not doing all of that work, I look back and think "WOW that was A LOT of work!".  So it's no wonder that blogging and my creative outlet took a bit of a back seat for a few years.  

So much of what we see on social media for teachers today talks about teacher self-care.  My school has even started a morning book study (and some staff meetings) using the book "Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators" to support our staff in this endeavor.  

The truth is, you simply can't do your best work when you are spread thin.  I didn't plan to take a break from all of this.  It just happened because I had other things going on that took priority.  And while I let the blog be "back-burnered", I let some other goals become priority.  

So, Welcome Back!  To me AND to you!  


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A day in the life of this teacher

Hello all!  It's been a minute...

This is my (fingered crossed) final push to completing my National Boards and it has officially taken over my world for the past year and a half.  If I don't pass, I will cry actual crocodile tears.  I have a serious concern that I won't pass, so I'm preparing myself for the worst.

So that's what I've been up to...luckily I only have one component this year (C4), but holy cow it's a lot of pieces to tie together.  My weekends are just hours and hours in coffee shops.  On the upside, I'm testing out every local coffeeshop around and ranking my favorites.

I have high hopes of one day returning to this blog to share actual teaching ideas...

So this evening I didn't turn on the tv, and opted for some music instead and started baking some cookies since I have kitchen duty this week (does every school do this?).  I was thinking over my day and wondering what how other teachers spend their day and what they do to unwind in their evenings.  My school administration has sent out a bunch of information about "taking care of you" lately, and I'm a pretty strong believer in that, especially within the teaching career itself.  It's just a tough job.  A great job... but it's a lot on some days.  But I started reflecting on my day and figured I'd share a day in the life of this teacher.

New cookie recipe tonight! 
So here's my day- not a "typical" day in the life of this teacher, but my actual day of teaching.  (By this I mean, I am not telling you an overview version what I usually do, but what actually happened today):

6:55am: Alarm clock goes off.  It's still a Christmas song that I have not changed in two months because the only time I remember is when it wakes me up and I want to throw it across the room.

7:10: I actually convince myself to move out of bed.  In 30 minutes I get ready, text back and forth with a friend, make lunch, throw together a fruit infused water bottle, pack a gym bag, and run out the door.

7:50ish: I have kitchen duty this week so I grab my and water, fill it with ice, and unload the dishwasher while saying hi to everyone who walks by.

8:00: I had back to back meetings before school this morning because I was *invited* (couldn't say no...) to be on a teacher support team for teachers looking for additional ideas/support for struggling students.  I actually really enjoy it.

9:10: The bell rings but I'm still sitting in my meetings.  I grab my iPad and water, stop in my classroom to turn on the projector, and run down to get my students- no before school prep time today.  Eek!

School starts.  On the way in, multiple students tell me they wore read for Women's Day.  My heart explodes-how cute are they?!?  After announcements, a student asks if she can sing the National Anthem for the class.  Nothing sounds more amazingly wonderful to me.  Please, please do.  She stands under the flag while the class hustles to grab their planners because "the words are in the back!!!"  They sing along while I die of adorable American pride.   I post a video of it to SeeSaw for her parents.  Then I teach reading and writing.

11:55: I walk with my students to lunch.  I go to the teacher's lounge to eat my Costco salad, one mandarin, snap peas and hummus, and yogurt.  I actually just went grocery shopping, so this is impressive.

12:26: I look at the clock, clean up, stop at the restroom, and hurry back to my room to grab my math to make copies for today in the next 9 minutes.

12:35: Go pick up kids.  Teach a completely different place to line up because yesterday we had a fun line issue that I'm trying to tackle, and hey, it's March, why not try a brand new routine?  Only 2 kids will remember tomorrow anyway.  When we get to the classroom, I have to have another teacher walking the hallway cover my class because the kids just reminded me that I forgot to grab their worry stones out of the oven from yesterday (the oven wasn't on) as promised.  I run down to get them and hand them out.  Two students cry because their's aren't there (yes they are, someone else took them, but no one claims it) and I promise we will make a couple more tomorrow (currently making a mental note to self to remember to do this in the morning).

12:50: I teach math very quickly.  Luckily it's an easy lesson and only need to check in with a few during independent work time.

1:30: Wednesdays are early release days for kids.  High fives all around.  We pack up and catch busses.  I rush to the staff room to load and run the dishwasher.

1:45: It's a professional development afternoon.  We are working in teams to collaboratively score our end of year (it's March, but whatever) writing assessments.  Luckily, I've already run off the GradeCam scoring forms and had students help me organize each piece so all I have to do is score them and scan them in.  I get through 20 of 24 in two hours.  One student wrote her opinion paper about how much she loves teachers.  She is my current favorite student now.  I check my email and my principal sent me an email telling me how thankful she is for the way I handled a situation yesterday.  I'm feeling pretty great about this job today (yesterday was a different story).

4:00: I have a gym class that I like at 4:30 so I say bye to my team, drop my stuff in my classroom, and go change my clothes.  With no prep time today, and meetings in the morning, my classroom is a disaster.  I make a mental note to attempt to get there earlier than usual tomorrow.  Then I head out.

4:30: Hit the gym for an hour with a friend.

5:30: Head to the grocery store to pick up a few groceries and some baking ingredients because I want to make cookies.  I just went to the gym, so I earned it.

6:00: Home.  I make an easy dinner and turn on the tv but don't watch it.  I check in with every social media I have while I wait on dinner.  I eat standing up and reply to a few texts.

7:00: Give up on the television I haven't watched and turn on music.  Found a new cookie recipe to try and I'll take cookies to the staff tomorrow since I have kitchen duty (we bring treats for kitchen duty...).  I whip up some cookies.  Clean dishes, run the dishwasher, type this up.  Pack up cookies to take to school.

9:45: I start the tea kettle and hop in the shower.  Pour myself some nighttime tea (loving honey vanilla chamomile right now!) and I'll read a book in bed for a bit if I can stay awake.

Today was a pretty great day.  I'm tired and my body hurts (this might be a gym issue and not a teaching issue), but it was good.

That was this teacher's day.  Tomorrow will be totally different!

Does this look like your day?  Is your's crazier?  Calmer?  Will you make it to spring break (ours isn't until April!)???


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!