Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beg, Borrow, and Steal

As a new teacher, you quickly learn that your best survival skill will be to utilize the three verbs "beg, borrow, and steal." Upon quickly being thrust into a room with 35 children, and realizing not only do you have very little clue what to do, or materials to do it with, your best strategy is to beg, borrow and steal from those who have been doing this longer than you have.

Beg - Need lesson plans? Emergency plans? A new classroom management strategy? I have met many teachers whom I have asked advice from, and not once has someone said, "Oh, I really don't want to share my wisdom with you." They always say, "OhMyGosh, try this!" And invariably, it is a fresh new idea that works great when I put it to use in my classroom with my own spin on things.

Borrow - I adore TeachersPayTeachers.com. I work in a small, rural school district. I am my department. I am two departments technically. I came from my previous schools being the same size as the size of the town I currently work in - so it has been and adjustment not having other teachers at my site to run to for materials that I can borrow, manipulate, and copy. I am always making new connections at conferences, but discovering that TPT means I can share materials with educators all around the world was the best find ever! Each time I search for something on there, and find it with ease, already created, I do a happy dance. No. Joke.

Steal - I'm still pretty new to this blogging world. I know my way around basic Web design, photo design, and HTML, but any way I can make this journey of mine into blogging a bit easier I am a fan of.  My incredible friend over at Assisting Descubrimiento has been wonderfully helping me to set up all the awesomeness you find here. She even made this adorable button to link to your Bloglovin site! So I promptly stole it, mixed it with some code, and here we are - a snazzy button to link to Bloglovin.

Take the code below, paste it into your Design Layout, HTML editor section, and you will have a snazzy button that links back to your blog through Bloglovin. Check it out!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sacred Saturdays

One of the first things a professor of mine shared upon beginning the credential program was the idea of Sacred Saturdays.

Here's how it works: block out a few hours for yourself at some point each and every Saturday. Come hell or high-water, that is your time, to do what you please. It is a sanity saver beyond measure, and it is incredible how rejuvenating those few hours once a week can be for the teacher's soul!

Some sample Sacred Saturdays I've given myself ...

  • Trip to the Farmer's Market
  • Delicious cup of tea and a good book 
  • Early morning walk with my dog
  • Iced-soy-chai-latte and a chocolate croissant or apricot bar, while wandering downtown
  • Morning bike ride
  • Classic movies (today's selection: Hercules! Hercules!)
  • Baking: cupcakes, bread, anything not healthy and absolutely delicious
  • Trip to Barnes & Noble, for the purpose of wandering aimlessly. Bonus points for drinking tea while wandering through the store

Friday, July 5, 2013


Now that the end of the year has come to a close, I'm reflecting on the many amusing things that I did not have a chance to blog about because I started this so late into the year. Here are some of the moments I can't forget ...

"Take my stapler out of your pants!"
 Yes, I teach high school, and I had asked that some of the taller boys help me to put up a word wall. Apparently after putting up the word wall, the logical next step was to put the stapler away ... down his pants. Let us consider this your introduction to the student I will call Romeo* from now on. 

"Caliente means horny!"
If you know basic Spanish, you might realize the immediate error above. 'Caliente' means hot, as in temperature, climate or sometimes intensity of spice. However, due to an unfortunate error in judgement of Google translate, Romeo had been informed that the definition was 'horny.' Fast forward, he shouts this helpful phrase across the classroom after another student had asked how to say 'caliente' in English, and I scream, "OhMyGod, Romeo, noooo!" Through the use of urban dictionary, and then Google translate I managed to convey the meaning of "horny" to Romeo in an awkward conversation I assume no 17-year-old wants to have with his English teacher. 

"ATV in the mude"
I often skim my students exam essays as I wander around the classroom during testing days. My first thought was, hmm, I think he means "nude". My second thought was what the &$@! that sounds painful! I hope the person scoring that essay got as many laughs as I have from that one sentence - and decided he deserved to pass because of it. 

"I got new soccer clits!"
On Monday mornings I often start the class with a BellWork assignment along the lines of, "What did you do this weekend?" One of my darling 7th grade boys wrote the above sentence on his paper. Seeing as I have English Learners, this happens a lot more often than you might expect. I noticed this and asked him, 
"So, what did you do this weekend?" -me
"I got new soccer cleats!" - him
"Ah, okay, let's change that 'i' to 'ea.'" - me
And no, I didn't inform him of what he had written and its real meaning ;)

"Ms. works at Hooters!"
Kobe began a conversation in my class, discussing the merits of this particular establishment with another student (a girl). The girl insisted that of course she would never go, and neither would Ms. (she's correct) because it is demeaning to women (correct again). Which led to this...

"Have you ever been to Hooters Ms.?" - Kobe
"Uh, no..." - me
"Are you kidding Kobe?! Ms. works at Hooters!" - Kobe's bff
"OUT." - me

It took all of my personal restraint not to laugh out loud in his face, as I thought it was the most awkward & hilarious statement I had heard all week. Yes, I have been very blessed in that department, and likely could obtain immediate employment there should this "teaching gig" not go as planned. However,  I had to "be teacher" and thus, on went my "serious face" and finger pointing towards the door. The rest of the class could tell I wanted to laugh, but I did a reasonably good job keeping it together, all things considered.

And now, it is July, and I am missing these kiddos and my comic relief like crazy! Luckily, I start summer school next week, which should provide excellent inspiration ;)

* as always all names have been changed. I decided on "Romeo" for this student, because when in doubt about his behavior or actions in my class, his response is, "I love you Ms., you're beautiful Ms." 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Best. Lesson. Planner. Ever.

As a new-ish teacher I'm constantly moving my lessons around & making changes. I found planning on paper was insufficient, because with my jumbo eraser and all the changes I was making on a daily (hourly?!) basis, I had holes in the end of my pages by the end of the day.

So then I created a Word document for planning ... it was nice, I could type quickly and avoid those eraser tears in my paper. Except the formatting was a nightmare. And it wasn't pretty. (Pretty is a big deal for me). And I had to have a different document for every class I teach ... ugh.

[Drum Roll Please]
Enter, the life changing, CommonCurriculum.com

This Website is INCREDIBLE. I know, I'm a bit excited here, but I feel if there is anything you can learn from me, it is about this Website. I plan everything online. I can print, e-mail, or publish directly to my class Website. I can link to files from my dropbox ... that the kids can download from my class Website, or the school's secretary if (God forbid) I'm hit by a truck and can't make it into class. My favorite part -- when something unexpected happens (6th period rally anyone?) I can BUMP all of my lessons forward a day -- saving myself from those treacherous eraser marks tearing across my page. The help guys are awesome - I often IM them in the middle of the day, they are always super sweet, and do whatever they can to fix my problem.

And after all of my constant e-mails and IM's to them, 24/7 for the past year, when they unrolled their new (paid for) site, they let me be a beta tester and gave me a free subscription. I would pay for this site in a heartbeat. It is that good -- and that means a lot, coming from a poor teacher who's still paying off her loans ;)

If you do one thing to improve your lessons and classroom this year, start using this site. Seriously. You will thank me later.