Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality...

I'm officially back to work.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my class and have really enjoyed getting acclimated to third grade.  My book bag is packed with lots of work for this weekend and I intend to get started on it soon.  However, my first order of business is getting organized here at home - starting with meal planning and grocery shopping.

I wrote a lengthy post about my meal planning process/procedure here,Recipe Linky Party.  My friend and I never got around to making casseroles before school started, but have it on our calendars for next month.  Last Monday I sat down and mapped out meals for September - all easy things that I can cook (mostly) from memory and don't take a lot of ingredients.  I needed to check one thing for my enchilada recipe and stumbled upon the coolest thing for a meal planner, like me.  Check out Meal Planning Made Simple.  I didn't have a whole lot of time to play around on it, but was able to plan out my month of meals through their calendar system.  It looks like I can browse their recipes, add them to future calendars and link up the recipes to a shopping list.  Time will tell, but just to have the neat calendar was enough to rock my world.  The best part is the whole thing is FREE!

Since I mentioned enchiladas and have the recipe pulled up, here's the link to get to Campbell's Kitchen.  Search for Easy Chicken Cheese Enchiladas for a quick and easy recipe this week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Advice to a Newbie

My top three advice nuggets for a newbie teacher:

1. Classroom management. 
What are your expectations and how are you going to make sure your students understand them?  Research the age level you're working with and take time to understand the social and emotional characteristics associated with it.  Model what  you expect - it will take more than once.  Check out The Responsive Classroom for a wealth of information related to children, classroom conduct and good teaching advice.  I became familiar with the RC philosophy last year after my teaching partner attended a week-long training.  It has changed my teaching life in so many ways!

2. Read new books.
Stay current with children's literature.  Browse bookstores and visit the library - often.  Visit blogs about children's literature to find out about new reads.  As you become familiar with what is out in kidlit land, you'll have a wider variety of books to choose from for mentor texts.  Here is my favorite blog to check out for information about books, A Year of Reading.  

3. Take time for YOU!
Teacher's put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect.  Don't loose sight of why you went into the profession in the first place.  If you're worn down and tired, you won't be at your best for your kids - and kids can pick up on it.  Eat right, get enough sleep and make time to do something FUN for yourself each weekend.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Check out this Meet the Teacher for a great chance to share a bit about yourself and to learn a bit more about other bloggers out in bloggy world.  Click here Teacher Week 2011 for all the info.  How appropriate that today is my first day back to work and Meet the Teacher is from 4-6.  

Tell us something about you...
I have lived in Columbus, Ohio for 15 years.  I grew up in a small town about 45 minutes northeast of Cleveland and went back home after graduation, but moved to Columbus two years later.  I went to Ohio Wesleyan which is only 20 minutes from Columbus and was desperate to get back to being with my college friends.  The opportunity to move down fell into my lap so I quit my first teaching job to try my hand at finding a better job here in central Ohio.  I subbed for a year and lucked into a great entry position with the district for which I currently work.  While transplanting myself to a "new" city and quitting my job was a huge risk, it was the best thing I ever could have done for myself.  

How long have you been teaching?

After graduating in 1994, I was able to get a gig "teaching" summer camp with a preschool in a great district in suburban Cleveland.  This job led to a full-time position teaching pre-K.  After two years it was apparent there weren't going to be any grade level openings for a while, so I took a risk, quit and moved to central Ohio.  I subbed for a year and landed a great entry level position with an outstanding district and haven't looked back.  I have taught reading intervention,  5th grade, 1st grade (for 10 years) and am making the change to 3rd for this coming school year.  I think, if my math is correct, today marks the beginning of my 18th year in education.

You might not know...

I have had worked for 18 different administrators.  My district is the fastest growing in the state of Ohio and the 11th fastest growing in the United States.  Because of the growth, we're constantly opening new buildings.  When I started we had 3 elementaries.  Yesterday our 15th opened.  Constant change brings a lot of turnover, so I've learned to be flexible and just roll.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I'm excited to try third grade this year.  I'll be working with one of my dearest friends - who is retiring in two years.  This will be a great opportunity to share all the time she has left together - not just in passing or when our lunch overlaps.  

What do you need to improve?

Working with older kids means I need to make an effort to incorporate more technology.  I'm a technophobe and need a lot of guidance and support with tech.  I started a blog this summer in hopes of becoming more proficient with going beyond what I'm able to do with word processing, publishing and spreadsheets.  My goal is to have my kids writing student blogs by the end of the first quarter.

What teaching supplies can you not live without?

Books, books and more books!  I also have to say my overhead.  I know it's old school, but I use it everyday for a multitude of things.  I know about smart boards, but I have TONS of overhead manipulatives for math and love being able to use it to create shared writing together with the kids.  I have also found that because smart boards are more prevalent, the overhead has become "novel" and tends to excite the kids.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School Give Away!

Like most teachers, one of the fun parts of getting ready to go back to school is "needing" new school clothes.  I admit to not being a fashion plate and at times find myself contemplating how to get on What Not to Wear.  When I started out teaching, I worked with pre-K kids.  My daily duds reflected the theme for the week - think Ms. Frizzle.  That was me.  I am part of the generation that LOVED wooden necklaces and didn't mind wearing appliqued apples on denim jumpers.  

Fast forward a few years and I was working with small groups of kids as a reading specialist and moved on from dressing thematically (thank goodness I saw the light on that one!) to being more business like with hose and heels. Next I moved into a regular-ed classroom and learned very quickly the need to be polished, but practical.  Then, before I knew it, I was in my thirties.  The years of being "fashionable" resulted in foot surgery to correct my toes from wearing cute shoes and practicality took a front seat to everything.  

A few years back I was walking through Sears to get to another store and stumbled upon the Land's End section.  The things were cute, practical, stylish and matched many different things.  It was almost like I had found adult Garanimals (If you're too young to remember them, here's a link Garanimals.  I was shocked to know they still exist!).  My closet is now full of Land's End pieces.  I swear by them, as they wear well, wash well and never seem to go out of style.  

Today I made my annual pilgrimage to Sears where I happened to find most Land's End items were 40-50% off!  I walked out the door with three pairs of crop pants, two pin point oxford dress shirts, two cardigan sweaters, a polo shirt, a cute cotton top and a pair of jeans for $207.00!  So, because I think every teacher deserves a little treat for themselves, I've decided to have a small give away.  When I reach 100 followers, I'll select one of you as a winner for a $25.00 gift card to...

If you're interested in winning, sign-up as a follower to The Cursive Z.  Make sure to leave a comment so I can count your entry.  A winner will be selected by random number.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Check this out!

Click the above link to go to Jodi's blog.  She is doing an amazing series on classroom management and routines right now.  Great stuff!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Check it out!

My friend, Jodi, over at Clutter-Free Classroom is beginning another series!  Check it out - she's awesome!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Traveling to the Abyss

In 20 minutes I'll be on the road to work.  I've not seen my classroom since mid-July. When I closed the door behind me, I remember leaving feeling quite satisfied with my progress and giddy at the thought of just having to "tie-up loose ends" in August.  With my schedule rapidly filling up with random meetings for this and that next week and a few obligations this week, I'm now in panic mode after realizing my time is slipping away.  I'm holding true to my mantra, "It all gets done in the end!"