Sunday, July 19, 2015

Things I've Learned Lately

Good evening, lovelies!  It's been, like, almost 3 years since I've written or done anything with this blog... Oops.  Not gonna lie,  teaching full time has had me way busy!  Last year I was the team lead, had a new 1st year teacher on my team, and we got a new, very involved ELA curriculum that basically tied my brain in knots.  Let's just say that last fall I was a hot mess.  But don't worry! It got much better after returning from Christmas/Winter break. In the past 3 years I've learned several important lessons about teaching.  Here are the 3 biggest lessons I've learned lately...

Lesson #1 - Manage time wisely.

Whether you're talking lesson planning, grading or teaching, time management is key.  And I suck at it.  Ok, so I've gotten better, but J (my husband) still wishes I could spend more time at home, and be fully present in my time at home, not half paying attention to him and our dog, and half grading papers or something.

But how can a master procrastinator such as myself successfully manage my time?  Well, it's not easy.  I'm the kind of person that gets distracted from the important things by interesting, but less important things.  For example, one time I got so excited about an idea that I had, that instead of grading overdue essays, I created and laminated a poster to hang in my room. Not the best use of time...

Here are a few things that have helped me manage my time on the clock a bit better:
  • Daily and weekly to do lists (include dates on urgent items)
  • Set myself a time limit (using a timer or the stopwatch on my phone) to make sure I get things done
  • Collaborate with my team, divide up tasks evenly, and delegate or ask for help when needed
  • Spend at least 50-75% of my prep/lunch time working on school things, and the rest of the time to relax, chat with coworkers, use the restroom, or eat
  • Write down or make a list of all the little things & ideas that distract me from what needs attention most (if I can't stop thinking about them, I give myself the reward of completing those tasks after I complete what actually needs to be done)
  • More meaningful, involved, hands-on activities and assignments make for less grading
  • Stay organized and save it for next year. 
  • Spot check student work for 1-2 specific problems that I want to make sure the kids understood
  • Grade at least 1 class set of an assignment every day to prevent massive stacks of grading
  • For grading writing, I like to grade 6-10 essays/stories each day until they're all done
  • Ask and allow the kids to help--they love to clean, organize and file away papers to get sent home ;)

Lesson #2 - Be flexible. And realistic.

I've learned to plan a little smarter in order to accommodate the ever-changing pace of the school day.  School store, assemblies, picture days, testing, birthday treats, fire drills, emergency class meetings... There is always the possibility of some kind of unplanned kink in the schedule. And there are always plenty of things I can do, or have my kids do, if a lesson runs short. But let's be real, it almost never happens! And when things take longer than expected, it's hard to decide what to cut out and how to adjust for the next day or two to make up for the lost time.  It is much easier on me (and the students) if I over estimate the amount of time it will take to complete a lesson, assignment, etc.  It allows for more time for in-depth discussions, sharing and working with partners, etc. and if there's plenty of time, we can always get a head start on some of the next day's activities! Also, more hands-on activities = less wasted copy paper when you don't get to that other worksheet... :)

Lesson #3 - Understand that you don't know everything.

Amy Poehler wrote in her (amazing and hilarious) book Yes Please, "I know enough now to know I know nothing."  Oh, how true this is!  Growing and stretching hurts, and it's hard, but it's necessary.  Sometimes I hate it, but in the end I know it's what needs to be done.  There is always room to improve, and it's vital to try new strategies and broaden your horizons.  I am constantly learning new things from my coworkers, professional reading, Pinterest (you know it's legit!), and my students.

After 3 successful years, I know enough now to know that I will never be done growing.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

She's alive... Currently.

Hey, yo!

I'm still here.

I have just enough time to log on to Blogger {every once in a while} and read a few posts, but not enough time to do any posting, myself. Not only that, but every time I think, "Oh, hey, I should do some blogging," I get blogger's block.

I'm sure you've had it.

It's kinda like when you are given a writing assignment in school and you get writer's block because you have no idea where to start. But I think it's worse. Because you, as a blogger, write on a semi-frequent-ish basis {sometimes}, and you started a blog because you had the desire to do so, for some weird reason. And other people will probably look at it and read some of it at some point, so there's more pressure.

For me, it goes like this......

I have free time?!
Yay! Internet!
I should blog!
What should I say?
I should share a resource!
What resource?
Have I created anything lately? Oh, what about....
Wait... Can I even post that as a freebie or will copyright law get me arrested and take all of my money?
Hahaha... all my money... good one, Claire!
Oh, I know! I should tell a cute story about a student!
Hey, that's a good one.... wait. No. That's not funny enough.
I bet it was a "had-to-be-there" moment and no one will like it.
I should go to bed...

Anyway, I've been hanging out at the hubby's grandpa's house all weekend now, and I've done every bit of work I could possibly do for school at this point, so I started playing pinterest, which lead me to some good bloggy resources for school, and I realized that it's October. And that Farley posted her new Currently!

 Let me break it down for you....

I'm listening to the Tigers game... Listening, not watching. The hubs is watching, along with his uncle and grandpa. So, obviously, I am playing around on the Internet. Also, one of the players (or someone) has a name that kinda sounds like Voldemort. Every time I hear it, I do a double take. Haha!

I love my hubby! J continues to tolerate my lack of housekeeping skills, still tells me how proud he is and that I'm wonderful, and still wants to snuggle with me. Score!

And I love my new school friends. Basically, the staff at school rocks. I have no complaints about any one of them! And I'm kind of a complainer, so that's really awesome. But really, I love my 5th grade team and the other teachers & paras I've been able to get to know are all super fun and sweet and helpful and supportive. Like a really amazing bra, but funner.

I have not procrastinated at all today! 
Check this out... 
I graded assessments
entered grades online
went through my class' behavior points to see who earned behavior rewards last week
made a rubric for another assessment
found some cool resources online
planned out next week's schedule
and I read through the science curriculum & experiment breakdown that I'll be teaching for the next week.
Woot woot! I am thinking I should treat myself to a new purse. Or a new phone. Which leads me to...

I'm really wanting to trade in my lame-o phone for something that doesn't make me feel like an 11-year-old. When anyone with an iPhone replies all to a text, my phone can't open it! And sometimes when I get a regular text it just blocks out all the letters and replaces them with empty boxes. Yeah. I feel like I'm in the dark ages. I know this isn't twitter, but..... #newworldproblems. Right?

I really need to join a gym. I try so hard to watch what I eat. Ok, that is a lie. Sometimes I try. Sometimes I don't. Seriously though, I haven't been good lately. And while I haven't actually gained any much weight, at least according to the numbers on the bathroom scale, I'm just feeling like I have. You know what I mean?

I have been really bad about eating crappy food lately. And I'm not working out at all anymore. Last week, my teammate, Katie, dragged took me to the gym with her. It was so fun! I remembered that I really do like working out and I love the feeling good thing that happens afterward. I just don't have a good place at home to Shred it with Jillian or do Yoga with Denise Austin. And until now I couldn't justify paying for a gym membership. While planning for our work-out date, I figured I'd join the gym Katie goes to, but then I realized that the location would only be good for going before (ha!) or after work, and would be really inconvenient otherwise.... so then I'd have to drive almost 30 minutes to work out on a non-school day. Not ideal, right? Anyway, I'm thinking I'll suck it up and find a gym to join closer to my house.

The Fall/Halloween/October book that I love best is Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I've been planning on using it as my next class read-aloud in celebration of Halloween. I think it's really good, and a little creepy, and I think that reading it aloud during the school day would be less spooky than reading a scary book at home. The kids were really excited when I told them my plan. Right now, we're half-way though The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis. They love this one, too, and so do I. I highly recommend it!

I'll end my post with a funny quote from one of my students yesterday...

The day after I worked out with Katie, I was holding my hands up above my head, using a time-out signal (my silent attention-getting signal for the class). The kids were taking forever to respond with a time-out signal of their own, so I said, "Fifth graders, I am still looking for 100%... Mrs. B made me work out with her yesterday and my arms are getting tired."

Then one of my 5th grade boys said, in all seriousness, "It takes my mom a lot to finally go work out..."

I almost died laughing inside, but managed to say, "Oh, C, please don't ever say that to your mother."

The end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week 2, Currently

So, this was my second week in the classroom as a full time teacher. I'm loving it, but, man, I'm exhausted.
I'm still getting organized and what not, and I'm about to start writing up my first science unit so I can submit it to my supervisors in the next few days. This weekend will be busy.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the lack off interesting posts, but I know you are understanding. :)

I will attempt to make up for it by linking up for Farley's September Currently!

I've been all about Friends lately. Sadly, I haven't been home early enough to watch the evening reruns, and the late-night ones don't come on til 11:00! :(

J has been so wonderful and supportive and understanding! Today, he helped me make lunches... yeah, I know, crazy. Love him.

My feet freaking hurt! None of my shoes thus far are going to cut it if I want to keep this job... I still haven't found a teacher chair, and I'm still figuring out how to best utilize the space in my room. Also, I think my days of wearing flats, especially my super duper flat sandals are over.... Dr. Scholl's here I come.
Now that I go to bed at the same time as a 10-year-old {should}, I am going to have to accept that I won't be able to watch basically ANY of my shows anymore. :(
I'll have to catch up by using my Papa's On Demand while I visit over there... lol.
I think I might invest in some cable with DVR or On Demand capabilities in the next couple months...
I was up far too late last night watching Parenthood. SO GOOD! But it was so hard to get up this morning... hence the need for DVR. :)
I've been all into chocolate, coffee and snuggle time with the hubby this week. There's coffee & basket of Hershey kisses in the lounge, and an over sized bag of M&Ms in my desk, just in case. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The BIG Reveal!!!

I am SO. TIRED. And my feet hurt. I need to find better shoes.

I have no time for a quality post, buuuut......

I thought I'd share a few pictures of my 5th grade classroom! :)

It wasn't 100% finished when I took these, but it's close enough.


Welcome to my rooooom!
Back of the room.... turn in baskets (I snagged those drawers for free, but the person didn't have the frame... sad), mailbox files and my super cute reflector vest for arrival/dismissal. Haha.

Teacher corner. Note my crayon project on the wall. :)

Word walls on the cabinets... ignore the boxes, please. :)

Reading nook, science bulletin board, moral focus b-board.
Class jobs chart... the kids' numbers are written on some super cute owls, and it looks awesome now!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Social: Days of Summer

The end of summer is always a happy-sad time for me.
  On one hand, summer-fun is over... :(
On the other, it's back to school time.
I can't believe school starts in TWO days! And I'm going back as a TEACHER this time!! Wweee! I'm super excited! :)
The past four days {has it really only been four days??} have been CRAZY... I've been trying to catch up on the PD I missed, trying to get familiar with some of the curriculum, setting up my classroom, and attending meetings. I spent almost my entire Saturday at school working... and I dragged some family in to help. Today I have to do laundry {like, really bad} and some other things at home, and tomorrow it's back to the school building with the hubby to finish up.
Anyway, I'm taking a break from my to-do list to link up with Ashley for a summer edition of Sunday Social.

Sunday Social
1. What was your favorite trip/vacation/activity this summer?
Shoot, this is really hard! I had a really fun summer this year, much better than last... last summer J was going through the fire academy, so we basically didn't do much of anything.

Anyway, I think my favorite trip would be camping up north with Justin! The couple time was so nice, and we had so much fun together!

A very close second would be taking my niece out for her first boat ride. She LOVED it! And she loved playing in the lake, too. Super fun. :)

2. What was your favorite outfit look of the summer/clothing item?
The lace-detailed tops! Love it!

And the bright, neon colors. Those were fun, too.

3. What is one thing you wish you had gotten to do this summer?
Visit my grandparents up north... my sister and I kept saying we'd go together with our families, but then we never did. :(
4. What was your favorite song of the summer?
Haha. I was in teeny-bopper mode most of the summer... Not all summer, but a lot of it. Here are some of my jams...

Some Nights by Fun
Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson
What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction
Give Your Heart a Break by Demi Lovato (She looks so old now!)
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

This is such a fun car-dancing song... even though the story is actually a little sad for the majority of it.
5. What was your favorite movie/tv show of the summer?
The Dark Night Rises
The Amazing Spiderman
I also watched a lot of Friends & The Office reruns. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

Linking up with Jamie @ This Kind Of Love for

Here's what I'm loving this week...

I'm loving... THAT I GOT A JOB!!! Eeeek!! Tuesday, the day after I had the crazy interview, the school called and offered me the position! I'm going to be a 5th grade teacher! :) I couldn't believe that they called so soon after I went in. I am SO SO SO excited!! A little bit freaked out, too... I mean, school starts in 6 days and I have ZERO things ready, except random little things, and I've missed so much PD and all the staff meetings.... SO much to do.... and I can't go in until Thursday! Yikes!

I'm loving... my sweet hubby, family and friends for all their support and prayers!

I'm loving... that my hubby was so excited for me that he announced it all over FB before I could even think to do it. He stole my thunder! Haha!

I'm loving... that "What Makes You Beautiful" song by One Direction... bahahah. I can't get it out of my head! Oh, and also the Demi Lovato one, "Give Your Heart A Break." I'm in teeny-bopper mode these days...

I'm loving... that I get to spend the next week preparing for MY VERY OWN CLASSROOM, even if it means that my up-north mini-vacay this weekend will be cut short.

I'm loving... my cute niece. :)

Yeah, she stopped "reading" the book {upside down} to say "Sheeeeeeezzze!!"

What are you loving this week?!?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crazy morning!!

This is how my day started:
8:00 - Wake up (late) for work... quickly get ready
8:30(ish?) - Stare at Bradley Cooper on The Today Show.... *le sigh*
8:35 Make a mental note: Must. See. Bradley. Cooper. Movies.
8:45 - Leave for the office
9:10 - Get to work... Yay! No Traffic! Boot up my computer, and open to my new emails. Get ready to make some instant oatmeal for breakfast.
9:15 - Receive the following phone call:
"Hi, is this Claire?"
"Yes, it is."
"Hi, this is Michelle from ____ ____ Academy. I'm calling to see if you would be interested in interviewing for a 5th grade ELA & Science position opened up at our building."
"Great, can you come in today, between 11am-4pm?"
"Umm... yeah, I think so."
"Tomorrow would also be ok, same time frame."
"Well, I am working at my office job today, so I will have to check with my boss when would be the best time. I will talk to her and get back to you."
"Great, thanks! We'd only need you for a half hour or so. My number is 123-4567. Let me know when you find out."
(Side note... this is the same school I interviewed at earlier this summer before school got out, but I didn't get the job then. Apparently someone resigned.)
9:25 - Talk to my boss about the best time to go. Decide to do it earlier and come back to work later.
9:35 - Call Michelle back. Schedule 12:30 interview.
9:40 - Google Map directions to the school & print.
9:45 - Forget the directions on the printer, and head back home.
10:10 - Get home. Print up a lesson plan sample, make some copies of my credentials, and Google "5th grade science ideas." Get excited that Ellen is on!
10:20 - Pin & read some 5th grade science ideas & activities.
10:25 - Visit school website and read up on the science curriculum, school philosophy, etc.
10:35 - Shower. Talk to myself about science instruction.
10:50 - Turn off shower. Realize I forgot to shave my legs. Turn shower back on.
10:55 - Get out of shower, finish getting ready.
11:25 - Leave for interview.
11:30 - Snag a late b-fast & coffee at Dunkin Donuts so my hands stop shaking.
11:45 - Chew gum. Talk to myself more about teaching.
11:50 - Low fuel light. Super.
12:10 - Arrive early & have a great interview (Woot woot!)
1:45 - Arrive back at the office.
1:50 - Write a thank you letter & edit 24,478 times.
{I went with email since I don't know how long it's going to be before they decide and before the letter would get there.}
2:30 - Finally email thank you letter & clock in to work.
Well, I didn't get the middle school ELA job I interviewed for last week.
I was so frustrated and discouraged that I would continue to sporadically burst into tears at random moments all weekend. I couldn't tell you how many times I prayed to find "my classroom" and to be at peace with whatever happens... I know that God's timing isn't my own, but it's just so hard to accept!
So, that phone call this morning was a welcome surprise, even though it was a little crazy... On the plus side, I didn't have time to stew and stress beforehand, so I think that was helpful.
I'm praying that this is where I am supposed to be next year. It's a brand new school and it's philosophy is nearly identical to mine. I'm trying hard not to think about it though, because neither getting excited nor preparing for a let-down have helped thus far.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, loves!