Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rock Your First Year of Teaching!

This, my friends, was me as a first year teacher.  I can't believe that was 9 years ago! I learned so much that year and in the many years that followed. That's why, when I heard about a link up that My Mommy Reads  & Teaching with Crayons and Curls  were hosting, I knew I HAD to participate. 

So here it goes:

1.  Be Knowledgable. Familiarize yourself with the school district, school buildings, and school faculty.  My first job was in a city I was not familiar with. I commuted 60 miles to work one way. So, in the summer prior to starting my job, I spent as much time as possible learning about the new city and new school district. But even if you aren't traveling to a new city for work, you should work to learn about the new school. Utilize the school district's website, the school website, and the individual teachers' websites. 

2. Say No.  This, in a nutshell, is where I failed during my first year of teaching. I wanted everyone to like me. Every child. Every parent. EVERYONE. Of course everyone wants to be liked, but what is more important is to be respected.  With my students, I had to learn to set limits. With parents, I had to learn to be confident in my abilities. 

3. Ask Questions. If you don't know something, ask! If you aren't sure about a procedure, ask! If you are having problems with a student, ask! If you aren't sure about curriculum, ask! You will be surrounded by professionals who have been where you are. They are a wealth of knowledge. You should have a mentor teacher. She is paid to answer your questions, so ask away! :)

1. Don't go it alone! Find a support group and lean on them. No one understands teachers like another teacher. Your support group could include other first year teachers, your mentor, your fellow grade level teachers, and/or even teacher friends you've met online.  My teacher bffs have seen me through the toughest challenges in my life (inside and outside the classroom.)

2. Don't rush out and buy the whole teacher supply store! I know it all looks cute and color coordinated; it makes your little teacher heart sing! BUT, don't break the bank. You can find lots of materials inexpensively. Look at yard sales or tag sales. Look on Facebook Groups. Check out Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Spot!  MAKE YOUR OWN! I spent one whole summer going to our local teacher's co-op one day a week. It was so great! 

1. Don't be too hard on yourself! You will make mistakes. You will feel overwhelmed. You will cry. It's okay. The best advice my mentor teacher gave me was to tackle one task at a time. Celebrate your successes! Keep your head above water and cut yourself some slack. I promise you, your second year WILL BE BETTER! 

Well, those are my rockstar tips for first year teachers. Hopefully they will help new teachers! 
Thanks to these ladies for hosting this link up!


How long have you been teaching? What advice do you have for new teachers? I'd love to hear all about them!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tech Tips

Today I went to a class to learn more about Project Based Learning.  Student research is a BIG component of PBL. The facilitators shared several options for student research. So I thought I would link up with the ladies at Teaching Trio for Technology Thursday to share one with you today!

First of all, do you remember these?! 

It's true! Encyclopedia Britannica was my GOOGLE! I remember pouring through these books when I was younger. Maybe I have always been a bit nerdy! ha! Anyway, I learned about an updated version of Encyclopedia Britannica today. It's called Q-files

Q-files is a free illustrated children's encyclopedia. (Say that 10 times fast!)  It is kid friendly and organized by topic. Students can click the tabs at the top to find categories for research or they can use the search box. 

Each topic is explained through words and detailed pictures or diagrams. The articles contain hyperlinks to the glossary to define content vocabulary.  There are also links to related topics. See that cute little owl in the right hand corner? That little owl gives a few interesting facts about each topic. 
The best thing about Q-files to me is that it truly is kid-friendly. All information is presented without advertisement (which is rare in today's world!) 

If you are looking at Q-files and wondering how to make it useful for the lower grades, you may consider using the Select and Speak add-on for Chrome. Select and Speak will read text aloud from websites. As I experimented with it today, I found that it would be especially helpful to teach students to highlight the word or sentence they need help with (versus having the entire page read.) Please remember, this extension only works in Chrome. There are probably sources which accomplish the same task in Explorer, but I am unfamiliar with them at this time. 

Have you tried Q-files or any other illustrated encyclopedias for student research? I'd love to hear about them!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dare to Dream

It is week two of the #TPTSellerChallenge! It has been a lot of fun to really focus on building my teacher community.  Teachers are the best people! They get me! :)  

On to the challenge:

I truly believe in setting goals, especially professionally.  So it makes sense to sit down and think about what I want out of this whole TPT seller thing.  So here are my goals:

Goal 1: Grow Professionally
I mentioned that teachers are my people.  Can you relate?  No one really understands me like another teacher. They get me on the best days. When I am thinking, "I absolutely love my career and can't wait to go back tomorrow!" They get me on the worst days. When I'm thinking"there is no way I can pick myself back up out of this pit and do it again tomorrow!"  So networking through social media keeps me motivated and really sparks my passion. I'm continually learning new things I would love to try in my own classroom. 

Goal 2: Less Penny Pinching
Need I say more? Honestly, to earn side income for the creations I would already be making for my own classroom really is a dream come true.  With less penny-pinching I would have the freedom to splurge now-and-then. I could take that photography class I have always wanted to take! 

Goal 3: Grow Our Family
We have a unique family and really love it! Hopefully, we will have children of our own (biological or not!) So, saving for a family would be really amazing!

Thanks to these ladies for encouraging me to really think about my goals!  


I'd love to hear about you all as well.What are your goals? How is TPT helping you reach them? 
(:  Mandi

Monday, June 22, 2015

Teachers ♥ Summer!

I am linking up with the ladies over at Primarily Speaking to share why I love summer!  

I imagine this is the number one reason for most teachers- NO ALARMS! This also means no bedtime! How great is it to have that freedom? I become a night owl in the summer and love to sleep in. Having no routine or schedule THE best stress reliever. The transition is tough when school comes back around, but it is totally worth it!

I love summer because I have time for leisurely activities! Can you say NETFLIX? What shows are you currently binge watching? Of course I try to get in some reading, too. I don't want to completely fry my brain.

In the summer, my creative juices start flowing! I spend time thinking about how I will rearrange my classroom, decorations for the hallway, revamping lessons and activities. I love having extra time to get crafty, too! I am hoping to get my sewing machine out. It has been in the box in the top of my closet for several years!! I broke it the very first time I tried to use it! ha! THIS is the summer to tackle it! :) 

All of these reasons help me enjoy summer, but the absolute best part to me is all of the extra time with my family. You know, during the school year we all feel pulled in several different directions at once. In the summer, I have time to slow down and really enjoy my family. We have taken our first short trip and hope to get in at least one or two more. But even if we don't go out of town, we enjoy family movie nights and game nights!


Why do YOU love summer?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Makeover Madness Continues!

I am so thankful this challenge motivated me to take a hard look at some of my TPT products. I made over three products this week. The one I am the most proud of is my Super Hero Themed Substitute Folder (Editable.) I made this last year to use with my class. It really was a life-saver for all of my absences! If it was a planned absence, I was able to whip out my Super Sub Tub with folder quickly and then jot down quick plans for my substitute teacher.  If it was an unexpected absence, my colleagues (or SUPER SIDEKICKS) could grab it off of my bookshelf.
Last year when I made it, I was pretty proud of my work and it has been a great seller with great feedback! BUT... I knew I could up the ante! :)

I was excited to use Krista Wallden's Superhero Creative Kit! If you don't follow Creative Clips, you definitely should! She is Ah-mazing! She gives new TPT'ers like me so many freebies to help us get started. I seriously couldn't say enough nice things about her!

So first, I recreated all of my current pages.  I also added a few blank templates so that buyers could create their own pages unique to their needs.

I also consulted some new friends over on the TPT Product & Promotion Group on Facebook. I am new to the group, but have had good results so far. I asked for 3 people to review my product. I had several people volunteer. I choose the first four. Three of the four people reviewed my product and gave some great suggestions!

The first suggestion was to add a couple of options for the Substitute Note.  I know that some of you have to contact your own substitutes. So one of the options has a place for your substitute to mark if he/she would be willing to come to your class again. They can also include the best way to contact them. How great is that!? The second suggestion was to add seating charts. Yes! Why didn't I think of that? My firsties always used to try to trick their poor substitutes about where they sit on the carpet! (stinkers!) These are completely editable and you can create a seating chart to match your own needs. I also added a Transportation Chart, Super Sidekicks (teachers who will help the Sub), and Important Student Information (food allergies, medical needs, etc.).


Well those are just a few of the features of the EDITABLE Super Substitute Folder. This pack grew from 13 slides to 23! I think the new additions really made it more cohesive, customizable, and useful for any teacher. I hope you will check it out! It is on sale all this week!

Thanks for coming along for the ride! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Makeover Madness

The ladies over at  thirdinhollywoodsparklinginsecondgrade , peppyzestyteacheristaand teachcreatemotivate recently issued the first challenge of the #tptsellerchallenge.  


I looked through my TPT store and quickly found several candidates for a makeover! I should have a busy summer! I ended up choosing my Non-Standard Measurement Mini-Unit.  This is one of my best sellers despite not even having a cover page! (gasp!) 

Here are some before and afters:



Have you joined the TPT Seller Challenge? I am excited to learn from my colleagues in the coming weeks! I am feeling so blessed to build relationships with teachers all over the United States. 

(:  Mandi