Thursday, May 26, 2016

Open Letter to a Teacher in a Rut

An Open Letter to a Teacher in a Rut

Dear Teacher in a Rut,

         You never dreamt you were going to be the kind of teacher who would get stuck in a rut. As a matter of fact, you were the teacher who said that would never happen to you.
          But here it is, it has happened. You look around your classroom and wonder what happened to that teacher who was so full of passion and creativity? You look in the mirror and wonder where is my teacher self?  I see you, and I am standing right beside you, in the same rut.
         The last few years have brought so many changes in the field of education. The changes have been fast and furious; it is a wonder anyone could keep up.  Standards changed, which meant tons of professional development and new textbooks.  And unlike years passed, the textbooks changed for not just one subject area, but language arts, math, and science for most. Out with the old and in with the new. 
         It was an exciting time that quickly turned to an exhausting time.  With each workshop, we were presented with yet another way the standards could be taught. We needed to know what it looked like, but there was no one to show us what it really looked like. Those “new” textbooks? Well, they did not quite match the standards. So the next few years had us spinning our wheels and writing our own curriculum, still not sure what the standards would look like. Add to all that, the growing amount of assessments, standardized testing, and data collection that was thrown onto our ever growing list of things to do each day. 
          Are you with me still?  Is your head spinning or can you completely relate? I feel like I have invented and reinvented the wheel over the passed five years. 
          Half way though this year, I got stuck. I just stopped. I ran out of energy and passion. I became that teacher I said I would never be. I (gasp!) began to use worksheets and textbook materials that I despise. In my rut, I just could not find it in me to create Pinterest perfect lessons every day. If I'm being honest, I couldn't muster the energy or passion to create even one perfect lesson a week. I was just surviving. Just surviving in my classroom. 
         As spring break was approaching, I was beginning to feel my passion and energy return. I attended Get Your Teach On by Deanna Jump and Hope King. It was just what I needed to fuel my fire again. I was ready to have a relaxing vacation and come back to finish the year strong. 
         Then life happened. My daddy passed away during break and with one phone call, my life was forever changed. I don't know if you can ever truly be prepared for the death of a parent, but when it's unexpected...well...there's just no words. 
          I returned to my class and right back into my rut. I began to question whether teaching was still for me. After countless hours of soul searching, I know teaching is where I am meant to be. So now as the end of the year approaches, I am looking ahead to next year and the promise of getting out of my rut. Trust me, I am still stuck in a rut. 
          But you know what?  I have learned that it’s okay.  There is something to be learned from "the rut."  When you stop just long enough to reflect on where you are and where you want to be, you learn things you may not have known before. I may not have had Pinterest worthy lessons this year, but my kiddos still had amazing gains. The worksheets and textbooks still supported the skills they needed to learn. Letting go and not having the "perfect" classroom or over the top lessons this year has taught me that there is no perfect way needed to teach. At the end of the day, the kiddos just need you, the teacher, to show up and teach, however that may look.
         So if you find yourself stuck in the rut, take a deep breath. The year is winding down. Pack up your room, hugs your kiddos good-bye, and make time for yourself this summer. I know that's what I plan to do. Maybe I'll read a professional book or two to spark the passion again. I know come mid-July, I will be itching to get back into classroom and prep for next fall. 
         It happens every summer, you know the feeling, the feeling that says fall can't come soon enough. Some days, I think it's the best part of the job, knowing you get a clean slate and an empty room to rebuild every fall. We get to start fresh and energized. 
         And that rut you were in? It just suddenly disappears....

Click on any of the links below to visit the blog post about each of these other teachers. Chance are you'll be in one of these shoes sooner than you realize!

An Open Letter to the Teacher Who's a new Mom


Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Back with a Great Surprise!

Hello friends! It's been a long time. Who knew this little cutie would rule my world? Not wanting to miss a moment as a baby, turned into not wanting to miss a moment as she grew into a toddler. I cannot believe she will be two in just a few months! 
I promised myself at the end of the last school year, I would get back to blogging. But I was having so much fun with my munchkin, the summer flew passed. And guess what? I still wasn't blogging. 
Now that the school year is in high gear, and I am starting to get my witts about my new normal, I *think* I may just be ready to get back to blogging! I miss it. I miss sharing ideas with other teachers. I miss documenting my teaching journey. 
So, when Classroom Friendly Supplies contacted me to introduce their new color, my favorite color, I decided it was time to jump back in! 
When this little package arrived, I was over the moon! It is the perfect shade of purple!
Not only is it so very purple, it is just the right size. It is also still oh-so quiet!  It was so easy to assemble. 
Two parts really, is all it has to put together. 
I mounted mine on a desk. 
Another plus to this sharpener, is it's skill to sharpener. 
This is the before pencil....
This is the after pencil...Look at that point! What teacher doesn't love a great point?
Another great benefit is my students can use it. No more worrying about replacing the expensive electric sharpeners they somehow always seem to break. I never understand how, but they always do. I guess it's a kid thing. =) 
I love that it doesn't allow for the kids to push the pencil too far in and the noise and feel changes when the pencil is sharpened. 
So if you are in need of a PURPLE, quiet pencil sharpener, head on over to Classroom Friendly Supplies to order one!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Meet Up

Hi friends!!! I know, it's been months since I last posted. But I have a really good reason for going MIA... On January 26th, we welcomed Grace Lynn to our family.
I have spent the past four months at home enjoying every minute of being a mommy. I have just returned to work for the last three weeks of school, and I am already counting the days until summer break. But coming home to this precious smile is just the best feeling ever! 
So that is where I have been. I am ready for some summer fun! Our collaborative blog, The Teaching Tribune is hosting a summer long party! Every day you'll find some new teaching and life ideas. You'll get to know other bloggers and have some fun!
Meet my friend and new first time mommy also, Martha...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cause and Effect

 First, I lost the month of October and now, I've lost the month of November! I cannot believe it's Black Friday already! 
I have been teaching 11 years, and every year I tell myself that I will not loose the holiday months. But the next thing I know, they are gone. The first 60 days of school just seems to be a blur as everything is happening at once and at neck breaking speed! November was no different...from safety days and drills to parent conferences, and end of quarter assessments, there was no slowing down! 
My county is off this week, I am thankful for the chance to just breathe. I had every intention of getting ahead with lesson plans and station activities, but I have just been too pooped out! I just hit week 29 of my pregnancy, and I feel great. But my body is just a wee bit tired...So instead of getting my creative juices flowing, I've just been nesting around the house.
Today, I have some extra energy, so I am taking advantage of that to share with you my cause & effect lessons from November.

I don't know about you, but there are some things my county will not give us wiggle room on. One of those being following the scope and sequence of the reading textbook. I have to be honest and say I am not in-love with it. I am not a fan of teaching a comprehension skill (1) this week, only to move onto a new one  next week (2), and then back to the first skill (1) the third week. It just makes no sense to me, the kids are just starting to really get it by Friday. But then on Monday, we throw a new one at them. I can hardly keep up, so I feel for my kids! 

With that in mind, I have been trying to find more visual ways to represent each skill so when we are flip-flopping skills around, the visual will hopefully help my kids remember the skill. 
For instance, when I taught visualization, it was all about referring back to the images in the brain. 
This time, I used puzzle pieces to represent the relationship of cause and effect. For the first lesson, I read Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type. After I read the story, I introduced the idea of cause and effect. I provided a few examples and then asked my students to think of others. 
I created a chart with the cause and then we went back through the story to locate the effect.
After a brief review the next day, we played partner match-up. Each student was given a cause or effect card. They had to walk around the room and find the student who had the matching piece. My students loved this. It really had them talking and thinking about whether the cause and effect could match. 
Next, I gave each student a puzzle piece to illustrate the cause or effect. Again, they had to match-up to find the missing piece. 
Throughout the week, we worked on several other activities. One day the added the cause and effect flaps to their interactive reader's notebook. They wrote the definitions on the top and then lifted the paper to draw and write an example of each. 
We also read Giggle, Giggle, Quack. I provided the cause on the chart, and they had to locate the effect using the text. 
Next on the list, was Thump, Quack, Moo. This day, I provided the effect and they had to locate the cause. 

This was a little more challenging for them. It was a great opportunity for them to discuss what was actually in the text and what they thought in their minds. It led to a great lesson on text based evidence. 
For response to this lesson, I gave each student a puzzle piece with the cause and they had to write and illustrate the effect.

Here is a picture of the bulletin board as it began.
Now, when the skill comes back after Thanksgiving break, there are a few more activities we will do. I created a cut and paste match-up. 
 Also, a quick assessment with a cause and effect matching sheet.
I am still working on the next set of books we will focus on for cause and effect. I know I will be using The Rain Came Down for the first lesson.

You can find Cause & Effect in my TPT store here... 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Should The Fly Have Dinner with the Spider?

Hi all! It has been a crazy few weeks!!! I feel like I completely missed the month of October and now we are half way through November!
Here are some updates from my class...from October!!! 
We wrote our first opinion piece which needed to tie in letter writing. 
I started by reading Mo Willems...
Then I wrote a letter to the Pigeon, giving him my opinion. My class was great in helping me draft this letter. Several made the connection that the pigeon thought taking care of a puppy was like taking care of a plant. 
I was able to briefly touch on the pieces of a letter as well as opinions and reasons.
Then I read 
Now it was time for the students to write the Fly a letter and explain their opinions on having dinner with the spider. 
We brainstormed a list of opinion statements on the first day. 
I had them choose which one they wanted to use. Then we began our letter graphic organizer.
We had another brainstorming session for reasons...
So after two days, I had a modeled teacher letter, opinion statements, and a list of reasons. 
 The students began drafting sentences for their reasons. In the next lesson, we restated our opinion for the conclusion. 
 For the final lesson, I modeled for the students how to use my graphic organizer to complete a final draft. I first went through and edited my organizer. Then I transferred each sentence onto my chart paper. My students then completed their own final draft. I had a pop-in from my administration at the same time, and it was fabulous! The kids were able to read their pieces to her and several caught their won mistakes with conventions and spelling while they were reading to her. They actually stopped and made corrections right then and there! I was so proud of them. =) 
You can find this writing lesson here... 

 Student work...

 During October, we worked on retelling for our comprehension skill. This year, we are being asked to assess each student one-on-one twice during the nine weeks with a retelling rubric. I have really been trying to hit this hard, and work with my students who are still having trouble retelling a story. 
 I began with a review of beginning, middle, and end. 
Then we moved onto the sequencing words. 
You can see more of my retelling and sequencing activities here...

In my next post, I'll update you about how November is going! 

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