Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Things I Know For Sure...About Teaching...After 4 Months

Happy New Year's Eve!

Are you all running around in your sparkly dresses and heels looking for someone to kiss?  Suckas! NYE is for yoga pants, telecasted ball drops and dips. Lots and lots of dips. Oh and champagne!


 As for New Year's kisses?


I'm thinking this handsome boy will be my kiss!

Oh and these...

If you are going out have fun and be safe!  

Back to the main point of the blog post-what i know for sure. I'm sure Oprah's title and book is full of more valuable life hacks and tidbits of fantastic wisdom than you'll find on this bloggy, but I like her title so here goes!

As of tomorrow I will have been a teacher for 4 months. I teach 2nd and 3rd grade resource room. Saying I love my job is a gross understatement. I am beside myself with love for my job and my students. I can't imagine working anywhere else or doing anything else. In my 4 months I've learned a lot. I'm so lucky to have great mentors and people to help my out along the way.

Also on a semi-related note-THIS is a gem for teachers!  It's teachers' New Year's Resolutions!

Here are my few pearls of wisdom that I have gleaned along the very short pathway.  In honor of 2015, I have left you with 15!!  

1.) You will love your students more than anything. I never thought I would love anyone or anything as much as I love my students. I hope they succeed, I want them to be happy, I want them to always be appreciated, and never get hurt. I want them to be confident and proud of themselves. I want them one day to have a job that they love as much as I do. 

2.) Lakeshore will rip you off. I love Lakeshore as much as the next first year teacher. What with their primary colored walls, and nifty border patterns, and classroom accessories you couldn't have dreamt up in your wildest dreams, but after they wanted $300 for an easel I decided I could probably build one for under $25. So I did. I bought a clothes rack at this little French boutique called Target for $20. Then I bought Lakeshore anchor chart rings for $5. And for about a tenth of the Lakeshore price I have an easel!  P.S. Thanks to 10 years of working at a dance studio, I was able to build it myself.

My students did NOT believe I built this...
*Also, note the reindeer sweater.  This is as close to a dorky teacher Christmas sweater that I will ever wear.  It is also from LOFT and therefore negates the dorky teacher Christmas sweater stigma.  It is still festive, though.

3.)  You will feel incredibly guilty. About everything. About every modicum of your day. I usually arrive at work between 715 and 730. I usually leave around 5- a little earlier if I'm tutoring. Most days I come home feeling like I should still be at work. I should be grading something, prepping something else, reading a new article, scouring Pinterest for some fancy innovative method to teach multiplication with, or just scanning for new anchor texts to teach a concept. I feel immense guilt when I drive away from school and see teachers still avidly working away. I need to tell myself that it's ok. It's ok to drive away after spending 9-10 hours at work. It's ok to push away from your computer to eat lunch. It's ok if all of your lessons are not "Pinterest Worthy". It's ok if you count getting enough sleep as part of your job. Feeling guilt about not being able to attend friend functions in the middle of the week because you need sleep or a run or a Zumba is normal. It's all ok. As long as you are teaching your students and they are having fun, you're doing your job. We, as new teachers, need to give ourselves a break. We're new, we're not perfect and no one expects us to be. 

4.) Set up a retirement fund separate from your pension.  I want to be a crotchety old woman with a lot of money!  Someone has to pay for those Early Bird Diner Dinners!


5.) Set up disability insurance. 

6.) Your attitude towards learning will become your students' attitude towards learning. Believe it or not, but skip counting and writing compare and contrast essays aren't exactly jazzy bursting with excitement activities, but guess what?  I sell them to my students like I am selling Manolo Blahniks toCarrie  Bradshaw.  I'm a big believer in fake it til you make it and if you fake loving these things, your students will do them so much better.  Think Buddy and the Mail Room.  If you don't get that reference, we can't be friends.  

7.) They do pay you to like kids. If you don't like kids you better get out now. 

8.) Some people will be easy to work with. Some will make your job difficult. Remember that smiling and tone of voice makes all the difference. You can't control or imagine what goes on in someone else's life or what comes out of their mouth, but you can control yours.  Choose wisely. 

9.) Always eat the baked goods on the teachers' lounge. 

10.) Start everyday with the same sentence, "Good morning!  I'm so glad you're here today!  I'm happy to see you!"  This might be the only time they hear this all day. This creates positive classroom culture and the kids will work harder for you if you genuinely love them and they know it. 

11.) Compliment them for everything. Build them up, praise them for the good, and genuinely mean it. Don't just say good job. Be creative!  

12.). Have a classroom mantra. Have hiur kids repeat it. We have 2:  Everyone gets what they need to succeed and It is tough, but I'm tougher.  Post these around your room. Mine are over the door. 

13.) Learn to be corrected by an 8 year old with grace. Trust me, this will happen a lot. If you show them it's natural to make mistakes, they will be more apt to take risks and not be upset when they are wrong. 

14.) Ask questions and don't be afraid to ask for help. You're new, I'm new, teaching is not a science, it's an art. There are a million ways to do it and do it well. Ask around and you'll become a better teacher. 

15.) Know your skill set and don't keep it to yourself. I am good with technology and SMARTBoards. I help the seasoned teachers learn about and incorporate their SMARTBoards into their lessons and in turn they give me advice and tips. It's give and take.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!  I hope it is full of love, laughter, and sweets!



Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year and New Year's Resolutions/Hopes/Wishes

Happy Oxymoron Day!

I haven't blogged in forever because I've been crazy busy at work, but now it's a Christmas vacay kinda day.  I'm finally back and it feels fabulous!  I'll recap Christmas later, but right now is all about the New Year!

I don't know about you, but my New Year's Eves have never been super awesome.  Usually it's super low key (that's code for sweats, dips, and bubbly…plus chocolate of course :)) and we watch the ball drop.  I always try to make New Year's Resolutions.  I keep them--for the most part, so I always feel good about making them.

2014 was a pretty great year.  I graduated with my Master's from my beloved TCNJ, rode the emotional roller coaster that is looking for a teaching job, got hired at my dream job, went on two vacations, ran a half marathon and a 5k, and finally began to feel like this is what and where I'm supposed to be.  2015 is going to have to work really hard to beat it.

Here are my 2015 Goals:

-Go on 4 trips!  One is already booked (Cait I'll be in Chapel Hill in 7 weeks!), one is in the discussion stages (SPEDS NYE trip next year to some place warm and tropical!), one family trip to Bermuda, and one New Orleans trip!

-Run another half marathon.  Ok, I hated running miles 8-13, but I think it's like child birth, you forget the pain and want only the reward--in my case no child, just a brand new shiny medal!

-Run a 10k in D.C.  I love D.C. and want to run around all of the monuments and buildings

-Drink more green things-more green juices, more green tea, and more green smoothies!  I've been using the juicer on my break and I'm loving all of the extra energy I have.

-Go zip lining, banana boating, and parasailing!  On Family Vacation 2015, I'm going to do all of these things!  I went parasailing on our last cruise and I can't wait to go back!  It's so much fun and exciting to see the fish and dolphins!

-Considering getting my S.C.U.B.A. cert.  I kinda wanna go S.C.U.B.A. diving on my family trip and with my friends next winter.

-I want to keep all of my old friends and make some new ones.

-I want to become a better teacher, friend, daughter, and person.

-I want to be happier with myself and not be so hard on myself (This is a hard one, but I'm going to try)

-Yoga 4 times a week.  Even if my practice is only 20 minutes a day, I want to improve and feel more zen.  I'm in my head way too much and hopefully yoga will help :)

-Read a book a month.  In the summer this is super easy, but during the school year, it's really tough.  I'm going to try to read more.  I like to read before bed to help calm me down.

-Sleep 7 hours a night.  I tend to sleep about 6 hours now, but I want to increase the z's.

Now for my New Year's Predictions!  I usually hate predictions because if they don't come true I feel bad about myself.  But we're gonna give it a whirl!

-I predict I will fail whale one of these resolutions

-I predict I will have many a Girls' Nite!

-I predict I will fall in love with UNC when I visit in 7 weeks :)

-I predict I will PR on my half marathon

-I predict I will spend way too much money on shoes!

-I predict I will try my very very hardest to forget my Mr. Big (even if he's super hot and calls me randomly a la his name sake)

-I predict I will follow my pattern of starting to date someone in March of an odd year (fingers crossed it's Chris Evans)

-I predict I will jam out to a whole bunch of country concerts this summer!  I already have Tay Tay tix!

What are your New Year's Resolutions?  I hope you have a great rest of 2014 and an even better 2015!