Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm Not an Interior Designer

Okay, I have a major confession. I'm not an interior designer.  I think I might just be the opposite of that. Sometimes I feel a little inferior for that, but most of the time I don't.  It usually hits me around back to school time when I'm bombarded {I say that with love in my heart} with classroom setup pictures on Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, Facebook.  Of course, I could look the other way, but I don't.  I stare.  Sometimes I drool. Most of the time I just smile.

So, I'm pretty good at a lot of things.  I'm really good at others.  Some things I just stink at. Classroom decor I could use a little help with.  Setting up my classroom is just that; setting up a functional space.  I like to make it cute...but I mostly like to make it functional.  You can do both, you say?  No, really I can't...I'm just not capable of that kind of creativity and level of multitasking.

I think I have Decorator ADD.  Sometimes I think I might want to get all fancy, all "School Girl Style" but then I get overwhelmed by the whole thought of coordinating things.  I'm just too random and too practical when it comes to choosing what goes into my room.  Sometimes it all comes together and it looks like I coordinated...but when that happens, it's really just a happy accident. I'd like to say it's more than that but that would be a lie.

What I don't understand is how a classroom teacher changes their "theme" each year.  Do you have a money tree in the backyard?  Do you have endless amounts of creative energy?  Is there a pill for that?  I did finally succumb to this whole theme business a few years back and went with "colorful".  That's a theme, right?  So that bright blue bin I picked up ten years ago goes nicely with the bright red bin I picked up last year.  I think I might check out the Target dollar spot and pick up a green bin for this year's theme guessed it...COLORFUL!

I'm still in full on summer mode.  Teachers go back at the end of August and school starts after Labor Day. I will be that friend that makes you feel REAL good about yourself.  I'll post pictures of my colorful classroom just as soon as it's all put together...promise!

I'm gonna guess it'll look a little something like this...

Happy Times!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Personal/Professional Goals

Hey There!!!!

My has been a while.  I'll be totally honest with you.  I'd hop on my blog and feel like Cindy Brady....

Just at a loss.  Didn't know what to say, where to go with it so I'd close her up...hoping for the mood to strike.  So here I am!  Finally.  Three months later.

I tried turning off my teacher brain for the summer - but really, why do I even try?  I'm constantly checking teacher blogs, Facebook, Instagram, school email, Target dollar spot, Pinterest and now the back to school ads are starting.  If you can't beat 'em you might as well join 'em.  This is the fun stuff, right? 

I've been thinking, lately, about the changes I'm going to make this coming school year.  {Thanking my lucky stars that each year I get to start fresh!!!}Some are a little riskier {livin' on the edge in Teacherville} than others, but changes nonetheless.  

As I look through my list, I may need to dial it down, but I'm excited to try at least some of the ideas.

First up:

I've definitely given the whole idea of alternative seating a thought or two, but I'm just not there.  Maybe one day.  For now, tables are about as risky as I'll go.  I've always been a desk girl.  One of my teacher partners has tables in her room and for some reason it makes things look and feel so SPACIOUS.  I've got a lot of kinks to work out, like where will I put all of their supplies?  Do I do table caddies, table bins, chair pockets?  So much to think about and it makes me pretty darn giddy.


My teaching pal, Barb {the elusive Barb} and I have been talking about what we can do to supplement our district's math resource - Bridges Math.  We love so much of it but as we've spent some time using it have found some definite ways we'd like to supplement.  One part of Bridges that I love is called Workplaces.{Math centers}  As we've been talking we came to the conclusion that during these math centers would be a great time to pull some guided math groups.  I've purchased this book:

And have really learned a lot from reading Reagan's blog posts about it.  Click {here}, {here} and {here} for just a few.  I'm really excited about this because my biggest qualm about how I'm teaching math right now, using our current resource, is that I don't always feel like I know my kids as mathematicians like I would like to, and I feel as though I'm not differentiating as much as I used to, as well as there are some basic foundational skills that I feel need to be hit a little harder.  Guided math seems like the answer. We shall see...

Still more...

I had a pseudo-focus wall in my room a few years back.  It was nothing to look at but it served its purpose. For some reason it took a back seat...okay, let's be honest, it was given the all-out boot.  Then, last year I sort of happened upon it again.  I had an empty bulletin board mid-year {how the heck did that happen} and decided to slap up some sentence strips describing what we were focusing on at the time.  Just today I was playing around on Facebook and The First Grade Parade was highlighting this product:

What I like about this {aside from it's cute} is that it keeps everyone focused on the Learning Targets.  It can be referred to often and helps designate a space in my classroom for doing that.  Along with guided math being something I'd like to try was having a space for a math wall where I could introduce different math vocabulary.  This product has that vocabulary to use on your focus wall. Perfect!

This is an easy one!

When I first started teaching I had class helpers.  I was SO bad at keeping up with that whole shizzle. Kristen was so in my head when she wrote this.  For the last two years I reinstated class helpers.  I'm quite certain there were more than a few that never got a shot at trash collector.  Why this was the most coveted of class jobs, I'll never know - but I'm sure there's somebody out there who didn't get their stab at it and will forever be marred.  One class helper?  Sign me up!!!!!!


I'm thinking about having just one rule in my classroom.  This blog post struck such a chord with me that I haven't stopped thinking about it since I read it. I can see myself saying "Be brave enough to make the right choice" "Be brave enough to be safe".  "Be brave enough to be kind". "Be brave enough to apologize so that you can be kind".  I really, really think I like the idea that it sometimes takes bravery to try hard to do the right thing and it can definitely take bravery to try hard at something that you feel you can't do {i.e. subtract, do fractions, read a story}.  It's so all encompassing but can be dialed down to the smallest of thinking. I really like it.  

And probably the riskiest of the risky ones...

I'm flopping this one around in my mind.  I'm pretty old school when it comes to choices and consequences.  I'm concerned that we've become complacent as a society and that we let too much slide. With that, I also think the heart of discipline is teaching children how to learn from their mistakes and how to self regulate.  I definitely think the clip chart does a good job of creating a visual and I've always talked to my students about their behavior when the need to "clip down".  I really don't think the heart of why my students do the right thing is so they don't "clip down"...but...well, let's say I'm still brewing this one.

So, what do you think?  I've bitten off more than I can chew?  Maybe I should choose a couple of them?What would you do if you were me?  What are some changes you plan to implement this new school year?

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