Friday, July 25, 2014

Back To School...What is your purpose?

What is your purpose?
What is the reason you became a teacher?
Do you tell your students why you teach or just what you teach?

My instructor for the Gifted Certification program I am in asked us this question the other day. Right away I knew this was going to be like a therapy session. Some of the reasons mentioned were a result of great experiences as a child in school while others' were the direct opposite. Strange isn't it? We so often think that teachers are teachers because they loved all of THEIR teachers.

So, why do we need to tell the students our purpose....our "why"? We were shown a few video clips that related more to the business world, but it relates even to education. The point of those videos were that people don't buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it. I've never thought about that really. Wow! In that moment, I knew that students are the same as consumers in the world. "come in to our classrooms and all they hear is the "what". Blah....blah...blah...that's what they hear. Maybe that's why so many kids are disconnected....uninterested....unmotivated. They simply haven't "bought" into what we are doing. Who's fault is that? I'm guilty of doing just that. So, this year my goal is to start with the "Why" I do what I do. If I can get them to believe and want what I believe, then they will invest.  Here is a link to the Ted Talk by Simon Sinek that talks about this.

I think every teacher needs to revisit the "Why" behind what they do. The beginning of the year is perfect. So....are you wondering about my "Why"?  It begins with Kindergarten. I had a very negative experience (or at least my mom did). I must have struggled at that time....I don't remember. However I do remember my mom going to a parent/teacher conference and the result of that STUCK with me all through my educational years. I can't quite remember how I learned about the conversation, but my mom was told this. Now keep in mind....this quote is what I roughly remember.
"You're child is struggling and is behind. It's okay....don't worry. Most children that live where you live have the same problems. You're child will probably always be below average so don't expect too much because of where you live. It's okay."
We lived in a trailer park, had one car, and my mom didn't work. My family sacrificed so my dad could work full time and finish his college degree. She didn't know any of this. My mom just cried. How and why would a teacher say that? From that point, I felt like no teacher believed in me really. Why would they? I went through school always feeling like I wasn't smart enough. I was embarrassed to get in front of others, and definitely didn't want to read aloud due to a speech difficulty. Even in middle school I thought about those comments. High school came and it was the same. "I can't do this...I'm not smart enough....I'll never be as good as everyone else." My parents never knew I felt this way...never. Everything changed my senior year of school......
My literature teacher in 12th grade gave me an assignment to recite a poem in front of the class. Total fear came over me! I thought....okay, just say it quickly and sit down and get it over with. So, that's what I did. As soon as I was finished she said, "Hmmm....I'd like you to do that again, but think about it and say it with your heart." Great....again? So I did it again. She again said the same thing but told me that she wanted me to do it again the next day. Long story short....I came back and did it caring what others thought of me. She wrapped her arms around me and said, "That's it! That's who you are. I knew you could do it. I wouldn't let you fail." She BELIEVED in me. It was the first moment I felt that from a teacher.
This is WHY I do what I do....My purpose is to help kids to believe in themselves, to believe they can overcome their biggest fear, to believe that they matter, to believe that no matter if they have academic challenges they can achieve what everyone else is doing.
So, I challenge you to think about this. What is your WHY? Start with that as you welcome your students this year. :)
Here are some more videos that some of my cohort classmates shared that contributes to their WHY. Enjoy. There are quite a few.

This last one will simply inspire you!

 I hope you all have a wonderful school year! Don't forget your WHY! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Self Reflections

If any of you have read my recent posts, I mentioned that I was changing teaching positions for the upcoming year. Recently I taught 3rd grade (and LOVED it!), but an opportunity came up to teach in our Gifted program and learn from an amazing friend in the process.  The crazy thing is that I will also be part time EIP.  Saying those last two sentences probably already confuses you (and me) as to how my schedule will work. I'm not quite sure about that either. I do know that I will have one Gifted class on a full day and then the other four days I will be split between EIP and Talent Development (enrichment for unidentified gifted students).  Sooooo.....I am going to start blogging every Saturday about my journey with my new jobs. Really, I need an outlet and this is one way I can reflect and hopefully hear from some of you as well.

I start my Gifted endorsement classes on Monday. Yes...this coming Monday. Yikes! My summer is officially over at that point because these classes are for 2 weeks and then right after that my preplanning begins. I'm sad my summer is over, but I am excited to learn something new. Let's be honest....I can't wait to also meet some other teachers too. I love making new friends!! My journey to get this endorsement isn't over when the summer is over. It lasts until next summer (June). Once school begins, I have class every other Thursday night. It kind of reminds me of when I was getting my Masters Degree. I'll be in the mix of teaching gifted and getting gifted certified. Is this more money you ask? I wish it were! It'll look great on my teaching certificate though.

I've had many people ask me why in the world I would leave the comforts of a regular classroom job for the unknown.....for a job that is always up in the air because you have to maintain the numbers to keep it. Well, for a long time I've felt like there was just more out there for me to do and to learn. Will I keep this position the next year? I don't know. Do I want to? Of course I do! Sometimes we just have to step out of our box and take a risk! The past few years I've felt like I needed something different. I LOVE a challenge. So when I post of picture of me pulling out my hair  you can remind me of that statement.

I am one of a thousand questions when it comes to new things. Don't worry...I won't bore you with all 1,000 of them. It's the unknown that goes through my head.

*What will my schedule look like?
*How will I be able to switch my brain from Gifted to EIP in the same day?
*What grades will I be working with for EIP and Talent?
*Will I be pushing into the classroom or pulling small groups?
*How well will I juggle taking classes and teaching classes?
*How do I organize my classroom for both positions?
*How will I make sure I don't sacrifice too much family time while learning so many new things?

With all of that being said, I'll be letting you all in on my journey...the good, the bad, and the ugly. :) Hopefully there will only be good right?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kid President Back To School QR

Who doesn't love "Kid President"? Oh my goodness....if you haven't seen his super adorable videos on YouTube you are missing out! Just search for him there and you'll find a ton of videos that your students will love! You can't watch one without feeling inspired and ready to change the world!

With that being said, I wanted to incorporate my love of QR codes and his super cute videos into a Back To School idea.  Teachers go back on July 28th where I live so I'm already in that mode.... During our preplanning week there is a Sneak -a- Peek where kids get to come and meet their teachers. I love this day! This year will be a bit different for me as I do not have a homeroom. I will be teaching both in the Gifted and EIP programs.  I wanted to have a little something for them to take if they come by to see me. idea was born. It's just a simple "Welcome Back" card that I am going to laminate and attach a fun pencil to. The fun part is the QR code. I've linked, through the Kid President video. This gets rid of all of ads and junk that pops up on YouTube. I really just want to inspire them and get them excited about school this year.

Download your freebie here. I hope you enjoy it. :) I can't wait to put these out this year.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Five For Friday Linky July 4th Sale

Happy July4th everyone! I have to say that I am truly blessed and thankful to live in a country that honors our freedoms. I want to thank all of our service men and women who have fought and continue to fight for those freedoms! I appreciate you!!

I am linking up again with Doodle Bugs for a Five For Friday post.

This week has been very busy, and I'm trying to soak up every minute before I go back to school! I go back the end of July! heard that right. I've already been up at school trying to get my room together because I also start my Gifted Endorsement classes in a week. My room is coming along nicely...still some things to do and organize, but I love how it is turning out. However, first I'd like to announce a sale to celebrate July 4th! I am putting my entire store on sale for 20% off this weekend. :)

We love our Big Green Egg! We are getting ready to celebrate today by smoking some pork tenderloin or maybe a brisket. If you've never used one of these you are MISSING out for sure. It's amazing!
I had to post the picture of my porch! We just ordered this outdoor rug and I LOVE it! I spend so much of my time out here. It's the most relaxing place to be!
My sweet Emma decided she wanted her ears pierced this week. I was so worried she'd cry, but she didn't even flinch! She was such a trooper. It made me feel a little sad thinking how she's growing up.
I love how my teacher nook is looking! I was able to hang my inspiration pictures and my file folder pockets. All of these were hung by Command Strips. The pictures were with the Velcro picture ones and the file folder hanger was with the regular Command Strips. Just make sure to get the heavy duty ones for the file hanger. I learned my lesson on that one.
This isn't quite done yet. I have a few notebooks and other items, but I need to unpack the rest of my junk and organize it on the shelf. No....this isn't all I have. Most of what I have is stored away, but this year I am not using it all because I've changed positions. I'm not quite sure what I'll need yet.


I love my new bling tape dispenser from Hobby Lobby. With the 40% coupon it was a great buy!

I found this poster idea on Pinterest last year and created a duplicate. I used it almost everyday so I've put it up again.

A closer look at my file folder organizer. It's hard to see, but I labeled each pocket with the most common things that I need to organize.  This is basically so I can get things off my desk! I later file them in a binder.
* Trainings
* To Be Filed
*To Be Copied
*Parent Communication
......You get the idea.

My baskets turned out so cute! I spray painted them and my daughter put the red ribbon around them.


Love, love, love my dry erase pockets I bought last year!!!!



Thursday, July 03, 2014

Getting Started With QR Codes

Yes, I know....the other day I did a QR tutorial on making a QR code scavenger hunt and you are probably wondering why my second tutorial says, "Getting Started With QR Codes." Seems a little backwards huh? Well, that's just how my brain works.... Either way you'll learn something pretty neat. :)

I've been talking to a few teacher friends about how easy making QR codes are and how simple it could be to use them in the classroom. Technology doesn't have to be difficult or a thousand steps. Kids love these and they stay engaged when they are able to use iPads, iPods, and other electronic devices. I only have 1 iPad for school, but my school also has two iPad carts with 10 iPads on each one that we can check out. Even with one iPad, students can use QR codes...I promise!

Okay, so below you will find a video tutorial on creating easy "plain text" codes that can be used almost immediately. I'll also show you a few other types of codes you can create using Just try it and play around. That's the best way to learn. I'm NO expert!!! I just love to play and figure things out. I'm also pretty new at creating videos but I'm having fun with it. This video was created using Snagit. The last video I created was with Screencastomatic. Like I said, I'm not afraid to learn as I go. :)

Enjoy! I'd love to hear if you have already used QR codes or if you have other great ideas you can share.

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