New Beginnings

Once a place where I kept track of my teaching as a Graduate Student, this is now home to my rants and raves as a teacher. I still have a lot to learn about teaching and about myself as a teacher. Here, I will document my journey, both the good and the bad, so I can successfully reflect on others' methods of teaching as well as my own. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back to Writing

This post has been long over due. Last year ended in a flourish and I am very grateful to all the people in my life who helped me make it through the entire school year and beyond! :)

This year I was looking forward to starting over again, as every year you get to do in some way. I moved up to 4th grade with my students and have a different mix of kids, including 7 that I had last year. Moving up with the students has been great! I know them from last year and we hit the ground running.

I'll give a brief summary of what's happened so far this year...

The first two weeks of school was completely dedicated to classroom procedure and teaching the students to rotate through centers and what's expected of them. Last year, I did not do this and I can't begin to tell you the difference it has made in both my life at school and theirs. The expectations are clear, and behaviors are manageable.

The students have been making great progress with our new reading program, Reading Street. I've also introduced Reciprocal Teaching into our center rotations and have recently had a second reading group start to do this instead of Partner Reading. We're still working on independence during this skill. ;)

Math groups are going well. All direct instruction is given in small groups and I couldn't be more grateful for this. We do cross-class grouping with the students and the dynamics are working well.

As for me, this year is going great! Things outside of school couldn't be better, and that has helped make my teaching stronger. :) I am so much more relaxed in my teaching and more confident as well.

My hope is to start using this space as a way to share lesson ideas as well as classroom ideas. I've fallen in love with Pinterest as well as Teacher-pay-Teachers and will post links to the great things I find, too! Happy beginning of winter! :)

P.S. Thank you to whoever you are...MY PRINCIPAL LOVED MY BLOG!  :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy First Day of Spring!


It's been a long time, and many things have happened from then until now. I have begun to feel like I know what I'm doing, and at the same time, I learn something new about myself and my students every day.

Behavior has been my number one challenge this school year. I have been told that this is often a big one for new teachers, but I have some particularly challenging students. I have learned patience further than I thought possible, and strategies that work and don't work.

Planning has slowly been getting easier as I have established a routine to my lessons. The school is switching over to a guided reading program, and in scouring the internet for resources, I stubbled across the video below. It is a powerful and inspiring answer to what a teacher makes.

While I have struggled with many things this year, after writing the 2nd term report cards I celebrated many student's accomplishments. I look forward to their continued growth, and mine!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It has begun!

5 days down, 175 days to go...

School has started and we've hit the ground running! Everyone advises you that your first year will be the hardest, and I kind of shook it off and said, "Self, it will be hard, but you can handle it!" Well, the time to handle it came on day three. These kids are going to keep me on my toes! I've already begun to loose my I'm not a shouter, I don't believe in it. I feel a quiet, stern voice can be more effective, and of course, using the Responsive Classroom methods, I utilize the "I notice" approach and as much encouragement as possible. But what are you supposed to do with children with attitudes who bicker and argue everything with everyone...and how about the little girl who sings "Teach Me How to Duggie" and booty pops in front of the whole class?!?!

Oh, and did I mention that my 16 students exploded into 21 students? A few showed up unannounced the first day of school...

I have two major concerns right now. The first is how to manage the behavior in my class. The second is what I'm teaching. I've been told that the Literacy curriculum is not very good, so right now I'm working with two teachers who teach from the book and a principal who told me she hired me to not teach from the book, but to do the Literacy program better justice. I have a meeting Monday with the Literacy director, who assures me that with her help, we can turn the program around. Bring it on!

So, after the first six days in my very own classroom, I'm exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, and hopeful. I'm hopeful that I can get the behaviors under control. I'm hopeful that I will figure out what I'm actually going to teach. And I'm hopeful that I can help make a difference in my school district that is struggling.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Official!

Today, I signed the papers and I am officially a third grade classroom teacher!

I went down to the school this week to check out my classroom and to talk with my new boss...AKA The Principal. We had some great conversations, and she is very open to creative thinking and planning when it comes to the curriculum. Within the next few weeks, I'll have to look closely at the state standards and get a feel for what I'm about to do!

Another reason I wanted to see the classroom is to take inventory of what I would need. It's a good size room, and I'll only have 16 students (HOORAY!), but the one thing that stood out among everything else that is missing was...A CLASSROOM LIBRARY!

I send this out as a plea to solicit book donations. I was given a small budget to purchase books, and I will do my best to stretch it as far as I can, so I'm not asking for money. What I am asking for is if you have kids' books that were once well loved, but now sit in a box (I know I do!), I would be happy to put them to good use - give them a second life!

I aspire my future classroom library to look like this one!

I'm looking for books that are 2 grade levels below 3rd grade, and 2 grade levels above 3rd grade. The best and quickest way to find out it to go to and type the title of the book in the search box. The book will come up with Interest Level, Grade Level Equivalent, and more. It's the Grade Level Equivalent you'll want to know, and I'll take anything that is grade 1-5. If you're not sure, just ask!

Thank you so much for your help in building my classroom library! It is so important for these kids to read, especially independently.

Because lists are a good thing:
1. DO NOT send money
2. Donate books that level from grades 1 through 5
3. Fiction and Non-Fiction books alike (I SPY and picture books welcome!)
4. If I end up with duplicates or more than I need (?? fingers crossed!), I will donate them to a local women's shelter or orphanage
5. Email me if you think you have books! :)

Thank you for your support, and here's to a better literate future for children!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The End leading to New Beginnings

My days as intern are over. It was bitter sweet. I will dearly miss those I worked with, who I now call friends. I have learned so much from them and I know I will continue to keep them on speed dial as I begin my next journey as a....

After an interview mix up, a few prayers, and a fabulous second interview, I am thrilled to announce that I am starting a my brand new career as a full time third grade teacher in an inclusion classroom.

I originally thought this blog would serve only as a reflective tool during my time as an intern, but in looking back over it today, I realized how useful this forum is as REFLECTION. So I plan on continuing my posts as I begin teaching. In staying true to form, I will create code names for everyone involved and never mention specific places or people.

On a more fun note...I can't wait to get started!!! I won't be posting much over the next few weeks, but as I learn more about my new position, the school, and my roll, I'll have plenty to add. I have also decided to open this blog up to the public to seek advice from those who have gone before me. If you are a teacher, a friend, a parent, or someone who likes to reflect, please feel free to comment, or just come along for the ride. It's going to be a bumpy one! It's also going to be glorious, wonderful, stressful, trying, beautiful and more.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lions, Tigers, and Standardized Tests, Oh My!

Have you even been in a situation where you just mind-scream to someone, willing them to hear you? This is what proctoring standardized tests are like for me. If I were just able to say one thing, give a simple reminder or hint, encourage the student to check again, or go with their gut, I'm sure they could show more than the simple bubbled in answer shows.

The earliest recorded uses of standardized tests are from China, and throughout history, they have been used for many different purposes, as this brief TIME article can tell you. While this article speaks to the the SATs and ACTs, but at the elementary level, state tests can be the stressful equvilent to 7 year-olds. This teacher needs to do more research, as I'm sure there are benefits to standardized tests, right? I mean, I just finished the fifth of five state tests that allow me to get my teaching license, so there must be something to them...or I wouldn't still be taking them in my late twenties!

It's Been a While!

I know it's been a while, but this semester has been quite busy. As I am finished up my maters program, I had two very intensive courses this spring along with my special education concentrated practicum. To catch up on the entire semester would be a very long post indeed. Therefore I am not going to do that here. Instead, I will write weekly (or maybe even more!). Who knows...maybe I'll even continue this blog throughout my teaching career! (Wow...that's really ambitious of me!)

So to do a quick recap of the past four and a half months, not much has changed in my roll as intern, as I have still been switching back and forth between regular education and special education. As two of the teachers I work with have been getting bigger and bigger by the day (relax...they're pregnant...remember?) I have been taking over classes left and right...and loving it!

I have learned so much from my mentor teachers (and they have all in one way become my mentors), but the two I work directly with are amazing. This is a group of women I hope to never loose contact with.

The children have been...wonderful, difficult, amazing, stubborn, fantastic, creative, headstrong, inventive, lazy, clever, hardworking, teachers, humorous, and so much more.