Five for Friday… January 1st

**Happy New Year!**

I am so excited for everything this year holds for me and for YOU!! Yes YOU!! You are going to do amazing things this year! For this five for Friday I wanted to share some of the things I wish I had known as a first year teacher, or at least earlier in my career. 

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Is there a scholastic warehouse near you? You would know because they would advertise big sales. You can also check for sales here. If there aren’t any sales right now, you can register and get emails when there are sales – you can do that here.

Why should you care about this? Well… when I first started teaching, I spend hundreds of dollars on books for my classroom. Then I even did a donors choose project for more books – which was great and very helpful. But…I will never hardly ever spend another dollar on a book for my classroom. Here’s why:

Whenever there is a scholastic warehouse sale, they have volunteers work the event. Volunteers are “paid” in credit to spend at the sale. I also have a lot of fun volunteering at these events – getting to know the books that are available, chatting to people about books… etc. I have been able to not only build up my classroom library (and sometimes my personal library too) but also get enough books to give to my kids for birthdays and Christmas.

Classroom library

This was my classroom library at the beginning of the year- more books have been added since.

If you are interested, make sure you check the “volunteer” box when you register for the events – here is the link again. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me – I’ll help in any way I can.

 

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When I was a first year teacher – let’s be honest- I was just trying to make sure I was teaching the curriculum and my kids were learning, while building relationships and learning…. always learning. But, one thing that I did need to do on occasion, was create an assessment or worksheet for my students (that was not already created on teachers pay teachers (tpt) or such).

I created these assessments on Microsoft Word using the standard fonts. I had no idea that Powerpoint is actually MUCH easier and user friendly. Also – there are so many free fonts and free graphics on tpt (just make sure that you review the terms of use if you want to sell any of your creations).

To make it even easier – I already did the search for you! If you need to know how to install and use fonts – let me know in the comments I’ll be happy to share on a future blog post. Same goes for more details about using PowerPoint to create materials for your classroom (or to sell).

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Do you have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? If you don’t – you should totally do a Donors Choose project for one (more about Donors Choose coming up) – they’re awesome!!

Did you know you can create PowerPoints to use on the interactive whiteboards? You did? So it’s just me that is behind on the times? That’s okay. Did you know that you can get products on tpt to use on your interactive whiteboards? Well, you can, and there are some for free too!!

I highly encourage finding some meaningful activities to use during centers or rotations — don’t be the only one who touches the board in your classroom. I have some ways to manage this with small groups of students using one board independently during a rotation – I’ll share in a future post.

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Donors Choose….. have you heard of it? Have you ever submitted a project? It really is an amazing organization – and I’ve learned so much about promoting a project from some teachers on social media.

First – I have a project right now, it’s a big one, but I’m almost half way there already! I kept putting it off, because I knew it would be asking a lot – but I’m so glad I did it. I’m still surprised by the generosity of people, especially people who do not even know me or my students. But, what’s been the most rewarding is seeing my students fired up about it. They’ve even donated a dollar here, five dollars there – they’ve been inspired by the generosity of strangers and that is something special to see.

If you’d like some help promoting your product, I’d be happy to share the tips that have been graciously shared with me – just let me know.

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These are the resources we are asking for – click the image for more information.

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The last item on my agenda is TPT etiquette – which could be a whole blog post on it’s own, but I’d rather do a shortened version here…so, at lightning speed…here it is:

  • When you download a free product, the seller who took the time to create that product would really appreciate it if you could follow his/her store and provide feedback on the free product. Many sellers make items free to get some feedback, especially if you snag the item on sale or as a flash freebie.
  • Provide feedback, whether it’s free or not- there’s nothing not many things worse (as a seller) than seeing that people have purchased your product, but you have no feedback for it. Please let us know how you like the product, and now – TPT gives you points towards store credit for giving feedback for paid purchases – so it’s a win-win!!
  • Lastly — please stop sharing paid products with your teacher friends. It’s against the law, and poor etiquette. I know you may feel like you can’t say no to your team mates or teacher friends, but we need to change the culture of how teachers treat TPT product copyrights. If you know you can’t help but share with your team – buy extra licenses for products…Most extra licenses are half the price of the full price item, so a $1.00 product becomes a $2.50 product – which is not that bad. This should be a conversation you have with your team at the beginning of each year – share the policy with your team and agree to always purchase additional licenses for products – you can also go and purchase additional licenses after the fact.

Okay – that’s it, I’m off my tiny soap box… but I hope you’ll consider helping me change the conversations and culture of how bargain TPT buyers treat sellers. (I share this taking full responsibility for my past mistakes in these regards – but once you know better, you can do better, right?)

SO… are you ready to register as a volunteer at a local Scholastic Warehouse? (If you sign up, someone will email before an event and ask if you want to do it, so there is no commitment yet) Yes YOU!! Will you try to get your students using your interactive whiteboard more often?  How about Donors Choose, would you like tips for promoting your projects? 

No matter what – I hope you’re as ready as I am to make 2016 AMAZING!! I  don’t know about you, but I can’t wait…

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So long 2015…the year I found myself

Reflecting on 2015

 

This year has been such a blessing… It’s definitely one that will go down in the books, along with the year I came to the USA, and the year I got married.

On Tuesday I did a periscope (@bonbrad) challenge, which was started by the always insightful The Whimsical Teacher. I’ll use a similar format for my reflection here.

Things that went well in 2015

Connecting with teachers via Periscope and Twitter

So many things have come from #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. I was able to connect with like-minded teachers from all around the world. Through these teachers’ generosity and support, I’ve realized that I can accomplish great things! I’ve always sat on the sidelines and thought “I don’t have anything worthwhile to offer on tpt” or “anything I write on a blog will never help other teachers” or “the classrooms I’ve seen around here aren’t like THAT..I can’t do that”  or “teachers here don’t do things like that”.

Thanks to connecting with these teachers I now believe in myself and my potential as a teacher and a lifelong learner. I have started to step out of my comfort zone and started pushing myself towards greatness (I still have a very long way to go). But, I have found my tribe!

Now, not only are these teachers providing me with support and self confidence – but they are full of some AMAZING ideas!!! I’m constantly learning from them and being inspired!

Discovering the Ron Clark Academy (RCA)

Ron Clark was Disney teacher of the year ages ago, and appeared on Oprah after that. There was a movie made about him, starring Matthew Perry (it’s a must watch and definitely a tear jerker). He started his own school in downtown Atlanta Georgia – and it is the type of school all teachers DREAM about working at. There is an app and some of the amazing teachers who work there have blogs and are on periscope! Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans) and Kim Bearden (co-founder of RCA) are two of my favorites. This school and Ron’s journey are a huge inspiration to me – to be bold and not hide my passion! When you think of people who think/teach outside of the box — these teachers think/teach outside of this galaxy!!

Finding a balance

It is my third year teaching and my second year as a 4th grade teacher. My first year was pretty stressful on me and my marriage. I spent a lot of late nights at school and said yes to any and all social invitations (when you don’t have any friends (besides your hubby) within thousands of miles, you’ll do anything to connect). My second year I spent very little extra time at school… I was inspired by another teacher to just leave work after work. Two things made this easier to do: I was in a portable, which is scary when it gets dark, and we had planning in the morning, before any instructing – so there was little pressure to work after hours. I still accepted any and all social invitations. This year… I have found a much better balance – I only stay late twice a week at the most, and I still don’t do as much work at home as I did in my first year. I am a much happier teacher this year!!

Things that did not go well in 2015

Blogging

Even though I created this blog over the summer, and promised that I was going to be more present here, I failed miserably! I have not posted once since the school year started – and so many things have been happening in my room!!

Inspiration overload

I have been inspired by so many teachers and have had so many great ideas “coming at me” this summer and at the beginning of the school year, that I think I have been a little frozen. I’ve definitely tried a lot of things and have had great success – but I’ve also not put as much effort into my lesson planning as I should. I think I’ve been trying so many cool things that I started to think “hmmm… you know what, I try my best and work very hard, that’s all I can offer – my best.” But in reality, I have a lot more to offer and I’ve not been trying my absolute best. 

Jack of many trades, master of none

I feel like my love of learning can sometimes be a bad thing. If I don’t channel my energy, I take on way too much. This year I joined the gym, I started (and stopped) running, I started playing around with hand lettering and doodling, I started a tpt store, I tried to start this blog, I set a reading goal (to read 50 books)… I am not good at any of that stuff #yet!! I think if I had focused on one thing – I would have at least mastered it enough to then take on another new adventure. 

People who inspired me this year

  • Amy Harris (She is such a genuine person and has been amazing in terms of welcoming me into her circle of friends. She has also inspired me in so many ways – as a teacher, a learner, and a person.)
  • Hope King (I mentioned her earlier – she is SUCH a passionate teacher who has helped me understand and accept that it is okay to “bring your work home”. She has also changed the way I look at lesson planning…she’s the teacher I want to be when I grow up.)
  • The Whimsical Teacher (I also mentioned her earlier, but Jess is such a unique person and spirit. She has such a kind heart and is so generous and supportive of people. I have learned so much from her with regard to tpt, teaching, and how to be 100% you – no matter what. She is definitely my cup of tea, and I will take a bottomless cup thank you very much!!)
  • Sheila Jane (This woman is a power house. She is support epitomized. She is the biggest teacher cheerleader. I’m not sure how she fits everything she does into her schedule, but she pops up constantly, cheering teachers on and encouraging them relentlessly. She makes me feel like I can make a difference by encouraging other people – one person can make a HUGE difference via social media.)
  • Mr. Chris Wooleyhand (He’s a local principal here and we met at an EdCamp – he insisted **cough** I mean encouraged me to get back into twitter, and I haven’t looked back. Twitter chats have helped me connect and collaborate with both local and distant teachers who may not be on periscope. He’s also super supportive and encouraging – making me feel like I have some insight worth sharing. He even asked me to collaborate on a blog he wrote, which meant a lot to me.)
  • Brenda Schoener (I did not know Brenda well, I only met her a few times – but her legacy is such an inspiration. Again, she proves that one person can make a significant difference in the lives of many people. She passed away a month ago after a long battle with cancer. I got to know her better through the stories her children shared at the memorial as well as the photographs that were shared. I also learned that she had a love for feathers…and I have always loved feathers, but could never really explain why. Now- this love (and all the feathers I’ve collected) will forever be a reminder of this Godly woman and her legacy.)

 

Thanks for joining me as I reflected on 2015… to find out how I plan to learn from my mistakes of 2015 (aka the things that did not go well), you’ll have to tune in on January 2nd. I’ll be linking up with Ashley and Angie for the #2getherwearebetter January blog post.

Before you leave… what is something that went well for you in 2015? Something that did not go well? And who inspired you this year?

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