Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Resolution

This post is long overdue.  I finally am making myself sit down and put this into writing!  So here it goes....

My new year's resolution is to stop bringing home papers to grade.  That's right.  I said it.  No more grading papers at home!  No more dragging papers to and from school!  

I decided that grading papers is just a stupid waste of time.  I'm not saying assessing your students is a waste of time, don't get me wrong.  I just think us teachers are doing it wrong!

Think about it for a minute.  Most schools use a standards based grading system.  That system doesn't mean averages and percentages.  It doesn't mean how many papers does little Johnny turn in on time.  It means, can little Johnny add and subtract?  Does he know how to write a sentence?  CAN he do it?  

We have to change our thinking.  Especially with all the new ways of teaching.  Think about it.

I spend about one hour a night planning math workshop.  ONE hour.  It's ridiculous to spend another hour grading math!  Especially when I teach 4 other subjects.  The amount of planning time has tripled in the last year- I am planning like crazy!  Also, we need time to analyze all that data...

There aren't enough hours in the day.  Something has to go.  Grading papers- what is the point?  I already have a system to know who has turned in what.  I already know what each kid can and cannot do- thanks to exit slips and small group work.  I already know what each kid excels and needs help on thanks to the 8 million tests we take.  So why the heck am I spending all this time grading?

Parents.  They need to see their child's work.  

Sure- valid point- but do they actually do that?  Do they need to see 10 papers that have a grade on it crammed into a Friday folder?  What if they only get one graded thing per subject, per week?  Do they even look at it?  The kids don't.  Well- I take that back.  Some do.  They really look forward to getting big projects back with a grade on it.  


That is what I am going to focus on and come up with a solution.  BTW, I teach 6th grade.  All subjects.  If you have any ideas, please comment below!

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tips and Tricks to help with teacher OVERLOAD!

Well I am about 6 weeks into the school year.  AND I am on OVERLOAD!  After a total break down this weekend, I have re grouped and reminded myself of a few tips and tricks that I use every year to help myself out.  Here they are!

Tip #1
Yep- that's right.  I said it.  Leave school after the bell rings.  You have given your best all day long, and you are exhausted!  Why are you staying late?  To grade papers?  To plan?  To make copies?  That's just stupid.  You NEED a break.  That's why people go home after work.  Yes, you are a teacher, and yes there is a ton to do!  But let's face it, we could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and NEVER be caught up!  So to avoid total burn out, and to save your sanity, go home!

Tip #2
Stop grading papers.
You are a teacher, not a clerical aid or a book keeper.  You work with your students all day, EVERY day.  Have you ever made a huge difference by grading homework?  Or putting stars on papers?  NO!  Stop.  Use your time for something that truly will make a difference.  Plan an awesome lesson.  Go get that funny book from the library.  Make some phone calls to parents.  DO something that will make a difference.  I have always believed teachers should never be behind their desk.  They should always be with kids.  In doing so, you WILL make a difference!  Mark in homework and hold kids accountable- but for crying out loud, STOP grading papers!

Tip #3
Buy a secret recorder pen.
This is my best tip.  I have a secret recorder pen that I use for conferences and meetings.  As teachers we are bombarded all day long- parents, administrators, kids, etc.  By the end of the day I can't remember what was so important at that morning meeting... so a few years ago I bought a recorder pen.  I secretly record meetings and I listen to them in my car on the way to or from work.  That way I can wrap my head around what is really important.  ALSO, use this pen for conferences!  When we meet with parent after parent, it's so hard to remember what you promised one parent or what one parent said to you!  I record all my conferences and then I spend an hour or two listening to them at home.  Then I can make an organized list of notes or things that I said I would do.  I also can take some notes on which parents are divorced, have custody, kids background stories, etc.  This has saved me time and time again!

Tip #4
THROW away that pile.
We all have it.  THE PILE.  It builds slowly at first, then gets bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER, and next thing you know it's a mountain!  It stresses you out just because it's there.  It could be papers to grade, notes from your literacy coach, articles to read, etc.  If you haven't touched it in a week, you are never going to touch it.  Save yourself a heavy dose of Advil and just throw it away.

Tip #5
Invest in some spa music and lavender.
Spray yourself down with lavender and put on some spa music.  Close your eyes and just be calm.  Do this at least once a day.  Just don't fall asleep or do this while you are working with kids... ha ha!

Tip #6
This should be my number one tip.  Youtube has saved me so much time!  If my principal suggests a book or a training, I just search it on Youtube.  Then I watch the video while I get ready in the morning.  Or I listen to it while driving to work.  This way I don't have to READ anything and I sound like an expert!  I have subscribed to many teaching channels on Youtube so I can even stay a little ahead.

Tip #7
Again, this one should be my number one.  I make Siri read me my work emails, messages and articles form my principal, and books.  If you can get a digital copy of something, then Siri can read it it to you.  This is such a time saver!  I will be doing a tutorial on this one soon.  It's that awesome.

Well... those are my biggest tips.  Use these regularly and see if they help you!  Also, let me know your ideas down below.  We can all use these tips to avoid teacher OVERLOAD!  

Monday, June 22, 2015

How do you cool off on a hot summer day?

What do you do when it is hot outside?  Nala lays down in my bathtub... Lol!  :)

Well, I'm not laying in the bathtub all day and I am a human!  So I came up with my own budget-friendly idea!

Yep- that's a baby pool with a raft floating in it!

Here's what you need:

1.  Blow up kiddie pool.  I got mine at Walmart for $15.  Make sure it's long- I got the 10 foot long one (I may have over-done it.  I think you would be fine with a 6 or 8 footer!)

2.  A raft.  This was free for me because I already had one.  I have seen rafts at the Dollar Store for a $1.  The one I have was from King Soopers- I got it on sale a few years ago for $15.

3.  Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.  Let's face it- skin cancer and sun spots are not worth it!  Protect yourself.

4.  A good book!

     I am reading Falling in Love with Close Reading and then for fun I am reading the last book in the Divergent series.


1.  Blow up kiddie pool.
This turned out to be the hardest part.  I thought I could use my bike pump, but the nozzles didn't match!  Then I tried to blow it up.  That was just dumb.  So, after a quick drive to my parent's house, I borrowed my dad's camping gear.  I used this cool little device to blow up the pool.  Much easier- but it did take about 30 minutes.

2.  Fill kiddie pool with water.  That took a loooooong time.....

3.  Let pool sit in the sun for a few hours.

4.  Blow up raft.  This took 30 seconds.

5.  Lay on raft in pool.  Read book and RELAX!  :)

I hope you enjoyed this.  If you try it, let me know in the comments below!

:) Nala Bella

TPT Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

I am continuing with the TPT challenge and this week is Dare to Dream!  

1.  Pay off my car.  I am SUPER close!  I only have about $3500 left.  It's so close I can taste it!  I don't just want to pay my car off, I want to start a savings account so I will actually have CASH the next time I need to buy a car!  The struggle is real...

Everyday, the struggle is real.

2.  Make it through the month without a credit card.  This relates to number one!  I struggle on my one income.  As teachers, we only get paid once a month.  I get so panicky over how I am going to buy groceries and gas the last two weeks of the month- it makes it hard to enjoy the first two weeks!

Funny Pictures Of The Day - 71 Pics
This is me today.  Grr....

3.  Travel.  I have always wanted to spend my summers at the beach.  I have one major obstacle.  Her name is Nala.  Don't get me wrong, I love my dog!  But she is a difficult one.  Nobody can watch her except for the dog kennel.  She doesn't get along with other dogs and she is afraid of kids.  So- that means whoever watches her has to make sure she is away from dogs and kids at all time.  That eliminates all of my friends and family!  Everytime I want to go somewhere, I have to budget an extra couple hundred for the dog kennel.  Usually my TPT money covers that.  But then I don't have any spending money!  This is a huge goal of mine.

Bora Bora, Tahiti.  If I disappear.... this is where you will probably find me. Tucked under a tree with a pile of books.

4.  Give back.  I want to get more involved.  When I am super successful, I will use my TPT earnings to donate to my school, church, and animal shelters.  If I ever make enough- I want to start a rescue for aggressive dogs.  I want to hire dog trainers to work with the dogs and make them adoptable.  There are too many "aggressive" dogs out there that could be saved with the proper training.  It seems like there are resources for Pitbulls- but what about the other breeds?  I would also hire a special trainer just to fix Nala and make her like kids!  Sigh... now I know I am dreaming!

Nala found her "place."  Ha ha- this reminds me of Snoopy!

Nala Bella  :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Dad :)

I have the best dad.  No really, I think I do!

In honor of Father's Day, I just had to write about my dad.

He is always there for me.  Not just to listen, but to help me with EVERYTHING!  He can fix anything- or if he doesn't know how to fix it, he knows who to call.  He's always been there for my mom and my sister, and anyone else who needs anything.  I've never heard him say no when someone asks for help.  He even hung a 20 foot ceiling fan with one hand for me.

If my car breaks down, he's there and knows what to do.  Water in my crawlspace?  He not only fixes it, but knows how to clean it up.  Light switch doesn't work?  It's fixed before I know it's broken!

My dad is a superhero.  He doesn't sleep.  He works nights so that he has time during the day to get chores and things like that done.  He's selfless- he volunteers at work to work on holidays so the parents of younger children can be with their families.

He loves golf and working on his model cars.  He doesn't ever go in half way to a hobby- it's always 100% in!

I just love my dad.  I feel so blessed to have him as a father.  :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Inside Recess Blues... SOLVED!

I hate inside recess.

It's been a major problem for me the last couple of years because the school I am at has inside recess in my classroom.  My old school didn't do that.

inside recess

I should tell you I teach 6th grade.  We are dealing with pre-teens who are VERY social.

I have tried many things.  I had a box of games that I bought at Goodwill.  Those were hit and miss- some groups of kids played them and enjoyed them.  But other groups thought they were boring.  Finally, so many pieces were missing or broken that I just threw them all away.

Funny Pictures: Funny Ecards - 33 Pics
This is me after inside recess!

Last year I decided to just let the kids draw, color, read, or talk with friends.  Yeah- that didn't work.  The aids couldn't control them.  They quickly got out of control, and when I returned from my lunch my classroom was a mess!

hey girl - Teacher Ryan Gosling @Jodi Ortiz

I know showing movies is an easy fix- but kids need time to talk and socialize and be active!

Here's my SOLUTION!  Cheap and easy.  :)

Yesterday, I was at the Dollar Store.  An idea STRUCK!  Just like lightning... :)

I bought 10 boxes of cards ($1 each) and this bin to store them in.  

Each box of cards has two sets of cards.  That gives me 20 sets of cards!  I'm going to put each set of cards in a baggie.  I thought about buying those travel soap box things, but I would have to buy 20 of them- and that would be $20 just to store cards!  I'm hoping the baggies work.

Also, I might have to teach them a few games in the beginning of the year.  After their interest is perked, I will be able to leave them with the aid for recess.  YES!  Then I can be a happy teacher again!

Image result for minion teacher happy

Do you have any other cheap ideas to store playing cards?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Also, what ideas have worked for you for inside recess?  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guilty Summertime Pleasures!

I love summer.  It's when I can relax and do the things that I have been putting off during the school year.  Those things are usually chores: clean the windows, shampoo carpet, paint the living room, etc...  Yuck!  Who wants to spend their summer cleaning?

As teachers, we need our summers to rejuvenate ourselves and re-energize!  So, I joined this Linky party all about guilty pleasures.  I'm not sure if mine are really guilty pleasures, or just my favorite things- either way I love them and enjoy them in the summer!

Being a teacher has many perks and equally, as many challenges. Here are just a few hilarious and true quips about teachers in summer captured in the form of a meme.

Check out my YouTube video about this blog post!  Click here.

1.  Carepost.  This stuff is my absolute favorite!  I always run out during the school year and forget to order more.  As soon as summer hits, I order away!  It goes on like eyeliner, before your make up.  I put one drop in the cap and that works for both eyes.  After about 2 weeks you will notice your eye lashes growing.  After about 4-6 weeks, you will notice a huge difference!  The results max out at 4 months.  Trust me- this stuff is amazing and works so well.  Everybody thinks my eyelashes are fake- but they are 100% real!  Plus it's only like $29.99- and one bottle lasts me almost 6 months!  You can order it here: click here.

Eyelash Growth Solution 1 Bottle (Free U.S. Shipping)

2.  Icon 24K hair masque.  This stuff is AMAZING!  I love it.  You can use it many different ways.  I like to put a ton in my hair, put my hair in a bun, and take a long hot bath (with a glass of wine of course).

During the school year I just can't find the time to do that!  It makes your hair soooo silky.  You can get it here: click here.  

It has a strong scent- kinda like cologne-but don't let that detour you.  It's worth it!  Plus I can't smell it after I dry my hair.

3.  Kiss Nails.  I love getting my nails done-but let's face it, on a teacher's salary that is real luxury!  Plus, during the school year my nails just get torn up.  I found these Kiss Nails at Walgreens.  I buy the Real Short French nails.  They are super easy- you just glue them on.  Surprisingly- they stay really well!  I like short nails, so I get the real short.  

Kiss Nails Everlasting French Real Short (2-Pack)

4.  Milk Shake Leave in conditioner.  I am obsessed with this stuff!  It smells so yummy.  Now that I have tons of time- I spray it on during the day and brush away!  It is a guilty pleasure.  :)

It de-tangles my hair and protects my hair from heat.  I use it when I get out of the shower, after I dry my hair, and any time I think I need it!  I just love how it smells and how it makes my hair soft.  It's a little pricey for leave in conditioner, but I splurge on this one.  Here's the Amazon link: click here.

Milk Shake Leave in Conditioner 11.8 fl ounces

5.  Sinfully Soft lotion by Blend Skin Care.  I can't express how much I love this lotion!  It's a tan extending lotion, but I use it because it makes my skin so soft.  I usually use Eucerin Intensive Repair lotion, but this makes my skin 10 times softer!  You get it at At The Beach tanning salons.  Or, if you are cheap like me, you can sometimes find used bottles on Ebay or Poshmark.

It has a nice scent and doesn't leave you feeling greasy.  Plus, it's summer- so it helps your tan stay longer!  Here's the Poshmark link that I used to buy mine for only $18: click here.

 That's the only place online I have found it.  If you find it somewhere, please please please comment below!  I think to buy it you have to go to the tanning salon and I suspect it's at least $50.  Grrrrr.....  I don't want to tan, I just want this lotion!

Sinfully soft expression by blend Other - Sinfully soft profession tan extender

I can't find it online.  I might just have to cave and try something new....  

Well, those are my 5 guilty pleasures!  Sometimes I sell my clothes on Ebay so I can splurge on these....  LOL.   What are your 5 guilty pleasures?  Tell me in the comments below!  

Also, make sure you follow my blog!  I am off to deep condition my hair and extend my tan...  Happy Summer!

I LOVE THIS BLOG!! Saw so much of myself in it and what I need to work on...

Nala Bella :)