Thursday, October 29, 2015

Productive Planning Time!

Balancing school and home life can be TOUGH! Our To-Do list can seem never ending and sometimes staying at school until midnight seems like the only way we could ever get it all done. For my own mental sanity I cannot stay in the school building from 8AM-8PM so I have a few tips that I have learned along the way to help me get out of the building at a reasonable time. 

1. Prioritize your "To-Do" list!

When preparing your To-Do list put everything that MUST be done for tomorrows lessons plans first! If interims are due by the end of the week and you know you need to do them at some point during the week, still put it on your list. But know not everything on your list will get done in one day. I always put my tasks that need to be done for the next days plans first so that I am prepared when I come in the next morning. Always accomplish what needs to be done for your kids and your lessons before tackling those other little teacher tasks because at the end of the's all about the kids! They need to have engaging lessons and activities ready to go! 

I love a good list because there is nothing like the satisfaction of checking stuff off!

2. Learn what's best for you: before or after school?

I quickly learned I was tired, and cranky by the end of the day. So I learned that going to school early was the best time for me to be productive. At the end of the day it is hard for me to concentrate and I need a break, breath of fresh air, and a few minutes to put my feet up. So getting things done in the afternoon just doesn't work for me. I like to get a few small tasks done like setting up our morning meeting message, tidying up around the room, making a few copies and then calling it a day. When I come in the next morning I have my "To-Do" list on my desk and I get right to it. For me, it helps me to be productive because I race the clock to see how many things I can get done before that morning bell rings. I have more energy to tackle my list but I know that mornings might not be the best for everyone. Just figure out when you feel the most productive and tackle that list then. Maybe before or after school isn't when you feel the more energized to get everything done, maybe it is lunch or your planning period. Just find your time and start checking things off that list!

3. Stick to a routine!

Once your find our best time of day to check those tasks off your list, stick to it! If it is morning then make sure you keep that morning alarm set so you are at school early and ready to go. If it is after school then make sure not to schedule a lot after the bell rings. Just like our kids, we need to keep a routine to be productive.

4. Organize!

Don't spend your planning time running back and fourth to the copy machine or running up and down the halls to find your library books and lesson materials! First, get your plans set and straight. Next, make a list of all things you need copied, a list of the books you need to check out, and a list of materials you need to gather. Then get all of those "errands" around the school done at one time.

5.  Know when to socialize and when to get busy.

When you are out on your "errands" around the school, know when it is time to socialize and when it is time to get busy! Yes, a quick conversation with a friend down the hall can be a great stress relief and it is nice to talk to an adult after talking with your students all day. But, don't go into their room, make yourself cozy in their rocking chair, and end up staying for an hour, wondering where the time went. When you are running your errands around the school, be on a mission! Chat it up with your coworkers by the copy machine while you are getting your things done or stop by your teammates room to say hi! Just don't stay forever because they want to get stuff done too!

6. Focus, school time is school time! 

As tempting as it might be do text your family during your time before or after school try to avoid your phone...or Pinterest! I like the think that anything I can do at home like get ideas off Pinterest can be done at home. Calling my Mom to check in on her can be done at wait! Keep your game face on and keep plowing through that to do list! 

7. Know what can get done at home and what has to be done at school.

I know not everyone likes to take home things from school and I get that. However, I like to do some things from the comfort of my couch instead of my guided reading table. Things that can be done while some HGTV or Modern Family is playing in the background help me make it out of the building before dark! I like to bring home grading, lamination cutting, or anything that involves folding/stapling/gluing. Taking some stuff home gives me a break from school while we eat dinner before I go to take care of the few things left of my to-do list. 

8. Be okay with some things not being done, but have plan so they will get done. 

Know that not everything can get done! We only have 24 hours in a day and I personally need sleep so I am not a grump in the morning. It can he hard, but you have to learn to come to terms with the idea that not everything may get done. BUT have a plan to finish it! Tell yourself that you will set aside 20 minutes the next day, night, or weekend to get it done. Even if you break a big task like getting writing interims into 4 days of 20-30 minutes blocks each night. 

9. Kids want to help!

I tried to do it ALL my first year teaching, then I learned my kids loved to help. My kids waiting for the bus to arrive in the afternoon like to help with those little tasks like sharpening pencils, getting our morning meeting area ready, and passing out papers for the next morning. It helps get those routine tasks done while giving them a sense of pride and ownership that they prepare our classroom too. 

10. COLLABORATE and find your teaching soulmate!

Find your teaching soulmate and COLLABORATE with them daily! I know that this won't happen for everyone every year but you will find someone that you enjoy working with. I found my soulmate my second and third year of teaching and it was amazing! We worked together on everything. This split our to-do lists in half because we planned together and prepped the same lessons. It was like we spoke the same language, we had very similar teaching philosophies and we pretty much completed each others thoughts. Collaboration was key when trying to be productive! 

I know that not all of these tips will work for everyone and some of these tricks you might already be using, however, I wanted to share with you things that have helped me along the way. We all work differently but I hope you will be able to take away something from this post to help you be a productive planner! If you have any tips of your own that have helped you be a productive planner, I would like to hear them, so leave a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Take a Second to Peek into Second!

Katie at Pop into Primary has arranged a post series throughout the school year where you will be able to meet some awesome second grade teacher-authors! Last month she featured my blog and shared some information about Neat, Sweet, and Hard to Beat!

This month, take a second to meet Alicia from Wittmer's Whimsies 
She is a young teacher that I loves her job! Last year she taught third grade, and in August she started teaching second graders. She grew up in Northern Kentucky about 10 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. She attended Western Kentucky University where she majored in elementary education. She was also in a sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, where she currently advises her chapter.

This month she is featuring her rounding bundle! This is a growing bundle, which means she plans to update it periodically with new sets. The best part is that when you buy it once, you never have to pay again! So hurry over and get this set now!

 Follow her on FacebookInstagram, or email her to connet!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five for Friday

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to give you a huge update! I have been MIA the past few weeks an here is why...
WE MOVED! Whoa moving with a baby is tough! I am a super productive person, ask any teacher or girlfriend of mine and they will tell you I get it done! Moving with a baby though... not so productive! It has taken me weeks to unpack, organize, and begin decorating. However, I am trying to tell myself to just relax and know that my to do list will most likely not be done by the the time I go to bed each night. Most importantly though, I am trying to just slow down, take a breath, and take in all these special moments and memories my family is creating in our new home.

We just finished our first DIY home reno! So I dream to be Joanna Gaines from the HGTV Fixer Upper. We didn't quite buy a 85K home that is falling to the ground and ready for Joanna's amazing flip... it is a livable home but we have a L-O-N-G list of things we would like to do to it to make it ours. The biggest reno on our list is to take down a wall between the kitchen and dinning room and then completely redo the kitchen but we are going to get more settled before the project starts. 
However, my husband took a week of work (which was meant to be for a 3 year wedding anniversary trip AND THEN we bought a house instead). So day one of his first day off he goes to paint and change the old wooden towel bar and soap dish attached to the wall. About 10 minutes later he walks out and says he is going to rip out the old vanity and replace the tile. Now I am not gonna fuss because I didn't love the bathroom and I was secretly wishing for it to get a face lift. But to make a long story short after about a week, lots of youtube DIY tile, drywall, and plumping videos and a few "What the heck were we thinking?!?!" moments we have a beautiful new bathroom done completely by my husband, my own personal Chip Gaines :)

This week I also discovered HOBBY LOBBY!!! So it is basically my dream come true, a little bit of Michael's meets Home Goods and I was in heaven! The bad news is that it is over 20 miles from my house so I can't just do a quick drop in to check out their newest home accents. My husband and our bank account are happy that it is not a hop, skip, and a jump from our new house. If you haven't visited a Hobby Lobby yet you better Goggle the closest one to you and GO! 
Here are a few signs that I found for our playroom!
OK, enough with all the home talk...back to business! I finally finished putting together my American Indians Bulletin Board and Sorting Cards SET! After about a year of teaching this Virginia Standards of Learning unit I realized I need a visual for my students to see and touch because it is a lot of new vocabulary and some of the tribes have a lot in common. I created a graphic organizer type bulletin board that organized all of in the information in sort of a grid.
When displaying this bulletin board, I first start with just the banner across the top. As I introduce each region and tribe I add the large region headers to bulletin board. Along the left side, I also include the cards that describe what we will learn about each tribe (region, land, climate, tribe, homes, occupations, transportation, and contributions). The detailed cards about each region and tribe are then added as we work through this unit in social studies. I use Velcro on these 24 cards so students can take them down, shuffle them, and organize them back on the board in order to make this bulletin board more interactive. I also have a printable for the students that looks very similar to the large bulletin board so they can have their own visual to keep in their notebooks or do at home for homework. 
I just added it to my store this week so you can check it out here if you teach American Indians in your grade level. I will be adding my American Indian task cards to my store soon! 

Last, but not least, I have been blogging over at once a month!
It is a collaborate blog by teachers from all over the state of Virginia! Last month I blogged about the importance of brain breaks and how to manage brain breaks in your own classroom.
Tomorrow I have a post going up about the importance of art in social studies! Make sure to stop by and check it out! Just a little hint... if you teach American Indians and the American Indian Bulletin Board interested you, you won't want to miss the blog post!

I hope to get back on my blogging routine now that we are more settled in our new house, so I will see you soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Winner Wednesday: STEM Columbus Day Challenge

It's finally October andI am linking up with Jennifer from A Day of Glue Will Do again to bring you the chance to win a product from my store for FREE! All you will have to do is enter your name into the Rafflecopter below!  

This STEM challenge incorporates learning about history while challenge students to use their engineering skills! After reading a book about Christopher Columbus or the history of Columbus Day, students will be challenged to build a new, modern sailboat that can be powered by wind! 

This product contains: the engineering design process model as an anchor chart, the lesson plan, teacher preparation and tips page, the challenge, and a six page student lab book to use throughout the STEM challenge. 

You will need a few supplies in addition to this package. This includes: aluminum foil, plastic wrap, styrofoam cups, plastic straws, popsicle sticks, cork, index cards, and duct tape.

The drawing ends at midnight tonight so make sure to enter right away! I will email the lucky winner a copy of this product on Thursday. 

If you can't wait to get your hands on this STEM Challenge, then check it out in my store

Also, feel free to follow me on Facebook or Bloglovin' for other future Winner Wednesday FREEBIES and giveaway updates! Winner Wednesday happens the first Wednesday of every month thanks to Jennifer's wonderful link up! Make sure to mark your calendars for November 4th and check back here for my next Winner Wednesday!