Re think how you welcome your students into the new school year

Friday, August 17, 2018

Summer is over, you start to go back into your classroom and start working 15,0001 hour days to get everything done.  You start having teacher nightmares and can barely function because you are so tired...but you keep on keeping on.  Before you know it the school years rolls around.  You can barely keep your head above water but you are ready for the new school year.  New nails, new hair, beautiful classroom, new class list, sharp's all so exciting!
Well - let's go back a few months to June.  It wasn't all that long ago let's be honest.  Summer was like 5 seconds long right?!?!  I saw this meme in June and it made me kinda sad...

back to school idea

We get it, in June we are tapped out, tired and ready for our summer.  But this meme got me thinking about the message we send our kids.  Yay you're gone - don't let the door hit you on the way out.  That's what it looks like according to this meme.  I want my students to understand their value completely.  The relationships I build in my classroom are the most important things I do all year long.  I get it guys, some years are harder than others. Some years/days are much easier.  Back when we had a 20:1 ratio in So. Cal there were days I felt like I didn't deserve my paycheck.   But trust me when I had 28 or 32 first graders back in the day I definitely earned my paycheck.  BUT STILL they look to us for our reactions, emotions, etc.  I want them to remember me with #allthelove #allthehearteyes
So, I was thinking this summer how can we show how excited we are to start the year off with our littles?!?  
Then I thought why not gather up some cheerleader pom poms and have the parents line the hallways as we walk through the doors into our classroom on the first day? So, at Meet the Teacher night we sent home letters ( telling them to keep it a secret ) and told the parents to line the hallways the next day and high five the kids, cheer them on and shake the pom poms.  It was amazing!  My team partner and I had tears in our eyes.  It was motivating, inspirational and encouraging.  Our kids felt loved and excited about the new year.  Our parents took pictures and videos and were just as was magical!!!

If you want to see a sample of the note I sent home - here it is below... (notice how I mentioned say your goodbyes ) after the cheering. Haha - sometimes we have to 'kick' our parents out so we can start our day and that's okay.

back to school ideas
It was the perfect way to start off our year and it is a sure fire way to get the parents 'on your side' right off the bat.  There are no questions what your intentions are or how special you want their child to feel after that I promise you!

It was truly the most amazing first day I've ever had and this is the start of my 25th year of teaching.  If you are able I highly encourage you to get your team on board and give this a try.

Bitmoji sticker tutorial

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Kids and adults alike seem to love bitmojis.  Your students will love seeing your bitmoji on their  Friday spelling test or their writing assignment.  

bitmoji sticker tutorial

bitmoji sticker tutorial

bitmoji sticker tutorial

bitmoji sticker tutorial

Remember these?!?!  Or am I aging myself...

bitmoji sticker tutorial

My mom was a teacher and I loved going through her sticker box and smelling her stacks of stickers.  Well, think of this bitmoji sticker like that. The excitement I had as a kid towards these  stickers is kinda like the excitement your students will have seeing you ( well the perfect bitmoji version of you ) on their papers. 

So, let's get started - these are so easy to create!

First you need to either have the Snapchat app or the Bitmoji app.  Once you have that - it's pretty easy to create your just follow the prompts and create it just how you want.

Once you are happy with your bitmoji you should have the options  of different bitmoji situations - ** Heads up/Disclaimer **  Some are definitely not kid friendly or appropriate for the classroom. LOL  So pick out the encouraging sayings that you find while perusing your bitmojis and either screen shot them or send them to your email.   I screen shot them and emailed them to myself.  Then took the extra step to edit them and saved them to my computer.

Now you need to decide which Avery sticker templates you will use ( I would've preferred circle stickers ) but used what I found at home for the moment.  Then follow the prompts on this link to create your stickers:  

Your stickers will be adorable and it's a fun, unique way to connect to your students...and if you're old like me you will seem somehow a little 'cooler' to them at least for the moment. LOL

As always...
happy teaching xoxo, 

For more fun ideas click the links at the top of my blog to find me on social media.

5 Tips for Packing Up Your Classroom

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

School's almost out, you're tired - wiped out.  You are so close to summer vacay but have to be 'checked out'.  Maybe you have a checklist check out sheet like I do.  The dreaded running around and getting #allthesignatures before you can 'go home for summer.'

Maybe you are changing grade levels ( which involves more than just packing up obviously ), maybe your school is used for summer school or they just have you take everything down so they can clean more effectively.  Whatever the case is, I have some tips to help a sista or brotha out.

If you haven't done so yet....label #allthethings.  A label maker would make it even better but if you don't have one - either print out some cute labels or write your own.  Everything will feel better in August if things are labeled properly and in the right place!!  Your future self will love you -  - - trust me on this one!

Take photos of your classroom!!!  Sometimes you forget just how you had your room set up the year before and you loved it.  The custodians come in and move everything and it's hard to get it just the way you like it.  If you have pictures on your phone you'll be all set to complete your set up just how you want it.

packing up your classroom

Recruit help from your students.  You know they LOVE to help you and are always asking what they can do for you.  This is the perfect time to enlist their help.  If you are having a read a thon day or movie day, ask a couple kids to help you pack boxes while they are watching the movie.  Win - win, they want to help and you have extra sets of hands on deck.  Not only can they help you pack up but they can tape down edges of bulletin board paper.  Do you have to cover your cubbies or bookshelves up?  We do so cleaning liquid doesn't spray up and ruin our stuff.  Your students can easily tape down corners for this job.  

tips for packing up your classroom

PURGE!!!!  You know the adage, if you haven't worn it in a year get rid of it?!?  It works the same when you are organizing....if you haven't used it and haven't thought of it, you probably won't miss it.  I know, we all come across things we 'forgot' to use this year and are so happy when we come across it, but if you haven't used it in a year or two or three, it's time to toss it.  Don't be afraid and don't feel bad about it either.

tips for packing up your classroom

Label a box - AUGUST - and put all the things you will need in August.  If you can't get your cabinet keys right away and aren't able to get to your stapler - put it in this August box and leave it out of your cabinet on a counter taped up.  Your bulletin board letters for your August board, stapler, scissors, tape, and even passwords that you have written down somewhere right!?!?  Maybe I'm just old but I have a #secretplace that I have my passwords put on a spread sheet in case I forget which #happensalot  - anywho if you are able to reconnect your computer and can't remember your password from the long summer break you could be in trouble. Another idea is cleaning supplies, I know this sounds silly but maybe the cleaning crew couldn't get to your cubbies, etc. This August box will save you!

tips for packing up your classroom

If you have to change rooms, pack up for whatever reason I hope you find these tips helpful!  Remember you can find me every Wednesday ( during the school year ) here for new ideas and tips.

Happy teaching,

Morning Songs for the Classroom

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I'm no singer let's get that out of the way right now.  My mother had the most beautiful voice and I was the athlete.  But ~ ~ ~ I don't mind singing in front of 8 year olds because well...they love you anyway.  So, I do start each morning off with a song and it's been a wonderful addition to my day.

I started this tradition last year and it has proved to get the day starting off right.  It only takes 2 - 3 minutes tops so it's quick and fun.  I try really hard to pick songs that have a message if possible - but I also choose patriotic songs that I think they should now. 

Waayyy back in the day when I grew up - 70's/80's kid.  We sang patriotic songs in the mornings and at our Friday Flag salute.  I knew them all, my team teacher and I noticed that kids nowadays aren't familiar with patriotic songs anymore so it's important to me to teach them some as well.  I wanted to include a list of great songs to use in the classroom whether you choose to start the day with them or even end the day with them.  Like I said we start the day with a song and then go right into our flag salute.

Here's a list by topic...just hop onto You Tube and search the titles. ** TIP ** I always type the song title and lyrics after it. I usually preview first just to be sure and usually the kids like the versions that have the words so they can sing along....and YES they sing along.  Here's an organized grouping below for you to refer to: 

There are so many other ones but I hope this gives you a good starting point.  I hope you can use this idea and that you see the benefit it as much as I have over the years.  Please join me here each week for my weekly series:

As always:  Happy teaching my friends!

Managing New Students Mid Year

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
You know the see the Attendance Clerk walking down the hall with a little piece of paper and the librarian following close behind with a stack of books.  You get this sinking feeling in your gut.  Not because you don't want the new student but because it's April 27th...WHY?!  There's just a few weeks left of school and who knows if this kid has been taught cursive and that's how you write everything on the board.  What has this new kid been taught or not been taught, there's not even enough time to fill in any missing gaps of what they haven't been taught... you're overwhelmed, you're teacher end of the year tired and you just want to finish the year strong of course but with as little bumps in the road as possible.  I get it, I hear ya.  As I see them coming I remind myself of this:

However, we are here to teach every child and with all my heart I believe each child has been put into my class for a reason.  So, I have a couple tips to make the mid or end of the year new student transition a bit easier for both of you.

Managing new students mid year

One of the best ideas I have come across I found on Pinterest way back in like 2011 or so.  I use this idea but have added a little twist to it that I want to share with you.
The idea is to fill a gallon size bag up with all the necessities you'll need for a new student:  laminated name tag ready to go, first day letter for the parents, Friday Folder insert, cubby tags, etc.
That way if you are given very short notice that you are getting a new student you are not running around searching for these things in your files, etc.  You are all ready and look super organized.          (  whether you are or not ).

If you have very little notice from the front office and the parents are basically walking down the hall at that very will look like a rockstar with a parent note ready to go and a name tag already on his/her desk. can also....

prep ahead of time sticky notes.  I like to use these as you see above.  I place one on the new students desk right away and say welcome or I'm glad you are here.  Then after snack or lunch depending on 2 things if I'm going to keep it real.  Snack if I think they need encouragement and seem sad/nervous or most likely lunch because I always seem to remember more at lunch than I do at snack.  Then I make sure to give them one at the end of the day that says - great first day!  Lastly, I always am sure to place one right on top of their graded work in their Friday folder for them and their parents to see.  I usually win the parents over quickly with these as they are nervous themselves for their child to adjust and this extra little step helps them feel like their child has a very loving, supportive teacher.  This goes a long way in building bridges between home and school and can  make all the difference.  Especially if something comes up and you need to talk to them about their child's behavior or academics.  You have already kinda earned their trust and respect with going above and beyond with the little things and you'd be surprised how often they are more receptive to hear what you have to say after you've helped their child have their best first week ever. =)

Hope you find this always you can find me here every Wednesday for my weekly series:

xo ~ happy teaching,

Top 5 ways to transition to a grade level change

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sometimes Spring can be the hardest time for a teacher:  we are dealing with Spring Fever, some are dealing with State Testing, some are hoping to get by without a pink slip and others are holding their breath wondering if they will be able to stay in their current grade level or not.  So many unknowns and to top it off you are tired and the kids are #checkedout.
So, what's the best way to deal with the possibility of a dun, dun, dun : GRADE LEVEL CHANGE.

If you are like me ( most aren't in this situation ) you are up for a change or challenge.  NOT every year of course but maybe every 7 -10 years.  I GET BORED guys!  I really do...I like the challenge of switching things up and hate to be stuck in a rut.  I'm not saying that if you've taught first grade for 25 years you are stuck in a rut - I'm just saying with my personality I could never do that.
So, what's the best way to handle the notification of a grade level change you ask....

Be professional!  Even if you are blind sighted and crushed remain professional.  I always try to remember --- this very simple never know when your admin may or may not come into your life again.  My favorite principal is now the District HR guy, we got along great!  Some of my teacher friends didn't so much, I just think it's important to keep relationships positive tenured or not.

Reach out to your 'new team' asap even if you are disappointed.  You want to start the relationships off right with your new team.  You don't know how long you'll be with them and you want to come across as a team player.  If it's near the end of the year and they haven't taken their planning day yet....ask if you can join them.  You can use that time to bond with them as well as have some questions answered and even learn more about what's to come.

Keep a positive/ growth mindset.  Just like you tell your students to have a growth mindset...have one yourself.  Practice what you preach.  Be open to the change ( unless of course you feel it was done unfairly - that's a whole 'nother blog post that would involve reaching out to your union )  Learn what you can about the new grade level, be prepared and positive.

Plan ahead - will you be moving rooms, will you need moving boxes, will you need desks instead of tables or will they need to be lowered to accomodate smaller kids, etc.  Look at the curriculum just a little over the summer - take a peek so you feel more confident.  I know, no one wants to do that but you can save it for the 11th hour the last week of summer if you must.

Think of it as the perfect time to re organize your cabinets and purge any unwanted/unused items.  You will have a sparkling new, freshly organized classroom in the fall that will make you so happy.  

Hopefully you are able to make the change with grace, your new students are so lucky to have you as their teacher!!!

You can join me here every week for my series:

  Happy teaching and good luck if you are changing grades this upcoming year! 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Happy Hump Day friends!!!!  Welcome to another edition of 

I'm so excited to talk to you about the amazing website Flocabulary!  If you haven't heard of it or checked it out it's a MUST!  Think Ice Cube or LL Cool J meets up with 'old school' School House Rock.   Flocabulary  = Hip hop coming to a classroom near you.

You have to trust me when I say the subscription is totally worth it!  It has several raps to choose from for all kinds of educational skills and topics.  It's also very easy to navigate and the songs are super catchy.  It doesn't take long for my students to memorize a song if we are reviewing a skill for a while.  

The raps/videos are so engaging and not only that they reinforce the skill you are working on because the tune is so catchy.  I hear my students humming these songs all the time.  
Here is a video from my class last year - you can tell we are having a blast with flocabulary!

It is a small investment for a years worth of great, skill based songs and raps that will help your students remember key concepts.  You may even be able to get your PTA or principal to pay for it for you.  You can find out more about it here:

One of the other things I appreciate about Flocabulary that I didn't mention is that they add new content all the time.  So, if you aren't seeing a skill  it's probably 'in the works'.  Another cool feature is you can slow down the rap under settings/controls.  If you have a special needs class or the song is kinda wordy you can slow it down so your students can memorize or sing along with it easier.  
If you are already using Flocabulary share with us what you love about it below and if you haven 't hopped on board yet - you need to at least visit the site and check it out.  If you are feeling like your lesson plans can use a pick me up this is the perfect way to do it!
I hope you can add this to your 'bag of tricks' teacher friends!