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!


Social Media and Teaching

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Images everywhere - Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat filters ~ I can barely keep up.  We are surrounded by 'perfect' images constantly and not to mention everyone's 'highlight reel' of life.  I get it, I'm guilty of it too.

the pressures of social media and teaching

 It's no wonder you are feeling like a not so great mom, wife, daughter, teacher, friend.  But let me remind you - you are amazing, you are doing your best and you are #winning.
As a teacher that has been active on line for 10+ years I've seen so many changes and with that had lots of different emotions myself over the years when it's come to the dreaded word that I try to avoid at all cost:  COMPARISON.  Ugh, I said it, yuck!  Comparison my friends really truly is the thief of joy!  Don't get sucked up by it, don't get pulled in.
When I started my teacher website at the end of 2007 I felt pretty good about myself.  I loved having teachers sign my guest book and tell me they enjoyed my ideas.  Bahaha - if that doesn't age me... 
I started to recognize other teachers that had websites and would visit their sites to see what they were up to in their classroom.  I came away with great ideas and inspiration.  I too let them know I enjoyed their site and that was about it.
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Fast forward a handful of years and there are thousands of teachers with blogs, stores, social media - you name it.  I had a website before there was a Pinterest and pinning parties and tailwind, etc.
I was so excited when I discovered teacher blogs - that was a true game changer!  Of course I had to keep my website but also start up a blog.  I met so many great teachers and had real life meet ups and blog hops and giveaways and tons of collaboration.  
Then came facebook groups and pages, learning how to do facebook lives, instagram stories, and people asking how many followers you have...don't even get me started on Twitter. ( not my thing yet )
Quickly and I do mean quickly things changed.  It went from leaving a comment on a blog post to my finger scrolling more on my phone than miles I've swam....and trust me I've swam a lot of miles in my life.  Master mind groups were forming faster than I could reply to a comment and my head began to spin.
Seeing images of teachers singing songs with their students and giving fancy high fives at the front door of their classroom started to become the norm.  The perfect classroom that never had a border out of place or a pile of ungraded paper anywhere to be found was not seen though.  
Perfect hair, smiles, classrooms, lesson plans, libraries, it all seemed too perfect...way too perfect.  I started to even feel a little overwhelmed by it all.  I could see how a new teacher that didn't have the money to spend on their classroom would feel a little 'less than.'  The new teacher that is overwhelmed by the curriculum and behavior management alone is feeling even  more inadequate while his/her finger is me!  I've had a few reach out to me saying they cry at night because they are so overwhelmed.
I'm thankful that there has been a small shift - very tiny but still noticeable.  Teachers posting 'real' pictures and owning their ungraded paper piles, or messy classroom.  We need a balance of this my friends.  Life isn't perfect, in fact it's far from it.  
I guess I just want to remind you that you are wonderful and the look or theme of your classroom doesn't define you!  Your students admire, trust and love you - so don't feel like you have to sing, stand on tables, dance, stay till 6 pm fixing every little loose border or messy cubby.  They will get messy again and your classroom will start each day with your smile and love showered on these lucky students.  Be you, be proud of what you do, you are making a difference every single day.

social media pressure

Be blessed, remember that you are enough and as always happy teaching!  

Don't forget to join me here every Wednesday for my weekly series: