Posted in Education, Mental Health

Yesterday Was a Tough Day – The Comeback

Yesterday was a tough day. Read about it here – https://teachinginpublic.home.blog/2019/08/27/tough-days-happen/

But that doesn’t mean that today has to be a tough day. It’s important to treat every day like a new day but that’s difficult for students who haven’t learned that skill or live in a constant state of stress. … it’s also difficult for adults who have and haven’t learned that skill.

So what can you do to reset the next day? (This is after you’ve worked out what’s really bothering you and given yourself time to be emotional if that’s what your mind or body needs to do)

  1. Start with something small. Do something deliberately for yourself. Take a bath, read a book, take a nap, cook something special, etc. So something small but do it just for you.
  2. Take care of yourself. Go to bed early, pack your lunch or pick out your outfit the night before, etc. Do something to slow yourself down and make sure the next day starts a little easier.
  3. Change. Yesterday didn’t go as planned? Do something about it. Politely tell someone how they made you feel, ignore the person or issue if it isn’t that big, remember that everyone has tough days and it’s okay, and decide to make today different. Move on (in a healthy fashion) and make today go how you want it to go.

It sounds like a simple solution but you have to take each step and think through them to deliberately begin to take back control of yourself and your day. It can be emotional, messy, and hard but your future self will thank you.

Determined,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education, Mental Health

Tough Days Happen

Today got to me.

Today was our first day back as staff. Add to that… I’m pregnant, family drama, and some not-so-positive-comments thrown my way.

Today got to me. And I know it shouldn’t but words do hurt.

I know they don’t define me. I know they don’t change me as a person. But it’s still tough to hear and hard to deal with.

Let’s recap…

Situation 1 – I’m 20+ weeks pregnant and I’ve never been a small person. I’ve lost weight with my pregnancy (in a healthy manner according to doctors) but my belly has finally FINALLY started to show a baby bump.

A colleague walked into our big meeting and stopped to talk to me. She mentioned that she hasn’t seen any pictures of the baby. Now, I’m friends with this individual on social media so this seemed strange as I have shared a few ultrasound images.

So…

I pull up an ultrasound picture. “Wait!!! You’re still pregnant?!? You look like you’ve already had the baby!”

Now, I KNOW she was saying I look smaller and I KNOW I have lost weight BUT I know my belly is more pronounced than it used to be so this comment stung a little. I want to look pregnant (and I wondered how long my weight would prevent me from looking it) and enjoy this time but I’m also happy to have lost weight.

Situation 2 – we have to act out one of the new expectations they were rolling out school wide. I volunteered. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

I acted as a teacher to my colleague-students and ran through the routine in a similar way to how I really will with kids… but I’m dealing with adults and don’t have that level of confidence, so I skimp on some comedy opportunities so they don’t feel childish.

Volunteer 2 does the same routine.

Then, the presenter (a person I had issues with last year and is in a position of authority) gave us feedback as follows-

“When I went to the training for this, they ran through it very methodically and almost cold. Exactly how volunteer 1 did it. And I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it.” πŸ˜¨πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

“Volunteer 2 was much more authentic and laid back about it. I could feel more at ease and feel my heart rate decrease a little. I feel that way when I go in this persons room (my teaching neighbor).” πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€·β€β™€οΈ (so I’m cold and raise your blood pressure? πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ)

Situation 3 – family drama!!!! A family member is upset about a close friend of mine buying items (plates, napkins, and plastic ware) for my baby shower because my family member wants to be in charge (even though they asked this friend to help….).

On the surface, not dramatic. However, I am rarely the focus of this family member and with this being the first time where it SHOULD be all about me, my baby, and my new family unit, I’m nervous that time will repeat itself and I will take a back seat to someone else at my own party because of their poor decision making.

This family member is also in denial that they help my sibling 10 out of 10 times, no matter how big or small (house, bills, food, etc – with NOTHING paid back), and help me 1 out of 10 times if it’s a moderate to small (loan of $100 or less to be paid back almost immediately) amount of help needed. I wish I was exaggerating.

Situation 4 – I’m adding on to my own misery at this point. But the general excitement and urgency to take care of me and my incoming baby falls into three categories –

-doesn’t care (aka people who aren’t close with me)

-excited but doesn’t appear to be a priority (family member mentioned above and people who know me but not super well)

-over the moon (friends, other family members, hubs, self, etc)

Its a little disheartening that my colleagues have taken more interest in one day than my family member has over the last 5+ months. I won’t name this member but they are of my immediate family and someone who says they’re excited and that I am a priority but… actions speak louder than words.

So, long story short, it’s been a tough day.

Teachers are people too and we, just like the rest of the population, have baggage and demons.

I struggle with anxiety. Sometimes the stress can just be too much to handle. That’s especially so when I have days like today where they just snowball together.

Think twice before sending that abrasive text, email, or letter. Take a moment to consider the other perspective, point of view, or the human on the other end of your issue. It’s worth it to be kind. You never know what someone is struggling with or if they are at their limit already.

We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We all have feelings and opinions. There’s no need to be nasty towards one another.

Humanly yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in food

Life Changing Breakfast

This isn’t like my other education or mental health focused posts. Well, not technically.

Yesterday, I was walking out of someone’s house and smelled this glorious sweet eggy smell. πŸ€°πŸ˜‚ It took me hours to place it! I finally figured out it was a French toast like smell.

But…

I didn’t feel like making French toast so I looked for a casserole and tried it. It was one of the most delicious breakfast items I’ve ever eaten!

My husband took a few bites and told me I should make it for our holiday brunches at my parents too. I made it for dinner last night and it was still sooooo good for breakfast this morning.

Here is the link –

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/french_toast_casserole/

I did alter a few things. I didn’t use any fruit, orange zest or cranberries. I did add the pecans and brown sugar, which made a huge flavor difference! I also added a dash of nutmeg (my French toast secret) to the custard mix. I also didn’t think 5 eggs was enough so I used 8 and an extra half cup of milk. I also didn’t use as much bread as they call for. I bought two medium sized French bread loaves and chunked them as directed and had more than enough. I bought three loaves and didn’t need the third.

And there’s more!

This morning, I really wanted coffee. Being 🀰 has made caffeine difficult to deal with so I bought decaf grounds. But… my Keurig hasn’t been used in the 5 months that I’ve been pregnant plus a few weeks before. I tried to clean it with vinegar. Plus, I took out the external reservoir and cleaned it… as I cleaned this, I realized how much build up our water had created since the filter had been taken out. Even with baking soda and vinegar I just couldn’t do it.

So… I went to the internet! This morning I found 5 ways to make coffee without a coffee maker!

I tried the first one – the cowboy method – and it was brilliant! So easy and worked perfectly! I do have a reusable coffee filter. Instead of using a ladle, like they suggest, I put the rigid and reusable filter on a wide mouthed mug.

The directions are soooo easy to follow and worked perfectly the first time! Looks like I don’t need a coffee maker taking up valuable counter space!

Don’t get me wrong! I loooooove coffee! However, I haven’t wanted or been able to drink it nearly as often now that I’m pregnant and who knows how often I’ll want to in the coming months!

Here is the link –

https://www.homegrounds.co/how-to-make-coffee-without-a-coffee-maker/

Both of these will be used again in my household! They are morning, holiday, and taste-bud changing!

Posted in Education

Increase Family Communication in One Step

Teachers have a difficult job. We make students comfortable in our classroom. We help students learn. We collect data and teach data-driven lesson plans. We participate in meetings and help facilitate a positive school environment. We communicate with families for positive and negative behaviors. We keep families informed so they can fully participate in their students education. And so much more!

But getting families involved can be difficult, especially as students get older. I had almost full family involved when I taught 2nd grade. Now that I teach 6th, it stays around 20%.

One simple trick has helped me increase family involvement and make that involvement significantly more positive.

Business cards.

I print business cards with my contact information for families. I add my school email, school phone number, Remind code, Scholastic ordering code, link to the class website, and a quick reminder to contact me with an questions and that email and Remind are the best way to reach me. Last year, I got really savvy and added a QR code that linked to my class website!

I hand these out to all families at open house. I also have them on hand at parent conferences, IEP meetings, and other places I personally interact with families in a teacher capacity.

Now, yes, they could look up my information. They could look at the syllabus or school website or the multiple things I send home plastered with my information. So what makes handing out cards so special?

The gesture.

Handing them my card with multiple forms of contact is a gesture that says, “your child is important to me. I want you to be involved and I see you as an important role in his or her education.”

Not only is this a positive gesture to families, it also helps on the off chance it’s months into the school year and someone says, “I didn’t know your contact information so I didn’t contact you sooner,” (even though you’ve called multiple times, emailed to follow up, and had to speak with them to schedule this meeting). “I’m so sorry for that miscommunication. Here is my business card for the future!” With a polite smile on my face.

I even have a handful of students ask for my card and tape it in their planners. They use it to readily have my email address to contact me with questions or digitally turn in work.

I used these cards for years – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teacher-Information-Cards-Open-House-Free-2053280

This year I’m switching to printing business cards using Avery products. I’m hoping it cuts down on the color ink (mine are mostly black and white this year) and cutting. However, aesthetically, I much rather the ones from TPT seller, StudentSavvy, from the link above.

Positively yours,

Teaching In Public

P.s. want an added boost? I send emails to all families that have an email in our data system once a quarter. I include upcoming assignment and school events as well as information on how they can help their student be successful. I then print this and display it in my room for my students to reference.

Posted in Mental Health

Teachers… It’s Okay! (Back to School edition)

Teacher guilt is so real! We judge ourselves against unrealistic expectations.

I have laminated, printed (in color!), shopped, planned, reorganized my library, attended summer curriculum days (2 of them), and more. I’ve been in my classroom almost every day this week from an hour to a full day. I’ve worked on emergency sub plans and then made more since I’m pregnant and not sure if I’ll leave on time or unexpectedly for maternity leave.

I have done more to prepare for this school year than any year I’ve taught.

I have my reasons… from being pregnant to rethinking classroom spaces to make my life easier.

And I’m okay with it! That’s what I decided I needed to do to feel prepared and less stressed and that’s okay! (And yes, I’ve already heard from several people that I’ve been in too much or putting in too much time… I don’t care!! I’m doing what I need to do to be the best version of myself this year!)

We are all different people! We need to stop comparing ourselves and our rooms to Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media posts. And while we’re at it, stop comparing yourself to that teacher down the hall.

Do what makes YOU happy! Do what makes YOU the best version of yourself and stop worrying about if it’s Pinterest worthy or if it’s the cutest room or most put together in your hall.

Forget about the rest of the world as you set up your classroom this year. Focus on the classroom you want and want you can reasonably do to get it to that point.

Whatever you decide, I support you! I hope you all have a fabulous year and remember why you wanted to be a teacher! It’s a gift, a skill, a calling, and so difficult (and so worth it)!

Supportingly yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

My Classroom Checklist for Back to School

Unpopular opinion – I’m ready for summer to be over. I miss my students and the routine of going to work every day.

However, that doesn’t make back to school easy. It’s actually a season of high anxiety, stress, and (insert negative moods here).

It’s obvious when I prepare and when I don’t for a new school year.

Unprepared me – stands in room frustrated, has to take multiple breaks to calm down but doesn’t get much done in between breaks, rushes around, and takes twice as long to get everything done.

Prepared me – stands in a room checking things off my list and making a plan, takes multiple breaks to not overwhelm myself and keeping my checklist up to date, feels calm when setting up instead of rushed, and takes half as much time (or feels more positive and productive with the time I did take).

Checklists can be as vague or specific as you want as long as it works for you! I have found that the more specific I am, the better! This is in part because I check things off more frequently which gives me a greater sense of accomplishment quickly. It also makes my brain happy since I feel like I won’t forget something accidentally.

Below is my list for this school year. Feel free to print it, copy and paste it, and make it your own! OR just use it for inspiration for your own list.

Things anyone can do –

  • peel stickers off desks and chairs
  • vacuum carpet
  • wipe desks, chairs, shelves, countertops, and teacher desk
  • unpack cabinets
  • organize/sort items from cabinets and supply order
  • unpack class library
  • inventory class library
  • sort class library in genres
  • take down posters
  • remove staples from wall
  • remove painters tape from table
  • move table and stools
  • move carpet
  • set up posters
  • set up PBS gems and tickets
  • cut and organize tickets
  • cut genre labels
  • label library by genre
  • put away supplies
  • unpack and organize new curriculum
  • check and inventory furniture
  • sharpen pencils
  • check markers

Things I have to do –

Print

  • genre labels
  • class signs
  • 504s, IEPs, EL accommodations/modifications
  • new building phone list
  • class lists
  • binder paperwork (meetings, notes, etc.)
  • Back to School paperwork

Buy

  • new stool
  • Astrobright paper
  • plastic vase for gems
  • bottled water
  • snacks (long shelf life)

Laminate

  • genre labels
  • class signs
  • new posters
  • class lists

Setup

  • class website
  • turn in bins
  • teacher desk
  • technology (double check)
  • binders (meetings, each class, sub plans, etc)
  • class calendar
  • lesson plan book

Things I need hubs to do –

  • put together new shelf and drawers
  • dust up high
  • move furniture
  • check/fix cabinets that don’t lock

*If you do feel overwhelmed, take a break! Re-evaluate your list. Maybe you need a more or less specific list or maybe you need to add time frames to keep yourself on schedule. I ALWAYS have someone help me over the summer. Sometimes it’s a younger cousin, family friend, etc. This year I needed more help than usual since I’m over 4 months pregnant. I asked for students to help from my previous year and my husband helped me for a day with any heavy lifting or handy things. There’s no shame in asking for help (see my previous post – https://teachinginpublic.home.blog/2019/08/05/teachers-need-help-too/ ). If you have helpers, I suggest having a checklist for them too or make your list categorized like my list – things YOU have to do, things you need someone specific to do (like a custodian, etc), and things you can have anyone do.

peacefully yours,

Teaching In Public

P.S. Check out my NEXT post (August 13th, 2019) for WHERE to find some of the resources I use in my classroom!