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. 🤦‍♀️

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.” 😨🤦‍♀️

“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).” 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ (so I’m cold and raise your blood pressure? 🤦‍♀️)

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 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 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!

Posted in Education

A “Happy” Planner Newbie

Disclaimer: no part of this blog or post is or has been sponsored by any company.

I’ve tried to find the perfect planner that fits my personal and teacher needs.

I tried using one for each but using two planners never worked well for me.

I tried using just a teacher planner… I was very last minute in my personal life that year.

I tried using my phone as a personal planner… nope.

Last year, I purchased a complete teacher planner on Teachers Pay Teachers. It was a thorough resource and had lifetime updates as part of the price. I enjoyed this planner but it had unexpected expenses – color ink, spiral binding machine (I found one on Facebook Marketplace), plastic spiral binding strips, and lamination supplies. I printed the pages I wanted, put them in order, laminated the covers, and bound the pages. It worked great until I spilled water in my purse. It wrinkled multiple pages and made it more difficult to use. I thought about reprinting the pages but then I had to unbind and rebind the planner too. Instead, I made it work the best I could.

This year, I was inspired to do something different. As I was scrolling through instagram, I saw a post from Classes_and_Coffee, https://instagram.com/classes_and_coffee?igshid=es19qfxgi0ag

The gist of the post was, why not spend a little more for a planner you want since you use it almost daily?

Why not? At this point in my life, I didn’t have a good reason not to! There are barriers for some, and I experienced most of them at some point, -not enough money, don’t know what to buy, etc.

So, I went into research mode! If I was going to spend more money on a planner, I wanted to make sure it checked my boxes.

I wanted a planner that could be used for personal and teacher planning, had a month and week by week view, had space for notes/birthdays/etc, and bonus points if it could double as a grade book.

After researching, only The Happy Planner Teacher Edition met the criteria.

Once I made my decision, I made a trip to a local Michael’s with coupons in hand. I had a 40% off one item coupon but also got 15% off my total with my teacher ID. My total was around $64 for a Big planner, set of stickers (1 big pack, 2 small), 1 pack of checklist papers (looks like gramma grade book grid), 3 washi tapes, and a container to stay organized. Without the coupons, my total would have been in the $90 range.

I spent a chunk of time tonight setting it up for the new school year. Only time will tell if I can effectively use it but it seems like a step in the right direction!!

Ambitiously yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Story Time: a Bittersweet Day in Middle School

Today all started with running late… again. Mornings have been rough newly pregnant. I won’t go into details.

Classes go on mostly as planned, I mean 9 days left…

Then. My one class comes in and I get a note. A note saying I’m bullying their child because their child heard me tell the sub to keep an eye on them as my sub pushed me out the door for my first sonogram appointment.

The note said that every time they felt their child was called out and others were not, they are going to tell on me to our vice principal… apparently I’m 12 again.

I showed the note to my principal asking if he would sit in a meeting with this person and I. Thankfully, I have a super supportive admin who said absolutely. So, now I have to call this person tomorrow because they don’t have an email. 🤦‍♀️

Continue to the… same class. I give three students lunch detention so I can talk to them about their behavior with the substitute. One couldn’t make it due to a health issue. Although that was terrible, it worked out so I could have a more honest conversation with the other two.

Fast forward to… the same class where one of my ELs starts crying. When I found out why, it was a huge miscommunication. I was able to have a real conversation with two students and explain why it hurt the other students feelings and get them to start to befriend the new EL.

Finally! Fast forward to my last class of the day. This class goes a little like my social media status…

Several weeks ago:

A- are you okay? You look like you don’t feel well.

Me- no, I’m okay. I think I have a stomach bug.

A- did you eat ice cream?

Me- you know what? I did! I bet it was expired!

A- are you going to have ice cream tonight?

Me- why would I eat ice cream if it just made me sick?

A- but is it the sick like you’ll be better tomorrow or the sick like you’ll be sick for a few months?

Me- look if I have food poisoning that long, I’m going to the hospital.

Today:

B- I know you’re secret.

Me- you do? Can you tell me because I don’t know.

Student walks away with a group. They come back when we line up for dismissal.

B- I know you’re secret!

Me- I still don’t know. What is it?

A- I know! Come here I’ll whisper it to you!

I bend down and she says…

A- you’re pregnant!

Then!!!!!

I go to a meeting after school and have an issue with a colleague who disrespected one of my student helpers. They grossly overstated the school rules on students using copiers AFTER hours… it was so bad that they got into it with two other colleagues and I had to call admin for assistance. I mean, can’t we all just be polite and a little understanding? Please! Needless to say, this isn’t the first issue I have had with this person. 🤦‍♀️
And now I’m home taking a bath because dinner was awesome and then made me nauseous 🤰🤷‍♀️

Pregnantly yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

Movie Day Win

We have been testing all day!!! It’s exhausting for all of us!

And I still have one class to “teach” at the end of the day. There’s no way I’m going to maintain their attention during instruction or a new concept.

So I tricked them! I told them that I wasn’t supposed to “just” watch a movie.

To get around it, I made an activity to go with the movie. Then we could all work and relax at the same time.

They bought it! 😂

They even thanked me!!

Now, why did I do this instead of JUST watching the movie? Because without a clear activity or direction, they are CRAZY at the end of the day. Not to mention, unwilling to work with me (not all) and more concerned with being social than their academic success.

I now have a class of students who are actively watching the original Jumanji and completing academic questions to match! Win!

Rolling the dice,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education

A Day Teaching Middle School in 25 Doggo Pictures

It’s teacher appreciation week! If you have no idea what teachers go through on a daily basis… you’re probably making decisions for all educators 🤦‍♀️ kidding! But only sort of…

Here’s a look at my day today in middle school (made more understandable by way of doggo photos).

  1. “Do I have to be up this early? I’m comfy with cuddly doggos. Snooze button!!!”
  2. “wait… I can’t be late! I’M THE TEACHER!!!!”
  3. “Must eat quickly!”
  4. “Oh! Hello students! I am wide awake and smiling even though I haven’t finished my coffee! I was almost late today. I was told about a student schedule change 5 minutes ago. I was told about a spec Ed observation in my worst class ten minutes ago. I know you need a smile and to feel important! I am trying my best to be everything you need regardless of my own state of mind or needs.”
  5. “Good morning! It’s time to work on your bell ringer! Please try each challenge and work for the next 5 minutes. We will go over it when time is over. If you are finished before time, please read.”
  6. My face when someone says, “what am I supposed to do?” “I don’t have a pencil.” “They won’t stop looking at me!” “Can you tell him not to touch my paper?” I can continue but, yes, these are SIXTH graders… in flippin’ MAY who don’t have a PENCIL!!!!!!! 🤯
  7. “I’m loving the participation but we need to remember to RAISE OUR HAND so everyone can be heard and be respected.” It’s. Flippin’. MAY!!!! 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️
  8. Start instruction… “why are you out of your seat?” Oh sorry, I’m not supposed to phrase it that way, “I feel disrespected when you get up to sharpen your pencil as soon as I begin instruction. Please go back to your seat and sharpen it at a more appropriate time.”
  9. Mixed emotions when I announce, “here is your notes page. We are going to go through this instructional video and take notes. I will pause the video as we watch so everyone can take notes and discuss the information. Please put your name, block, and date on your paper before we begin.” “Omg! Notes!?!” “Omg! We have to work?” “Can’t we have a free day?” “Why do we have to take notes?” 😳
  10. “So much writing! Why do I have to take notes again?” “Is this a grade?” “Can’t I just start the writing piece without taking the notes?”
  11. “someone is at the dooooooooor!” Even knowing the expectations… at least two students try to answer the door at the same time.
  12. “I’m bored. I mean, I have to pee. Can I go to the bathroom? … what do you mean not now? Ugh!!!!!!”
  13. “Pleas put your chair completely on the floor. I don’t want you to fall.” (I said it four times in ten minutes to the SAME student) “OMG! LEAVE ME ALONE!” (I couldn’t resist saying calmly and without emotion…) “I will if you’re sitting correctly.” And then moved on with instruction.
  14. The same student mentioned above crumples their paper because I won’t let them leave the room. I give them an extra copy. They crumple this copy because they are already behind and think I’m moving too fast because I didn’t go back for them to catch up. So, I give them a third copy and plan to assign them lunch detention. The student visits the counselor then returns.
  15. My face when that student catches up faster than any student who has been there the entire time. 🤦‍♀️ Why couldn’t you do that in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. Raised hand, “Yes! What does this mean?” “What time is it? I’m hungry.” 🤦‍♀️😳
  17. My face as I say, “Thank you for raising your hand but that is an off-task question.”
  18. “What’s that in the window!?” My sanity FLYING away!
  19. “Let’s move on! Now that we are finished with notes, you have 20 seconds to put it in the notes section of your binder. (Counting) okay! You should now have your notes away! Let’s change gears to a group project!”
  20. “Group what!”
  21. “Do I get to pick my group?”
  22. “Nope!” 🤪
  23. This is the face I see… them hanging on every word as I explain the project… now that I FINALLY have their attention.
  24. “Wait… it’s that easy?” “Yes!! It is!” They had 15 minutes to plan a presentation for their class about 1 class rule. They were assigned groups and rules. They had to explain one example of following that rule and why it’s important for you to follow it, for your classmates that you follow it, and your teacher that you follow that rule. They present tomorrow!
  25. Bell rings! That means it’s time to go! MUAHAHA! Except!!! I intercept them at the door and make sure they leave one by one so they don’t sprint down the hall and fall on their face.

This is a shortened snippet of my daily life as a middle school teacher.

If you know a teacher, had a teacher, or are human… thank teachers! Check on them too because it’s May and most of us are not okay. We need a break. We need pencils. We need our sanity back!

Appreciatively yours,

Teaching In Public