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. 🤰😂 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

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 Mental Health

I Silently Screamed “Help!” And My Husband Answered

The end of the school year is extra exhausting. Add in family drama, difficult admin and parents, and being pregnant? To say my anxiety and stress have been on the rise is an understatement.

I’ve been struggling with whether or not I could cope with it on my own. At times, my anxiety gives me anxiety. Who would have guessed?! I get in my head and wonder I need help, need to use my coping skills, or am just over exaggerating.

Even with baths, naps, cuddling with the dogs, and other relaxation activities, it’s been tough. The stress and anxiety started coming through as irritation, crying, melancholy attitudes, sarcasm, etc.

Two weeks ago, my loving husband picked up on my increased anxiety and became the voice of reason. “Why don’t you call your therapist and schedule an appointment? Maybe she can help you work through some of the family stuff.”

Those two sentences were like a lifeline. I was drowning in my own mind and the life vest was thrown. That was enough to tell me it wasn’t me overreacting but rather me needing help through some difficult times.

The first time I called to start therapy was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I saw her for almost a year and she dismissed me after making a lot of progress. She helped me get off anxiety medicine so we could begin trying to get pregnant. She helped me create boundaries with toxic people and so much more.

So, I took my hubs’ advice and called to schedule an appointment. Of course, it’s been almost a year so I had to go through the process as if I’m a new patient. A week later, they finally called and I have an appointment next week.

I am so thankful to have the option of therapy and a husband who loves and respects my needs. This time of year is always especially stressful like I explained in my last post but with added stressors, it’s become a little too much.l to deal with on my own.

Thankful,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

End of the school year! Yay! But what about THOSE students… and teachers?

The end of the school year is messy. It’s not all Pinterest perfect with countdowns, perfect behavior, presents galore, and tears in everyone’s eyes.

To students with trauma, it’s a deadline, a dreaded end of security. Somehow, in all the countdowns and year in review activities, some forget about the kids who act out but don’t really want the year to end.

My husband was one of those kids. He was a capable student who purposely failed classes so he could attend summer school or after school programs. He was the kid who went from house to house until both parents gave up and he was raised by an equally crazy relative who wouldn’t drive him places, but him things, or listen when school called. He’s the kid who went into the military as a getaway.

We forget about those kids.

But.

We also forget about those teachers. The teachers who struggle with mental health, who get depressed or feel useless over the summer, who get overwhelmed with all the paperwork and end of year expectations. Those teachers aren’t the first to pack their room or leave for the summer.

They sometimes sit in their room not knowing what to do next… the class diagram? Inventory? Check out paperwork? Purge outdated materials? Sign observation forms? Make phone calls? Lock up materials? Wipe down surfaces? Clean out binders? Check over lockers? Label furniture? Roll-up posters?

It can be overwhelming to go from having a clear purpose every day to having time off where you don’t need to grade or plan or communicate… and even though the entire year builds to this point, it still feels sudden. Like you’re walking forever and then there’s nothing under you.

They make plans, lists, use their coping skills, tackle the problems at hand, try to remain calm, try to not spiral, and smile through it.

The end of the year is already so stressful but students and teachers with trauma and/or mental illnesses are having an even tougher time right now. Not to mention, those who deal with new trauma or stress outside of the normal chaos that is the end of the year.

I am one of THOSE teachers and I am not okay. (I will be okay but I’m not there yet.)

One of those teachers,

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

Posted in Education, Mental Health

TV Wisdom and Teacher Reality Check

I won! Sort of.

I won Teacher of the Year (TOY) for my building. I continued and competed against the other TOYs in the district. They then had to pick the top few to continue before picking an ultimate winner.

After doing a lot of writing, agonizing, video taping, editing, revising, and sole searching… I completed an interview in front of nine people.

I ended up knowing half of them, which actually made it more nerve racking. I stumbled my words. I bounced my leg. I did everything in my power to not have a panic attack in the room. I smiled. I looked at everyone even though only one person asked the questions. I tried not to over analyze what their head nods or note taking meant. My brain shut off as I answered a question. When I thought I had answered it, I still had to ask, “can you repeat the question? I want to make sure I answered all of it.” I tried to continue eye contact even thought I wanted to stare at the ceiling.

I. Tried. Everything. I could think of to do my best.

It wasn’t good enough. I got the call saying thanks but you didn’t win. It was worded more elegantly but the main message came loud and clear.

The worst part? I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to win until I was no longer in the running.

I wanted something I could figuratively wave in the faces of anyone who told me I couldn’t, wasn’t good enough, fired me, looked down at me, threatened me, and more. Something that says, “you were wrong! I AM a teacher! And a damn good one too!”

Then, it hit me – tv wisdoms. A few sentences from a tv show turned me around.

Fixed? That’s not a thing. … My job is to give you the tools to get through the day.” -Dr. Iggy Frome, New Amsterdam s1 ep20

I didn’t need fixing. I needed to use my tools.

One of the best tools MY therapist gave me was like a reality check. I’m sure there’s a name for it but I’ve since forgotten.

I’m in a spiral of negativity. In my mind, not winning at the district negated winning at my school. Those people were right. I shouldn’t be a teacher. I should have been fired. They were right to give me an improvement plan. I deserved to have kids that cause me to evacuate my class and then be judged when I had to protect my students.

Reality check.

What’s the truth here? I WAS nominated and chosen as TOY for my building. I had FIVE different students nominate me. I had TERRIBLE school leaders that did not treat me with the appropriate amount of respect and seriousness deserved. I am currently working for school leaders who DO respect me and treat my needs and questions seriously. I won TOY in my second year in my district and my fourth year as a certified teacher (which is SUPER early to win in my area). I did something out of my comfort zone because my school leaders, students, and colleagues believed in me.

The other truth?

I feel like I may have been overlooked for some reason other than qualifications or qualities. BUT part of winning at the building level is interviewing the candidates the following year. SO that means I can help pick the next candidate based on honesty and integrity and influence others to do the same (if it isn’t already).

Oh, the irony… as if my mental health could pick a better time to take a roller coaster… during mental health awareness month. (Yes, I know that’s unfair of me but still not untrue)

Speak out, speak up, and love yourself!

Happy mental health awareness month!

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

Anxiety Manifesting in Reality

There’s still stigma attached to mental illness. I feel there’s only one way to combat that stigma – education.

As someone with anxiety, I feel the more I know about it, the more power I have over it. Anxiety is irrational and will be with me my entire life. It’s a friend who doesn’t know when they’ve overstayed their welcome.

Below are ways anxiety has manifested in my life.

Disclaimer – I am not a doctor or medical professional. Do not use this post as a diagnosis but rather to open a dialogue between yourself, your family, and your doctor if you feel you are struggling with mental illness.

Stereotypical symptoms (the true ones) –

  • Panic attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Overthinking

The not as talked about symptoms –

  • Feeling awkward (especially socially)
  • Wanting to be alone
  • Canceling plans
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Weight on chest
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Procrastination
  • Snapping at others
  • “Laziness”
  • Forgetfulness
  • Over/under eating
  • Feeling rushed or out of control
  • Heart palpitations
  • Eye twitching
  • Hands shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Flare up (if you have skin problems like psoriasis)
  • Leg shaking/foot tapping
  • Stumbling over words
  • Stutter
  • Repeating myself
  • Clenching teeth
  • Heart racing
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Finger or pencil tapping
  • Difficulty standing or staying still
  • Difficulty falling asleep and waking up
  • Pushing people away

And more. I’ve had all of these symptoms at times. But what they don’t tell you about anxiety?

If you are able to “control” or understand your anxiety, it can be a strength (at times).

Now that I have gone through therapy and medicine and research and soul searching and… you get the picture… I’m able to use my anxiety to reflect and plan.

I ask myself these questions:

  • What is causing me to feel that way?
  • Is that a valid thought or not?
  • If it’s a valid thought, what can I do about it?
  • If it’s not a valid thought, then what is the truth?

I’ll give you an example.

Earlier today, I was feeling a little antsy, irritable, forgetful, and had a difficult time taking a deep breath.

What was causing me to feel this way? Well, spring break is quickly coming to a close and I still have to finish grading, planning, copying, teacher of the year (t.o.y.) paperwork, new t.o.y video, prepare for the t.o.y interview, and housework. I also realized that I’m almost broke until tomorrow.

Is it valid? Absolutely.

What can I do about it? I spent three hours in my classroom today and finished 2/3 of the grading, all of the planning, and a chunk of the t.o.y paperwork. I have a plan to finish the rest tomorrow except the copies since I have planning first on Monday. As for the no money situation, it’s a valid feeling but I had to remind myself that I already paid my bills, bought groceries, and get paid tomorrow with no need of buying anything today.

This thought process made me feel more in control, validated, and even successful because it enabled me to make a reasonable plan and diminish some of my current stressors.

Knowledge is power. The more we learn about mental illness, hopefully, the more normal it will be to have and talk about.

Powerfully yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

The Truth about Anxiety

I was diagnosed with anxiety in my early 20s. I wish it had been sooner. It would have saved me a lot of… well, anxiety! Not to mention, depression, self-esteem, and more. Putting a name to this invisible monster actually made me feel validated and normal (my relative normal).

Anxiety is real. Don’t let someone else’s ignorance or lack of understanding diminish your self worth.

You are important. You are worth understanding. What you are experiencing is real!

I talked more about this in my first post but my negative experiences changed my life.

It took college for me to get diagnosed with anxiety. It took two crappy jobs and a terrible principal along with irrationally irate parents (of one of my students) to get me to go back to the doctor. It took heart palpations, daily panic attacks, almost constant eye twitches, lack of appetite, and decreased social interaction to get me to admit and realize how physical anxiety is and to talk to my doctor about medicine. It took a year on medicine and a change of schools to get me to call a therapist. It took me 6 months, my doctor, therapist, and friends to get off the medicine and be released from my therapist.

Sometimes life’s hardest moments are the moments that will change your life. My life is not perfect (I mean, no one is really!) but my life led me to teaching back in my home district and married to a man who loves me with friends who accept me for who I am.

Don’t give up! Allow your experiences to lead you to the best parts of your life even when they feel like the worst.

You are enough. You are important. What you are experiencing is real and yes, there will be people who don’t or won’t understand. Give them time, space, or kick them to the curb. If they’re worth having in your life, they’ll find you worth understanding.

Anxiously yours,

Teaching In Public