Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mid-Year Reflections (and a little teacher humor)

We're officially halfway through the school year!  (Well, I am at least!)  

As I reflect on the first half of the year I just have to smile at what an adventure it's been so far this year...  

I currently have 14 boys and 5 girls in my class and I can honestly say that there is hardly ever a dull moment with this bunch.  My 5 girls are sweet, well-behaved, and pretty tough.  My boys, on the other hand, are another story!  My boys are very emotional...  We're talking criers.  Yes, tears.  Everyday.  They've got great personalities and really want to do a good job and what's right, but they're the most emotional and immature group of boys I've ever taught.  It's a good day if only 2 or 3 cry.  (I'm not even kidding!  My class has been hailed by other staff has having all of the "drama kings."  Truth.)  It can definitely be draining at times, but they really are an incredibly sweet bunch of kids and they've definitely won my heart!  There's definitely a lot of tough love happening in my classroom in a daily basis, but I think my kids realize that despite how tough third grade is, I'm there for them and I do truly care.  My last two classes of kids have been pretty easy-going and well-behaved, so I think God thought I needed a little more spice in my teaching life this year!

Funny Workplace Ecard: Well since you are raising your hand, kneeling on your chair, AND yelling my name, Ill just rush over and help you first! said no teacher ever... Me at nick's party passing out cupcakes. Quiet kids first always :)
via Pinterest
As I reflect on myself as a teacher so far this year, I'd say that I've stayed afloat, but I haven't done much to go above and beyond this school year.  I think a lot of that goes back to the group of kids that I have and some of the challenges they bring.  Some things aren't as easy for this group to jump into and independence isn't quite their thing yet, so it's a lot of baby steps (or scaffolding, if we want to use fancy words).  As we move into the second semester I want to push myself a bit further to push my students in their work.  I'm not saying I've been super easy on them and haven't challenged them, but I do feel like I've given up on doing certain things because I think it will take a lot of time and effort with this bunch.  Yes, there will probably be more tears, but we'll just get through it as best we can!

Funny Teacher Week Ecard: Let's play school! I'll pretend to be a teacher analyzing disaggregated student data, and you can pretend to be a student taking a standardized test!
via Pinterest
I've definitely dropped the ball on blogging since the school year started...  I feel like my blog is kind of going through an identity crisis in some ways and I'm working on finding the right balance between blogging about teaching and everything else in life.  At the end of an exhausting day of work, I'm not finding myself to be in much of a mood to blog about school stuff.  I want this to be a blog that's a resource for teachers, though, and I feel like I've been neglecting that a lot over the past few months.  I'm planning to set a more regular blogging schedule soon, which will hopefully help me get a bit more direction on here.  

Top 10 Teacher “Some eCards” | TeachHUB
via Pinterest

Anyway, thanks for reading / following and putting up with my ramblings.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fashion Friday: Minty Fresh

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm one of those people that totally goes through phases with colors.  I get really into certain colors and obsess about finding items in that color or outfit ideas for what I already have.  

My most recent color obsession is mint.  It's not really a color that's been represented much in my closet.  (I do have a very vivid memory of preschool and during circle time we had to say what color our shirt was...  I said that mine was "mint."  I recall my teacher making some comment about my color vocabulary.)  

I purchased a mint cardigan from J.Crew during their 30% off and free shipping sale.  It ended up being about 66% off the original price, which is pretty much the only way I can afford / justify J.Crew.  The fit is really nice, but it is a bit thinner than I was anticipating.  It's fine, though, because I think mint is going to be a popular winter-to-spring color, so it will be more wearable into the warmer months.  (Gap came out with a new mint cardi last week that I think is in their Eversoft sweater material.  It's thicker than the J.Crew one, but other than that pretty comparable as far as style and color.)

While I was out to dinner with my mom the other night I realized that I just sold a mint cardigan the exact same shade in my garage sale this past summer.  My mom pointed out that I'd had that one since about 1999-ish (and most likely not worn since 2003-ish), so it was probably okay for me to upgrade!

In my never-ending Pinterest searches I've been looking "minty" looks to inspire some winter-to-spring outfits.  Here are a few of my faves...

Neon & mint
Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest
mint and polka dots

Image via Polyvore
(None of these images are mine, so if you want to pin them, please click on the image rather than pin it from my site.  I want to be sure the original sources get credit!)

1 - That dress is a little darker than what I typically think of as mint, but I love how it's paired with the brights!  I'm still majorly into neon, so this combo is a total winner in my book!  (I've been fighting major urges to get a purse like that.)

2 - Another example of how mint plays well with bright colors.  I personally don't think I could pull off the mint jeans look, but this is definitely worth taking some inspiration from!

3 - This is pretty similar to how I styled my mint cardigan the other night for church and shopping with my mom...  I think there's something so cute about mint and polka dots together!

What colors are you loving right now?  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Budgeting Bloggers ~ December

I feel like budgets and December don't mix well.  I've kind of thrown out the whole budget thing over the past few months, but I still wanted to link up with Franziska for her monthly Budgeting Bloggers post.  I've been working part-time on top of teaching the past month and a half, which has allowed me more fun money than normal.  I don't feel all that guilty about doing extra spending since I've spent a lot of extra hours working (and I got a small raise teaching this month as well)!

Here's what I bought this month!

I bought this cardi in gray and fell in love with it.  This is pretty pricey for me (full price is $89.50!), but it's a seriously great sweater.  I loved it so much that when they were running a 40% off promo I decided to get the oatmeal color since I also had a $10 reward to use.  I've worn both quite a bit as they're perfect for layering and pair perfectly with many of my tees. 

I'm pretty sure you all know how much a love a good v-neck cardigan, so when I was browsing the J.Crew 30% off AND free shipping sale I snagged this one.  I've been trying to expand some of my color options and thought the mint would be a nice addition since I have nothing in this color.  I think it'll transition nicely from winter to spring!

Okay, slight impulse buy, but how cute are those sheep?!?  I haven't been all that excited about the animal sweater trend, but when I spotted this one I thought it was sooooo cute!  I passed on it at full price, but when I went back and found it at 50% off I knew it had to be mine!

This is just a cute, casual tee that's another good winter-to-spring transition item.  Gap is carrying a lot in this neon coral color, but this tee was all I could justify.  I love this color paired with gray to tone it down a little.

Express Pave Embellished Neon Studs - $11

I bought these in neon pink (which is no longer online) and love them so much!  They're great to go with a lot of my bright tops and also just to add a little pop of color to some of my more neutral outfits!

Target Stud Earring Set - $0 (after sale and coupon)

I couldn't find these online, but Target has some really nice sets of studs that run $7.99 for 6 or so pairs.  I did some extreme couponing at Target one night when I was buying groceries and gifts and managed to pretty much get a set of 6 pairs of earrings for free.  Yup, I'm okay with that.

Tarte Bambeautiful Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Quad - $20

I've been trying to limit my makeup purchases lately (especially since I bought my Naked 2 palette), but I'd had my eye on this quad for a while.  Ulta doesn't offer many coupons for their high-end brands, so when they were offering 20% off everything (and I was buying some gifts from there anyway), I decided to go on and get this quad in "Sew the Seeds."

= $190

It's a little much for a regular month, but since I've been working part-time on top of teaching, I don't really feel too guilty since I've made a lot more money than I've spent!  :)


January's Budget Plan:

I was originally planning on cutting off most spending in January, but since I didn't make it out of town, I actually still have some shopping money set aside for that.  I'm pretty much cutting out unnecessary makeup and nail polish purchases for a few months while I work with what I already have.  (Might I point out I didn't buy any nail polish this month?  I got 7 new bottles, though, as gifts! Ha ha!)  It's very tempting seeing all of the cute new early spring items popping up in stores, but I will continue to stick with my rule of "I don't pay full price."  :)

Amazingly, I haven't made any after Christmas purchases.  I checked out quite a few sales yesterday, but really wasn't all that tempted.  I've had to really work on not buying things just because they're ridiculously cheap on clearance, but I'm getting better at it!

How'd your budget fare this month?  
Were you tempted by all of the holiday sales?  
Did you give in to the after Christmas sale mania?  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Second Quarter Fitness Update!

As I told you back in this post, our staff has been tracking our workout mileage this year.  It's been a very fun and motivating way to keep going to the gym.  My class definitely keeps me accountable!

I won for the most miles for the first nine weeks, but alas, I lost for the second nine weeks.  I blame this partially on the fact that I was sick with allergies a lot more and that I've been working part-time on top of teaching.  Despite that, though, I beat my previous 78 miles with a whopping 95 miles this quarter!  

Get this, the top three teachers were all within 5 miles of one another.  The top teacher (one of the other third grade teachers) had 100 miles, second place had 98 miles, and I had 95.  How's that for a tight race?!?

I've kind of slacked on my workouts over the past month or so and hope to get back on that bandwagon over Christmas break.  I'd like to reclaim my first place title for the third quarter.  My goal for this time was 100+ miles, which I was a bit short of.  (I totally blame the two weeks I spend sick...  One of those weeks I did no miles at all.)  I'm setting my new goal once again at 100 miles, but hope to exceed that.  When I'm on my A-game with my workouts, I do somewhere around 15 to 20 miles per week.  

Does anyone else have a fitness program like this going on at their school?  Our kids have been doing this for years, but we just now started tracking teacher mileage this year.  

How's your diet and exercise routine been during the past few months?  Have you kept it up or are waiting for the new year to get back into good habits?


On one last note...  I'm in a pretty big need for new workout shoes.  It's been over a year and a half since I've bought new ones.  Athletic shoes are pretty much the only kind of shoes I'm willing to drop big(ish) bucks on.  What do you think of these from Finish Line?  I like my current Nike Free pair and think these colors are really cool!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gifts for the Teacher

In this season of giving I get quite a few of my non-teacher friends and family asking me what types of gifts teachers like to receive from students.  I know that some schools discourage giving gifts, but even with that, I  know many parents want to give gifts if possible.  In my 6 years of teaching, I've been blessed to receive some really thoughtful and generous gifts from my students and their families.  

Here are a few ideas:

Gift Ideas For Teachers

My Tips:

  • Gift cards are almost always a winner.  If you don't know them very well, choose one that could be used several places.  Target is almost always a safe bet for anyone (unless you happen to live in the middle of nowhere and don't have one nearby.)
  • Give a practical gift of something they enjoy.  Sometimes the best gifts are my everyday favorites like a 12 pack of Diet Mountain Dew or some Special K Bars.
  • Find out "their thing."  My thing is K-State and it's pretty apparent when you walk into my classroom. It's a pretty safe bet that I'll love anything K-State...  Jewelry, blankets, decorations, etc.
  • A useful gift set is another safe bet.  I actually received one of these Starbucks sets from a student.  I'm no Starbucks addict, but I do love me some hot cocoa and a cute travel mug!  It's something that is generic enough that most people can probably use it.
  • Bath & Body Works products...  They have a great exchange policy!  If you didn't already know, B&BW will let you exchange products if you don't like the scent.  This always makes me feel better when I give something to someone.  Last year my old roommate was able to swap out several gifts from her students for items in scents she enjoyed.
  • Classroom supplies are always needed.  I don't know many teachers that couldn't use more classroom supplies like Post-Its, Sharpies, or colorful grading pens!  
  • Note cards and stationary with a personal touch.  I love cute notepads and cards.  You can get plenty of cute patterns at specialty stores or even places like Target or Michaels.  If you want to step it up a notch, have it personalized through a website like Vista Print or Shutterfly!
I hope that helps you with any last minute shopping you may still have, or keep these ideas in mind for teacher appreciation or end-of-the-year gifts!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helping Children Deal With Tragic Events

I got word of the shooting in Newtown, CT in the midst of a very busy Friday...  My principal turned 40 this weekend, so we had a few secret surprised planned for the day in addition to our annual Christmas cookie sale and our Christmas parties.  Other than about an hour of math and an hour of reading, Friday was pretty much just a day of celebration for us.  When I finally had a few minutes to begin reading the headlines on my laptop my students were sitting in the classroom watching "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (possibly in a sugar coma from all of the treats and pizza they had consumed).  They had no idea what had happened that morning at an elementary school that was so similar to their own.  They'd been enjoying a carefree day of treats, movies, and crafts and were sitting there safe and sound awaiting the last weekend before Christmas break.

I have a feeling that this news is going to come up at some point in our school day today.  With a weekend behind us, I'm almost positive that the majority of my students will have been exposed to news reports and headlines about this tragedy.  I think what hits home the most with this incident is that it happened in an elementary school very similar to my own.  I teach in a school of about 400 students in a fairly small suburban community and one of the teachers who died, Victoria Soto, was the same age as me.

I wanted to share a great resource I found reposted a few places.  

It's an article from The Fred Rogers Company and is an article / excerpt from a book by Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers).  I believe this was written shortly after 9-11 and it is wonderful advice for helping children cope with any sort of tragedy.  

I hope that this helps you, whether teacher or parent, if you have to talk to children about this shooting.  I pray that as teachers the Lord will give us the compassion, wisdom, and words to provide our own students with an understanding that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe and protected in school.

Tragic Events in the News:  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayer & Silence


I pray that the Lord will wrap His arms and comfort those who have experienced trauma and loss.  I also pray that He will also provide strength and wisdom to those of us who will most likely have to deal with our own students who have been exposed to this news over the weekend.  I pray that He'll give us the words and love to let our students know that we will do whatever is in our power to keep them safe and that they are loved.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Currently ~ December!!!

It's really kind of hard to believe that it's already December.  I feel like in some ways this year has dragged on, but in other ways it's really flown by.  I think maybe it doesn't feel like December because it literally  doesn't feel like December...  We haven't had hardly any cold weather and I have yet to have to bust out my big puffy winter coat!  I do love sweater weather that doesn't require a coat, but when people are able to go out in shorts and flip flops it's just plain weird.

Anyway, before I ramble on too much about the weather (*yawn*) I should get to the point of this post...

It's CURRENTLY time!

I'm linking up with Farley of Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for this month's post.  I think I skipped last month, so I was excited to see this one pop up on my Google Reader.

Now, it's your turn to join in and share!