Classroom Sneak Peek

So as some of you may have read a couple posts ago, I have been trying to regularly go to my friend Cassie’s workout class on Tuesday and Thursday morning. Since we are using the gym next door to school, I figured after the workouts I might as well get my classroom set up and decorated sooner rather than later. This way, when it gets closer to the beginning of the 2017-2018 year, I can focus more on my lesson planning instead of decorating. So here is the first look at my room so far ūüôā

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The first thing I ended up organizing was my desk. I loved hanging up the pictures/ doodles that my kiddos made me last year. Also, having pictures of my family and friends to look at daily makes me smile. The memes I have make the students laugh and this year I plan on doing a meme calendar (showcase the most popular -appropriate- meme of the month) for fun.

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One thing our team is excited for this year is our “phone lots”. Last year we had such an issue with cell phones being out in class and in the hallway and in the bathroom. It was absolutely absurd. Perhaps that will be another blog post in and of itself. Either way, this year each student will be assigned a number and if they have a cell phone it is to be turned off and placed in their numbered slot at the beginning of class.

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You’ll see in the next few pictures why I am so excited about this room…. whiteboards! I have so many this year and I couldn’t be more excited. This picture is the front of the room. The board on the left will be for important reminders and my motivational quotes. The center and right whiteboards will be for notes. One thing that I’m keeping from last year is the word “FOCUS” around the clock. It seems students are more preoccupied with ‘when is this class over?’ instead of the lesson, hopefully this helps keep them on task. The words underneath the board are a collection of language arts terms and I found them at the Dollar Tree.

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I’m excited for this front bulletin board and table, but I have to wait for my order to arrive from Oriental Trading. The board is covered with .99 plastic table cloths. When my order arrives the board will serve as a welcome station. It will have a large dry erase calendar on it. As well as any flyers for upcoming school or community events. This front table is also where the students will turn in their work and find any assignments if they are absent.

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I still need to find my orange computer chairs from last year, but this is the computer station! The bulletin board is covered in a green, sparkly fabric and the border is a combination of scalloped paper border and plastic table cloths. The counter off to the right is the home of the students’ mailboxes, where they can find anything that was handed back while they were out. This is also where the art items are as well (scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.). Props to Shannon for helping me make the tissue paper poms.

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Have I mentioned how much whiteboard space I have?? This white board is where the student objectives, agenda, and focus for the day will be. It is split to show 8th Reading/ Writing, 7th Reading/ Writing, and Enrich. I haven’t had a chance to get my labels up yet.

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What’s that? MORE WHITEBOARD! I haven’t had a chance to put the tape up yet, but this board will be sectioned into 4 spaces and will showcase class test score averages. I think it’s important to have a visual of growth in the classroom for the students to see how they are doing. The purple and green bulletin board is unfinished and being moved and the boggle board below (hey, alliteration) will take it’s place. At a more manageable height, of course.

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Remember the unfinished purple board from the last picture? It is being moved to above my newly painted bookcase. Since it will be too tall for me to change often, I plan on having the Dr. Seuss quote, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” In addition, I plan on starting a DonorsChoose project to fund a bigger classroom library so that my kiddos have more books to choose from.

So that’s what I’ve done so far, with a lot of help from my friends. Next week I need to finish up my boards, print off all my labels, hang the rest of my posters, and organize the desks. I have 44 in my room and only need 30-32. So that should be fun! Thanks for reading ūüėČ

Proud Dog Mom

I am such a happy/ proud dog mom today. Some of you already know that Ruger has extreme separation anxiety. When we first got him, he destroyed any crate he was in and made a mess of Brian’s apartment once he got out. So then we had to tie him outside whenever we’d leave and although he had food, water, and shelter, we still felt really bad. Fast forward to when we all moved in with my parents and their two dogs and we decided to try crate training him again over the summer before the move to AZ. We had an old cell phone set up with a camera app that we could watch him from our phones with. Little by little all was going well. Eventually we could leave him for a full 8 to 10 hours with no accidents or episodes. 

Finally, when the time came to move to Arizona, we packed up his crate and drove for 3 days. Once here, we realized he had relapsed and his anxiety was back in full force. We left him in his crate while we went to get groceries and house supplies and came back to a bent crate and a dog with 3 chipped teeth. Of course we couldn’t bear to give him up. After all, it wasn’t his fault we moved across the country to a new place with no other dogs to keep him company. We also couldn’t get a companion for him because we ran the risk of it not helping and having another animal to care for. Finally, after months of not being able to leave the apartment together without the dog we decided to pay for dog sitters. People who we would drop him off with for work or while we went to get dinner or pretty much anything we needed to do that wasn’t dog friendly. That was our new normal. Budgeting to cover the cost as if it was childcare, planning days ahead to make sure we’d have someone to watch him. It wasn’t awful. I knew he was safe and we made some amazing friends because of it. 

It’s been almost a year of this. When school ended, I decided to use my summer to try to help Ruger overcome/ manage his anxiety. The whole reason I thought it would be possible came to us when we were enjoying an evening on the patio and decided to leave Ruger inside. Normally he would sit at the window where he could see us and cry. However, this time he watched us sitting there for a moment and then walked away to get on the couch and sleep. I’m assuming it has to do with him being almost 3 years old and having been here for a year it is feeling more like home to him. So my plan was to go to the complex pool every few days more and more until he felt comfortable. That way I could watch him on the camera and run home quickly if he started destroying anything or barking uncontrollably. The only hitch in my plan is that the pool won’t be open for a few more weeks, ugh.

Anyway, today we decide to use the apartment laundry facilities as a way to get out of the house to test him. He was a bit whiny at first, but eventually calmed down. We could see him on the camera, sitting on the couch staring out the window waiting. After we put the laundry in we decided to make a McDonald’s and bank run. The entire time checking the camera to make sure he hadn’t lost it. In total, we were gone for about an hour and a half today and he was quiet and calm the entire time. 

If you’ve made it this far in the blog, I ask that you just keep Ruger (and us) in your thoughts as we spend the summer trying to overcome his anxiety. If you read the whole thing and think we’re crazy… Well, you’re right. We are crazy in love with our dog and I see nothing wrong with that ūüĎč

Summertime

It has been a wonderful beginning to summer break! So far I have soaked up as much sun as possible, rearranged the living room, and have thought about blogging multiple times. I just never wanted to stop to write. Today, however, being the lazy Sunday that it is seems like the perfect day to blog about my goals for the summer break. 

On Tuesday I am attending my friend Cassie’s first workout class and then spending the rest of the day starting the long process of reorganizing my new classroom. I looke forward to the weekly workouts and to preparing for the upcoming school year. I have been on a major Pinterest spree looking for cute and functional ideas to help me as I enter my second year. 

In addition to teaching 7th and 8th grade LA this year, I plan on being a co-instructor for a school drama club. It’s a pretty intimidating task, but I believe my froend and I will succeed. Our goal ia to do a production of Seussical Jr. by the end of the year. Well wishes on this journey are appreciated. 

I’ve also started a pretty difficult puzzle. That, when finished, I plan on framing for the downstairs bathroom. I have no reasoning other than its a dragonfly and the bathroom already houses a dragonfly painting I did at a craft night. It’s only in tne bathroom because it didn’t match anywhere else in the apartment. So no my guest bathroom theme is dragonflies. Okay.

That pretty much catches us up. Hopefully I will be free to write more now that I have a bit more time to breathe. 

Ta for now! 

Renew

I’ve been very lazy lately, in more than one aspect of my life. We stopped going to church for about a month for reasons we convinced ourselves were legitimate. What it ultimately comes down to is I let myself be lazy. It’s such an easy trap to fall into.

Over the weekend I took a trip to Phoenix with Jenn to see Chris Tomlin and others. I was so excited for this chance to renew my faith and I got exactly what I needed. Being in an arena full of fellow followers of Christ was such an overwhelming experience. I could feel His presence. One of the things Jenn and I talked about on the ride back from Phoenix was the fact that we are good enough for God and that He meets us where we are.

That Sunday, I went back to church for the first time in, like I said, a month. Our church has been doing a sermon series of the distorted views of God that we have and this week specifically was how we tend to see God as a talent show judge; someone who sits of in the distance, silently judging us all and keeping track of our points. One of the questions that stuck with me from this week is, “Why do you do the things you do? Do you do them because you’re trying to score ‘spiritual brownie points’ with God? Because that’s not how this works”.

We don’t worship because we want things from God, we worship because we’ve already been given the greatest gift from God and we are so thankful that we want to worship and praise Him.

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Disagreements

Hello, again! Apologies for not writing as often as I’d planned. We’re coming up on the end of the quarter and I’m officially coming down with something… again. I’ve been spending most of my free time eating soup and binge-watching Netflix. Anyway, I’ve had a while to think about what I want to write about and I’ve come up with the topic “disagreements”.

Probably 4 years ago, Brian took me on a date to get Chinese food (one of my favorites). Reading the fortunes from the fortune cookies is one of the best parts right? Well, this particular time I received a fortune that said, “The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands”. I took that fortune and stuck it in my driver’s side visor and it’s been there ever since; just a constant reminder anytime I flip my visor down.

I think the reason this fortune was so important to me is that it’s something not a lot of people realize. You don’t have to agree with your loved ones on every topic. It would be such a sad world to live in if everyone thought exactly the same. Do Brian and I agree on everything? No, because our experiences about things are different. Do my best friends and I agree on everything? No. That’s OKAY! As long as you’re respectful of the other person’s opinions and they’re respectful of yours, then things will be alright. We need to stop thinking that everyone needs to believe the same things we do in order to get along. That’s not the case.

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Forgiveness

So, one of my guilty pleasures is scrolling through the comments on controversial posts. I never actually reply, but part of me wants to see whether or not complete strangers agree with me on things.

As I was doing this one day, I came across a post, I don’t even remember what about, that had the commentators in a real tizzy. A majority of the people responding to the post were calling for public hangings… you know, ¬†mob mentality. Anyway, in the midst of this mob was a comment that stood out. The person wrote, and I’m paraphrasing, “As Christians we are called to forgive.” Almost immediately, this comment was attacked with responses such as, “this scum doesn’t deserve forgiveness” and “this is why no one takes Christians seriously… they’d rather just let everyone go with no consequences”

Wait, what? No consequences? I didn’t read that anywhere in this person’s comment about forgiveness and it got me thinking. Forgiveness does not mean free from consequence. For example, just today I had two students get written up. They chose to come in to my class and chase each other around rather than sit down and get to work. They both wrote me apology letters. I accepted and told them I forgive you. However, the write-ups were still sent to the office, they will still be punished for their actions. I don’t understand why this is so confusing.

Like a Good Neighbor…

First, I would like to apologize for falling off the blogging wagon. It started because I couldn’t think of the right topic and then I kept putting it off; got busy with school and grading and planning and just let it go. But now, I’m back.

The reason it took me so long to come up with a topic to write about is because I don’t want this to turn into a diary or a place where I come to write without purpose. I have a journal by my bed and that’s precisely what it’s for. This is more than that; this should have meaning. So, what’s the topic that I’ve waiting so long to write about? Being a good neighbor…

It was our sermon series at church for the last few weeks and it really stuck with me. Our pastor started the series with asking who is our neighbor? He went on to explain that it’s not always the people who are like us or that we spend time with, but also the people who are nothing like use that we prefer to avoid. Great… I thought… Patriots fans. Then, the pastor spent the following weeks after this explaining what it means to be a good neighbor to someone. He explained it more clearly than I’ve heard before, but then again, maybe I’m just listening more nowadays. Either way, he explained that in order to be a good neighbor, when you see someone hurting or in need, think to yourself, “If I was this person, how would I feel loved?” and then whatever the answer is, do it.

I think this is a serious idea that needs to be discussed as I watch people destroy cities and attack people who are different from them. If we loved our neighbors as we loved ourselves, would we cheat? Would we lie? Would we intentionally hurt people? No. Because if you wouldn’t want to be treated that way, then why would you do it to someone else?

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Back to School…

Hey, guys! Sorry this is a couple of days late, but it has been hectic since school started again. The first day back was fantastic! I even got to use the cell phone jail that Brian got me for Christmas, haha. On a more serious note, I am beyond blessed that a majority of my students came back this semester happy and healthy and ready to get to work. 

My 8th graders are currently working on argumentative texts arena how to appropriately write arguments… so I’m anticipating a few calls/emails from parents asking why their kiddos are suddenly arguing so well. This is the most excited I’ve seen them about a topic in a while, probably because they love continuously asking “but why?”

On two notes unrelated to my job, the yoga revolution challenge is still going well and I have participated in every practice even since going back to school, and our church just began a new sermon series that seems like it’s going to be extremely interesting and practical. God is so good! 

Have a wonderful evening, everyone! 

Yesterday’s Yoga

Like the title? I’m a big fan of ¬†alliteration. Anyway, welcome to my second blog post! As you know, one of my resolutions this year was to complete the 31 day yoga revolution, which you can learn more about by clicking¬†here.

So, yesterday was day two of the challenge and I’m actually really enjoying it. I love that time to myself when I can just breathe and let go of all the stresses of the day. Which is exactly what I was hoping for when I started this journey. Yesterday’s practice was “intention”; understanding why you’re doing something, not just doing it. In yoga, that meant being aware of what moves you were making. However, I like this lesson outside of yoga, too.

To me, we can get so caught up in doing things every day that we forget why we do them in the first place. I didn’t realize it was a problem until I began teaching middle school. Far too often I’ll find my students doing something silly, like throwing things across the classroom at other students, but when I ask them why they’re doing it the answer is always the same; shrugs, “I dunno”. Do you know how hard it is to teach these young ones to think about their intentions? Now, I’m not perfect, and I fully believe that these students are the karmic universe’s way of reminding me of how I acted in middle school, but it’s my job to teach my students¬†something before they leave me.

Think about your intentions everyday. Have a purpose behind the things you do.

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First Blog Post

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to my blog! This new writing endeavor is part of my goals for 2017, of which I only have three.

My first resolution is to continue growing in my relationship with God. I have found a home in our church since we’ve moved to Arizona and I am working hard everyday to become a better Christian and that is something I’d like to put first and foremost in the new year.

My second resolution is to complete the 31 day Yoga Revolution. After watching yoga transform some friends I became curious. ¬†As a middle school teacher I find myself stressed beyond belief most weeks and a fellow teacher suggested yoga; setting specific time apart from your day to enjoy life and be thankful. Hopefully, I find it as helpful as my friends and will continue well past the 31 day challenge. If you’re interested in participating in the challenge just click¬†here.

My final resolution is to blog regularly. I have always had a passion for writing because it relaxes me, but have never done it publicly. I’m excited to start this journey and fill people in on the, sometimes mundane, happenings of my life. I am committing to write at least twice a week and topics will range from my classroom to my life as a dog mom to the outdoor adventures we go on in.

Have a wonderful evening, folks!

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