Monday, August 27, 2012

My first two weeks as an Asst. Principal!

Seeing that it has been nearly two weeks since my last post, you can see how my first two weeks have gone!  I have been really busy with late nights and fast food drive-thru menus, but it's been great!  I wasn't really sure how I wanted to type up this post, but I know several of your are following me on my journey in pursuit of your own admin. career or just as a teacher looking through a different lens.  I thought I would do a pro/con list that could go on and on forever!

1.  Going into every classroom to read!  I wanted to get to know the 600+ students in my building, so I thought I'd start with a read aloud and introducing myself.  Although this took nearly an entire week to get to every classroom, I have to say it was time well spent.  Here are the books I read.
Kindergarten & 1st Grade                         2nd and 3rd Grade                                4th and 5th Grade

If you have not read The Junkyard Wonders, it is a MUST READ for you and your students this year.  pre-read it, though, because there will be a part that gets to you!  Promise!

The best part of this were the emails that I received from teachers afterward about my lesson.  Here is the one that made it worth it for me:

"I had my class write letters to their parents for Parent night tonight. As I'm going through them I noticed that most of my class "named" our classroom. They started these letters after you came in on Monday and read to them. Most of the class named our room "the fishbowl" (which I thought was very appropriate!). I did find it very sweet that one of my new students named our classroom "the junkyard." At the end of her letter she tells her parents "P.S. The Junkyard means full of different kinds of kids that are all special in their own way."

2. I'm one of the first faces they see when they get off of the bus.  I thought that bus duty would get old, but seeing those smiles ready to come in the building is so great!  I know that my reactions to them set the tone for the rest of their day.  What a great feeling to do this!

3. Kindergartners on the first day of school!  I've never really experienced the "pulling a child from their nervous, worried, scared to death parent" but it was actually good.  Although it was hard in the moment, making the phone call to mom or dad later in the day to reassure them that their child was eating next to their new friends and playing at recess with others was really fun.

4. I get to check in with students and be an extra motivator for students.  Compliments from the "office" go a long way for them and it never gets old for me.

5.  I am learning a range of things everyday.  This is everything from the need for a picture menu for our ENL students to retooling our dismissal procedures for safety to seeing how great my teachers are in action!  Going in and out of these various items keeps me on my toes but has increased my learning exponentially.

6. Flowers from some great friends on my first day of school saying how much they miss me, but how great I'll be in my new role.

1. Not having my "own" students.  I'll be honest, this has been really hard.  So much of what I have worked for in my life is to learn about education so that I can welcome a class on the first day of school and guide, motivate, and lead them to new learning for the next 180 days.  This has been a definite adjustment, and I may have shed some tears a few times about it.

2. Not knowing silly procedural things...such as how car riders work, how to do announcements, etc.  This sounds so minute, but when you have to ask questions all day long because you don't know how certain things work, it will make you feel incompetent at times.  I know it's a part of the process, knowing a new school, etc. but it's hard to swallow everyday when you are supposed to be guiding this staff.

3. The long hours at the beginning.  With three nights for meet the teacher night, a PTO executive committee meeting that went until 11pm, and an online virtual class on Wednesday nights, I have been tired exhausted!  The hubs has really stepped up, though, and made dinner, took care the washer that broke, and kept me together too!

4. Missing the "easiness" of my old building.  I knew everyone, a lot of the families, all of the procedures, and had that comfortable feel.

5. Nothing to wear for Sprit Day tomorrow!  I need to add to my repertoire of school spirit wear! :)

Well, thanks for reading all of my thoughts.  I'm out for the night!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ready, Set, SALES!!!


TpT has geared up for one of their 3 HUGE sales of the year, and I've jumped on board!  With my whole store 20%, and TpT offering another 10% off, you get up to 28% off (after all the crazy math stuff that I don't understand) all of the products.  It's your lucky day!

Don't have time to get the units prepped now? Keep the items you buy in your purchased items section for when you are.  You'll be glad later that you did!

Farley from Oh' Boy, Fourth Grade created this great graphic, so I thought I'd do what great teachers do and steal, beg, borrow, give credit also!  Don't forget to enter BTS12 when you checkout out.  Click on the image above to connect to my store.

Here are some of my most popular items, and then some of my cheap and easies!  
Some are less than $1 with the sale!
A 78 page document with everything you could need for Data Binders and Student Led Conferences

A variety of options for many grade levels to adjust the level of difficulty/content in your study of weather. 

An all inclusive 2-week poetry unit with a variety of writing papers, types of poems, and options for publishing.

It's only $0.78 on sale!  What a steal!  
An easy game of I have, Who has for basic subtraction!  

This is only $1.08 on sale!  Another steal!  
These games are great for beginning of year review, subs, and extra practice!

Happy shopping, and don't forget to leave your ratings afterward, so that you get your TpT credits for future purchases!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Awesome website and You know School is Back n' Sesh when...

It's Friday!  You don't even know how great tonight is!  I know you, you are asking yourself why I am posting at 9:30 on a Friday night.  Well, I'm watching the Olympics in my pajamas, wrapped up in a blanket (love that it's only 65 degrees right now!), and hanging with my dogs.  The hubs is camping with his buddies getting ready for a Warrior Dash tomorrow.  This is heaven!  I have officially been back to school for two weeks, and students start on Wednesday, so I am taking a breather tonight.

Awesome Website
While Pinteresting (can I make it a verb?!) tonight, I came across this great website that I can't wait to use this year.  The website is YouAreYourWords.  What it does is allow you to upload or take a picture on the computer, type words into the site, and then combine them to create an image like the ones below.  The one on the left is a sample from the site's gallery and the one on the right is my practice one.


My job this year will be coordinating and working with all of the EL students.  Since I am new to the school, and all of these students will be working with me for the whole school year, I thought this would be a great way to get to know each other, work on familiar vocabulary, and tell about ourselves! I can't wait to put these up near my room (it's really a converted storage closet, but I'm okay with that!) with the students I serve.

School is Back in Sesh!
I know school is Back n' Sesh lunch consists of a PBJ, yogurt, and Dr. Pepper!  No more fast food for me!  I also know school is back n' sesh because my dishwasher is full of Glad plastic containers again.

So what should you do?
Leave your own thoughts in the comments section so that others can see!  Photobucket

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Your Task: Plan your School's Beginning of School Mtg.

Short and simple post tonight...but looking for some big things!

If you were the principal and could plan your Back to School Staff Meeting...

What would you put on the agenda?!?!

Don't you wish your principal asked you this every year?  Well, my principal and I are looking into our agenda for our back to school staff meeting the day before school starts.  We've thrown around a lot of ideas, but I thought I'd come back to my trusty, friendly, compassionate, superstar teachers to give me some real. honest. answers.

Would you want to:
Go over nuts and bolts of the school year?
Protocols? Procedures?
Start looking at student data?
Take an in depth look at your school improvement plan?
Deconstruct Common Core standards?
Do team building activities?
What else? 

What would be THE BEST use of your time, while also tapping into the excellence that is inside of all of you?  And I'm not just asking questions to ask, I really want to know! :)

Your task: Comment with a few things you would put on your agenda, and maybe even one thing you wouldn't put on the agenda

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Katie Wood Ray, Currently, New Literacy Ideas!

So I warned you all that I was heading to a 3-day literacy conference and I would be back with awesome things!  I was really excited to hear/see/experience Katie Wood Ray.  After reading her books, I knew she'd have great things to share.  I was creepy and asked for a photo, and she obliged!  The best part is that the first person accidentally took a video of us instead of a photo, so this is actually round 2 of our photo sesh, and I brought on a different photographer who could use the iPhone (hence, the poor quality)! 

So what did I learn from the writing guru?  Well, a lot of things.  First, I guess I had never realized how primary she was in her writings.  Her focus was on K-2, but she had wonderful ideas.  My takeaway was that students don't have to be writing words just to make books.  She showed a video of a Kindergarten teacher having students make books on their first, YES FIRST, day of school!  Do any of you have them doing this?  Her only requirement at this point is that there is writing and a picture on each page.  Now some students don't know how to do their letters, so they use an Alphabet chart to just try scribbling something.  

What I liked best about this was that it was telling students that things don't have to be spelled correctly, there doesn't have to be a main idea with details, a book doesn't have to be 32 pages, etc.  It takes away those boundaries that scare kids off from writing.  This allows them to be an author on day 1!  

With this model, it also gives the power to the students, and sets HIGH expectations from the start.  Love doing this for our 5 year olds.  Just think what would happen if we all started doing things like this.  


Wow!  It's August, and I'm already least with Farley's Currently.  I love her back to school must haves section at the end.  Great idea!  Right now, I am listening, living, and loving the Olympics, but I thought I'd try to share some other things too!

I always need a good pair of scissors for all of the laminate, paper, decorations, etc. that I am cutting at the beginning of the year.  I have to say though, that with my new position I don't have a classroom to set up.  This is a little bit sad for me.  I always loved going in and setting up.  It reenergized me for a new group, the new learning, and the greatness that would happen for the next 180 school days.  Right now, I've been spending my day interviewing candidates for positions and calling references.  Who knew it would take so long to call references!  Btw.  If you are ever applying for a position and list a reference from a school...DO NOT list the school's phone number.  The teacher's aren't usually there during the summer when people are trying to get a hold of them.  Cell or home phone numbers are great!  Okay, off my soap box.  

Join the Linky by heading over the Farley's awesome blog!!

Finally, I thought I'd share a little bit more about our conference.  Kelly Gallagher was another presenter that I got to see for an entire day.  I didn't know much about him before this, but he was really great.  Extremely engaging with very insightful ideas when it comes to the amount of writing students should be doing and the amount of grading teachers should be doing.  

Thoughts and Ideas from Kelly:

1. 3 Truths and a Lie Writing Activity
Do you play 3 truths and a lie at the beginning of the year?  Kelly says to use this at the beginning and have them try to stump the teacher on a notecard.  Collect the cards, highlight the one you think is the lie.  The students think it's fun to stump the teacher.  Then, when you pass them back, their truths become writing ideas!  They pick one truth to write about in narrative form.  What would you write as you model the activity for your students?

2. Teaching Tone 
Write the phrase, "Hi. How are you?" on the board.  Then have students think about all of the ways they would say this to various people.  They can write it down, talk about it with their neighbors, etc.
To your grandma. "Hi mammaw.  How are you today?" - my grandma is very formal
In an interview. "Hi Mr. Smith.  How are you?"
To your best friend. "What up, dog?"
To the grocery store clerk.
To the principal.
To a friend if there aren't any adults around...beware! :)

3. Beginning of Year Writing Idea
Have students trace their hand on paper.  Then write anything (school appropriate) that their hands have done or been.  They can then pick one, two, or all to write about.  For our "practice" hand, I wrote plant flowers, typing on my blog, petting my dogs, changing songs on my iPod while running, cleaning the house, etc. It's a great way to let kids share about some things they have done over the summer, but also get them thinking about writing ideas.

Well this post is getting long, and I could share forever and ever, so I'll do a little literacy conference potpourri in future posts!

Enjoy your Sunday... probably the last one or two before you have papers to look at, parents to call, etc.  ENJOY IT!