First Week!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ready. Set. Go!

Our school year is about ready and we will soon be off and running!  I am super excited for this year. I've done a lot trying to get the year off to a great start. We started with redecorating my office and the teacher conference room:

Our theme is "Rooted to be Fruited" -- helping students be rooted in God's word in order to have the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Kids will get fruit to put up on our fruit stand when they demonstrate the fruits of the Holy Spirit and are recognized by a teacher or staff!

Teachers created this bulletin board with darling pineapple faces. We painted them at our staff retreat up at Diamond Arrow.

I'm getting ready by reading Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess. I love all the PIRATE books and have read many! The books truly helped me transform as a teacher. From their website: "In Lead Like a PIRATEeducation leaders Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf map out the character traits necessary to captain a school or district. You’ll learn where to find the treasure that’s already in your classrooms and schools—and how to bring out the very best in your educators. This book will equip and encourage you to be relentless in your quest to make school amazing for your students, staff, parents, and communities." It is my hope that Victory Christian be continue to be the most amazing school for students, staff, and families! 

On a personal level, as much as I am loving getting ready for the year, I am being bombarded on all sides.  New school. New job. Mom just moved in with us. Mom has cancer. Son just had heart surgery. Husband flew out to be with ill dad. It's been quite a week. 
One thing is sure:
HE rocks - because HE is awesome. And...HE is my rock and fortress when times get crazy. I was able to participate in a book launch at just the right time...

If you are a working mom...or just a really busy person like me...this book is a must! I battle to do ALL things well. At the end of the day, I am often stretched too thin. Some of it is my own fault...I take on too much. Some of it is because of my perfectionistic tendencies. Jessica Turner helps you establish clear work boundaries, become more efficient and less stressed, and how to prioritize self-care. 

Okay. I'm off to some self-care right now! I'm choosing to relax on my front porch swing and read. ahhh.....

Education Adventure

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Education is an adventure.

That's probably why I am an educator. I've loved school as long a I can remember. I've always been curious and I love learning new things. Reflection is important to me - I'm constantly wondering how I could have done something better. I'm my own harshest critic.

This year I am stepping into a new role and it has caused me to reflect on how I have changed as an educator through the years. 

When I first started teaching, I was one of those teachers. I thought I couldn't smile until after Christmas or I might lose control of my class. If a paper didn't have a name on it, I threw it away. No name, no grade. My classroom management was strict and I must say a bit harsh. It's all I knew. 

When I had my own kids (about 3 years after my start of my career), I loosened up a bit. I realized that I needed to show my students how much I loved and respected them. This helped. A lot. I no longer tossed out papers without names - I didn't want someone doing that to my child. Having kids helped me see my job from a parent's point of view.

I constantly research new techniques and have tried many of them. I use to flip cards, write names on the board, or use a clip chart. As a college professor, I learned about many new techniques that were much more positive and student centered. 

A few years ago I took a job in a public school where I was able to use many of these newer classroom management techniques. Oh, how I wish I had used these years before! I built my classroom around relationship - classroom community, shared vision, social contracts, student choice, flexible seating, and positive teacher talk. Instead of me giving the rules, we created a social contract as a class together. I gave students their own seating options and found that instead of losing control of the room, there was more management and learning than before. Students rose to the occasion and were respectful, responsible, curious, eager to learn. I read books such as Teach Like a Pirate and even did something I thought I would never do - I gave the room to the students. They taught, managed, prepared, was our student lead day. It was amazing. It was fun seeing my job from a student's point of view. 

I know that life constantly changes. I strive to keep learning and growing. 

Three Things to Do to Avoid Burn Out

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I have known of way too many teachers - many new, young teachers, who have quit the teaching profession due to burn out. Let's face it. A miserable teacher really shouldn't be teaching. 

So, today I am going to write about how I have avoided burn out. At least, it's a guess of why I have avoided it! I'm not 100% sure - I just have some hunches. 

1. Give thanks.

There are so many things to be thankful for. When we focus on what "could be" or "should be" rather than what we have, we get the poor-me-syndrome. A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting a small orphanage/school in a rural part of Mozambique, Africa. It was fascinating. The classrooms were all painted a weird red/pink color on the inside and consisted of benches and a front chalk board. That's all. The teacher stood in front of the class and spoke with no manipulatives, no technology, no paper or get the picture. And you know what else I noticed? The kids were happy. They sang, clapped, danced, answered questions, smiled. They were "doing school" with nothing and it worked. I went back to my classroom and instead of complaining about all the things I wasn't happy with, I started listing all the blessings I had. There were many!

List your blessings, daily. Give thanks. It will cheer up your day!

2. Be a learner.

Strive to learn something new each day! Learning helps us grow and improve in our profession. Subscribe to blogs, follow awesome fellow teachers on Twitter, try a new class from Skillshare! Earlier this year I tore my retina and was bed-bound for weeks. I took tons of Skillshare classes. They weren't related to education, but I can use some of the things I learned in my career. Love. It. 

3. Balance.

Finding a balance between work like and home life can be very difficult for a teacher. Most teachers I know are also the hardest working individuals I know. You have to keep a healthy balance in order to avoid burn out. As a past teacher, I spent my summers getting ready for the next school year. I had a hard time saying no -  to myself! I was constantly working, planning, creating. Nonstop. I admit. Balance is a hard one for me. One thing I DO do, though, is make time for myself. I love to ride my bike, run, cook, draw, write, and paint. I make time for the things I love to do. Even though I work like a crazy woman most days, I work hard and play hard. My exercise time is built into my day and it naturally adds the balance I need. 

drawing on my iPad

a quick ride on a backyard trail

I'm sure there are many more ways to avoid teacher burn out. I've enjoyed working in education for 33 years now. Although there have been up and down times, I know that if I continually strive to learn new things, live a balanced life, and count my blessings, I won't burn out. I love it too much. 

What are your thoughts? What works for you?

Paper or Digital Planner?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Digital planner or paper? As a new principal, I have a lot of things to keep track of. Right now I am using both. Yes! And I know I just need to pick one and keep with it.

I researched and researched planners and decided to buy the Panda Planner as seen here.  I love the simple, clean design and the fact that I can number the dates as I go. If I don't write anything one day, it isn't a blank page in a journal. I just write the next date. As a former teacher, I have loved my Erin Condren planners as well. But this one may be a new favorite. Yet, I find that I take notes on each day so that I will have a record of what I have done, fully intending to use the notes. But I never look back at them. Hmmm.

But then...I love using my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. They work together flawlessly and the pencil writes beautifully. I love the fact that I can snap a picture and add to it, or record while I write. Recently I took some classes by Holly Pixels.  She just makes planning (and writing) fun! I think that's the problem. I get so sidetracked with my iPad planner. I start using it, then end up drawing pictures, looking at email, etc. As much as I love using my iPad planner, I don't stay focused with it well.

I do think I will use my iPad for drop by visitations. I created a simple form using Keynote and saved it as a jpg. I can pull it up in Good Notes and write directly on the page, then send it easily via email to the teacher.  I also bought an observation checklist from Principal Principles that I think I'll enjoy using!

Oh - and the first picture? I designed staff t-shirts this week. It's so easy using the Cricut! Just design, let the Cricut cut, and iron on. I hope my staff will love them!

New Office Space!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

I'm starting a new chapter and I am so excited!  Most of my career I have worked in (and attended) Christian schools. A couple of years ago I decided to try a local charter school. I loved the experience and learned a ton about teacher professional development, Common Core, and standards based grading. My students were awesome and I received wonderful pay. But, the experience confirmed in me WHY I love Christian school education. There is nothing like being able to openly pray with students and disciple them in biblical truth. And although I truly believe that Christian educators belong in public schools, I knew it wasn't for me.

I am stepping back into administration and am blessed to join a wonderful Christian school. Usually at this time of the year, I am posting pictures of things I'm getting ready for my classroom. So, this time I am posting changes to my office! I'm not quite done, but it's a start! First...the before pictures:

Wallpaper tan on the top and blue on the bottom. Nothing wrong with it! I just wanted an updated look. It also didn't quite feel like me.

Love the closet space!

We started by moving in my tiny desk. It's a little, old desk I bought a few years ago off Craigslist. I like the old feel and clanky drawers.

We removed the wallpaper (thanks, Linda!) and painted the top part cream. We aren't done with the bottom portion yet so ignore it in the pictures!

I bought 2 adorable chairs from Target. Someone noticed that kids might pee in them. Eeks. So I bought stools in cute colors for the kids. 

I bought a cute coffee bar from Wayfair and made a coffee sign using my iPad. I brought in my old Nespresso machine and bought a new one for home. I want to be able to serve yummy espresso!

Finally, here is the back of my desk. Of course, I have to have a lamp and essential oil diffuser. The chair is also an old one I picked up from a garage sale and had at home. It's not super comfy but I hope I'll be up walking around a lot. 

Finally, I've been having fun following Principal's Principles! I love her tips and goodies. She has a great book I purchased with fun ideas for staff morale throughout the year. I'm having a great time working on engaging in-service days. 

I'll post more pictures when we are done with the bottom portion!