Teacher Back To School Struggles

This is the time of year that is not only exciting, but also challenging.  Here are some teacher struggles and some tips on how to deal with them.

1. Your Classroom

Most of us have spent countless hours this summer preparing our rooms.  You don’t need a Pinterst worthy room to be successful. But, you will need to be organized.

Try this: Organization is the key to a successful first few weeks.  Label, print, and cleanout that closet!

2. PD (Professional Development)

Uhhhh!  I just cringe when I hear that word.  Why do administrators think that we need PD?  LOL. No but really, I am not listening to you going on about policies and procedures that have not changed in the last 10 years.  Meanwhile, I am thinking of how I am going to differentiate for Johnny this year, since I have been told that he was recently diagnosed with Autism.  Well then, you also placed Jane in my room who is a screamer. I am thinking about how all of this will play out since Johnny can’t tolerate the loud noises that I am sure Jane will be making.

Try this: Jot down at least one thing positive that you can take back to your classroom.   Also jot down all of those great ideas of how you will differentiate for your Johnny and Jane, or how you will move your small group table, or your list of items you need to get at the grocery store (since your husband probably does not want pizza again tonight)...

3. Managing the New Crew

Once they arrive, now what?  Every single one of them have their own personalities, strengths, weaknesses, etc.   Your job for the first few days it to make those fresh-faced students comfortable.   

Try this: Make your classroom safe and welcoming.  Go over your classroom expectations. Tell them that you have great expectations and encourage them to do their best.  Download free growth mindset posters here.

4. That Overwhelming Feeling

Yes!  We ALL get overwhelmed!!!  Even veteran teachers get overwhelmed during this time of year.  The key to success is to stay positive and pace yourself.

Try this: Get a planner and write it down.  I prefer Erin Condren planner (I love both her Life Planner and her Teacher Planner).  
A great online planner is TrelloTrello allows you to create to-do boards for everything from personal to school lesson plans.
Planning out your to-do, will relieve the overwhelming feeling.  If not, try to meditate or do yoga! Don’t stress, you are going to do great!

5. Support Network

It is very important to have strong support from other staff members.  It is also important to support your school secretary, bookkeeper, coaches, custodians, etc. 

Try this: Reach out to other teachers when you need help.  Let me repeat, REACH OUT to other teachers when you need HELP!  This is very hard for most of us, but it is very important. If you do not feel comfortable with someone in you grade level/department, then go to another grade level/department.  

Somewhere down the path you will also be asked for help.  Or you may see another teacher struggling, reach out to them.  We can all succeed TOGETHER.

6. Special Needs

You may have students with special needs or physical handicaps. You are going to need to differentiate how you will help them throughout the year.

Try this: Meet with your support staff.  See what works and does not work for each individual student.  Reach out to the parents early. Stay in contact and work together to make your year successful.

7. Parents

Most likely you will not know most of your parents.  You will have to not only help their child, but also help them at some point in the school year.  REMEMBER: They are sending you their best.  
Try this: Send a note home that introduces yourself. Let parents know that you are available, and list the process for getting in touch with you.  Make sure that you have given your parents a copy of your policies and procedures, so that they can refer to it throughout the year.

Teaching is all totally worth it! As educators, we teach our future Einsteins, doctors, firemen, engineers, bus drivers, police officers, computer programmers, and so many more. 

We will celebrate many accomplishments throughout this year.  Remember to be patient, be flexible, but most of all...keep a sense of humor.

I am wishing you the best school year ever!

Classroom Chickens

We will soon be hosting about 20 chicks in our classroom. I am so excited and I am sure the children will be too!

Ordering Chicks!

After talking to several professionals and doing hours of online research; I have decided that I will be ordering a variety of chicks online.  YEP! ONLINE!  You can follow this link.

I have chosen a variety of chicks that will lay different colored eggs and a few hat I think are just adorable.  So here is the variety that I have chosen:
Welsummer: for dar brown speckled eggs
Polish Chicks: This bird is for the cute factor.  Big Bird is a polish chicken.
Black Ameraucana: for blue eggs
Assorted Rainbow: These will be a great surprise and I am hoping that the students will be able to learn about identifying the chicks.

Preparing for Arrival

Building TWO Brooder Boxes (because 1 just won't be enough as they grow)

2 50-Gallon plastic tubs
1 Roll of hardware net
Plastic zip ties
2- Heat Lamps with clamps, and red light bulbs
1 bundle of pine shavings

Cordless drill
1/4" drill bit
1/2" drill bit
Wire Cutters

Building the Boxes
1. Draw lines on lid to mark where you will cut hole.  Drill holes in each corner with 1/2 inch drill bit.  
1. Draw lines on lid to mark where you will cut hole.  Drill holes in each corner with 1/2 inch drill bit.  

2. Cut a hole at the top of each of the boxes with jigsaw.
2. Cut a hole at the top of each of the boxes with jigsaw.
3. Measure the net and use the wire cutters to cut. FYI... Be careful when cutting the wire netting!  It likes to coil back at ya!
3. Measure the net and use the wire cutters to cut. FYI... Be careful when cutting the wire netting!  It likes to coil back at ya!

4.  Drill 1/4" holes around the lid and attach the netting with zip ties.
4.  Drill 1/4" holes around the lid and attach the netting with zip ties.
Now you are ready to add heat lamps and pine shavings!
Now you are ready to add heat lamps and pine shavings!

The Chicks Have Arrived!

These adorable chicks have arrived!  
We ordered 18 chicks and 21 chicks arrived.  All of them have survived.  My daughter picked them up from the Post Office and Face-timed us as she unboxed them.
They will be spending the first few days at my home, but the students are so excited that they will be at school next Monday.

Here are instructions of care:

1. Place paper towels in brooder box.
2.  Prepare sugar water (1 teaspoon to 1 quart of warm water). 
3. Dip each chicks beak into warm water mixture (98 degrees) as you place them into brooder box. 
4. Sprinkle feed on paper towel
5.   Place crumbled egg yolks on top of feed.
6.  After the first 4 hours.  Change water.  Don't add sugar, but continue to provide warm water for the first 24 hours.  Add feeders.
7. Make sure that the temperature is between 90-100 degrees for the first few days
8.  Keep chicks warm, dry, and clean!
* Keep Amprol on hand

Week One:

Chicks will visit the children at school during the week and will come home with me on the weekends.

The children have had fun coming up with names for the chicks. 


Dixie, Penny, Amy, Betsy, Daisy, Charolette, Minnie, Florence, Opal, Ginger, Honey, Bernadette, Lucy, Priya, Hazel, Frizzle, Pepper, Baylee, Sparkle, Rose, Paisley, Lizzy, Nikki, Carmen, Piper

Sylvester, Sheldon, Leonard, Dale, Sizer, Zac, Valor

Chick growth:
The chicks are growing fast!  They are starting to get their wing and tail feathers.  Some are even trying to fly.

Instructions of care:Continue to provide dry warm environment.  Lower temperature to 90-95 degrees.  Clean water everyday and continue to feed chick starter.  I have added a stick, so they can start to roost.

Week Two:

Activities:  Last Thursday the kids had to say goodbye to the chicks.  They were getting too big and I feel that it was stressing them out to be at school.  So, I decided to take them home so that I can let them into the coop in the afternoon.  I promised the students that I would take lots of pictures and video them weekly.

This worked until today.  Since it has been cold and rainy here for the last two days, I had to make a bigger brooder.  Here is the link to the brooder that I had to put together last minute.
Chick Growth:  The chicks have doubled in size.  They all have tail and wing feathers.  Some even have neck feathers.
Instructions of care: Had to move to a bigger brooder.  Brooder temps are between 85-90 degrees.  Chicks are still eating chick feed.  

Week Three:

Activities: Chicks are now having regular "field trips" outside.  They are learning how to go up the ladder.  They enjoy the outdoors and their new snacks (spinach and mealworms).

Chick Growth:  They have most of their feathers and are about 6 inches tall.
Instructions of care: Brooder temps are at 80-85 degrees.  We are introducing some veggies to their diet.  We have added chick grit to the starter feed to help with digestion.

Fun Week in First

This has been a (full moon) FUN week in first grade!

I started off this week with a boost.   Over the weekend I was named Classroom Teacher of the Year for my school district.  I am so honored to be nominated by my colleagues.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who has believed in me, encouraged me, and inspired me!

This was the end of the month, so my monsters earned their Classroom Dojo belts for January.  Each month if my students earn an 80% or better in conduct according to Class Dojo, they earn a belt.  This belt system works just like the karate belts.  They start with a white belt and go up to a 2nd degree black belt.  Each time they earn a belt, they also earn prizes.  This is a great modivater for my students!

We had a few checked out and a few missing from the picture...

Another exciting event this week was our Fry Party!  We had to reschedule this event because of our snow day.  My students had to read the first 100 Fry words in order to be invited.  They got to enjoy a short movie and french fries.  They earned it!

Here are a few of my girls enjoying their fries...

Snow Day!

I knew when I left on Tuesday,  we would not have school the following day because of the expected snowfall.  I had our librarian laminate a few things, so I had plenty to do in the house.

Sometimes we get the day off and snow does not actually show up.  This time it did!  It sure is pretty to look at, but it is too cold for me.

I was able to finish my file folders.   I have made it a FREE download on TpT for you.  Please see link below!

Click here to get it for FREE!


I love when our bookkeeper drops off an order.  This week she dropped off several packs of Astrobright paper.  I ordered several packs of card stock and regular colored paper.

I will be using the colored paper to make these awesome wristbands.  

Here are the links:

I will be using the card stock for several other projects.  Please check back for more TpT projects!

PD Day!

Today we had a PD day.  Reading in the morning and math in the afternoon.

I walked in with my Starbucks (my special treat to myself on PD days) and settled down at our predesignated table.  Whomever sets these tables together, we need a bigger table next time!  Teachers have "stuff" and we need to layout our "stuff" during PD days!

After listening to the same information (and getting the same handouts), we filled out a data form to see where our students landed in reading.

2 hours later...

We watched an awesome video of a friend of mine.  She was doing an explicit  reading intervention lesson.  (West Virginia Explicit Phonics Lessons) We then shared about how we would implement it in our classrooms.  I highly recommend visiting that website for explicit phonics lessons!

After lunch is a STRUGGLE.  We had to unpack our standards (again)...uugh!  

I got to hear a colleague sing a math song.   She laughed, which made another colleague laugh.  Oh...we were tired.  Then we saw this...

Yep, we had to try it too.  Wow, we are bad students!! (And yes, you can see through them!)

Then, I was introduced to some awesome websites.

Well...I kinda already knew about Kahoot, but I did not know about all the awesomeness.  They have an array of fun quizzes preloaded for the students.  Students compete to get the highest score.

This is a great website for all grade levels.  First, you set up your class and pick the grade.  Second, oh...wait...that was it!  The students LOVE this website.  They get to play learning games and earn coins.  The coins can be used to dress their character.  

I also contributed www.learnzillion.com as one of my favorite sites.  It doesn't have games, but has several high quality lessons, videos, and practice sheets.