Sunday, March 20, 2016

Finding the good in the difficult

Blogging has definitely taken a back burner this year. This whole being a working mom is hard and I have not adjusted as well as I would like. Of course, it doesn't help that my child doesn't sleep through the night consistently yet. It seems that I have used blogging this year, to help me process some of my bigger issues. So here I go again. I'm going to be as honest as I can be.
I have one of the best classes I have ever had this year. Sadly all my husband has heard is me complaining out the things that go on outside of my classroom.  As teachers we are faced with so many challenges that are beyond our control. I love the school I work at. I think the teachers there are great and work hard. But I see them everyday beaten down by systems that we can't control. More testing. More mandates. More policies that don't seem to have the best interest of our students at heart. I love my students and I love being there for them.  But this year I have felt strongly called to be there for my fellow teachers. I have worked at trying to improve morale and be a positive light in the school. I am blessed to be able to maintain the prayer list at our school. Almost my whole school joins together in prayer for each other and shares our prayer concerns over email. It is such a privilege to me that I get to facilitate it and it is totally a God thing. He called me to this role. He calls me to send out encouraging emails to my co-workers.
This past week as a staff we endured some difficult things. We were told some things that weren't true about ourselves. Lots of us felt guilty about things that we should never feel guilty about. I have been processing this all week. I have gone from sad to mad and back again. I know that we can't be the only group of teachers to beaten down in this way. So here are the conclusions I have come to in this difficult time as teachers.
What is clear to me is that God is present in all things. One of his names is El-Roi, the God who sees, and he sees us.  He sees you when you give that child a hug that no one else wants to hug. He sees you when you listen to a child tell a story over and over. He sees you when you bring dinner to a co worker who is going through a rough time. He sees you when you are having a rough day in your personal life but you put a smile on your face for your students. He sees you when you sit down to grade papers or plan lessons after providing your family a meal and everyone is in bed. He sees the excitement you have when your student who has been struggling all year finally gets it. He sees that coffee your bring your co worker when they have a hard day. He sees you when you share the treats you bake with your fellow teachers. He sees you fighting everyday for your students.  The great thing is God sees us as we really are.
Not only does God see but our co- workers and students see it too. I want to challenge you this week to uplift one of your co workers. Show them you see the little things that they do that are meaningful. Show them you believe they are so much more than how the world sees them.
 Some days it feels like our education system is crumbling around us. But we keep on for our students and we need to keep on for each other. We need to encourage each other. We have to lift each other up. We have to stick together.  Be a light in your school!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Teaching Matters

Since becoming a mom, life has been different. My sweet girl turned 1 on Sunday and it has been an amazing year. I was lucky enough to be able to take time off and be with her. Going back to school in August was challenging in a way that I wasn't prepared for. It is hard being a working mom. (It is hard being a stay at home mom too) Teaching has always been something I've poured myself into. So finding the balance between being a mom, wife, teacher, friend, and blogger has been hard. I've missed blogging. I've missed reflecting on my teaching and my life through this medium. I'm hoping now that I have a semester under my belt, I can do more. It helps that my girl is sleeping a little better finally. Energy was definitely not high on my list this past semester.
This semester was difficult for other reasons too.  My husband told me one day that maybe I needed to find another job because I was complaining so much. When I stopped and thought about it, I was sad that they view I was giving my husband was I didn't like my job. Because I truly have a great class. The kids have made huge progress in the time we've been together. But the other stuff of teaching has clouded my view. Things that I have no control over like county and state mandates. Other people's negativity. Public perception of our school. After this conversation with my husband, I tried to refocus on what is important.
But by December my energy was really depleted. Any positive thoughts I had were gone. My sleep was minimal and that makes a huge difference on your outlook. I was feeling very under appreciated and over looked at my school. Basically, I was in desperate need of Christmas break. Over the break, I started to think maybe I wasn't in the right place. Maybe God didn't really want me to be a teacher and to leave my sweet girl everyday. I'm trying to be real and this is what was really going on in my head. I was starting to dread the return to school.
Back in July, I started a new Bible Study app called First 5. It is through Proverbs 31 ministries. The premise is everyday you wake up and give God the first 5 minutes of your day. They started with the book of John and since then we've studied Genesis and Matthew. This past week we started Exodus. While on maternity leave and struggling through being a first time mom, I really came to treasure my bible study time. When school started, I needed this time even more. I need to spend some time with the Lord everyday to get focused for the day. This week, the topics of study were so timely for me. They were about having confidence in who God says he is rather than who we think we are (Exodus 3) and about the doubts we have about the tasks God has given us (Exodus 5).
I felt like God was talking directly to me. I was doubting that I was where I was suppose to be. I was doubting that I was a good teacher or a good mom. But this helped me to realize that God has given me what I need. I only need the confidence that he is who he says he is and he will e
 Then yesterday morning God gave me further confirmation that I was where he wanted me to be. My assistant principal told me that one of my students had told him a couple of times that when he came into class after the break that I told him I missed him and hugged him and it meant a lot to him. This student worried me all over the break. I was afraid he wouldn't be back when school started again. He's homeless and his life is so unstable. But it mattered to him that I said I missed him. It mattered to him that I gave him a hug. It mattered to him that his friends all said Good morning to him in morning meeting and were happy to see him. It matters what I do everyday. I need to keep my focus on the kids not the mandates or the testing. But the kids.
Teaching matters. It matters to the kids that they get a smile and hug. It matters that the kids know someone cares about them and misses them when they are gone. As we start a new semester, remember that what you do everyday matters to the kids we serve. When you've had a rough day of dealing with the negative of teaching, remember the kids you serve need you. Other teachers need you.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Five for Friday on Saturday

Well I survived the first six weeks of school. Unfortunately, my blog did not. But I took some pictures this week and my sweet girl is sleeping so I thought I would share a few things from the week. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly party.

1. This week was all about pets. We used Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies Directed Drawing pack to draw pictures of dogs on Friday. I think they turned out great. This is a great pack if you haven't checked it out. The week before we did dinosaur but I forgot to take any pictures. We have been working on the sight words I, like, and the and writing sentences with spaces. So we wrote a sentence together to put on the picture.

2. Since we were talking pets and my husband is a veterinarian, he came to talk to the kids. He brought a few animals for them to check out too. It was great. They got to pet a dog, see the cat Martha and the parakeet Beaker. The kids really enjoyed it and bragging on my hubby he does a great job with the kids.

3.  This week the kids got to do a science lesson on germs with our eighth grade students. I teach in a K-8 school. I love the opportunities that can be created for students. The eighth grade science teacher is a former primary teacher and her daughter is in Kindergarten this year. So she asked k-2 teachers if they wanted to participate. It was fun and the 8th graders did a great job. They used glitter and lotion to show the spread of germs. Then they colored their own germ and pledged to wash their hands. I think the plan is to try to do these lessons once a month. 
4. This picture of our door is from a week or two ago. We had our book fair and the theme was monsters. So since my class theme is superheroes I went with The Hulk. Well actually my husband went with the Hulk. He made the door for us. I'm all about kids making stuff like this but I just couldn't handle it at this point in the school year. I had too much going on. I did let them color books.

 5. So I have been on the GoNoodle bandwagon for a while. But I was on maternity leave last year when Pop See Ko was released so this past few weeks have been my first pop see ko experience. The kids love it and I love anything that gets their energy out. We are crazy about GoNoodle!

I'm going to leave you with an extra picture of my sweet girl. I took a selfie of us yesterday before I went to school and she went to a friend of ours. She stays with some friends on Fridays. She loves it because she gets to hang out with her bestie. My friend has 3 girls and the youngest is 2 months younger than Sus.

Hopefully I'll be back again to share some more about what we are doing in the classroom. I would love to know what you are doing. So be sure to check out the linky party at Doodle Bugs!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Non Worksheet Morning Work

Hi guys! I am so excited about getting back to blogging. I'm excited to share some good ideas and strategies with you as we near school starting. School starts in one month for me. I'm so not ready to leave my baby but I'm excited about a new start. Speaking of new things to be excited about, have you checked out periscope? It is so much fun chatting with other teachers on this great new platform. I've only gone live once but I'm planning to do another one tomorrow. I just haven't decided on my topic. I'm thinking either something related to books or something related to technology. What would you like to see? You can check me out at Ms. Kerri's Krazy Klass on periscope.
I have been doing some thinking and reading about early childhood education. I read a post the other day from Pre-K pages about worksheets in the early childhood classroom. I tend to think that the more hands on we can be with kids at this age the better they are. In fact we all probably learn better when we are hands on. I definitely learn more by doing. I've been wanting to read the book Worksheets don't grow dendrites since I saw the book study earlier this year. But I was knee deep in mommy hood and not thinking about school at the time. It is on my wishlist on Amazon (Maybe I'll get a good deal on it on their big sale tomorrow). But until then, I'm examining my own teaching practices. I think there is a time and a place for a worksheet and since TPT I'm finding a lot better resources.  But I'm rethinking my approach to morning work.

My kids can start coming into my room at 7:50 and the bell rings at 8:00. After the bell rings, we have announcements, the pledge and such. It takes me a few minutes after those announcements to get started with my day. I need to take attendance and do the lunch count. So I need something engaging for my students to be doing during this time.  On the first day of school, I have always had the kids play with play doh. It is open ended and gives me a chance to talk to parents if needed. But after that, I have had the kids do a coloring sheet. I'll admit that this is what the other teachers do and I didn't really question the practice. Last time I was in Kindergarten I changed this some. I had the kids do a phonics sheet on our letter or words for the week. I feel like this was a better use of our time rather than a coloring sheet. But I've changed my mind. There is nothing engaging about a worksheet period. I want to come up with some better activities for my students. I asked some of my kindergarten teacher friends and they had some good suggestions.
What I am thinking is that I will have a different activity each day. Like on Mondays we do play doh, Tuesdays will be all about math, Wednesdays will be all about writing, Thursdays could be for name practice, Fridays for puzzles and fine motor. I want it to be pretty easy for me but I know for that to happen I have to do some planning. I think having a theme for the day will help some. I think at first it will be a lot of exploration and then as kids get more experience with school and the activities we do, the work will be a little more challenging. Another thing I'm thinking is to let one group of kids each day use our iPads and iPods. This could be a rotation.
I've started pinning some ideas. You can check out that pinterest board out here.
I would love to know what you have your kids do when they come into the classroom. Please leave a comment and let me know. (This reminds me of my great great Aunt Jenny. She would call companies on their 1-800 numbers on the back of their products. She always said, "They love to hear from you.") I would love to hear from you!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five for Friday

I can't believe it is already this far into July. School will be starting in a little over a month. I have such mixed feelings about it all. There is a part of me that is excited for a new school year and getting back into working again. But then I know I'm going to miss my sweet girl more than I can imagine. She has been my companion for the past 6 months. I have only left her a few times. (She wouldn't take a bottle so that didn't help out at all) We are trying to figure out childcare and that has been a nightmare. I just have to trust that it will all work out. I'm linking up this week with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly party.

1. I finally made it to Target not just once but twice now. The closest target is about an hour and half away so I alway enjoy when I can get to the dollar spot. I got some pretty good things. Here's my haul:

The dollar spot is my go to for name tags. I try to stock up on them when they have them. Then I don't have to worry about throughout the school year. I also found some puzzles and board books.

2. My sweet girl has started sitting up from the floor on her own now. We need to get on the baby proofing soon. She'll be crawling before I know it.

3. Sunday I posted a linky party all about advice for teacher mamas. It is open until the end of the month I would love for you link up with your advice. I'm so nervous about trying to balance it all.  Head over and leave your advice or add your link. 

4. I have been working on a color unit for about 2 weeks now. I'm still not done but I'm so excited about it. I took the things that I do each year with colors and turned into an awesome unit. There are play doh mats, books, and crafts to go with each color. Hopefully I'll get it finished this week. When you are trying to get everything done in a small amount of time (nap time), you do what you can.
5.  I read a couple of middle grade books this past week that I really enjoyed. They were Wonder and Mockingbird. I have seen Wonder on other older grade blogs, but this was the first time I read it. They both were great for giving an insight into how kids are different are treated. The main character in Mockingbird has Asbergers and it offered a unique perspective on how our kids see the world.

I am brainstorming a new series for my blog called "In my class" where I write about how I teach different concepts in the classroom. Some ideas that I have are phonics, sight words, centers/reading groups, morning meeting/calendar, and behavior management. Anything else you would like to read about?
So that's all for me this week! I'm so excited, my mom, sister, niece, sweet girl, and I are going to the farmer's market in the morning. I can't wait. There is a local dairy that I follow on Instagram that posts all this yummy goodness I can't wait to try.
By the way, do you follow me on instagram. You should. I post more about my personal life, teaching, reading, and such. Check me out here.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Advice for Teacher Mommas Linky

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I've been out on maternity leave since Christmas break. My beautiful little girl was born in January and I took the spring semester off of school. I am so glad that we were able to do that. It wasn't easy and we've had to sacrifice some but it has been well worth it. I have loved my time at home. But I'm starting to look forward to going back to school. There are days where I could really use some adult interaction (not sure how much of that I'll get teaching kindergarten.) I am also really scared about going back to school. I have always worked really hard at teaching and pour myself into it. I didn't really worry about what time I left school and worked however long I needed to. But my life is completely different now that I have this sweet girl.
I am terrified that I won't be able to be a good teacher and a good mama. But I know there are lots of great teacher Mamas out there who are doing both. I started thinking I probably wasn't the only one who was worried about trying to do it all. So I thought I would start a party to share some tips and advice. I would love for you to link up with your best tips and advice for moms who are also teachers.

I wish I had some advice but I'm hoping to get some good tips. I know that I will struggle the first 6 weeks of kindergarten trying to manage the difficulties of kindergarten and having a 7 month old. Especially one that isn't sleeping through the night. So here are some of my concerns (Maybe that will give you an idea or two for some advice.):

  • How to get it all done without staying really late?
  • Balancing being a wife, mom, teacher, blogger, and creator
  • Breastfeeding/pumping tips - I've been breastfeeding from the beginning and I really want to make it a year. But I'm so worried that my supply is going to suffer. My sweet girl refused a bottle so I  have a love/hate relationship with the pump. I dumped so much milk it makes me sick. But thankfully she will take a sippy cup now. So any tips for pumping at work?
  • Creating engaging and meaningful lessons for students without my family time suffering.
  • Being present as a teacher and being present at family time
  • Leaving school at school and turning off my worries (this one is probably wishful thinking)
Those are some of my concerns. I would love for you to link up with your advice and suggestions. If you don't have a blog, you can still participate by leaving comments with your advice. Come join the party. I'm open and ready to hear some great advice. Grab the images, add your advice and link up. Be sure to include a link back to this post so we can read all the advice.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dice Games for Math and Freebies

I have been wanting to link up with my Bloggy BFF Laura at Kinder Kraziness for her Math Monday party for a couple of weeks. But as I'm learning life with a baby doesn't always let me do these things. But she's still sleeping, so I'm taking advantage.
I think I'm a pretty good reading teacher but I feel like my math instruction can always use some work. I love the workshop format that Deanna Jump and DeeDee Wills have set up in their Guided math units. But I don't always follow that format. One of my goals for this coming up school year is to make my math a little more workshop like. Our math series for the past 4 years or so has been Envisions and it wasn't the greatest. But we're getting a new series this Fall so I'm interested to see what it is like. I've always supplemented my instruction with activities that I've created or found on TPT. One of my favorite things to do is incorporate games into my lesson. The kids have a blast and they don't even realize they are learning. Plus once we play the games a few times in class, I move the games into their math center. I would love to say I use Math Workstations but I have never been able to get that to work for me. So as part of my center time, I have two math centers the kids work on. There are lots of different games that we play but today I'm going to focus on dice games.
I almost always start the year off with a roll and cover game. They are pretty easy for kindergartners to learn how to play and they can be differentiated pretty easily.
The beginnign of kindergarten I like to focus on Pete the Cat and Jennifer Knopf from Herding Kats in Kindergarten has a roll and cover that I use. You can check it out here. I also like roll and color which is the same concept just you color the picture instead of cover it. I have one of these in my newest math pack Sweet Treats.

 I tried it with my niece today and she had a lot of fun. 

I found a freebie I posted some time a while back of a roll and cover with a pet theme. You can get it here.  It is simple but it gets the job done.
Another dice game that I love is Bump. The kids love this one too. They can practice their numbers and they have the opportunity to bump their friends off of places. I made a freebie for you that I'll be using the beginning of the year with a blue cat theme. Sophie and I tried it out today and she had a blast playing it.

I try to include some kind of dice game in any unit I create for math. Another one that has dice games is Growing A Garden of Math Activities. There is a bump game in this unit for spring or a plant theme. 

Last year in first grade, I bought Just Add Dice Math Games Bundle from Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies. I loved this bundle. I could find a game for any first grade skill I was looking for and there was a theme for anything.  This became one of my favorite resources to use through out the year. 
My friend Kristen and Kristen's Kindergarten had a post all about dice games as well. So be sure to check her post out. 

Hopefully I'll be back again next Monday to talk about some more Math games that I use. But meanwhile check out the party at Kinder Kraziness and see what others are doing in math.