Making Over Third Grade!
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Mixed Feelings About Change

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not accept change well. I look forward to things with trepidation and anxiety. All the while, working to try to manage an outcome I can live with while thinking of every bad thing that can happen along the way. Even when I want the change. When I seek it. When I instigate it. I still react the same way. So it is funny that I chose a career that only has a semblance of day-to-day normalcy. Yet it is the most amazing thing I could do with my life and despite the days (or weeks) of anxiety I can't imagine doing anything else.

Since the day the first of my two younger brothers was born I took the role of teacher seriously. (I mean he wasn't even allowed to play unless he followed my directions.) Puberty started young and this made me an outsider at school. I wasn't sure how to navigate the world. I found respite first in the school library where I was taught how to speed read and then in the kindergarten classroom where I learned to love teaching and where I discovered my desire to become a teacher. I never lost sight of this dream, but life had a way of throwing curve balls that kept me from pursuing my degree right out of high school.

When I finally became a teacher it was (of course) harder than I thought it would be but also more rewarding than I could have ever dreamt. I honestly don't know what I would do if I wasn't allowed to teach for some reason. School, working with kids, it brings me happiness in a way nothing else in my life does.

Each time I took the leap and made the decision to make changes in my job site or grade level I have done so with fear and with excitement. Sort of like the way I always feel the night before school starts. Butterflies in my stomach and a nagging fear that keeps me from sleeping but with an underlining excitement for what the new year and new class will bring.

When I started working as an Instructional Specialist and had to share my classroom with another teacher it was an adjustment. I probably wasn't the easiest person to begin sharing a room with but I have grown so much over the last three years and I know that this has made me a better teacher. This is an experience I am grateful for and one that I would not trade for the world.

Yet change comes and of course, I am facing it again. The unknown. The uncertainty. It is too much for me.  My teaching partner has chosen to accept a position to go back into the classroom full-time which means there are a number of questions that have to be answered before a new partner can be found.

I know me. I know that I am a lot to deal with at times. I know that I have issues when it comes to my classroom and my kids. I know this will make it harder to adjust to someone new coming in. This person has to be a special breed of teacher. This new partner will not only have to be able to work with me without wanting to kill me, without me wanting to kill him/her and to step into the shoes of someone who was an ideal partner. This is a short list. A very short list. Right or wrong, I have asked several people to consider applying. I have high hopes that they will and that the best of these candidates will be chosen to work with me in the coming years. This is a lot. I know. The waiting is killing me. The what ifs? The unknown, the anxiety, and the need to control the situation around me are proving to be harder than I expected (though honestly, not harder for me than what my friends expected - says a lot about their understanding of my personality and of my view of my personality at times). So here I am, cleaning out and rearranging closets and drawers at home (and at school), starting projects for next year, and focusing on the small things I can control. All in the hope that it will help me deal with the unknown. Wish me luck that it works!

How do you deal with change? What are some things you do to keep your anxiety levels down?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

THANK YOU GIVEAWAY! Made it to 2,000 followers!

Happy New Year! Seems like a giveaway would be a great way to welcome in 2019. 

I love my PLN, it has helped me grow and become a better teacher. I have learned so much from everyone I interact with online and everyone I follow. I am so appreciative of those who follow me as well. So to celebrate the fact that I now have 2,000 followers on Twitter. I would like to thank you by hosting a giveaway. 

I am giving away a  $50 gift certificate to Creative Teaching Press. Though I am a brand ambassador for this company this gift card is not associated with that program and is strictly from me. It is my thank you for following me. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Doing a Double Take - Feels Like I Need to Explain...

Sometimes someone says something and it stays with you. Nagging. Bothering you and you just aren't sure why.

This happened to me this week. Someone I respect inquired about my new position and how I liked my new school. I was honest and said I loved it! Her response is what threw me. She said she knew I was happier because I was tweeting more. 

I am not sure that is accurate. I am tweeting more. I have more time. I am not on any after school committees. I have collaborative during the workday rather than after. More of my time is mine to focus on what I am teaching and how I can help others. When I sit down at lunch or at the end of the day I remember to tweet the photos I took rather than working until I go to bed (by choice usually) I have an hour or two to do something else. 

I loved my class at my former school. I loved my job. I do not love this new job anymore or any less, just in a very different way. I think the difference really comes down to the fact that I was at the same site for 9 years and that was the longest I had ever been at a site (we had pink slips and movement during the first part of my career), or in a classroom. 

Earlier in the week, someone else had said that she "knew [I] always wanted to be at [new site]". This bothered me too. 

I did not spend the last 9 years bemoaning my situation, sad that I wasn't at another site. I was happy working there but I needed a change more than I realized. That is not to say I wasn't happy where I was, I am just happier now. 

When looking back over the last 9 years the majority of them had some major negative, heart-breaking events happen each year. My mom was sick, I had miscarriages, I found out I wasn't going to be able to have a family, and then my mom died. Tragedy after tragedy. So much heartbreak. 

So changing schools is not just a return to a site I was once at, or a new opportunity (though it is that too). It is a fresh start. My classroom has no memories of tears associated with it. No fears of bad news. No awful events. I think that makes a huge difference. One I didn't realize was an issue, at least until it wasn't. 

So, yes, I am happier where I am now, but it has way more to do with me than with anything work-related. 

Have you ever had to reexamine something about your job after someone made a seemingly innocuous remark? Tell me about it in the comments below, I would love to hear about how it affected you. 

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking up is hard to do, even when it is your choice, even when
you know it is coming, and particularly when it is a prolonged breakup. Maria and I have accepted a job position at another school site. It is going to be a wonderful change and I know the school and class will be great. Still, joining one site and starting one class, means that we will have to leave another site and say goodbye to a group of kids that have stolen our hearts. 

This break up isn't easy! 

We were hired by the new site on September 20th. We told our kids on the 28th. We were ready to go. We packed up some of our classroom, we took things to the new site, we worked for hours upon hours after school getting the new classroom ready (it is almost there).  Then we had to wait. They needed to find someone who would take our class before they would release us to the new site. Understandable I guess, but it was hard to deal with particularly after one of the students this week told me that he had cried when I lied to him. I asked him what he meant and he said when we said we were leaving. I swear you could hear a pin drop when I told them that we hadn't lied, we were moving, but that they had to find a new teacher for the class. 

This is an AMAZING group of kids and it breaks my heart that we will have to say goodbye. I feel conflicted and torn by this. I want to go to the new site, I want this new adventure. I can't wait for it to all begin but..still, there is a part of me that is so sad that we will have to say goodbye so soon. You see, we found out on Friday that they have a teacher for the class. It is a friend of mine.  I am so happy for her and for the kids. It is going to a great year for them so I don't need to worry about them. But...still, I will. I can't help it. They are a part of my heart now, they always will be. That happens with every student, every year. It doesn't matter that I have only known these kids, "my kids," for 7 weeks. It doesn't matter that they will be in great hands. It hurts to say goodbye. Yes, I know it is my choice and yes, I know, this new job is one I really want. Still, Monday is going to be hard. Seeing their faces come into a stripped down room, seeing them realize they are losing us, that we are losing them, is going to be gut-wrenching. Yes, I know that they will get to meet their new teacher and that she is excited to meet them. Yes, I know that this is a good thing for her and for them too. Yet..., leaving the room I have had for 9 years and the kids I have had for 7 weeks means that Monday is going to be a hard day. One I am both looking forward to as it is a step towards my new job and dreading as it is a goodbye to this amazing group of kids. 

I know it is going to work out. I know that it is all for the best. I know that I will be happier once the dust has settled. Still, breaking up is hard to do. 

I would love to hear about a time that was difficult for you during your teaching career and how you overcame the difficulty. Please share below. 

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Snailed it! - It's so Punny!

Creative Teaching Press has a number of new product lines for the 2018-19 school year. As an Ambassador for their company, I have been given the gift of several of the products to try out in my classroom. 

They have three new lines Mid-Century Mod, So Much Pun!, and a unicorn Magical line that I choose to select items from. As soon as Maria and I saw the So Much Pun! Reward stickers we were sold. The "snailed it!" sticker was so great that it has now become a tagline in our classroom for the year.  We love them so much I got over 20 packs of them - yep, snailed it!

In addition to the pun stickers I just had to have the unicorn reward stickers - they are amazing, they are large, and the students just love them! I know, because I had one package of these last year and every student just wanted to have them until they were all gone. So these were a must-have. Another must have been the Mid Century Mod Retro rewards stickers. They are just so colorful and make me happy. Okay, yeah, I have a sticker addiction. I know. I can't help it! Stickers are awesome - or should I say paw-some. *wink*

Teachers can't live by stickers alone, so of course, I just had to have a number of the new borders and posters. The Mid Century Mod schedule and blank charts are so pretty I can't wait to use them. I also had to have the motivational posters from this line as well. They are so bright and their words are
fitting for our class focus of never giving up and of being kind. You can also see I didn't get away without getting the So Much Pun! incentive chart. I thought it would be a nice way to track our blog posts and keep the kids laughing.

Last year we bought these camper cutouts and they perfectly match the Mid Century Mod On the Road to Learning Mini Bulletin Board set.  I already have a bulletin board in mind for this as we take a road trip through third (end of the school year student highlights of what they have learned). On the road, next stop third! For the beginning of third grade. This is perfect too since our classroom bulletin board for the school is in the second grade hall (don't ask - it is just the way our site is built).

I have just the letters and borders to choose from for these boards too! Aren't they great?! The letters are 7 inches tall! No way they won't be noticed in the hall! Most of the bulletin board trim is from the So Much Pun! line - I just love the plaid, large whimsical dots, and the white one. The light bulb border will be perfect for our technology unit. Can't wait to use them all this year! 

Do you like to decorate in a new way or to change things up each year? Tell me about it!

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sentence Surgery! Room Transformation

After reading The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King I decided that I needed to become super creative with some of the content I teach.

At the beginning of the year, it always seems that third graders have a sudden issue with punctuation, capitalization, and subject-verb agreement. This year I wanted to do something crazy to help students focus on this and to really take what they are doing to heart.

Maria and I decided to do sentence surgery and create an experience the kids would not forget.

Is there a doctor in the house? There were 26 in fact! It was the most amazing lesson and the kids couldn't stop talking about it. In hindsight, it was simple to plan and to undertake but it was a jump off the creative bridge into the unknown - this lesson could have gone south quickly- but it was all worth it!
Mrs. Lopez ready for surgery
I bought isolation gowns, o.r. caps, and face masks from Amazon. Don't you just love Amazon? The gowns were a bit pricey ($45) but I got 100 of them so I can use them for future lessons.  I created a sentence fragments and complete sentences to provide each pair of students. The intention was that they would match up the fragments and make complete sentences but it turned out so much better than that because the kids cut up all of the sentence fragments and created complex sentences using different pieces of several different original pairs that I had planned.
number of

Maria and I went out to pick up our class from lunch in our gear - we told the kids that there was an emergency in our room and that they would all need to conduct surgery in order to save the many patients that they had waiting. They were so excited and shocked by what was happening.
makingoverthirdgrade.blogspot.comMaria, our vice principal, Mrs. Lopez, and I put each student in their operating outfits and had them stand by their tables. They were given directions to discuss their "patients" and to diagnosis what was wrong before making any surgical decisions. They were completely engaged, Maria and I gained a lot of formative assessment information about
students and they are all working very hard now to ensure that they continue to correctly use capitals and punctuation correctly.

Mrs. Lopez recorded the lesson for us, you can see the majority of it (the last 10 minutes are not recorded as she had to leave the room to address another issue) here.

Students couldn't wait to share what they did when they got home and many of them took the gowns with them to show their parents. We kept the caps and masks for future work editing and revising our work. The kids put them on when editing and revising and they love it!

What is one of the most engaging lessons you have taught? What gave you the idea for approaching it the way you did?

**Please note that this post is cross-posted to Spot On in Third!, the blog Maria and I have for our class.**

Image Resizing

When I decided to make this blog cute in July of 2014 (what it has been that long?!?) I mentioned the use of a free resizing site for images. At the time I used This is a good tool and I have used it successfully for a while but recently a reader (thank you Lily!), sent me information about another site, On this site, you literally drag and drop your images and they are compressed for you. This is very helpful and I wanted to pass the information along.

What tools do you find invaluable when working with images online?