be challenged.

I’m posting this picture because, well, this is reality. No makeup, messy hair, 11:17 at night, Parks and Rec blaring in the background, curriculum binders and papers scattered everywhere. And my smile is huge, why? Because what I’m holding in that picture is my very first textbook for my grad program that starts this fall! HOLY. SMOKES.

Photo on 8-9-16 at 11.16 PM

(and yes, my nails are done. and yes, I did them myself because I’m cheap poor resourceful!)

My bill for the month is already paid, my books for the semester are already ordered, my planner is already filled out, my binder is already divided up into hyper-organized sections…I’m ready for school! I can’t wait to share with my students my passion for learning, because I know that it will make their experience in my/our (Jim!) classroom that much more meaningful.

Hey. You don’t want to do homework? Me neither. But I’m doing mine and I’m rocking it. Oh, plus I’m working full-time, grading papers, planning units, working with my team and my co-teacher, helping to run an after school club, working a side job, tutoring, and being there for my family in my free time. You were saying?

I love my kids. And by “my kids,” I mean my students. I pride myself on my ability to build relationships with them. And something I’m really looking forward to is when they say, “We have homework tonight?” and I can say, “Yep. I do, too. What a drag.” Just one more connection I can have with them.

Building relationships with our students is essential to creating a environment conducive to learning and educating. Education is the most valuable tool we have. Teaching is more than just delivering the content (as we all know); it is about teaching students how to learn. How to love learning. How to ignite that internal fire that makes them just crazy enough to continue going back to school when their plate is already full to the brim. Because, at the end of the day, when we stop learning, we stop living. I guess that, really, I hope that my excitement for going back to grad school shines through even when I’m exhausted this year. I know I will be, for sure. But I also know how grateful I am that I have this opportunity, how grateful I am for the homework and the readings and the tests and and and…

Above all, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my learning and my growth with my students. Less than 2 weeks out! This year is going to be a challenge, and I can’t wait to face it head on.

And, as A said earlier when I told him my books for the semester were all shipping to me beginning today:




be excited!

Today I met with my co-teacher, Jim, to start planning for the 2016-2017 school year. I am so excited about the start of the year in just a few weeks, and I LOVE that. Especially because…well…SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

Elf Excitement

Seriously. My favorite. I already have bought at least $50 worth. No shame.

It’s easy to get bogged down by the memes circulating on the web about how summer is too short, how none of us teachers are ready to start the year, how overwhelming it can be from September through May, and the feeling that most of us have that we can never quite  get ahead. But despite all of that, I have never been so excited to get another year of teaching started.

Sitting down this summer to plan made me realize just how much I love my current teaching situation. I took this summer off of teaching and nannying, and I took it mostly off of tutoring. Spending time with A’s boys was seriously so fun, and felt nothing like teaching (even though we worked on a lot of preschool and kinder stuff!). As a result, I feel so much more prepared to start this school year off on the highest note possible. And if I’m being honest, that’s totally necessary, because this is what my Fall 2016 looks like:

  • starting graduate school to get my master’s in Curriculum & Instruction
  • teaching full time
  • some extra responsibilities at the middle school — stay tuned on that one
  • working as a rep for National Junior Honor Society — again!
  • working to promote my own business (Arbonne)
  • tutoring when possible
  • traveling — Dallas, Atlanta, and small weekend excursions inbetween!
  • sleeping…somehow. maybe?

So the next few weeks are dedicated to trying to get things prepped for the start of school year 2016-2017. What are some of your favorite resources? Post a comment and let me know!

Just a few of the teachers I turn to regularly for inspiration:

Jen Jones, Hello Literacy

I’m Lovin’ Lit

Michelle Brezek, Literacy Coach

Check out their TpT stores for some great ideas to get started on the right foot this school year! Why reinvent the wheel when these amazing educators have worked out so many kinks for you? Gives you more time to devote to your kids. Michelle is a personal friend of mine, and is so wonderful. Always willing to help and provide insight.

Hope your planning is/has been as successful as mine! Ideas? Questions? Comments? Let me know, and I’ll help you out and appreciate any help YOU give ME!



be greatful.

…and yes, I meant to misspell it. I know it’s grateful. I’m an ELA teacher, remember? 😉

Between the professional development day we had yesterday, and the fact that today is Digital Learning Day, I’ve been thanking my lucky stars that I am where I am in my career. A year ago, I was doubtful that teaching was my calling, and now? Well, a lot can happen in a year, let’s just put it that way.

Yesterday, several things happened:

  1. I was an audience member of an awesome PD on SAMR and TPACK, two schools of thought and philosophy when it comes to teaching with tech, blended into one, clean & simplistic template. And who did I find out created that incredible template? Some of the creative brains in my school district, along with my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Mika! I was blown away and am STILL so excited to have reconnected with him because of work he did with my district. We talked briefly yesterday about the work that BSD 100 does day in and day out, and the gravity of the opportunities we have — as teachers and students — because of that work.
  2. Jordan Garrett and I talked a lot about the SAMR model, and in her efforts to explain it more completely to me, she talked through a great example using a cell phone. I’ll share it with you here:
    1. Substitution (no real change): What is the most basic communication device when it comes to phones? A landline. 
    2. Augmentation (all about improvement): How did we make it so that the landline did the same thing (allowed us to communicate), but was improved? We made it cordless. 
    3. Modification (redesigning): What was a complete redesign of the landline phone that made the communication process better/easier? Cell phones, that you can take anywhere and everywhere. 
    4. Redefinition (allowing for new tasks to take place): What completely changed the way that cell phones worked and allowed for new functions? Smartphones. In the words of Jordan, we can, “talk, shop, Google a word we don’t know, all while texting our mom! Boom!” Drop the mic. 😂 Couldn’t have said it better myself. And thanks to Jordan for painting such an awesome picture for someone who is definitely a visual learner. Made understanding the whole SAMR thing a lot easier!
  3. I re-watched a video that made me choke up again, and one that absolutely defines my life perspective over the last several months. I won’t give it away, but if you want to watch it, grab some tissues and click here.
  4. I was reminded just how lucky I am to be working in a district that strives to better their students and teachers, to challenge the norm and to push forward, even in the face of adversity. Because it is readily apparent that these conditions are what make the teachers in our district not just teachers, but leaders.

So the reason for the spelling greatful? To remind you that, whether it’s opportunities, individuals, circumstances…reflecting on those components in your life and making use of them is what allows you to be great at what you do.

Students, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, whoever you are: be grateful for where you are, and be great at what you do.