Monday, September 10, 2012

Entering the third six weeks

I know, I know. It's been almost 3 weeks since I've checked in, but teaching is so much harder than I thought and there is something to do even AFTER school every day! Well, let me clarify. Teaching itself isn't hard, it's just managing that along with checking school email throughout the day and staying on top of new teacher professional development hours that have to be completed. But I am still loving every minute of it. So here's a quick post for tonight...

I just checked out a middle school site that I follow and there is a book study for Teach Like A Champion going on over at I encourage you to visit the site if you haven't already!

We made consensus maps the first week of school and the question that I had the students answer was, "What kind of teacher do you want?" Some of their answers were hilarious and very "middle-school" like, but here is what everyone agreed on overall. I think they did a great job and they learned a new word, consensus!

Keep On Teachin' On,

Monday, August 27, 2012

I survived (and so did they)

Our first day couldn't have gone any better! It was over before I knew it. The kids were super shy and quiet but I'm sure that will change rather quickly as they get to know each other. I even got a few "yes ma'ams" from some of them. Mostly we talked about class expectations and I showed them a powerpoint of myself so that they could get to know their teacher better. In the powerpoint was a video of Tana doing her tricks and it really cracked the kids up. I think after lunch the kids started opening up a little more but by the time 8th period rolled around they were ready to go! There are lots of changes from 6th grade to 7th grade and I am going to teach them how to handle all of it and maintain all of the responsibilities thrown their way. Aside from a few students that I could tell will possibly cause a little trouble here and there, I feel like it's going to be a great year. My biggest goal is to connect my lessons to their lives and interests! Tomorrow we are doing consensus maps and the groups will come up with characteristics they would like to see in me as their teacher. Hopefully I can live up to all of them as I expect them to live up to my expectations in the classroom!

Hope all you out there that celebrated your first day back today had a great one!

Keep On Teachin' On,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome to room 137

Well, I have hit the ground running since I got back from Nashville a little over a week ago. My official hire date at Hutcheson Jr High was August 20th and we have literally been training every day since then. There is so much to take in and remember and I feel like my head is spinning. But I have enjoyed every minute of it and have already made some pretty awesome new friends at the school. There are a lot of teachers my age and we are all in this together and ready for a wild and very trying first year as teachers!

I have been working on my room in between training and while it is not completely finished, it is ready for students and that's all that matters! Hope you enjoy :)
*Note: I did not paint prior to decorating and had to use previous wall colors for my color scheme. I still think it turned out quite nice for a junior high classroom - not too kiddy, yet just enough time put in to show them that I care about our learning environment.

 This is a short note that the students will see as they enter the room each day. I really hope they appreciate it and are motivated by it.

 Front, left side of the room. Here, the school-wide rules and consequences are posted.

Front, right side of the room. Here I have posted the agenda for each day as well as the learning objectives. 

This is our word wall (with Peanuts bordering in honor of mi Madre).

My desk in the back of the room. 

 This is our book recommendation section of the room. The idea is to have students use post-it notes and recommend books to peers throughout the school year. I might have to include an incentive to get things going on this wall ;)

 Another view of my desk. I really love the built in bookcase. It provides lots of storage below! The green butcher paper on the front of my desk is for an in-class activity we will complete this week. I'll post pictures of that once it is done! Right now it simply asks the question, "What kind of teacher do you want?"

I am excited and nervous about my first day tomorrow! Can't wait to update you on how it went.

Keep On Teachin' On,

Friday, August 3, 2012


Yesterday I went up to the school to see my classroom. In the process, I got to meet one of the APs, Ms. Holland. She was super nice and gave me a lot to look forward to. She said that Hutch is one of the best schools for a brand new teacher to begin her career. She talked about the teachers and staff that all support one another and get along and how the students love to be loved on by teachers when they know you care about them! It really did give me a relief because I had heard some not so good things about the school and I was excited to hear some positive for a change! I am one of about 4 new teachers on the Language Arts team so there will be many shoulders to lean on this year. I also have a "go-to" 7th grade reading teacher that is a veteran. AND, I'm directly across from the Department Chair so that support will be great to have by my side!

I'm in room 137. Here's my door - haha! I took lots of random pictures so I can think of ways to design it while I'm out shopping. 

This was the first thing I noticed when I walked in - windows - and lots of them! I had seen a classroom once where I student taught that had no windows and I could not work that way! I was thrilled to see a wall of windows. Not only that, but our view is of the courtyard :)

This is the view when you first walk in. The big chalkboard on the back wall will soon be replaced with a dry erase board.

This is the opposite side of the "window wall." A bulletin board and yes, a built in bookcase that I am dying over! Such a space saver!

This is the front of the classroom. The projector screen is coming down and Promethean Boards are replacing them. I have never used a Promethean Board before but apparently they are like the Smart Boards used in elementary classrooms. I'm super excited about getting new technology for the kiddos and hey, me too!

The only things I'm not really diggin' are the paint colors. They aren't soooo bad but just not sure that I want to keep them yet. I will have time to paint before the first day on the 27th so I might see what leftover colors I have at the house from painting bedrooms to save a little money!

Keep On Teachin' On

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Hire Orientation

This won't be exciting for you but I was thrilled to already have my first orientation for the district. I met lots of people and everyone was so nice! We did lots of paperwork and talked about insurance and pay and all that other fun stuff - yea right :)

What I did get out of the orientation that I was dying to get my hands on was the curriculum for the upcoming year. I don't think it's ever too early to start planning for your school year, especially as a first year teacher. On another blog that I recently read, a veteran teacher was already planning her first two weeks and a powerpoint for their first Open House so I knew I had to be behind! The Director of Personnel kindly led me to his office and showed me how to access the curriculum online. I have already taken a look at it and plan on starting some lessons this weekend while I enjoy some sun in the backyard.

We also got a schedule of the days that we are required to report on in August. My first day to report is August 15 and the students start back on August 27. I love me some schedules and timelines so I'm going to buy a new calendar today to get all my important dates in. I'm dying to see my classroom too but I guess that will have to wait until the 15th...sigh...

Thanks for stopping by!

Keep On Teachin' On!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I know, I've completely abandoned this blog. With work and a puppy and trying to get a teaching job I've just had zero motivation to write about any updates. I have however, kept a journal about my journey to teaching and let me just tell you that as soon as I let go of trying to control getting a job by MYSELF, God showed up big! He always does and He is never failing.

My student teaching ended on April 13. I wish I would have posted more about my experience there like I did at my first placement, Coble Middle School. But, hey, at least I'm back and in the groove now! :)

Since then I have been testing for state certification and sending resumes to schools with Language Arts openings. It is the most non-personal thing I've had to do in order to get a job. You have to apply to the most general email listed on the district's website and basically hope that a principal runs across your name and resume out of thousands of other people in the system. You also have to have an application completed for the district as well. I hand delivered a few resumes to two school thinking that would I checked multiple districts every morning for new job postings and personally emailed the principals of the schools in which I was student teaching. I got a response from one that said to keep on trying and applying because they hire up until the first day of school. UP UNTIL THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL?! It was then that I realized that I couldn't wait all summer to get a job that close to school starting, especially as a first year teacher. I remembered the saying, "It's all about who you know." I started emailing anyone that I knew that worked in the school district, in any capacity, and asked that they please pass my name on to their principal. I took a lot of it into my own hands and felt the Lord quickly say that He was in control of this situation, not me! "Ok," I told myself. My focus had gone to "get a job, get a job, get a job" and not asking the Lord what He was going to do and/or where He wanted me to teach. It was about what IIIII wanted, not the Lord. I let go of control and anxiousness and I think I even went a few days without checking the website for new postings. Soon after, I got a call from Shackelford Jr High about an open position. Long story short, I interviewed with them a week later and was notified that I did not get the job 2 days after that. I was crushed. I cried and cried. I had set really high expectations for myself and got so wrapped up in getting it that I didn't even prepare myself for getting a call that said I would not be offered the position. Slone, my husband, comforted me that night and told me to keep my head up and that something would come along. The next morning, I was checking the website again for additional openings.

I need to back up for just minute and say something about this phone call from Shackelford. It is in the Arlington Independent School District (AISD), meaning it's in Arlington, Texas. I live in Mansfield and was focusing my efforts there since I wanted to be close to home. I had filled out an application online with AISD but by no means was I really pursuing any openings there, plus they had zero positions listed online to apply for! The way I see it, the Lord dropped this one right in my lap once I gave up control of trying to do it all myself and said to me, "Ok, let's start here." Even though that outcome didn't turn out as planned (and it rarely does!) I still trusted He was at work and would land me somewhere perfect.

So I have now had practice in one interview and been shot down (ha!). The following Sunday I was teaching my 6th graders in Sunday school and one girl mentioned that her mom works as the Director of Secondary Personnel in AISD. What my ears heard was, "My mom can email a principal with openings that few people know about." I wrote down her email and emailed her first thing Monday morning. She forwarded my information on to TWO principals and Tuesday morning I was contacted for an interview at Nichols Jr High. I interviewed with a panel a few days later and drum roll, please....was turned down again! I called my mom just bawling my eyes out. Ironically enough, she had gone for a promotion at her job about a week prior to this (and didn't get it) and knew just what to say to pep me up. I picked myself up and moved on to the next (after a few days of sulking)...

Within the next few days a principal's secretary called me for an interview. The first two interviews had been with panels, but she said I would only be meeting with the principal in this interview. That was less stressful and I felt prepared because I had just had two great interviews as practice. I show up on a Thursday and interview for about 30 minutes. At the end he said that he would be leaving for vacation the following day and that he wanted to make a decision by the end of the day. I would receive a phone call if I was offered the position and a letter if not. Soon it was 5pm, then 5:30, then 6...and Slone and I both had to assume that the principal had left for the day and that I did not get the job. This time around, I wasn't sad. Well, part of me was but I didn't cry like the first two times. There was almost a peace about it as well that the Lord had given me. Friday morning, I emailed him to say thank you for his time and for the interview. I also emailed the secretary to see if she knew that someone had been offered the position. I didn't hear anything from either of them but something (possibly the Holy Spirit) kept telling me that he hadn't made his decision yet. But I forced that thought away because I knew I had to move on and keep searching. Monday evening rolls around and I'm leaving Texas Power (my current full-time job). I get a call at 5:15 from the principal of the school I last interviewed. HE OFFERS ME THE JOB! I literally paused for about 2 seconds and said, "Oh, ummm, ok!" I apologized for sounding so shocked but (politely-haha) reminded him that he said I would have gotten a call last Thursday if the position was mine and that I had assumed I didn't get it. He mentioned a few things that came up and he had to get done before calling me. Granted I told him in the interview that nothing would keep me from taking the position, I was very thrown off by the call and asked him if I could call him back with my answer because I wanted to discuss it with my husband first. I told him that we had mentally moved on and were looking for a job somewhere else since I didn't get a call the previous week. I think he was shocked that I didn't accept right away but it's always important to me to discuss big changes like this with my husband. He is along for the ride too and I wanted us to be on the same page about my next move. I got home and told him the news and asked him what I should do. His response, "Go be a teacher, Plum!" And I smiled really big and ran outside to call the principal back. He said that he was excited to have me on board and that I wouldn't regret the decision to work there. He mentioned that lots of changes were being made at the school and that I would be able to see the fruits of that in the upcoming school year. I knew from the beginning of my search that I wanted to be in a school that was "revamping," if you will, and one in which I could be part of big changes for the better. We ended the call and I contacted Rhonda Clark, Director of Secondary Personnel, A.K.A. the mother of the 6th grader I teach at church. I thanked her for recommending me so quickly to these principals and she said that she couldn't take the credit for it because it was her daughter that had told her so much about me and how I would be a great teacher. I almost started crying when she said that. It just touched my heart so much to know that such a young person would think to talk to their mom about getting someone a job. Rhonda told me that I would need to come in the following day and sign my letter of commitment to the district, so I did just that and signed up for the next new hire orientation for July 11.

When I went back inside I hugged on Slone and just couldn't stop smiling that I had just been offered a teaching position. We decided that we would go celebrate at our favorite place, Suzushii. Before we left, I wanted to give Tana (our puppy) a chance to use the bathroom so I went to let her outside. As I looked out the back door, I saw this bigger-sized bird that I had seen a time or two about a month ago in the backyard. I wasn't sure what it was but knew I hadn't seen one before and yelled for Slone to come see it. He informed me that it was a roadrunner. I couldn't believe it! The mascot of my new school is a ROADRUNNER!! (They are officially called, Chaparrals) Is God cool or what!? He was just confirming for me that He is, as always, in control of every detail! I will never forget that confirmation.

That night, I reflected on the things that I felt the Lord say and do in this whole process. In all of 3 weeks, I had 3 interviews and a job offer at the final one. It was a whirlwind of emotions and trying to sort out what it was that the Lord was doing but I believe he led me to the perfect fit which is Hutcheson Jr High. I wanted to control every piece of it from the beginning but it wasn't until I sat back and realized that He was trying to get me to the right school by HIS means that I started to see Him work week after week.

If you read through all of this, I applaud you! :) Mostly, this post was for me to have to reflect back on and see how God weaved it all together. And I think it's only fair that if you are going to follow my teaching journey from here on out, that you know how I got here :)

Keep on Teachin' On!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm now a leopard

I'm now at Mary Lillard Intermediate completing my final six weeks of student teaching. The first six weeks flew by and this week is already almost over. My time with the kids at this school will be short because of Spring Break but I know we all need the vacation so I won't complain. From the moment I walked into the office of the school I had a good feeling. The staff is extremely nice and my CT, Mrs. Brewer, is a pro and I'm already learning so much from her. She has given me many things to do in my first few days there. We are planning a unit on Africa and then we are going to do a unit on drama with the kids after Spring Break. She introduced me to Reader's Theater so I'm currently finding different selections for the students to read. I am going to invite the principal to view them so I am going to pour lots of time and effort into getting the groups ready to present their plays!