Friday, July 20, 2018

Boho Llama Decor Bundle

New things are about to happen in my TPT store and I am so excited about it. I have several new decor sets coming out this month, just in time for school. Before I post the new sets, I want to introduce my Boho Llama Set. This set has been up in several pieces for a while now. I am getting everything bundled together and hope to have the full bundle up this weekend. I absolutely love it. A few people have somehow stumbled across some of the pieces that I have up on TPT and are already enjoying them. 

How cute is this alpha banner? Seriously, I absolutely LOVE this style...and the colors have me swooning!

Another look at a small sample of the alpha banner. You can also see some of the positive notes home resting on the little shelf. Love using little notes like this to let parents know that I see the good in their babies. 

These are a couple of the different binder covers that I have for this set. There are six different styles in all, and they are so llama-licious. 

Just a quick peek at the overall look of the set. You can really tie it in with so many different color combinations. You can see a little view of the calendar set as well on the floor in the picture below. 

Love this sweet calendar bulletin board with hanging pieces.

An up close view of the positive notes home.

If you are interested in snagging the full decor set, be on the lookout for its debut this weekend. I will update with a post here. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Traveling the U.S.A. for Professional Development

This year, our school has really focused on professional development. It has given me the opportunity to travel to new places while mastering my craft. Those two are really two of my passions. I always joke about quitting my day job and becoming a travel blogger. But then I know I would miss being in the classroom and making a difference in little lives every day. That is my main passion.

I'm going to let you in on a secret about me. I have always been passionate about teaching, even from the time I was little, I have known what I wanted to be. I would come home from school and line up my dolls and teach them all I could. Even back then, I was creating lessons (worksheets) for them. In forth grade, I wrote a piece of writing about my dream of being a teacher. There was a short moment of insanity when I thought becoming a physical therapist sounded exciting...but that dream came to a screeching halt when I found out that I would have to train in a cadaver lab. It immediately snapped me back to reality and I have never looked back. 

So, I am thankful to have the opportunity to have fulfilled my dream of being a teacher for all these years and also, I am thankful that in this season of my career, that my travel bug is also getting fed. 

Ending up in San Francisco and Napa Valley has been like a dream. It started last year. I knew that I would be changing schools, since our school was closing. The new school was going to be very cutting edge and involve new practices that I would need to learn. Learning on your own through reading books and visiting websites just does not answer all the questions that need answered. It does not allow for as much growth as needs to happen. And so I began searching for conferences and stumbled upon this one, PBL World. 

I had my eye on PBL World for last summer, but it just never came to fruition. However, as soon as I heard that we would be encouraged to do some training, I signed myself up for the summer of 2018. 

PBL World is the biggest conference of Project Based Learning and it is held in California every summer. Here, you get to learn from the leaders in PBL through the Buck Institute. They are the gold standard in all things PBL, so it is a real privilege to learn from the best.   

For the past three days, my colleagues and I have been immersed in learning the tips, tricks, techniques, and practices of PBL. We started at the beginning, being an actual student and working through a PBL the first day, to spending the next two days hearing all about it, and being guided in writing one of our own. I has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I am not taking it for granted. 

This Thing Called PBL

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The End and the Beginning

This year marks not only the end of a year, but the end of an era at my school. After 100 years, our doors are closing. This summer, a brand new school is being built. I will be moving to that school next year. 

It felt weird packing up my classroom and moving things out. This school has been my home for the past eight years. My own babies started at this school and now will be going into 5th and 3rd grades. Locking my classroom door for the last time and turning in my keys seemed sad somehow.  There are just so many memories of this place.

I do look forward to the new school. It brings new opportunities. New challenges. It is stretching me to grow and learn. I am spending lots of time learning new techniques and mastering my craft. 

We will be using a Reggio method in the lower grades. We will also incorporate project and service based learning. I am excited to see what the new year holds. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Ron Clark Experience Day 2

I was excited to make my way back to the Ron Clark Academy...and when I arrived there on my second day, my phone's message told me I had arrived at work. Maybe it knows something I don't know. 😉

We were quickly ushered into the gym where the students were waiting and we were divided into houses. We quickly learned the house chant and practiced it. Then after a little while, we performed it, with the students, for the rest of the school. After all the chants were done, we watched a short show from the RCA step team. They were really good. 

Then it was time, again, for another general session with Ron Clark. His talks are always filled with humor and are so engaging. He spoke to us all about attitudes. You don't have to give negative people power. Think of them as a piece of salt. Let them blow away after they walk away (no matter how negative the encounter with them was). YOU have the power to choose if you have a negative or a positive experience. Do you want to see the negatives about your school, your work, or your life? Or do you want to see the positives. That was a powerful reminder. You can actually change your mindset, depending on what you choose to focus on. 

Ron also spoke a lot about creating parent connections. It begins by learning the names of all of the parents and people involved in the students' lives. At RCA, they even go so far as to be tested on the names of all family members. But imagine coming into a school where the teachers and staff know not just the student names, but also those of their family. That is amazing! It is just one extra thing that shows how much they care. 

Another way that students at the Ron Clark Academy connect with families is that they are required to do home visits. He gives tips for things you should do while on a home visit. Also, he encourages all teachers to send a beginning of the year postcard and call with positives. Parents are not used to getting positive feedback, generally speaking. When everything is going well, teachers tend to do nothing and say nothing. But when teachers do make a phone call, many times it is for something negative. He talked about how parents tend to check out when they get too many negative calls and it doesn't make a difference in the students, instead it backfires by making parents see the teacher as the problem, not the student. 

I appreciate that Ron did talk about how to handle parent problems, focusing on de-escalating them, instead of making matters worse. Teaching is have to draw a wall around your hearts and keep the people you love most right there. You can't allow the profession you have chosen to break your is everything and they must be first. Don't tell your spouse the worst of your day. Focus on the positive. Then put the problem people in your head and shake it off....people can be crazy.

Ron spoke about different types of people. They are represented by the following: 

Runners: People who go above and beyond. They don't complain. They are humble. You are a runner when you work to lift others up.

Joggers: They do their jobs but want attention for what they do. They complain. They talk about how hard their job is. 

Walkers: These workers are pulled by the bus. They complain about everything....EVERYTHING. They handle situations in the worst possible way and have no work ethic. 

Riders: These workers are ingrained in the culture because they do nice things for the clientele, but they don't do their job. 

Praise the runners. Their deserve praise, validation, cheer, and support. That's when you create a revolution.

Next up was Kim Bearden. She hosted a workshop about her new upcoming book, Talk to Me. She outlined 6 principles for communication: I took a lot of notes on this one because it felt so valuable. But briefly, the principles are: 
1. consideration
2. motivation
3. appreciation
4. validation
5. conversation
6. celebration

These tips were really invaluable in helping people feel valued, even in the midst of feeling angry. It helps take the pressure off their anger from you and allows you to work together for a solution.

Next, we went to Mrs. Barnes room. I did not get to see her teach, but I loved her room, which was decorated like a music room or coffee shoppe. She had a Q&A session. It was interesting to find out all about the inner workings of RCA. I especially found it interesting that they do not have a set schedule of the week. Each week, the teachers turn in a schedule request and from there the classes are divided up. It was also eye-opening to find out that they do not have substitute teachers. If another teacher is gone for a day, whoever has a free period during that time steps in for the day. They truly feel like a team and even more, a family. I just loved the culture of the place.

Mrs. Barnes had a scripture verse listed in her room, but gave only the text, I had to go and look it up later. It was Hebrews 10:35-36. It says, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

After that, we went again to Hope King's (Alice in Wonderland themed) room for a workshop on engagement through the use of games. She challenged us with the fact that all over America students are not wanting to be there but are just surviving. What if our students went to school in an environment that they wanted to be in? Instead of giving all the power to standards and assessments, we want to give our students the attitude of a learner, not merely a survivor. We need to change the mindset about school. We WANT them to WANT to come to school. Hope uses a lot of engagement techniques to make students WANT to be there. One of the strategies she uses is games. The games are not just fun, but full of learning and rigor. She has some very specific rules for the games she chooses. 
1. No turns/ no outs...every child MUST play the entire time.
2. Higher Level: games should rely more on application of skill than on memorization.
3. Management: Kids are going to do what they are allowed to do, so set high expectations.

The next workshop was with Dr. Jones. She is one of the math teachers at RCA. She gave us a lot of information about free technology resources she uses in her classroom. I am going to try several of them. 

Dr. Jones talked about changing the student mindset when it comes to math. She said that 50% of math is how you feel about it. Instead of becoming discouraged over not knowing how to do a problem, students should think, What do I know about this problem that I can start with?

Mr. Thompson is the science teacher. He talked all about setting up expectations and rules. He also spoke about how the teachers at RCA use songs as memory devices for students to memorize content. It starts like this:
Students choose a song they like. The students write the song. Their job is to include the answers to the test in the song....get as many details into that song as they can. Once the students practice the song, be sure to point out how it can help them with the information. You will definitely see students using the song as they take their tests. They will retain the information forever. Songs are just that powerful!

At the end of the day, we had another workshop with Wade and Hope King. It was all about the culture and climate of the school. They said, "If you can't have fun at your job, why are you even doing it?" I completely agree. Some of their tips were:

*Make your room the place to be. 
*Think about that one thing you can do and do it. 
*Be unique; be who you are.
*We can't expect students to work together and be a team when they don't even know each other. 
*Mentoring students makes them feel like they mean something to somebody.
*Ask community members for help.

They ended with three things you can do that don't take time or money:
1. Smile
2. Passion
3. Enthusaism

Coins in the stairs from every country on, so cool!

The famous blue slide.

Love this so much!

How amazing is this school logo?

Can you imagine how students would feel passing by this every day? These are the 8th grade students that will be graduating.

Pictures and artwork is this Statue of Liberty.

This rainbow floor....Amazing!

What a great experience these two days were. I highly recommend this workshop to all teachers and principals.If you can find the funding...make it happen.