What's New in the Life of Miss. Whimsy?

Well, school started a little over two weeks ago and I have been busy adapting to a new schedule. I have taken on the job of Special Education Para Professional and schedules have been changing incessantly! Talk about kids needing structure and routine- I need it too! But with classroom teachers, special educators, and therapists needing scheduling time it will take another week or so to get everyone's schedules in order. I look forward to that day!

Other than that, I have been enjoying getting to know my students though it has been a challenge beginning instruction right away. Is it just me or can't we give young kids a few days to acclimate them back into the routine of school? Why slam them with so much instruction the first week? Change is hard! I think in my ideal world we would be able to take our time teaching students the routines of school and then slowly adding in more academic instruction time. Keyword being: slowly. But, that's just me.

I know that this job will prove to be a great and always needed learning experience for me as I wait for a classroom of my own. However, I can't pretend that I am not still hopeful that something could open up for me as I work. I have been looking in Virginia (I currently live/work in CT) because my sister and boyfriend live in the area. It seems like jobs are scarce there as well though. Or maybe it's because I am applying late in the game?

What are your thoughts? If you were in my shoes would you continue looking elsewhere while you worked as a SpEd Para? Are there other states I should look into? I am open to moving, if only for a classroom home.

Inexpensive Date Ideas

    • Stars on the Hood
      • Not IN the hood, ON the hood of your car, late at night, maybe with a blanket on top. 
    • Poker Night
      • Typically a party game, make it interesting by betting chores, favors or dares. One example, loser gives the winner a massage.
    • Bake-Off
      • Decide on something you both like and make 2 different recipes. Winner gets bragging rights. :) You could also both choose the same recipe but see who could make the recipe healthier but still tasty. 
    • Classic Park & Picnic
      • Cheese & crackers, wine, mini sandwiches, grapes, chocolate, and baguettes. Yum!
    What are some other inexpensive date nights?

    Back to School Two-Day Sale!!

    Where on earth did the summer go? Nevermind. Time to gear up with a TpT sale. Everything in my store is 20% off starting August 18 and you can get an additional discount by using the promo code: BTS13

    Click the banner below to check it out:

    Quick DIY: Crystal Light Containers

    Anyone ever play the game Kaboom? I use it with prekinders to practice their ABCs but you can use this game with math facts, number sense, etc. I took 26 popsicle sticks and wrote letters A-Z in both upper and lower case on each one. Then I grabbed two more popsicle sticks and wrote Kaboom on each. 

    The container I used is an empty Crystal Light Container. I printed a label, laminated it, and done! Easy peasy!

    To play: Kids sit in a circle, close their eyes and choose one stick. If they get a letter they would say the letter and if said correctly, they keep it. If they get Kaboom! they have to yell Kaboom and jump up! 

    What DIY's have you done recently?

    Here's to a Happy New School Year

    As the summer progresses one pressing thought has been weighing on my mind: where will I teach?

    Looking for a job as a teacher in our current economy has been a frustrating and intensely heart breaking experience. I long to have my own classroom and students that I can call my own for an entire school year. I long to build relationships with my students and co-workers. I desire a permanent home so that my students, past and present, can always find me. With all my hopes and dreams, teaching has always been my number one.

    I pray that my challenges in the past will soon be rewarded. I pray that I can finally educate, inspire, and love a classroom full of students from this coming school year and every subsequent school year.

    Best wishes for all my fellow educators. And may good things come to those who have waited..and waited...and waited.

    First Day of Summer School!

    With a boy-dominated rising-kindergarten literacy class I am happy to say that I made it alive! I've got a rambunctious group this year but I have a balance of outgoing and introverted personalities so I think I'll be OK.

    I always try to be extra cautious and structured on the first day of summer school. I realize that the first impression, activity, smile, ect. make a BIG deal with little ones. I also wanted to make sure that I took what I learned from last year (since I'm teaching the same class) and improve. Here's what I changed:

    • Quick 5 minute group bathroom break before recess. (last year I had them go with a buddy. Keep in mind we are located in a large high school due to space availability in the elementary schools). If they have to go, great. If not, they know when the time is available to them and they ALL learn where the bathroom is since we go at the same time, same location, everyday!
    • Morning GAME during circle time. We play this game called Alphabet Mix-Up with these circle ABC mats I purchased at Lakeshore last year. They and especially I like this game because it gives them an opportunity move around while learning their letters and sounds. Win-Win! I have other games planned  to mix things up later in the summer too.
    • The room changed quite a bit from last year though I am in the same classroom. For one, I borrowed a couch from the staff lounge and used it as a reading nook. The kids adored it last summer. I was unable to use it this year (partly because it wasn't in its usual spot) but I borrowed some small circular tables to place books on and use around a small rug. I think it gives the room a more homey feel despite the age of the rug! I miss the couch but for now having cute tables will have to do. 

    A current concern? I have a a boy who is very negative and disrupts the dynamic of the class. He will call out  this is boringgggg (even when certain kids are clearly enjoying themselves) or proclaim that he is better then everyone else because he is older. He is the middle of three boys and I understand his need for positive attention (which I try to give as much as possible!). Any other suggestions? A book recommendation would be great. :)

    Ending the School Year

    Only 3 weeks left of school! I can't believe it. I am so excited to start summer school but I will definitely miss the students I work with now. Field day was on Friday and was a big success. I was worried about the 90 degree heat and the kids (and also my skin) but everything worked out well (except for a little sunburn on my chest and arms). I loved playing cheerleader on the sidelines and helping kids who didn't understand the rules of each station. I was especially proud of my student who has autism who was afraid of going down the water slide and ended up going down twice! All by himself! Apparently, last year he would not go down without his aide but with a little nudge he did fabulous.

    What's next? I have been thinking about my summer school plans. I absolutely can't wait to set up my classroom. I already purchased some supplies and have last year's materials corralled into an area of my hallway ready to be moved to my classroom. I have also been busting my butt trying to find a job for the fall. Eek! Wish me luck! I can only hope that something comes up and soon. I really don't know how long I can play the waiting game.

    What's on your agenda this summer?

    Life as a New Kids Yoga Teacher

    I started teaching family yoga classes in January of this year. I am really enjoying it and feel like I am putting my kids yoga teacher training and elementary school teaching to good use! I like teaching with families because it is a great bonding experience for parents and their kids. I also like that I can teach more because I   have parents to help out with partner poses or to just give extra 1-1 attention to the kids.

    Something I am having trouble with is parents being overly critical and overly teaching their kids. I have 4 years olds with parents who go through point by point how specific and perfect the poses need to be! Lose-lose situation, buddy! They are kids! They don't need to be perfect, it's even better that the poses are a little silly every now and then.

    This also bothers me because I think the benefits of yoga are being lessened by all of the parents critquing their children! Needless to say, I have been wanting to preface the class with a few quick words or a story about how yoga is a practice and not a perfect. How would you address this issue?

    One of my seriously positive moments happened recently when I had a 7 year old along with her mother who suffer from scoliosis. I was really excited because I have it too! And the 3 of us have or have had to wear a back brace. I have alleviated so much back pain from simply attending yoga classes that I am excited to share the journey with this mother-daughter. I can't wait to see how yoga shapes their lives for the better. :)

    TWO-DAY TeacherspayTeachers SALE! 5/7 & 5/8

    Two day sale

    Jump on the band wagon this Tuesday and Wednesday and enjoy up to 28% off TpT goodies! Everything in my store will be 20% and you  may also use the promo code TAD13 to get an additional discount in honor of Teacher Appreciation week. :)

    Some of my favorites:

    Also check out my new SPRING color by letters!

    Where the Heck is My Job?

    When I chose was forced to become an adult I had this idea in my head that upon graduation I would fall into a beautiful serious relationship, start teaching kindergarten (or 1st grade, I’m not picky) and then, when we were both financially stable and madly in love, get engaged and start planning our wedding. Fast forward 3 years and I’m struggling to pay off my car loan, living at home, buried in job apps, on an anti-depressant and struggling to find my identity in this world. Eh.

    I’ve counted my blessings, I am lucky to have supportive parents who will let me live with them and yada yada yada. But, don’t I get at least something that is supposed to happen in my 20’s? Ok the economy sucks I can’t have my dream job- give me a great guy. Or give me a great income. I’m not that choosy. Gimme something!

    I didn’t think that becoming a teacher would be this difficult. I got a good education, lots of experience working and volunteering with kids, great reviews from my co-workers and supervisors…I just always thought that getting a teaching job would be easier than say being a doctor despite the economy. Or a lawyer or some other job that ends up paying a lot. My field is helping children! Our future! Don’t you want to invest in a talented and stunning teacher??? I’m right here! My hand is raised! Pick me! 

    I would love to hear your story. What was the life you imagined after college? How different and unexpected is it now? Where the heck is my happily ever after? And where the heck is my job?

    Kids Yoga Goodie Bags

    Goodie Bag Contents:
    • Small Playdough - Stress Relief
    • Bubbles - Breath Work
    • Tattoos - Fun!
    • Heart Stickers - Compassion
    The stickers on the front of the bag were found on Amazon. I also included my business card. What other yoga-themed goodies would you include?

    What's in My Teaching Bag?

    I love to find out what everyone is carrying whether it is their teaching bag, yoga bag, or purse! I try to keep my teaching bag neat and minimal because I am prone to back pain if I don't. My teal purse is from DSW which was originally around $70, marked down to $40 and with a $10 off coupon made it $30. :)

    What's in my Teaching Bag?
    DSW Kelly & Katie Bag
    What's in my Teaching Bag?
    Keys clipped by Carabiner for easy access.
    What's in my Teaching Bag?

    What's in my Teaching Bag?

    Here are my essentials:
    • Yes to Carrots Lip Butter
    • Tissues 
    • Advil
    • Car keys (on a Caribiner for easy retrieval) 
    • Oil Blotting Sheets
    • Wallet
    • Granola Bars & Crystal Light packets in a zip lock bag
    • Pen
    • iPhone (not shown)
    • White Folder for work papers
    • Sunglasses 

    I try to store everything vertically in my bag for easy access. I also carry an Aladdin cup for water as well as a green lunch bag. What are your teaching bag essentials? 

    25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

    Inspired by this post. I present 25 things I have learned in almost 25 years.
    1. Life is a lot more complicated as we get older. 
    2. Relationships become more complex with age. 
    3. Planning never goes as planned. 
    4. I love chocolate. 
    5. Yoga is good for the body and even better for the mind. 
    6. I love to teach. It doesn't matter what it is I am just happy to share what I know and have learned. 
    7. I love being a student. I love to learn and don't want to stop. 
    8. Poetry is beautiful. 
    9. Love can be complicated but it doesn't have to be. Try to simplify it. 
    10. I don't know anything. 
    11. Sometimes I think I know everything. 
    12. I desperately want to be a mother and can't wait until I am one. 
    13. Life is tough. 
    14. I hate money. 
    15. I want more money. 
    16. Hold on to good friendships. 
    17. Don't be afraid to cultivate new friendships. You can never have enough. 
    18. People are naturally good. Society destroys them. Try to build them back up. 
    19. Be good to people. All people. 
    20. Accept compliments. 
    21. Smile. As much as you can.
    22. Be thankful for everything. 
    23. Happiness is the most important thing. 
    24. Listen to music daily. You'll be glad you did. 
    25. Despite the challenges in my past and the difficulty of patience I still genuinely believe that good things come to those who wait...and wait. 
    Wishing you all good things! What have you learned this year?

    How To: Create a Blog Media Kit

    A Media Kit is essentially your blog's resume. If you are looking to advertise on your blog having one prepared is a smart idea. Blog still new? Create an outline now and update the statistics when you are ready.

    First, keep in mind that, like a resume, Media Kit formats are subjective. Be creative but professional, clean, and concise. 
    1. Welcome: Describe your blog, target audience, and a little about yourself. Why should they advertise with you?
    2. Blog Features: Do you have topics that you address weekly? Monthly features?
    3. Statistics (include Google Analytics picture):
      1. Page views per month (Source: Google Analytics):  
      2. Average page views (in the last 3 months): 
      3. Unique visitors per month: 
      4. Traffic sources with number of incoming links per month.
      5. Reader demographics (from Quantcast)
      6. Subscribers:
        1. RSS:
        2. Mailing list:
        3. Google Followers: 
        4. Twitter followers: 
        5. Pinterest followers: 
    4. Sponsorship Details: What kind of ad spacing are you selling? What size and price? Where will the ad space be? Will you host giveaways? 
      1. Include Payment Options here. PayPal or check? Do they need to pay prior to their ad's appearance?

    I recommend having a Tab Link titled Advertise or Sponsor with a few statistics and contact information for a complete media kit. This allows you to get a feel for anyone even remotely interested in advertising on your blog. Also, if a sponsor is hesitant, you will already have their e-mail on file and could contact them a month or two in the future once your blog grows.

    Still confused? Let's chat about it in the comments.

    Minimalist Classroom Tips & Tricks

    A clean, organized, and green classroom is a constant process. Tackle one or two bullet points a day for 15 minutes every morning. Use your students to help you. It is their classroom too and they love to help. Also, don't forget about room mothers, classroom volunteers, interns and student teachers.
    Student's Desks:
    • Assign a student as a Desk Manager who, once a week, looks inside all of the students desks and chooses one as a winner. The cleanest, most organized desk wins. 
    • Send home finished essays, projects, etc every 2 weeks. Consider writing down everything on the Smart or white board that needs to go home to keep clutter at a minimum. 
    • Assign each student a white board to keep in their desks. For younger students they can use these to color on instead of using paper all the time. For older students, they can use these to answer questions that you project to the whole class. You can come around and check their answers or have them hold them up for a quick check of understanding. 
    Teacher's Desk:

    • This year vow to use an online calender to write down your lesson plans. Google Calender is great because you can access it from anywhere, your desk, home or bring a tablet to faculty meetings. 
    • You know all those binders you have full of lesson plans, materials and unit plans? This summer break,   scan all your resources into the computer. Separate files with folders by month and then by topic. 

    • Ask your students what books are there favorite and what books no one has ever touched. Why haven't these books been touched? If it's because they are hidden in a corner or tucked behind classics then rotate your books. Any books that are ripped beyond repair should be recycled. Books that do not fit your students interests or levels donate to another classroom
    • If you have limited resources consider doing a book swap with another classroom. Have each student choose one book for another classroom to borrow and have another classroom do the same. Two weeks later swap back. Do this every month so that kids can experience new books and are reminded of how good it feels to share. 
    • Pick up the first thing off the shelf, behind the cabinet, or hidden behind your desk. Have you used that  in the past year (if you are teaching the same grade) if not, donate it to another classroom. You aren't going to use it. 
    • Be ruthless with your sticker collection! Consider donating some to a new teacher. Same goes for books, workbooks, etc.
    • Clean or toss old glue sticks and wipe down sticky scissors. All your kids who have to wait an extra few minutes for their busses can test out markers. Donate the old markers to the art room where they can be cut apart to make watercolors. 
    • Grab an empty jar, stick a post-it note on it that says broken crayons. Whenever a kid or teacher finds a broken crayon they can put it in the jar. Once it is full, have a parent make new crayons with them. 

    What Should I Leave for the Sub?

    As a substitute with almost 3 years of experience I have seen it all. Here's what every substitute folder should include:
    • List Students Who are Helpful. Kids you would recommend I reach out to if I can't find something, or need them to run an errand. Most classes have Students of the Day but having a list of additional helpers is still important. I tend to assign numerous jobs during the day both for myself and to redirect negative behaviors. 
    • List Students to Watch out For and offer suggestions to avert negative behaviors. 
      • Susie tends to have anxiety so please watch out for her/be extra sensitive.
      • Teddy is rambunctious and can't sit still - give him important jobs like sending him to Mrs. Lucy's room to deliver a "message" so he benefits from walks. 
      • Leonard likes to answer every question- give him extra attention during transitions but remind him that we need to take turns when you ask questions.
    • Have a Seating Chart
    • List reading, math, writing and work buddies. Kids often always forget so having it written down for the sub is very helpful. 
    • Leave Extra Assignments or Activities
    • Reward System: Let us know if you have one and what it is. Do you have a compliment chain? Reward individual behavior or only for groups?
    • Bathroom/Drink Procedure: Are they only allowed to go after lunch? Once in the morning and once in the afternoon? Only during transition times? Also, include which students to look out for who typically go repeatedly out of boredom or for actual health reasons. 
    What else should teachers leave for substitutes?

    Get a Footer and Make it Good

    Or a new pair of shoes. Actually, you need both. A footer, located at the very bottom or foot of your post is highly underused in teaching blogs. Too often we are so focused on our header, other graphics and the blog posts that we neglect what is a very important feature. Why? Because it is the last thing your readers see before clicking that X in the corner. What kind of impression do you want to leave your readers with?

    Get a Footer

    Decide how you want the footer to help you. Do you want to...
    • Connect with Readers? Leave your social media links as a way for them to find you.
    • Get More Subscribers? Make that link easily accessible and don't be afraid to put it in more then one place on your blog.
    • Stay on Your Blog Longer? Include links to your popular posts, archives, or specialty posts. 
    • Make more money? Include an advertisement, link to your TeacherspayTeachers store, or link to your Etsy shop.
    • Declutter: My favorite! Streamline your sidebar(s) by placing links in the footer instead. 

    A footer is not just for Copyright information. As vital as that is, a footer should be used wisely based on the impression you want to make and the results you want to obtain. 

    How are you improving your footer? Did you even have one before reading this?

    I Quit My Job...Oops?

    I have been trying for a year and a half to find an elementary teaching job. I was unsuccessful and was forced to substitute teach during this time. Depression and anxiety found me and terrorized my well being. 3 weeks ago I decided enough was enough. I was at my breaking point. I had tried everything to make myself feel better. More than just searching for jobs, networking, and applying my brains out I tried to combat depression on my own. Hmmm doesn't work like that. I tried taking supplements (flaxseed oil and D3), journaling, writing poetry, yoga, talking to a friend, creating a food journal: I felt like I tried everything and had no other choice but to put my big girl panties on and talk to my doctor.

    The irony is not lost on me because when you have depression you have no desire to eat or sleep or do anything so how the heck was I going to find motivation to seek help? Well, I found my breaking point and luckily getting help has been the biggest relief. I am now on medication and going to talk therapy and I feel like myself again. I feel better than I have in a long time. I am so thankful that I found the courage to reach out and get help. I don't no where I would be if I hadn't.

    Feeling better, I decided that this year is going to be focused on putting my health and happiness first. I want to do more yoga and find a more consistent job. Subbing really drained me at the end of the day. I loved working with the kids but I did not feel like I belonged to a school or a community and that is why I needed to quit. Because this year I need to do anything and everything that makes me happy.

    Before quitting, I spoke to my family about how I was feeling and was urged to stick it out for a few more months. At least until the end of the year. But with this new release of depression and anxiety I found the courage to make my own decision. I decided that I would be making my own decisions this year. This could be a huge mistake but the mistake had to be completely my own.

    Prior to getting help I had begun training to be a kids yoga instructor. This brought me so much peace and solace in my life that I decided to pursue teaching yoga. I find happiness in reading books again. I am smiling again, more calm, and less anxious then ever before. Am I still struggling with money? Yes. Am I exactly where I want to be in my life? In a relationship? With a full time job? No, but I've made a great start and I'm happy. And being happy is really all I care about right now.

    Yoga Pose for Anxiety

    The Popcorn Pose is really helpful for kids who are suffering from anxiety or just have a little extra nervous energy. This pose is great to do right before a test! Start out by having the child lay down on their back. Have them curl their body in and hug their knees in tight.

    When you say "pop!" they should extend their arms and legs. Curling in, and then "popping" out by extending limbs. If you are doing this with a group of kids you can go around in a circle having each child say "pop." This is a great way to build self control as well! 

    How do you calm students before taking a test?

    How To: Promote Your Blog

    1. Pinterest: I'm sure this has been rubbed in your face but it truly is an invaluable tool and my top source of incoming traffic. I recommend posting around 8 or 9pm or between 2 and 4pm during the week. Saturday mornings are also a popular time. Make your life easier and sign up with Pingraphy. It is an easy way to schedule your pins and it's free. 
    2. Build Relationships: with fellow bloggers in your niche. Whether you are a teacher, knitter, techie or substitute chances are there are loads more bloggers just like you. Find their blogs and comment. Strike up conversations, join them on social media- if it's meant to be you may just meet your new best friend and/or a new blog follower. 
    3. Take Turns: Reach out to other bloggers and take turns writing guest posts for each other or blogging about each others TeacherspayTeachers products. It's a win-win for both parties because your subscribers may find a new blog to follow and vice versa. 
    4. Facebook & Twitter: It is helpful to at least have one of the two. Use this as another way of reaching out to others and start by sharing your most popular posts. Be sure to retweet or Facebook other bloggers' posts as well. It is nice to recognize others and the favor just may be reciprocated. 

    How do you get your blog noticed?

    Quotes in the Classroom

    I love quotes. I am a Pinterest hoarder of quotes both for myself and for kids. They can be really great in the classroom to motivate and inspire kids to not only do their best but to inspire their writing as well! I have used them to prompt short writing assignments when I have an extra 15 minutes to spare.
    Here's what I do:

    Quotes for Kids

    Start by reading a quote and ask the students what they think it means. You will get a lot of generic answers like "everyone can read" or "lions can't read but here they can read." These answers will come and are expected but remind kids to dig a little deeper. Have more than one quote available too, you never know what will really "speak" to kids.

    Quotes in the Classroom
    After a short discussion ask kids to write their interpretation of the quote and have kids present theirs after 10-15 minutes. Most kids will take the assignment very literally but some students will surprise you with their take on things. I have done this with 4th graders but I think younger kids could handle this as well sans writing with just a discussion and the opportunity to draw and label their interpretation.

    Quotes in the Classroom

    If you try it out or have done this before let us know what you think in the comments below! You can find these and plenty more quote posters here.