Saturday, June 30, 2012

Subbing Reflections: Connecting with Students

This is my last post of my mini series on my reflections of my year of substituting.  The series started here.

Connecting with the students is probably the most important thing that I learned during my time substituting.  I definitely understand the importance of connecting in a normal classroom. However, only spending one day or a few days with a group of students makes making that connection much harder.  But again the importance of that relationship is the same.

[WOW!!! I started this post yesterday to be faithful to my commitment of posting on this topic MWF..... clearly that did not happen!  I was sitting quietly watching the Olympic Trials (I LOVE anything Olympics!!) when my house was basically raided by a bunch of our friends.  It was absolutely wonderful! It just meant blogging took a very back burner.  Ok enough of an explanation.  Let's try to get back on topic here, Brittany.]

Connecting with students even as a substitute.  One of my favorite times subbing was for third grade. As soon as the students began coming into the classroom they were shouting praise because I was there.  They were thrilled to have me and because of that were all the more ready to listen and obey :) I got so many 'I love yous' and 'We're so glad you're here'; it was truly wonderful.  It lasted all day.  Even as they left I got hugs and questions of if I was coming back tomorrow.  Those are always the best days when the students truly appreciate you and want to see you again!!

Another experience that I loved was subbing for eighth graders two Fridays in a row.  The first week was a little slow.  The students were not sure whether to trust me or hate me. (aren't those the only two options for eighth graders?) Also, I had the same groups of students multiple times that day, so by half way through the day, most had decided that I was an acceptable substitute (whew!).  So some joking and story telling was beginning.  By the end of the day I got a couple 'Are you coming back?' questions that made my day.  And lucky for them, I was! So the next Friday, when they came in and saw me they were thrilled as well, just without all the verbal praise obviously.  I knew they really liked me when I started getting stories about their drama and being asked what I thought about it!! That is some high praise for a substitute.  Although eighth graders can be a challenge, it was truly a joy to work with them.

Now, for a not so good experience.  I know this bad experience was for multiple reasons, but one that I can control was the lack of connection with the students.  It was one of my first experiences subbing in high school.  The teacher I was subbing for basically runs the computer lab.  So she has everything from Rosetta Stone, to Photography, to Study Hall.  But a lot of it is student led work.  For me this meant I did almost nothing!  It was torture for a teacher who likes to be hands on and engaging with the students. I had very little to talk to the students about because I was new to the school and had no idea what they were working on.  Any conversation I started I felt like I was pulling teeth to get the students to respond.  I realize that part of this is because of the age of the students.  But part of it was my attempt to try. After a few times of only receiving a nod or a shrugged shoulder, I lost motivation to connect with the students.

All of this is to say that making a connection with the students makes the job so much easier.  If you are able to connect and have that relationship with students, they are more likely to trust you, to listen to you, and to do as you say.  Without that connection it is much harder.  The students I did not have that with did not know my name, nor did I know theirs.  They did not acknowledge me anywhere or ever seem interested in having me back.  They also did not listen well while I had them in class.

Now I know every group of students is different. But I have learned that for me I need to do whatever I can to make some sort of connection with the students in effort to make the whole day, week, year better and run more smoothly.

How do you help make connections with students?  Have you ever had a situation where you 'failed' to make that connection and could see it results because of that?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Newbie Questions

So today's post is not going to be as fun as planned.  I am working on something I find very exciting but have recently encountered some trials.  So I am seeking some bloggy help! 

First, have any of you recently downloaded the font called Sassy?  It is super fun and I LOVE it. Here is a sample and a hint at what I am working on. 
The reason I am asking is because I want to give credit to her but I can't find where I got it!!  I know that I downloaded it on Saturday the 23rd and I know that I got it off of a blog!  If anyone knows PLEASE let me know.  

The second question I have is about clip art.  Where do you get your clip art?  Do you ever use the standard clip art that comes with Microsoft?  Does anyone know how copyright issues go with Microsoft's clip art?  

Any suggestions or advice for new teachers/bloggers looking to share creations?  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Shopping Linky Party

I am hopefully linking up with Ladybug Teacher Files and her Summer Shopping Linky Party. As you hopefully know I am moving to Thailand to teach.  I am super duper excited!!! I can not wait to get there and jump in to this adventure.  SOOOOO I do not know a THING about my classroom.  Yes, that is my loud voice but not my excited voice though! Anyway, since I do not know anything about my classroom I have been trying to create and find things that are basics to any classroom.  I have been thinking about things that I could not function without!!! Is that a little dramatic?? Such things like:

I had to have a bell. Since I dont have the loudest voice, I rely on this to get students attention!

I also had to get these stickers. What shopping trip does not include stickers!

Also, I have been told of a few things that I can not get in Thailand such as calendars and bulletin board borders.  Since I am a new teacher and have nothing of my own yet. I figured I would stock up on the bulletin board things. Remember however that I was not given a shipping allowance so all of these things will have to fit in my suitcase.  So for me this is a lot of things.  I love all of these things.  Can you notice my theme???

I am trying to stay in a blue and green color scheme with bright accents... basically lots of color! and.... POLKA DOTS!!!! Yes, this is my loud and Happy face!! Can you see a difference? No? Oh.  I guess I will have to work on that.  But I am so so so happy with these purchase.  I bought all of my items from MPM School Supplies.  For now this will be all of my purchases.  However, once I get to Thailand and see my classroom I am certain I will have much more to share with you.  24 days until arrival in Chiang Mai.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Subbing Reflections: Procedures and Grading

          In continuing the mini series on subbing reflections, I wanted to talk a little bit about procedures and grading. This series is a reflection of the past year that I spent substituting in almost all grade levels!  It was quite chaotic the adventure. As a sub, I tried to make sure that things ran as close to normal as possible. During my student teaching that was something I quickly learned from the students.  They all asked if after my student teaching I would be their sub since I knew how the class was supposed to run.  They "hated" having substitutes that did not know what they were doing or the routine of the day.  So my goal was to keep it simple but hopefully somewhat normal.  
         However, often when I got into a classroom I was unaware of the procedures or the way classroom was run.  Teachers would give me lessons for the day but not information about their attendance procedures, or lunch or even indoor recess procedures!!  I have recently discovered several Sub Tubs or subbing packets that have had templates for teachers to include all of this information.  One of my most favorite things I found on pinterest is the Sub Tub from Terri Thorton which can be found at her TPT store here! This is something that I feel is very important for substitutes to have so that they can be aware of all or any information necessary! 

          The other thing that I often found myself wishing that I had was information or an explanation about grading.  I know that some teachers prefer to give a test or quiz while there is a substitute so that there is not instruction time for the substitute.  Although I do not mind this, I wish teachers would think it through a little more.  For example, it would be wonderful if the answer key was available so that I could potentially help the students with any questions they might have.  Or include page numbers from where the questions came from so I could find them.  Also, I often found myself with free time and would want to grade the tests/quizzes that the students just took.  I could sometimes grade right and wrong but not total the points or anything.  I know that teachers like to have control over grading and what not but if the test is easy to grade why not let the substitute do it!!  Leaving a grading guide or an answer key is ideal, it provides the opportunity for te sub to grade or help the students.  The teacher would just have to mention in the note that grading would be nice but is not necessary.   

          Including a list of procedures or grading tips is a simple thing that teachers can include in their sub plans in order to help out their substitutes. I hope to include all of these things in my sub plan folder that will remain visible in my room.  Hope this is helpful.  I feel like I am often preaching to the choir but again, this is more for my reflection and memory!  

What kinds of things do you include in your sub folders? Do you leave grading materials for your subs?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Encouragement

amazing inspirational quotes-12

I love this quote.  It is challenging. It makes me think.  It encourages me to take the risk and not worry. I hope it does the same for you.  Be creative and do not fear being wrong.  Fear is the largest obstacle many of us have to face.  

Short and simple Sunday Encouragement!  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First Blogging Award!

I was pleasantly surprised and very honored when I opened my Blogger this morning to find an award from Teacher Mom of 3 !!  She has a wonderful blog so you should check her out!  I have now awarded all of these other wonderful people as well.  Hopefully I did this right and everything works!!  I have tried to make sure that I follow all of these people but my internet is being funky today.  So I will keep watching my Blogger to make sure that I am following all of you!
Here are the rules for this award:
Once you receive the award, you must follow 3 rules: 

1.  Follow the person that gave you the award
2.  Link back to the person that gave you the award 
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers


Teaching Maddeness

Tales from Room 112


Delighted in Second

Classroom Fun
Classroom Fun

005 Watkins Way
Second Grade Nest

Mrs. Kietzman's Classroom

Teach on a Limb

Inspired Writing Teacher

Also, shout out to Will Grade for Coffee, who is having a WONDERFUL GIVEAWAY!! Yes that is my shouting and exciting voice!  Check out the awesome things she is giving away and follow all of those wonderful people!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Subbing Reflections: Seating charts

This post is going to be short and sweet because I have been so busy this week. PLUS, one of my bestest (really thats not a word? it should be) friends is coming to visit me this weekend and I need to get the house in shape! And I am so excited I don't want to be on here any longer! Ok now I am really wasting time.

Anyway, while I was subbing one of my biggest frustrations was when teachers did not provide me with seating charts or rosters of the students.  How was I supposed to know if someone was tricking me by sitting in the wrong seat.  Or how was I supposed to know if a students pretended to be someone else...silly immature middle school boys. Is it really that difficult to include a seating chart and or roster with your subbing information...NO!

My simple solution to this, include a seating chart and roster of the students in the class.  Easy peasy. Sorry this almost seems like a waste of a post but just in case it was something you hadn't thought of.  Substitute teachers need to know who is in the class and where they are supposed to be!

Enjoy your weekend.  Any fun plans for the weekend?????  I do! I do! I do!  Ok now get the house ready because she will be here in.... oh just 2 hours!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Subbing Reflections: Supplies

In continuing the series on Subbing Reflections, which started here.  I wanted to talk a little bit about supplies.  This is probably an area where I failed the most as a substitute.

I was always told that a good substitute always has a "Bag of Tricks" which to me sounded awesome!  I wanted to have a Bag of Tricks.  But one thing led to another and I found myself going to school with things to entertain myself with rather than the students.  It seemed like they were more busy than I was.  Which in all reality the students having work is far better than me working but still.  My mind quickly forgot about the need for a Bag of Tricks.

A couple of times however I was reminded of this.  The first was a day when I was doing some sort of project with the students and they needed to use a stapler and tape.  Unfortunately the teacher locked up all of her things and forgot to leave out the stapler and tape.  It was a mess.  At first I just kept telling the students I didn't have one.... that did not last long!  After about the millionth tenth person came to ask me for these things, I realized I needed to find some.  I sent a student next door to ask the very generous teacher in his nicest kindest voice for some supplies.  Thankfully the teacher let us use her things so the students could complete their project.

Another time I had to cover a the latter half of a Friday afternoon for a math teacher.  She was going home because she had an awful night/day etc, which is fine, but she had no motivation to plan for me and just wanted to go home.  So she said the most dreaded words a substitute can hear (especially for high schoolers on FRIDAY) "Just give them study hall."  I wanted to pull my hair out and scream NOOOOOOOO!  But I held it together, smiled, and said "Okay." ugh.  Once she left I quickly pulled up Discovery Education's Free Puzzlemaker and began working!  I made a handful of activities for the students to occupy themselves with.  And thankfully it worked!  There were only a couple of complaints but I can handle that much better than a group of chaotic, loud, always trying to find something to get into teenagers!

So my tip for substitutes is always have a bag of tricks with you.  Essential every day use items are essential to have with you in case the teacher doesn't provide them.  Also have things to keep the students busy in case the teacher doesn't provide anything.  Teachers... leave your subs supplies!!!  I know it may be a pain to leave things out but it helps subs out soo much.

Do any of you have special things you leave for substitutes?  Do any of you substitutes have a bag of tricks? If so, what do you have in it?  Finally,, does anyone use the free puzzlemaker?? It is one of my favorite tools and can be used for so many different things.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Favorite blog list

So recently I have noticed that lots of blogs have added (or already had and I just now noticed!) a list or page of blogs that they follow and love.  I have really enjoyed Lori's Blogging Buddies page from Teaching with Love and Laughter.  I have found many other wonderful blogging buddies through her page!  I highly recommend looking through this page to find more blogging buddies as well as all of her other pages!!

Since I am quite new to this whole blogging thing I have loved the ease of finding people.  I am now wondering if this adding a page for this is the way to go.  I have been hesitant to add buttons because I hate the way they make the page soooo much longer. So I have only added a few buttons to my page.  However, I feel bad that not all of my blogging buddies have equal treatment, true sign of a teacher, always trying to make things fair.  As of right now, I am going to do some research and see what I like best and also try to figure out how to make it work on my page.

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you have a page designated to the blogs you love? Do you enjoy having the buttons on the side?

Here are the links from Teaching with Love and Laughter's page.  Make sure to check her page for any additions!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Subbing Reflections: Drills

This is a continuation of my Subbing Reflections mini series which began here.

 Within the first week of school, I was faced with one of my biggest frustrations in subbing.... DRILLS.  Fire drills, tornado drills, lock down drills, you name it, I subbed during it :(  Fortunately, some teachers were prepared, told me up front about it, and had the procedure mapped out for me.  Unfortunately, some teachers were completely oblivious to the drill.... which meant so was I!

My least favorite experience was 7th grade math.  At the beginning of the period the kids came in very slyly.  And I was worried.  One student finally blurt out, "Were having a fire drill!!"  My instant response was...., "No were not!"  Then the rest of the class was all in agreement that we indeed were having a drill.  I panicked.  Quickly I found the attendance sheet and took attendance, made sure I knew how many I was supposed to have.  I questioned the kids about which direction to go and was surprised by the route they knew thinking there was a better one.  As I questioned their responses, I didn't receive an answer because the alarm went off.  Sure enough they were right as all the other students were headed in the same direction.  It was crazy.  We all made it to where we were supposed to be and all was well.  Luckily for me the teacher left me short lessons for every period so I did not have to rush to get everything in!  It was crazy though.  Thank goodness the students knew more than the teacher!

Anyway, maybe this doesn't happen in all schools or maybe larger schools are better prepared for this. But my small private school needed/needs to work on their ability to inform teachers and substitutes the day of.  Emails an hour before the drill is not helpful to a sub who doesn't always have access to email.  I know I could go on and on about how the school needs to change but that is not productive.  What I can talk about, however, is how I will be prepared for this in the future.  Easy fix for substitutes, always ask the office if anything special is going on once you arrive.  Make sure you know the ways out or the proper procedure.

Something I want to have in my classroom is called an ER Plan.  This ER Plan will always be beside the entrance of the room.  Within this folder will be all necessary information in case of emergency.  A list of students (possibly first name only depending on school guidelines), a total number of how many students should be in the classroom at all times, and all necessary routes and procedures for drills and emergencies.  Also, I will have a pen and possibly a whistle.  This way if we just get in the class or are up doing crazy things, I can grab this and head out.

Additionally when teaching the students about emergency plans and routines, I will explain the ER Plan folder to them and how important it is for it to stay in its proper place.  But if there is every a substitute or a visitor in charge of the room, the students will know that this folder should be taken in case of any emergency.

Oh yes, and of course I will have all of this information in my sub tub or folder that has all of my other lovely information a sub would need to know.  But the point is in case of anything a more easily accessible folder of information will be ready at the door.

Do you do anything special with emergency information or to help prepare your substitutes for drills?

P.S.  Shout out to Erin from Tales from Room 112 who is having a wonderful giveaway!  She is giving away a polka dot themed classroom set.  I LOVE polka dots and really hope to be a winner, but regardless of the giveaway you should go over and check out her blog.  She has lots of wonderful things!!  Another wonderful thing about Erin is that we share the same home state.  OHIO!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sunday encouragement.... I know its Saturday :)

I know that today is Saturday, but I will be busy with a family get-together all day tomorrow and wont have time to blog! (which is probably a good thing since I am addicted!) Anyway, Sunday encouragement will be a new aspect of my blog.  I have found so many things on Pinterest (doesnt everyone!) and other places that have inspired me and encouraged me that I wanted to share some of these things and offer some encouragement to others on here as well.   If you want to follow my Pinterest stuff that would be awesome....I'm still learning how to get the linky thing on the side but hopefully that will be coming soon.  Until then here is a link to my Pinterest boards:

faith wins
First thing I wanted to share was this quote picture thing that has challenged me to change my perspective.  Choose faith over worry.  I love that it begins with the word choose.  This is a choice.  We have the power to choose how we feel and what we focus on!  I also love that it says faith over worry, not instead of but over.  For me not worrying isn't an option. I swear it is part of who I am.  However, I can choose faith OVER worry.  I need to work on ignoring the worry and focus on faith and on positive things.  I need to trust that things will work out and not worry about EVERYthing!

So this is my little thought for the day.  Sunday encouragement. You have the power to choose faith over worry!! Do it.  

Also, I recently found Amanda's new blog Teaching Maddeness and have fallen in love.  Not only is it super cute, it is full of wonderful ideas and information.  She is also incredibly popular :) which is lovely.  She has had her blog for a week and is already celebrating her 100 followers.  She is so gracious and having such a wonderful giveaway.  Hopefully I can follow in her footsteps...someday... and hopefully I can win! Choose faith, right? So click on over to Amanda's giveaway and check out what she has to offer!

Friday, June 15, 2012

New mini series: Subbing Reflections

Since I am moving to Thailand, crafts and making things for my classroom aren't much of an option; although that doesn't mean I'm not going to try a few things.  :)  So I have come up with a mini series to do instead.  It will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday for the next couple weeks, so today is a sneak peak at the schedule.  It will start Monday.

I firmly believe that reflection is important to success, especially in learning.  Without reflection we do not know what we should have done better or different.  Reflection also helps us see what we did well. I believe that as a teacher, I need to show and teach my students the value of reflection.  So that is what I am going to do the next couple of weeks.

I had the wonderful pleasure of subbing at a private K-12 school this semester.  I subbed anywhere from 1st grade aid, to elementary gym, to senior English.  Every day was an adventure.  But through these adventures I learned many things.  Things I would need to remember if I was still subbing or things I need to remember as a new teacher.  Since I need to remember these things, I figured I need to write it down, or else I will forget!  (Anyone else have the problem?)

Anyway, I know that for some this information is quite routine, but for hopefully it will help someone...and it will help me so I guess I've already accomplished my goal!!  I made this silly picture to put on here so there is some fun color and silliness.

Ok that is enough explanation.  Here is the first thing I learned that is also quite silly.  If possible, live right next door to school!! I lived 3 minutes from school.  This meant that when the school realized last minute they needed a sub, I was the first one they called because I was the closest!  Unfortunately (but fortunately for our finances), the second to last week of school hubby and I moved out of our apartment and into the in-laws,  this meant that I was now 30 minutes from school. Getting to school was much more difficult, not impossible just longer than 3 minutes!  Thankfully, I had already built up the reputation so the school was still able to request me.   Along with this, I learned very quickly that being available is your biggest asset. Teachers and secretaries like to know that their subs are available and willing to come whenever needed.  So that is my basic/quick tip for substitutes.   (I know, nothing revolutionary...but something)

Anyway, here are some other topics I learned about and how I will be prepared in my own classroom:

  • Fire and other drills
  • Extra supplies
  • Seating charts
  • Grading
  • Procedures
  • Emotions
Again, hopefully this will help someone.  But it is a time for me to reflect on the past semester and see what all I can gather from these experiences.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

new blog with freebie

I decided to start this new blog so I have a specific place to blog about my teaching adventures, creations, ideas, and thoughts.  I have so far LOVED the blogging community and have already learned a great deal about teaching and found some wonderful resources for my classroom.

Just a little bit about me:  I graduated from college in December 2011 with a BS in Elementary Education with Middle School endorsements in Math and Language Arts. I am definitely an upper elementary person :) The rest of the year I was subbing and learned a great deal about what I want and need in my classroom from those experiences.  Next year I will be teaching 4th grade..... in THAILAND!! I am so excited about this new adventure.  The hubby and I will be leaving in July for at least 2 years there.  It will be interesting to see how different and similar the school will be. It is based off of American schooling so I assume things will be somewhat similar.  And thankfully, the kids all know English so I will be able to teach in English!

Ok, I think that covers enough about me.  Oh one more thing, my blog name.  I am OBSESSED with stickers and stamps.  I already have quite the collection of stamps and stickers and I havent even had my own classroom yet.  I may enjoy them just slightly more than the kiddos!  Hopefully they love stamps and stickers in Thailand too or I am in BIG trouble. 

Anyway, during the summer I hope to continue to find some amazing resources.  I have loved all of the free things that I have found.  I wanted to share one of things that I have made recently.  I know that spelling is something that all students need to work on.  So I created this resource that should be versatile for all grade levels.  I plan on doing this as a center or game and laminating it so it can be reused. Its called Scramble the Letters and requires a pair of students.  It asks the students to choose a spelling word and try to find other words within the word.  For example, if my word was 'scramble'  I can find 'ram, scam, crab, lamb' and many, many other words within just the one word.

Hopefully you enjoy this and hopefully I uploaded it correctly!  Here it is:  Scramble the Letters!!

What do you think?  Any advice to new teachers or new bloggers? I hope this is something I can keep up!

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