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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tell Me More, Tell Me More!

I finished my last day of summer work (completely!), this is my 100th post here, I have juuust about hit 100,000 pageviews, and tomorrow morning I will be in Texas with my husband to celebrate our very first anniversary (a few days late).

It's a happy, happy day!

I'm linking up with Tell Me More, Tell Me More- because I have loved these, and my 100th post seems like the perfect time for you to get to know me better!

1. I grew up in a town called Kokomo. Yes, like the Beach Boys song. Except it's in the midwest, and nowhere near a beach.

2. I'm kind of obsessed with football. In fact, my husband was just starting to get into football when we met, and read up on the Packers so he'd have something to talk to me about. This was our wedding cake. (So. Awesome.) The numbers on the yardlines were our wedding date!

3. I was born on the same night that Indiana University won their last mens' championship, to a family of huge IU fans. After being raised staunchly IU... I went to Purdue for college. I still can't quite hate the cream and crimson like most Boilermakers!

4. I have to have COLOR in my life! Right now, we are in a tan apartment with tan carpet and tan couch. This does not bother my husband a bit. It very much bothers me. Even my wedding ring has two sapphire stones!

5. My favorite candy? Peanut butter M&Ms. No, not peanut ones- peanut butter. So. Good.

6. In high school, I did well academically, was a total band nerd (french horn/ mellophone), big drama club geek, and even in a robotics club for a year. I wasn't "cool" at all- and I had a great high school experience.

7. I'm not really into shoes. I know, I know, most women and a lot of teachers are- but I don't really care about shoes other than to make sure they're comfortable. The one exception? I loved my wedding shoes- until the grass was wet and the dye started to bleed everywhere. But I had backups :)

8. I love Special K. During each school year, I try for awhile to bring in a box of Special K and a half gallon of milk for my lunches. It's cheaper than frozen meals, delicious, and good for me, too! Plus, I don't have to worry about forgetting my lunch :)

9. My extended family is talented, hilarious, and crazy in the best possible way. My mom is one of 5 kids, and when all the aunts, uncles, and cousins get together, it is always a good time. Case in point: at our wedding, we had a "photo booth"- and my extended family went and started putting on random things like fireman hats, goofy wigs, and fake mustaches before we even got to the first dance. Instead of waiting to get pictures taken, they just wore them during dinner. LOVE my family.

10. I love photography. Last year I got a DSLR, and it makes me so happy. This is one of my favorite photos I've taken- actually, from before I got my SLR!

12. I have always loved reading. Always. You can see me in the front & center of this one with a giant pink bow!

13. When I like a TV show, I tend to get really into it. The favorites I can watch over and over are Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Firefly, and 30 Rock.

14. I love nature and animals! I would love to do more traveling and spend more time outside.

11. I am apparently one of the few people out there who doesn't have a smartphone yet. But my "dumbphone" works just fine- especially for our budget! (And the one I have is a pretty blue!)

15. My husband sent me a video of him singing to me for our first anniversary, since we had to be apart. How adorable is that?

Alright- I'm off to finish packing! Woohoooo!

Thanks for following my blog! Link up here and let me learn more about you :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gimme a Break!

It's Sunday, so I'm taking a quick break from my guide for new teachers!

2 more days, and my summer work will be done. By then, my Amazon order should be here, too! YAY for new books!

Okay, I still consider myself somewhat of a new blogger... and I like the simplicity of this linky party for new bloggers! :) I hope they don't mind if I crash the party :)

1.)  What state are you in?
Indiana! I have never lived anywhere else.

2.)  What is your current teaching position?
3rd grade, moving up from 2nd!

3.)  What is your teaching experience?

7 summers of teaching grades 8-12 at a high school biology camp
Grade 2 for student teaching
Grade 2 interventionist (co-teaching) for 2 years
Grade 2 in my own classroom for 1 year

4.)  When did you start blogging?

I've blogged in various forms for over 10 years- but I changed the name of this blog and started actually *blogging*- making a real effort to actually post on a regular basis- in March, during my spring break.

5.)  Share some blogging tips or a resource.
- Take pictures and make logos for posts that you think might be pinnable! (LOTS of free frames available out there!) I love seeing photos of ideas because I'm so visual, but also- makes it easy for people to pin your ideas!

- Don't be discouraged if something doesn't take off when you thought it was a really great post. When I first posted about my lesson plans, I got one or two comments, and kind of disappointed... but,  somehow, MONTHS later, someone pinned it and it went CRAZY. (You can see how your blog fares on pinterest by going to - but put your blog name instead of mine!)

I wanted to check in and see how I'm doing on my "Summer Bucket List"- and, oh boy, it's not good.

1. Read CAFE, the Daily 5, and re-read The Book Whisperer and Spaces and Places!
2. Read at least 10 books for fun. (2.5 done!)
3.Give my blog a makeover.
4. Map out my science and social studies for the year to go along with my new reading series.
5. Create homework, morning work, newsletter templates, and my updated lesson plan template for 3rd grade.
6. Revise my beginning of the year forms and packet.
7. Make at least 3 DIY things from Pinterest, either for my classroom or home. (1 done!)
8. Write a blog series- "You Just Got a Teaching Job. Now What?!" (Still working on it!)
9. Reach 250 300 blog followers by the start of school! (Feeling ambitious!)
10. Go to Zumba more, and eat a little better. (Emphasis on little.)
11. Move into my new classroom without moving stacks of unfiled papers! (Close enough!)
12. Try at least 2 new recipes. Any easy suggestions for a household of one at the moment? (1 done!)
13. Organize the work I do teaching high school biology camps during the summer, so that if we move next year when my husband graduates, it will be easy for someone else to take over.
14. Have at least one get-together for my class at the library.
15. Visit Texas to see my sweetie and celebrate our FIRST wedding anniversary!

I'm not sure why I thought I'd have so much time "off" this summer, but I was sorely mistaken. The good news is that my summer work will be ending on Tuesday- and either Wednesday or Thursday, I'm headed to Texas with some new books to read in the airport!

It blows my mind, though, how close I am to starting the new school year. Oh well- I am excited to get reading and get in my classroom soon!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Just Got a Teaching Job- Now What?!- Curriculum Overview (and Freebies)!

Well. It's that time of year where I can't seem to go shopping without picking up $20 worth of classroom stuff. Tonight I went to Goodwill, Target, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Dollar Tree. That's 3 different spots to get things for $1, and a $0.69/ children's book section. And I checked out that $0.88 area at Wal-Mart yesterday.

Oy. I don't even want to tell you how much I've spent.

I think I need an intervention.

If you are anything like me, you're sick of the posts full of questions. I know new teachers have a lot of questions to ask, but still- I'm glad to be writing something different today!

I know it is SO tempting to go in your room first, but really- what's more important, setting up a bulletin board, or knowing what the heck you are going to teach this year?

Curriculum SHOULD be your priority. After all, you weren't hired as a Classroom Cutesifier- you were hired as a Teacher.

And actually, considering your curriculum first will help you set up your room in a way that fits how you teach. Plus, it will tell you what things you really need. (Go ahead and order Spaces and Places. DO IT.)

I mean, if your school is huge into guided reading, you need a space for that. If your school uses Mountain Math, you need to plan the wall space in your classroom. If there is a priority on hands-on science, where will you do it?

Knowing a little about your curriculum needs to come before setting up your room! And start a list of "must haves" for your classroom setup as you look through the curriculum.

Download freebie on Google Docs {here}

When you look at your curriculum, it's probably going to be overwhelming. And that's okay.

Reading curriculum, in particular, tends to be packed full of way more things than I think any teacher can ever possibly fit in. Don't freak out. Most likely, no one expects you to do all of it. Even the schools I have been in that made strongly encouraged me to use the basal, they understood that series like to include a lot of extra resources in case you need them, but that you'll only have time for the ones your students truly need.

If you haven't already, ask your mentor teacher:
  • What subjects do I have to teach?
  • Are there certain programs I have to use to teach them?
  • Do I have to stick to the "book," or am I free to supplement it?
  • Do I have a certain curriculum schedule I have to follow?
  • What way do you teach each subject? Does everyone do it that way?
  • Could you show me how you plan long-term for the year? Could I maybe have a copy of your document?
  • What does your daily or weekly schedule look like? Can I see? (They may not have one from the current year, but even looking at last year's will be helpful.)
(I know, I know- I said I wasn't going to do the question thing! That's it- I promise!)

Every school- and even, every grade level within each school- will be different. It will be hugely important to find out what's required, what's recommended, and what's preferred. (Because, that first year, it just may not be worth it to rock the boat if all of your teammates do common planning a certain way.)

And, seriously, don't feel shy asking to see how they do it (or if you can walk around their classroom to get ideas, and maybe even take pictures!)

One of my co-workers last year made this terrific form that outlined our reading stories, spelling lists, vocabulary lists, E/LA skills, etc. for every week of the year. I can't tell you how helpful it was to not have to look these up each week in my teacher's edition. She'd already created it (because she's WAY more organized than I am!) and was happy to share! I would *highly* suggest you ask your entire grade level if they have any long-term planning documents- chances are, someone does, and it will save you a lot of time!

If not, there are plenty of options for year-long planning online and on TpT- or, here's a document from me to get you started! Tweak to your heart's content :)

Get the PDF with Pea Whimsy from Kevin and Amanda {here}, or get the editable .doc file {here}!

If your college curriculum or some other program is convincing you to go "rogue" and abandon the basal, make sure you check if that's okay.

To be honest, sticking with some sort of pre-determined scope and sequence- whether it be from the basal or your district calendar or state guidelines- will really help you keep on track that first year.

Say it with me: The Basal Is Not Evil.

Especially for a first year teacher.

Just plan on sticking with it, and as you plan each week, look at what's there. If it's a good lesson, use it- and if not, substitute and supplement. But do that on a weekly basis- not on a "starting from scratch every day of the year" basis.

If you start trying to reinvent the wheel in every subject that first year, you will have a much harder time. Please don't do that to yourself. Start with some kind of plan that you can abandon as needed :)

My school doesn't have a specified science or social studies curriculum, really, so I worked out math and reading and then matched up science and social studies with the basal where it made sense. Really, even if you do have a science/ social studies curriculum, get reading, math, and writing organized first.

Make sure you look over the standards for your grade (whether they be Common Core or state-specific- right now, my state is in an awkward transition with a little of both!). Get to know what sorts of things are a part of each program- you don't have to read every lesson, but look at one week of reading plans and one week of math plans, especially.

Remember- his is just the quick-overview stage to help you start brainstorming what your day will look like! No need to stress over details just yet :)

Please leave a comment if you snag the freebies!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Just Got a Teaching Job... Now What?!- Meeting Your Mentor Teacher

In one week, I will be in Texas hanging out with my husband. Woohoooo!

As much as I'm not ready to go back to school, I am SO ready for mid-August when he comes home!

In the meantime, if any of you are near Dallas, let me know- I might be able to hang out for a bit next weekend!

The next part of my new teacher series will hopefully be useful to new teachers, but also some of you who are on the mentor teacher side of things. (And please, even if your school doesn't have official mentors, help a newbie out if you get a chance!)

New teachers, your mentor teacher (official or unofficial) is going to be hugely important to your success on that first day of school. The more they are able to share with you, the easier your job will be that first year!

  • Curriculum
    • What's available?
    • What's required that I do? (subjects, styles of teaching, how long)
    • What's useful? (Suggestions of websites, materials, how to plan, etc.)
    • What does your basic schedule look like?
    • Do you have any curriculum planning documents I can have a copy of? (Long-term or short-term. Get digitally, if possible, so you can tweak as needed without starting from scratch!)
  • Parents and School Population
    • What are the parents and kids really like here?
    • How do you communicate with them? Does it work?
    • What are the challenges, and how do you address them?
    • Is there a Parent-Teacher Organization? How can they help me?
  • Teachers and Staff
    • Are there any co-workers to be especially, uh, "diplomatic" around? (Be careful here- opinions are that of ONE teacher- but still, sometimes it's good to know where you might like to start out tiptoeing!)
    • What is this principal's "style"?
    • How does the administration handle discipline? At what level does the office want me to get them involved? Do I have special forms for that?
    • Do I have any allotted budget for supplies?
    • Who do I go to when I have a problem with a student? (Academic, behavioral, emotional, suspected abuse, etc.)
    • How does all of the special education stuff work here? (Paras, special ed, RTI, ESL, Title I, etc.)
  • General School Stuff
    • What's the dress code? (staff, kids, what to do if it's not followed)
    • Are there any school-wide procedures? (getting quiet, hallway behavior, attendance, etc.)
    • What are the emergency procedures I need to be prepared for?
    • What assessments will my kids have to take this year?
    • What computer systems and technology stuff do I need to know?
    • Will we have an open house or back to school night?
    • What do I do if I need to be absent? (Trust me-- figure this out NOW!)
The best way to find out how your mentor teacher does things (without following them around and bugging them with constant questions) is to ask if you can see their parent packet that they hand out at the beginning of the year.

(Again, get it digitally if at all possible!)

The parent packet will tend to cover their policies for homework, lunches, discipline, and so much more. They will give you ideas of what works, and you can always ask if it's something that everyone has to do a certain way, or if you're allowed to change it up.

You're also going to want to meet your team, or send them an e-mail. Pop by their rooms in the weeks before school if you haven't met them face-to-face yet (and find something to compliment in the room, if you can!)

Schools and grade levels can be so different- in my school, the kindergarten team meets weekly to plan together, divide up copies, and then they all teach a very similar curriculum. In the grade level where I was, though, we never once met to plan together. Sometimes we'd work together on a project, but not often, and very rarely did everyone join in.

Ask someone from your team:
  • Are there any units or projects that you all do? When in the year do you do them?
  • Do you have any grade-level field trips planned already?
  • Are there any special school events to put on my calendar? (music programs, carnivals, reading or math nights, etc.)
  • Do you all share the same policies? (homework, parents, conferences, open house, etc.)
  • Will our grade level share any responsibilities and resources?
  • Can I see your planning documents and parent packets?
Yes, you already asked your mentor teacher that last one- but it's great to have options and see how different people do things so you can pick your favorite!

Now, if you don't have a mentor teacher or anyone else willing to lend you copies of their parent packet or curriculum planning, don't worry- I'm planning on sharing mine, and some templates, next week!

Because hopefully some mentor teachers are reading this, too, I want to end with some tips for mentor teachers when they first meet their mentees! (By the way, how cute is this doodle frame from The Scrappin' Cop? I am loving it lately!)

Mentor teachers,
  • Make a copy of just about anything you make for the beginning of the year and offer it to your newbie friend. It might not seem like much, but having a basic template for all of the things you put out at open house, send home for parents, and do with your class the first few days will give your newbie SO much valuable information. 
  • Remember to think about telling your newbie things that might be run differently at other schools! Attendance, lunch, beginning/end of the day, recess, etc. are the easiest things to forget to tell someone about!
  • Stop in, call, text, or email every once in awhile just to ask how it's going. Some newbies won't want to bother you a lot, but still have questions- and if you start the conversation, it helps! If you bring chocolate, even better!
  • Be positive! If your mentee is anything like me, they're kind of freaked out at this stage in the game. Give them a compliment here or there, smile, and be encouraging when they need it!
  • Please, please don't act like your way is the only way to do things- but gentle, optional-to-take suggestions are almost always welcome!
Now, I've never been a mentor teacher before... so please, share your tips for mentor teachers if you have them! :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Just Got a Teaching Job... Now What?!- Touring Your New School

I'm a coordinator of a high school biology camp this summer. Basically, my boss and one other girl run it with me- and both of them needed to be gone for the first two days of this session. The first day was yesterday, and I was really nervous that I'd forget something, or that it wouldn't go well.

What actually happened? For the first 3 days, we finished everything on the schedule and more in the alotted time. We were actually supposed to come back in the evening, too, and didn't have to either of the 1st 2 days because we got it all done early.

I have been somewhat stressed about work this summer and feeling a little squeezed out... made me feel good that I can still run the program- and better than it's been running all summer!

Glad to get time for blogging tonight, though! Continuing with...

Thanks for your positive feedback, guys- part of why I started blogging is because I felt like I was *lost* getting my first classroom ready!

Before you go in to school...
  • See if you can find a Parent Handbook on the school's website. If this isn't on the website, ask about one when you visit the school. (Some may have a teacher handbook, which is even better- but most schools have a parent handbook and it will answer a lot of your questions!)
  • Pull up the school calendar and mark those dates down now.
  • Look at the supply list. What will kids be coming to school with? (Hopefully!)
  • Look for information about the curriculum and programs they use, under links for teachers, links for parents, book information, etc. Even if you're like me and you don't get curriculum until August or later, if you know your reading and math series, you can probably find out more about it online before the year starts!

Your first visit to the school...

Hopefully, not too long after being hired, you'll get a chance to get a tour of your school, even if you can't start setting up your room yet. My principal gave a tour to all the new hires last year, but you could also just as easily walk around with another teacher and let them give you a tour!

The best thing about a school tour is that just walking by things will remind the other person of important things to tell you. There are a million questions you could ask, but here are some things to consider asking during the tour.
  • Staff bathrooms
    • 'Nuff said.
  • Student bathrooms
    • While no kids are there, might not be a bad idea to walk in and look around so you know what to talk about when you teach bathroom procedures.
    • Will my kids need hall passes?
  • Staff lounge
    • What are the 'rules' of the fridge, etc.?
    • Is there a social committee? Are there dues?
    • What's the local union/ association? Do I have to join? Even if I don't "have" to, is it generally recommended? Will other teachers pressure me to to do it?
    • (Joining a union- totally your choice. It can be costly, but nice to have the liability insurance and support in case of a problem. You also may or may not agree with how they publicly and politically defend teachers. Regardless of whether you want to- in some schools, it is expected that you will join, and you might be treated badly by other teachers if you don't join- so just ask what the staff climate is like before you decline membership. For your first year especially, sometimes it's best not to rock the boat.)
  • Mailboxes
    • Where are they? (Usually staff lounge or main office.)
    • Check if your box is the one above or below your name. (Sounds silly, but I know someone who kept stealing someone else's mail by mistake the first week. Oops.)
  •  Main Office
    • Meet the secretaries. Go ahead and begin worshiping. These people will save your life more than once.
    • Are there supplies in here I can use? Which ones?
    • Are there forms in here I will need to use? Where are they?
    • Where can I leave a note or form for the principal?
    • What other administrative people are there and what are their responsibilities?
  •  Teacher Supply Room/ Copy Room
    • What do I do if a copier jams?
    • Are there any rules for copies/ laminating- when/ how much?
    • Do I have a copy code?
    • Are there copy room volunteers, or can I have parents copy for me?
    • Are there specific guidelines to follow for any of the copiers? (Most places I've been, a Rizzo is only used when you are making 20 or more copies.)
    • Will I need to bring my own paper?
    • What other supplies are in here for me? (Look out for big guillotine cutters, die-cut machines, those binding machines, etc.)
  • IT Center, Tech Person's Office, and/or Computer Lab
    •  This won't always be something you have. In my current school, we have a tech guy. In my last school, one of the teachers was our "tech rep" on the side. Either way, ask...
    • Who's in charge of technology stuff?
    • What technology will I have in my room? Interactive whiteboard? Document camera? Overhead projector? Teacher computer? Student computers? iPads or iPods?
    • What technology is available outside my room? Is there a schedule for the computer lab/ computer cart/ iPad cart/ whatever they have?
  •  Specials rooms and the library
    • Apparently there are schools that don't have these- but around here, having kids go to music, art, gym, and library once a week is the norm. (Thank goodness.)
    • What specials are there? How many times do kids go to each special each week?
    • Do I have to stay and supervise/ teach, or is it prep time for me?
    • How do teachers go about checking out materials in the library/ media center? Are there any special materials just for teachers?
    • About when will the specials schedule be decided? (In my school, this happens laaate- very shortly before the year starts.)
  • Entrances and exits
    • Where will students come in?
    • Where will I park/ come in?
    • Where will students exit...
      • for the bus?
      • for walking?
      • for riding in cars?
      • for going to an after-school program?
    •  Will I take them there, or dismiss them from my door?
    • Are parents/ visitors only allowed in one door? (Most places, they'll need to check in at the office whenever coming to school.)
    • Where do kids go in/ out from recess? (Will I have recess duty?)
  •  Special education
    • Where is the SpEd room? Is it push-in, or pull-out?
    • Is there an ESL/ ENL program? How is it run?
    • Is there a Title I program, Reading Recovery, etc.?
  • Other areas of storage
    • Are there any other school resources or places I should know about? (Large Group Instruction room, courtyard or nature center, leveled library, teacher video library, grade level storage closet, etc.)
  •  Cafeteria
    • What are kids' options?
    • How do I place the attendance and lunch order each morning?
    • Do kids have lunch cards or lunch numbers they need to know? (I put lunch numbers on a nametag that kids wear the first couple of days, or until they memorize it!)
    • Will I have lunch duty? (Or recess, or before/after school, or any other duty?)
    • What's the procedure for allergy students? (Allergy table, special rules, etc.)
  •   Nurse's Office
    • Is there a form to send with students?
    • Is there a full-time nurse?
    • Do I need to send students to the nurse for ANYTHING, or can I just give them a band-aid in the room if it's very minor? (Some schools like to have students actually go to the nurse for every tiny thing. A little annoying, but it's a little better legally, I guess.)
  • Custodian's Office/ Closet/ Maintenance Center
    • Who's in charge?
    • Who will clean up my room?
    • How can I start kissing up I mean, get in touch with them?
    • When will I get keys to my room/ building? (If you do- in my school, we get an ID card that works as a key in the building, but not every school allows access.) 
  • Your Classroom
    • How many other teachers are there at my grade level? Are we close to each other?
    • How much do the teachers in my grade level work together, especially to plan?
    • About how many students will I have? Any idea yet?
    • What furniture, manipulatives, and supplies will be provided?
    • When can I get my key and start working on my room?
    • Note the closest staff bathroom, student bathrooms, door, parking area, water fountains, etc.
Keep in mind that these are not at all everything you need to know- just a starting point for the first school tour! When my principal gave a tour, she actually covered a lot of this before I even had to ask.

Don't worry- you'll find out a lot more as you go along. But on your school tour, smile a lot, sound enthusiastic, and don't be afraid to ask questions as they come up. The closer it is to the school year, the busier your administrators will become- so ask early instead of bugging them later!

Three wonderful things-

1.   My awesome Friday Find of a Lucy Calkins writing set being given away? I just found out how much those things go for. Holy COW.

2.   I got to try out an iPad last Spring, and nearly cried when I had to give it back. Well, our school applied for a monster technology grant, and got it- and I just found out I can go in to school and pick up my classroom iPad on Thursday! WOOHOO! App suggestions welcome :)

3. Getting out early last night meant that I got to go shopping, and I found some GREAT things to send along with a hat for Kenton. I have a few other friends joining in, but if you haven't yet, it's not too late to sign up and help brighten the day of a little boy with leukemia (and his family!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Just Got a Teaching Job... Now What?! Day 1

I remember last year when I got my job.

I was thrilled for about 3 seconds...

And then terrified.

Don't get me wrong; I was excited to have a job. After fifty-some applications (at least), and being RIF'ed, and waiting an extra week past when she said the decision would be made... I was so incredibly happy to have a teaching job.

But it was my first time in my own classroom, and I had no clue where to start.

Now, clearly after a year, I'm not an expert, by any means. But I am just close enough to that new teacher freak-out to remember all of the questions I needed to ask, all of the challenges I faced, all of the worries I had, and all of the decisions I had to make last year- and I want to offer a survival guide for new teachers.
New teachers, please keep in mind that I'm writing this for teachers who have a little while to prepare before their first day (but I'll try to post later about which things are most important for those of you who only have a couple of days to get ready!)

Veteran teachers, please share your tips about each topic in the comments! (Or feel free to post your tips and then post the link in the comments!)

Day 1: You're Hired!

So, the principal just called and offered you the job.

YAY! *happy dance*

Here's what to ask while you're still on the phone with your principal.
  1. Where and when will I need to go to sign my contract and complete paperwork? 
  2. Are there important dates I need to know now, like new teacher orientation/ induction, staff days, etc.?
  3. When can I see my room and/ or start working on it? Will I have access to curriculum materials then, too?
  4. Will you be assigning a mentor teacher for me? (If so, can I have their information now? If not, is there someone you could suggest?)
  5. Can I please have the contact information of my grade level teammates?
After you hang up the phone (and jump up and down for a little while), you will have a million thoughts running through your head! Right now- before you dive in head first and before you have a chance to forget them all- you need to set up a way to keep all those thoughts and ideas organized. There are a few options, of course:

  • Go ahead and start a teacher binder. No, it doesn't have to be all set up yet- but it is vital to have one place where you hole-punch and keep important papers so they don't get lost in the mess that is setting up your classroom.
  • Start a Google Doc and Google Calendar. You can access them from home OR from school, and they will update wherever you are. Bonus: It cannot get lost, and you can share important dates on the calendar with your significant other!
  • Go old school- grab a notebook and label the top of each page. For someone like me who just loves making a list, this may not be a bad way to go! A small notebook could even fit inside your purse, which would be great as you're shopping.
No matter where you decide to take notes, here are some categories you might consider:

- Questions to Ask the Custodian/ Principal/ Secretary/ Mentor Teacher/ IT person/ Grade Level Team
- Technology
- Procedures
- To Buy- Needs and Wants
- To Make
- School Policies (to collect as you learn about them, or to ask about)
- Important Dates (or put these directly on a calendar)
- Space Planning
- Curriculum

The important thing at this point is to stay organized and take a deep breath. Tomorrow, we'll talk about taking a school tour, and the questions every new teacher should ask!

Before you go... I wanted to point out that one of my favorite blogs, Mrs. Castro's Class, is having a HUGE giveaway. You could win a customized lesson plan from me along with about a million other prizes (and there will be 6 winners!). I hope you'll go check it out!

I also have to announce the winner of my mini-giveaway yesterday! Here were my random facts about me:

1.  I have taken some kind of dance lessons for 15 years.
True! I took ballet, tap, and jazz for 13, East Coast swing and Lindy hop for 2.
2.  I've eaten the food they give to monkeys at the zoo.
True! In middle school, we took a field trip to the zoo and visited the commissary (zoo kitchen).
3.  My husband was impersonating his best friend when we met.

True! We met at a Halloween party, and he was dressed as his best friend. He loves to remind us of this, like when he was the best man at our wedding.
4.  My favorite food is peanut butter pie.

True! I loooove all things peanut butter.
5.  I would love to go to Costa Rica someday and stay in the rainforest.

True! Costa Rica is the top of my very long "places I'd love to go someday" list!
6.  Someday, I want to be a principal.
FALSE! No. Way. Being a principal would mean giving up the things I love most about teaching to do more of the things I hate most. I can't imagine it would be a job I would enjoy OR be good at! Truly, if I end up outside of the classroom, I think I'd enjoy being a coach, teaching pre-service teachers in college, writing books, or designing curriculum.
7.  I am a partial owner of the Green Bay Packers football team.
True! But to be fair, there are thousands of us. The Packers are the only publicly-owned major sports franchise, which means that people buy stock and vote for those who make team decisions, instead of there being some rich guy backing the team and making profit off of it. I love that about our team- FANS truly own the team. And last Christmas, my husband and I got our own piece of Packers stock! Essentially, it is an expensive piece of paper that allows us to go to a shareholder's meeting each year, but I still love it because I am a HUGE Cheesehead :)

8.  I have kissed a stingray.
True! My family and I went on a cruise and stopped at Stingray City in Grand Cayman. So cool (and not a bit scary, if you're considering doing it.)

So... the first person who guessed got it! Tammy- let me know what topic you'd like to see for a Scoot game freebie! :)