The advantages to starting school on the first week of August in Arizona are non-existent. Zero. Zilch. Nada. It is hot, humid, and we drip in sweat as most of air conditioning in our building is a tad on the older side.
So I melt. I am assigned to a pony and little to no makeup with a cute dress, preferably with pockets, and practical shoes. It’s a messy look. But I can spot an August teacher out in the wild in seconds. We all look the same as we toss real fashion out the window to survive the mileage we walk combined with our consistent state of heat. August stinks. Literally.
So, the pre-fall attire is best found in the cheapest stores. I consider it more disposable fashion. Now, a few of my pieces I love and are keepers, due to style, price, and quality. But bring on Old Navy or Target if a piece is cool enough to get me through this period of time and not repeating the same dress over and over.
So bring on October. Bring on pieces that won’t target me as a teacher the moment I step outside of the classroom. Bring on the ability to wear makeup that won’t drip down my face and finally, the release of the pony.
School safety. We have become a profession ruled by crazies who have taken unnecessary lives for no reason, other than sheer insanity. It is sad. This year I have taken it a step further for class safety. For kids that get ill or let’s face it, I am fifty-nine, for me and my health. I have never had this before but my school BFF (former cop) gave me the fabulous idea. I have a team. Each member will have a job whether if it’s to save a member of our classroom community or their leader of the pack.
The conversation happened on day two…safety and job day. They filled out applications, but frankly, I rolled up with the kids. I know who needs extra work and to feel helpful like the back of my hand. But today’s conversation was different as the simple jobs were already assigned. I set the stage with a true example of a child getting violently ill in my class. It was life or death in my eyes, as the condition was rare, and quite frankly the most serious lifelong disease, I have ever had faced with a young one in my classroom. My kids sat silent and two helped save her life. One by phone, as I held her in my arms and the other highfooted it to the nurse. All went well, and she is now in her 20’s. That day is etched in my mind forever, as was the care and community that rallied without question. This story brought rare silence to my current chatty group. They understood a student could get ill from dehydration to a true daily illness they fight in silence. This was easy to understand. Next came the honesty about their fearless leader.
“Kids, I am fifty-nine.” Silence (they knew this) but 7th graders knew the sudden direction of the chat. Out of the blue I hear. “No, Mrs. L you are not going anywhere.” I looked around tears were in their eyes. I back-peddled and told them of course I am not going anywhere, as I have too much to do. Since fear set in, I created a variety of clumsy scenarios in where I could end up on the ground with a broken body part. That made them happy and I heard sounds of relief. But the show had to go on and choose my true safety team for the lives of our community and mine.
Now, it was real. Certain kids wanted nothing to do with it, as one stated, “I would freak, what would we do without you?” One cried. My solids stood up and some, who I questioned, were certain. The narrative was to save Mrs. L and I now was seeing young teens become responsible. I hugged my two criers and reassured them and jotted down my team, and their personal responsibilities will be chosen at lunch this week with a twist, they have to decide what their role should be in a crisis and recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
I am proud of my kids. We have curriculum galore to master this year but we are starting off the year mastering some true life skills, that they will take into their lives forever.
Classroom decor has had a boom in recent years. It now holds its own on the ever popular sites of Pinterest, Etsy, and TpT teacher stores. Teachers have created niche markets for all sorts of subsets of decorating. Many sell labels, lettering patterns, border patterns, organizational cuteness, and my favorite, the daily premade design slides, for your morning messages. Oh, and so much more. Basically, if you can dream it, a teacher has created it, and sells it somewhere in our internet shop universe. When I began, twenty-eight years ago, I used to cut out my letters and my own shapes, with the antiquated, but still functioning die-cut machine. The lack of variety was real, but all letters and a few shapes, such as apples and bunnies were available. This allowed construction paper to take on shapes and sizes needed to label and decorate bulletin boards. I topped that off with posters that related to the subject matter. That my friends is basic.
Room creation has evolved over the years. Border with ridges (the free stuff) is no longer a thought. It is time for high design and a teachers A type behavior rolled into one. It’s a thing and a little neurotic. I started planning and buying in May. Long lost are bland borders and construction shapes. No, we have full themes and color schemes that have become cutesy living areas. Teachers have been introduced to the ways of the circuit machine or premade letters in a variety of styles and shapes. However, in my case I just order pre-cut products from Etsy. It’s easier and possibly cheaper as the machines and vinyl are pricey and I have no true interest in the creation of the craft, just using the products and saving time. Goodbye die-cut. Hello Etsy and Amazon. We complete our pseudo homes with flexible furniture, couches, stages, flickering lights, and fake shiplap. The classroom to me was always to be a functional and less fussy area highlighting my students work and not taking their eyes away from the all important time on task, but with a homey feel. But in recent years, I have fallen into the craze of crazy themes. This year I am “Chalkboard Brights.” This is a happy mixture of downhome farmhouse with color. My accent choice is teal. Now my school color is purple but I cannot stand purple. I tried that last year. Ripped it all down and went with a black and white modern vibe. You have to love your room as you live in these walls and it is a reflection of love towards your kids. My rooms have always felt comfy and kids have loved them throughout the years, but this year I upped my game. On purpose. Not to fit in with the younger crowd, but to give my kids a new feel, as they are rolling up with me from the 6th grade.
The process is just that a process. You start with a vision, materials prepped and ready, and enter a room turned upside down from summer cleaning. It’s a moment. All told from furniture to decor it takes me a good week to create my little piece of heaven. This past year I hurt myself, so I had a few students help me with the process. First time with help. It was odd. It has always been me and my room in silence with the blasting of Queen. So, while I knew I needed the assistance. I was not sure what they could pull off in reference to design. So I organized a lesson plan for a day and a half of design and fun. We began with an overview of my vision, materials available, and the point of reference of straight is very important in my world. Throughout our time together they learned color, balance, and how to create function with style. They were cute and actually took away more than I can teach from a podium. Measurement, word choice, structure, and pride in work and the final project. They were adorable and as one student put it, “Mrs L. I never knew teachers did this, I thought principals did everyones room.” I laughed. For memories such as this funny comment and just seeing their overall dedication, it is my favorite room. I cannot wait until my kids enter on their first day and I can share how hard their friends worked. It just might give all of my kids a new perspective on how a teachers year actually starts. Maybe!
The question everyone has but dares to say aloud, for fear we are left in a building of kids without the needed adults, “How Many Come Back?” It crosses my mind. Often. If they stay, are they happy and effective. Probably not. I am happy, effective but rather broke. I make nothing. It is time to look towards my golden years and start packing stuff away more than just our ASRS. I know I am behind in this game. I have friends who have dual incomes, that drive Ubers, Lyfts, grocery shop for others, sell stuff etc. I refuse to drive anyone around holding a masters degree and a true love for my profession. I love my job. I need more. I bet you do to if you teach. What do you do? Leave me ideas. G rated. My only marketable skills, aside from obvious intelligence gone to the dogs, is cutting meat and tying shoes. Not much calling for this. I begged. I can also sell an Eskimo an Igloo…why, because I can sell studying to a group of kids who have figured out the system of the don’t do but pass concept that has ruined our kids. Love report card time!
So aside from putting out for tutoring, perhaps a MLM opportunity, and a bit of begging for unknown opportunities. I can dog walk and pick up poop. I am back to my roots and educational blog.
These will be light stories on what works, does not work, and how we make a difference in the classroom as our system crumbles around us. Please follow.
Working in education demands flexibility. A crazy amount. This week was my first experience at reduction in force. RIF. I sat blindsided and stared into the screen as if it was a black hole. Me, after 20 plus years? Yes, and a host of others, all of us, staring into our respective screens as if we lost our souls. We did. Bits and pieces of our lives and hearts blew up instantaneously.
Our public education system, for a myriad of reasons, fell apart in a variety of areas in the United States. Kids went missing in droves, not just to other systems, but truly missing and now teachers are paying the price. All those that make the real decisions can argue the reason. I no longer care. My life is just inside the classroom where I create my corner of the world. That’s all I want. Just my little piece of educational real estate that allows me to create connections and take them from their starting to point to the end.
I truly believed I would be creating virtual masterpieces for the remainder of my career. I loved it, as it sparked my creative juices, obviously I was wrong. 😜 Due to whatever reasoning I was part of the lot that stared into the abyss and quickly scrambled during an educational drought of positions. I cried. I prayed. I called. I applied. I begged. In the midst of this first time fear we are state testing and finally I saw my kids. My heart softened and I knew that going back to in-person is what I needed, wanted, and truly missed.
So, in the end I truly spun through the year and landed where life really needs me. Those moments of terror in hindsight were needed as it forced me to truly listen and follow my ❤
I need kids and I know they need teachers like all of us that head back to the schools starting in the fall of 2021-2022. My gratitude for the sun, stars, and moon aligning for me, not only to be back with kids, but truly thrilled on my grade level and a team brings me great joy and as I possibly roll through an RV summer I know I will be planning and creating products along the way. Oh, the RV thing is a possibility that will test us to the core but what else do you do post pandemic. That’s right, rent a RV and see the USA. Yes, my idea. Mmmm. Lots of planning and products to come! 😉
I opened my little corner of the internet sales universe about two years ago. My Teacher Pays Teachers account was up and running with a title and a picture of me in a crown holding a plastic wand, long story but the image suits me from time.
Yesterday, I opened it, with one piece of merchandise, which is a come back soon/we are under construction type of introduction page. Not quite merchandise just practice to the technical side of the business. After spending the weekend watching how to videos I created a button and a page with great elation, I shared them and got down to the business of business. While dreams of vacation lands far, far away based on my earnings do not enter into my current mindset. A little extra income never hurt and who knows they may run a super sale on Paris get-a-ways…a girl can dream.
Now with all my video watching my excitement built so I took steps to create this into the long game instead of instant burnout. I started with a calendar and marked off days of the week to work after my normal day along with an agenda. It is very much like blog writing. Set aside time, be into the moment, and have a task at hand. Some creators just advertise through the site and others take it to social media based on comfort. I am doing it all blog, facebook, new tpt insta, and twitter…no podcast yet but only on Tuesday evenings as Thursday night is for Outschool! My baby steps are mine as is the project of love, extension of creative juices, and a stepping off into a land that is foreign (graphics) but comfortable, in the creation content and online classes.
This week I will be finalizing my logo, creating my logo button, aligning my banner to my store theme (writing) and finally upload two new products that kids can use directly in the classroom as cheatsheets to create the perfect paragraph…From their my real lessons will grow. My goal is fifty products by the end of the summer and begin video introductions for teachers added information. Podcasts will live on the back, back burner!
Follow my Teachers Pay Teachers and Outschool teaching experience. Note. I am a newbie!
This is a site dedicated to teachers who want a laugh or two as they follow my year as a middle school teacher. No names. Just stories.
For reference, I am on a few outside sites but do not have time to truly pursue any additional income or interests because I teach. However, you may look at my empty store on TpT, check with Varsity Tutors, and puruse Outschool for your child’s possibilities to enrichment lessons. Someday.
As for now get ready as content is coming and welcome to my world!