To The Teacher Who Hates Her Job:

So we are officially in the month of May and this year, for some of us, is swiftly coming to an end. Others of us are watching the clock shamelessly wondering IF this year is ever going to end. Ya'll I have personally spoken with many, many teachers who are feeling the latter. Whatever side of the field you are on, you either are the person, or know the person that the following letter was written for.

To the Teacher who Hates her Job:

I really need you to know something. Something that has been stinging at your heart for months now. Something that has left you feeling inadequate, confused, and questioning your future. I know you. I have been you. I feel you.

If you are in a dark place professionally, you know the kind I mean... I want to advise you to take a moment and step back. Look at what has brought you to this tunnel of darkness. Is it the fact that you have a class from H-E- double hockey sticks? Is it that your teammates aren't really teammates at all, but rather hurdles that are slowing you down? What about your administration? Are they your biggest cheerleader and coach or are they on the opposing team ready to knock out any idea or strategy that comes their way? OR, perhaps, is it you?

Wait. Did we just question if it was YOU that's the problem? Yes. I said it. Because for so long you thought it was you. You have been running in circles but not going anywhere. You cry on your way home from work wondering if this too shall pass or if maybe you should pass on this whole education gig. You've been brainwashed lately into thinking you are not effective, you don't care deeply about your students, or that what you morally stand for has no place in a classroom. I know you. I have been you. I feel you.

 How can this be so hard? Have you felt like you just want to teach but your hands are tied, your students don't care, and evaluations are emotionally biased? Unfortunately, some of us have learned this the hard way. I can promise you this- sometimes it is not you! See, this wonderful world of education has so many surfaced dynamics but then, if you dig deep, you see so much more than that. Sometimes people have a hidden agenda, sometimes schools just aren't cut out for certain personalities, and sometimes it takes a certain "look" to be a teacher in certain buildings.

The truth is, it can be you. And if you are the problem- fix it.

If you are not the problem- fix it. I mean quit dwelling on how much this school year has sucked, how much you hate your school, teammates, or admin and DO SOMETHING. That darkness is an extra scary place to be, but you are your only way out. So, take a look down the tunnel of darkness. Decide what the true issue is, and decide how you are going to fix it. Is this problem like this everywhere? If so, how can it be solved? Is it a toxic building you need to get out of? Sure, make the move to a different school. Is it the administration picking favorites and leaving you in the dust? Great- run for the hills but be prepared for the work that goes along with a new school.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Really think about who you are as a person. Think about the effect you have on your students. Think about the work that you do every single day. Is this something that you are truly ready to walk away from? Or is this something you need to fix and move on? I know you. I have been you. I feel you.

Quit thinking that other people have the power to change you or your career path. If you have been sitting pretty and never had any issues until this year, I encourage you to recognize that. Examine yourself. Decide where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there from here. Sometimes that means moving schools or districts. Sometimes that means changing grade levels. Sometimes that means kissing the education world good-bye altogether.

Please know this: sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side.... OH, BUT SOMETIMES IT IS. Take that leap out of the darkness. You are not stuck on this playing field- the ball is in your court. I know you. I have been you. I feel you.

Good luck. Play hard, but play smart.

Best Wishes,

Classroom Behavior Management System: The Ultimate DOJO System

Let's talk classroom management systems. Do you use a clipchart? Tallies? Whole Brain Teaching? Tickets? All of these systems can work wonders in your classroom. However, if you haven't quite found your jam yet, maybe you will consider what I call "The Ultimate DOJO System."

I really like Class DOJO because it takes the nitty-gritty detail work out of my hands. If your school is anything like mine, they want data, data, data on students. They want to know what the behavior is, when it's happening, and how it was provoked. DOJO can do all of these things for you.  It also allows parents to be actively involved in the life of the student, as they can check in on the student's points, message me, and even receive photos of their students throughout the week. If you aren't familiar with Class Dojo check it out here. It's free and fabulous.

Ok, so here is how "The Ultimate DOJO System" works. Students can earn postive points and negative points which can be displayed on your interactive whiteboard.

Students track their positive points and negative points each day and have their parents sign off on it each night. The parents that have signed up under the parent account using the child's special code will have access to this information by using the app or website. I promise- it's quite simple to get them signed up. The weekly tracking sheet is something that I use with my students whose parents DO NOT use the parent portal online.

Now on to the super fun stuff: Pay Day and DOJO Store time.

First of all, please understand there is some prep that goes into this ahead of time, but like anything, if you put in the prep now, it should make for a successful rest of the year later. Every Friday, I go to my teacher account on DOJO and look at the reports.

Click on View Reports, just below the settings down tab. This will allow you to take a look at the class as a whole, but also each individual student's points for the week.  Click on the student and this screen will show up: 
This student had 3 positive DOJO points, and 1 negative. So, when it comes to Pay Day, this child will receive 2 dollars because for each negative DOJO point, a positive point is cancelled out. Then, however many DOJO points are left is the amount of dollars the student receives. Every other Friday is our DOJO store, but every week students get paid. So, if this week is not a DOJO store week, students will simply get paid and put their money in their paper wallets like in the picture below. 

Later in the year, students can be "fined" as a warning (right in the middle of a lesson!), rather than getting a negative DOJO. But, in September, my friends aren't quite ready for that.

Are you ready for the magical moment called The DOJO Store?  See, students can spend their DOJO money every other Friday, or they can choose to save it. I love the connection we make with wants, needs, saving, and spending.

As I said earlier, this definitely takes some prep time and money, but it gets easier, I promise. You start having extras in your birthday goodie bags, or the office is giving away free erasers, or Walmart has summer bubbles for $.20 a bottle. So begins the accumulation of DOJO Store STUFF (< that isn't the word my husband prefers to call it). The best part- you get to set the price point. If you are a frequent DOJO point giver, you can set the prices high, since your students will more than likely have lots of money. If you don't give points for doing things that are expected (say: raising hand to speak) then you may not give out as many points, and your students total positive points won't be as high. So, it's important to think about these things prior to setting up your store, and definitely before pricing the items.

I used to be majorly against this JUNK that allowed my students to be extrinsically motivated, and demanded my students were intrinsically motivated. But then I began thinking- I AM EXTRINSICALLY MOTIVATED. I go to work to get paid, so I can buy things I want and need. This is real life. Does this make me a horrible person? I don't think so- it just makes me human. So, I have begun embracing this "Ultimate DOJO System." There are so many lessons the students learn about saving their money while others learn the consequences of spending their money just because they have it.

I think about one of my students who has had her eye on the red pom-poms since the first week of school. She refuses to buy anything else at the store every other week because she knows one day (very soon) she will have enough DOJO money to purchase the pom-poms. She also understands that she needs to keep her eye on them, because someone else may want them too. How's that for a real-life lesson?

Do you want to know what else is fabulous? The clean up. Each price gets its own grocery plastic bag (including the price tag that goes with those items). 

Then, ALL the bags go into a plastic Sterilite bin. I know not to go shopping if this bin is full, because I don't have space for overflow.
Oh, and all those extra bins you have laying around? You'll use them when your DOJO store is open!

I know it seems like a lot, and it is. If you are ready to make the change to The Ultimate DOJO System, best of luck to you and take it slow. If a different system works for you- YAY! Best of luck, friends!

The Truth About Alternative Seating

Ya'll, I am going to be real with you: alternative seating is not for everyone. As many of you know, last summer I did a Donor's Choose project for alternative seating in my classroom. I had done my research on the effectiveness, I had chosen a plethora of seating options, and I was ready to dive in head first!

I was thrilled to have ALL.THE.COLORS. that matched perfectly with my classroom decor. See- look how wonderful it all came together!

So, my 2nd graders filed in and were THRILLED to have landed in Mrs. Bright's class. Mrs. Bright had the cool chairs, Mrs. Bright had tables with exercise balls! Thank you, Mrs. Bright for understanding that my seven year old son needs to wiggle.

Yes, all of these things were said, and yes they are were true. But, what I didn't take into account was the newness as a whole both for me and for my students... but I will get back to that. I also didn't take into account that SOME alternative seating may have been easier to manage than ALL alternative seating. You see, I wanted to dive in and I needed my kids to quickly learn about each seating arrangement because, umm, where were they going to sit in the mean time? So, by the end of week 1, my students were sitting in wobble chairs, ball chairs, bean bags, and beach chairs. NEWS FLASH: THAT'S WAY TOO MANY OPTIONS AFTER ONLY 5 DAYS OF SCHOOL. 

 But, what about the research I did? I couldn't give up on the thousand dollar transformation I gave my classroom. I had to make it work. So, what did I do? I allowed my students to learn about the final few seating options in week 2.  That was a terrible idea. 

Don't get me wrong, my students absolutely loved it. They loved the freedom, they loved to be able to wiggle and not get in trouble. But the research I did about students being more attentive- I felt like they were just as attentive and engaged in years past. I thought I was losing every last bit of teacher mind I had left.

See, before I transformed my room into an alternative seating chaotic classroom, I still allowed my students to move around the room during centers and independent or partner work time. I was totally fine with laying on bellies, or grabbing clipboards and working practically anywhere in the classroom. So, as I mentioned before, the newness of the idea of alternative seating was something both I had to get used to, but also something my students had to get used to. My group of students were a rowdy bunch- one of my favorite classes, but rowdy nonetheless. I thought we had modeled, modeled, and modeled some more the expectations of the seating. I allowed my students to choose their seats every Monday morning. Some of my students chose the ball chairs each Monday if they had earned first choice. (They earned it based on turned in work, clip chart choices, and being a respectful student outside of our classroom walls). The problem was, the students that really needed to wiggle and the ones who became overstimulated quickly were the ones choosing last each week. I had one particular student who NEEDED to be in a ball chair. He needed to wiggle, he needed to be active. He barely ever earned the ball chair based on the above criteria. I didn't want him on a ball chair, or any chair for that matter, because of his destructive tendencies. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

So, I guess what I am saying is alternative seating was not for me. I felt overwhelmed, I felt like I was constantly blowing up exercise ball chairs, and replacing beans in the bean bag chairs. I felt like I had gone through a rather large classroom transformation that was not reaping the benefits I had read about the previous summer. I know now that I rushed into the seating, and lacked the procedural practice this kind of change desperately needs. I needed to allow myself to change back.

As I head to a brand new school, at a brand new grade level (first grade :)), I will take with me a few alternative seating thoughts:
-students can sit and work anywhere in the room
-students should have a seat to call their own, one that won't be "taken" from them each Monday
-it's ok to try something and not completely fall in love with it, it doesn't make you or the people who use that strategy bad teachers

So you've read through this post and may be wondering what I plan on doing with the Donor's Choose alternative seating I have. Don't worry, it will still be used in my classroom. I don't have as many choices as are seen in the picture above. Some of the items were worn out or just plain nasty. But, some of the bean bag chairs will be in our math centers, some of the ball chairs will be used at small group, or with particular students that need them.

The truth about alternative seating is it's not for everyone, and sometimes heading back to the basics are just as effective. 

What's Been Happenin'...

Hello! Gosh, I have neglected this poor little blog. I don't know how you people with kiddos do it. Seriously. Mad props to all your parents out there who juggle, well, life. I am in complete awe. Here is a little bit of what's been going on in my little world....

My fiance, Eric, told me that when I was on summer break I should really probably start planning our wedding. {Insert panic mode here.} See, the problem is I am not feeling the little details part of planning. I just want to get everyone together to celebrate. We searched and searched for a venue. We knew we wanted to get married on a beach but we were limited to locations due to some family members scared to fly anywhere. Yes, part of me was like it is 2014, people. Ha! No, really, we love them dearly and we want them to be apart of our day. Sooooo celebration, beach, close by.. Margitaville Hotel in Pensacola, Florida was exactly what we needed! So, we set the date, April 4, 2015 and now I should probably plan all the little details! Let the headaches games begin. :)


I have also wrapped up my first year as a 2nd grade teacher! Man, oh man, oh man! I LOVED it in second grade. I used to teach 5th grade and as much as I loved their independence and sass, I seriously am obsessed with 2nd grade. It helped that I had an incredible group of kiddos this year. I am worried that group of kiddos was the kind that you only get a handful of times in your teaching career. Each of them was great and they are definitely the reason I loved 2nd grade so much. Ahh! I am already missing those sweet babies and they have only been on summer break for 2 weeks! 

I have also been creating some units for my TeachersPayTeachers store. My 2nd Grade Plants Unit Quick Pack has been quite a hit and I wanted to get another NGSS science unit out there for you to start planning out your year. Which brings me to: 

 My Fast and Slow Changes of the Earth Science Quick Pack has 10 hands- on experiences for your kiddos to experiment with changes including fast changes on Earth, and slow changes. It even has an engineering component that will rock your socks off! If you use the Next Generation Science Standards in your classroom, be sure to get your hands on a copy of this!

 Be sure to purchase this unit at my TPT store here.

I have also begun creating units to go along with my classroom reading series: Journeys. We have the 2014 edition of this and I love how it is aligned to The Common Core Standards so it takes the guess work out of teaching using a basal! However, with this series I was needing something more for my kiddos. I wanted them to have a chance on a weekly basis to write a full length writing piece while sticking to the topic of the story. I needed my lower babies to have an opportunity with some more phonics work. I wanted some comprehension that wasn't just from their workbook.

This is the first story in the 2nd grade series. It is Unit 1, Lesson 1: Henry and Mudge: The First Book. I have started on the next few stories as well and hope to get them out within the next week or so. Boo for family reunions and weddings when I have Journeys units to be creating! Ha!

I will say, this is a supplemental unit and is not intended to stand alone in your students' learning using Journeys. It is simply a resource that can coincide with Journeys materials.

If you want to grab your copy of this Henry and Mudge Supplemental Unit, head here and check it out! 

For those of you that don't know, I am on Instagram these days if you would like to follow me there! Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and TeachersPayTeachers to stay current on what's going on in this little lady's life. I swear I update them more than I do my blog! Ha! Hope you are having a fabulous start to summer! {Insert "In Summer" from Frozen Soundtrack here-you're welcome.}

Getting Active with Regrouping

Are you looking for a way to help your students who have a tough time grasping the concept of subtraction with regrouping? I know mine did until I started teaching this standard algorithm using active engagement with Whole Brain Teaching. Check out this bright idea!

I teach math right after lunch and I have to pull all my teacher tricks out in order to keep my kiddos interested and engaged in their learning. I wanted to find a way for my students to truly understand what is happening when they are subtracting and regrouping and I didn't want them just going through the motions. So, check out my video below to see how I engage my students in such a rigorous task.

For more great ideas, please consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, and TeachersPayTeachers!

For more bright ideas from 150 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks for visiting!

Baketball Tournament Sale!

Want to know a fun fact? I LOVE this time of year. Seriously, March Madness is my favorite time of the year when it comes to sports. I love seeing the underdogs pull through, and of course, anytime University of Kentucky is playing, I want to see them win too!

Are you ready to celebrate this time of year with your kiddos? I have a unit in my TeachersPayTeachers store, that addresses The Common Core Standards with a little basketball twist!

Check out my blog post about the many skills covered in both E.L.A and Math! This will be on sale through midnight Friday (3/21) so get on over there and grab yours! Your students just might think you are the coolest teacher ever!

Stop in the name of all things MARCH!

Did I get your attention with that title?! I hope so. I want to shout from the roof tops all about my 2 newest products. Both of which will be a PERFECT addition to your classroom during the month of March!
As some of you already know, I am a big fan of basketball. The big NCAA tournament coming up is music to my ears and just might be my most favorite time of the year! So, in order to celebrate we must do it in style, right?! Right. You will do just that with this unit, Brackets of Basketball Fun!

This is a pack of basketball themed printables is aligned to The Common Core Standards. It includes E.L.A. topics and math topics! Some of the E.L.A. topics covered are:
  • Who, What, Where, When, Why, How for both Literature and Informational texts
  • Story Structure Graphic Organizers- to be used with any piece of literature.
  • Double Dribble Irregular Noun Sort- sort nouns by singular and their irregular plural form.
  • Triple Double Shades of Meaning- a set of adjectives and a set of verbs
  • Narrative Writing Prompt and Opinion Writing Prompt

This is a great time to practice skills students haven't practiced in a while, or introduce new topics! My kiddos will be using the Shades of Meaning printables this week. We are so excited!

Some of the math covered are:
  • Double Dribble 2 -Step Word Problems
  • Odd or Even Mental Math Sums
  • Rebound with Skip-Counting Practice
  • Numbers in Different Ways- practice standard form, word form, expanded form, and even base ten drawings.
  • Comparing Scores- comparing 2 numbers
  • 4-on-4 Tournament- Adding 4 2-digit numbers.
  • Write On- Addition Strategies
  • Write On- Subtraction Strategies 
While I am signing my students' clip charts each afternoon, they are working on brushing up their math skills with these printables. Both boys and girls in my class LOVE IT!

If your kiddos can benefit from this unit, click on over to My TPT Store  and grab your copy. The best news yet? It is on sale until Monday at 11:59PM.

Are you in love?! I sure hope so, I know my students have loved these so far! And now, a new GAME that will keep your students on their toes! It is called Lucky Number 21. I must tell you all about it.

There are 32 task cards. Each task card is numbered for your convenience. On each task card are 4 numbers. Students compete with 2 or more players to be the first person to use addition, subtraction, or a combination of both to get an answer of 21.

For example, let's say there is a task card that has these 4 numbers: 12, 18, 15, and 0. Students are trying to use addition, subtraction, or both to get to 21. A student can suggest a solution using mental math strategies. He could say 18-12=6, 6+15= 21, 21+0= 21. Students must use all 4 numbers but as long as their computations are correct, they win the card!

We started using these task cards today and my students were thrilled. It brought out the competitive nature in my 2nd graders and they begged to play longer! This, too, is on sale at my TPT store until 11:59PM tonight. Go grab your copy and let the mental math thinking begin!

Ahh, yes! If you snag your copy of either of these units, be sure to leave feedback on them so you can earn TPT credits toward your next purchase! Have fun with these and let me know how you use them in your room!
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