Sunday, August 5, 2018

Farewell First, Hello K-2 SELF!

Hello out there! It's Alisha with her ANNUAL blog post! 
For real, my track record is WEAKSAUCE for the last couple of years!
Let's change that!

Summer has been wonderful for catching up on all of YOUR posts, yet I've failed to even write one of my own. That's changing today, friends! I'm officially training my brain to start back to school dreaming & scheming. We've got about 10 days left until we have to report back, but most of us are already spending time at school getting our spaces ready. My hubby & I were sweating our HEADS off at the school this evening as he did some heavy-lifting for me. (What in the world would I do without him? Insert all the heart-eyes here!) It's so true...August is like one long Sunday night for teachers. 

From the title of this post, you may be wondering if I'm leaving first grade, and the answer is yes...although not without a little sadness & nostalgia. I was so fortunate to work with an incredible team, and my goodness, I love first grade and the little loves that come along with it, but I'm moving on to something that really ignites my passion! 

I'll be teaching social & emotional learning to all of our district's kindergarten, first, and second grade students! About 450 in all! 

Each class will see me weekly as I'll be in the specials rotation. I'm proud of my district for seeing that there was a dire need for targeted social-emotional skills instruction & I'm thrilled to have been the one chosen to do it!
Am I excited? Oh, am I ever!
Am I nervous? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. 
I've never NOT had a classroom of my own. 20-something little bodies who rely on me to guide them through their first grade year. Who see me every day. Who grow a little bit every day and at the end of the year you marvel at their tremendous progress. The relationships a teacher builds with their classroom community is such a strong bond. I think that might be what I'm going to miss the most. 

In my new position, I'll be seeing ALL of the kids in the school, but for only 40 minutes a week. 
So I have a question for you specials teachers out there...what are your best tips for building relationships with kids you don't see every day? Of course, I'll have other opportunities throughout the day to interact with them, such as arrival, dismissal, lunch, and recess duties, but I wonder how this relationship-building will be different. 
What are the best ways to make the time I spend with them significant?

It's a new challenge & one that I'm looking forward to figuring out! 
As far as instructional materials, we'll be using the Second Step Curriculum! 

Out of many that we reviewed, this one seemed to best fit the needs of our population. It has a focus on self-regulation, which is so important, especially for the youngest kids. As they progress through the program, as they learn skills of self-regulation, empathy, and recognizing their own feelings, they'll also learn problem-solving strategies. This is so important! I can't wait to roll it all out!
Our school is also starting PAX (Good Behavior Game) this year! We're moving in a great direction and I'm so hopeful that we're going to see positive change across the board. Are you familiar with either of these programs?

I even got to help NAME this new class--so cool! It will be called SELF (Social Emotional Learning with Friends). I suppose my kiddos will be SELFies! 

Last year my district restructured our buildings and we went from 3 separate elementary buildings to a single K-2 building and a 3-5 building. I love that now, from the beginning, we're all working together! Space in my building is limited, so my classroom space will be on the STAGE!
Oh, the possibilities!

Once I finish setting it all up (hopefully by the end of the week--I have an adventure coming up next weekend!) I'll post a preview of my space. It's so cool! Because of the unique layout, I didn't want tables & chairs. I have a vision of the space & it's very relaxed & fun! I got a beautiful, very "zen" carpet and lots of flexible seating options. Exercise balls, wiggle seats, scoop rockers, and small stools. I have clipboards & lapdesks for any paper-pencil work to be done, and even had a successful Donor's Choose project that was fully funded over the summer! It will bring lots of sensory materials (fidgets, weighted lap panels, more books!) to our classroom space. I also have an incredible library of varied texts to accompany my weekly lessons. I have a vision to eventually start a social-emotional library of books & sensory materials that teachers can borrow to help their students. 

I'm so grateful for this opportunity and although it's a little scary, I'm SO excited to get started!
That is, after these last 10 blissful days of our break are over.
When do you head back to school?

Friday, June 16, 2017

OHM my Goodness!

I'd originally intended for this post to explain my Donors Choose project as a way of getting the word out and to help with donations towards getting it funded. I created a project titled: 

"Help My First-Graders Self-Regulate Through Mindfulness and Yoga"

I was requesting read aloud books, yoga sequence cards, reference books for teachers, and even a Tibetan Singing bell to help me implement mindfulness & yoga techniques in my classroom.

 I took a graduate course on the topic and the research blew me away! Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are POWERFUL! Particularly for kids with trauma & behavior difficulties. The simple, yet complex techniques have shown to have significant positive effects on both students AND teachers!  After last year, which was incredible behaviorally-challenging for our entire school, I began looking for ways to reach students that are somewhat "outside the box", at least the traditional box of classroom management & culture. 
I loved this class! 

A good friend passed this along to me. TOTS4LIFE!
Well, I had to throw that plan out the window because....

I'm thrilled to announce that full funding has ALREADY HAPPENED!

Hooray! Woohoo! Happy dancing going on over here! 

Thank you to everyone who supported this project! I'm forever humbled by friends & family who take money out of their own pockets for my projects. To know that they are cheering me on means so much! The final donation actually came from someone I don't even know! An ANGEL in Los Angeles donated the final $92 with a sweet note that she's so glad I'll be teaching kids about meditation and mindfulness. Wow!

I'll have materials in hand before the first day of school, which is so exciting, because I can start from the very beginning of the year. Of course, I'll update my progress here, as well!

Do you use any meditation, mindfulness, or yoga techniques in your classroom? Tell me about it!

Have you submitted a Donors Choose project? Leave me a comment about it, I'm interested to learn! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

School's Out But I'm Not Relaxing...Yet!

Do you ever have those days & weeks that float by where you wonder "Where in the world did that time go?" That, my friends, wraps up the entire month of May for me.
I was BUSY.
I mentioned in my last post that my district is restructuring, thus sending me to our new K-2 school. I'm so excited for the changes, but holy guacamole, was it a lot of work to get my classroom packed up. I'd been in that room for 6 years, and like we teachers do, I accumulated A LOT of stuff.

 I remember when I first started teaching, and had NOTHING, I would take any and all offers of hand-me-down supplies. Old manuals? Sure! File folders of purple "ditto" activities? Thankyouverymuch. 1970's bulletin board materials (including characters with bell-bottoms & butterfly collars)? Sign me up! As the years went on, I was able to be a little choosier, but still, I had a stupid amount of stuff!
I got really creative when labeling boxes

I even took my ENTIRE classroom library home with me because it needs a re-vamp!

But, just like how moving houses is good for a nice healthy purge, so is moving classrooms. I bet I made 10 trips to the dumpster and STILL managed to pack up about 35 boxes of stuff! I was impressed with how I pared down things that really weren't serving me or my professional development. I got a little Marie Kondo with the stuff I threw away, silently thanking the items for their service, and giving them the ole' heave-ho in the trash barrel. Thankfully, we had 3 days last week without kids where we could finish our packing. Wednesday afternoon I said goodbye to room 128 & rode off into the sunset...well, actually, I rode out to my favorite hole-in-the-wall with a couple of teachers for a celebratory lunch! 
My boxes!
Thursday we worked on our new class lists, and on Friday I spent the day with family, celebrating my mom's birthday and strawberry picking with my niece & nephews. So much fun!
I forgot sunglasses...

6 buckets of these sweet babies! So delicious!

My beautiful Mama!

My sister and the kids!Strawberry picking fools!

Memorial day weekend provided me with relaxation & adventure as we headed to Ohiopyle, PA to hike around & explore. It's one of our favorite spots for outdoor adventures!

Essentially: Check Yo'Self before you Wreck Yo'Self!
The Yough was roaring!

Cucumber Falls, always beautiful!

Tuesday I sat in on some interviews and today I finished up a graduate course about meditation and mindfulness in the classroom (more on this later!)
Now it's 10:30 and I'm shocked that nothing particular is on the calendar for tomorrow.

Don't worry, I'm sure I'll find myself into something interesting. 
I'll be sure to take pictures!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Whale Hello There!

Image result for whale hello there

Well, would you look at that?
My little corner of the internet got a face lift & I'm starting to blog again!
Recently I've had several people ask me about my blog & I've had to tell them that while it's still active, it's been nearly TWO YEARS since I've posted! To type that feels so strange! 
Time freaking flies!

To be very honest, I think I started getting a little stale with my teaching. Doing the same thing for a few years on end didn't feel that exciting, although I did enjoy the familiarity. Anyone else ever felt like that? I'm so lucky to have had/have a wonderful teaching partner who helps keep me sane & keeps me laughing. Also, it's not to say that the last two years were not challenging, especially in the behavior department....ahem, teachers, do you feel me here? Things didn't really feel "bloggable" and I took a MAJOR break.

So here we are.  
I decided to give this space a new look & begin my trek through the blogosphere once again.  A major reason for wanting to revive my blog is that I'm about to take part in our school district's restructuring plan that involves taking 3 elementary schools & dividing them into 2 grade-banded schools: a K-2 building & a 3-5 building. The third building, my present school, will house the district's preschool classes, as well as administrative offices. The last month or so has been a flurry of excitement, questions, concerns, and oh my goodness, packing all of our stuff up to move! I'll continue to teach 1st grade with an incredible team of 6 other teachers & my new school is actually just a few blocks from my house. I'm heartbroken that my "little school that could" will be no more, but feel grateful for the opportunity to teach with other fantastic educators in a setting that I believe will benefit our kids. 

Blogging was a way for me to connect with other teachers and learn from their experiences, challenges, and successes. I really missed this community! I'm looking forward to getting to know many of you again, as well as make new friends.

New curriculum resources for me next year will be: The Lucy Calkins Reading & Writing Units of Study, as well as Word Study. I've got lots of materials in hand and am so thankful for the opportunity to dive in & read up on all of it over the summer. Who is using these resources, too?

We actually had our last day with kiddos on Friday, but will use Monday-Wednesday this week to finish packing, cumulative files, etc. When is your last day?

So glad to be back! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Brrrr! June Currently Comin' Atcha!

Holy Moly, Ohio is COLD! I know, I know, after coming through one of the harshest winters in a long time, none of us are really entitled to be complaining about 40-50 degree weather, but seriously, as I'm typing this my little bare feet are freezing and I've already had to stop and find a hoodie. 
Woe is me, let me tell ya! The way I see it, if the worst thing I have to comment on is the weather, I must be having a pretty good day! 

I'm linking up with Farley (LOVE her!) for this month's Currently! I'd love to meet her in real-life someday! You can link up too! Just head over to her page & join in the fun!

Listening: Seriously! The furnace is on! Well, WAS on! I decided to put on a sweatshirt & socks instead of listening to my gas bill go up! These are supposed to be the cheap months! 

Loving: I'm on break! The last couple of weeks were pretty hairy, but as always, I made it through with a smile and also as always, a few tears at our end of the year awards ceremony. Teaching is so emotional sometimes! You work hard with these kids all year with these big end-goals in mind. You see them become independent and many times, exceed your expectations. You get them right where you want them and BAM! They're off to the next grade and you're preparing yourself for a new crop of students. For someone like me who can cry at commercials, it's a little taxing at times. I need the summer months to re-organize, re-group, and re-charge. Viva la BREAK!

Thinking: Well, as I was whipping up my Currently, I was thinking about the coffee. It's since become a reality.  A hot, delicious reality. I've got big plans for my caffeine boost here in about 15 minutes...vacumming! Does the exclamation point make it sound exciting? Is that even possible?

Wanting: Wouldn't it be incredible if dogs could do laundry? I could teach Casey how to sort clothes, use the stain remover, and even fold towels! Ha! Who am I kidding? He'd climb right in that dryer full of warm towels and take a nap, If I could get myself into that dryer (and guarantee I could also get out...hehehe) I'd do the same thing. Nothing better than warm towels straight from the dryer!

Needing: I DO need a new swim suit. I'm dreading THAT shopping trip. Perhaps a few margaritas, pre-shopping, would guarantee a good mood and heap-loads of self-confidence. If nothing else, just a promise to be gentle with myself (and keeping said promise) will probably suffice.

Summer Lovin': Oh! So many things to look forward to! Getting my kayak out on the water! We live close to 2 fantastic lakes. Over the last couple of years lots of our friends bought kayaks too! So fun! There's also concerts a'plenty! We just returned from a day at the Nelsonville Music Festival and had SO much fun! I finally got to see Brandi Carlile and even saw Merle Haggard close out the fest! The Grateful Dead covered his song "Mama Tried" and it's always been a favorite! He also performed Pancho & Lefty. Score! We're also set up to see Mike Gordon (bassist from Phish) and Phish (in Ohio and Wisconsin). Summer music is what gets me through Ohio winters! We're also looking forward to a family trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in July/August. I love end of the summer trips. Something to look forward to all summer!

I love that Farley's huge heart is leading her to raise donations for Wimberly, TX, which, like so many other communities, has been ravaged by flood waters. If you're so inclined, please check out her page and see how you can help! I'm heading over right now to make my donation! 

That's it for now! Happy June!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Currently!

Back again for Farley's May Currently! I've really missed these monthly link-ups! Check out her page & if you're so inclined, I'd love for you to link up too! Here's what's on tap with ME!

Listening: Aaaah, I'm happy to say that my classroom is bordering on CHILLY this time of year. The air conditioning is strong and the days are hot! There's nothing better than coming in from a hot recess to a cool cool room! It's even better to enjoy it while your students are at special! :)

Loving: I can't say enough about how this weather is making me ten million kinds of happy right now. Even with the seasonal allergy woes, I'll take it. Everything is in bloom and I can't help but smile as I leave the house without a coat every morning. This horrendous winter really made me appreciate spring. 

Thinking: I'll be getting my first student teacher in the fall and I'm super excited! I'm glad I'll have all summer to prep and plan for her arrival. I had a wonderful student teaching experience in 2nd grade and want to provide that for my student teacher. She's coming to visit our classroom today before she leaves for home for the summer. 

Wanting: Did I mention I was hot? A purple snow-cone would be AMAZEBALLS right now!

Needing: Like I said, although the Mr. will beg to differ, I NEED some new spring pieces! Particularly short-sleeved shirts, capris, and sandals. Today was casual day..thank goodness! 

Summer yes, hope, dream: Oh, the OBX, how I love you! We've got a house in Duck in July and I can't WAIT to get there! I'm hoping to really build my doTerra Essential Oils business & team over the summer. I dream of taking a spontaneous romantic getaway with my husband sometime this summer. Even just hitting the road with no particular plan in mind sounds good! That's pretty much how we roll, anyway!

That's it! I can't wait to link up and read everyone else's posts!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Currently

Once again, its time for Farley's "Currently" and once again, I'm absolutely amazed that another month has flown by! I'm linking up and you should, too!


As I said, I am in LOVE with the "Swingin' Christmas" station on Pandora. It's all the classic Christmas songs with not a HINT of contemporary...well, except for Harry Connick, Jr (Swoon!) and some Michael Buble. I really used some restraint this year and made myself wait to even listen to Christmas music because I feared early-holiday-burnout. Even my hubby, who seriously protested my music choice, was caught humming "Do You Hear What I Hear?" yesterday. That makes my holiday heart smile! 

Every year I'm so moved by seeing people get into the season! Folks putting up their decorations, making memories, and displaying general attitudes of cheerfulness & giving. I try to see the GOOD in people and the holidays always provide lots of opportunities to be inspired by the actions of others. 

Just recently it occured to me that we have only about 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas break! We're lucky and have Monday the 2nd off as part of our Thanksgiving break. Add in the craziness of taping our annual "Kids n' Christmas" segment for local TV (which takes 2 days at our school since we are the host location for all the local elementary schools) and we've got a crazy week on our hands! My plan is to strategically mix the fun & essential activities we need to do to close out the 2nd grading period. Wish me luck! It's going to go so quickly! 

I know, I know, if you know me, I say this EVERY year! I start with the best of intentions, but somehow those intentions usually transform into hectic to-do's and somehow the JOY gets taken out of things. I'm determined to NOT let that happen this year. I want to enjoy the season...after all, it only comes around once a year!

Well, this kind of goes with my "wanting", because if I would actually complete the things on my "list" in good time, I wouldn't feel so rushed. I'm using tomorrow as a "catch up & get ready for the holidays" day. 

Favorite Tradition:
I love baking day with my Mom! We listen to Christmas music, crack each other up, and make holiday treats for sharing with friends and family. We make messes, "Shoo" the men out of the kitchen, and just have the best time. I can't wait to see what we come up with this year.

I hate to say this on the 1st, but January will be here before we know it! I hope that you all can take some time this month to sit back and ENJOY yourselves this holiday season!

Sending you the HAPPIEST of holiday wishes!

Also: My TPT store is on sale for the Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale!

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