Hump Day Planning: Teacher Edition

As I have mentioned before, the school year is several days away, and I am gearing up to welcome 150, well 143 to be exact, sophomores into my classroom. That means 143 children will be asking me the same question: “What should I do with my summer assignment?”

Pet Peeve Alert: I cannot stand when all of my students ask me prior to class what they should be doing or what we are going to be doing or where they should turn something in, etc. I think that they should wait until I start class because then I will only have to explain it all to them once (ok, maybe like three times; they are kids) instead of explaining to every single student.

I have tried in the past couple of years to put messages on the board anticipating their questions before I begin class, which does seem to help, even thought I find myself repeating “look at the board” a hundred times a day.

Anyway, planning. So, I follow several planner girls on Instagram, some of whom are teachers. When I say planner girls, I mean girls who hard core like to decorate their planners with stickers and washi tape and they write everything down in beautiful pens and colors. I’ve seen it referred to as “Glam Planning.” I don’t much like the term because I don’t really find myself to be very glamorous, but I guess it fits. One of the planner girls made a call out for any teachers who use a Bullet Journal, an analog system for planning.

Even though I use a very much modified version for everyday use, I have decided to use a more traditional bullet journal for work. In the past, I would carry my planner, a spiral notebook, and a binder to carry all of my paperwork, notes, and of course lesson plans. I was just weighed down with too much. This year, I wanted to try something different.

For my planner I chose a paperback Moleskine  Cahier Journal, Extra Large, Blank page. The original color is grey, but as you can see from above, I covered it with washi tape to match my classroom decoration. For the different sections, I have used even more washi tape to better help me locate my information.

Above I have my to do list that I have just taped in because I forgot to leave room for pre-planning week when I was putting this all together. On the right side is a page to tape a list of my class rosters that will be easy to take with my for fire drills, and a page to keep track of important dates. One thing that I did not anticipate when I was putting this together was utilizing monthly spreads. I am thinking, if I am able, I will add that to the back of the planner.

Here is a weekly spread and a close up of my weekly spread. My rows consists of meetings, objectives for each lesson, WODs (words of the day), lesson plans, and notes or thoughts. On the right page will be a place for me to writeout even more notes about the lessons to include rubrics, maybe funny things kids said that week, doodles, to do lists for the week, etc.

The next section is a list of my WODs. I used to keep this list separate from my planner, but then I would lose it and have to make a new list. Now, it will just stay with my planner. I use these WODs to help build the students vocabulary. There is such a debate about what is the best way to teach vocabulary…ok, I’ll save that one for another time.

Finally, I have a place for faculty meeting notes and professional development notes.

I like the concept of having everything in one place and written down. I have made some acknowledgments of my mistakes, and I probably wouldn’t do it this way again. I think I would love to have a yellow Kikki.K large and build my planner system the way I have built the one I use every day with tabs and dividers and monthly spreads and daily spreads and so forth. Unfortunately, I don’t think the large yellow planner is available anymore through the store. 😦

You can catch a glimpse of my everyday planner here.

 

Anxious About NOT Being Anxious

In about 6 days, I will roll out of bed, feed my cats, guzzle down the hot, liquid caffeine, shower and dress in something conservative yet comfy, drive the astronomically long distance of 38 miles, and then open wide my classroom doors to welcome in 150 sophomore students nervously awaiting their fate in the English II Honors classroom.

They will carry mixed emotions about this new school year. They will be wondering what type of teacher Ms. Jones really is and can they earn an A this year. Some will have their summer assignments prepped and ready to turn in, eager to please. While others have procrastinated as long as they can and plan to drop the class before the assignment is due.

Either way, what they don’t know, is that I, their teacher, their classroom leader, the one who is supposed to teach them what they don’t know, am anxious, too.

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School has not even started, and I have already had several dreams about my students or rather teaching. Most of the dreams consist of weird occurrences with fellow teachers trying to help me teach, but still, the point being, weeks before my new students even arrive in my classroom, I am thinking about them and their new school year.

Some things I worry about as a teacher, most of which occur on a DAILY BASIS:

  • Are my lessons good?
  • Does the lesson even make sense?
  • Are the kids going to like them?
  • Is this too elementary?
  • Are the kids going to like me?
  • Is what I am saying making sense?
  • Do they are already know this?
  • Am I talking down to them?
  • Am I being fair?
  • Is this too much work for them?
  • Are my expectations too high?
  • Do they get my sarcasm?
  • Am I going to get into trouble for saying that?
  • Did I keep my word with the students?
  • Did I misspell anything?
  • Oh geez, I made so many typos today, they probably think I am an idiot?
  • Is it reasonable to expect them to do this?
  • I hate grading papers.
  • Are they going to pass their big state test?
  • What if they don’t? Did I fail them? It’s my entire fault; I was supposed to prepare them?
  • Did they learn anything?
  • I hope they all come back safely tomorrow.
  • Oh no, they are getting their driver’s license. I wish I could wrap them in bubble wrap to protect them.
  • Ugh, why are they failing?
  • Please don’t make me have to talk to their parents.

I like to pretend I hide these worries from my students well. If I don’t, then I am secure in the knowledge they are too busy with their own lives to realize that I, too, am anxious; either that or they have a firm belief that teachers are not humans and cannot possibly have feelings. Our entire existence is merely to ruin their lives.

So, with this year quickly approaching, I like to evaluate my anxieties along with writing a massive list of every little tiny thing that must get done from listening to the yearly god-awful training videos on sexual harassment and blood borne pathogens and much more, to making sure all the decorations are up in my classroom, to getting my copies made, arranging my desks, class rosters, markers, erasers, calendars, self evaluation forms, lesson plans for at least the first two weeks of school finalized, etc.

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My To-Do List. I add things as I go. I even add things that I have already done just to cross them off. 🙂

This will be my 5th year teaching. I have been lucky to have taught 10th grade English Honors for all my years of teaching, so the amount of lesson plans I have are becoming quite extensive. I have reached that “magical year,” as my friend Tracy puts it, when I can just reach into my bag and pull out a lesson and be done.

My students’ scores from last year rocked (proud of my babies), so I am not having to reinvent the wheel too terribly much. So, I should be confident in attacking this school year.

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But for some reason, I am not.

I am watching all my other teacher friends scramble to put lessons together, to exclaim their to-do list is longer than mine, to jump from meeting to meeting, becoming increasingly more frantic about the start of the school year. I am, literally, watching them FREAK OUT. And all I keep thinking is, “why am I not freaking out with them?”

Each year after my first year of teaching, has progressively gotten easier, naturally. But as I am beginning to journey into this 5th year, my anxiety is reaching depths that are new to me. What I am most anxious about is not being anxious.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still anxious about the well-being of my students, but this year I am prepared. Yesterday was the first day back for pre-planning, and I left at 4 with a fully decorated classroom. I left at 4 with the first 9 weeks tentatively planned with engaging and challenging lessons. I left at 4 with the items on my to-do list significantly marked off. I left at 4 with a clean classroom and a clear desk.

My mom keeps telling me, it is because I am so organized. But I just can’t accept that I am THAT organized. I keep waiting for all the poopy stuff to hit the fan and everything to come down at once.

I am simply anxious about not being anxious. And I don’t like that feeling.

 

Caturday! That’s Saturday With a Cat. Or Two

Oh geez…this is my first Caturday, and it may be my further descent into the Crazy Cat Lady universe. But I am forging on despite what anyone here thinks.

I discovered Caturday via Bluebird of Bitterness. As “Bob” so informed me, Caturday is simply an excuse to post about cats…anything to do with cats. I then decided we don’t need an excuse to post about cats. But to save you from my insanity, I will try to limit my cat posts to one day a week…Caturday. That’s today.

Allow me to introduce you to my Boo-Bear. This is Dios.

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My Pumpkin Muffin, my favorite, my very own Martin Van Buren.

I adopted Dios 7 years ago just after graduating from college. I was about to embark on my next adventure of graduate school at Florida State. I wanted a friend to share in this adventure.

So, I logged onto the animal shelter website looking for cute little furbabies. The sponsored kitten on the site was this cute little white kitten with big blue eyes. I was hooked. I jumped in my civic, paid the $3 toll to get over the bridge, and up to the north part of the county to take this beautiful, little blue eyed kitten home.

When I entered the kitten room, the meows were pinging off the walls; the kittens were climbing the cages; they were stretching their paws through the openings, begging for me to take them all home. I instantly gathered them all into my arms and quickly ran out door.

Thus starting my own Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit.

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Just kidding. However, when I did enter the kitten room, I located the blue eyed white kitten, but locked in the cage with him, was this black furball, that was, at the time, clinging to the door of the cage like a wildly crazed monkey.

I don’t know what compelled me to do so, but I decided I would take the crazed monkey-cat and the blue eyed kitten out to play for a bit. I put both on the floor of the room and then sat to see what would happen. The little white, blue eyed kitten immediately went to the corner and hid behind a cat climbing post, too scared to move. But the black crazy one shot off across the room, skidded wildly on the floor, slammed into the wall, and then immediately started kicking his feet trying to gain traction to continue his race across the tile floor.

Was he chasing some unforeseen object? Or was he delighting in a new found freedom? I wasn’t quite sure. All I knew is that he reminded me of a cartoon character moving his legs as if running, but remaining in one place. I couldn’t resist.

His black fur stuck out of his little body like he had been electrocuted, and he was just having the time of his life, not a care in the world. Meanwhile, the white cat just cowered in the corner. I knew who I had to take home.

 

Since then, Dios has endured a yearlong graduate program (he worked hard during that program), four different moves, a couple boyfriends (mine not his), a career change, flooded apartments, and much much more. He has been by my side through some pretty emotional times, but he has also been there through all the good times.

He greets me at the door every day, follows me around the house, plays fetch and comes when called, barks when he plays, cuddles with me each night, and has no problem letting me know when he is hungry or when I have slept too long.

He is my Boo.

Dios has been dubbed Martin Van Buren, the 8th president, simply because when the weather turns cold and his winter coat comes in, he seems to grow grey mutton-chops as a mane. He bears this title well.

For the sake of your sanity, I will save the story of Whittaker for next week. By then, I should have Kitty Kingdom set up for his and your entertainment.

Happy Caturday.

crazycatlady

The P Word

Patience…UGH! No, no, no. Open Mindedness.

“Good things come to those who wait.”

“Patience, young grasshopper.”

“Patience is a virtue.”

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you’re waiting.”

“A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.”

“When you pray for patience, God will be sure to give you plenty of opportunities.”

 

Have you heard any of these before? Do you have any of your own “patient” sayings?

My younger sister told me just last night that “Learning patience takes patience.”

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I told her “Learning English requires knowing English.” The argument was moot (or “moo, a cow’s opinion”).

I’ve been struggling with patience for…well my whole life. I am right on the cusp of the “Now” generation. I need instant gratification, instant results. I have no desire to wait.

However, for some odd reason, lately, my impatience has culminated to an unbearable point. Anytime I am in a situation that requires patience, my mom, so gently coos to me, “Patience, young grasshopper.” She likes to throw in the “young grasshopper” in as if to cushion the blow of the P word.

My response has since become an exasperated eye roll via text message, and the word has made its way onto my “unmentionable word” list. I am just so tired of THIS word.

Patient, as an adjective, according to Dictionary.com, means “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.”

Ok, the definition makes sense; it’s logical, but that doesn’t mean I care for it. The part of the definition stating that a person has to bear that misfortune or a particular situation without becoming angry or complaining, or “the like”, which would include, from my understanding, irritation, frustration, eye rolling, anxiety, depression, outbursts of any kind, seriously perturbs me.

This idea of patience without a negative reaction goes against the idea that negative feelings are in fact valid. We, as humans, are allowed and should feel every emotion including the negative ones. I don’t think that we are meant to maintain a positive demeanor all the time, including when we are waiting for something to happen or not happen.

After talking with a friend about patience, we have decided that from here on out, we will refer to patience as OPEN MINDEDNESS.

She reminded me that patience is not an absolute; that I may not have patience with myself, but I may possess an abundant amount of patience with my students (which in fact I do). I am extremely patient with their ability to understand certain concepts. Grammar, for example, throws some of my students for a loop, especially when I start telling them that a gerund is a verb acting as a noun.

It is easy for me to be patient with them; at the end of the year I can show them their progress of how much grammar they understood when they entered my classroom compared to how much they understood when they leave.

Why is this easy for me?

I think it is because I don’t physically have to feel their struggles and insecurities regarding learning. I just see the results.

I think this is what Vincent Carlos meant on his post Success Requires Patience. He talked about how individuals give up on dreams of greatness because the struggle is too much. We constantly compare ourselves with someone who is already 20 chapters further in their life. We didn’t watch all of their struggles. We didn’t physical see them work day end and day out to accomplish what they wanted. We just saw the results.

And so instead of being patient with ourselves and continuing to put in the effort, we give up. Or at least that is what I have done. I become frustrated and angry, I roll my eyes, I complain, blah, blah, blah. So, by being open minded, I am allowing myself to step out of my own shoes for a moment to see my struggle as if it was someone else’s struggle. I then am able to ask myself, how “patient” would I be with this person?

Let me be clear, this is no easy concept for me. I am a naturally pessimistic person who has been pushing against patience my entire life. But in those rare moments when I allow my mind to be patient or open, the relief is immense.

I believe I will have to practice being patient…I mean open minded for the rest of my life. It will not come easy for me. I will have to be open minded about being open minded…

Huh? Maybe my sister was right.

Bloglovin’

Ok, If I am correct, Bloglovin’ is a place to collect all the blogs you love to read and have them in one place. It’s like an Instagram/Facebook/Twitter for blogs. That’s the best way I could describe it. If you click the link below, it will take you to my blog on Bloglovin’, then you could follow me on there as well as many other blogs.

The more followers I get on Bloglovin’, the higher I move up in their ranks which in turns equals more followers.

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18169269/?claim=3arjn378mj2″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

But, hey if I am wrong about all this, well then we will just chalk it up to me not understanding technology. I don’t understand the whole OpenID thing and codes and stuff. Alas, it’s jargon not meant for me.

Hump Day Planning

Good Morning and welcome to Wednesday. What most people call the middle of the week…well the work week, anyway.

My best friend Ashton lovingly refers to it as “Hump Day.” It never fails that I will receive a “Happy Hump Day” snap from her lookin’ her finest.

So, on this last Wednesday of my summer, I am going to introduce to you “My Brain,” or my planner. I have named it, affectionately, after my mother’s old school, Office Depot planner. When I was a kid, she had a dark blue ring bound planner that held…well everything. She referred to it as her “brain” because without it nothing was remembered.

I remember my family knowing that mom had to have her “brain” whenever we left the house, or we would be in charge of reminding her of crazy appointments or phone numbers, which never were remembered. Come on now, we were just kids.

At the end of 2015, I decided that I wanted to be more organized (more so than I already was). I wanted a place that would hold EVERYTHING I could think of. I was already a planner user for work, and I had recently gotten into the habit of writing down an hourly schedule for myself. Each hour of my day was planned out so I knew what I had to do that day. It kept me accountable.

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With my Christmas wish money, I scoured the internet looking for something beautiful, functional, and cost worthy. I literally spent hours hogging my parents’ computer looking for the right set up. I finally found Kikki.K.  A Swedish company that sells BEAUTIFUL ring bound planners and stationary. I was instantly hooked.

I purchased the Large Cobalt Blue planner (lucky me, it was on sale). My dad silently scoffed my obscure purchase and the amount, but I knew it was love.

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Large Cobalt Blue Ring Bound and Stabilo Pens

After that, I started finding all these planner girls on Instagram and the internet. I came across A Bowl Full of Lemons and read all of her planner posts. I loved her setup. I was jealous. And instantly hooked on the “Planner World.” From there, it was just a simple jump into washi tape, stickers, pens, decorating, planner clips, inserts, etc.

I found “planner peace” with daily printables from www.vortex42.com which I decorate with stickers and washi tape galore. I also found that I could combine journaling with scheduling by way of bullet journaling. I found a whole world of planner users on Instagram and Facebook. I discovered challenges for quotes and doodles and handwriting practice. I have found that I have tapped into this crafty reservoir I didn’t know I possessed.

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My Wednesday. “Hump Day” sticker from Formless Designs and the “Walk” flag is from Jubilo. Washi tape from Michaels Craft Store. I wish I could tell you where the coffee cup is from, but it was part of a “grab all you can” from a table. The name was cut off. Inserts or dividers came from Superkitties.

My dad likes to refer to my planner obsession as a hobby, and he does so with affection. He admittedly enjoys watching me work on my planner. I have even convinced my older sister and mom to join me in this black hole of the “planner world.” I spam my Instagram with my planner, specifically my quotes of the day; I am part of a Northwest Florida Planner group, where I have met some awesomely creative ladies; I carry my planner around with me constantly, even room to room of my house; I lay it open on my little white desk just to stare at its beauty.

My planner has become my sanctuary. Some days I just want to sit and stare at it. But, honestly, it has truly helped me this year, not only be more organized and crafty, but given me an outlet when I have needed it the most.

If ever my house were to catch on fire (knock on wood), besides Dios and Whittaker, my planner would be the next thing I grab.

Oooo geez…crazy cat lady + planner nerd.

Happy Hump Day

Pre-Pre-Planning

(Sigh) August. It’s that time of year again when school is starting up. Parents are frazzled because they want their kids out of the house, out of their hair, and back to their routine. Students are realizing they procrastinated all their summer assignments and are living in denial and sending prayers out in to the universe that their teachers forgot too. And teachers are pretending to ignore all the “Back to School” hoopla sales going on. Well…not this teacher.

I have to say, I am excited to return to work. It’s not the mountain of summer essays I will spend weeks grading or the moaning and complaining of each student as they realize that my English II Honors class is not as easy as their freshman class, and that I actually expect them to work.

No, for me it’s all about decorating my classroom in something new and bright. It’s building relationships with students and finding out their quirks. It’s listening to their strange conversations and writing what they say down (even at the end of the year, my students still don’t realize that I HEAR EVERYTHING). It’s seeing my fellow teachers on a daily basis, interacting with them, bouncing ideas off each other, learning from them, challenging them. It’s reading stories and pretending I am the expert on that story. It’s having a purpose for 7.5 hours of my day.

It’s knowing that even if every kid I taught walks out of my classroom at the end of the year forgetting every literary concept I tried to stuff into their oversized heads, I impacted them in a different way by being present.

Ok, so enough of the overly dramatic and sappy non-sense. On to the meat of this post. Part of my excitedness about the new school year is the ability to put my organization, decoration, crafty, crazy side of my brain to work. I LOVE TO ORGANIZE AND PLAN. Check planning post in the next couple of days for the true story.

Anyway, it kills me that high school teachers don’t decorate their classrooms like elementary school teachers. I know the elementary school teachers are giving me crazy looks right now, but from my point of view, y’all have all the fun. So, I have taken it upon myself to decorate my classroom each year. It is nowhere near as detailed as the elementary school teachers, but it works for me.

This year I went with a blue green theme. I have to combine functionality with items that earn me points on my evaluation (don’t get me started on that).

I would like to thank the creator of washi tape for your brilliance, the teacher who discovered that plastic tablecloths work wonderfully on bulletin boards, and Pandora radio for providing me with some excellent tuneage as I decorated my classroom PRIOR to my week of pre-planning. I have to be prepared to plan, y’all.

So, as I cruise through my last week of summer, I am constantly thinking of that line from You’ve Got Mail about how autumn reminds Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) of bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils. I would seriously jump for joy if a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils were delivered to my classroom on the first day of school…followed by a truck load of washi tape and planner supplies.

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