Wednesday, August 9, 2017

10 Things to Do Before You Set Up Your Classroom!

Hey,  friends! I wrote this post on The Primary Chalkboard a while back and thought it was worth another post.

If it's summer vacation for you, enjoy! 
If not, live each day to the fullest and smile because it happened!

I'm here today to talk about getting your classroom ready for a makeover. 
Now, this is NOT a classroom reveal. 
Today is all about getting ready to set up your room!

Let me preface this by saying, 
I'm not trying to pressure anyone into decoration madness,
but I do believe a happy classroom is one that functions efficiently;
 and is well organized and attractive. 

This summer I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. 
Marie is a proponent of getting your house in order and keeping it in order. 
She suggests keeping only the items in your home that bring you joy and letting go of the rest.

I think we can apply the same principle to the classroom. 
Keep what sparks joy in you and let go of the rest.

Here you go!
Want more? 
The good news doesn't look that this anymore!
So, are you ready to get your classroom in order?

Great! But, remember this is not a one day job.
I like to think of it as ten days.
Already started school?
Take one task a week for the first ten weeks.

Day 1) Clean out your children's literature. 
Keep only the books that bring you and your kiddos joy!
I know. 
I LOVE children's books, too, but let's face it. 

Not all books are created equally. 
It's okay to let go of a book. 
Pass it on to someone who will find joy in it.

You'll be amazed at how much room this gives you AND you'll know what you have when you need something.

Day 2) Clean out your Math manipulatives! 
You don't need 6 bins of pattern blocks or 48 Judy clocks.
Keep what you need and pass the rest on to someone else. 
It's okay.

Day 3) Clean out your art supplies. 
If you haven't used those foam Easter bunnies in the last 3 years, get rid of them. 
Pass on the joy to someone else! No hoarding!

Day 4) Clean out your office supplies. 
Look at each one. 
If no joy comes from having them and they serve no purpose, 
pass them on to someone else or donate them. 
It's a good feeling!

Day 5) Clean out board games, puzzles, and other activities. 
If you don't use them, someone else can. 
If Czechoslovakia is still on your get it.
Share your treasures.

Day 6) Do I dare say it...Clean out your paper. 
Oh, it's tough! I know it is. I've done it. But the feeling is just so great! 
If you haven't used it or it turns your fingers don't need it.
Recycle that paper!

Day 7) Decide how you will store supplies.
Once you decide what manipulatives and supplies you are going to keep, choose how you are going to store them. 
Then label your supplies. 
Labeling makes supplies easier to find for students and other adults who may visit. 

The next two may not be popular, but I'm going with them.

Day 8) Get rid of your filing cabinet OR scale down to a smaller one.
The more room you have for stuff, the more stuff you'll acquire.
If there's nowhere to put the stuff, you won't be as likely to hold onto it.

Day 9) Get rid of your teacher desk OR scale down to a smaller one.
You can do it! I did and I had a lot of stuff in mine, too.
I never sat there (not even after school), and it took up a great deal of space. 
Now, that space is used by my first graders, and I don't miss my desk one bit!
I use an over-the-door shoe organizer for my office supplies. 
Space saver!

Day 10) Plan your classroom design.
Once the clutter is removed and you are ready to set up your room,
 go online and play around with a classroom set-up tool. 
You can design your whole room as many times as you like.
You'll need your room measurements for this.

Here are a few good ones:

This is the one I use. 

And, to show you what a difference organizing makes, 
the pic below was taken on Valentine's Day, 
months after I purged and organized. 
I cleaned out some more baskets and placed them on top of my bins, 
but other than that, the closet stayed pretty tidy.

If I can do it, you can do it!
Having a plan makes all the difference!!
Good luck!!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

MEET THE TEACHER-What You Should Know!

The beginning of the school year brings with it SO MUCH TO DO! 

I thought I'd try to help save you some time and stress by offering up what I've learned from 26 years of Meet the Teacher!
Let's get started!
1) Get your room in some kind of order so you aren't stressed about its appearance.

2) Prepare and print parent forms and info, whatever you plan to give to parents.

3) If you give your students B2S bags, prepare those, too.

4) Prepare and set up easy to use stations for parents to work through. There's no need to give directions 20+ times.

5) Give yourself a break and get a mani/pedi or do something else that makes you feel great!

6) Choose an outfit that makes you feel good, too!

7) Greet parents and students at the door. Offer a handshake to parents AND if your students are shorter than you, bend or squat to greet them. Tell the students how excited you are to spend the year with them. Tell parents you are looking forward to working with their children and with them.

8) Direct parents to the parent stations and suggest students explore their room. 

9) Now, this is super important! 
Make sure you find out the following (especially for the first day):

 *Tranportation: am and pm
Get specific bus numbers or day care names.  You need to know this info before parents leave your room. Most schools have a street list of buses.

One of my students rides the bus home every day except Friday. 
On Friday, his grandparents fetch him. This is something I need to know.

*Meals: How will the child eat? Will he bring a box or purchase a tray from the cafeteria? It is imperative to find out this info before Day 1.

Some students may bring their lunches most days, but get a tray on pizza day or soup and sandwich day. I suggest a check in system in your classroom for children to use each day indicating their lunch preferences. 

*Allergies: Does the child have an allergy? If so, is there a plan in place? EpiPen, etc.
Now, I have a student whose younger brother has a peanut allergy, so Mom doesn't allow my student to eat peanuts. This is not life threatening to my student. It is not HIS allergy. If someone has a peanut near him, I won't panic. However, a few years ago, one of my students had a red ant allergy with an EpiPen in the office. THAT was an allergy to watch. 

*Medical Issues: Asthma, Epilepsy, Diabetes, etc. What's the plan and what are your responsibilities? Does the child take medication at school?

I've had students with all of these diseases. You have to know the plan here. 
Does the diabetic have an insulin pump? Can she check herself? What are you required to do? 
A few years ago, I had a diabetic in my class. She was able to check herself and wore an insulin pump. I texted Mom after she checked, and Mom let me know what numbers to punch into the pump (how much insulin to deliver). She also had an emergency kit on hand if her count was off. 

**If you have a student with a life threatening disease, it is imperative you meet with the parents or a medical professional to learn as much as you can about the disease, including your responsibilities.**

*Behavior Disorders: ADHD, ODD, OCD, etc. What's the plan? Does the child take medication? If so, at home or at school?

Oh, behavior! Some students will come to you with a behavior plan in place. Others will require a behavior plan. Beginning a behavior plan is tedious on educators, but in some cases, absolutely necessary. Learn the laws in your state. DO NOT tell a parent you think his child has ADHD. Find out how your school district handles these issues and move forward from there.

I keep a fidget bag for ADHD students who need something in their hands during whole group lessons-Wikki Stix, connecting cubes, pipe cleaners (I still call them that), etc. Fidget bags really work to help students focus and remain calm.

Are there any adults who ARE NOT allowed access to your student? This one can be tricky, but today there are many divorced families with court orders, and we must know and honor those orders. Find out if you have a case like this. Usually, parents will let you know, but not always. Check those cumulative folders.

*Siblings at School: Does your student have siblings at your school? 
Sometimes you may need to send home info/homework/etc with siblings, or if your student checks out early one day, you may want to let the siblings know. Especially younger siblings who may panic if they don't see their older brothers/sisters.

*Religious Preferences:
Now, I'm going to say this, and it may not be PC, but... it's truly up to the parents to let you know if they have religious objections. Most parents will make you aware. I've taught many students whose families were Jehovah's Witnesses. They were all very up front with me, and I appreciate that so much! I don't want to offend any family, but I also need to be aware of religious preferences so I don't offend. 

*Parent Objections:
Do you plan any activities in your classroom of which parents may object? Here are a few examples.

One of my students is not allowed to have temporary tattoos. So, when cheerleaders start selling promo items, this child doesn't need to purchase paw print tattoos. I need to know this. Get my point? 

I've taught students whose parents didn't want them to go sock-footed. 
Just be proactive. Let parents know your intentions before beginning an activity that may cause objections.

Whew! That's a lot of info, and I'm sure I left off something!

If you need resources to help you with Meet the Teacher, 
I offer 33 different themed Meet the Teacher packs in my TpT store. 
Click the pic to take you there.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Love for a Teacher Planner

First off, let me just say, "I love pretty paper!" I mean LOVE!
Pretty paper and bags are two of my weaknesses. 
Okay, and children's books, and shoes, and wine, and clothes, 
and coffee, and Ticonderoga. But that's another post.

I've tried all kinds of personal planners and teacher planners.
Some have been prettier than others. 
Some have been more functional than others.
But...I've loved something about each planner I've used.
That is, until I met The Teacher Anchor.

Chandra Jayne created The Teacher Anchor and is a girl after my own heart. 
I would love to say she is a good friend, but we've never met.
 Maybe one day, although after this post she may think I'm a stalker.

 Chandra is a teacher, friends. She KNOWS what teachers need.

She has created a beautiful and functional teacher planner.
Did you hear me say, "beautiful AND functional?"
I love EVERYTHING about it!!

Y'all, we have to submit our lesson plans online. 
But honestly, that one page of plans doesn't get me through each day. 
As tech savvy as it is, I need more.
I need a place to jot down notes about my kiddos. 
A place to document student learning and record 
ALL THOSE THINGS that drive instruction!
This is it, y'all!

The Teacher Anchor is an 8 1/2 x 11 spiral bound planner and binder system.
You can choose colorful stripes or dots this year.

It's divided into five sections: 
1-Classroom Information (including Year at a Glance pages)
Favorites: Loaned Out Items, Usernames & Passwords, and Transportation
2-Monthly Calendars (2 page spread)
3-Weekly Calendars (46 weeks)
4-Student Log (14 pages)
5-Blackline Masters (23 + notes and grid lines)
Favorites: I think I love every page! 
It also has a cardstock pocket in the back.

A complete list of CCSS at each grade level K-6 is provided as a 
free download on her site.

Chandra includes tons of backline masters to plan your instruction-
something you can't get on that one electronic page.
Whole group planning, small group planning, and individual conferencing. Everything you need is there.
I use those forms in a binder for my DRAs and another binder for progress monitoring. My student data is right there driving my instruction.
 Intentional Teaching!
This pic is from Chandra's instagram.

Each morning, I get out my Ticonderogas and my coffee mug, and open my Teacher Anchor and smile.
I use it ALL. DAY. LONG.
I take it home in my bag each night because I'm afraid something
 will happen to it at school. I know. Paranoid much?

Take a look at The Teacher Anchor at
This year, Chandra has an all new shop and product line that offers planner stickers,  personalized folders and notepads, and tons of gift ideas.
I've already begun playing with the stickers! 
Love the bright colors, large size, and clear font!

December 22, friends...early release!

Here is my personalized gingham 2-pocket folder.
So many uses for this. I want one in every color. 
I bought 3 folders last year, and the pockets have held up nicely.
So, what do you think?  

You can read more about The Teacher Anchor and binder system
 AND watch Chandra in her own words here.

Follow her here:

Sign up for her newsletter here:
C.Jayne Teach Newsletter

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

6 Ways to Re-energize Your Class

Hi, friends!! 
I posted this last year at The Elementary Chalkboard but felt like it was worth another share!

If you are counting the days and need a refresher, hop on over and take a look!
Happy March!!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Take a Closer Look-January

Hi, friends!

My sweet friends, Jessica and Latoya, are hosting a January linky!
I love those girls, so I'm all in!

I'm sharing one of my favorite January activity packs!

I cover 8 important Math standards while my kiddos have fun learning!
Standards Covered:
Ordering Numbers to 90
Greater Than/Less Than-Comparing Numbers
Missing Subtrahends
Sums of ten 
1 More, 1 Less, 10 More, 10 Less
Addition and Subtraction Strategies (Counting up and back)
Skip Counting by 2's
Skip Counting by 5's
Skip Counting by 10's
Five Bonus Activity Sheets:
Addition and Subtraction Color by Code
Number words Color by Code
Sledding Through Numbers-Number Grid to 120

Click here for a few FREEBIE pages!

AND, take 15% off this pack for the next few days!
The pic will take you there!

Click the button below to visit the linky!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holiday Doors Galore!

Happy December, friends! 
Welcome to the very first "I Teach" Linky!
I'm excited to be a part of this incredible group of teachers!!

Today, I'm linking up with Kindergarten, 
but believe me, these ideas can be used for all of us!

Do you decorate your classroom door for the holidays?

Well, if you do, and you need a little inspiration, take 
a visual tour through our hallways at my school!

Just FYI: The majority of these doors connect to a grade level standard!

Let's get started!

Snowman Interactive Writing

Equivalent Fractions Snowman

What would you do if you had a reindeer?

Book Recommendations Reindeer

Christmas Tree Interactive Writing

How much would the Twelve Days of Christmas cost today?

Christmas Wish Writing

Whooo's Ready for the Holidays?

AND...Just for fun!
These two fun teachers were Rock Stars for Back to School. 
They transformed into Santa's Helpers this month. :)

A Giant Grinch

A little bit of  Elf!

And a whole lot of Rudolph! 
This was created by our super cool PE Teacher!

And for those teachers who need a WINTER fix...
Take a look at these doors! 

Hello, January, right???

Penguin Nonfiction Writing

How to Make Hot Cocoa Writing

That's a lot of holiday fun!
I hope you were able to find some inspiration here!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our school to yours!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Holiday Ideas Turkey Trot


Welcome to “The Chalkies” Turkey Trot! 
We hope you enjoy a jog through our blogs gobbling up freebies,
 ideas, and recipes for some holiday joy!

We have a new BLOG NAME!  
We switched out the word "Primary" for "Elementary." 
We want to meet the needs of any teacher K-6. 
Our blog has been thoughtfully designed to help you find what
 YOU need for YOUR classroom level!

I love those grade level tabs {seen above} that help me grab what I need. 
This trot will also take you through the grade level blogs of your choice.

We hope you enjoy this little meal from appetizer to dessert!

Slide1 - Copy
My Math All Year pack is one of my absolute favorites!

Each page covers one Common Core Standard,
 and ALL First Grade math standards are covered.

Click the pic for a free page from my packet!

I've shared this idea before, but I can't share it enough!
Every year, parents call and email saying 
how much these gifts mean to them.
We create these frames for Christmas presents each year, 
but you could make them for any occasion.

Click the pic or click here to see the fun and easy tutorial!

Slide2 - Copy
Okay, friends! Y'all know I live in the Deep South. 
So...I have to share a true southern dish with you. 
It's NOT a dessert, by the way, just your dessert from me.
We have this dish for brunch every Christmas Eve, 
but it's a perfect side dish, too!

Introducing...Garlic Cheese Grits

Now, before you snub your nose, ponder this thought.
Morgan Freeman was once asked in an interview: "You could live anywhere in the world. Why do you live in Mississippi?"
Freeman replied, "I live in Mississippi because I can live anywhere in the world." 
A few years later he stated, "I'd live here for the food, alone."
Hattiesburg American, November 2014
So, here you go, friends! 
Cheese Grits-Two Different Versions

slide 6
Here are a few of my favorite products!

Click the product pics to see them in my store!
To say, "Thank You" and share a little love, my store is on sale right now! 
20% off today and tomorrow!

I hope you've enjoyed my little part of our Turkey Trot!
Now it's time to trot over to my sweet friend Autumn's blog! 
Have fun!!



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