Our Winter Wonderland Bulletin Board #1

Popsicle Snowflakes

That was our bulletin board before winter vacation. The snowflakes were made out of popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter. Yes… glitter… It was very controlled though… I had just five students at a time come to me to get their snowflake “glitter-ized”… I had squeezed glue into small bowls and had the kids paint glue on their snowflakes using a paintbrush. I then asked each student what color they wanted their snowflake and I sprinkled the glitter on myself. It actually went really well.

After they dried, I then used three clear pushpins per snowflake and secured them on the bulletin board. Just make sure to use three pushpins, because using only two will inevitably make some of the more awkwardly shaped snowflakes to fall if the wall is banged and then create a cascading glitter avalanche all over the back of your new computers. Trust me on this one…. Haha…

Just before the students left for winter vacation, the snowflakes were taken down and given to the students so they could use them as ornaments. The border remains the same though because tomorrow we will make penguin crafts, which will be used to fill up the board and give my felt and pipe cleaner snowgirl some company.

Snowflakes and snowgirl

Oh… and if you’re wondering why there are random black letters in the title, it’s because I had used all the other letters around the rest of my room and ran out. I always intended to get another set of that blue lettering, but with the before Christmas craziness, I never got the chance to… Yeah… It still bugs me too.. Haha..

Also, here’s a wider picture view of that part of the classroom…

Our Winter Wonderland too

…You can see some of the other crafts we’ve done this year…

School Craziness/Sickness

Hello there, again!

So… I’ve been a Kindergarten teacher for just over a month now… and wow… what a blur!!! This is how my life has been…

Lesson planing… teaching… grading… creating… sleeping… stressing… spending money…  and getting sick over and over and over again!

All these 5-year-olds have really been reeking havoc on my immune system. I’ve already taken 4 sick days off from work! I’ve had a head cold (maybe the flu), lost my voice (may have been laryngitis), had a terrible cough (maybe bronchitis), and now a sore throat (maybe strep). I was on 4 medications at one time and now I’m on a new type of medication because this past week I may or may not have caught strep throat. Last week, almost half of my homeroom class were out sick… Hopefully, I’ll become immune to all of these diseases now and won’t be sick for the rest of the year!

I’ve also been working my butt off! I’m very slow when I’m planning and this whole year requires soo much planning! A lot of times, I feel like I’m very much behind. I want what I’m teaching to be awesome so I spend a lot of time and effort on that. However, all the administrative aspects are really weighing me down. All the grading, filing, recording, preparing are overwhelming. I never had to do all this other stuff during my internship and it’s a LOT! Just deciding what to assign for homework is time consuming…. I know this year will be my absolute hardest during my teaching career and that things will get easier, but I think the stress is really negatively affecting my health… I have to keep reminding myself to just do the best that I can and that things will turn out.

Back to School night was supposed to be last Wednesday, but a tropical depression came through and it was postponed until this Wednesday. I’ll take pictures of my room and post them! I’ve put a lot of student work up and changed displays and all kinds of stuff since the pictures on my FLICKR account. After this week, I’ll hopefully be able to get more into the swing of things.. finally… This week, I also have to input all of my grades into the electronic gradebook since I finally was able to log in for the first time this weekend. So after the push for finishing up all the grades I’m a bit behind on, hopefully I’ll be all caught up and able to focus more on the present, future, and blogging…

Today’s Silver Lining: Even after all the stress, sickness, and work, I’m still ecstatic and proud about being a Kindergarten teacher!!

First Day Exhaustion

I officially survived my first day teaching kindergarten!!!!

It was all different types of crazy, such as wrong student names, rashes, crying, not enough seats in the cafeteria, Ms. P feeling sick and almost fainting, me watching all 40 kinder students for 10 or 15 minutes when no one knew what was going on, having a code red / lock down being issued after helicopters hovering above the school, and of course, bathroom issues…

I will make a real post hopefully tomorrow (with pictures of my completed classroom) but for now, I’m going to sleep!!!


Today’s Silver Lining: I survived my first day teaching Kindergarten in one piece!

My First Classroom!

Monday was our first official work day at the school!

First, we had breakfast together as a staff in the library and got started on the meeting concerning our staff handbook. It’s mighty long… We then took a break for lunch; at which point we were officially given keys to our classrooms!!! We were able to see our classrooms, eat lunch, and then meet back together to have our benefits, medical, and insurance meeting. Ok… and now on to fun interesting part… the classrooms!!!

Keep in mind, that before I got the keys, I never even saw the building that I was assigned to. It’s an older part of the campus, which is separate from the rest of the school (and a LONG walk to the office/library/cafeteria). I had looked in the windows of some of the classrooms in the main building and the rooms looked pretty nice and relatively large. This is not generally so in my building.

Now, before I go on any farther, I have to say this: I am EXTREMELY lucky with the kindergarten classroom I was assigned! My classroom (although an odd long and narrow rectangle) is almost double the space as the other language arts kindergarten classroom. Let me show you…

That is the ENTIRE classroom as seen from the door… AND is smells a bit like moldy wood from the old cubbies… No room for carpet time…

Anyway….. in comparison, if you are looking at it from the doorway, my classroom is a bit shorter from east to west, but double the length from north to south… I have a TON of wall space which I’m loving! I just don’t know where the bulletin boards or dry erase boards are going and if I have any say what-so-ever in that decision.  Oh… and I have two entrances to my classroom… one on each end of my classroom, one opening onto the playground and one next door to the teacher I’ll be sharing my kids with.  Without further ado, here are the pictures of my classroom BEFORE I do anything to it…


^My classroom while standing in front of the teacher’s desk.


^My classroom viewed from the other side.


^My classroom viewed from an angle… The doors you see on the right go into 2 separate first grade classrooms. You can also see the note I left on that bulletin board asking to please not remove… I bet it can be of some use to either me or someone else in the building.

P8160284^This is my classroom’s only storage/shelf space as of right now. You can also see the sink to the left… Right now, the teacher’s desk is positioned in front of these…

As you can see, even though it’s small for a Kindergarten classroom, it’s MUCH larger than the other Kindergarten classrooms… The only downside is that I’ll have to share my room with the after-school care program. I’m a bit hesitant because I plan on spending a LOT of my own money and put a LOT of my own materials in my classroom. I can only hope that whatever group of kids and supervisor that uses my room is respectful. (Ok, I’m more than a bit hesitant; I’m downright nervous!!)

Anyway, I can’t wait to have the bulletin boards and dry erase board in my classroom so I can start decorating! So much to do and so little time! My room has to be ready THIS Saturday for the Teacher/Parent/Student Meet and Greet! Eek!

Today’s Silver Lining: I can relax a bit since I finally have the keys to my classroom. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I signed my contract! Oh… and it’s really nice that I have the largest Kindergarten classroom at my school. (I promise I won’t brag about it after this post though!)  =D

Unusual Entree

Green Eggs and HamGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Green Eggs and Ham” is a wonderful book for beginning readers. There are just 50 different words in the entire book, of which many are either sight words or rhyming pairs. The fact that there is a lot of repetition in the story also helps out the beginning reader.

The story is about Sam-I-Am trying to get an unnamed character to try some “green eggs and ham”. The unnamed character refuses to eat it and claims that he does not like it. Sam-I-Am is incredibly persistent and eventually convinces him to at least try it. The story ends with the unnamed character trying the dish, finding out that he indeed does like green eggs and ham, and finally thanking Sam-I-Am for encouraging him to try it.

The reason why I only gave this story 4 stars is based on the moral of the story. On one hand, I think that it is important for people to have the courage to try new things. On the other hand, I’m not much of a fan of peer pressure. When reading this story to young students, I try to focus on simple fact of trying new food, such as brussels sprouts (which I happen to love). Hopefully, students won’t automatically focus on the peer pressure aspect. Just imagine if “green eggs and ham” was a code for a type of drug and then re-read the story. Yikes! However, if you just focus on the surface meaning and the fact that it is a great book for beginning readers to read on their own, then this book is fantastic addition to a classroom library.

On a personal note, I LOVE the edition I have of this book! It’s actually a very LARGE edition that is about 1 and ½ feet tall and spiral bound. There is no barcode because it is a promotional copy that I got from working in a bookstore. On the back cover, there is even a section for “in-store activities”. I LOVE it!!

View all my reviews >>

Dr. Seuss Bulletin Board Ideas

Ok.. So even though I haven’t seen the inside of my classroom, I’ve still be dreaming of things to put up. A few days ago, I actually sketched some things out. Sorry about the awful handwriting, but this was just a quick sketch of what was in my head around midnight.

The title is “Oh, The Places We’ll Go In Kindergarten!”  It will have a sky background. The large hot air balloon will be 3D with some sort of balled up paper behind it to give it depth and I’ll draw myself in the balloon basket. The rest of the board will be left deliberately empty because on the first day, I would have each student color in their own balloon and draw themselves in the basket and add their balloons to the board.

That’s a close up of the explanation of the balloons the students will complete.

I also thought about the behavior chart I could do for the students. This idea is a take on one that I did during my student teaching that involved colorful scales on a fish for tracking behavior. This idea is very “Cat in the Hat”.

Keep in mind I sketched it as if I had all of my students from both classes on a single bulletin board. Now that I think about it, if I were to do something like this, I’d try to make a double sided display so that each side could have a single class and seem less chaotic. I also envisioned taking a photo of each student during the first day of class and putting their own face under the hat to make it more personalized.

This is an explanation of how the behavior chart worked. Each day, each student starts out with 3 red stripes on their hat. If they misbehave, they get a stripe removed. If they misbehave again, another strip taken away. If they misbehave a third time, the last strip taken away. Students always have the chance to earn back any stripes taken away during the day. If a student has been particularly good, they are given a special bow tie for the day. However, I haven’t thought about specific rewards and consequences regarding what state their cat in the hat is at the end of the day.

So this is the type of stuff that has been going through my head lately… When I last saw my principal, she said that the school’s theme for the year will be “Cooking Up A Great School” since it goes with her “our school is like a soup” theory. I don’t know if we’ll have to continue that theme within our own classrooms or not. If we do, I’m going to have to rethink everything. Since I have a bunch of Dr. Seuss stuff already, I’ll probably try to just incorporate “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Cooking With the Cat” but we’ll see.

Today’s Silver Lining: No matter what theme, I’m still super excited to get started designing my very own first classroom! Is it August 16th yet?!?

FLKRS Training

Last week, I went to my very first professional development training seminar!

It was for the FLKRS = Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener.

Like the name suggests, it basically tests each Kindergarten student on how ready they are to start Kindergarten based on their prior knowledge. Not only does it allow the teacher to understand what level each student is operating on, but it also helps grade the VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) program they completed. Over a period of 30 days, the teacher must observe, note, and rate each student on letter recognition, specific phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and 19 additional benchmarks (with 3 different “indicators” each). It’s a lot…

Anyway, I thought the seminar would be all day (8:30 – 3:30 pm) but the people who ran it had a different idea. We ended up leaving at 11 am.. It was nice getting out early, but they skipped over a LOT of slides in the powerpoint and talked pretty fast as well. I took notes like crazy because I was the only Kindergarten teacher to go from my school since Miss P and Miss G was still working full time and couldn’t make it on such short notice. Thankfully I wasn’t alone from my school though. The reading specialist and media specialist were with me.

Overall, I’m very glad I went to the seminar. I got ideas on how to incorporate all the observations into lessons and I’ll feel more confident when it comes time to completing it. I also get 4 professional development points that go towards renewing my state teaching certification.

In other news… I STILL haven’t seen my classroom! I have a feeling that I won’t be able to see it until I start officially reporting to work on the 16th… I also found out that I’ll be getting a $100 voucher to spend at a specific teacher supply store starting on the 16th along with the rest of my co-workers. I wish we could spend the money anywhere so that it wouldn’t be such a mad rush with limited quantities. Sigh… We’ll see how it goes…

Today’s Silver Lining: I got a free pair of underwear at Victoria Secret today! It’s sometimes the little things that make me smile!  =D

Official Hiring Process

I wonder if every new teacher has to jump through this many hoops before setting foot in a classroom…

First, I aced the interview. Then, I signed the employment agreement.

At this point I thought I had the job. But apparently, there were lots left to do before I’m officially hired. I then got a call asking me to email them my references. A little backwards, but OK. It was then that I was getting just a little worried about “having the job”.

Yet then, I got the email about the staff/parent meeting and I was reassured. I also had to go downtown and get my fingerprints taken and complete a drug test. At the meeting, we got a red folder from the management team. Inside, it had three packets.

  • Employment Application
  • Basic Employment Policies
  • New Hire Booklet

So yes, I had to fill out an employment application after them already saying I “had the job”. At least there was also the new hire booklet or else I would have gotten a little scared again. It just seems like a lot of repeating information though. The new hire booklet wanted information for taxes and direct deposit.

At this point, I have no idea if the management team will want to interview me themselves before I’m officially hired. Since I’m not “official” yet, there’s still a bit of doubt in my head. Usually I don’t like to hold my breath for things and so this whole process is driving me a little crazy.

I wonder if regular public school teachers in my county have to jump through this many hoops and in this strange particular order before they are officially hired.

Today’s silver lining: I’ve been getting along with Miss G online talking about the management packet, teacher uniform, and curriculum. It looks like the year will be full of collaboration!  =D

Teacher Discounts!

It’s a fact.

Teachers love discounts, especially if free stuff is involved!

Therefore, I’ve made a list of store websites that have special teacher discounts. I’ll be updating this list as I find more deals. I may even create a separate page on my blog to keep track of it all. Most, if not all, require you to show current teacher ID or recent pay stub in order to obtain the teacher discount card.

  • Florida Department of Education Discounts – This website gives lots of examples for teacher discounts. Some are Florida specific, like certain hotels or photography services. My favorite on this list is the fact that “The Limited” apparently give teachers 20% off of clothes. However, I couldn’t find info on their website, so I’m a bit skeptical.
  • Borders – Teachers get 25% off books and music CDs for their classroom and 10% off DVD’s for professional use. Discount in-store only.
  • Barnes and Noble – Teachers get 20% off books for classroom use. Discount can be used online as well.
  • Staples – No immediate discounts. You get 10% back in rewards for teaching and art supplies. Only once you rack up enough for a $10 certificate, do you see any savings.
  • The Container Store – Teachers get 15% off their entire purchase. Only good until Dec. 2010.
  • Ann Taylor Loft – Teachers get 15% off their entire purchase. Unfortunately I won’t be able to utilize these clothes in the classroom since we have a uniform.

Our School Is Like A Soup

Yesterday was quite a full day for me. In the morning, I had to go by the school to pick up papers I needed in order to re-do my fingerprinting and drug test. I then had to go downtown (a full 40-minute hectic drive away) to get it all done. In the past, it would take FOREVER!!! But this time, it wasn’t bad at all.

While I was at the fingerprinting office, I even ran into someone else who was getting hired at my school AND going to be a Kindergarten teacher as well! From now on, I will refer to her as Miss G. She was really nice and it was reassuring to hear her voice certain insecurities as well. It was also interesting to find out little differences between what they told her and what they told me. For example, they told me that they were splitting up Kindergarten into block scheduling like the rest of the school. One teacher would teach the language arts and social studies block and the other teacher would teach the math, science, and Spanish block. Since I told them that I do not speak Spanish, they told me that I would teach the language arts and social studies block for sure and that went wonderfully since I’ve been the kids specialist at a bookstore for over a year. What they told her, however, was just that she was going to be a Kindergarten teacher. Yep, they didn’t say anything regarding the block scheduling. (Oh and later on during the night meeting, they said that now the math and science teacher does not teach Spanish as well. So we’ll see.) She was also as anxious to see the classrooms as I was. This will be Miss G’s first time teaching her own classroom. She also has a daughter that will be attending the school in first grade.

After fingerprinting, I went to take the drug test. Luckily, I didn’t get lost and I didn’t have to wait long in the office because I really had to go to the bathroom! Hehe… I was in and out pretty fast. After that, I went to DSW to find some flats that I could wear to work. I got some deep red flats and slightly raised black Mary Janes. The black shoes were already 40% off and then I got 15% off the red ones because there were some glue spots on the front bow on the left shoe. Yay for discounts! (I think my next post will be about all the discounts offered to teachers at various stores!)

I then had a staff meeting at 6pm at a different church. I didn’t know exactly how to get there or where to go once I parked since there were not any signs. PLUS there was construction going on that completely closed the road for 15 minutes as well as change a major two lane road into one lane. Suffice it to say, I was late. You can’t imagine just how EMBARRASSED I was!!!! What would normally take me only 10 minutes or less, took me over 30 minutes to get there. Sigh… Yeah, great first impression when I walked into the room with all my future co-workers! I’ve made it a point in my head to be extra early to any future meetings.

We had a staff meeting from 6-7 pm and then a staff/parent/management meeting from 7-9 pm. I missed information about a red folder that we got at the beginning of the staff meeting. However, I already messaged Miss G to ask her about it. The rest of the staff meeting went over our uniform (yes, teachers will have to wear a uniform) and curriculum for the school. Since this is a new charter school, we are doing things a little bit differently and will have to be flexible since there really isn’t a school like ours yet in our district. The principal used a great simile. She said “Our school is like a soup. We’ve put lots of ingredients into the pot and it’s smelling really good right now. We just haven’t tasted it yet. But after we taste it, we can start fine tuning the recipe.” I love our principal! She’s so supportive, optimistic, energetic, and kind-hearted. She really cares about the students and teachers. As for the curriculum, she wants us to use the “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards” that Florida is thinking about adopting, which I don’t really see much difference to what is currently being used. She is also drawing techniques from neighboring school districts. I’m excited that we’re all going to be creating something new.

After the staff meeting had ended, we went to the large meeting area of the church to wait for the parent meeting. I happened to end up sitting next to one of the other Kindergarten teachers! Her name is Miss P and she just graduated from the same college that I went to. In fact, we soon found out that we had both completed our Kindergarten internship in the same elementary school with the same teacher! I love finding out how small the world is! She’s fun and super excited to start teaching and decorating her room as well! Like, me, she has also been frequenting dollar stores to find deals for her future classroom. Since she just graduated from college, she’s 3 years younger than me (almost exactly since her birthday is just a week after mine). I’ve already added her and Miss G on Facebook! Both Miss P and Miss G don’t know what block they’ve been assigned to teach yet. We also haven’t met the 4th Kindergarten teacher since she wasn’t at the meeting. At least I know that I’ll get along with 2 of the 3 other Kindergarten teachers I’ll be working with!

All of us teachers were thoroughly impressed when we saw just how many parents showed up for the meeting. There will definitely be parent involvement at our school, espeically considering each parent will be required to complete 20 hours of volunteering at the school each year. The main speaker at the parent meeting was the head of the management company that is ultimately responsible for the school. Charter schools are run by management companies and I’m not too sure on the extent of that. Anyway, they explained how the school would function, introduced the principal, explained the role the arts would play in the classroom, talked about the uniforms, described what enhancements they were doing to the campus, went over what types of technology would be utilized (like the addition of a few Smart Boards!! I haven’t even seen a Smart Board in person!!), and touched upon how confident he was that the upcoming school year will be overwhelmingly successful. Here’s hoping for the best!

Today’s silver lining: Even though I was late to the meeting, at least I had replied to the email telling teachers about the meeting. Apparently, I was the only one to reply out of all of the teachers. The principal, reading specialist, and the school’s office manager all seemed impressed with me for that fact.