Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why visit (in)courage?

Most days I get so excited about the successes at school. I love sharing with anyone who will listen about how I was able to do something awesome that day with my class. Other days, it's not so easy. Teaching is challenging, you have students, parents, administrators (who rock at my school!), coworkers, curriculum, standards, and everyone else jumping in to say what needs to happen.

A few years ago I was looking for some working mom encouragement. Balancing everything is hard and sometimes you feel like no matter what you do, someone is being neglected. My sister started telling me about (in)courage.  A group of women who support each other via social media. She was a part of it for a long time before I jumped in. I was hesitant, I'll admit. How was I going to have time to discuss with a group online if I was already stressed in 'real' life? Once I joined the working mom's group I realized that this was just the boost I needed. I could check in on the Facebook group as frequently or infrequently as I wanted. I could read stories from women like me seeking advice, sharing humorous stories, or offering something that worked for them. I felt more grounded. I knew this was a good place to be.

God opened a huge door last year by allowing me to team up with the amazing Amy to co-lead our new group. We started a group for teachers ( because we have a heart to encourage those like us! Our conversations on the page aren't always the deepest but we support each other. I know some wonderful teachers all around the country now and am inspired by what they do in their classrooms/lives every day.

This session Amy and I are looking forward to a pretty cool structure. That way, if you can only pop in every now and then like I did in my first group, you should still be able to come away with some encouragement. The game plan right now is: Monday praise/prayer requests, Wednesday sharing (maybe a Pinterest board will be shared, who knows!), Friday fun (blog posts, articles, silly stuff, etc). Our Facebook group is closed so anything that is shared remains private, that way our teachers have a safe place to ask for advice, connect, and renew.

Interested in joining? Check out to learn more about the group of awesome women (my sister Crystal Stine is a major part of the group now!). Then move over to the Community Groups page to see what groups might jump out at you. I won't be offended if you choose another group, I'm just happy you found someplace to call home. Registration opens to the public on Monday January 27th. Groups fill up quickly so jump in if you want to give it a shot. I pray that you'll find a group that encourages you in the way you need it most right now in this season of your life. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Youth Group - a different kind of teaching, and Read Aloud Day!

This morning marks the kick off to my church's new Youth Group program. I'm fortunate enough to be able to use my teaching talents to participate as the coordinator and assist a great group of teachers. We are using Lifeway's The Gospel Project curriculum and I think it will be really good. 

Isn't it funny though, that when you go to teach something that isn't in your classroom, or is in front of a different group of people, how nervous we get? I can't believe how much I've worried, planned, changed, and prepared for this lesson today. Takes me back to being a first year teacher! I'll be honest, I don't miss that feeling. 

In addition to writing the lesson plans for the teachers each week, I also decided to do a bit of decorating in the room that we will be using. Take a look! The theme comes from a kit I picked up at Office Depot. I think it is just enough color for the small space!
Those ugly brown bars got some cute border paper the other day too!

While I was planning for that this morning I stumbled across World Read Aloud Day! Did you know that it's coming up on Wednesday March 5th? So, what does a proactive teacher do when she knows how busy her favorite readers are? Yep, sends out early morning emails to her favorite principal, librarian, superintendent, and coach (Kris if you are reading this, look for that email soon hehe). 

Here is a link if you want more information about it. I want to surprise the students with a full out read aloud day. We'll have some special surprise readers lined up, as well as a homework assignment to bring in their favorite picture book for that day. We'll get into groups and read to each other our favorite stories! I can't wait. They offer this great classroom kit and I'm going to send home the statistic page. What motivation to read to your children! Sign up, it's a good time.
It's snowing here today, wherever you are, enjoy your Sunday! And if you can, try to do something for you today. Recharge, because tomorrow we start again! Happy teaching :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

RA, Planning, and Weekend Work


If you are reading this as a first year teacher, or a pre-service teacher, I hate to break it to you but weekends just won't be the same...ever. Most weekends I do actually get to sleep in (granted my daughter will be 4 at the end of the month so that is all relative) but not today. Today is a morning of coaching responsibility which will require getting approx. 18 sleepy students, 1 awesome co-coach, and a school bus to a Math League meet that is about an hour away. 

We do have a lot of fun on these trips, I just really, really want to be in bed (it's currently 6:30am as I type this). I'll update once we get our results. We have a young team and they are doing a great job learning the program. We've managed to hold our own and I'm really quite proud of them. If you are interested in seeing more about Math League, we using the IMLEM model and are quite pleased with it. Check it out here:

In addition to that, as most teachers are doing at this point in the year, I'm starting to plan out what my curriculum is going to be looking like in the spring. I'm not the teacher who does the same thing every year. Honestly I can't think of one year that was exactly the same as any other. And I love that! 

So far I've already made an addition to my writing curriculum with our daily journals. The students love them. They were able to bring in their own journals and we've been doing some free writing. A few ideas I'm going to modify from Pinterest:


I was given the opportunity on Monday to present Reading Apprenticeship to our interns along with some fantastic colleagues of mine. Good stuff happening there. I think my intern will be using Reading Apprenticeship as his Inquiry Project for the spring and I am looking forward to sharing some ideas that he will be using. 

I am looking forward to planning some reading stations to go along with that! My team is also planning to celebrate MLK day (we have school that day), Chinese New Year (January 31st), and Valentine's Day (we do Affirmations to build positive community). I can't wait to share some pictures of those days soon.

Finally, for those of you who might be like me, completely eager to do something for yourself but lacking the time. I wanted to share a pin that I found really interesting. I love going to the gym but getting up early is challenging, especially if you've been up late grading or sending emails. This seems doable and I want to give it a shot. I'll be honest, I haven't tried it, I'm not endorsing it, I just thought it looked like something that most of us could do. Happy Saturday everyone, and if you are reading this much later in the day...good for you!