Thursday, March 26, 2020

Distance Learning & A New Temporary Normal

As we wait to find out when or if we are going back to school this year, we are trying to create a new temporary normal at home with our online classrooms. As educators who work with our students every day, we are missing those in person connections with our students and our time with our class family. Our routines have been changed and our students are now at home on a different schedule, away from their peers and their sense of normalcy as well. We hope to create some of this normalcy for them through different resources we send out to families and students, and different means of communication. Though the unknowns and changes can be difficult, let's use this time to really reach out to others, connecting with others, and being better teachers for our students and for other educators. We are all on one team and that is to love on and empower our students.

As we are all adjusting to a new temporary normal right now with all that is going on in our world, I wanted to share something that may be helpful for other educators. I was recently working on editing the resources I have been sending out to my families and students, and I wanted to simplify the visuals and content to make it even more user friendly for my kiddos. This is definitely new for all of us, and navigating how to teach our students from home can be challenging at times. There are so many factors we need to consider and so many resources we want to provide for our students. I wanted to take time to share some links that I have found to be very helpful along with some links that were provided from my district. I hope that these links and tips can help you in some way as we all create a new temporary normal, and help empower our students with distance learning.

BrainPop Jr & BrainPop
Khan Academy Language Arts
Quill Grammar
ReadWorks Digital
Epic! Reading
Brains On Podcast
But Why Podcast
Stories Podcast
Khan Academy Math
BrainPop Jr & BrainPop
Xtra Math
Math Card Games
Cool Math for Kids
Math Tasks
Multiplication Practice

Mystery Science
National Geographic Kids Experiments
San Diego Zoo Live Cam (more info here)
Mr. Nussbaum
NASA Science

Choose My Plate
Scratch Coding
Khan Academy How to Code
Music Lab
Typing Test
Varsity Tutors: Live Learning Platform

If you need a template to send out to your students and families, here is a link to my TpT store to download this At Home Learning template for FREE. You can personalize it for your students by adding in your own content, hyperlinks, photos, Bitmojis, video clips, etc. It can be sent out to your students as a PPT or as a Google Slide. I have been using Google Classroom, Seesaw, and our district platform called Canvas to post. Make your template personalized for your students, helping them to feel empowered as they are learning from home.

Feel free to follow along on Instagram @teacherlyway as we navigate distance learning together and feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We are a team!


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Classroom Tools & Teacher Tech

There are so many amazing websites and apps to use in the classroom and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which ones to use. I wanted to create a space on my blog to discuss different ones that I have come to find and LOVE. I will be adding more and more to these pages, but for now go check them out under Classroom - Tools and Teacher - Tech.



Friday, April 19, 2019

Color Schemes

I don't know about you, but whenever I have a blank space to design I get very excited to select the color scheme. The colors and backdrop of a room can set the mood and atmosphere of the whole space. When it comes to our classrooms, our students deserve to have a space that they feel welcomed and at home in and as teachers, our classrooms are practically our second homes, so our design should reflect a part of who we are.
There are so many colors, borders, fabrics, and designs to choose from for our classroom spaces that at times it can definitely become overwhelming. The question then becomes how do we know what colors to pick?
Before I design my classroom space, I always consider what colors and patterns I really enjoy in a space. As the teacher, my classroom is essentially my office and my second home all in one. I spend a lot of time in this space so I want to make sure I love my color scheme and patterns. For example, for my first two years of teaching I went with more of a neutral classroom color scheme and design. If you know me well, you know that I LOVE the black and white color combo. I wanted to incorporate these colors and patterns into my classroom.
Once you have an idea of the color scheme and patterns that make you smile, then you need to start considering how to make your design inspirations "kid friendly." Our students are our WHY and we have to consider how to make our color scheme desires work for our kiddos. At the time, I was teaching fifth grade and I knew that I could make this neutral color scheme work with older students. Now if I had been teaching first grade for example, I would have definitely needed to reconsider my design if I wanted a neutral palette. I would have changed my decor a bit to gear it towards a younger age group.
I chose a light gray fabric with a black border for one of my walls, a rustic wood paper roll for another wall with white bordering, and accents of black and white decor throughout my classroom space. I took my love of black and white and made it work for a fifth grade classroom.
work letter banner from @miss5th
currently news article board from @texaslonestarteacher

This year changing grade levels and moving down to third grade, I wanted to add a bit more color into my color scheme. I still did not want too much color so that the mood of the room was still calming, but I was inspired more by cool tones such as a calming blue and natural greens. Once I had my color scheme and desired patterns in mind, I thought about how to make the space ready for the kiddos and all the learning that would soon take place.

When you are considering the design for your classroom and what colors to incorporate, you must consider what makes you smile and what would work for your students. Your classroom sets the mood for the whole school year. From little details such as a fake plant to larger accents such as a lowered table with pillows for flexible seating, your design and color scheme should reflect you and be a calming, welcoming space for your students. 
Don't over think your design, simply start by considering what colors, patterns, and designs speak to you, then go from there. 
If this means taking multiple trips to a local teacher store and looking at different combinations of borders, that's okay. Trust me, we've all done it.
If this means making a board on Pinterest for inspiration, I'm right there with ya!
Start small with little accents in your classroom and go from there. 

Consider what speaks to you and consider what would appeal to your students. 
Happy designing!


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Two Day Coast Trip

State Street: The main downtown street of Santa Barbara with all of the main shopping and food

Santa Barbara County Courthouse: This is a beautiful building just to go see and walk through. You can even climb to the top for amazing views of downtown Santa Barbara.

Old Mission Santa Barbara: A historic landmark in Santa Barbara that was established in 1786. This mission is just beautiful to go see and walk around.

Stearns Wharf: You definitely have to walk out on this pier at the end of State Street to see another beautiful view of Santa Barbara. There are also options for food and gift shops out on the wharf.

Mesa Lane Beach: This beach can be accessed by a long staircase tucked away in a neighborhood and it is a beautiful spot to stop and watch the sunset. The view is so worth it!

Cliff Drive: If you are looking for a beautiful drive just to check out other views and gorgeous real estate, then this is a great road for a drive. I would suggest late afternoon and then stopping at a beach access to see the sunset.

Cabrillo Beach Bike Path: A beautiful path just to take a walk along, go for a run, or ride your bike on. This is right along the waterfront in the main downtown area.


Here are some restaurants we stopped at on our trip and others that I have tried before.

McConnell's: If you love ice cream, then you must stop here. There are two locations on State St and another on Mission St. My favorite flavors from this trip were Turkish Coffee and Salted Carmel Chip.

Finney's Crafthouse & Kitchen: If you are looking for a fun and lively atmosphere, delicious food and drinks, and something near downtown SB, then try this place for dinner and/or drinks.

Eureka Burger: If you just want a good burger or drinks, then I would recommend stopping here and sitting on the patio right off of Chapala St.

Sandbar: We did not eat here on this trip, but I have been here in the past and it is really good. A fun, outdoor Mexican restaurant right on State St.

Longboard's Grill: If you're looking for something laid back with a tropical vibe and on the water, then this place has seafood, burgers, and drinks right on the wharf.

On this trip we stopped at Los Olivos on our last morning then headed to Ojai on our way home to check it out. 

Los Olivos: A charming, quaint town that is about a fifty minute drive from Santa Barbara. If you love wine tasting, this is your place to check out. The drive to get here is also beautiful.

Solvang: This is a Danish style town with fun architecture, restaurants, pastries, shops, and just neat streets to walk through. It is also about a fifty minute drive from Santa Barbara.

Ojai: This is actually a city in Ventura County which you can head to on your way to or from SB. The drive to this area is also beautiful! It is another quaint, main street to walk through with restaurants and shops. 


Beauty in Spontaneity

I don't know what it is, but there is something about last minute trips that can be so rewarding. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely a planner! I like knowing where I am going, what I am doing, and making my lists; however, I find that there is beauty in spontaneity.

If we let ourselves get stuck in our routines and plans, we can miss out on these occasional moments that only come around every once and awhile. It is a matter of saying "yes" more, but also knowing when to say "no." Each one of us has our own limits with this and we have to know our own personal balance. I am definitely still working on finding this balance and it is a lot harder during the week with our work and personal schedules.

Despite this struggle, I have found that when I release my grip and say "yes," there is this feeling of rest, peace, and joy that is hard to find when we are trying to control everything. And I think I speak for many of us teachers when I say that we like to feel like we are in control or have everything "together." As a teacher, I am definitely guilty of this.

Recently, my mom and I decided to go on a last minute road trip up the coast to Santa Barbara. We booked our hotel the night before and decided to beat the rain that we were going to have here in San Diego to just enjoy some sunshine by the beach. We tried to do as much as we could during our two days, and let me tell you, we had a blast! Did we plan out every step of the way on our trip? No. Did we know that heavy winds would hit late afternoon as we were walking through town, freezing? No. Did that stop us from eating ice cream outside? Definitely not. Did we know we were going to find a tucked away staircase to the sand? No, but you bet we climbed all the way down to see the view and then all the way back up!
Yes, we had ideas of what we wanted to see on our trip and where we wanted to drive of course, but we let spontaneity guide.

When we let go, make last minute plans, enjoy the present moment, and take in our surroundings, so much beauty can be found. Don't get me wrong, being spontaneous can be difficult and out of our comfort zones at times, but I encourage you to not be afraid of spontaneity. Take baby steps at first if you need to, but don't let the fear of the unknown or the fear of not having a to-do list get in your way.

Make plans for a trip to somewhere you've never been.
Try something new in your classroom that you have wanted to try for a while.
Pack a suitcase and go on a road trip with your family or friends.
Try a new recipe that you have wanted to try.
Start a new workout routine and see where it takes you.

You have to take the first step, and when you do I hope you will find the beauty in the spontaneity.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Organizing Your To Dos

As teachers, we have a constant list of to-dos spinning through our heads. There is no way around this. We definitely know how to stay busy if we let ourselves, but there is a way that we can prioritize our to-dos where we don't feel overwhelmed by the busyness.

When I was in my first year of teaching, I definitely just had a running list of what I needed to get done and I would feel mini victories when I crossed items off that list. Now, I use a system in which I organize my to-dos which has been such a game changer for me. My list is organized and prioritized by what needs to get done NOW versus what can wait until next week or maybe even next month!

I have designed a Teacher Notes page that can be used in your teacher binder or even a simple folder. These note pages help me to not feel overwhelmed by my to-dos, but rather simply organized and ready to tackle what needs to get done!
I have organized to-dos by:
MY to-dos,
who I need to email,
what I may need to prepare for or send to my grade level team,
and what I need to share with or send to my students' parents.

I think I speak for all teachers when I say that thoughts and to-dos pop up in our heads throughout the day and sometimes we forget what we hoped we would remember. So whenever this happens or I know I need to remember something, I open up my teacher binder to this note page and jot it down in the section that it belongs. This way when I look back, my to dos are organized and not as overwhelming like the never ending list I used to add to.

At the bottom of my Teacher Notes, I have designed a space for each teacher's specific needs. On Fridays, I have certain things that I NEED to get done before I close my classroom and welcome in the weekend. In order to make sure that I get everything completed, I typed in my end of week to-dos at the bottom of my note page at the beginning of the year. For example: Add to student planner, change out subject standards board, update class points, etc. Now of course, as the year progressed, I went back and changed what I felt would work best for me. This way on Fridays, I can turn to my Teacher Notes, make sure I have each to do accomplished at the bottom, and cross them off like I am running through a finish line. Granted, the notes above may or may not still be there waiting for me, but I decide if anything can wait until the following week or if it is an immediate must do. If it is something that can wait, I simply write it down on the next note page I have for the following week!

Staying organized and prioritizing my to-dos has been such a game changer for me as a teacher!
I hope that this Teacher Notes page, which you can find here, will bring even more organization to your routine and your classroom.

Happy organizing!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My First TpT Product

Looking for a sweet and simple note for your students on Valentine's Day? I just created my first product for Teachers Pay Teachers and IT'S FREE! 

Hop on over to get your free download here and enjoy these little notes. 
To personalize them you can tape on a pencil, stickers, or candy. Looks wise, they turn out really well on white card stock or even on copy paper glued to a fun colored background. In the photo above, I just printed them on white copy paper and used double sided sticky tape to stick them on red and pink card stock. I think my students will love these and yours will too!

PS: More products coming soon! 
Here is a sneak peek:




Friday, January 4, 2019

Let's Talk About Self-Care

As we get ready to head back to school, or for some of us we may already be back, it is so important to make sure that self-care is a part of your schedule. I say this because I know that as teachers, we can get very busy. From our schools to our homes, we have a lot that needs to get done. As for me, I can start working on a project and get all excited when I get to cross it off my to do list, only then to realize that I still have five other things to still cross off. Yes, at times it may feel like we have a continuous to do list, yes and you may be wondering why I am suggesting to add one more thing to that list. Well, in my experience, I truly believe that when we take care of ourselves and add self-care to our schedules, we are then able to give our best selves to our job, our students, our family and friends, and to the world.

I believe that it is crucial for teachers to take care of themselves outside of the classroom in order to be their best selves inside of the classroom. I know that our lists are long, but it is so important to add self-care into our schedules. For every individual, self-care looks different and it is up to you to determine what re-energizes, renews, and restores you! For me, self-care can be in the simplest form of a walk or pausing to watch the sunset. It can also be in the form of a workout, a pedicure, reading a good book, or even just soaking in a bubble bath. Each of us has our own way to relax, to renew, and to recharge. By knowing what form of self-care works for you, you are then able to set aside time for it in your schedule. I know it may seem silly to schedule time to go on a walk, but sometimes if we don’t intentionally set that time aside, we can get distracted and end up working on something else entirely. Then, we end up not having any time left to walk at the end of the day.

As we head back to work, I challenge you to intentionally take time for self-care. Put it in your schedule and see what happens! I firmly believe that when we take care of our self, we can better take care of others and be our best selves, fully recharged, renewed, and restored. Here are a few practical ways we as teachers can add a few self-care moments to our schedules. 

Make a Weekly Workout Schedule
When I set my mind on working out and write it down in my planner, it is more than likely that I will commit to it. This does not work for everyone however; again, you have to know yourself and what self-care looks like for you. Here is an example of what a weekly workout schedule might look like.
Stay Hydrated
As teachers we are on our feet almost all day with our students, sometimes barely having time to sit down for our full lunch time. It is so important that you stay hydrated. Drink your water! One way to help you drink even more water is by infusing it. Here are some flavors you can try next time and bring to school with you: 
lemon & orange 
strawberry & mint 
strawberry & orange
lemon & lime
raspberry & orange
pineapple & mint

Eat Healthy
I don’t know about you, but after the holidays, I feel like it is time for a sugar detox. What are you packing in your lunch? Make sure that you are including proteins, fruits, and veggies. I personally love using sectioned plastic containers to make sure I am packing a well-balanced meal. This way I am making sure that I am nourishing my body at school.

Yes, this one is a simple one, but sometimes overlooked. Take time in your day to pause and take a few deep breathes. Whenever I feel stressed or getting to the point of being overwhelmed, I just pause for a moment to take a deep breathe or two. Focus on your breathing and try to pay attention to your breaths. Are you giving yourself moments throughout the day to stop and inhale peace and exhale stress and tension?

Although these are only a few examples, I challenge you to make sure you are including self-care on your schedule as you head back to your classroom.
You got this my friend!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Showing Up

Happy New Year friends! Can you believe another year has come and gone? For some of us, we could not wait to say goodbye to 2018 and ring in the New Year. For others, maybe we were trying to hold on to this past year, not ready to let go quite yet. Whichever end of the pendulum you may be on, whether holding on tightly or running forward, I invite you to slowly come back to the middle. Slowly release your grip of this past year or gradually come to a pause from your running. You are not called to live in the past and you are not called to live in the future. Dear friends, you are called to live in the present and it is time to show up.

For me, this past year was an overall wonderful year. Yes, there were some definite lows, moments of loss, grief, stress, and questioning of what’s next. There were also some definite highs as well filled with joy, excitement, newness, and answers to prayers. If I were to choose to hold on to any of these moments with a tight grip, I wouldn’t be able to grow and change. On the other hand, if I were to run ahead, never looking back, I also wouldn’t be able to reflect, take note, and respond.

With 2018, I neither find myself with that tight grip nor with running shoes on, but rather I stand somewhere in the middle. I have taken time to reflect on 2018 and I am excited for what is to come in 2019. It is in this middle space where I invite you to join me. Let go of whatever you are holding on to so tightly, put those running shoes down for a moment, and come to this space where we are invited to show up, to slow down, and to be present.

I challenge you in this New Year to be even more attentive and present. Be available to the people around you. Be present to your friends, your family, your students, and your coworkers. Show up to what you have been called to do right here, right now, in this present moment. When we are not showing up, we are not fully giving of ourselves to this beautiful adventure and gift we call life. When we are not present, whether in our classrooms or with our families, we may miss a moment of great worth, a moment that we can only experience if we show up.

Life is filled with these moments, and in 2019 my hope is that we would all be even more present in them. Whether these moments are filed with joy, sadness, bliss, frustration, or confusion, slow down and be present to what is happening around you. Reflect and respond to what has happened in the past, stop running ahead to the future, and rest in the present. For you have been called to show up and be present, right where you are in this moment, in your neighborhood, in your classroom, in your home, and in your family.

When we are able to accept the invitation of showing up to the present moment, we are able to be fully attentive to those around us. We are more attentive to our surroundings and the beauty in our midst and we are more attentive to others’ views, opinions, and feelings. When we show up in our classroom, we make ourselves available to truly connect with our students and we are able to give our full self to the little humans that fill our classroom. When we show up with our families and really take time to listen, we are able to better connect with the people we love. When we show up and are present to our surroundings, we are able to notice things we may not have if we are keeping a tight grip or running ahead. We notice more beauty, we see more goodness in the world, and we slow down for a moment and rest.

Dear friends, as you start your New Year, may you find yourself more and more in the middle space of the pendulum, being present to those around you and showing up.
Show up to the present moment in which we are called to live and to rest.
Show up to this beautiful adventure that we are all invited to, inside and outside of the classroom.  

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