Back To School Blog Hop and GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the Back To School Blog Hop
Today I'm getting together with some other fantastic Teachers Pay Teachers sellers to share some wonderful freebies and a chance to win a gift card and some other fantastic products from Teachers Pay Teachers.
I wanted to share with you a great idea for setting up your classroom rules.  The great thing about this lesson is that I have a set for Kindergarten, and a set for older primary students as well.  Oh yeah, and it's FREE too (my favourite four letter word!)
First you need to read the book David Goes to School by David Shannon.
It's available on Amazon.


In the book David's Teacher say "No Running, No Pushing..."

In my classroom I like to use positive phrases when setting up the classroom rules.

I have 5 classroom rules:

Use nice words
Use a quiet voice
Walk carefully
Share the toys and supplies
Play carefully

These rules have served me well over the past 25 years.  And I really like the fact that they don't use the word 'no'.  So after reading David goes to school, I brainstorm with the class ways they can say what the teacher is telling David, without using the word "no".

FREEBIE – a perfect Back to School lesson about classroom rules for your class.  I love how easy to prep this is, and there’s even the flexibility for K to 3rd Grade.

Then we make the craftivity below to create a bulletin board showing their knowledge of the class rules.  I like it when they use 'I can' statements.  Like "I can walk carefully", or "I can share my toys".

FREEBIE – a perfect Back to School lesson about classroom rules for your class.  I love how easy to prep this is, and there’s even the flexibility for K to 3rd Grade.



for the instructions and templates.

Then get them to cut out a speech bubble and write down one of the phrases from the class brainstorm.  It can be one of my 5 rules above or any of the other positive statements that the class came up with.

Now on with the blog hop.   Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a Gift Card to TPT and the products in the picture.






a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks for entering and click on the apple below to head on to the next part of the hop!

or you can CLICK HERE to go on with the hop!
Thanks again for taking the time to stop by today!

Tips for New Teachers #1

  Well, it’s been a long time since that first year, but I made a lot of mistakes.  Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON. 

I made a lot of mistakes that first year teaching.  Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON.

The first thing I did was came in with assumptions.  We all presume to know things about the world around us, but sometimes it’s important to ASSUME NOTHING.  And, let me tell you, that is a very hard thing to do.

I made a lot of mistakes that first year teaching.  Seeing as we learn from our mistakes when I look back I know now that I learned a TON.

I remember spending a ton of time decorating my classroom.  I’m sure we all do when we get our first classroom.  Well, I remember getting very frustrated one day with one of my little boys.  You see, I hung a great poster on the wall near the sandbox.  And this poor little boy was playing with the sandbox, but he kept rubbing up against the poster.  Eventually he rubbed it so much that it ripped off the wall.  I was horribly disappointed.  I had spent a lot of time creating that poster (remember this is before we had color printers).  I assumed that this child had control of his body.  What I learned was that spacial awareness is a learned trait and that young children have not learned it yet.  I ASSUMED that he was aware of his actions and he wasn’t.

I remember asking a child to color and cut out a picture.   Now the child in this next story was not mentally delayed, she was not severely ELL, she was simply a child who had never had to do anything for herself.  Everything in her household was done for her.  So after asking her to color the picture, the child simply sat there until I finally noticed that she had not done any work.  I told her eventually to color the picture but until I pointed out what the other children were doing, she had not thought to look around and see what the others were doing.  I ASSUMED that she knew how to look around for help.  Some children need guidance to learn this skill.  When she finished coloring she sat there again.   I ASSUMED she would come and ask for help, but again, many children need help learning how to ask.  And finally, when I asked her how to cut out the picture she stared at me blankly.  I took her over to the supplies and pulled out the scissors and gave them to her.  She stared at me again and it finally clicked for me.  She had never used scissors before.  So I showed her how to put her fingers through the holes and make a cutting motion.  I ASSUMED that all school aged children knew how to use crayons and scissors.  Silly me.

I remember the time that somebody peed on the carpet.  But there was nobody with wet pants.  I ASSUMED that someone would fess up.  But nobody ever did.  All I can gather from this is that it was a girl in a skirt.  I also ASSUMED that all children came to school fully toilet trained, but I learned that accidents can happen.  I’ll never forget the day during Centers Time, a little girl followed me around the classroom to ask me if she could use the washroom.  The thing is that it took a while for me to notice her.  In the meantime, she had left a trail of pee all through the classroom while she followed me.  So after a quick phone call for help to the custodian, there I was standing in the middle of the room blocking children from stepping on the wet trail.

So, like I said at the start, the best way to start your teaching career is to ASSUME NOTHING, because children are people too and they come from all different experiences and backgrounds, so you cannot assume anything will be like you expect it to be.

If you are an experienced teacher, I'd love to hear a little anecdote from your first year, and if you are a new teacher, I'd love to hear what your biggest fear is about your first week of school.  Please leave me a comment below.

Speaking of new teachers.  I thought I'd help you out and offer you a little freebie.  Here's a checklist of classroom routines.

CLICK HERE
to get your own copy

Classroom Routines can be so confusing to remember.  This toolkit is perfect for setting up and making sure you remember everything for back to school

If you'd like to check out the entire toolkit it's now in my TPT store.
 It's part of my new product line:  New Teacher?  No Problem

CLICK HERE

Classroom Routines can be so confusing to remember.  This toolkit is perfect for setting up and making sure you remember everything for back to school

Thanks for stopping by today!

BACK TO SCHOOL SALE!

August 1 and 2 on TPT  28% off

The Back to School Sale is on Monday and Tuesday August 1 and 2.

You can get up to 28% off. 

It's a sitewide sale, so get your wishlist primed and ready!

I've got my store prepped and ready for you.

I can't wait to go shopping for some of my favourite things on my wishlist.



BACK TO SCHOOL


Back to school is just around the corner for most of us.  I don’t actually go back until after Labour Day, but I assume that many of you are thinking about classroom set up and planning.  And some of you are already back in the classroom.  Even though the first day of school is a month away for me, I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts on back to school and what it means to me.



I am always excited to go back to school.  I love that feeling of being reunited with the people you spent so much time and effort, (and sometimes blood sweat and tears) with during the past year.   There’s a definite feeling of anticipation.  I wonder how many of my students went on a trip, how many saw each other over the holidays, how many went to summer school, etc. etc.   And I wonder if any of them will not be coming back to our school this year.  My school has a little bit of transiency and I usually have one or two kids who move away over the summer break.

The past few years have been very difficult for me as far as classroom management.  I feel that kids are changing and self-regulation is becoming the focus of all my time and effort in the classroom.  (But that’s a post for another day.)  I just want to bring this up, because the last few year ends have had me in a complete state of exhaustion.  I can’t think straight, I’m overwhelmed, I’m getting high blood pressure…  So even after all of this, I still feel that excitement of anticipation when the school year starts back up again 2 months later.

It’s something that you don’t find in most jobs, that sense of a new beginning every year.   A new year means a fresh start every time.  In June, I clean up the cobwebs, and the dust bunnies that have gathered over the year.  I find things that have fallen behind furniture, and put everything away in it’s place.  So this means in September I can start anew.  This year will be my 25th Back to School.  I feel the excitement just as much as I did my first year (I’m just not as nervous). 

There are some fantastic choices for back to school classroom decor.  I can't wait to try this one out in my own room.

For the past 12 years I have been in the same classroom – some years I change up the room layout a bit, but for the most part I’ve been really happy with the layout I have.  This year, I’m not going to change it up.  I think I might change the theme.  I have several that I made in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I’m leaning towards the purple but I also love the Summer Party, so I have a decision to make.

There are some fantastic choices for back to school classroom decor.  I can't wait to try this one out in my own room.

I’ve been busy this summer and I’m sure all of us have.  But after going to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Florida last July, I tried to focus on my family and let my store be my second focus.  The past few summers I have spent so much time and energy on my store, that I think my family has suffered.  This year I have tried to make it balance.  I think it worked out well.  My kids and my husband look happy and refreshed, and I feel like we had sufficient time to bond together.  My kids are of an age now that I really enjoy hanging out with them.  We have some very interesting conversations these days. And I know that once they are teenagers they will no longer want to hang out and talk with us, so I’m trying to savour these days.


       There are some fantastic choices for back to school classroom decor.  I can't wait to try this one out in my own room.

Anyway, the school year will be starting soon, and my point is that even after all my years, and all the changes to me and my teaching, I am still excited about a new year, a fresh start, and a new group of students to hang out with every day.  I hope you feel the same.

5 back to school ideas



These are great tips for Back to School, especially for new teachers! I really like number two!

I found these 5 great ideas on Pinterest for Back To School.

NUMBER ONE:
I love this post from Aimee at Primarily Speaking.  She really gets into details about routines and procedures that will help.


NUMBER TWO:
This is a great idea from Jillian Starr at the Star Spangled Planner.  These Friend Wanted Ads are a great first week activity.


NUMBER THREE:
This great article by Michael Linsin from Smart Classroom Management about setting a good tone the first week of school is very insightful.


NUMBER FOUR:
I really like this great article from Jodi Southard at Fun in First.  She has some great ideas about how to explain classroom expectations using pictures.


NUMBER FIVE:
Here's another great article by Michael Linsin about how important a first lesson on classroom management can be for the rest of the school year.

After you look at these great articles about, check out this great post from Linda at Teach 4 the Heart.  She points out 10 common mistakes that you should avoid to have a great first week.



And there you have it. Some ideas that I hope you find really insightful to help you with your first week back to school.


Thanks for stopping by again today!

ORLANDO 2016 for the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference.

I just got back from the trip of a lifetime.  The whole family and I went down to Orlando.  After going to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Las Vegas last year, I knew I really wanted to go again this year.  And this year did not disappoint.

Here's what I learned from the top TPT sellers at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando Florida.


When I was there last year, I made a lot of good TPT friends and it was great to reconnect with them again this year.  I got to meet up with some TPT rock stars, and I also got to meet a few people in real life (IRL), who I have become facebook friends with over the past year.

This year I also came with my family, so once the conference was over we spent 5 days in Disney and had a great time (but that’s another blog post on another day).

The conference started out with the Cool Kids Meet and Greet put on by Kayse Morris and Sherri Tyler.  After that we went to the Florida Bloggers’ Meetup.  After that, a group of us Canadian TPT sellers hopped on a bus and went to Disney Springs to have drinks on the dock and watch some fireworks in the distance.

The next morning was early for breakfast and then the keynote by Amy and Adam from TPT and Jen Bengel from Out of this World Literacy.  After that the sessions started.  I attended 4 sessions each day.  Let me tell you, they were all fantastic, and they were all SOOOO informative and right now my brain is very full of all the information I learned.

The second night I went to the big Blogger Meetup and won $100 of Creative Clips swag!  Then I went out for dinner with some Canadian blogger friends.  I skipped the breakfast the next morning as it was outside and even at 7am it’s flipping HOT in Florida in July.  So I slept in and had 4 more sessions and then went to the Happy Hour put on by TPT as a wrap up and good bye.  I was really sad to say goodbye to everyone that I connected with, but then went out for dinner and to EPCOT with my family that night.


Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando 2016

Instead of boring you with the little details of the conference I thought I’d summarise what my takeaways from the conference were.

1                     COMMUNITY - The top sellers were all very friendly.  Whenever I met one, they were always happy to pose for a photo and spend a few minutes talking about TPT.
2                     FIND YOUR NICHE!  This one was drilled home to us in almost every session that I attended.  And after much time and thought, I think I may have found mine.  (I’ll leave that for now, and see if you can figure that out after a few more posts from me next week).
3                     TIME MANAGEMENT – plan out your TPT time.  This is one that I am terrible at.  I tent to just go with the flow when working on TPT and seriously, I need better time management.  I can manage my time really well in the classroom, so why not with TPT.
4                     SOCIAL MEDIA – it’s extremely important.  Find one or two platforms that you are comfortable with and then manage your time appropriately.  Learn all you can about them, but don’t waste your time on them.  Personally I can get totally sucked into facebook, and it’s such a time waster.
5                     VIDEO is the way of the future.  Get on the bandwagon now.  Learn how to put video in your posts on social media and your blog.

I can’t wait until next year to meet up with all the friends I connected with this year, and I can’t wait to develop the product line that I have in mind.
Thanks for stopping by again today!

4 things that have changed after 24 years of teaching

This post was originally titled, 4 Things That Have Changed Since I Started Teaching and Tips On How to Adapt.   But I decided to change that when I realized that one of the things that has changed is me, and not everyone changes in the same way.  

4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
I've been teaching for 24 years.  That makes me seem really old, but I don't feel old.  In fact, I feel that my wealth of experience can only make me a better, more energized teacher.  And, after all this time, I still love coming to work, and I still feel inspired to try new things all the time.  This post is a bit of a walk though the past to show you just how much things have changed.  If you are a younger teacher, just imagine all the fantastic changes that will come during the length of your career.  

TECHNOLOGY

Duh!  Right?  I mean this one is totally obvious.  And after writing this, I decided that this one deserves it's own future blog post because SO MUCH has changed with technology in the past 24 years.

For this post I'll highlight visual media where we've gone from this...
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
http://cogdogblog.com/2011/07/rediscovering-tech-roots/


to this...
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
By Liftarn, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22220395


to this.
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com

This is an image of my classroom's SMART Board in case the photo is not clear enough.

CURRICULUM

Oh boy, here's another biggie.   Now I realize that the Common Core and standardized tests are what is going on currently in the USA.  But here in Canada the pendulum has started swinging back towards what the curriculum was when I started teaching.  

So within my teaching career, we started with Whole Language and Centers Based learning where the kids have a lot of choice and there's very little structure to planning and curriculum.  Let me tell you, as a beginning teacher, I completely drowned.  I had no idea what I was doing.  This approach worked well for experienced teachers, but was a real struggle for beginners like me.

Then more structure came into play.  We got dedicated Science Topics to cover and the Math curriculum became far more specific.  Teaching reading became more structured and Guided Reading was a big buzz word.

For Americans the next step was the Common Core and lots of specifics.  Standardized testing started taking over and many teachers are not happy with this style of curriculum and assessment.

Here in BC where I live, we have a new curriculum starting in the fall.  It's very similar to that old curriculum that was in place when I started teaching and I worry that many beginning teachers are going to have a hard time with it.  I know that I will be able to use my experience to ensure that student's learn everything they need to move on to the next grade, even if these things are no longer specifically outlined in the curriculum.

BEHAVIOR
or BEHAVIOUR as we write it in Canada.

This is something that has changed over many generations.  Of course parents have different expectations of behaviour from their children than what our parents expected of us.  But somewhere along the way many children lost the ability to self-regulate.  Maybe it's society, maybe it's environmental, maybe it's parenting, or maybe it's too much technology at a young age.  Who knows?  All I know is that attention spans are getting shorter, and impulse control is extremely difficult for more and more kids, which makes our job, as a teacher, that much more challenging.

MY ATTITUDE

My attitude has changed a lot over the years.  When I started teaching, I knew I wanted to be a teacher but I was more driven by my own ideas, than what the kids needed or wanted.  Over the years I have learned to trust my own knowledge and instincts.  I have a much better understanding of what kids need to learn and how to pace out my year and this is something that comes more naturally the longer you teach.  I no longer feel inadequate or overwhelmed like I did when I was first teaching.  I have much more confidence in what I'm doing and how I'm doing it in the classroom.  Becoming a parent for the first time, after teaching for 15 years, really changed my classroom presence.  I am much less structured, and much more free flowing in my classroom management than I was before I had my own kids.  

Of course I find the job more tiring, but that might be because of the changes in children's behaviours these days, or it might be because I'm older than I was and I have less energy to spare.  Probably it's a mix of both these factors.  But the thing is that I still love my job.  I talk to lots of adults out there in the community who simply go through the paces to do their job every day, and then come home to live their life.  I feel that I live my life every day at work too.  Teaching is never boring and I'm always learning something new from the kids.  

So there you have it.  4 major changes over 24 years.  I thought I'd finish this post with a little summary of my teaching statistics.  It's an idea that's been floating around facebook these past few weeks.

At the end of the 2015-16 school year, here are my educator stats: 
24 years of teaching 
6 elementary schools 
2 cities, in 2 countries, in 2 different hemispheres
I've worked with 13 principals, and 11 vice principals
grades taught: K, 1, 2, and Music to K - 7
specialist positions: Music Teacher, ESL/ELL Teacher
students taught: 800 and counting!!!

Thanks for stopping by today!