Friday, August 21, 2015

Motivation? Who's got time for that???

Some of you are already back at school.  I know, I know!  I'm one of the lucky ones who has until after Labor Day to prepare for the first day of school.

But those of you who are still setting up classrooms, are you getting tired?  Have you lost focus? interest? motivation?

Let's take a moment to remember some of those reasons we do this job.

I was scrolling through photos on my phone.  Yes, trying to delete move to more permanent storage the pics from last year's class so I have room for this year's class. This one stopped me:

It doesn't look like a huge "stop-you-in-your-tracks" type photo.  It's just a single rose in a little glass vase.  But, in this case it is definitely the thought that made all the difference.

You see, I was given this flower on the last day of school.  Not from one of my fifth graders.  Not even from one of last year's students.  Three years ago, I worked with a little girl in Kindergarten as her ESL teacher.  She spent the first half of the year in the (ESL term) silent period.  She's a shy girl to begin with, and not being able to speak English with students and teachers meant she didn't say much at all.  She and I worked together daily in a small group.  I slowly coaxed her into speaking if I set her up with support.  A very bright young lady, she was a joy to work with.  That was my last year as an ESL teacher as I moved back to a 5th grade classroom position.  I still see her sometimes in the hallway and make a point to wave or say hello, but I don't get to work with her regularly anymore.

Anyway, on the last day of school, this young lady and her mother came to my classroom door with this flower.  Mom had taken her to the store to purchase a flower for her classroom teacher.  She asked if she could get an extra one to bring to me.  How floored was I to receive a gift from a student I hadn't worked with in 2 years!

That flower was my bright spot for many days after school got out.  Now the photo I snapped is my reminder that you never know what "little thing" you do might actually affect a student in a big way and for a long time.  It's my little reminder that my efforts are appreciated and remembered.

So as I'm looking at the piles of pencils to sharpen and the feet of laminating to cut and the stack of copies to make and my still bare bulletin boards (ok, I'd better stop here 'cuz I'm freaking myself out again), I am reminded about the reasons I do this job.  I'm going to keep working a little bit more today.  I'm going to drink another cup of coffee and push on.  I'm going to stop thinking about "all the things I HAVE to do" and start thinking about all the ways I can prepare myself to be awesome this year.  I'm going to make a difference.

:) Heather

Friday, August 14, 2015

Favorites for Friday: Xyron Sticker Machine

Making labels for your classroom?  Goodie bags?  Group supplies?  Personalized magnets with your classroom theme to put on your board or filing cabinet? Crafts?  

This week's Favorite for Friday is the Xyron.  Do you have one of these yet?  If not, don't walk, RUN!!! to your nearest craft store.

I'm a crafter in my spare time, so I have lots of sizes of Xyron machines.  I like this 5 inch Creative Station for my classroom the best.  It doesn't take up much space in my cabinet and it's great for the little things I realize I need in the middle of the day.

I also have the Xyron 900 at home and I use this a lot for classroom items as well. This one is great because a standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper slides through it easily.  

These machines are great for putting adhesive on the back of any thin, flat, item (photos, posters, labels) and the adhesive comes in either permanent or repositionable (no more sticky putty!). Want to get really crafty in your classroom?  This machine can also laminate AND make magnets!

Here's a list of some of the things I have done with this machine in my classroom:

*classroom library books labeled with levels
*organizational bins labeled
*Desk name tags laminated
*Folder/Notebook labels
*Treat bag toppers/labels
*Nametags (first day, field trips, etc)
*Winning the Pencil War pouch labels
*Personalized magnets for my board and file cabinets (use your student's photos!)
*Personalized magnets for parents at Back to School night/Conferences with contact info
*Class Schedule items on magnets for the board (easily adjustable!)
*Stickers for teams during activities (kids can easily see who is on each team when they're wearing that sticker!)
*Prizes!  (For incentives, I let students draw pictures on an index card and then turn the drawings into stickers they can keep)
*Independent Centers/Games labels (stick the cover sheet from TPT right onto the folder/envelope!)
*Stickers that say "Ask me about..." for students to show off a great day

Remember, Joann's and Michael's stores have a teacher discount program.  At Joann's you need to sign up for their card, but both places will give you the discount as long as you can prove you're a teacher (bring your school ID).  

There are tons of sizes and versions of these machines.  Choose what works for you and your budget, but truly, I LOVE these machines!  I can't imagine not owning one.  (Even my husband uses them -- he uses the adhesive cartridge to make labels and laminates his fishing license every year so it doesn't get wet on the lake.)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Favorites for Friday: School Supplies

Are you a school supply hoarder, too?  
Do you have piles of notebooks, 
boxes full of glue, 
or more pencil top erasers than you know what to do with?  

This week's Favorite for Friday is a link to the most awesome school supply price guide ever: 

School Supplies Price List
For several years now I have used this resource to decide whether or not to purchase mass quantities of school supplies.  (I still have crayons from years ago when they were on sale for 5 cents!)  As office supply stores buy each other up or close, it's so important to have a guide to what's really a good deal. I forget how inexpensive some of these things will go.  "Notebooks for a quarter?  That's great!" But then I go look at this list and realize I should hold out for the 10 cent sale.  It may not ever get down to 10 cents in my area, but if I wait, I'll probably manage to find them cheaper than a quarter. If not, they'll probably still be available somewhere for a quarter in a week anyway.

Now, if I was only buying items for kids in my own family, it wouldn't matter so much. I'd pay the few extra cents to avoid driving all over the city. I mean, gas is expensive, too! But when I purchase supplies to be used by a classroom of 30 kids, it's worth it to shop around and get the good deals.

I love school supplies.  My husband thinks its an addiction.  I'm pretty sure it's more of a justifiable hobby. He sure doesn't complain when he needs a pencil or a pack of index cards.  :)