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Five Cute Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy at School


So, if you're reading this, you're probably pregnant, or maybe hoping to be pregnant, or know a teacher who's pregnant---one of those, right?  My husband and I are expecting our third baby at the end of May 2017, so I wanted to share our exciting news with my colleagues and students in a fun way.  Pinterest has load of ideas, but not many are practical for school.  I gathered a few cute ones for you to share your own exciting news when the time comes.

With each of my pregnancies, I shared the news with my staff using Munchkins donut holes from Dunkin Donuts.  It's super simple and feeds a lot of people.  Who doesn't love donut holes?! I printed simple pictures of my kids labeled Munchkin #1, Munchkin #2, and Munchkin #3 May 2017.  The display turned out really cute and took me about 25 minutes to make...and yes, I know my poster is crudely made and has an apostrophe in the wrong place, I was rushing that morning- shocking! 



If you're announcing close to Dr. Seuss week or Favorite Book Character Day or even Halloween, this would be an adorable announcement.  Tutu optional!


This is a cute idea, and you could use any type of food.  You could do pastel colored cupcakes, donuts, or even chocolate dipped candies.


Eve Bunting (fabulous author!) has a really cute book called, Our Teacher is Having a Baby.  It tells the story of a teacher announcing her pregnancy to the class, and they write the baby letters and brainstorm names for the baby.  It's great for the PreK-2 crowd but may be too juvenile for older kids.

 
I didn't want to lose a bunch of instructional time with my second graders when I announced my pregnancy to them, so I planned a task card hunt with QR codes.  The students scanned each card to reveal a letter.  Then, they had to unscramble the letters to reveal the secret message- Your Teacher is Having a Baby!  They were SO excited.  The activity fit right into my literacy block but also shared the fun news.  My second graders completed the activity with a partner, but older kids could complete it on their own.  I had the answer key right in front of me so I could see their reactions when they scanned to check their work.  Talk about adorable!  Second grade girls get very giddy when they find our their teacher is pregnant...second grade boys, not so much. LOL.  You can grab the QR Code Word Puzzle here.

Did you announce your pregnancies in a special way at work? I'd love to hear some other ideas if you have them.  Leave them in the comments below!

The Santa Letter...for Parents


Do you all love Christmas and the magic of Christmas as much as I do?  I'm assuming that you do.  So, one thing that just gets under my skin, and probably yours, is when kids try to ruin the Christmas magic for other kids.  You know what I'm talking about...Santa isn't real! (gasp!)  Obviously not all families celebrate Christmas or even incorporate the tradition of Santa into their holiday celebration.  However, I just hate when someone tries to spoil someone else's joy and fun.  It's not always deliberate, but usually it is.   It's just plain mean, right?

To prevent this and the uncomfortable conversations that come with it, I've began sending home what I call my "Santa Letter" each year.  I ask the parents of those that do not believe in Santa or celebrate Christmas to please gently speak with their children about not letting out the big secret to those who do believe.  I simply print my letter out in cursive font, so 2nd graders can't read it, fold it in half, staple it, and send it home.

You can grab this letter for free by clicking here.

Every year I have several parents thank me for doing this.  It's a simple gesture but one that can prevent a lot of heartache and unwanted revelations.  I've yet to receive any complaints (crossing my fingers) or backlash from this request.  I'm sending mine home early this year, as I have one table of kiddos that just can't stop talking about Santa already (They Believe!).

What do you think?  Is this something that you'd use in your classroom, or do you think I'm taking it too far?  I'd really like to hear your thoughts.

If Teachers Earned Brag Tags...


You all know that Brag Tags are all the rage right now.  I use them in my classroom, and my students LOVE them! So I got to thinking, what if teachers earned Brag Tags, too???


Because I feel like a champ when my "to grade" bin is empty...which is rare.  

It's October, which means your bladder stamina has been building for the past month and a half.  Just think how strong you'll be by the end of the year! 

Be honest, how many times a day to you think WTF to yourself?  I mean really, everyone does it, even fabulous teachers like you and me.  

I always pack my lunch the night before school...and leave in the fridge at least once a week.  So annoying!  Do you do this, too?  

You all know those meetings that I'm talking about...the ones that make you feel inadequate and unappreciated.  I'm pretty good at staying mum, but I know it's hard for some of you. #amiright?

My club always welcomes new members.  Are you going to join me?  

You can grab all of these tags and a few more for free by following this link.  What would you add to the list?


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Fun Back to School Gift Ideas for Your Colleagues Under $5

This post has Amazon affiliate links included in some of the items highlighted below.  

So, my countdown is on. I have 5 days left until have to report back to school, and like you, I've been in and out of my classroom getting it ready.  I didn't see many of my colleagues all summer, so I was pleased as punch to see those sweet faces when I went in last week.

I am one of those lucky ones who works with a group of truly fabulous teammates.  I love all five of them so much, and I like to show them that at the beginning of the year.  However, my summer shopping problem hobby has taken a toll on my available funds.  I bet you're in the same boat, right???  So I wanted to round up a few adorable gift ideas for you to gift to your teammates that will make them smile without making your debit card cry.

Grab a cute tumbler from the Dollar Tree or Target dollar spot, and fill it with Crystal light packets.  Super simple and inexpensive.  I used this idea a few years ago, and it was a hit!  Your tag could say "We're going to have a tea-lightful year together!"

I love these little coffee packets, or you could use K-Cups if your school has a Keurig machine.  Buy a box and split them up between your teammates, stick them in a cute bag or mug...you're done!  I'd probably throw a few chocolates in there, too, because coffee and chocolate #nobrainer!

What teacher doesn't love a new pack of pens or markers? I'd probably go with a pack of Mr. Sketch, myself.  (PSA- Mr. Sketch are $5 on Amazon.  Go get a pack.  They're the BEST for making anchor charts, but I'm sure you already know that.)


This year, my own teammates are each getting a pack of these cute smiley stickers and Post-It's from me.  Stickers form from Target, and I split up a box of Post-It notes.  Perfect and so easy!  You can grab the tags, which are editable and free, here in my TPT store.  

So you're not feeling creative and are lacking time?  I've got you.  Purchase $5 TPT gift cards for each of your teammates.  Super easy!  Click, buy, and print.  You're done!  Teaching in the Tongass has a really cute (and free!) printable gift card template that you might like.  

I hope you grab a cute idea or two.  Do you give gifts to your teammates?  Do you have any new and adorable ideas for me?

5 Tips to Get Your Family Ready for Back to School


You guys, it's August. It's Back to School month. Cue the moans and groans! Going back to work was never that big of a deal until I became a mom.  Going back to school is hard on families! My husband teaches, too, and also coaches high school football, so it's kind of a double whammy for us.  Our summer routine gets all shaken up! I've learned a few things over the years that have made the transition easier.

I like to cook, but I don't like to cook when I'm dead tired and sweaty from being in my classroom all day.  I try to keep my freezer stocked with a few easy things to pull out in the morning and stick in the oven when I get home.  No prep.  Baked pastas are super easy.  I made stuffed shells for a friend with a new baby last week.  It was easy to double the recipe and add a few pans to my freezer for when school starts.  My other favorites to stock are hamburger patties, homemade chicken strips, enchiladas, and lasagna.  Confession- I hate Crock Pot meals #ithinktheyregross #itsfine, but there are tons of prep and freeze ideas for the Crock Pot on Pinterest.  You can grab more freeze and go meals on my Yummy Eats Pinterest board.   If neither of those options are your cup of tea, get a few Stouffer's frozen lasagnas and call it a day.  A tired mama who doesn't have to prep and cook dinner is a way less grouchy mama.


My kids have been going to be a little late all summer, just like yours, right?  Start pushing their bedtime up little by little so it's not such a shock and fight once you're on a a regular school schedule.  Move it up 10-15 minutes each week until you're back at the normal school year bedtime.  Get back into a solid bedtime routine again.  All kids (and parents!) benefit from regular bedtime schedules.  


I try to ease my kids back into their daycare schedule by taking them a few days each week while I work in my room.  Next week, they'll go twice, and then three days the following week.  It's hard for your little ones to adjust to much less Mommy time than they've gotten used to.  It also gives you some guilt free time to get your room ready.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you this twice, but go to Target and stock your pantry.  Get the stuff that you're not going to feel like running out to get once school starts.  Maybe it's just me, but I despise going to the store after work.  My feet always hurt, and my kids are grouchy.  Recipe for disaster.  On my list: dry and frozen foods, diapers, wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, bottled water, baggies, trash bags...you get it.  Just keep it under control, ladies.

Remember, your job is just that, a job.  Don't waste your last few weeks of summer obsessing over your classroom and curriculum.  Limit the time that you spend in your room.  Get that stuff done, you'll be glad that you did, but also enjoy the time at home with your kids.  It's such precious thing to be able to spend our summers with our kids. 


Have a great August, my friends!  Let me know your best piece of advice for transitioning your families back into the school routine.  

10 Things I've Learned From a Decade in Public Education


This past June, I wrapped up my tenth year of teaching. It seems like a long time, but really, it's not.  I've been so blessed to spend all ten years in the same building, although I've jumped grades and rooms many times. Over the past decade, I've learned a lot...so much from my colleagues, so much from my students, and so, so much from my own mistakes. So after ten years, here are my ten takeaways. 

My first few years, we had a supply closet in our building, and it was glorious!  It felt like a shopping trip every time you went it.  It had so many fun things, like magenta construction paper and Wiki sticks.  I am so blessed to work in a district with a supply warehouse.  When I need something, I can usually get it from the warehouse.  This has saved me so much money.  If you have warehouse, use it.  Don't spend all of your hard earned money on Crayolas when you can get Rose Arts through the district.  Save that money for wine (see #8).  

Curriculum, administrators, expectations, lunch menus...it's all a-changin'! Don't get too comfortable, because chances are, it's going to change.  Embrace the change, and...

Don't get worked up every time something changes.  Try to see look at things with a positive attitude.   If you get yourself all bunched up over every little thing, then you're going to have a tough time.  You'll hate your job.  There are  definitely going to be times that you need to question, voice an opinion, or just not like what's being done.  Just try not be be like that all of the time.  It'll get you a reputation.  

We just got AC in our building four years ago, and it is the best!  Not all of the primary buildings in my district have AC, and I feel for them.  Ours is kind of wacky and comes on and off at odd times, but I'll take that wackiness any day over no AC.  I'll never forget those soggy bra, popsicle filled Septembers and Mays.  

I'm not being mean here.  What I'm saying is, choose your words carefully.  No one really likes that person that is spouting off about every little blessed thing.  You all know that person.  I do, too.  Don't be her or him.  It's important to have an opinion, and it's equally important to voice your opinion eloquently.  People will listen to you if you know when to listen, yourself.  So when you're tempted to just say one more thing, shut your mouth.  

Your grade level team can be such a source of inspiration, friendship, and joy.  I am so blessed to be a part of a wonderful 2nd grade team.  I love those girls!  We don't all work the same way and do the same things, but we definitely can lean on each other and learn from each other.  I truly believe that your team is your greatest resource.  

You can never have enough.  When you think you have enough, your kids will prove you wrong.  I'm not sure what exactly they do with all of the glue sticks, but I do know that we always need more.  One of my teammates was completely convinced that someone was stealing them out of her classroom this year.  Haha!  No one was taking them, but it was really tempting to prank her. 
Cue to #1, thank goodness for that warehouse and their seemingly endless supply of glue sticks...although, even the warehouse is out come May and June.  

So, I don't have super thick skin.  I just don't.  Parents can get to me pretty easily.  I hate the feeling of being disliked, which is definitely something I need to get over.  Nothing can ruin my day like an angry email or request to *gasp* call home.  I have had so, so, so many wonderful families over the past ten years, but it's the tough ones that I tend to remember most clearly.  I hope that in the next decade, I can learn to brush off the tough ones a little more easily.  What's your best strategy for this???

Remember that. It's your job to teach.  At the end of the day, if you've done a solid job teaching, then you're doing well.  A cute, Pinterest-y classroom and fabulous friends are a total bonus, but they aren't necessary to being a good teacher.   Be a good teacher first, and let the other stuff fall into place over time.  

I love my job.  There is no other job that I think that I'd more than this one.  I feel so incredibly blessed to go to a building that I love and teach the kids that I love with the friends that I love for a principal that I love.  What a joy!

Those of you in public education, what is your biggest take away?  


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