Image Map

July 12, 2024

Back to School Prep - Digital Paperwork

I could joke that I have nothing to do now that I've switched up to 8th grade, but that wouldn't be true. 

I have found that it is far less physical prep for back to school than it was in the elementary grades. Yeah, I'll have to shove furniture around in the classroom, but I'm not packing pencil boxes, creating folders, etc. anymore. It's more the mental and digital prep in order to prepare for a new school year. 

Every summer I still go through my computer file folders to make sure they are still relevant. There's always the chance that I didn't file something correctly in the craziness of the school year, and I have to go through my "Go through" file - yep, I named it that. 

I'm still using Microsoft Teams for my classes - mainly for assignments and posting our daily agenda, and every year I'm creating more photos and details to upload as references on the assignments. The photo below shows part of my direction screenshots.

So I go back through last year's Teams to grab screenshots of my assignment details to file in the correct file folder. It has helped to remember exactly how I explained it last year. If you do this, remember to label the screenshots when you actually take them... learn from me, it's a pain to do it later. :)

I also go through my Week by Week plan and update based on last year's planner. 

After my first year in 8th I created a simple template that I filled in what we accomplished based on the weeks of the year. It's just a simple Week 1-19 on the front, and 20-38 on the back. These simple papers have helped me remember where we're heading while planning out the next unit. It also helps me to not constantly be flipping through last year's planner to check.

ELA Pacing

SS Pacing

Yearbook Pacing

Hope this helps. Next up I need to update my family's school calendars into the computer - min. days and vacations.  This next year we will have 4 schools that we are juggling - 2 colleges, a high school, and then mine. Yikes! When did my kids grow up??

Hope you have a great day!

July 9, 2024

Lessons I've Learned in Middle School...

Lessons I've learned since moving to middle school...

Kids are still kids no matter the age. Big kids or little. 

Kids all need to know they are important, they are valuable, they are cared about, they matter, and that they are loved. I realized my first year that many of the kids may not hear anything positive from an adult in a single day. During my second year I started daily telling my students it every single day - it was our daily affirmation. I was observed my second year and my admin took affirmations to the entire school. 

I say, "In case no one has told you today, you are important, you matter, you are cared for, valuable, and LOVED." About a month in the kids started saying it with me. It makes a difference. 

There are a lot of other lessons, but that's the most important.

Building relationships made the most difference. Learning how to build relationships in middle school - it was the same as elementary, but also different - sometimes harder as kids have learned to throw on masks and there isn't as much time during the day to make those connections...

The first year I made all these huge assumptions that I had to change who I was... even though the kids knew me as the elementary school teacher. That I had to be a certain way as a middle school teacher. I learned pretty fast - as I was melting under the pressures of changing grades midyear, that I couldn't be anyone other than who I was. Middle schoolers are great as picking up on fake and uncertainty. It was a hard learning curve.

Things got a lot better when I accepted that I am a cheesy teacher. I love being silly and having fun with my students. I love throwing in the unexpected and sharing about who I am. I was miserable when I was all serious all the time, when I left my personality aside. 

I had to learn the new routines of my new grade level, new curriculum, had to learn how to have and plan for multiple classes vs. just one, had learn to fit it all in a single period rather than a more flexible cross curriculum plan. I was one day ahead most days. But now I love it. 

I love seeing my students become the role models of the school, seeing them be the leaders. I love watching them grow in their confidence. I love how we have a big purpose throughout the year of getting them ready for high school. Learning how to be responsible in our small school, before they head off to a gigantic one. It is fulfilling being an 8th grade teacher. 

Have a great day!

July 4, 2024

I Moved to Middle School

Once again I disappeared for a few years. Sorry about that. I had a good reason. I decided to change grade levels and move to middle school. Specifically to 8th grade teaching ELA and History. 

Yep. Kind of crazy.

And also really really hard. 

3 years ago we had a huge sub shortage (like a lot of other places). We had vacancies in 6,7, and 8th grade. During the 3rd week of school I was called to go and fill in when my 5th graders were in PE. It was a history lesson on the Boston Massacre. 

I left that day wondering who was going to get the kids, my old kids, ready for high school. My own sons were in high school, and they were doing a great job- but that is also because they were prepared. Those 8th graders entire middle school had been a wacky one with the shut down in 6th, distance learning in 7th, and starting the year in vacancy. 

I started praying for them every time I saw them walk by my window. Send someone Lord. And after 3 weeks of praying my heart said “Why not you?” 

Of course I thought that was a crazy idea. I was happy and content in 5th. I loved my class. I knew what I was doing. I knew what to expect. 

I tried to talk myself out of it. I made a pro/con list. I asked questions to the 8th grade teachers. I talked to my best buds. All looking for reasons why this was a really bad idea. My husband asked if I was ready to just talk to my admin, and I said I was waiting for more confirmation. That night we went out on a date (6th week of school), when we were there a stranger stopped by the table, looked at me, and said that “God won’t leave you in the mess, He would lead me to the blessings in my next position.” I burst into tears, knew it was the confirmation I needed and emailed my admin. 

The talk with my admin went really easily. The ball was in her court. I would be content either way. But the need was evident, these 8th graders were on their last year at our k-8 school, the countdown was on. And supposedly it’s easier to find elementary teachers than middle school.

I switched at the end of the trimester. I don’t recommend a mid year switch. Especially packing up a classroom, while finishing up assessments, doing report cards, setting up a new classroom in 6 hours, etc. But it all worked out. 

Random info:
-I knew these kids. I had most of these kids back in 5th grade and would know most of them in the coming years as well. 
-I’m teaching my favorite subjects. Ela and history… 
-I get to work with 3 different groups of kids. About 80 total.
-I doubled my prep time each day. Yeah, that’s a pro.
-A LOT less planning.
-A lot less prepping. I just make 68 copies of the activity.
-I still got to read my novels with my elective class.
-Way back when I was a youth pastor’s wife, I’m used to middle school. 

8th graders are a lot like 5th graders. Just taller and with a bit of attitude. It’s like their hormones have evened out again and most have their act together. 

So that’s that. I’m an 8th grade teacher now.