Free Printable: Educator Expense Tracker

Teachers, it’s that special time of year where we often spend too much money to make our classrooms look their very best. Although I haven’t discovered a solution to prevent over spending, I have become more conscious of how much money I am spending on my classroom by creating a simple “Educator Expense Tracker” for my planner. If you would like a copy, please use the download link below. 🙂

A Happy Heart…

A popular expression says, “Teachers encourage minds to think, hands to create, and hearts to love.” Well last week, I received some of the fruit from my labor when my Early College students chose my classroom door to decorate for a Valentine’s Day contest.

My students worked for weeks to complete an elaborate design for my door, a Sweethearts box with my name spelled out in the window and a Valentine’s Day poem. 🙂

This sweet gesture was absolutely the best design in the entire school. Needless to say, my students won the door decorating contest and made me feel extra special in the process.

 

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!

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I don’t know about you, but I’m having one of the nicest Teacher Appreciation weeks ever. However, I can’t help but note the irony of National Teacher Appreciation Week coinciding with STAAR testing. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the acknowledgement we, teachers, receive and I thought I’d take a moment to share how my Teacher Appreciation Week is going thus far.

At my school, teachers received a small goodie bag with a can of coke, a bag of chips, and a Whataburger certificate. Then, this morning, we had a Teacher Appreciation breakfast with pastries, coffee, and juice. However, what has truly made my week so far are small acts of kindness from my students.

One of my students drew me a picture. 

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Another wrote me one of the most beautiful thank you notes of my career. (BTW: Ding! is the catchphrase I use when my students get a question correct in class.)

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My 8th period drew me a witty picture (the misspellings are intentional).

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Then the National Hispanic Honor Society gave us the most delicious Mexican cookies in honor of both Cinco de Mayo and Teacher Appreciation Day. Yummmmm!!!!

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And just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, I discovered in the parking lot that my “happy friends” had decorated my car with some of my classroom catchphrases. Wow! What an awesome day!

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Please share in the comments below how is your Teacher Appreciate Week/Day progressing. I’d love to know which activities your school does to recognize teachers. Also, what special ways did your students acknowledge you during this week.? 🙂

From Galveston with Love

20150407-112649.jpgOne of my seniors visited her family in Galveston, Texas during Easter break and returned to El Paso with a gift for me–a hand-carved lion pen. Wow … how thoughtful!!! Although I truly loved receiving this gift, it means so much more to know that my students are thinking of me even when they are so far away from school. 🙂

 

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

 

 

 

We Came; We Saw; We Slaughtered.

20150407-171133.jpgI am so proud of my Lit. Critters (also known as my University Interscholastic League Literary Criticism Team). While I have only coached them for two months, they did an outstanding job at the district UIL competition and won 1st place.  Hopefully, our team will be as successful at the state competition in a few weeks. Wish us luck!!!

PS. Although we definitely believe in good sportspersonship, “We came; we saw; we slaughtered” has become my Lit. Critters team mantra. It is a modern spin off derived from Julius Caesar’s “Veni, vidi, vici” which is Latin for “I came; I saw; I conquered.” And yes, we’re nerdy like that. LOL. 🙂

 

Started From the Bottom … Now We’re Here…

OMG!!! I’m so excited. Our iPads finally got a much needed upgrade from being charged on rigged up dish racks. 

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Now we have have a re-purposed C.O.W. (computers on wheels) laptop cart that we can use to charge, store, and transport our iPad minis.IMG_0040

 I’m so grateful and appreciative to finally have a secure storage solution in my classroom for our iPads. 🙂IMG_0042

 

Happy Friends

happy friends2It’s that dreaded time of year…test season. I’ve been in and out of the classroom helping with our End of Course ELA Pullout Program for our senior re-testers and guess what? My students actually missed me. I returned late in afternoon, to the English wing, and unexpectedly found a present waiting for me–a chalk drawing with my signature catchphrase for my students (fondly known in my classroom as “happy friends”).

This chalk drawing spanned from the front of the English wing until the edge of the railings near our Fine Arts building.

Honestly, I can’t remember when I’ve smiled so much and been so genuinely surprised. I showed every teacher and administrator in my path pictures of one of the most heartfelt gifts of my career. It’s days like this that make teaching worth it. 🙂

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Teach Like Me

Gandhi so aptly said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” As teachers, we use this quote nearly to the point of clichĂ©. However, how often do we apply this concept beyond working with our students?

Given the critical nature of the press and public towards teaching, maybe it’s time we do more than transform our classroom. Maybe it’s time we also transform the public perception of our profession.

One of the ways we can begin this process is by participating in a positive PR campaign like “Teach Like Me.” A friend sent me an invite through Facebook and I liked it enough to share with you. 1

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This spring, “Teach Like Me” will launch its 2nd annual campaign to publicize and increase public awareness of the positive contributions teachers make. On May 5, 2015, “Teach Like Me” asks educators and supporters to change their profile pictures on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to one of their custom Teach Like Me logos (available here). Then use social media with the hashtag #TeachLikeMe to share/tweet/post what you teach and why you love teaching. However parents, students and other members of the public can also use the hashtag to show their support, appreciation, and encouragement of teachers. For more information on “Teach Like Me,” please visit http://www.teachlikeme.org.

I am excited about participating and I hope you are too! 🙂

  1. I am not an official ambassador or an affiliate of “Teach Like Me,” but I like their idea.

Know Who You Are and Use It!!!

“Sometimes I feel
So misunderstood
The whole world looks at me like I’m crazy…”
-Collin Raye

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In the hustle and bustle of the classroom, it’s so easy to lose track of who you are or to allow yourself to be defined by others’ false perceptions of you as a teacher. Especially as a new teacher, you’re juggling many new responsibilities and receiving numerous critiques about your teaching that can be quite confusing and seemingly contradictory. So in the scramble, you try to become the teacher you think you administration wants. However, being someone you’re not is exhausting. Yet, how do you become successful in the classroom? How do you balance the expectations of administrators, students, and parents without becoming a morphed version of your former self?

While accepting constructive feedback from parents, administrators and students is important in the process of becoming a successful teacher, I can also testify that the greatest struggle I ever had in the classroom was when I tried to be someone I’m not. Although I have always been professional, I’m naturally quite expressive. I have a little urban edge and my “Detroit” shows up in my expressions. However, when I first began teaching, I thought I had to become a subdued Little House on the Prairie schoolmarm in front of administrators. Trust me, my early years as a teacher were a struggle and I’m pretty sure students were confused by my Jekyll and Hyde routine during evaluations.

While I frequently used my “Detroit” as a way to relate to the students and convey the content in a more interesting way in the classroom, I was always afraid to be myself when I was being evaluated. As the only African American teacher on staff, I hid my “Detroit” from my administrators during evaluations because I was afraid of how I would be perceived. Somehow, I thought my colloquialisms and unique expressions wouldn’t be as valued and it would be just another way that I would be seen as “different” or even worse viewed as less educated.

Then one year, I simply could not hide.  That school year I received, as did the rest of my school, nearly 40 walk-throughs. 1 My administrators went from being random strangers to common fixtures in my classroom. As I became more accustomed to their presence, I slowly began to relax. Then one day I received a really wonderful compliment when my “Detroit” escaped while I was explaining a really difficult content concept to the class. My administrator also noted that she didn’t realize I could make class so much fun since I seemed so serious during my other walk-throughs. After hearing this, I finally felt I could breathe. And although it was not an overnight transformation, my administrator’s comments resonated with me. Steadily I brought more of my authentic self to my classroom and my teacher evaluations have flourished. During this process, I learned that my authenticity was not only accepted, but welcomed.

So, if you would like to be more successful in the classroom, know who you are and use it!!! It is important to slow down, re-center, and bring your authentic self to class everyday regardless of parents, students, or administrators. However, the key is to find a way to actively combine constructive feedback with your own unique flair.  I bet you’ll be happier and your students will be too.

“This above all to thy own self be true.” –William Shakespeare

 

 

 

  1. Walk-throughs are unannounced informal teacher observations of usually 2-5 minutes where school administration capture a “snapshot” of your classroom.

A Fresh Start

Welcome to the new home of “A Teacher’s Life” blog!!! As you may know, the previous site for “A Teacher’s Life” was http://nhill8.edublogs.org/. However, I am relaunching the blog under a new site address because I would like a fresh start and the opportunity to take “A Teacher’s Life” in a new direction.

Ultimately, what I would like to accomplish in the new and improved version of “A Teacher’s Life” is more authenticity and transparency. In my previous blog, I think I lost myself. I shared ideas about educational leadership and gathered inspirational resources, but my life, ideas, and practices as a teacher were pretty much absent.

In many ways, the old version of my blog was hopelessly optimistic and that’s not always the reality of my teaching life. Don’t get me wrong—I love teaching, but there is plenty I am frustrated with and I want to be more open about that.  While I don’t want this blog to turn into a gripe fest, it’s also not going be all sunshine and roses either.

In fact, my inspiration to education blog was Mrs. Mimi’s “It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages” blog. Her blunt honesty (although achieved anonymously) about her second grade classroom and the insanity of public school teaching made me long for a voice of my own. [Although Mrs. Mimi’s blog is currently inactive, I dare you to key word search her blog for “The Weave.” These stories left me in tears from laughing so hard and it’s an added bonus that my school looks like paradise compared to hers.]  So with that said, please excuse the dust while I build anew. 🙂 

PS. If you were previously subscribed to “A Teacher’s Life,” no worries, your subscription has been transferred.