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. ūüôā

The Best Stapler Ever!!!

I know it’s crazy to post about a stapler.¬†However, I believe in sharing anything that makes teaching a little easier. If you do not have access to an industrial stapler at your school or if you are losing precious time to hunt down or use one in the teacher workroom, then this stapler is an absolute¬†classroom must have.

While¬†creating blue books for my AP Literature’s practice exam, I discovered two unfortunate things: (1) ¬†several of my classroom¬†staplers had been broken and (2) the remaining staplers could not staple more than 10-15 pages without a lot of effort and pressure. ¬†So off I headed to Office Depot in search of a stapler that could handle at least 30 pages and wouldn’t break my¬†budget.

And what I found was the¬†Swingline¬ģ Optima¬ģ 40 Compact Desk Stapler.



  • Ergonomically designed handheld stapler takes up to 50% less effort than a conventional stapler.¬†
  • With flat clinch technology, staples lay extremely flat on the back of documents.¬†
  • Durable metal construction ensures lasting performance.¬†
  • Soft grip enhances the feel and control for both desktop and handheld use.¬†
  • Innovative, quick-load magazine system allows strips of 105 staples to be quickly and easily loaded.¬† Guaranteed jam-free for efficient stapling performance.
  • Eco-conscious choice ‚ÄĒ has one or more meaningful eco-attributes or eco-labels.¬†
  • Certified AP Nontoxic

What I love:

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It staples flat.
  • It uses normal staples .¬†
  • It can staple 25+ pages with little effort. (I haven’t tried the stapler at maximum page capacity yet.)
  • It’s easy for students to use. (Though I’m only sharing my stapler with my student helpers, not the entire class.)
  • It takes up very little space and is very easy to see on my desk. (The orange stripe is bright and distinct enough to signal if one of my “Happy Friends” (students) decides to borrow it without permission.
  • It has a 5-star rating on Office

What I hate:

  • This stapler is pricey. In-store, the price of this stapler was considerably marked up ¬†at $36.99 (before taxes). However, I recommend purchasing this item online. The online price was listed at $26.99 and I was able to purchase¬†mine with a 25% off coupon from Office Depot I picked it up while I was still in-store for $21.91 (with tax). Online purchase and pick up took less than 15 minutes.¬†
  • It only uses half a strip of staples at a time.

**This post is not sponsored.**

Free Printable: Weekly To Do List

I was tired of using random pieces of paper, so I created a simple and functional weekly¬†“To Do” list. ¬†I hope it’s useful for you. Enjoy. ūüôā


Simply click the preview of the template or the download link below.

Free Printable for Student Absences

Now that I’m at an Early College and see my students only 2-3 times per week, keeping track of absent work and copies for absent students has become a nightmare. Although I use¬†technology like Schoology and Remind to help students keep track of their day-to-day assignments, these apps do not fully resolve the problem of keeping absent students up-to-date with the actual happenings of the classroom.¬†

While I make a concerted effort to keep the Schoology class calendar as updated as possible, my use of technology was never meant to be a substitute for attending class. I do not post every instructional adjustment that I make nor do I announce pop quizzes on the calendar.  However, it is extremely challenging and time consuming to individually update multiple students from different classes what was missed during their absence.


Click image to download document.

To resolve this problem, I decided to try a “While You Were Out Form.” Unfortunately, I¬†could not find a form that was functional and appropriate¬†for¬†high school students. Much of what I found online was designed for an elementary setting,¬†so I designed my own. It’s free of fancy clip art, but I think the clean design will serve its purpose in class. ¬†

Since I use a classroom jobs system, I have “hired” a detail oriented student helper for each class period to fill out the form as class progresses. Once the form is completed, I help the student¬†attach any handouts given during class and I place the completed packet into our classroom mailbox system for later pickup.

Tip: If you have multiple student absences¬†within a class period, do not have your student helper add a name to the form.¬†This allows you to¬†make copies of the¬†completed form for several¬†students¬†without the need of¬†additional¬†student helpers. Once you have made copies, simply add each student’s name and attach any handouts for that day.¬†

If you would like a copy of this “While You Were Out Form,” please click here or visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. You can also click on the image in this post for a direct download as well.¬†¬†Enjoy!!! ūüôā

I Was Booed…

I’ve never been overly excited about Halloween, but I’d like to take a moment to share something that really brightened¬†my day—I was booed.


I’m not sure who started this at my school, but I’d love to say thank you. This small gesture truly cheered me up and it was just what I needed before I had to administer PSATs this morning. It’s always appreciated when a gesture of kindness unexpectedly comes my way and I am extremely excited to pay it forward. I hope this post inspires you to do something kind for your fellow teachers regardless of what holiday is on the horizon. In Texas, we are at the end of the quarter (9 weeks marking period) and I think we could all use a boost in¬†morale. ūüôā


Meet Your Teacher

I decided to introduce myself to my Early College students and parents a little differently this year. Instead of a PowerPoint, I decided to use a “Meet the Teacher” handout. Although I was able to find a few templates online, none of them were well suited for a high school audience (a little too elementary oriented). So, ultimately, I ended up making my own from that collective inspiration and I was able to customize it exactly the way that I wanted.

**This¬†version omits my school’s contact information, but it is present on the final version that I will print and pass out on paper. I also plan to electronically post this handout for parents on Bloomz.**

So what do you think? Do you like my “Meet Your Teacher” introduction handout? I know it is rather simple, but I truly hope my students and parents enjoy reading it. ūüôā¬†

PS. If you are interested in using this template for your classroom, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

meet the teacher (blog version)

Empty Classroom Tour

I thought it would be nice to give you a tour of my classroom before the teacher magic happens. I’d love your thoughts on how to transform my room into a student friendly environment for my Early College students.¬†I’ll do an update once my classroom is set up.¬†



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. ūüôā

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.






Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!


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. 

IMG_0090 (1)

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.)



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


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!!!!


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!




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.? ūüôā

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. ūüôā


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