“I Voted” Sticker Template (Free)

My 10th graders will participate in a student mock election for the U.S. Presidential Election on Tuesday and I was stumped on how to make the experience more memorable for them when I found this amazing “I Voted” sticker template on TpT. Since adults receive an “I Voted” sticker to showcase their commitment to civic responsibility, what better than to provide students a similar opportunity?

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I can only imagine how ecstatic my students will be on Tuesday when they receive these stickers. The stickers from this template were far better than the one I received during early voting last week and best of all, this template was free. 

Printing the template was extremely easy.  I used standard Avery 5160 mailing labels (1 inch tall x 2 5/8 inches wide) that were recommended and the final results were absolutely gorgeous. (My photo does not do these stickers justice.) 

If you would like something similar for your students, I highly recommend downloading this template from Kaylynn Hamstra’s TpT Store Enjoy 🙂

 

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® Optima® 40 Compact Desk Stapler.

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Features:

  • 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 — 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 Depot.com.

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 Online.com. 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.**

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.

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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. 🙂

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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. 🙂 

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

meet the teacher (blog version)

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. 🙂

Happy Friends

 

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.