A Common Core Teacher's Toolbox!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's Currently, June edition!

The one thing  I can always seem to find time to blog for is Farley's monthly link ups!  Wow, it's June. The year is literally flying by. June means summer break, vacation, and pool weather, so I'm in heaven!

* I'm listening to the sound of my sweet baby girl's giggles as her daddy chases her around the house.  Not a sweeter sound on earth!! :)

* I am LOVING summer break. I can't express enough how much I'm loving it. I had a great school year, but I'm still loving this break. I've been enjoying spending my days with my daughter. I miss so much time with her during the school year, that I really take advantage of the time off with her. We have our little summer bucket list hanging on our refrigerator. We have been trying to cross off one thing a day, and Aubrey loves going to the refrigerator to "cross off" whatever we've done for the day.

*I'm thinking I sure do have a whole lot left to do my pre-vacation to do list, and it keeps growing by the minute. We've spent the first week of summer vacation doing lots of fun things, and have neglected most of the "need to do". We leave for Disney and the beach in a couple of weeks, and I have to start tackling that list!

*I'm really wanting to redecorate our bedroom. I decided during spring, I wanted to re do our living room, which has led to wanting to redo our bedroom. I haven't informed my husband of this idea yet, but I'll remind him I have summer break to accomplish it all! 

*I really, really need to get my house cleaned and grocery shop. We are entertaining friends and some family over the next week, and I have to get my house together. I also cook dinner a whole lot more in the summer, so groceries are a necessity for that! However, the sun has come out now, so those things just might have to wait! 

*Vacation Essentials- Camera of course is a given! Sunglasses-for all the time enjoying the sun. I was going to list new wardrobe(because I love buying clothes for vacation), but I figured that was a little much. I can't forget a good book (or books in my case)! You always need a good book to read in the car, on the plane, or on the beach! It's an essential part of traveling. I have a long to-read list,that just keeps growing longer thanks to my book club girls! I'm very much looking forward the week at the beach to do some serious reading!

Happy June everyone!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Just teach, it's really that simple......

    I'm an extremely reflective person in all aspects of my life. I'm always having some sort of reflective thoughts about something, which can be a wonderful quality when you are doing something like working towards being a National Board Certified teacher! However, other times,not so much because I sometimes get headaches from thinking too much. With that said, each and everyday during the school year I reflect about my teaching and my students. I, like most of you, have spent many hours researching, buying products, reading books etc. to try to improve my teaching practice. This school year I got to the point where I was just on information overload. Then, I took a step back, and really, really thought about everything. Then the magical little light bulb went off and I realized,"Wait a minute, you are the teacher here! !You are the expert! Stop over complicating things; Stop letting other people's ideas and essentially many times their "products" dictate what you think you should be doing in your own classroom. "

   Of course teaching is by no stretch "simple", but I really think we have made teaching become WAY TOO complicated. I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to better our teaching styles/techniques, or continue to learn on our own. What I am saying, is that I think we all need to step back,  and throw all of these programs/books etc. out of the window for just a second. Get all of those millions of "great ideas" that we believe we should implement in our class out of our heads. It all comes down to the fact that we are the experts in our own classroom. No one person could ever know or completely understand the unique make of students in our classroom. We know what is best for our students. Sometimes, what's best is  simply sitting down with the kids in a circle and just reading and discussing a topic. Sometimes what might work best for our students is simply sitting in a small group with just pencil and paper and working through math problems. Many times, the basic/simple foundations  of we know about teaching are exactly what we should be using with our students to help them learn best. While, I think we can learn a lot from the latest programs and ways of doing things, and should even implement some of  those things; I think we are just overwhelming ourselves, when really a lot of times we just need to TEACH! No frills added, no magic program, no "special" way to teach a subject, just plain old teach the way we know our students will learn best.

  Over this school year I thought a lot about the past 7 years of my teaching career. I have NEVER,not one single year, done the exact same things with my teaching. What worked with one group of students doesn't always work with the next group. Once again, it's a matter of knowing our students and remembering we are already equipped with the knowledge of what we need to help those students.

  I think it's wonderful to take time over the summer to read those great teaching practices books, and plan to implement that new way of teaching reading or math. Even saying all this, I have my own list of summer reading and PD to improve my own teaching. However, I'm not going to overload myself, and decide I have to teach this certain way or implement this certain idea next year. I'm going to take those ideas, walk in that door, get to know my students then I'll implement what works best for that particular set of students.  So soak up some knowledge over the summer, but don't stress about having to do all of those things next year. Get to know you kiddos, and do what YOU already do best. Sometimes teaching really is just that simple. Just teach! (And...spend a lot of time relaxing and doing things for yourself/family! Going back refreshed and relaxed will do more for you  and your students than spending you WHOLE summer working!)

I will now get off my soapbox! : )