Co-Teaching! {Part 3 of 5} More than Student Teaching {Plus a TPT Raffle}

Hi friends,

The wonderful Kelly Anne and I have been working on our co-teaching series these last three weeks and we are back to work on part three (More Than Student Teaching). My post is probably going to be a little different than usual, but I think in the end it will all make sense. Just bare with me and I swear there will be a point at the end of it all.

Hmmm.... where should I start? How about the beginning? Well, at least the beginning of college. You see, I did all my course work in Pueblo, CO at CSU-Pueblo. I was all set to do my student teaching in that same city but my then fiance, who was a year older than me, got a job offer in Grand Junction, CO. Exciting right?! Well.... Grand Junction is about a 6-hour drive from Pueblo. And I still had a year of school left!

Long story short, Rich went to work in Grand Junction, I finished my last semester at school, and figured out how to set up my student teaching in Grand Junction. Easy enough! HA. Not so much. Turns out I was kind of lost in the shuffle because of my circumstances. I found this all out at the end of April when I was getting ready to move to Grand Junction on May 3rd. Now what?

My student teacher placer lady and I were both kind of in a panic but someone finally suggested that I try getting placed in a charter school. To be honest, I wasn't totally convinced about the whole situation, but I was willing to do anything to get into a school. We called the first charter school we could find (blindly, might I add) and all the principal said was "Yep, send her on over." I thought it would all be too good to be true, but I had no idea how good it would all be.

You've heard how wonderful Kelly is and how great the experience was for me, but my student teaching experience turned into something so much more than just that. And to think it all started with one of the worst and most stressful situations that could ever happen to a student teacher.

So how was it more than just student teaching....

First, I had Kelly as a mentor. Jackpot!

Second, Kelly was the only fifth grade teacher at the time because we were just a one-round but.... there were two 4th grade rounds coming up. You know what that means? Job opportunity. (I basically just had a 6-month interview to get through :).

Third, and probably the best, was the friendship Kelly and I formed. We were seriously alike and different in all the right ways.

Fourth... Because Kelly is so amazing, she constantly talked me up, worked with my strengths, and capitalized on having two teachers, the principal hired me to work for the school second semester. (Just another semester of being interviewed :).

Fifth, I was able to learn all about differentiation because Kelly formed a wide range of differentiated groups for all subjects that I was able to help her implement. Just think of the possibilities when you have two teachers in a room at all times. They're endless right?!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

Student teaching can absolutely seem like the most daunting and terrifying experience you will ever go through, and let's be honest, it is all of those things. But if you seize the opportunity and have a mentor teacher who is willing to do everything Kelly did for me, you will have a student teaching experience that is so much more than just student teaching. And don't forget that sometimes the worst experiences turn into the absolute best experiences as long as you are looking for that opportunity.

Now make sure to head over to Kelly's blog to check our her point of view and her giveaway. I would do it if I were you. (I heard, okay I know, that it has something pretty awesome to do with Teachers Pay Teachers).




Co-Teaching! {Part 2 of 5} Starting off the Year! {Plus a Freebie or two...!!}

Kelly and I are back for part 2 of our blog series on having an effective student/mentor teacher relationship. Make sure to check out Kelly's point of view on her adorable blog as well. Word on the street is that she is giving away some freebies from her TPT store.


Ok, I will be honest and say that I have no idea what Kelly Anne is going to talk about in her blog post about co-teaching this week. I thought about flat-out asking her or waiting until she posted, but I decided I would just talk about starting the year from my view-point when I was student teaching and then see (just like all you will have to do) what Kelly has to say. So here it goes….

Last week, Kelly and I talked about our first thoughts of each other and getting to know each other in the weeks before school. It was great… It was bliss (besides that whole west nile thing)… It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship… and then… those fifth graders showed up on the first day of school. Don’t get me wrong, our fifth graders were A-MAZ-ING, but I was freaking out. I was just standing around while Kelly did all the important stuff, but I was still nervous that whole entire day. I’m still not sure how long it took for the nervousness to go away, but it did eventually. And if you are a student teacher out there, I swear it will get better…. I mean, at least until you have to take over the class… then it just happens all over again :)

Anyways…. Back to the first day. Kelly was brilliant. And let me tell you how I know she was briliant, not only with the kids, but with me as well.

 I am embarking on my very first day of school as a teacher tomorrow. Yep! Tomorrow! Eeek! I am however in a different set of mind than I was last year, because I am embarking on this journey in my own classroom and without Kelly (WAAAHHHH). But by having to do this on my own this time around has made me think back to Kelly during that first few weeks and let me tell you something…. She was incredible.

She created a beautiful community with her kids from day one. I still can remember how the kids came in will ALL their supplies and Kelly just told them to put everything down, to push their tables back, and make a circle on the floor. The very first thing we did was a community building activity to get to know each other. Next, we organized supplies, and then another community building activity. Then we had a short “brain break” outside, and then another community building activity. From day one, those kids were already starting to work like a team. Not only did she start to form a team within her classroom, but she found ways to include me in activities so students would start to view me as a classroom teacher and role model as well. Speaking from someone who is a complete control freak, I can’t imagine giving someone else this type of role from day one. But she did.

That is one of the most amazing things about Kelly. She would put me in rolls for my sake, not for her sake. She had more faith in me than I did and would just say “Ok you’re going to do morning meeting” (baby steps) and then moved onto “You’re going to teach for four weeks instead of two” (this girl is convincing). She would suggest, not tell me, what I should do. She would allow me to try new things, so that I could discover what did and didn’t work for me. She let me be on my own (In her classroom! With her kids! Who get tested on this stuff!) for weeks at a time so I could figure it all out. (Did I mention, this was only her third year of teaching? The woman is a saint, I tell ya!) And most importantly, she was so supportive and positive from the very beginning. I know it had to be so hard for her at times to leave me and eventually I did have a minor (or maybe even major) breakdown with some classroom management issues. It was hard! But again, Kelly was so supportive and helpful (even though she probably wanted to be like “I will take it from here kid.”) She helped me sort it all out and I learned so much more from the experience than I would have had she not supported me like she did.

The greatest part about the whole process came from when I FINALLY handed the class back to Kelly. And it wasn’t just because I was done teaching those darn kids! :) It was because I was able to watch Kelly with a whole new outlook on teaching. Before I took over the class I had no idea how many decisions a teacher made in a day, how many decision CHANGES a teacher made in a day, how difficult it to manage a classroom of 24 fifth graders and then actually get them to learn something in process.
I was able to watch all that she had done before, but with a whole new outlook on teaching. I think this is one of the things that makes student teaching (and eventually co-teaching) so powerful. We read literature, go to conferences, borrow (ok, basically steal) ideas from other educators online. And all of that works, but one of the best resources teachers have available to them is other teachers. Just think our best resource is in the exact same building that we spend most of our lives.
I was lucky enough to spend a whole year, as opposed to just a semester, learning from one of the best resources out there. A teacher, and friend, who allowed me to steal, change, admire, and implement all of her beautiful ideas that will impact me for the rest of my life. Ironically, that part of my life starts tomorrow. It probably won’t be as beautiful as Kelly’s first day last year, but if there is anything I learned from Kelly is that we take those moments and we learn from them. And if all else fails, I will just call Kelly :)
And of course, don't forget to check out Kelly's point of view. (I'm headed over there now to see what she posted hehe). Click here and head on over.
And since Kelly is being so awesome and giving away some freebies from her store, I will do the same (I learn from the best). The first 5 people to comment on my post before Tuesday night will get my back to school community building packet for free. Just leave a comment with your email address and I will send it to you! See, we still make a great team :).


Teacher Week Linky 2013 ~ Now Teach! Organizing for Instruction

Hi teacher friends,

I'm still linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their Teacher Week link up. Today's topic is about organizing and I think this is probably my favorite topic. I LOVE organization. I literally have a hard time thinking if stuff isn't organized. If I wasn't a teacher I would TOTALLY be a professional organizer. 

Being only a first year teacher, I'm definitely not an expert teacher yet, but I'm going to just throw it out there that I might be a expert organizer. Have I mentioned I love organizing? Haha. Ok, now that I have gone on and on about organization, let me show you how I do it.

1.) I label everything, even if it doesn't seem necessary. Kids might be able to see what bin the scissors are in, but with a system like this, there is never a question of where anything should go. 

It also is nice if everything can be typed and/or put on cute matching papers. I mean you can have the greatest handwriting in the world, but taking the time to type it up always turns out so much better for me. 

I labeled all of my supplies. 

I especially label things like math games that are printed and created because they don't have a box like mass-produced games do. I lucked out by having this amazing storage solution in my classroom, and it made it sooooo easy to organize my games, but there are multiple storage solutions that would work as long as you labeled them. 

2.) I've learned how valuable it is to have a numbering system for your students. Each student is assigned a number that corresponds to their names in alphabetical order. 

It's hard to see it in this picture, but those little blue and grey things on the mailboxes are binder-clips with student numbers on each. This will make it easy to change out each year and it looks organized! Pinterest I adore you.... 
On that same note, having a student mailbox area is another brilliant organization trick I learned from my mentor teacher. It saves so much time in your day because you don't spend it passing out papers. Even better, make it a student job. 

3.) Use what works for you. Ok, so I actually got this idea from Kelly Anne.... but it works for me too. Having binders for everything is amazing. I have a binder for spelling groups, reading groups, reading assessments, math assessments, grades, standard based anectodal records.... everything. We both loved having different colored ones because we could tell them apart and just grab them when we needed them. Plus.... agghhh... they are just so cute. Seriously Target? Why do you do this to me?

All of my binders are labeled as well based on an idea I got off of Pinterest. I found some metal thingies (I have no idea what you would call them) and just hot glued those little suckers on. I love it because I can change out the labels as needed. 

I made sure to label my students' binders too! I have a slight Harry Potter theme going on and these are my banker notebooks. 

4.) Bonus tip! Buy a laminator! Ok, so this isn't a necessity but I am obsessed. I want to laminate everything! I convinced my first grade buddy though. Last I heard she was at Wal-Mart getting one with her last text saying (and I quote) "I'm so exctied!" haha. Luv ya Jen!

5.) Bonus tip again! Get an Erin Condren Teacher Planner. Check out my previous post or just click here and check out her site yourself. It's pretty much life changing. 

Well, this hungry teacher is tired.... and I have my first EVER open house tomorrow night so I should probably get on that :).

Happy Teaching and Cooking!

Mrs. Cahill

Teacher Week 2013 Linky ~ Classroom Digs

Hi friends,

Agghhh! It's already Tuesday night of my first year of teacher in-service week. I did some major work today to have my room cleaned up enough to take pictures for this post (seriously). It has been a wreck all week, but that's probably because I (and every other teacher in my school) has a million ideas running through my brain.... and of course I have to start every single one the second I think of it! 

Anyways, here are some pictures of my classroom so far (I think Kelly Anne has been waiting all summer for this). So here you all (and Kelly~ Luv ya Kelly) go :).

These are some before pictures.... haha.... yeah I know. 

 Here is my Harry Potter job chart.... or half of it, at least. What? I'm going to be these kids to work!
You can get these magical jobs in my store by clicking here! Freebie Alert! What are you waiting for? 

I covered this cute little circle table with my leftover fabric. And I totally just hot glued that stuff on. Yep... that just happened. 

This is the first thing you see when you walk in my room. Right now it's my calendar/announcement area. I got my cute little robot calendar at a local teacher store here. One of my first grade peeps was totally eying it. Don't worry though.... I told her where to get it. Oh! I almost forgot.... more chevron and polka dots!

 Here is my little (ok kind of big.... shout out to Kelly Anne for 1/2.... ok, ok, ok 3/4 of the books) classroom library. I covered every little piece of brownish/reddish bookshelf with green and blue construction paper (I call it resourcefulness). It looks way prettier than before.... just trust me on this one. Shout out to the Mr. for the extra built in shelves (I didn't even have to bribe.... jk.... yeah I did). 

This is the view from my teacher horseshoe table. Isn't it magical?

  This has kind of become the document camera using, teacher supply holding, (totally hot glued that fabric too) everything I touch is gonna be laminating (yeah... I went out and bought a laminator), catch all the extra supplies center.....

...but the back wall is going to be my morning math wall. Fingers crossed that I don't forget about it :).

My Harry Potter desk tags. Aggh so cute. There are a freebie in my store and you can get them by clicking here. I just printed them out, pasted them on construction paper, laminated (with my very own laminator.... seriously people, best investment ever), and cut them out. There will be more Harry Potter stuff in my classroom so come back and check it out my dear Potterheads. 

Did I ever mention that I'm a (super) freak about organization? Well.... speaking of, I labeled everything in my classroom. Yep, that just happened too. I just made the labels and pasted them on some cute chevron and striped paper I got from Hobby Lobby. I love all the cute classroom decorations out there, but it turns out that schools don't absolutely love all the color printing on those bundles... so I improvised. 

 All my math games labeled and ready to go!

 More math games, supplies, and....... LABELS!

 My attendance chart.... yeah still working on that one haha. 

More labels.... but they are just so cute... and labelly (that's a word). 

And here are some pics of the whole classroom. Such a difference from the before pictures. Praise the Lord!

Another view from my desk.

Just a sneak peak of my open house stuff....

That's all for tonight. Make sure to check out Kelly Anne's blog because she has some really fun pictures from this classroom last year. All right, all right, all right... you pulled my arm... just click here. Too easy I tell ya.... Might as well just do it.


Mrs. Cahill

Teacher Week '13 Linky

Hi friends,

This week I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their teacher week linky. Each day there will be a new post. Who knows why I decided to do this during my first teacher in-service week... but let's cross our fingers that I make it back every day this week. 

Today is day one and it is 10 fun facts about the teacher. Here y'all go.

1. I married my middle school (yeah, you read that right) sweetheart. We first got together back in good ol' 7th grade. He was just as cute back then. We got married in our favorite place.... Las Vegas. 

2. We just adopted the sweetest dog in the world. I'm serious though. Bodie is a 5-year-old Chesapeake Bay Lab. We fell in love the minute we met him at the shelter and can't believe how good he is. 

4. I LOOOOve to cook. It seriously relaxes me to come home and cook after a long day of work.

5. I'm a first year teacher, and I am desperately missing my mentor teacher (and one of my best friends) right now. Seriously, I think some of the other teachers are planning an intervention. Waaahhh.

6. I just re-read the Harry Potter series and have become obsessed with everything Harry Potter. Just wait until you see my classroom decorations. It's pretty legit if I do say so myself. 

7. I have had the favorite tv show since I was 10. I can't help it. I LOVE The Golden Girls.

8. I have two sisters and a brother. I mean it when I say I think they are the coolest people ever. 

9. I also love making cute and interactive bulletin boards. I just wish they didn't take so much darn time.

10. I am starting to love blogging. I was pretty hesitant at first, but now my brain keeps thinking "I can't  wait to blog about this." Nerd alert! 

Happy teaching!