How I'm Surviving 6th Grade :)

I've gone through more changes, in the last few months, than I probably have in my entire life.

That being said, I think one of the seemingly smallest (yet, actually biggest) changes I made was switching from 5th to 6th. In the same switch, I moved across the state, and into a large school district. I came from a small charter school, so this is a whole new world.

Some days, I feel like I am 100% drowning, and not coming up for air any time soon… while other times I feel like I might survive… or maybe even a itsy bitsy tiny level above surviving.

If you are a teacher, young or old, experienced or new, or just plain looking for someone else who gets just how hard it is…. I hope this post is just what you need….

1. I have had to pick what I 100% believe in and not back down.

I will not compromise on my students having time to read, allowing them to choose what they read, and  an all around focus on building a reading community. This hasn't been easy these first few months, when TONS of stuff continues to be thrown at me, but the payoff has been huge.

The 6th grade student's survey responses went a lot like this,

"I like how our teacher lets us pick what we read."
"She lets us sit where we want."
"She just gives us time to read."
"I actually like reading now."

And at conferences….

"They have never read on their own before."
"We used to have to force him to read."
"I can't believe how much she is reading now."

Stick with what you believe (research based of course) and the results will speak for themselves.

2. TeachersPayTeachers

I have always been a huge advocate of TeachersPayTeachers… obviously, but it is literally how I am surviving. I have had TONS of curriculum and resources thrown at me. I think some is well-meaning and some is just a quick-fix. But I want ENGAGING and fun… and I want results….

These are my people for surviving middle grades:

Lovin' Lit… Yeah, just buy all her interactive notebooks ever.

Appleslices…. Kelly Anne has literally done all the work for you in her Writing Units. I can not speak enough about how her Writing Units may be one of the best things on TeachersPayTeachers. If you need writing units, then there is literally nothing else out there except her units.

The Science Penguin… BUY it all. If she had stock in her TPT store I would buy it. She has a ton of stuff. It took me awhile to figure out what I needed in my classroom and what works best, but once you do, there is no going back. I use a solid mix of her PowerPoints, her Stations Units, her Task Cards (for assessment), and her Hands-On Science Vocabulary.

On Instagram and Blogs, I also highly recommend: Elementary Shenanigans @elementaryshenanigans (everything she does is so engaging and inspiring), Literacy for Big Kids @literacyforbigkids, Runde's Room @jenrunde, Lessons with Laughter @lessonswithlaughter, Hello Literacy @hellojenjones, A Rocky Top Teacher @arockytopteacher @archer_all_stars, and @teachersunny. They are all great at being positive, keeping things in perspective, and reminding me what is important about teaching.

3. It's a bad day, not a bad life. 

I have had some REALLY difficult days, but I remember seeing this quote years back, and it always puts things in perspective. It's just one day… I will survive.

4. Sixth graders are, like, really smart.

I WOULD not have survived these last three/four weeks without my sixth graders. I am at a S.T.E.M. school, that I am pretty sure has more technology than Google and Microsoft combined.

I have had to give surveys, assessments, get into computer systems, get to technology sites, toggle between iPads and projectors, create sites, start a Robotics unit, take attendance, take lunch counts, toggle between tablets and computers, open the carts (ummm harder than the actual usage of the iPads and laptops in them), and shut everything down each night.

My sixth graders are amazing. They have done it all. They help me and they help each other. They kindly show me how to do it all. They help me shut it all down and lock it all up each night, because there is just so much.

This has taught me a few things.

One. If you are a teacher, and you need help, ask your students. They are so smart.

Two. Middle schoolers are so much kinder than we give them credit for. They are so knowledgeable about things I will probably never know about. I am forever grateful for being given these kids. Even the ones, that already act like "middle schoolers" :).

Three. They are only 11 and 12, yet we expect so much of them. I hope they know, they have gone above and beyond what I ever thought I would have to ask of them.

5. I always learn the most from the most difficult situations.

Again, this year hasn't been easy, but I have never left a difficult situation in my life, and been like, "Man, I didn't learn anything from that." I have learned SO much already this year.

I have been in a pretty constant state of disequilibrium since school started. I think I finally have my feet under me, and then the rug gets ripped out from under them at least twice a week. I am usually visually frustrated (something I need to work on ha!) but once I go home (and rant at my poor husband) I usually get to a point where I am like, "Okay, I can do this." It is SO HARD sometimes, but if I am being 100% honest, I have grown every single time.

6. "If we're comfortable, we're not learning."

When I was in high school, my English teacher had a (what I would describe as a completely crazy) poet come to our class. She made me…. well… uncomfortable. The whole class actually. But then she said this.

I will admit, I was very comfortable at my old school. I was still in a good place, and challenged by my colleagues and myself…. but again, I am constantly struggling to find "comfort" at my new school. It's not there yet, but I am learning like learning is going out of style. And I just keep repeating this quote (in the crazy poet lady's voice) to myself and taking it day by day.

Survival of the Fittest in middle school my friends. YOU can do it. God speed.


November Tips and Tricks

Hi friends,

My super duper favoriter person (Kelly Anne) and I are doing a blog hop for November in the teaching world. Even the better, the super duper adorable Miss L's Busy Bees is joining us too. Seriously…. they both are the most adorable people ever and I don't throw that word around often. Actually… I do, but I super duper mean it about them.

Make sure to head over to Appleslices for a chance to enter our giveaway for prized. Be on the lookout for our other posts and on instagram for an extra bonus prize.

Our first post is about tips for making it through November… I'm not sure I am really surviving by most definitions of the word, but I am going to share how I don't completely drive my husband crazy during this time of the year.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see more of you around these parts. And seriously click on the buttons below. It takes me forever to make the links (seriously) so please click on them :). Also, have I mentioned how adorable these other two are… well they are…. click on it my wonderful friend. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Crazy News and Decisions PART II

I'm back... and this time with the big news.... If you read my previous post, I talked about the super duper hard decision I made back in college... but also how it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Well... today is about what my husband and I are doing now.

School starts for me next Monday, the 10th... or it was supposed to...

About two weeks ago, my husband was contacted by a head hunter, had two Skype interviews, was offered a job, and accepted a job. This all happened in a matter of about 5 days.

This is pretty crazy for a few different reasons....

  1. Did I mention I was supposed to report back in one week?! Eeek!
  2. I didn't have a job... not to mention an updated resume, cover letter, letters of recommendation... ummmm official transcripts..... also how in the heck do I find my PRAXIS scores from 4 years ago? 
  3. We don't have a place to live. 
  4. Most importantly, and the most difficult, I'm pretty sure I have the best job in the world. 

After the head hunter called, and Rich told me about the job, I automatically said "no way!" It was horrible timing, I LOVE my job, and Grand Junction has become our home and our life. I just didn't think it was right.

Fast-forward about 2-3 days later, he had the interview, I knew more about the job, what he really wanted, and what it meant for us. Rich has always wanted to go back to Pueblo. Weirdly enough, he basically had to drag me to Grand Junction from Pueblo, but now I'm the one that wants to stay... I think mostly because of my job and friends.

We had always said we wouldn't leave unless it was the perfect job and opportunity for him, because I loved my job so much... but it became more and more clear that it might be just that.

Rich also had a pretty great job here too, but this is where the nursing school story comes in. It was truly one of the hardest, but also one of the best, things I ever did. I told him that we might just be in that same situation 5 years later.

Long story short, he (we) accepted! I literally drove straight to my current school and told my principal. I think it was pretty shocking, but he is pretty wonderful, and was very supportive. He sent out an email right away, trying to find another 5th grade teacher.

It has been pretty difficult breaking the news to families who were going to be in my class, my administrators, the staff, and my wonderful teaching parter (another reason my job is so great).... but it also has become exciting in some ways too. Bittersweet, as we all know.

So we are moving back to Pueblo... I say "back" because we both went to college there.

The best thing about Pueblo is that it is close to pretty much everything. My sisters live in Denver and Colorado Springs and both our parents still live in Salida.

Here is a little map :)

So the craziest part for me is that I am leaving an amazing job for the unknown. Right?

Well, in another crazy set of events... I got all 9 documents I had to upload to the school district's application done last Thursday morning... I then left for Vegas Thursday afternoon.

On Friday, while at breakfast in Vegas,  I got a call from a school for a position... and they wanted to do a phone interview that day! EEEK!

I literally did a 30-minute phone interview in a corner, near a bell hop's closet, in a casino, in Vegas.

About an hour later, she called me, while I was in Caesar's Palace (I say this, because I actually also got married in Caesar's palace) and they offered me the job!

Super exciting but also terrifying.

It's 6th grade!... hence the 6th grade reading units pacing guide from yesterday.

AGH! I am excited for the challenge, but I feel like I just got 5th grade under my belt, and now I'm switching... but I'm working on my 6th grade reading units now.

I literally just paced out the whole 5th grade curriculum a few weeks ago! I think I might have to just wing it on the other subjects haha!

I think we are in for a few rough months....

We don't have a place to live (we are going to look this week), I am switching grade levels, I start my masters program in two weeks, have to report to school in two weeks, and we have to move 6 hours across the state.

But I also think we have a lot of exciting things coming our way. And for once, I think I actually understand that it's all part of our plan and it's exactly where we are supposed to be.

So what's my husband's job that we're uprooting our lives for?

He's has an accounting degree, and he was an auditor.....but now?

No, he's not riding bulls! But he is going to be working for Professional Bull Riding as a senior accountant. Pretty cool huh? I'm mostly excited that the finals are in Las Vegas. Ha!

So this is our life right now...

When I should have been getting my classroom ready, we are moving across the state, starting new jobs, and trying to find a place to live...

I am heading to Pueblo tomorrow... and then there might be a PART III! HA!



Crazy News and Decisions PART I

My life has been a little  A LOT insane lately and I have some pretty big news. I will get to that, but first, I want to go back to one of, if not the, hardest decisions I had to make.

These picture are a hint for PART II of this post... Any guesses?

I'm taking you back to my sophomore year of college... I was 20 years old, and although a part of me had always thought about teaching, I was actually in my first clinical for nursing school. Yep. I had made the cut and here I was... crying in a bathroom... again. I think I cry when I'm stressed :).

I had worked through three long and challenging  semesters of terrifying science classes while maintaining my GPA so I could get into, what I thought was, my dream.

Long story short, I was pretty miserable, but I thought it was just the stress of nursing school getting to me, so I carried on through care plans, class (with the same people every single day for every single class), crying during clinicals, and a serious amount of school and self-induced stress... That being said, I'm not one to "quit," so I was determined to "make it through."

Fast forward to the summer.... I got my junior year clinical and class schedule (in nursing school, they pick your classes and clinical times for you... even if it means Saturday clinicals in a town 45 minutes away).

I looked at the schedule over and over again, and just kept thinking, "I can't do this." Not to mention, I had a pretty beautiful schedule and I still didn't want to do it.

This was weeks before school started. I had spent a lot of time, money, and brain power to get where I was, so I just kept thinking of it as a countdown to get through...

I finally went to my mom, who is seriously the smartest person I know, and has an insane amount of intuition about all of her kids. Basically if she tells me to do it, I probably will. However, she often keeps her mouth shut, because she knows I have to figure it out myself.

I didn't want to tell her, because like me, she had also spent a lot of time, money, and brain power on me being in nursing school. I think I said, "I don't think I want to be a nurse," and my mom basically said, "Okay." I think I thought she would try to talk me out of it, but later she said, she didn't think I really ever wanted to be a nurse. Mother's intuition people.

Anyway, I told her "I *think* I want to go into education." It sounds like I didn't really know, but I did. I have always wanted to be a teacher more than anything, but I also thought I needed to make some money, so nursing was the natural choice. I learned very quickly how money doesn't buy happiness...while crying in the bathroom.

Weirdly enough I LOVED the school part of nursing school. The knowledge. The studying. The reading. Most of my classmates were the opposite. Loved the clinicals, and the school part was what they had to get through. This is kind of when I knew what I had to do.

It's actually really hard to switch majors if you are nursing major. They even make you talk to a counselor who's actual job is to keep nursing students in nursing school. They also had to take the holds of my account (they control your classes, account, and degree). You have to really want to "quit."

Then I had to call the education department and I signed up for 21 credit hours (after nursing school, I thought I could do 21 credits....side note... education was a different kind of hard...)

At the time, it was the hardest thing I have ever had do. I didn't know if I was making the right choice and I had invested two years of money and time into a major that I left. Plus, they really try to talk you out of it :).

Looking back now, it was hard. REALLY hard... but it was also THE BEST decision of my entire life. I could go into way more detail, but basically, the timing, the learning experiences, and the progression of it were all the best things that ever happened to me. I became a student teacher at a charter school in Grand Junction (more on that in PART II), my mentor teacher became one of my best friends, and I got hired at that same school, which is truly the best job in the world.

All of it was crazy, seemed like bad timing, and pretty difficult logistically... but it turns out, each bit of craziness led me to exactly where I was supposed to be. I can't imagine where I would be if I hadn't made this "hard" decision.

So why the long post.... well come back tomorrow for PART II for the REALLY hard decision my husband and I are making and how it is affecting me personally and professionally.

This pictures are hints.... It's kind of crazy...



Teach reading with ACTUAL NOVELS

I hope I have shown you all how passionate I am about this and I hope you all are as excited as I am to teach your 5th graders with great books.

Currently July

True story... 

I'm doing this whole post from my phone because I am on vacation... And my husband said no to brining my computer... And I don't want to go to the hotel lobby... And I am lucky enough to be this month's sponsor... So I had to post :)

It's not easy inserting all the texts in the beautiful mess app haha

We are at the most wonderful hotel in Newport Beach, CA. The pool is outside our room (along with a bat view). It's the most relaxing place I have ever been. 

Newport is truly chill California. Everything and everyone is just so chill... 

My BFF Kelly and I are driving to Vegas next Wednesday. She is actually flying to CO from North Carolina and then we are driving the rest of the way! Road trip! 

Again... So relaxed. I love it here and I don't want to leave...

Sprinkles cupcakes are made with magic. I've already eaten two and I want, no need, more.

Reader. This isn't just because I love reading. Basically if I need to learn or do something new, as long as I can read it, I can probably figure it out. I'm a reader learner :).



Stitch Fix #17... It's a good one

Hi friends,

I just got my most recent Stitchfix and I loved almost everything. I sent a message to the stylists saying that I was going to California next week, and that I would love some clothes to wear while I was there. I loved all 3 dresses in the pictures and was soooo excited to try them on. 

Papermoon Brayson Dress: $64.00
I basically knew I was keeping this before I even tried it on. I love this style and fit of dress.  

Pixley Mirin Dress: $68.00
I also knew I loved this dress when I saw it in the box too. I tried it on with my black cardigan for a teacher outfit.  I think I already want to wear this outfit for our open house this year. 

Loveappella Dixie Crochet Sleeve Dress: $78.00
I will be honest and say that this was my favorite dress in the picture card, but when I tried it on I felt like I was going to da club haha. But seriously.... the open sleeves were just not my thing and it was a little tighter than I would like.

Fun2Fun Torrance Lace Detailed Sleeveless Blouse: $38.00
I love all the details on the shirts they send me. I liked this one with jeans, but I also think it will look great with leggings and boots too. 

Pixley Curran Split Neck Blouse: $44.00
I basically tried this on for you all. I didn't really like it in the box, and I didn't like it when I tried it on either. 

So what's the damage....

KEEP:          Papermoon Brayson Dress: $64.00
KEEP:          Pixley Mirin Dress: $68.00
RETURN:    Loveappella Dixie Crochet Sleeve Dress: $78.00
KEEP:          Fun2Fun Torrance Lace Detailed Sleeveless Blouse: $38.00
RETURN:    Pixley Curran Split Neck Blouse: $44.00

If you want to try stitchfix (you know you want to).... click here to check it out. You can sign up and set up your account without committing to payment or a fix, if you are still hesitant. It is seriously my favorite thing every single month. You honestly won't regret it.