Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Day that London Arrived in California

Boy oh boy!  One of my favorite things about the technology we have available to us is the many many MANY totally amazing things we can do that we definitely could not do without it!  I had never used Skype in the classroom before, but came across a wonderful opportunity for my students on the Skype in the classroom website: skyping with a published poet/play write/author...IN LONDON.

Last Thursday we had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Coelho (Poetry Joe) via Skype.  As cool as it was that my students were talking with a published poet, the coolest thing was the fact that there was a person who was IN London, IN my classroom in Southern California.

We had just finished our district performance task on opinion writing and were getting ready to start a poetry unit, so this was a great way to kick it off!  Poetry Joe had an entire lesson prepared in which he shared poems with my class and got them involved every step of the way.  He was wonderful when it came to responding to questions my third graders thought of throughout the lesson; and even made up a poem on the spot for them!  I could see the confidence levels rising in my classroom as he asked them questions, they got to share their ideas, and they participated in his poems.  One of my students even came up with a monster poem (that rhymed) on the spot!

I was amazed by the amount of teamwork and support my students exhibited throughout the Skype session; from helping each other come up with ideas to waiting patiently and helping out when the internet connection failed (many times) they were fabulous, engaged, and awestruck!

After the Skype session I had my students do a quick write in which they could respond to the session with Poetry Joe in ANY (written) way they wanted too.  Some chose to write sentences that rhymed, some wrote about their thoughts in response to the new things they learned, and some wrote poems!  Everything that was written during our quick write time was thoughtful, creative, and deeper than anything my students had written before.

Being able to bring a poet in London to my classroom is one of the best experiences I have been able to provide my students this year.  I quickly saw a shift in my students' thinking from thinking poetry was hard, awkward, and not fun to thinking poetry is easy, natural, and very fun!  I even have a student who now plans on becoming a poet!  This was just our first experience with Skype in the classroom, but now that I've seen the positive impact it had on my students we will most definitely be skyping with many more professionals throughout the year!

Monday, March 2, 2015


First off, thank you to those of you who have already read my few posts.  This blog is new, new to the internet, new to me, just new all around; and I never expected this many people would read it or comment on it.  I decided to do it for me, hoping that someone would benefit from it along the way.  I'm starting with no expectations, because if I do set expectations I know I'll never stick with it.  When I have something to say or to share and I have the time, it'll show up here.  If I don't have the time, it'll get added to the already growing list of things I want to blog about someday (when I actually have time).

Secondly, I feel I need to clarify something I said in my very first post.  THANK YOU to those of you who have brought light to it.

From my first post: "I've been thinking of starting a blog, but have hesitated because who really wants to read what goes on in my head and in my classroom?"

I have received a tremendous amount of responses surrounding this one question, including an entire blog post (found here: which states:

That sentence really stuck out to me- how does our educational system complete its
task with someone coming out thinking their ideas are not worth reading about?

I know my ideas are worth reading about, it's more a matter of who the audience is and whether or not they are wanting to read them.  The Teacher Education Program at UCSB relies on teacher candidates sharing their ideas and building off others' ideas.  I am guilty of all too often finding a resource on Pinterest or Google, hopping on the person's blog, grabbing the resource, and not even looking at a word they wrote.  If I do it, I know there are others!  That doesn't mean their ideas weren't worth reading, I just didn't have the time.

People brought up a great point.  Although I do believe my thoughts and the happenings in my classroom are worth reading about, there may be many people who do not have that same feeling about themselves.  That's one of the great things about the technology we use in our classrooms now.  When I was in elementary school the things we wrote were shared with our teachers, our class, and our parents.  Google Drive wasn't a thing back then.  Now, the things my kids write have a SHARE button on them!  These thoughts and ideas and stories can be sent anywhere in the world with the click of a button.  I am a product of the school system that thinks my ideas are worth sharing/reading, and I know my students will definitely find themselves worthy of that same task.

I am excited to share ideas and learn from others along the way as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Creating Disneyland

One of my first thoughts after I found out I had been hired was: "Which one of my 100 classroom theme ideas am I going to pick?"  And once I'd picked one: "How in the world am I going to make this dream a reality?"

Disneyland.  I was going to create Disneyland.

Panorama of my room from the front
Divider in the back of my room in attempt to form a wall to block out the hallway

I finally found a good use for all my ear hats!

Literature to Disney films
Class library is closest to camera, looking into my classroom from hallway
Since setting to work and creating my dream classroom, I have found myself in many conversations asking how I picked Disney, why I did, when I started loving Disney, and the likes.  Yeah, I love Disneyland.  Some of my favorite memories are with my family and friends at Disneyland.  But the thing is, my classroom isn't Disney themed because I love Disneyland.  It's because of what Disneyland stands for: magic, imagination, youth, belief, fun, laughter, memories.

I believe learning should be everything Disneyland stands for.  My classroom environment encourages and reminds my students to use their imaginations, believe in the magic of life and learning, enjoy being kids, be creative, laugh, believe in themselves and their classmates, and have fun.  The decorations prompt conversations about how Walt Disney created Disneyland from just an idea and allow us to draw parallels to our own learning.

My classroom environment also provides a fun, safe place for my students to come and learn each day.  For some, it serves as an escape from their home life.

Your classroom is your students' home 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days a year.  As a teacher, you "live" there many more hours a day, 5-7 days a week, and definitely more than 180 days a year.  I believe you have to feel comfortable there in order for your students to feel comfortable there.  It needs to be a place you love to be.

What They Don't Tell You When You're a First Year

There are so many things that teachers know, or in a first year teacher's case, there are so many things that we need to know.  But no one tells us because they all already know.  It's no fault of theirs, teachers are busy, and teachers know these things, so they don't realize that we don't know.  This is by no means everything I've thought of this year, but it's what has come to mind today.

  • Fire drills, earthquake drills, and lock down drills!
    • You need to know where your class goes when they evacuate, where your emergency backpack is, and what the protocol is for lock downs.  For me, I teach in an open space school, which means there are other doors I need to lock in the event of a lock down.
  • Playground rules
    • It seems silly, but different schools have different rules!  Don't wait until you're on duty for the first time to realize that you have no clue what to do.
  • Where everything is
    • Yeah, that's a tough one.  You'll figure the basics out quickly, but if you don't ask where you can find things, you'll never know.
  • Who to contact for all your needs
    • Let's face it, a kid is going to throw up in your classroom's already happened to me.  And you need to know how to find the custodian.
    • When will you need your office staff?
    • What about PTA? - When it comes to fundraisers, PTA is usually who you'll need to contact for questions, extras, and basic information.
    • Health Office - A lot of schools/teachers have different opinions on when kids really need to go to the nurse.  Get a feel for the general opinion at your school, or else you're going to be the one who they'll say "from ___'s class again?"
    • Resource staff - You're going to have students who will need resources classes, and you will have students who already go to resource classes.  What they do in those classes, although helpful, is not as helpful for you if you are not in communication with the resource staff.  You want to know what your students are doing with them and how you can continue that in your classroom.
  • When report cards go out, and when they are due to your principal
  • Lunch
    • Where students with peanut allergies eat lunch (peanut free table)
    • Do you have to do a lunch count in the morning?  We never did when I was in elementary school, so I had no clue that was even a thing!  Also, your cold lunch kids may need a cold lunch slip.  Don't send them out without one!
  • Which students' photos can/cannot be posted online
There's obviously more, but to really list it all would make an exhausting read!  (Especially for those new teachers looking for what they need to know!)  Feel free to add what you wish you'd known during your first year of teaching in the comments.

About Me

My dream has been teaching for as long as I can remember.  I consider myself blessed that I knew from a young age what I wanted to do with my life and was able to stick with it and make that dream a reality.

I graduated with my teaching credential and Masters in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014.  Currently, I'm enjoying the crazy adventures of being a first year teacher.

My third graders bring so much laughter and joy to my life.  All of the late nights and hard work is worth it when I see my kids faces as they enter my classroom or begin a special activity.  As frustrating as teaching can be sometimes, my third graders serve as a wonderful reminder that this job is a blessing.

Outside of teaching, I love spending time with my family; cuddling with my chocolate lab, Gracie; singing; playing softball; and going to Disneyland!
I attended a mind blowing talk with Kevin Honeycutt last week and he made a very convincing point about teachers telling our stories.  I've been thinking of starting a blog, but have hesitated because who really wants to read what goes on in my head and in my classroom?  Kevin really made me think: if I don't put it out there, no one can read it.  And if I do just go for it and start posting, maybe, just maybe, someone will come across it and find something of use or some inspiration on a tough day.

Well, here it goes!