Projector Questions
Posted by newbie-tchr at 9:47 pm in 1

In my classroom I’ve got two options for displaying things for kids…old school overhead projector OR a digital projector from the computer. The issue? For reasons unbeknownst to me, my computer projector is ever so precariously balanced on…crates.

And while I love writing on things with markers, the old school projector just isn’t cutting it for me. The question is: does anyone know of a way to place the computer projector in a safer, more effective manner that makes the images large and out of the way of my students? I’ve asked the techies if it would be possible to hang it from the ceiling, and apparently that’s a no-go. I know it’s a long shot, but if anyone has creative ideas for projector “placeage” I’d be eternally grateful!

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Woes of a Teacher Work Room
Posted by newbie-tchr at 8:00 pm in 1

(I think it’s safe to say there’s a generation gap there)

At the last school I was at, there was a really  young faculty. I mean really young – the average teacher at that High school was around 27 years old. Even though I really like everyone I’m working with, the first thing I noticed was the huge change in age differences. Teaching in a suburban area with not many colleges around means that theirs definitely less rotation of teachers, and the average age of the faculty is probably closer to 41.

It’s not bad at all, but it is a little bit of a culture shock. At the last school, all of the teachers would get together and talk about our weekends, swap dating stories – and nothing off limits. At my new school – lunch room conversation has been relegated to potty training, gardening techniques, and the more than occasional gripe about students. I’ve been trying to keep it to myself all month, but I won’t lie – I hate hearing about potty training, diapers, dr’s appointments for kids, etc. Not to mention the negativity I hear vented in there about students/parents, etc. I miss the days where I went in to the teacher work room and felt like I was escaping the stresses of a bad day, and walked out feeling ten times better.

What’s funny is that I’ve slowly migrated through the teacher work room to sitting towards the younger teachers, or the male teachers. Simply because they’re the only ones who have conversations that don’t involve adolescents or things that I won’t experience in another 20 years. Today, I had a 20 minute conversation about Jon Stewart with some older male teachers, and it was the first time in two weeks that I didn’t walk out of the work room thinking “I’m so glad I don’t have kids.”  I won’t lie – it felt amazing.

I don’t mean to complain about the age gap, it’s really not bad normally. It’s actually been awesome hearing some of the stories that the more experienced teachers have the share, not to mention that without their help the past few weeks my classroom would have exploded. But sometimes, I do wish there was a rule in the lunchroom limiting how much time gets spent on conversations either being really negative or about things so unthrilling as “potty presents.”

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Long term subbing is long term exhausting
Posted by newbie-tchr at 4:39 pm in 1

 As apparent by my absence the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve been CRAZY busy with teaching 7th grade US hist. It’s awesome, but I won’t lie – coming in at the end of the year leaves a lot of things to learn and quickly catch up on. In the past few weeks I’ve had to go through training on all kinds of tech/daily routine stuff, learn 135 names in 2 days, lesson plan, grade, lesson plan – and did I say grade?

I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I get into a groove, and get used to the schedule and learn to work quicker on things that need to be done. Fantastic help though – this school has “copy moms” who come in and make all your copies you need, twice a week, and it saves SO much time. Definitely an incentive to plan ahead…which I still don’t do often enough.

The biggest transition so far is getting used to how much more involved these parents are, and the bigger load of busy work middle schoolers are given. And by busy work, I mean worksheets that I would normally never grade with 12th graders- but are expected to be graded at this age group. I get their value to some extent, they just take up soooo much time!

Besides the busy work issues – the kids are great. I have 3 G/T classes, and 2 lower level classes, one of which has an instructional assistant because of IEP requirements. The kids are great – per usual, the lower level kids are my favorite, they’re just so much more fun in my opinion. The IA is nice in regards to having someone there to help with little tasks like passing out papers, or helping my more unfocused kids stay on task, but it is a bit weird having another adult in there while you teach. Still getting used to the idea of being observed by a peer I guess. But it is fantastic, and I’m hopeful that in the coming days I’ll have more to share about technology & other issues I come to face in the classroom!

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“I can’t believe I just got pwned”
Posted by newbie-tchr at 2:50 pm in 1

One week down & I still love it. The first day I spent getting to know the kids, and the rest have been spent combining that AND trying to teach our new unit on WWII. The teacher and then long-term sub before me weren’t big on technology & while I haven’t used much, (in my book) the kids are in shock at the difference between me and them. I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools from this week in case anyone was looking for new ideas!

1. Online Stopwatch – my savior. One of my many problems is that I’m constantly running out of time & am horrible at reminding the kids to pace them selves. Enter this site – all I have to do is project a running stopwatch that counts down the minutes the kids have left on an assignment. This week I used  it to pace kids during a jigsaw activity and it worked perfectly!

2. Pandora – I know this isn’t a new site at all, but I think I use just as much at work as I do in my personal life. I’ll avoid the commercial for what I think is one of the best music sites EVER & just explain how I use this in my classroom. As a rule, music is one of my favorite behavior management techniques. Anytime there’s small group work, or an activity that’s more hands on, I play (calmish) music in the background. The kids all know my rule – as long as I can hear my music, you may talk. But the instant I can’t hear my Jack Johnson station – talking privileges are gone. It’s hilarious if you ever want to hear kids shush each other and say the words “I can’t hear Rob Thomas guys, we should really be quieter.”

3. Sporcle – Again, not a new site, but that doesn’t mean we should forget how awesome it is. What I like about Sporcle are all the quizzes they have on school appropriate, content-related, topics.  I’m making my kids take a map quiz of Europe during the WWII unit, and Sporcle is a great way to have them practice in and out of class. All I do is project it, or have students work on it in pairs and see who can answer the quiz the quickest. The kids love it, and during chill days I’ll sometimes reward them with quizzes on non-school subjects, like NFL teams, or Harry Potter. And the title of this blog post does come from a sporcle match. A child challenged me to a Harry Potter quiz-off, and after being dominated I heard him tell his friend “I can’t believe I just got pwned by Ms. B.” Haha, sorry kids.

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Highs and Lows of Subbing Art, Day 2
Posted by newbie-tchr at 11:43 pm in 1


1. Had a teacher ask if I could sub just her class, since she liked how they interacted with me.
2. I got paid to color – could not be more ok with this.
3. Kindergarteners. Could they be more adorable?


1. First Graders. Whatever happens in that year between first and kindergarten produces a lot of tattling and snot.
2.  Oil pastels, meet my khaki pants.
3.  Oil pastels, meet the classroom carpet.

Only 3 more school days until I officially take over in my new longterm sub position…SO excited to be the newest 7th grade US history teacher:)

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First day back subbing!
Posted by newbie-tchr at 9:52 am in 1


First day back subbing and I was exhausted. So exhausted I’m writing this the day after first subbing. I 100% felt like that that baby in the picture. The kids were great – I subbed for 8th grade civics at the same middle school I’ll soon be long term subbing at! The exhausting part was 1) getting used to waking up that early again, and 2) Standing allllll day in shoes that I once thought were comfortable. It’s funny, I think all my tolerance of standing for long periods of time from student teaching just got thrown to the wayside these past few months. I totally forgot how much that sucks the first week until you get used to it.

But back to the kids – they really were great. In comparison to some of the catastrophes I dealt with in high school, I actually was in shock a few times at how well-behaved they were. One period in particular – I didn’t even know it was possible for students to be that quiet. But towards the end of the class when they loosened up and started to get more comfortable, I could definitely tell Middle school will be fun. The kids were working on a President’s Cabinet research sheet, and my favorite suggestion for Department of Defense was Jackie Chan, because “his mad kong fu skills are an asset.” How can you not laugh at that?

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Cute idea!
Posted by newbie-tchr at 7:56 pm in 1

So I’ll keep this brief, but I saw this in a classroom and thought it was an adorable idea! For learning centers, I’m usually stuck labeling the centers with clumsily folded papers, propped to stand up – and usually not successfully. However, thanks to a soon to be co-worker, I think I’ll try wreath stands instead next time. Instead of my bad paper triangles, she had a wreath stand hanging the station number from every center. Just hole-punch papers to hang from the stand and voila – cleaner looking and something that students don’t easily knock down and trample! Not to mention that after the holidays, you can snag them for around 5 bucks or less from craft stores – sweet deal.

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So a few months ago, in December, I heard about a job fair for the state in my area, and probably ohhh 30 minutes before it started, I decided to go. Probably the best decision I’ve ever made, since one of the recruiters there is the principal of a middle school that’s now 20 minutes away from me. Meeting him led to an interview, a promise to put me on the preferred sub list & keep my resume on file, and as of yesterday – another interview for a long term sub position. I went in the other day for an interview with the Director of student services, and 2 teachers from the department for the long term position. After talking to them, I think that I’m the only person they’ve contacted about this AND this job comes with the promise of being hired on as a full time teacher for the following school year. Crossing my fingers harder than I ever had because this position sounds almost too good to be true. And all of this stems from a chance meeting at a job fair, and that same person continuing to help me out.

The position – 7th grade US history teacher is one of my favorite contents AND I love that age group. There’s something so fantastic about getting to be the observer of puberty and not the victim. I foresee hilarious work stories in my future with this position… I’m just so nervous! A large chunk of the rest of the year are SOL’s and preparing students for it, and I’m nervous having those grades reflect on me when (a) I didn’t teach for most of the year, and (b) they’re so overvalued in regards to my performance. Plus I’m nervous about the normal things – entering into a new classroom in the middle of the year, a new content & a lot of time preparing materials, and the parents! The area the school is in is fairly affluent, and the director and teachers have already warned me about how “over-involved” some parents are. At my last school getting parent involvement was like pulling teeth. I have NO concept of what the opposite extreme is like…yup, now that I think about it, parents are definitely the thing I’m most nervous about. Help?!

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Posted by newbie-tchr at 5:11 pm in 1

So after a month and a half of filling out forms, online interviews, a TB test and a scramble to find all the necessary paperwork – I’ve finally heard back from the county I’m applying to be a sub in and can officially start next Thursday! If I weren’t so excited to finally get back into a classroom, I’d be flabbergasted at how long all of this took. And amazed at how something so little as snow in the county can shut them down for dayyyyyyyssss.

But ignoring that – very excited to finally get back in a classroom and put my degree to use. I am a little nervous – I won’t know any of these kids, for one. During student teaching, by the time I was left alone in the class I had already established a solid relationship with most students. Not having that to rely on will definitely make it a different experience. That, and I’m a little scared of getting a subject that I’m totally and utterly clueless about. I was telling my best friend about it on the phone, and even she laughed and asked what I would do if given a math class. Umm, if it’s above an 8th grade level? Is praying that teacher assigns a movie day ok?

For the time being, I’m just excited I’m finally (almost) in the system. I think I’ll worry about the potential high-level math classes I could get when that comes.

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From now on, my resume will read “Nation Builder.”
Posted by newbie-tchr at 4:25 pm in 1

The day before last I watched Obama’s State of the Union with my fiance, and could not help being extremely excited about all the amazing things he was saying about teachers. Regardless of party, it’s pretty humbling to hear the President of the United States talk about your profession in such a manner.

My favorite part was actually where he told the story of teachers in Korea, and how they are instead called “Nation Builders,” because of their impact on the nation’s youth. It always strikes me how much the US takes education for granted when you compare it to countries, like Korea, that haven’t always had the access and availability we’re so accustomed to.

Even in the US though, I’ve seen the discrepancies in the school systems that Obama was calling Congress to notice. As a military brat, I’ve lived pretty much all over the US – or at least that’s what it feels like. Excluding one year of private high school in Alabama it was all public education. Moving around let me experience some amazingly advanced school systems, like Fairfax County, VA and Eagle River, Alaska. Unfortunately, there were some not so great ones…which will go unnamed. My own experience of hopping through the school systems led to a lot of gaps and discrepancies in my education, which can be immediately blamed on the lack of consistency in state standards of education. Embarrassing as it is, I never learned fractions, because Alaskan schools were two years ahead of Alabama schools in math. (whoops) I learned cursive two years in a row because of the difference in Ohio and Alaska school systems, AND didn’t learn the confederate capitol was Richmond (not Montgomery) until I was a junior in high school. (This led to an extremely embarrassing situation where I asked the teacher if the textbooks were printed incorrectly in front of an entire class)

Clearly there’s more work to be done than getting more teachers. Standards need to be aligned, and made universal, and we need to help some districts and even states catch up to the more advanced ones. But, as Obama pointed out, the place to start is with teachers – especially well-educated and trained teachers with a will to help make it better.

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