Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Merit Pay for Teachers

Merit pay is the big topic of conversation here in Georgia. I am totally against the proposal of merit pay, so my blood starts boiling every time I read about the possibility of my state (or any states) moving toward that kind of teacher pay system.  After reading a few recent articles on the topic, I was inspired to write this post. Click HERE for one of the articles. If you are interested in sharing this post on facebook or other social media, scroll down for an image version. Thank you for taking the time to read.  I do realize that there are differing views on this topic.  I would love to hear yours in the comments section below.


What is merit?
By definition, it is the quality of being particularly good.
Or, the quality of being worthy,
Especially so as to deserve praise or reward.
In the case of school teachers, their merit could soon determine their pay.
But, how do you determine a teacher’s merit?
Who gets to determine the value of a teacher?
Who gets to decide their individual worth?
The reality is, no one in particular will determine the teacher’s worth.
The truth is, circumstances will govern their merit.
Circumstances that change from year to year will decide if a teacher is valuable.
Whose circumstances affect the teacher’s pay?
The students that are placed in that teacher’s classroom.
Every year it’s a new set of circumstances.
That’s right. I guess the teacher could be valuable one year and worth significantly less the next.
It really depends on the circumstances.
A teacher’s merit won’t be determined by the hours she works.
It won’t be determined by her degrees.
It won’t be determined by the extra tutoring sessions after school.
It won’t be determined by the supplies she purchased with her own money.
It won’t be determined by the trainings she attended twice a week after school.
It won’t be determined by the hours spent re-teaching a concept to the same child day after day.
It won’t be determined by the phone calls home and conferences she tried to schedule.
It won’t be determined by her sleepless nights wondering how to help a child.
It won’t be determined by the highly focused lessons she planned and taught each day.
It won’t be determined by her twenty years of successful teaching.
It won’t be determined by winning Teacher of the Year two times in those twenty years.
Really?.....not even Teacher of the Year?
Titles mean nothing when it comes to Merit Pay.
She has a new set of challenges this year. The village she needs in order to help the students is nowhere to be found.
Her students are well below grade level.
Some are abused.
Some are hungry.
Some spend their evenings babysitting younger siblings. They fall asleep to the TV at midnight.
Some sleep in hotels.  Others sleep in cars.
Remember that word…. Circumstances.
No food, no parental involvement, no home.
No love, no dedication, no care.
No doctors, No dentists.
 Their clothing is too small and their hair isn’t brushed.
These circumstances will determine the teacher’s pay.
Politicians say her students should leave her class reading on grade level.
The reality is… they came to her not reading at all.  Some have never had a story read to them at home.
The politicians say her students should leave her class writing a two page story.
The reality is… they came to her not writing their name. One child didn’t even know his name.
Circumstances are no way to determine value.

I appreciate you 'liking' me on facebook, tweeting about what I post, or pinning my ideas on Pinterest.

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"My Personal Side" Link Up: Favorite Cup or Mug

I love teacher blogs.  I love reading about teachers' classrooms and all of the great ideas teachers have. With that said though, I also LOVE getting a glimpse inside their personal lives.  You know, it doesn't have to be much..... maybe their favorite food, an activity they did with their own kids, that hot new car they just bought, or whatever!  It's just fun to see the person behind the blog. It makes things real for me.  It's a human connection and not just a teacher connection.

And, because I love gaining insight into people's lives.... no, not the stalking kind of insight :-), just fun little tidbits of info, this link-up has been born.  It's called "My Personal Side", and it will allow teachers to share a little about themselves based on the topic given. I am not quite sure about the schedule of things yet, but there will be lots of upcoming topics.


So, here we go!
This first link up is sharing something we all use every day... a cup, a mug, a favorite drink! I have a favorite mug that has a positive message, and it's one that goes hand in hand with my TpT.  It has a quote from Steve Jobs on it that says, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." I love designing classroom materials so much that it simply doesn't seem like work at all.  When I read this message, it reminds me that life is short, so find and do something that you love. It's a daily reminder.
What will you find me drinking in my mug?  I like to drink coffee in the mornings, typically it is Krispy Creme brand and I can find it at Kroger.  I add milk and Splenda.  It's a perfect way to start my day. During the day, I love Diet Coke. Is it bad that I stop at Sonic almost every day for a large Diet Coke.  Happy Hour is my favorite because it's half price...  Cheers!


How about you?

Join the fun by posting your favorite mug or cup. Tell us what you like to drink. Link back to this post, and we can all get to know each other, the people behind the blogs.
Feel free to use the top image when you post. It can be pinned too from your blog.

When you link up, please title the image with "your name and  blog name" and then link directly to the post.  Try to use a picture of your cup/mug. Can't wait to read these!

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Patrick's Day for Kindergarten

Looking for a fun and easy St. Patrick's Day activity?  Here are two I made for primary grades. One is a basic St. Patrick's themed trace and color activity, and the other focuses on the when, why, and how of the holiday; when is St. Patrick's Day celebrated, why is it celebrated, and how is it celebrated. These have many uses, such as a center activity, a whole group activity as a follow up to a read aloud, or use them however you would like.

St. Patrick's Day When, Why, and How Activity -HERE

St. Patrick's Day Trace and Color Activity - HERE

Hope you have a lucky day! :-)

Thank you for sharing on facebook, pinning, and leaving comments.  I really appreciate all!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Motivational Poem About People

Sometimes life offers an opportunity to be inspired, just like it did for me the other day.
Through that inspiration came this poem about people. While writing it, I was motivated to think about me as a person.  I hope it can motivate you to do the same. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Thank you for sharing  with your friends.  
I appreciate facebook likes, pinning to pinterest, and even tweets. :-) 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Decorating Valentine Bags

Today I had fun decorating a Valentine bag with my four year old son. It was actually an assigned activity for his preschool class.  Things like this become huge projects with a preschooler! In addition to the bag, we put together some Valentine cards with heart shaped ring suckers. I made him write his own name on all of the 15 cards, which he didn't like.  I got a lot of the, "My hand is soooo tired!"   LOL.... I even let him do 4-5 at a time with a pretty long break,  but I still got a few complaints.  He did have fun decorating the bag though.  We used  a white gift bag and painted it with colored glitter paint.  He then added some sparkly glitter dragons to the front and back.  I cut out some felt heart stickers that he also added to the front and back, and then he put all kinds of other Valentine themed stickers on the sides.  He added his name to the top.  Yeah, I know the 'h' is lower case, but oh well.... there wasn't a capital one in the pack. :-)

If you are looking for a Valentine bag idea for upper elementary, I made this fun bag activity, and it can be found in my TpT store.  It lets students share a little about themselves, and it also has a book report sheet the kids fill out and glue to the back.  They get to share about a book they LOVE.  After they bring it to school and present to the class, they get to fill it with all of the Valentine cards their friends brought them.  Even big kids love Valentine's Day activities.  It's one of my favorite days of the school year. :-)

Find the Printable activity in my TpT store.

Thank you for sharing these activities with your friends.  
We appreciate facebook likes, pinning to pinterest, and even tweets. :-)  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

21 Sayings Elementary Teachers Can Relate To

Got a little creative today in my thinking.  Can you relate to any?

Thank you for sharing on facebook, tweeting, and pinning to Pinterest.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr. Activity for Kindergarten

If you are looking for a basic Martin Luther King, Jr. activity for your kindergarten kiddos, then this "Trace, Color, and Write" activity might be perfect. It has some basic facts about Martin Luther King, Jr. for kids to read and trace, an MLK image for kids to trace around, and printed lines for them to share their own dream for the world. 

It would make a great literacy center activity or even use it for morning work.  It would also work as a follow-up activity after you read a book on Martin Luther King, Jr.  Use it in your classroom however you would like, and please do pin the image below.  
Click the link below to download. Enjoy!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Activity

Thank you for sharing on facebook, pinning to Pinterest, and Tweeting about this activity.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Goal Setting for Teachers

If you are anything like me,  then you set goals for yourself.  When it comes to my goals though, I tend to set lofty goals, and I often times set too many goals.  I end up being hard on myself when I don’t meet them, and I am sometimes left feeling defeated, almost like I haven’t really accomplished much at all.  This can apply to goals in teaching, fitness, family, whatever.  Sometimes with my goal setting, I aim high, usually looking too far into the future, which can be a real problem. It can cause me to skip over the present, making me lose sight of all of the “baby-step goals” that I need to accomplish in order to meet the ultimate long-term goal. 

Think of baby-step goals as the step by step plan for reaching the “big-picture goal”.  My big-picture goal may be to lose 20 pounds, but my baby-step goal for today may be that I just need to make sure I walk for 30 minutes.  Another big-picture goal may be to have all students in my class reading on grade level by the end of the year, but my baby-step goal for today may be to implement a strategy to help Johnny learn the few basic sight words he has been struggling with. 

When I think of goal setting in education, I can’t help but think about the lofty long-term goals and how much stress they cause teachers.  As I reflect on my goal setting as a teacher, I think about all of the grand goals I have set over the years. The reality of it is, someone else usually set those lofty goals for me, which is why I always felt so stressed. It was up to me though to figure out how to meet those goals. 

When I say goals were set for me, they really were.  Goals like...... all of my kids will be reading on grade level by the end of the year. Another goal was 100% of my students will score on-grade-level in math. Those goals are fine and dandy, but they are so long term, so ‘big picture’. They seem so out of reach, especially if you are a 4th grade teacher and you have kids reading on a first grade level. Because of that, I struggled for years to even see the baby-step goals that I was accomplishing each day.

Having baby-step goals can give you a sense of accomplishment, especially as a teacher.  Teaching can be overwhelming, stressful, and many days we can leave feeling like we worked our tails off, and we barely feel one step closer to meeting the big-picture goal. The problem is, you can’t see and appreciate the present because you are so focused on the future. You know that saying, "just stop and smell the roses", well.. sometimes we need to do that. 

And that's where sticky notes come in. 
It's a bright idea that helps me focus on the present. 

Sticky notes for goal setting? Yep! It's so easy and worth while.

Each week when you are making your lesson plans, take a minute to think of one "baby-step goal" for that day.  For example, on Monday, maybe you want to make sure you meet with your low readers for 30 minutes.  You are going to take a sticky note, write the goal, and stick it with the plans for that day.  On Tuesday, maybe you want to set a baby-step goal to pull 5 kids in math to review multiplication. 

Keep in mind that those baby-step goals mentioned above are both factors in helping you meet the "big-picture" goals.  Like the goal you set for yourself to pull low readers. That  baby-step goal is going to help you meet the big- picture goal of helping you have all kids on grade level by the end of the year.  Likewise, when you pull 5 kids to review multiplication, that is also helping you work toward the big-picture goal of getting  100% of your kids on grade level.

Once you accomplish your daily baby-step goal, you can either throw the sticky note away, leave it in place in our plans, or you can keep a running journal of all your accomplishments, which would mean removing the sticky note from your plans and adding it to a journal composition notebook.  By the end of the week you will have met 5 great goals.  By at the end of the month, you will have met about 25 goals. At the end of the year, you will have met 180 goals. That's a lot of sticky notes to reflect on! It's something to be proud of.

Why just one goal a day?  I know I can do more than that.

You are not just accomplishing one thing each day.  You may actually accomplish ten things in a day or more. That’s great, fine, and dandy!  The idea behind this little sticky note goal-setting plan is to start each day with one goal, one thing you want to make sure you accomplish, and then walk out each day having met that goal.  It's a way for you to feel accomplished.  It's a way for you to leave work each day knowing that you achieved what you set out to do. That's a good feeling! 

So, what are you waiting for?  Take a look at your lesson plans, grab some sticky notes, and start setting a daily goal.

OH!  and here is something else wonderful about this little goal setting activity.  If you get to then end of the year and you don't have 100% of your kids on grade level (after all, you knew they set an unrealistic goal for you to begin with)..... you will be able to see 180 goals you did accomplish.  Don't feel defeated.  Feel proud!!

Please do check out other bright ideas by visiting the links below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my TpT store for great lesson ideas.
Elementary Lesson Plans TpT Store

Friday, January 2, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers App

I can not tell you how many times I have used my Teachers Pay Teachers app. Being a seller, I started using it on my IPhone when it was released, which means I must have used it for a couple of years.  I get on the app many times a day to check my feedback, respond to questions, check sales, etc.  So, the big question is... WHY HAVE I NEVER NOTICED?  Noticed what,  you may ask.  Why have I never noticed that the little arrow thingy at the top actually does something!!! That's right!  The little arrow image (I never really looked at it as an arrow, but I guess that is what it is supposed to be) between the freebie and sale items .... well, it will actually pull up a list of random sellers if you swipe your finger across it from top to bottom. Honestly, I always thought it was just a decoration.  And get this.... once the page of sellers comes up, swipe your finger from right to left across the screen, and an entire new page of sellers comes up.  Crazy!  But here is the deal, unless you can tell it actually does something and you aren't even aware those are little arrows, why would you swipe your finger across it from top to bottom!  So, it makes perfect sense.  

And, you might be wondering why I finally swiped it after a couple of years.  Well, I got an IPhone 6 plus for Christmas, and it got my attention now that my screen was huge :-)

Now, some of you might have realized this information about the Teachers Pay Teachers app, and if you did, well then I guess you are not as clueless as me....LOL!!  Okay, maybe not clueless, but after I realized it, I had to ask some of my top seller friends who have been around as long as me on TpT to see if they knew it actually performed an action.  THANK GOODNESS I was not the only one!!!  Many sellers were not aware. In fact, most everyone I asked had no clue. Even my good friend Deanna Jump, TpT's #1 seller,  didn't know.  Lordy, that made me feel so much better :-)  So, what about you?  Did you know, or are you in the 'clueless' category? 

If you don't have the app, you can download it for free in the iTunes store.


Thanks for pinning this post, sharing on facebook, or tweeting.
You can check out my Elementary Lesson Plans TpT store HERE.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Brain Breaks Video

Fun Brain Breaks Activity

Do you have fidgeting kids?  Do you need to take a moment to let them get their wiggles out? Maybe it's time for a brain break!

 Sometimes if you just allow students a few minutes to get their energy out with a "brain break", they will become better listeners and learners once you start the lesson back up. I created a little video that takes no preparation.  Just click play and let your kids have a few minutes to move their body. Brain breaks are a great way to improve the  mood of you and your students.  After all, it can be quite entertaining to see kids move and groove, bend and reach, and skip in place. There is also lots of humor to be found when the teacher joins in. But, the best part is they can get a little break and then get back to the lesson. There are two options for watching the video.  You can watch it right here via YouTube, or you can go download it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

Brain Breaks Video

If you would prefer to download it from my store, just click this link: Brain Breaks

Thank you for pinning this post or sharing on facebook! :-)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Interactive Social Studies Notebooks

I made this video to help teachers better understand my interactive social studies notebooks.  
To purchase my social studies interactive notebooks, click the link below. You can then scroll through my entire selection of close reading and notebook options. Enjoy!

Social Studies Interactive Notebooks

Note.... It may help with the quality of the video if you click the wheel in the lower bottom right corner, and then choose the top number for the highest quality, which is 480p. I think this helps especially if you go full screen. It is best viewed in a smaller screen. I may need to work on my video skills :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Classroom Library Poster

I can't believe it's already FALL! 

Actually, I didn't even know yesterday was the first day of Fall until my 4 year old informed me.  That's right!  My preschooler.It went something like this... 

I was sitting out in the back yard while my little guy was playing in his sand box.  Keep in mind the temp was the high 80's here in Georgia. He looks over at the fire pit and asks, "Can we build a fire?"  I was like, "Are you kidding, it's hot out here!"  Of course he asked again... and again!  You know how that goes.  My next comment was, "We need to wait til Fall!"  His eyes got wide as he said, "It is FALL!!"  Oh my.... I mean, I knew Fall was nearing, but I didn't know it was already here. :-)  I was like, "How do you know that?" His response, "We put it on our calendar at school today." My first thought was, "Crap!  We can NOT build a fire!!  (haha).  My second thought was, "YES! He is a good listener at school!"  He always keeps me on my toes.

In case you are fire! I know... bad mommy!  We  ended up having a good conversation about the temperature and how it really was not a good time to build a fire, and he was okay with that. Soon though!! He is an understanding little guy.

But, it is Fall Y'all.... so, with that in mind, I hope you can use this fun little fall reading poster I made. Perfect for your classroom library. Just click the link below.  Just trim it down, pop it in a frame, and place it in your reading center.  If you have a bookshelf in your classroom library, place it right on top. Or, don't use a frame at all.  Just laminate and hang. Your kids will love it, and it just might inspire them. Enjoy!

Classroom Library

Thank you for visiting my blog.  For fun and creative lesson ideas, please visit my store by clicking the link below.

Click HERE for Elementary Lesson Plans 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ice Breaker Activities for the First Day of School

Yes, that's me :-)

Ice Breaker Activities for the First Day of School

Ice breaker activities can help make your students feel more comfortable.
If you are like me, you know the feeling of uneasiness that comes along with walking into a room full of people you don't know.  I ran into that at the recent Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in Vegas. It was  800 people I had never met, and although I warmed up to everyone, it took some mingling to help make that happen.  Mingling is a great way for your students to get to know each other on the first day of school.  I have used lots of different ice breaker activities over the years, one of which is the 'get to know your classmates scavenger hunt'.  It's a fun activity, but many of the kids have done it before.  In an effort to change it up a little, I came up with my version, which is called Bubble Gum Buddies.  It's the same concept, but it's bubble gum themed and the kids get to chew gum while they walk around. I also included a version without gum chewing just in case anyone was forbidden to have gum in the classroom. Bummer if that is the case! Keep in mind that it's only about 25 minutes of gum chewing and bubble blowing, so it's not too big of a deal. Have your camera ready because it is going to make for some cute pictures.

Get this fun Ice Breaker Activity by clicking HERE

You can also find the ice breaker activity in my back-to-school bundled activity pack for upper elementary. It has 15 activities to choose from at a reduced price.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great time getting to know your new students.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest Blog Post for Laura Candler's Corkboard Connections

Calling all Laura Candler fans!! 
If you are like me, you have been a fan of hers for years. With that said, I am sure you can imagine how honored I was to write a guest blog post for her Corkboard Connections blog. The post is now live and ready for you to enjoy. It's a positively fun post with tips on how to  bring smiles to your classroom.  You can check it out by clicking the link below. There is a freebie  download included in the post. 

 After reading it, take a moment to look around her blog anTeaching Resources website where you will find many other great teaching ideas. She has lots of  printable resources, some of which are free. Enjoy!

Guest Post:  5 Ways to Make Your Students Smile

If you are interested in having me guest post on your blog, I am always open for the invitation. Just send me an email using the link on the sidebar and we can discuss the details.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teacher Burnout

Although I have been in the classroom for  nearly twenty years, it has been the last ten years or so where teacher burnout has become so prevalent.  It's a sad reality that great teachers all over the country are leaving teaching, or even the field of education, to never return.  We all see the open letters floating around the Internet from teachers exiting the classroom.  It's their way of saying why they simply can't do it any longer.  

The start to a new school year is a great time to give yourself a little reminder that teachers are not Superheroes.  Even though we are pushed into Superhero expectations, we are not.  So, take a breather, enjoy my little video, and start your new year knowing that you are not alone when you feel overwhelmed.  Remember to take a moment for yourself when you need it.  

Also, you might find this little list of back-to-school teacher tips helpful.  It's from a former post and can be found here: Back to School Teacher Tips
Teacher Superhero

Feel free to share a link to this post.  Thank you. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

10 Things I learned in Vegas for the TpT Conference

There were so many things I learned or confirmed in Vegas
These are just 10 fun thoughts.   TpT is the best!!!

1. “A tpt cha-ching is better than a slot machine!”  (lost $3 but sold a $4 item all in the same 2 minutes).  That was the comment my husband made when I was like, “Crap!  And people bet thousands and lose!!” I was sad at 3 bucks!!   For those that buy from me... thank you for helping to support me and my family.  You are appreciated!

2. I’m not the only one that has gained TpT weight.  Several mentioned it, even a presenter.  Need to be better about that exercise and quit with the Twinkies. 

3. OMG....The Venetian is  beautiful, but Italian music is not for me. 

4. YES!!  I finally got to meet so many absolutely wonderful teachers.  I have  been talking to many of the teachers  online  for years and it was the coolest thing to see the non-virtual version. The tips I learned at the seminars were very much appreciated.

5. My shy (somewhat introverted) self wanted to walk away from the large crowds  of people, but I overcame that and I’m glad I did.  A glass of sparkly red helps.

6. Actually, this wasn't  just learned, but it was confirmed.  Joining TpT five years ago was spot on.  I thought it was brilliant then.  I KNOW it is brilliant now.

7. Okay, this was learned going to and from the conferences, but none the less.... I confirmed I don’t want to be an airline flight attendant.  I mean, really!!  Who in their right mind likes to sit for four hours beside  a  2x2 foot bathroom being used by a hundred or more people.  I appreciate them, for sure.  Just  don’t want to be one. 

8. Oh, when someone hands you a "two for the price of one" coupon in Vegas …………um, …. Well, ….yeah.... it's not your typical BOGO offer. 

9. The team at TpT is just as wonderful in person as they are online.  I mean, like totally awesome!!!  Enough said.

10. For ten, I will focus on 10.  I can not wait to see where TpT is in 10 years.  Totally can't wait!  The teachers’ lives being changed, the students’ lives being changed…. I am going to go so far as to say changing the world!!  I’m so glad I am along for the ride.

Me with  Amy from the TpT team.  LOVE Amy!!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

Want to hear what other teachers thought?  Click the link below to read more.

A Burst of First Vegas Linky- Click HERE


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