Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Secret Pal: Keeping Morale Going All Year Long

It's that time of year again! Back to school!
The time of year when teachers are excited and eager to start a new year. Well, most teachers. I hope.
Unfortunately, the new-ness of the school year doesn't take long to wear off. We are into routines and curriculum in just a few days and it's back to the "school-daze".

As teachers we spend much of our time making sure that our kids have everything they need, especially emotional needs. But we have emotional needs too!! Sometimes we need someone to ask how our day was, give words of encouragement, or just let us know they were thinking of us.
Cue Secret Pal!

I started Secret Pal at my school last year. I wanted to be able to encourage other teachers and staff at my school and to get encouragement as well.

At the beginning of the school year, each teacher who wishes to participate signs up. Secret Pal should always be voluntary! Once everyone has signed up, I put a survey in their school mailbox. The survey asks simple questions about some of their favorite things: color, snack food, restaurant, ect. I make sure that I number each survey and tell everyone NOT to put their name on the survey as these will go to their secret pal.

I create a log of each teacher who is participating and their survey number and put it into a binder. I also keep a copy of their survey in the same binder. Next, I mix up the surveys and redistribute them into participate's mailboxes, making sure no one gets their own! If any participant loses their SP survey during the year, a new copy can be made from the binder. Now that each teacher/staff member has a secret pal, the fun begins!!

Each month all participants are notified of the monthly theme. I try to make them fun, but general enough it will be easy to find a gift to go along. Secret Pals are asked to give a thoughtful gift between $5-$10 and include a note each month.
I know several pals gave extra little gifts throughout the month.

(I'd also love to hear some of your ideas for monthly themes! These are just a few of my ideas, but I know you guys are super creative :))

This worked well at my school and it was a great way to keep morale up, especially during those tough months (October!? April!?). This also gave several teachers/staff members from different grade levels and areas of our school to get to know each other better.

Let me know what you guys think? Is this something that is already done at your school? Is it something YOU could start?

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Guess who's back, back again?! Stephanie's back, tell a friend! (seriously, go tell people.)

Okay guys...I have been MIA since NOVEMBER due to some unfortunate personal reasons. If you didn't miss me #itsokay, but it is good to be back and I cannot believe that B2S season is already among us!

To get back into this bloggy business I am linking up with the Fab Farley for Currently August.

Listening: I'm in bed. I'm supposed to be asleep in bed. My fan is on. My pup is snoring. I'm awake in bed. Insomnia at its finest, people.

Loving: I finally took some time to pull out my Silhouette Cameo, dust it off, and put it to use. I monogrammed a new water bottle, which I hope will help me drink more water during the school day and I personalized a new school clipboard for me and one for a friend. 

I found these clipboards at Wal-Mart. They open so you can store papers and pens on the inside - NEAT-O!

Thinking: I'm thinking about my never ending to-do list. I just added like four things to my list in my phone, seriously. The madness has begun.

Wanting: OMG the TPT B2S sale starts tomorrow today and I'm super excited. Check-out, aisle two!

Needing: I said I was going to go to bed before midnight and try to get back into a routine since I have one week of summer left. Welp, obviously that didn't happen...

B2S RAK: I'm in charge of Secret Pal at my school, which I guess makes it not-so-random, but I love giving a little something special to my secret pal each month. It really builds community among our faculty and staff, and the themes always keep it interesting and fun!! I already have August's gift wrapped and ready to go!

If you haven't linked up for this month's CURRENTLY yet, what are ya' waiting for?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Listening: Unfortunately, I am listening to CNN: Election Night. My hubby is definitely a politics buff. Not I! I guess since I have my school bag beside me and I'm on the computer, he assumes I am working and do not need to be entertained by good television!

Loving: I am loving that I have had a four day weekend. After Red Ribbon Week and Halloween on Friday, I definitely needed several days to recoup. Although, I hate that I always have a doctor appointment scheduled on days off- no fun!

Thinking: Our school submitted an application for Palmetto's Finest School Award and we were picked for a school visit! Our visit is next Monday and the whole school is busy, busy. Our principal pretty much gave us a list of what we need to do and how our rooms should look before the team comes on Monday. I am thinking about the things I want to get done when I get back to school tomorrow.

Wanting: I am a little behind on grading! I brought home a stack to grade over my nice, long weekend, but that didn't happen! A teacher just needs a true break every now and then. I enjoyed my time with my hubby and puppy. The papers will wait until after school tomorrow.

Needing: I really want to start working on my Master's degree next year. I'm trying to decide between a hybrid program at a local college or if I want to try it all online!? Suggestions/opinions??

Reading:  Gone Girl...I just started it, like today! We are planning a double date with some friends to see it this weekend so hopefully I will finish it by then!!

Happy November! 
Don't forget to link up with Farley for lots of currently fun!

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'mma let you finish but...

 I have been nominated by the fabulous Megan at A New Box of Crayons for the Liebster Award! I'm so honored. I wish I had a speech prepared...

So what is this Liebster Award? The Liebster Award is when bloggers nominate newbie bloggers and give them the opportunity to share about themselves. Unfortunately, there is no real trophy to carry around or display proudly on your bookcase (although, someone should really work on that) but you get the opportunity to connect with other bloggers and share some pretty random facts about your self! How awesome?!

Let the games begin!

Questions from Megan:

1.How long have you been teaching?
This is my third year teaching. I taught second grade my first year and my second. This year I am very privileged to be looping and teaching third grade to my sweet seconds from last year. It is so awesome to see them grow from the first day of second grade to where they are now.

2.What is your favorite subject to teach?
My favorite subject to teach is Reading. I love seeing students get caught up in a book!

3.  What are 3 words that describe you?
I'm terrible at these kind of questions! I don't do a lot of self reflection, but I'm guessing if someone else had to describe me in three words they would say (or I hope they would say) I am compassionate, creative, and organized. A few may say sarcastic, so I'll throw that one in as a bonus!

4.  What is the best thing about teaching, in your opinion?
In my opinion, the best thing about teaching is being able to see how much kids grow throughout the year (or two!)

5.  If you weren't a teacher, what other career would you have?
Once upon a time I had a dream to be a journalist in a big city. I'm pretty sure I just watched too many romantic comedies (How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days- Obviously). I'm way too much of a reserved, small town girl to make it in a big city, and I'm pretty okay with that! I love my job!!

6.  What is your favorite children's book?
The BFG by Roald Dahl- love all his books!

7.  What is your favorite movie?
Grease. "You're the one that want! Ooh, ooh, ooh, Honey!" (You know you just sang it out loud, no shame!)

8.  What secret goodies do you keep in your desk (could be a school supply, snack, lotion etc). ?
I always keep candy in my drawer (for me, not the kids!). It isn't the usual teacher chocolate stash, I'd rather have sour patch kids or nerds. I've actually had kids bring me a bag of candy and when I asked if it was for the class, they were like "no, it's for your desk!"  How sad!

9.  Where is the best place you've ever traveled?
China (esp. The Great Wall of China!) My senior year of college I traveled to China for two weeks. It was an amazing to see how the other side of the world lives and to experience another culture. I even had the opportunity to visit several schools and learn about their educational beliefs and practices. Plus, it's also a great conversation starter to say that I have walked on the Great Wall.

10.  What is your favorite food?
Mexican- the more queso dip the better! Oh, and the margaritas!! I could probably survive off of those two forever! (<--- Fat kid, don't judge)

11.  What is your favorite quote?
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

And now, 11 random facts about me just for your enjoyment!
1. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 6 months yesterday!
2. Dobby is my chihuahua/child
3. I'm a die hard Georgia Bulldogs fan...Go Dawgs!
4. I can only fall asleep with FRIENDS on the TV.
5. I watch way too much reality TV...seriously, it's embarrassing.
6. I cannot stand the sound of cotton balls. Yes, they have a sound and it's torture!
7. My mom was on a Maury episode (don't worry she knows who my daddy is!)
8. I teach at the same school I did my student teaching at, and in the same room!
9. I LOVE pickled okra. It grosses my husband out, but it's sooooo good!
10. I talk during scary movies to make my self feel better.
11. My husband is Puerto Rican and we will make pretty babies one day :)

The best thing about the Liebster Award? You get to pass it on!

Drum roll, nominees are

Kristin at My Carolina Classroom

Alissa at Fun in Fifth

Jenn at Pink Polka Dots & Pre-K
My Photo

Stephanie at A Touch of Class


Beth at Marrow in the Middle
Morrow in the Middle

Ladies, here are the "rules" for accepting this nomination:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 250 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

Here are your questions!
1.  How long have you been teaching?
2.  What is your favorite subject to teach?
3.  What are 3 words that describe you?
4.  What is the best thing about teaching, in your opinion?
5.  If you weren't a teacher, what other career would you have?
6.  What are you currently reading?
7.  What is your favorite TV show?
8.  What is a unique tradition your family does around the holidays?
9.  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
10.  What is your biggest fear?
11.  What is one strength you have/one weakness?

I hope you all enjoyed getting to know me a little better. Now, go check out the amazing ladies I nominated!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Currently October

Well, it's October 11th...better late than never, right? I am finally linking up with Farley for Currently October.

Listening: Football. All Saturday, every Saturday! There are other things on T.V. during the fall?! My house is a house divided. Hubby is a Carolina Gamecocks fan (Boo!) and I am a Georgia Bulldogs fan (Go Dawgs!). It keeps things interesting around here. 

Loving: All things fall! This is definitely my favorite time of the year...pumpkin lattes, colorful leaves, boots, plaid, Halloween, haunted houses. What's not to love? However, this 80 degree weather that keeps hanging around in SC is spoiling my fun :(

Thinking: I don't even know where September went?! I have so much blogging to catch up on. My terrific little thirds have been busy bees and I have lots to share!

Wanting: More me-time! Don't we all? I can't even tell you the last time I had a mani or pedi, went shopping, hung out with the bffs, or just spent some quality time with myself. Wouldn't it be nice if there more hours in the day?

Needing: I definitely need to work on some TPT products. Fall has given me lots of inspiration and new ideas. 

Trick or Treat: Treat, of course! My multiplication top-it game is up on TPT for free! Click the picture below and treat your self!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Currently September

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh'Boy Fourth Grade for this month's Currently linky. 
(I'm only 3 days behind - better late than never!)

Listening: I'm currently sitting on the couch watching Full House on Nick@Nite. My T.V. practically lives on this channel (and HGTV!)

Loving: My amazing partner teachers! We are such a great team. Sometimes I feel like there are three of me; if I forget something, one of them is right there with it already done (for all 3 of our classes!)!!

Thinking: About what all I need to get done with my terrific thirds tomorrow. I'm so ready for the beginning of the year to be over and for our routine to be down pat!

Wanting: Another 3 day weekend. Over the holiday weekend I was able to watch football (Go Dawgs!), spend time with the fam, and see my bestie. A few naps might have been sprinkled in there as well. Can't I just have one more Labor Day weekend?

Needing: To go to bed. Yes, it is only 9:30. I went to be at 9:00 last night. I feel like I have been hit by the third week of school mack truck! Pure exhaustion!!

3 Trips: My best friend and I are planning a trip to Vegas soon; I'd love to go for TPT as well! My hubby is part Puerto Rican and i'd love to go visit San Jan and his family. Lastly, my dream vacation is to go to Tahiti and stay in one of those huts on top of the crystal blue water! <--- A girl can dream :)

I can't believe it's already September! Bring on fall and cooler weather :)
Have a great month!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classroom Reveal Linky!!

Last week was such a looooonnnnngggg week! Monday our district had a county-wide kick-off for all the teachers and staff. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to it and I really wanted to be in my room getting ready for my kids! I was quite surprised how great it turned out! We celebrated our state report card ratings, listened to our excellent speaker, and even danced! What a great way to start the school year :) This video was shown during the presentation and I just had to share -
Lol - Teacher Humor!

Anyway, I did get to work in my room on Tuesday and then I welcomed my 16 Terrific Thirds back on Wednesday. I haven't had a moment to spare between then and now! I am exhausted!! So I am finally linking up for my classroom reveal- its only fair I revealed it to my kids first, right?!

This is the front of my classroom. This year I decided to move my kidney table to the front of the room and get rid of my huge metal teacher desk. I have a white table (Target) that I am using from my computer and I use ALL the room on my kidney table now as my desk! Of course I will also be having small groups here!

This area is my classroom library. I have blogged before about how I organized it over the summer. I am super proud of how it turned out. It is my favorite spot in the room! However, I do need a new rug. I figured I could make it another year before I absolutely had to find the money to buy one. Help me, I'm poor!

I also love this writing area I created this summer. On TPT, I purchased A Cupcake for the Teacher's Writing Center Starter Kit and created my bulletin board for my writing space. I cannot wait for the kids to create here.

I moved my whole-group meeting area to the back of the room this year. It makes my room feel so open. I LOVE my green beach chair :)

Also at the back of our room is our word wall and new cursive bunting.

And this would probably be my kids' favorite place in the room. Chilla, the chinchilla's cage. She helped to hang her name bunting herself, can't you tell?!

That is it! For some reason I didn't take a whole room view picture, but these pictures show pretty much everything except the desks.

Share your classroom reveal!