Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Attitude...AND Bubba!!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had enjoyed your holidays with friends and family, but most of all your time off from work. Being able to relax and only worry about what time you should get out of your pjs is the BEST!

I haven't posted in so long because I've been in such a FUNK. (I'll try to be brief with this, not sure if that is possible.) 

I was excited for the new school year to begin, but a lot of changes happened over the summer for my school--our terrific, supportive principal left without any notice (we received a district email from our superintendent naming people who had new positions in the district...she was one of them); our wonderful and amazing secretary got promoted and went to a new school (also, found out by email); our fantastic librarian, who has been at our school since it opened, moved to a new town (we knew she moved but she mentioned she might stay for a few months until someone got settled); AND my best friend decided to move to a different school. I couldn't take any more unwelcome "news"...enough already!! Jeesh! 

That changed my excitement to ho-hum REAL quick...and then school began...and the clipboard brigade/standards police came. Their weekly, sometimes more, visits put our whole staff on edge. It's fine when admin comes to visit for a few minutes in your classroom to see what's going on, but when there's a group of people with clipboards, walking around your room, questioning students, checking to see if standards are posted, taking pictures, looking through stacks of papers-- it gets intimidating, annoying, stressful, you name it! 

Our district had all kindergarten & first grades switch to the new Common Core standards. We were rushed through crappy training in late spring; were trained by people who haven't been in a classroom and who couldn't answer many questions from us teachers; had to learn a new ELA and Math curriculum but didn't have access to it until the week before school began. 

So, my love of my job was starting to fade. Coming to work, teaching the kids didn't ever feel like a "job" until this year. There doesn't seem to be any fun and when I'm not having fun, the kids definitely aren't having fun which is sad. But I'm hoping the YUCKY attitude I've been sporting is G-O-N-E! I am starting over with a NEW attitude for this new year and I'm not going to let any of the BAD stuff effect me any more. 
**If you made it this far, THANKS for reading!!

Now, here comes the part about BUBBA! I usually get a wall calendar for my classroom to keep by my desk. It always looks something like this...


Who wouldn't love to get marooned on one of these beautiful islands?!

Every time I look at one of these amazing pictures, I go to my "happy place" for a quick mini-vacation. Then I can get back to the reality of first grade.  So I have this in my hand when I'm shopping at Barnes and Noble when all of a sudden, I see BUBBA!


I HAD to check this kid out! Who is he? Why is he so wise? But most importantly why is he making me SMILE and laugh out loud?

Here's a little excerpt from the back of the calendar--"What can a chubby little baby have to say about life? Plenty! Bubba is one little person with a lot of big ideas on how to live life to the fullest. He may be short of years, but he's already experienced many of the things that you and I have only dreamed about. So, take Bubba's advice and follow your dreams, face your fears, and most importantly, just have some fun! After all, isn't that what life is truly about?"

AMAZING!!!

Here's some of Bubba's wise words...



*Photography by Christina Bynum-Breaux

Don't you just LOVE it?! How can you NOT smile after looking at that baby?! Bubba is giving me a much needed attitude adjustment. He will now have a special spot on my wall so I can be reminded daily to "live life to the fullest!" 

THANKS BUBBA!





Monday, July 29, 2013

Whooo has a NEW classroom theme?!

I do! I've been WILD for 8 years, which is long overdue for a change. I've decided to go with owls. When school got out for summer, I knew I wanted to make a theme change. Everywhere I went, I was seeing OWL stuff--fabric, notebooks, cups, border, die cuts, pictures, etc. It's like it was hitting me right in the face! 

My creative sister, Christa (Sweet Life of Second Grade), was busy making some themes for herself and friends. Lucky for me, she was creating some OWL themed cuteness! Here's a peek at just a few of the super cute things she's made for me and my classroom. The set is from her "It's An Owl-Standing Classroom Theme 2" on her TeachersPayTeachers page. Check it out!

These are some of the numbers for my calendar and some "Happy Birthday!" tags to note student birthdays.


Here are the letters for my word wall and the months of the year for my calendar.


The cute alphabet line to go above my whiteboard.


Tens frame posters and table signs to hang over table groups.


I'm going to use these colorful birthday tags for my student birthday bags. Love them!

I am LOVIN' my new homework folders!!

This theme has cute little owls, of course, and bright colors that I was looking for. I can't wait to start decorating my classroom for the new school year! Thanks sissy for the OWL-standing new theme!

Friday, July 5, 2013

A GREAT Deal!

This past school year I had a very active group of kids (remember 22 boys!!). Of my 33 kids, 2 were diagnosed with ADHD and 3 others could've been the "poster child" for it. I had tried many things during the school year to help improve focus with listening and doing work. One thing I wish I tried was a physical change with their seating (cushion, band for chair legs, stability ball, etc.) I was so overwhelmed with management and lack of resources that it got pushed aside.

After looking online these past few weeks at other teachers' classrooms, I decided I wanted to try using stability balls for these active students. I'm sure you've seen blogs or pictures on Pinterest, of teachers who have used these balls in the classroom as alternatives to regular chairs. I read how some people used 5 or 6 in their classroom and rotated students each day; some used them only with specific students; and one teacher (I can't remember exactly who) used them for the whole class! 

I did a search online for "stability balls" and was very disappointed at prices--$20 - 35 each! Yikes! Then I found a price that was too good to be true...$6!!! What?!?! Althea Medical Group has these balls for $6. I bought one to see how it was quality-wise. It seems pretty good! I bought the 45 cm one which would be the right size for people under 4 feet 8 inches tall. I told my son he had to try it out for me. He sat on it for about 1.6 seconds and then tried to see how many other ways he could use it. 


 This is him using it as a drum.

Here is my daughter using it to stretch herself on.
  
After seeing them use it as a basketball, something to throw at each other, drums, footrest, push up ledge, soccer ball, bouncy seat, etc; it seems like it's very sturdy and well liked by my kids. I can't wait to actually use it in the classroom and hopefully, see how it benefits my students. I'm thinking of getting a few more to have and use them for specific students. I want to have them on hand for kids to use as they or I feel needed. You can't beat the price!!

If you have used these in your classroom before, I'd love to hear how you used them and if they were helpful for your students. Thanks!!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Favorite Things Linky: Gettin' Fit

I am linking up with Halle at Across the Hall in 2nd Grade for her Favorite Things Linky: Gettin' Fit!


Unlike some of my family members, I am not constantly working out, getting some crazy long workouts into my days. I'm more of the type who is always "thinking" of working out. I have the BEST of intentions but not the best for following through with them. I typically go in spurts of a few weeks of daily, bad ass workouts and then hit a streak of couch potato action. I sometimes even dread working out, especially after long, stressful days at work but those are the times I NEED to workout the most. The times I have powered through the "not wanting to do anything but lay in bed" attitude, I have felt amazing after working out. I need to get it through my thick skull that I always feel better after some exercise.

Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE shoes! I especially love these bad boys...
Asics Gel Nimbus 14!

My feet feel like they're walking on clouds when I wear these! I love how comfy they are and how stinkin' cute they are! I've gotten so many compliments from people and a few of my friends have bought them because they liked mine so much. These make me want to work out! That's a good thing! I wouldn't call myself a "runner" but I do run sometimes. I started running off and on almost 2 years ago. My husband and I have gotten into doing the obstacle/mud runs which have been so fun...except I need to LIKE the running part more. Haha! That's one of my goals this summer is to get back into a regular running routine.

This is my newest purchase...


These videos make working out exciting and fun! They use moves from 6 different mixed martial arts disciplines; getting your heart pumping and those muscles burning. After doing these workouts, I feel like I can kick some MAJOR BUTT! My husband knows to be nice to me after these workouts. ;)

This is my drink of choice...WATER!

Three years ago I gave up my biggest addiction...CAFFEINE! It was probably one of the hardest things to do but I did it for my health. I was drinking EXCESSIVE amounts of soda and coffee. My mornings started by going to the McDonald's drive-thru to get a large Coke, another at recess time, lunch, a few after school, and usually one or two with dinner. CRAY-ZEE!!! All that sugar and caffeine was making my body feel like CRAP! I had so many aches and pains when I woke up in the mornings. I was ALWAYS tired or sluggish and I was having a lot of frequent headaches. As soon as I gave it all up, the aches & pains and headaches were gone. That made up my mind to give it up for good. I used to miss it so bad--the sound of a Coke can opening (pffttt!) and the smell of coffee (mmmmm!) but now the only thing I'm addicted to is ice in my water. The colder the better!

One last thing that makes me really smile is my new bike!


I have always loved cruisers. I had one in college and got rid of it when I came back home (not one of my smartest decisions). When I saw this at Target a little while back, I HAD to have it! The cheery color reminded me of summer and of the bike rides I used to take along the beach paths in Long Beach. So fun! I'm looking forward to taking some rides with my kids, now that my youngest became an official bike rider earlier this year. I just need a cute little basket for the front to make it all complete! :)

Thanks Halle for the fun linky! I've already checked out everyone's posts and made a few purchases to help get me more motivated to workout! Thanks to Sarah from First Grade Buddies for showing off the Flip Belt. It looks awesome and mine is on its way!



Monday, June 10, 2013

Suggestions Needed...

for classroom website designs! I'm looking at changing my classroom website design. I've been using School World for the past 5 years and I'd like to move on. 

Here's a screenshot of my current site: (www.mrstompkins.com)


Starting out, School World was a great choice for me. I loved how it was all laid out for you and so easy to use. I'm ready to take things up a notch. :)  I know there are many wonderful blog designers out there but I am looking specifically for a website designer. Cuteness is a must! So, if you have used someone before or know of someone, please leave me a comment or email me. I appreciate any suggestions you have to offer!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer is here!


Another school year is over and I have to honestly say...THANK GAWD!! This has been one of the toughest years I've had since I started teaching 14 years ago. A lot of things have taken a backseat due to all my energy going into surviving this school year. I don't wish this class size (33!), the amount of boys (22!) or behavior problems on anybody! This was the most destructive group of kids that I've had too. Tile floors peeled up, wall outlets broken, bookshelves drawn on, folders cut up, pages ripped out of books, and crayons shoved into the cracks of the door, to name a few things. This class also broke the record for most tardies, not that there is a record but if there was, MY class would have it! Haha! I had one little girl that had 96 absences and tardies for the school year!!! Oh. My!

Enough with the negative! I did have a very smart group of kids that loved to learn. I am thankful for that! I received many kind kind emails, notes, and phone calls throughout the year praising my teaching, which made it all worth it...but I really am glad that the year is finally over! :)

Today was officially my 2nd day of summer vacation and I must say it has been FANTASTIC!!! For those of you who have already started summer break, you know what I mean; and those that are still in school, you will know how good it feels soon! Hang in there!

Now, on to happier things! This little package was waiting on my doorstep earlier this week...


 Isn't the packaging too cute?!? How can it NOT make you smile?!


I got my first Erin Condren teacher plan book! Isn't it fabulous??? I LOVE it already! I know they are pricey but I took advantage of the May teacher appreciation discount. I usually get my lesson plan books (for free) from Lakeshore. So this was a big step for me. I wanted to do something for myself for the new school year and this was one way to do it. I'm looking forward to a more positive school year and what better way to do that than to be really organized with a super cute and colorful plan book. The colors on the outside and inside make me smile. That's a great start already!

Does anyone else use these plan books? I'm curious as to how people like them. If you have one, used one or want one, let me know what you think. :)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break already?!?


Did Spring Break start today and nobody told me??? I checked my calendar and my Spring Break officially begins Thursday at 2:30 p.m. When I picked up my class this morning from the playground, I was surprised to see just a few kids. I thought they still must be coming off the playground...so I waited. A few minutes later, only 19 kids in line, out of a total of 32. Too good to be true right? A few latecomers came and I was up to 24 and that's where it stayed...for the rest of the day. It was amazing what I could do with that small group. The noise level was at an all time low. We got so much done. Gosh, how I miss 20 - 1! But, I do have to say, all my naughties were there on time, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They must have THE BEST immune systems in the universe to have not missed ONE. SINGLE. DAY. YET. 

I'm looking forward to this week to be over so I can enjoy some time off from the crazy days of school. I'm out of the classroom tomorrow for my 4th day of Common Core training. I've gotten pulled out of my classroom once a week for the past month to take part in it. It's been a mixed blessing. I have had a student teacher since the end of January, who will be with me until the end of the school year. So I am planning and preparing for her 2 week take over which will happen right after Spring Break. I'm trying to plan what I will do with myself when I am out the classroom for those 2 weeks. I'm the type of girl who makes HUGE plans and has great expectations of all the millions of things I will get accomplished...but then about 3 things actually get done. Haha! We'll see! I'll let you know what actually happens. :)

For all of you on Spring Break, keep enjoying it! And leave some FUN left for me!! Only 3 more days! Woohoo!