Friday, August 18, 2017

Locked and Reloaded!

Thanks to my tech-savvy friend, Claire Thweatt for this BEAUTIFUL overhaul on my website! She's GREAT! Oh, and she is also a 21st century technology teacher, who happens to sell on TpT. Check her out at ThweattHearts!

Ah. I love the beginning of the school year. Everything is nice, new, and clean. Paper is smooth, pencils are sharp, and teachers are energized. However, after that first week, I know you're all dragging yourselves home ... sometimes by way of Starbucks.

Let me send out my top ten Rookie Teacher Mistakes, so you can avoid doing them!

*This is my "preaching-to-myself" moment.

Number 10:

-Don't panic.

If you're a first year teacher, I'm going to tell you the best piece of advice I had ever heard before my first day of teaching. "You've got this. Live and learn. Be a student of your students." (Thanks Ms. Keckley)
Basically, we all have to learn WHO we are teaching. We need to know where they are coming from. Kids are not all the same. They each have different family, economic,  and personal experiences that shape who they are, and what they respond to. Learn their names ... all of them. Then, get to know the kid. This seems like such a "Duh" thing, but I've known several educators who didn't learn the kids' names until 2-3 months into the school year. I believe it hurt the teacher's potential with those kids.

Number 9:

-Make your room YOUR ROOM.

I understand that there are restrictions to several teachers. I know that my district expect for less than 50% of our walls to be covered at any point. I'm grateful for my principal at the time who didn't enforce this expectation. He let the teachers actually teach.
So, with restrictions, we can't all do the same things. Take time to be frustrated, but then get over it. Focus on what you CAN do. Isn't that what we tell our kids?
Your classroom will be where you spend most of your waking ours during the school year. Make it comfortable for you. Decorate it for your comfort. This will make the room more inviting to your kids as well as show them more of who you are :)

Number 8:

-Don't spend tons of money.

I know, I just told you to make your room YOUR ROOM. However, don't break the bank to make it look like what you see on Instagram or Pinterest. If you are a newer teacher looking at a veteran teacher's room ... you're going to feel intimidated by their awesomeness. However, I would tell you ... don't compare your chapter one to someone else's chapter twelve. You'll get there ... trust me.

Number 7:

-Set your goals.

Not goals for your kids, although that is an important expectation. No, set a goal for your school year. I set goals every year. One year, my goal was to leave before 4:30pm everyday (unless there was a faculty meeting). Another year, my goal was to not work during lunch (unless there was an IEP, PM, or other random meeting). Doing this helped me complete my work, but not get too burned out.

Number 6:

-Don't stay late.

Wait, wait, wait. I know. "But, I have .... to do!" There will NEVER be enough time. There, I said it. You will always have more that you can do. You will always find something more to accomplish. You think about how many other humans during the day? Right. What do you tell your kids the night before a big test? Rest. Each day is a test of our endurance, but if we aren't taking care of ourselves, we aren't going to measure up.

Number 5:

-Eat Healthy.

Teachers are on their feet almost the WHOLE day. You would think we'd be the skinniest people in the world. If you know me, I am not. Why? Because I eat junky food. Why? Easy access, cheap, and little effort is needed. However, this will make your days feel longer. Did you know that your body craves fat more if you eat junk food? It's basically MSG. If you have a fridge in your room, keep some yogurt, hummus, fruit, raw veggies, and cheese slices in there. Quick, easy, and it won't make you feel sluggish.

Number 4:

-Classroom Management

I don't care who you are ... if you don't have plan on the front end on how behavior is going to be handled in your room, it will destroy you. Science has proven that kids need structure. Be kind. Give them structure. I was the teacher that many other teachers would send their behavior kids to (I know, I was THAT teacher.) However, I only yelled 3 times in 8 years. Once was at a kid who tried to throw a chair at another kid, another time was when a kid decided to see if he could fly by jumping off the top of a slide (he couldn't PS), and the last time was when a boy was yelling so loudly that I couldn't be heard. Other then those moments ... nope. In my experience, the quieter I was, the more dangerous I seemed. I taught 4th grade at one point where most of my students were taller than I was. However, nothing brought a kid back to earth from crazy-town than a small woman whispering how she would destroy your day at school if you didn't "get it together." These are also the kids that email me now that they aren't in my room. They tell me time and again how much they loved me as a teacher. They tell me all the good things that happened. A few times they'll say, "remember the time I tried to .... and you .....?" Yes, Sebastian ... I remember. They don't know the many nights I went home exhausted, and crying. I thought they'd hate me forever. I thought they'd label me the "worst teacher ever." Nope. Not if you do it right. Remember ... I didn't yell. I showed endurance. You want to cry? Go for it. I'll even let you stand over there until you're done. Don't want to do the work during the day? No worries. I know your parents. They are MORE than happy to let me help you until you finish ... even if it isn't until 9pm (yep, that happened.)

Set your expectations and BE consistent!

Number 3:

-Get to know the parents.

I was the BEST hypothetical parent. THEN, I became a parent. All you mommas out there understand. We have a view on kids that all of their problems in class go back to their parents. Let me just say, that CAN be true, but DON'T assume it is. Get to know the parents. Talk to them about what they do in their house when 'johnny' doesn't obey/finish work/etc. Ask them how they would deal with any situations that comes up at school. Ask them what THEY expect of YOU when their kid doesn't meet expectations. While we are professional educators, parents are professionals of their kids. They know them. Ask them about their kids. Also, ask the parents about their lives ... not the kids' lives, but the parents' lives. What's going on? GET. TO. KNOW. THEM. It makes all the difference in the world.

Number 2:

-Get to know your team/faculty.

This is such a HUGE aspect that educators seem to forget. These people are all here with the same intentions that you have ... help mold these kids to be the best they can be and catch the vision for their futures. No, you probably was be best friends with everyone, but do not judge them. Their experiences will be different than yours. They will do things differently. Don't judge. If they are there, you better believe they are in it for the kids. NOW, before you say, "you don't know ....." Yes, yes, I do. I'm not talking about the "exception" teachers ... I'm talking about the "rule" teachers. Those who you don't agree with, just avoid, and move on. Be professional. Make friends. Have fun!

Number 1:

-Give Yourself Grace

You will be awesome. You will fail. Do what you tell your kids when they don't succeed. "Tomorrow's another day." "You haven't gotten it ... yet." Practice what you preach. You need grace. We aren't perfect, nor should we pretend to be. Our kids need to know that we aren't flawless. They also need to see us keep trying. You will have days where you go home feeling like you've been hit by a mack truck. You will want to cry some days. You will question your calling...
But, then, there are moments ... these unassuming moments ... the brilliantly, beautiful moments. That moment a light bulb comes on and shines through a student's eyes. That moment when that child who feels like the reason your career may end, hugs you, or smiles at you from across the playground. That moment when a kid accidentally calls you "mom" because they just feel so comfortable. That moment of pride when a struggle becomes a success. That moment ...
They come. Give yourself grace... for those moments.

When the day ends, these may not be your top ten, but they are mine ... for now. Keep an eye out for some new resources for classroom behavior and management!

Love you all!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Make, Say, Break, Sound, Make, Say What?!

Hey there Bloggin' World!
It's been a little while since I've posted ... I've been busy working on my TpT stuff and being a new mommie ... again! I'm absolutely LOVING where I am in life. TpT is a GREAT place to work, and the other sellers are gems. I love the atmosphere of working together rather than in competition.
So, anyways ...
I posted a new phonics set that has one of my FAVORITE practices in it. I call it "Make, Say, Break, Sound, Make, Say." It's pretty quick and kids get to really engage in each word. Watch the video below to see HOW I use it.

You can find the words for short /a/ and short /i/ words in this new set!

I'm working on a FULL year worth, and will be getting those posted up as I complete them. Every set will have this activity in it, because I pretty much ADORE it!

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I've been following various teachers on Instagram and have decided to follow suit. Many teachers who have been selling for a few solid years on Teachers Pay Teachers are going back through their products. Each teacher is updating several products and totally removing others from their store. It's kind of like spring cleaning for your store.

I'm so excited to announce that I'm updating ALL of my freebies that are over 2 years old! Oh, and did I mention I'm also ADDING some new freebies? It's been a while since y'all got some free stuff from me, so I thought I'd apologize with 2 sets of puzzles for younger learners.

Be on the lookout for more freeibies AND updates!
Don't forget, you can follow me on the following social media:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Oh the Life

All I know that is predictable about life is its unpredictability. Through my growing relationship with my Father, I'm finding that I have one purpose... to glorify Him. He's done so much for my family and has given so much comfort to us over a rough period of grief. Thank You, LORD.

To the people who actually read my meandering thoughts ... sorry IF you've missed them ;) They are back. Here's what I have to share with you ...

ALL of the 3rd grade continent studies are complete. PLUS, I've combined them into a full bundle as a slight discount. You can check it out at my TpT Store!!!!

I've also created a nifty little computer "game" for kids to practice identifying real-world 3D figures. I've already had it tested and approved by some kids:) Not only is there a game for practice, but accountability pages for students to show their understanding of the concept. It's all part of the same set and works WONDERFULLY in stations. There will be more in the works soon. You can check it out here.

Okay, now I'm off to bed. I have a girls retreat this weekend that I'm speaking at, a house that needs cleaning before I go, and a 2 month old daughter who will be making her presence know sooner-rather-than-later ;) I couldn't ask for a better/crazier life.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Curve Ball

For those who didn't know, my mother-in-love passed away a week ago. I've received lots of questions about the upcoming continent products, and I assure you, they are coming. However, my family is still mourning and I won't be focusing on anything other than my husband and our family for the time being. Thank you for your understanding. It's a tough time in the Ray household.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year?

For those who were wondering, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Nope. I just had a baby ... 3 weeks early. As teachers, we all understand the "best-laid-plans" mentality. Sorry if I left some of you hanging with products I was expecting to get finished. Life hit.

Harmony Hope Ray was born at 9:50pm, Monday, December 19, 2017 via VBAC. She had a full head of hair, was 20 inches long and 7lb 2 oz. 18 hours of labor followed by 3 hours of pushing, and our little girl entered the world. We were/are thrilled. I found out during labor that I had Strep B, which could be passed to Harmony during birth. Blessingly, she did NOT contract this. We were released late on Wednesday night and enjoyed time at home. However, she wasn't eating a ton and seemed lethargic. Harmony, myself, and my mom went to the pediatrician who basically said she seemed to be jaundice and needed to go to Vanderbilt ASAP. I called the hubs, and we were on our way within 15 minutes. Harmony was massively dehydrated and had lost over a pound in 4 days. She was a level 19/30 on the jaundice scale. Because she was small, the various nurses tried to find a vein for fluids. They blew 7 veins (2 in each hand, 1 in each arm, and one in the head) before they could get one to work well. Kevin had to go home to watch Crosby (our 2-year-old), so my mom came to stay the night with Harmony and me. Harmony was put under the blue light for almost 12 hours. I was not allowed to hold her but for 15 minutes every 2 hours. Break my heart. She was cold most of the night, so neither of us slept. We woke up on Christmas eve in the hospital. I had been praying most of the night for a miracle to go home that day. To be able to do this, she had to drop below level 14 and also eat 1.5oz from a bottle and 10-15+minutes for each feeding. These were monitored. She was rechecked at 8am and her jaundice level was a 12. PRAISE THE LORD!!! However, she still wasn't eating quite enough. So, my mom left us to go home to ready the house for Christmas, and Harmony and I hung out in the room, eating ... both of us ate. It was great. I got to watch Fixer Upper and rest. By late afternoon, Harmony was eating the required amount. Kevin came with Crosby to pick us up. When I got home, it was perfect.

So, with that said ... sorry it's taken me so long to blog. I'm hoping to get back at those continent studies in a week. Next up:
--South America

I'm just waiting on my clip artist for her AWESOME images ;)

Happy New Year!