Friday, December 28, 2012

Plans and Goals for the New Year

My family and I returned today from a very nice and relaxing visit with our families (both my husband and I are from the same hometown). We stayed an extra day so we could visit more relatives and spend more time with our families. I am looking so forward to relaxing and spending time with my own family for the rest of the break.

I don't know about you, but when I spend time away from work (more than a weekend), the stress just melts away. I often find myself thinking about why I was so stressed out, even it was just a week ago that I was feeling stressed to the max. But, yet, the cycle repeats itself...go back to work, feel stressed by the end of the day (if not by the middle). And, it's not just me. It seems to be the common theme, year in and year out, among colleagues. When I have the time to sit back and reflect on what exactly makes me so stressed out, I have no problem making a list of at least 20 things that add to my stress level. I really believe that a number of things need to happen, and I am going to do my best to abide by these...
1. There are many things I cannot change about my job. I mean, teaching is really, really hard! But, it's up to me how I react to those things. If I cannot change something (whatever that may be), I need to change the way I react.
2. Get more sleep, eat healthier and exercise more. In other words, don't let myself go! When I eat right, exercise more and get enough sleep, I feel my best.
3. Simplify! Every year, I feel like I am spinning my wheels (it usually happens mid-year). It's then that I have learned to realize to stop, reflect and decide what needs to be changed. It usually ends with me realizing that I have actually complicated things by wanting to do too much. As I wrote in my previous posts, this has happened again this year.
4. Get rid of what I don't use. I've been doing better with this one, but at the end of every year, I always uncover many "treasures" from either the current school year or past years. Yes, it really is o.k. to throw away the laminated barn, even though it took you 5 hours to draw and color it 15 years ago! If I'm unsure about what to throw away, I will ask myself if I've used it in the past year. If the answer is "no"-I either give it to a younger teacher or pitch it.
5. Smile and have some fun!  Sometimes I (and many of my colleagues) get so wrapped up in the stress of teaching that we don't take time to have fun and smile. Children don't know the first thing about common core standards-they just want to learn and have fun. Yes, it's up to us, as teachers, to make sure the standards are covered, but we also need to go the extra mile to make sure learning is fun and engaging too!

I was doing some lesson planning today, and I was thinking about the next writing unit, "How-To" Writing. After doing some research on blogs, Pinterest and other sites, I discovered some great ideas for starting the unit and for doing some whole class how-to writing. The first idea I found was to start out with what the students already know how to do really well...classroom routines! So, I am going to start with introducing several how-to books, discussing what we notice about them (how they are set up). Then, we are going to move to writing some how-to books based on our class routines. Some other fun ideas I found include how to blow a bubble and how to make a s'more (or hot chocolate). Of course, food is always a hook. I'm excited to start this unit, as in the past, I only spent a few short days on how-to writing.

I'm also in the process of finishing up a few things that I want to put on TPT. Nothing fancy, just some helpful things I've made to help myself out as I'm covering the CC Standards. When I was looking for a nonfiction feature notebook that covered what I had to teach/cover, I couldn't find anything that covered what I had to cover. So, I made a nonfiction feature book that I used with my class in the two weeks before the holiday break. They were all able to complete it, and it will make a great reference as we continue to learn/refer to nonfiction text features throughout the year. I just have to figure out more about using Pages (Mac's word processing program). It's kind of like Word, but not quite. So, when I get the kinks worked out, I'll let you know what I posted for free on TPT. If something I make works for me, my class and my colleagues, I'll put it on TPT.

Enough school talk...I'm off to catch up on my favorite shows!!!
Happy New Year!

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