____ Days Until School

In my neck of the woods there is about a month until teachers and students return to the traditional classroom. One month. 30 days on the shot clock.

What will you do with these next 30 days? How will you prepare YOU?

Here are the three things I plan to do.

The beginning of the school year is not the time to prepare. In between classroom set up, syllabus printing, roster reorganization, team meetings and other PD, all I have time for is coffee.

One month before school starts I am still relaxed enough to really think about who I am, what I accomplished last year, who I want to be and what I want to accomplish this year.

To do this, I ask myself focus forward questions. These are questions that help me think about the future. So, I might ask, “Am I purposefully pursuing my passion? How will I continue my pursuit this year?”

I reflect for a few minutes, but the majority of my time is spent thinking about next steps.

Next steps, for me, always involve finding inspiration and encouragement.

Reading books, taking walks, watching movies, talking with friends, taking an art class or a dance class. I can gather inspiration from most places when I am open to receiving it.

Over the years I have found that living an inspired life in the best lesson I can teach my students.

From the inspiration I gather, I can begin to create my first Power Up space. This is a place where I can continue to be inspired throughout the school year.

For tips on how to create your own Power Up space, check out this blog post.

The last thing I do 30 days before the school year is …. pick my poison.

Stay with me. I promise it makes sense.

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. In that movie there is a battle of wits; the old poison in the cup schtick. The challenger actually places poison in both cups. So, how does he escape death? He deliberately chose this poison and then injested small amounts of it each day. This built up an immunity in his body.

What does this have to do with the 30 day prep for school? Well, there is always something that we dislike doing, but we know it will make us stronger. This is the poison.

Poison – anything done or consumed in excess.

So, during my 30 day prep time I choose something that I don’t particularly like doing, but I know it will make me a better person. I do this thing in small doses.

For example, I love a clean, organized house, but with 4 young kids, cleaning is not a task I enjoy. In order to have what I want, I put myself on a small dose cleaning schedule.

  • Mondays – strip all the beds, remake them, and wash all the dirty sheets.
  • Tuesday – Clean the bathrooms
  • Wednesday – Wash kids’ clothes

In this way, I am not overwhelmed trying to clean everything at once.

Well, that’s all folks!

Cheers to the 30 day prep!

Joce

#HistoryRocks

Hey, friends!

In my last blog post I mentioned that we will dive into discussion about the components that comprise a successful classroom.  Well, here is something that can definitely help you create the ideal classroom environment. Money!  TeachersPayTeachers has a wealth of resources for every grade and every subject. There are both FREE and paid resources. So, enter the giveaway for a chance to win back to school TpT cash. Good Luck!

#HistoryRocks Graphic

Are you looking for some TpT cash to spend for back to school stuff?  Well, a group of social studies teachers want to show you how much #HISTORYROCKS ! To register for a chance to win, just click on the link http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6b69ea121/ and follow as many stores as you want.  Each link you follow gives you another chance to win, so may the odds be in your favor.

The giveaway closes for entries on Monday, July 31st, 12:00 pm EST. Winner will be randomly selected within the next 24 hours after entry closes. By entering, you confirm that you are 18+ years of age. Winner must be a resident of the United States. This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram or Facebook.

Cheers for giveaways!

Set Up for Success Pt.II

professional successWelcome back, Friends!

Hopefully you had a chance to pull out that calendar and schedule time for you. Self care is so important. If you are not good, you definitely cannot give your best. Now that we have our personal goals for success in place, let’s continue by discussing some helpful ways to be successful professionally. The three tips I’m offering are like a reverse gradual release strategy. LOL I do, you do, we do.

Blog - Professional SuccessAs I previously stated, if you’re not caring for you, you can not give your best, at least not for long. The same is true professionally.  If you are not investing in yourself professionally, you will become stagnant in your teaching practices.

So, the first thing you want to do to ensure professional success is to engage in professional development. Attend conferences, read books, participate in webinars, take courses toward an advanced degree or certification. And here is a little thing that I do that I’ve actually never told anyone. (Shhhh!) I like to explore other areas. I may be an English and social studies teacher, but I have taken courses in health studies, technology, and some that are spiritually rejuvenating. Now, this may not work for you, but I love to see how I can incorporate other aspects of life into my teaching. Taking courses that are unrelated to education often gives me a boost of energy. I have a new appreciation for other professions and the work my students will have to do to reach their professional goals.

Next, you should try to find unique growth opportunities for your students. What you do in this area is definitely going to depend on the age of  your students. Here are some suggestions that may work for your group:

  • Community Service or Service Learning – Although many schools now require students to have community service hours, all do not. Find places around your community where students can volunteer.

Ex. Elderly housing development, soup kitchen, or a place like Matthew 25 Ministries or the Red Cross. We have also done some cool lessons with the book Wear am I Wearing and Where am I Eating by Kelsey Timmerman.

  • Reading Buddies – Have your students visit students in a lower grade and read to them.
  • Attend a career fair. Before attending we talk about goals and potential career interests. For this type of experience I typically send my students with a clipboard and packet of questions to ask people at the booths. If you are interested in this packet please send an email to customteachingsolutions.com and I would be happy to provide you the template.

The final area to focus on is growth opportunities for you AND your students. I find that when I am learning along side my students we grow together in a unique way. My students see that learning really is life long. I know this can be tough because teachers are ultimate planners and need to preview potential resources before exposing the students, but it can be done. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Field trips – Choose three experiences for a curriculum based field trip. These need to be trips that you have not previously taken. Then, allow your students to vote.
  2. Speaker – Having a speaker present to your class, or a group of classes is always fun. For example, as a social studies teacher I might contact the VA and ask if someone can come speak to the class while we are discussing war.
  3. Role Reverse – Allow your students to teach you how to do something. I typically have students get into groups of 2-4 and decide on a lesson they want to teach.

These experiences are really great ways to build trust and facilitate learning through the year. I would love for you to share some activities you have tried with your students.

Taking a fresh look at your classroom teaching practices allows for continual growth, but also gives you new reasons to love what you do. While teaching the same way every day of every year can make things easy, it also makes them boring. Our students thrive off our passion and excitement for educating.

So feed your passion by refreshing your perspective.

Comment below with your experiences or additional ideas. We love discussion. 🙂

Cheers to professional success!

-CTS

If you missed part one, you can read it HERE.

 

 

 

Set up For Success

success_chalkboard

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that 2017 is over, but I am excited for 2018. A new year is like turning the page in a brand new journal. The page is fresh and crisp waiting to be penned with descriptions of life’s journey.

So, let’s get set up for the journey!

Blog - Personal Success

My aunt once told me that before she gets on a plane she does not begin by praying for the pilot, she prays for his family and his home. I thought that was strange at first. The pilot is the one operating the plane after all, not his spouse or cousin. She went on to explain that a person operates most effectively when their world is at peace.

This is true for us as educators as well. We are the pilots of our classrooms. Although we are great at powering through long nights, tough mornings, and afternoon slumps, we would certainly prefer peace. One of the ways we can have peace is through self care. So, before you reenter the classroom after the winter break, set yourself up for a successful second semester by making you a priority.

First, think about what makes you happy. Focus on things that are low cost or free. Now narrow the list to one or two things. Take out your calendar. Find time to incorporate the happy into your schedule. Taking this time for your happy will give you peace that translates into success.

Second, take time to renew and refuel. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R Covey emphasizes the importance of “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. [By] having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual” you will have peace that translates into success. Think intentionally about these four areas of your life. How can you create balance? Exercise, counseling, meditation? For a FREE Renew & Refuel deep dive resource click HERE.

Third, say no so you can say yes. If you’re like me, it is tough for you to say no. I find however, that the more I say yes, the less quality me I have to give. Lysa Terkeurst says it so well in The Best Yes,

“Someone makes a request of me that I know right away is unrealistic. My brain says no. My schedule says no. My reality says no. But my heart says yes! Then my mouth
betrays my intention of saying no, as it smiles and says, “Yes, of course.”

I dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no. I dread saying yes not because I don’t love that person. I love them very much. But I dread what saying yes will do to the already running-on-empty me” (4).

How do we stop giving the “running on empty” version of ourselves? Well, we start by saying no. Because I really struggle with saying no, I have had to start with baby steps. Step 1) Pull out my calendar at the beginning of the month. Step 2) Block off one weekend. Now I can honestly say, “No, that weekend is blocked off.” Just doing this one thing has reduced my commitments and allowed for a quality me when I do say yes. This allows for a peace that translates into success.

Being an educator is one of the most rewarding professions, but also one of the most demanding on your emotional, physical and mental space. To give your students the best you, start by doing what is best for you.

Please comment below with other ways you prioritize you so that you can be set up for success.

On Thursday we’ll continue the conversation by discussing three ways to be set up for professional success.

Cheers to a vision inspired second semester!

-CTS

 

Welcome!

Welcome to the Custom Teaching Solutions blog site! We are excited to share ideas for implementing high leverage practices into the classroom. Whether this is your first year or your fifteenth year teaching, we believe you’ll find the content relevant and relatable.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the classroom! Questions are also welcome.

Cheers!  Here’s to vision inspired growth and development.

CTS