Wake up, drink the coffee, do the things... Right? But what if there was so much more to my morning routine.
I noticed something this school year, that I seriously wish I would've figured out 5 years ago. I started seriously observing and taking note of things that incredibly amazing people do to be.... well, amazing. Their energy, passion and peace that they carried with them through every season inspired me to take inventory of my life. One thing I realized that they all had was some kind of morning routine. Whether it was a green smoothie, a quiet time, absolutely black coffee and yoga... whatever it was, it was unique to them AND working for them. It was the way they kicked off their day in a positive and productive way.
I report to work at 7:15. Like, that's what time they start paying me for my labor. Typically, I get to work around 6:30 or 6:45 because 30 minutes just isn't a lot of time for me to mentally prepare to welcome 25 humans into our space with a happy heart and patience. The idea of waking up an hour before I have to start getting ready PAINED me to my core. 4:00 am. FOUR FREAKING A M. That's too dang early, y'all. And can I just say for a moment, if you do wake up at 4 am, more power to you. I'm proud of you. Tip my hat to you. Give you all the brownie points. I however, just can't. I had to find a way to sacrifice some time so that I could spend an entire hour before I started getting ready to prepare my heart and my mind for the day ahead. So, I stopped getting ready at 5am and moved my getting ready time to 6am. I leave for work, now, at about 6:45-6:50. STRESS. This used to stress me out, until I got into my routine and started to notice how much more energized, productive, and PATIENT I was being in my classroom. Instead of taking 30 minutes when I get to school to prepare my mind for my babes, I spend that time at home preparing my mind for the entirety of the day. When I do get to school, around 7:05, I use my time SO MUCH MORE wisely to prepare for the day. I don't just sit and stare at my wall, because I'm so dang tired! On top of all of this, I've noticed my planning time being 10x more productive, because I know that at 3:45- I'm gonna want to go home, spend time with my pup, or just go live my life.
Sure, you can get to school early or you can stay until the wee hours of the night, but if you're not being productive, what's the point? I can accomplish a million times more in 2 hours, feeling rested and prepared than I can accomplish in 6 hours of feeling overworked and drained. IT'S JUST MY TRUTH! Maybe, it's not yours. Maybe you thrive in working all of the hours at school. But, let me just tell you, I did an entire classroom transformation this week, walls covered and everything, and I still didn't get to school until 7:05 and I left right at 3:45... but I sure as HAIL used my time wisely while I was there. And the thing that saved me was this, my new morning routine. So, whether I've sold you on it or not, here it is. It's what works for me, it involves ZERO exercise (because I like working out in the afternoon, and I'm just as strong and cool because I workout after school as anyone who works out at 2 am before they get ready- sorry... exercise is exercise period ) and a whole lot of drinking a whole cup of hot coffee while I invest in myself.
First, I drink the coffee.
The first thing I do in the morning is drink my coffee hot and how I like it, in my favorite mug. While I drink my coffee, I spend some time reading my Bible and a favorite book of mine. Whether it's self help or a thrilling mystery, I read... for myself. The myth that teachers can't get a hot cup of coffee in needs to be debunked, now. I get it's a joke but the only reason you don't have time for yourself in the morning, is because you're not making it. Whether it's drinking hot coffee or eating your favorite breakfast food, slow down and do SOMETHING, one little thing that makes you happy.
Next, I write a bit...
I have a journal that sits on my coffee table with a pen inside of it. Every morning, for just about 10-15 minutes I write. Most recently, it's been 10 things I'm grateful for. Not big things, small things like how hot my husband is or how rich my coffee tastes at that very moment. Some days, I just write down all of the things I'm thinking, because as someone who battles anxiety, there's a lot and sometimes the best thing I can do is write it down, make the list, or just simply get it out of my racing mind. Also, it helps my penmanship which is something I've really been working on recently. That sounds goofy, but it's true. Take a few minutes to reflect on your life, be grateful, give your cares to the Lord, or just work on your penmanship!
Lastly, I frontload...
I am the type of person who LOVES it when things go exactly as planned. Which is frighteningly ironic because I'm in a profession where things are literally always changing. This doesn't mean I'm not super flexible on the outside. Like, if you could see me in action, you probably wouldn't believe that I'm a control freak, because I can still go with the flow... I just hate it in my mind. I'll be super flexible and fluid in person, then go home and just RIP my husband to shreds for something he didn't even do.... It's a personal flaw, I'm WORKING on it. So, in my morning routine, I've started to "plan" my day. I go through all of the things I have planned. Lessons, meetings, emails I have to respond to, errands I have to run, people I have to meet after school, ect. I predict how those events are going to play out. This doesn't mean I'm a huge pessimist thinking of all of the things that go wrong, I just consider the personalities, the events and possible things that MIGHT not go as planned. Doing this helps me be flexible in situations where things might not go exactly as I anticipated. It also helps me have exponentially more grace for creepy, difficult, or frustrating people. Front load, white MIGHT happen today that could throw me off of my game, and how can I tackle it without looking like a complete a-hole?
Of all of the morning routines I've observed and all of the amazing people I want to be like, mine is completely different. AND THAT'S OKAY, Y'ALL. I know I just spilled the beans about my morning routine, why it works for me and exactly what I do... But the thing is, my morning routine... it might be a disaster for you. I do three things, keep it simple and it makes the rest of my day smooth as butter, for the most part. So, my challenge to you isn't to do what I do. My challenge to you is to pick 3 things in the morning that you do before you get ready, serve the people in your life and walk through your day. If it doesn't work at first, tweak your 3 things. The most important thing is that you're taking the time in the morning to prepare for your day.
I hope this week is filled with all the pumpkin, vanilla and fall scents. I hope SOMEONE makes you smile and giggle a little bit. But most of all, I hope you impact ONE person with your peace, grace and positive outlook about the season you're walking through.
I hate to admit it, but words of affirmation is one of my love languages. I know you're probably wondering WHY it's so hard for me to admit, and I think it's mostly because it just makes me feel really needy and disappointed 90% of the time.
People who encourage and cheer OTHER people on seem to be few and far between these days, it can sometimes feel like you're walking through seasons of life alone or with people who just don't care about your battles or the advances that you're making. September and October is a specifically tricky time for teachers with all of the events, conferences, grades, and such that seem to be piling on. It's just really easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. And if you're anything like me, feel like you're constantly doing something wrong. Yup, if you haven't been here before, general anxiety is something I battle on a daily basis. Not just worry, but the overwhelming sense that I have done something wrong to all the people.
If you follow along on my instagram adventures, I posted a story a few days ago about how it's been a pretty icky place in my mind, lately. For some reason, I interpret other people's stress and frustration into an issue with me, not just a bad day on their end. Funny story though, this used to be 10X worse for me about a year ago. So, if you've been reading this and nodding your head, the preacher in your head is saying "yes!!" or you just feel like, maybe I might have a snippet of wisdom for you, let's figure out how to navigate these seasons without being defeated or disappointed when we're not getting what we need from the people around us.
On your good days, write that stuff down.
Usually, in my mind you can separate my thoughts into 2 categories. Truth and absolutely, 100% overdramatized soap opera. On my hardest days, the latter takes over and makes me feel just absolutely defeated... behind closed doors. One thing that I've found that has helped is on my best days, I'm talking days where I feel like I could take over the world, establish peace with North Korea, or even start a multimillion dollar company, I take the time to write out my truthful thoughts. Some call them affirmations, but honestly, sometimes, they have nothing to do with me. The whole preface of this practice is to be able to have a list of truths to lean on when my mind is trying to be controlled by the lies. When I can go back and read what my past self has written about my life, I'm not searching for affirmation or positivity from other people.
A list of my truths may include:
-There are a lot of people in my circle of influence who have problems, but I am not one of them.
-My students are the reason I deal will half the things I do on a daily basis.
-The world will keep spinning, even if I choose to sulk in untruthful thoughts
-I'm satisfied with the life that I have, right now, at this very moment.
-My husband, parents, dog, siblings, and most of my coworkers are proud of me and cheering me on.
When I can go back and read these things, on my darkest days, it's a game changer. Because, the kryptonite to all the lies, is the truth. Set yourself up for success on those days that you know are coming for your peace.
Stop giving people access to your control panel
One of the things on my list above, that I did not mention was this one.... really... powerful sentence I write down... But I'm not sure you're ready for it. Mostly, because I don't want you to take it the wrong way. Never in my life do I want to be that person who walks around with an "I don't care what people think" mantra and use it to be a jerk to others. The truth is, when it comes to being the best version of myself, I don't care what they think. I get comments all the time of people making fun of me for my battle with my mindset and trying NOT to fall into a life filled with complaining and frustration, that's fine... that's on them. But that's never going to be a free pass for me to treat them poorly, regardless of how they treat me. So, that being said one of the truths I have written down is this. "Sometimes you are the problem. Figure out if it's worth solving, or if they can get over it." There are people in my life who I care deeply about, I would never want to hurt, upset or lose them, but there are also people in my life who just aren't down with my direction. I'm not so close with those people, and I'm having to learn that they're not the people I need in my circle, anyways. Sometimes, it can be really hard to discern whose voice we let in on difficult seasons. One thing that has been made so clear to me is, the last person I want whispering in my ear when I'm going through something hard, is the person who is just going to sit there and tell me how hard things are or how I can't keep this mindset, I can't just be at peace. I'm looking for people who are whispering to me "keep going, keep pushing, it's really freaking hard but it's really freaking worth it, your students need you, your husband needs you, your vision is not going to just happen overnight." I NEED LIFE GIVERS IN MY CORNER, NOT COMPLAINERS. Be mindful of the people you let have a say, that's all I'm sayin.
When your encouragement well runs dry..
I know what you're thinking after reading this far. Okay, Maddie, this sounds great...but, I work with draining people, my house is always a mess, my parents don't understand or agree with my life choices, my friendships are shallow, no one in my life knows how to show me love or appreciation. I get it. I'm there. I know. It is so draining. The majority of my readers are teachers, so forgive me as I take it this direction. We spent a bajillion dollars on a college education that taught us that the basis of teaching is modeling. Right? The whole year we spend modeling a skill or concept for our babes to then practice. Some skills have to be taught explicitly. Like, "this is how we write our heading on notebook paper." While, other skills can just simply be modeled and understood, for example, my students know where my desk area is because I stand there most every day while I take attendance. So, like I said before, words of affirmation is one of my love languages. It's a curse, because it just feels like no one gets it. Just tell me I'm pretty and doing a good job and I'll love you forever. But it's not that easy, so what do we do? Model your love language for the people in your life. If it's words of affirmation, encourage the crap out of other people. If it's acts of service, do things with a happy heart AND acknowledge when other people do things for you. Don't just say "thank you." Try something along the lines of, "man, when you told me that I rocked my lesson and that you were proud of me, it made me want to cry. You were totally speaking to my love language." LET THE PEOPLE KNOW. You can't just expect the people around you to know immediately how you need to be served and loved, that's not fair at all. Somedays you have to be your own affirmation, but some days you need to just open your eyes a little wider and see where it's actually coming from. Tap into that well, and if there's nothing in there, then give what you want and you will get back what you need.
Have a fabulous Monday, sweet friends.
You are powerful humans, capable of more, worthy of love, and too strong to settle for anything less.
Hey y'all, with the start of the school year in full swing, it's been a minute since I've been able to share my heart and thrive in this space. Let's fix that, on this rainy labor day, I'm here to chat about workplace culture and our place in cultivating one that is productive, encouraging and ultimately, healthy.. not just for us, but for our students.
About a month ago, I asked for suggestions on what to blog about. I got a response on instagram that purplexed me, "how to deal with rude coworkers." SKKKRT. I get it, our jobs get stressful and hard, people like to talk about other people, and it can quickly turn into a place where we feel unsafe to be our true selves. But, the first thing we need to remember when walking on the pile of eggshells that is workplace culture is this, people are not things to be dealt with. That is not, will not ever be in our job descriptions. We have to quickly grasp the fact that gossip, (chronic) rudeness and hard to love behavior stems 100% from something going on inside the heart. Rachel Hollis says it best, "the best way to change people is to change yourself."
So, what to do? You are tired of being a doormat, a punching bag, or the butt of every "joke." I get it, I've been there multiple times in my own life, not even just at work. Let's chat about a few practical ways we can combat negativity, thrive in a toxic environment, and play a part in shifting the culture in which we work in.
1. Take Inventory of Your Space:
I've talked about this before, but I don't think we realize how often we, ourselves, complain and contribute to a negative workplace culture. Even in the last week, I can recall at least 5-6 times where I whined about a student's behavior, gave my 2 cents about how I think something should have been handled, or made a snide comment that probably was unnecessary. (I know, y'all are shocked that I'm human..) But, it's true. If we want the culture to shift, we ourselves need to make the shift, first. Students are challenging, people think differently than us, and life gets busy and stressful. We have to live with the mindset that, no matter what, there's never an excuse to gossip, be a jerk, or set others up for failure. We have to develop the discipline to rise above those behaviors in our own lives. That's our first step. Be mindful of how you spend your down time throughout the day. Refuse to bond with others through gossip. Refuse to let your questions turn into harsh criticism, and force yourself to practice the behaviors you wish to see in your coworkers. You will be shocked at how much work you have to do yourself, which is totally okay. Nobody here is perfect. It just might help to channel your frustration with others into a more productive space by taking inventory of your own business.
Are you allowed to quote yourself from twitter...? because that's what's about to happen....
2. Create Opportunities for Culture Change
Going back to taking inventory, one of the ways that helps me correct these toxic behaviors in myself is by creating constant opportunity to be a better human. Think about the best version of yourself, how do you talk about others? How do you treat them on your best day? Take these opportunities to plant seeds in your coworkers on your best days. Write them random encouraging notes, go out of your way to compliment them on something they're great at, bring them their favorite goody. Pour, pour, pour into people WHILE YOU ARE ON GOOD TERMS WITH THEM. Because, when conflict arises (I say WHEN, because it inevitably will...) you will have laid a foundation with the people you work with.. allowing for more space for grace. If I know someone respects me as a teacher AND a human, I am much more willing to hash out conflict with them when it comes up. Ask your principal, or the head of your "sunshine committee," how you can collaborate with them to develop staff wide initiatives to help build up a culture of respect. Find THOSE people who have the same passion for building others up and work with them to do that. You cannot change culture by yourself, there are people in your building who feel the same way and want to know how they can play a part in the transformation. Find them, brainstorm and change the world together.
Now, building relationships with people does not always mean that you have to become best friends with them. Lemme say that again, so the people in the back can hear, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE BEST FRIENDS WITH YOUR COWORKERS. You can encourage people, compliment them, and work well with them and still go your separate ways when the work day ends. That's totally okay, and in some cases, totally necessary. *I will get on my soap box about having friends outside of work at another time...* Investing in relationships comes with one thing, opening up your heart to be disappointed... which leads me to my next piece... *tswift voice* are you ready for it???
3. Do NOT Take Conflict Personally...
Unless someone directly insults your mama, don't take it personally. Take your heart out of it and approach conflict objectively. What is the problem? How can we solve it? Stop trying to decipher other people's intentions, stop using the phrases "I bet they did that because..." and stop talking crap about other teachers because something they did annoyed you. If it's that annoying or detrimental, have enough respect for them to talk directly to them and hash it out. If you don't have the guts to do that, build yourself a bridge and get the heck over it. Stop losing sleep over stupid crap. If you find yourself walking into the hushed room where everyone was just discussing you in a negative light, ask them how their day is going, compliment their new crocs, grab your coffee and go keep up your hustle. (This next sentence is important so pay attention.)Because here's the deal, if you're constantly keeping yourself in check and you're putting forth a constant effort to build relationships with others, what they have to say about you... it's really not that important and probably isn't that true. The sad fact of the matter is this, some people are just miserable. Some people thrive on being dramatic and gossipy. Some people will just always target people like you, because your hustle makes them uncomfortable. That's a heart issue with them, not you. Be such a light in your environment, that even THOSE people are drowned out by you.
Okay Mads, let's wrap this sucker up.
So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you just can't change other people and if you find yourself constantly beat down by them and their negativity, you probably aren't doing EVERYTHING you can to be a solution to the problem. Culture changers worry less about changing people and focus more on trying new things to build them up, help them find their gifts, and being a cheerleader for them. Always be mindful of where you stand in the progress of your school's culture, work hand in hand with other people in your building to focus on your coworkers, and stop taking petty behavior personally.
Have a great, short week! Go and love some people.
Hey y'all! Welcome back to Tidbit Tuesday. Today I'm talking a little bit about how I go about planning my classroom design and layout. As you read, take ideas and make them your own. Also, keep in mind, this is what works best for me. I changed my classroom design mid year last year so that it would flow better for myself and my kiddos.
The first thing I suggest doing is going INTO your classroom to see what you have to work with. I made the mistake, last year of buying, buying, buying before I actually stepped foot into my new classroom. The teacher before me had left me with a ton of tubs and baskets, as well as used books for my classroom library. I spent a good chunk of money on classroom storage, but I also saved a great deal, because she left all of her dollar tree locker tubs for her books. That was a lifesaver.
After you see what you have to work with and the space you have provided, I suggest grabbing a few pieces of scrap paper and just scribbling your ideas and dreams for each wall. Literally, I have a spiral that has a page for each wall in my classroom and what I want to go on it. That makes it A LOT easier when you're going to set everything up, print bulletin board words, or make border choices. Also, if you're anything like me, you get to channel your inner interior designer and it's great.
I like to tackle my classroom walls before I start moving desks and furniture, but I do move my big pieces first... just to have them where I want them to begin with. When you're hanging all the things, I suggest having a few things handy: 1. a leveler... 2. push pins and 3. a ladder..... I'm pretty stingy about wanting my things to be straight as a board. Before I put up any letters or accents, I use pushpins to hang them up and then I staple... to avoid taking out a million staples. Just get your letters and accents aligned and unpin as you staple...kind of like sewing! And as for the ladder, let's just say, last year I had a running joke with my homeroom about how I bruised my tailbone from falling off a desk trying to make my room look homey for them! LOL!
***This year, I'm going to try and have a little "preview" material on each subject-area bulletin board. Last year I just left them empty, waiting for anchor charts***
Alright, after I have that all taken care of, I label. Label all the things. (If they haven't been already.) I use the number system, each student has a number and their materials/bins are labeled with it before the first day of school. I do this for a couple of reasons. 1. I don't get a class last until, like not even a week before school starts and our turn over rate is pretty high. (we have a lot of move ins and outs) 2. I print and laminate my labels... so it's really difficult to get all of that finished in that short amount of time. It's up to you, I used to be totally against the numbers.... now I understand.
I like to draw out the arrangement of my desks/seating. I'm starting to, very slowly, implement flexible seating. (it's pricey, y'all!!) So, I get my desks set up last, Mostly because it's my least favorite thing to do, I still struggle to get them positioned perfectly, for optimal productivity... ha!
Setting up a classroom can be daunting, especially as a new teacher. You're going to find the perfect set up for yourself. You might do things in a different order, or prioritize things differently and that's okay! If I could give one piece of universal advice, it would be this: START WITH A LIST AND GO FROM THERE. It doesn't matter the order, get your thoughts out on paper and it'll make tackling it so much easier. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. Instagram classrooms can seem daunting, but most of those were built over a period of YEARS. Make a budget, use what you have and it'll be perfect. At the end of the day, your students need a productive space to work in. Target dollar spot items don't make or break that contingency.
With all the love,
YOU GUYS. I am so sorry, I have been completely MIA for two weeks of Teacher Tidbit Tuesday. I honestly did not plan well and my time got away from me. I promise, this won't be a normal thing. The show must go on, let's do this.
You know those people who you follow on instagram who you just gravitate towards? If you haven't seen them post in awhile, you get worried about them... like, they're family? So you rush to their page... just to make sure they're ok? Even if they have no EARTHLY idea who you are? Here are my people.
Ms. Leslie Ann (@lifeinfifthgrade)-
I started following Leslie about 18 months ago, on my personal instagram. I had just accepted my first job as a 5th grade teacher and was so excited to grow my network. I IMMEDIATELY fell in love with her, the way she teaches, and her passion for life. This girl has the best ideas, the cutest outfits and classroom decor. If you're not in the teaching world, she's ALSO a lifestyle blogger and hosts book clubs. I mean, really, she's amazing. It wasn't until about 4 months ago when we connected through my teacher insta. I was starstruck that 1. she noticed me and 2. she took a chance on me with this Teacher Tidbit Tuesday thing. She's a must follow.
Michelle Griffo- (@applesandabcs)
Y'all....... I knew I loved Michelle the minute I saw her first violin practice instastory. She is HILARIOUS. Her lipstick is always on point and she just radiates joy. She creates amazing bulletin boards, but she also is one of those people who you just want to be besties with. So genuine. She will make you want to get crazy nail colors and try purple lipstick, you've been warned.
THE Magnolia Teacher- (@themagnoliateacher)
One of my coworkers was telling me all about her Rae Dunn obsession b/c of "The Magnolia Teacher." So, I went and followed her, like first thing, when I made a teacher instagram. Jess' page quickly became one of my favorites. She is such a ray of light to everyone who follows her. As I've grown to know Jess better, I've realized that we were basically long lost best friends, who live just one state away! She's a light, go follow immediately.
Taylor Madu- (@taylormadu)
Not teaching related, she's just awesome. She'll never know my name, but I'm ok with it bc I'll still be obsessed with her. Fashion, family, and Jesus. She's HILARIOUS. Posts the most relevant stuff and is gorgeous on top of it. She's a pastors wife with 3 beautiful babies. She is just so fun, you'll want her accent- warning.
She's a must follow. Beauty, grace and humor. Also, she's a dog. She's my dog... and you gotta follow her. She's PRECIOUS.
There ya have it, my top 5. Again, y'all... so sorry for the leaf of absence. I'm back with a vengeance and can't wait for next week! Have a happy rest of your week.
I've been looking forward to this topic since the beginning of this blogging series. As the youngins say, "picture books get me feeling some kind of way." LOL My ELAR heart kind of took a blow at the end of this year when I found out I'd be teaching Science and Social Studies only this year, but I believe in a literacy rich classroom, no matter the subject. Picture books are a great way to integrate literacy into your math, science, or social studies classroom- it's a lot easier than you might think! So, without further ado, my current top 10 and how I use them in my classroom.
1. The Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein-
I love starting the year off with this amazing, Caldecott! I usually wait one or two weeks, depending on the class. It's a great resource to use when discussing classroom expectations, specifically talking expectations in the classroom setting. If you're super dramatic, like myself, it gives you great characterization opportunities as well... aka you get to use all your fun voices!!!
2. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell-
Love using this text when we are reteaching Theme! It's a precious story about a young girl who learns to embrace her oddities and use them to show grace to other people! Often times, theme is a really difficult concept for students, so I try to start with something a little more obvious when introducing it at the beginning of the year!
3. Thelma The Unicorn by Aaron Blabey-
Y'all... I just love this book. I was Thelma for book character dress up day.... that's how much I love it. It's just a precious tale about a horse who wants to be a Unicorn, but she learns an important lesson after her dreams come true. I don't want to give it away.... but I'm gonna need you to add it to your classroom library ASAP!!
4. Dancing In the Wings by Debbie Allen-
This picture book actually holds some sentimental value with me. My mom used to read it to me when I was a girl. There are so many things you can teach with this true tale about Debbie Allen's own experience becoming a dancer. The illustrations are breathtaking, the girl power is inspiring, and even my boys loved the humor in it! Maybe it's my background in dance or maybe this book is just that great...
5. Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick-
In 5th grade, we do a lot of nonfiction... I have to admit sometimes I try to sneak in true stories in the form of a picture book- to make it more bearable for myself. Finding Winnie gives you all the good feels, it's the story of how Winnie the Pooh came to be! Students loved this one, because they already had background knowledge and connections after we finished the subtitle. Did you know that Winnie was originally... A GIRL!?!
6. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt-
Ahhh. So many reasons why I love this one. It's absolutely hilarious, to begin with. You can end your lesson with a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament (highly recommend...) AND it puts a great new twist on teaching legends and folktales. Again, because students already had a personal connection to the game, they were already hook! Again... highly recommend having them play on their way back to their seats!!!
7.Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins-
This is a hilarious twist on the old nursery rhyme, Mother Goose. Since we don't do a whole lot of nursery rhyme stuff in 5th grade, I use this comical version to work on our comparing and contrasting skills! We are a thinking map school, so this is a great one to use with a double bubble map. Watch the original nursery rhyme on Youtube, read Mother Bruce and compare the two. With hilarious, relevant references, this one will make your adult heart giggle, too.
8. The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak-
Now, I'm an AVID fan of The Office, but I'm an even bigger fan of this book when teaching figurative language. As you can imagine, if you're going to write a picture book and forego the pictures, you have to rely heavily on your imagery and figurative language. Students will die laughing when you says things like "boo boo butt" to which you'll reply, "okay, repetitive sounds! What kind of figurative language is that?!"
9. Let the Children March by Monica Clark Robinson-
Set in 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, this powerful story of thousands of children standing up to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will get your students thinking heavily about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement. This is a great Social Studies tie in, but if you don't teach SS it's a great book for theme as well. It's a great conversation starter and reflective piece. We read it more than once in my classes and each time, you could hear a pin drop.
10. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty-
Wowie I love this whole series. I don't know what it is about Ada that makes her my favorite, but she is. At the beginning of the year, it's important to discuss what a scientist is. This read aloud opens the eyes of students to the concept that you don't have to be a crazy Einstein lookin' old man to be a scientist. Ada Twist not only encourages girls to pursue their passions, but she symbolizes a large group of people. You don't have to be a middle aged, white man to thrive at science! It sounds silly, but it's important for students to grasp! Can't wait to share this and the rest of these amazing stories with my scientists next year!
Well there ya have it, my current top 10 favorite picture books! Check in with me a month from now and it might be different. But I think that's important. Keep reading, keep finding new favorites. It keeps our jobs interesting and students (big and small) love it when you share your new finds with them! What are some of your favorites?! Do we have any in common???
Also, it's not too late to join in on the fun! Check out our upcoming Teacher Tidbit Tuesday Topics! :)
PS. If you subscribed to my newsletter, I'm waiting to get a few more people on board and then I will do my best to send start sending them out! I have not forgotten you, thanks for your patience. :)
Welcome back to Teacher Tidbit Tuesday! I love today's topic, because it's so fresh for me. Just coming off of my first year in my own classroom, so I have LOT of recent memories and stories.
I got a teaching job fairly quickly. I'm what Michaela from @thetownieteacher, calls a "townie." I'm teaching in the same district that I graduated out of. Granted, the district is massive, with 40 different elementary schools! lol This year I taught with 3 other ladies. I taught ELA/SS while my awesome partner taught math and science. I had two sections that we split the day with. There were about 23/24 students in each class. I teach at a title one so there are quite a few who came and went throughout the year!
My classroom at the beginning of the year was FULL of personality, like bursting at the seams.... and not necessarily in the best way lol. Mid-september we had to totally overhaul our classroom routines and procedures. We started morning meetings and came up with our own set of class rules, which really helped when I had to redirect students, because we referred back to THEIR rules!
My biggest struggle as a FYT was finding where I fit in at school. In the beginning, I burnt myself out trying to please everyone. I quickly learned the value of saying "no" without an explanation. In the beginning of the year, I'd get to school around 6 am and leave close to 5. It was super unhealthy. So, I had to set several boundaries for myself. My second semester went WAY smoother on all levels.
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better school, team, or group of kids to spend my first year with. It was filled with laughter, memories, challenges, and SO MANY STORIES that I will cherish forever.
It's Monday, I'm sitting on my couch in my swimmie watching some lame Netflix original movie, because it's a summer Monday... After I pour my heart out to you I plan on tanning and forgetting the social world for the rest of the day. So, keep that in mind when you're responding. Also, just a reminder that tomorrow is Teacher Tidbit Tuesday, I will be sharing all about my first year of teaching! Super excited to share that with y'all, but today I want to focus the mental health crisis that our nation is facing as we speak.
I posted the picture below to my personal and my blogging instagram. Both had funny, sarcastic captions. Both were a ruse to make you believe that I have my life together, spend my summer days adventuring with my super model husband. About 3 hours after posting that picture, I had a panic attack. I sat on our couch for 3 hours crying, feeling trapped, and repeating the phrase "I just need a way out. I just don't want to be here anymore."
Wow, that's heavy, right? My critics will roll their eyes and say I'm just sharing for attention, but I'm more sharing to be real and use my platform to be real about the fact that we're not doing enough. I've hidden my struggles for years, if I just wanted attention, I would run around buck naked and yell profanities in public, because even that would be easier than what I'm about to share.
I have to be honest and say that my mental health (or lack there of...lol) is a mix of genetics and me just being an idiot. From the beginning, I was a chubby girl. I was one of two girls in third grade who weighed over 100 pounds, girls didn't want to be friends with me, boys just thought I was funny, and I pretty much hated who I was starting at age 9. My parents were divorced and despite having a pretty ideal living situation, it still affected me. I watched my step dad leave my mom when I was in 2nd grade for no real reason explained to me. I went to 3 different elementary schools. In 4th grade, I started going to a private college prep school in Addison, Texas. This is where, looking back, I can really start to see where my issues begun. Not only was I the fat girl, but I was also the girl who didn't have as much money as my classmates. I remember only being allowed to invite 10 girls to my 4th grade birthday party. There were 13 in my class, I got in trouble for not inviting every girl... Crap like that piled up. In 8th grade, we took a trip to The Ozark's. We were required to hike from the bus to our campsite (about a mile, if I remember correctly) and at the end of the trip, hike back up to the bus. I was one of 4 people chosen to begin the hike 30 minutes early... along with 3 other overweight students. I remember sitting on the bus waiting for the rest of the grade to show up... totally humiliated. It was then when I began asking my mom to go to public high school. I thought that would help.
Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school. I began dating a boy, we'll call him Toby. (because if you watch The Office... Toby is the WORST.) I was so happy. I really remember being so swooned. (is that a word... we're making it one...) Like most high school, anxiety inducing relationship, this one was as toxic as it got. I gave him EVERYTHING. Then he'd walk away, cheat on me, or tell me I was boring. Then he'd come back... and the cycle repeated for four years. In between cycles, I would date around and flirt with other boys. Especially when I transferred school in 11th grade. My two years at LHS were plagued with crap. 13 Reasons Why crap... Traumatizing crap.
I went off to college, I thought that would help. I was still talking to Toby (while he was dating another girl...) and talking to pretty much any boy that seemed interested. Within my first semester of college, I found myself in two situations where boys locked me into their dorm rooms forcing themselves onto me. January rolled around and I was done. I found myself, for the second time in my life (the first being in high school after my 2nd or 3rd break up with Toby...) not wanting to be alive. I had sworn off boys, started going to church, and had big plans to transfer to a Texas school, because I thought that would help. Cue Colton Fairchild.
*flashback*I remember walking to work on a cold November morning, we were playing Baylor and College GameDay was in town. I saw the cutest boy holding a hilarious sign. I had no idea, two months later he'd be my saving grace. I got to work and was scrolling through twitter when I realized that cute boy followed me! *flashback end*
January 26, 2014 Colton Wesley Fairchild messaged me on twitter asking if I wanted to go to church and I told him no. Paralyzed by anxiety. Not sure why a guy who was so smoking hot would want anything to do with my fat, messed up self. ( I mean... y'all... he had abs.... and that JAWLINE.) Any who, we started dating. I thought that would help. But about 6 months in, the panic attacks started again. Colton was confused, I was confused. But we figured it out together. The rest of my college career was defined by happiness, connectedness, and for the most part, peace.
It wasn't until this year, being back in Texas, starting a new job, being newly married, and a living in a freakishly small apartment, when my anxious tendencies crept their way back in. Perfectionism, crying a lot, going from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds, being a vegetable most weekends, and having absolutely no motivation when it came to anything but work.... I gained 15 pounds and a lot of emotional baggage. I have it all... the perfect job, the perfect husband, near perfect coworkers and friends. My husband and I are so young but making plans to do amazing things. My blog took off in a matter of days. Everything SEEMS great. Everything seemed great with Kate Spade?
The problem with anxiety, depression, mental illness is that it's not a choice. I don't get to choose when I'm happy or sad. Every emotion is felt at 500% and my highs are high while my lows are embarrassingly low. Which brings me to Saturday.
"I don't want to be here. Everything would be better if I could just find a way to leave."
There is a voice inside of me putting those thoughts and feelings into my head. It's so real and if I could just snap out of it, dear Lord, I WOULD. I think sometimes, the only stories we read or hear are are recovery stories... I look forward to the day where I'm able share my story from a recovery perspective and I'm taking the steps necessary to get there. But until then, I'm going to be brave enough to share it from a warrior's perspective.
SO, what do we do?
I've tried several times to open up to people I'm close to about my struggles with Mental Illness. There are about 3 people who took me seriously and sought to understand. Some of my favorite responses when I tried to tell people were as follows:
1. You're just being dramatic, everything will be okay.
2. Are you sure you had a panic attack? Those are really serious...
3. I didn't know you were even capable of being upset! That doesn't seem like you..
4. That's just part of being a teacher! That's just part of life.
I'm here to tell you, no. No you're not crazy, that's not a normal part of life, you're worthy of being here. Thinking that the world would be a better place if you weren't in it, crying and feeling stuck all the time, wishing the rest of your life away, THAT IS NOT JUST A PART OF LIFE. PERIOD. If someone has ever tried to open up to you and your response was similar to those above, I'm afraid to say that you're part of the problem.
One of the worst parts about mental illness is how debilitating it is. You feel like a burden to everyone around you. You purposefully take yourself out of social situations, just because you feel unwanted. SO, if you're one who does not struggle with a mental illness and you notice that someone close to you is withdrawing, talking less, hiding more... you have to say something. Something as simple as, "hey, you've seemed down... everything okay?" BOOM. WOW. AMAZING. And then, after you ask, just listen and try to understand. Understand that it's not their choice to feel trapped. Understand that behind every overreaction there is a long, ass story like the one I shared above. And then, continue to check in and make sure your people are getting the help they need.
I truly think mental illness is not a taboo subject, until it's someone close to us who is struggling. That's the stigma we have to break. We can't just wait until someone we kind of knew commits suicide to pretend to care about other people's mental wellbeing. It STARTS with the people closest to us. This is where I think we're getting it wrong. I purposefully don't talk about my mental illness with specific people because I know they won't take it seriously, some of these people are people who I interact with everyday. But, when I posted to my 7,700 followers on instagram that I was struggling, people reached out left and right. That is so backwards. Why are we so hesitant to love on the people close to us who we know are struggling, but if it's someone we know in passing/ have a minor connection to... we all of the sudden care? We have to be more compassionate as a whole, because people are suffering. Give people the benefit of the doubt, love them relentlessly, and combat the lies in their heads telling them that they don't belong.
Mental illness is not one single persons fault, I wish I could pinpoint the reason or throw the blame on someone or something... but I just can't. I'm done talking, but on Saturday evening, I opened a google form for people to share their stories. The thing that spoke the most to me was what they wanted to say to those who don't struggle with mental illness. I'm going to let them speak for themselves. Thank you for reading this far. I challenge you to reach out, listen to someone else's story today, and then love the crap outta them.
Join me tomorrow for a lighter, way more fun topic: My First Year of Teaching!!!
Hey there! Happy Tuesday!!! Can you believe it's June already? Good gravy, I can't. I'm super excited for what's to come in this space, one of those things being Teacher Tidbit Tuesday!! I'm teaming up with some amazing women and educators to tackle a new topic each Tuesday this summer. Now, don't worry... it's summertime ya know? So obvi, not everything will be teacher related. Let's get this show on the road with Week 1: All About Me.
I figured, to make this easy for everyone, that I'd just list a few things and call it good. So here we go, 8 random things about me, Maddie Paige Fairchild.
1. First up, since my sophomore year in High School, I've lived with some serious anxiety. It really is a part of who I am, but it manifests itself in weird ways. For instance, humor at terrible times or perfectionism in stressful seasons. I try really hard to use it as a tool to reach and encourage other women who go through it, too!
2. My Husband DM'd me on Twitter... that's how we met. Does it get anymore 21st century than that? Nope. We dated for 4 years before we tied the knot. He's everything I'm not. Tall, super pale, but super handsome. He is gentle, forgiving, and very, very calm. I hit the hubby jackpot.
3. I'm a fifth grade teacher in North Texas. I love my job, but at this moment I'm typing this and my students are about to come into my classroom... and I have to be honest.... I love them.... but it's time for summer. I mean..... I need it. They need it.... We all need summer.
4. I have a golden retriever, HER HER HER HER HER name is Scout. She's named after Scout Finch from "To Kill A Mockingbird." Everyone thinks she's a boy. She's not. She dances to the beat of her own drum and suffers from some form of epilepsy. We can't quite figure out what her issue is, but we love her all the same.
5. My dream job is to own and operate a wedding venue with my husband in Hawaii... I mean, how fun would that be?!
6. I'm super into fashion and finding weird, but great deals. I don't claim to be a fashionista, I just try to keep up.
7. I hardly ever have my nails done. I seriously hate getting them done, I can't sit still for that long.
8. I'm passionate about being unapologetically myself and helping others do the same.
What do we have in common?! Thanks for reading this far!! I know that was short and sweet, but I think that's what an introduction should be!! Wanna join in on the fun?! Checkout the topics below!! We'd love to have you!
Y'all, what if not caring about other's opinion is a catalyst to loving them better, instead of an excuse to be a jerk to them?
"I just don't care what other people think about me." Have you said it? Or heard it said before? Have you heard it said to justify something? *SHOVES DONUT INTO FACE* "Oh I don't care what people think." *GETS INTO WORTHLESS FACEBOOK ARGUMENT* "It's fine, they can hate me, I don't care!" *TREATS SOMEONE INCREDIBLY POORLY, JUST BECAUSE THEY TREATED US POORLY TO BEGIN WITH* "Yeah, I may be a b****, good thing I don't care what people think!" Y'all, what if not caring about other's opinion is a catalyst to loving them better, instead of an excuse to be a jerk to them?
I want you to think about those people who you know who are just impossible to dislike. They love Jesus, are always kind, speak in a Disney Princess voice at all times, and just sprinkle good vibes wherever they go. I used to hate these people. I mean, I was nasty about them (behind their backs, of course.) WHY couldn't I be rainbows and sunshine everyday? Why did God make them unicorns and me a rhino? But I had an epiphany, being a unicorn is a freakin' choice. People who are always bright rays of shine DON'T like everyone they encounter. They choose to treat them with respect and love, even though they disagree with them. This seems like an elementary concept, but hear me out.
For the longest time, I would justify my petty behavior with the phrase, "I don't care what other people think about me." Because in all reality, I DID CARE. I cared so much when I would put my everything into something and people would be hateful or caddy towards me. I cared so much that other people thought I was fat or thought I was "too much." So how did I handle that? I was passive aggressive and tacky back. But y'all, tacky behavior does not, will not ever combat tacky behavior. Let me say it slower and louder so the people in the back can hear it.... being tacky BACK to someone who was previously tacky towards you does not solve the problem. So what do us mere mortals, who were not born with pixie dust farts and kindness snot do? We work extra hard to not respond to pettiness with more pettiness.
Let me go back to my comment before, being a unicorn is a choice. If we're being honest, if you're living your life to the fullest, using your resources, and tapping into the best part of yourself, THERE'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE PUSHBACK. Why do we take it so personally? That's just silly. You know that preteen phrase you screamed at your mom when she asked you if you wanted tacos or spaghetti for dinner? You know the one I'm talking about! "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND MY LIFE!!!" What if we took that phrase and flipped it to work for our benefit. If you're hustling or doing what you love and you get a snotty look, don't be angry. They just don't understand, and it's never going to be your job to make them. And that's perfectly okay. If you're super passionate about basket weaving and you walk into a room thick with gossip that you know was about you, don't get upset. They don't understand. That's okay. We let people and lies rob us of so much happiness. So choose, choose to be a unicorn. You don't have to be a rhino.
Is it easier said than done? Absolutely. I still battle it. Here's what I've found works for me:
1. Find the good:
I think of everything in teacher terms. Typically, there's at least one or two kids in a class who test your patience. Somedays it's REALLY hard to find likable traits about them, especially when I know they hate me in return. (lol) I make myself find SOMETHING. Even if it's something as simple as their legible handwriting that day. Then, I repeat that positive thought in my head over and over again. So, when they're a turd to me, I have at least one positive thing I can say to them. Is it awkward when a student yells out, "nobody cares!" during a lesson and I simply respond, "you have great handwriting!!" Yes, but it keeps me from losing my cool and letting it ruin my day.
2. Accept that people won't dig everything you do:
Truly "not caring" what other people think means pursuing what you love, regardless of other peoples thoughts about it AND not taking their thoughts too personally. I can control me. That's it. So, I'm gonna keep working towards my goals, be nice to everyone, and let the Big Man take care of the rest.
3. Find your tribe:
It might not be the people you work with. It might not be the ladies you go to church with. It doesn't matter where they come from, what they look like, or what they do for a living. All that matters is that you have cheerleaders in your life telling you how great you are, how you're going to reach your goals, and dropping the occasional truth bomb when you need it. Those are the thoughts you take to heart, those are the people whose opinions you value, not the others. Not the random instagram trolls. Find the people you can trust, vent to, and walk with- it makes handling the haters a lot easier.
I think people who truly don't care about what other people think are the nicest people. They're the most successful, easiest to be around, and most fun to talk to. Don't hide your insecurity by saying you don't care what people think, when you actually care too much. Choose to be a freakin' unicorn and actually not care.