Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Agenda Organization for Teachers



I'm still hesitant to share too many posts about teaching. I created my blog five years ago to serve as a creative outlet, and I do want to keep it as an outlet. However, I guess I do have to acknowledge that teaching has become a big part of my life just like being a student used to be.  I did a couple polls a few weeks back and you guys said you wanted more posts about teaching and organization, so I thought I would start out by combining the two.  I love being organized. When life feels like it's getting crazy, being organized is the one thing that I do have control over.  

Being a middle school teacher, I feel like it's a little extra important that I am organized.  Middle school is a time when students are building life skills (like being organized), so it's important for them to have models for them to imitate behaviors from. In my class, I am constantly teaching my students organization tricks.  I occasionally will even have students stay after school with me to help get their binders organized for classes other than mine. 

Since my senior year of high school, I have kept my personal and academic life organized by using an agenda.  My agenda has always helped me keep track of important events, due dates, and to do lists to keep me focused.  During undergrad I always thought about what my teacher agenda would look like.  During student teaching I used a jumbo Lilly Pulitzer agenda. It worked well because I had to balance lesson planning, class assignments, and my social life. However, I knew I would need more space when I would manage my own classes without the help of someone else.  Last spring, my long term substitute position was only for a few months, so I created my own agenda using print outs and a binder. Amidst my job hunt this summer, I began doing research so that I could purchase my teacher agenda as soon as I was hired.  I spent about a month looking up different reviews, talking to friends that had already started teaching, and reading teaching blogs.  I had gone to several different stores to preview a few different agendas. Near the end of July, I finally decided what I wanted and it was on sale, but I had not been hired anywhere yet.  I refused to purchase a planner until I was actually hired because I didn't want to jinx myself out of a contract.  My mom purchased it for me and hid it in her home office until I was finally hired. 

I chose to use the Happy Teacher Planner. I purchased it at Michael's. They had a huge sale and promotion going on, so I got the teacher pack plus a free hard cover for less than $30. The teacher box kit came with an extra sticker set, a pen, and a bookmark with sticky notes.I also purchased an additional sticker book because I had a coupon. I prefer the hard cover for two reasons. The first reason, it's more my style. The second reason is that it protects the pages better. I've spilled water in my bag, but the hard shell kept the pages from being ruined.

These are some of the stickers that come in the extra pack, but below are the stickers that came in the kit as well as the book I purchased. 

The feature that sold me on this specific brand as opposed to others is that you can take the pages out and move them around, which is not possible with any other planner that I've found. This planner also allows for tons of flexibility and creativity.  Some people have compared it to scrap booking.  The stickers allow you to customize it to fit your needs. It could 100% be used by elementary or secondary teachers.  

I use Washi tape to separate the daily pages into the columns that I need. I use a section for eighth grade, eighth grade homework, sixth grade, sixth grade homework, and daily to do lists. There is enough room for me to even write extra notes about each section I teach.

This is what the pages look when you first get it. The dates and week numbers are blank as well, but I had already filled them in prior to this picture. 

Step two is to set up the week's outlook to fit your needs. I teach two different grades, so I dedicate a side for each grade level.

Step three is to write your plans in.  Pro tip in case you are new to teaching- always write your plans in pencil.  Things change very quickly, and you never know when you're going to have to change your plans due to weather, pacing of a topic, emergency drills, and other unexpected interruptions. 


Some of my favorite features include the front and back pockets to store important papers, the monthly calendar, notes pages before each month, the class checklists, and the monthly pages for special events/reminders.  The notes pages are nice because I am able to keep track of important notes from team meetings, department meetings, parent meetings, and faculty meetings in one spot without having to bring another notebook.  I also enjoy having the option to look at the entire month's calendar at one time.  This is where I write down any important meetings or changes to the daily schedule.



The checklists are great because you can keep your grade book and plan book all in one place.  I usually color code each assignment, so by the end of the marking period my grading sheet is quite colorful. If you need more checklists, then you can purchase the teacher expansion pack or the special whole punch to use after making copies of your grade book. 

Although I'm only half way through the year, I definitely anticipate on purchasing another Happy Planner to use for teaching next year.  It's been easy to keep track of plans, meetings, important notes, grades, passwords, etc.

What do you use to keep your daily life organized?
XOXO


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Goal Setting Update

If you've been reading my blog for some time now, then you have come to learn how much I love goal setting.  I am not one to set resolutions because they are too vague, which means I never stick to them.  I like setting goals because they are clear and concise. It's easy to tell whether or not you have achieved them or if you fell short. Quality goals are measurable, which makes them easier to check off as accomplished tasks. Last January I created my new year goals a little differently. I created my second 101 things to accomplish in 1,001 days list.  Well, it's been just over a year, so I thought it was time for an update on what I've accomplished thus far. 


Starts: January 2, 2017
Ends: September 30, 2019 
(22 complete, 79 to go!) 

Blogging 
1. Collaborate with a brand I enjoy (2017)
2. Host a blogging series
3. Host a giveaway 
4. Make blogging business cards
5. Publish a collaboration post (February 2017)
6. Monetize the blog
7. Publish three “how to” posts
8. Update my “About me” page

Personal
9. Become an involved alumnae of my sorority (Alpha Delta Pi) 
10. Buy a car (April 2017)
11. Complete 52 week saving challenge
12. Go a month without ordering takeout
13. Go a month without shopping (February 2017)
14. Inspire others to create their own goal list
15. Knit for charity
16. Learn calligraphy 
17. Learn how to give myself a blowout
18. Move into my first grown up apartment/home
19. Obtain a passport 
20. Participate in 100 happy days 
21. Put $10 into my savings account for every goal accomplished
22. Read 5 books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
23. Read a book a month
24. Take a class to learn how to use my DSLR camera
25. Take part in More Love Lettering
26. Unplug for 24 hours
27. Volunteer somewhere regularly
28. Write 10 Operation Beautiful notes

Career
29. Have my own classroom (Fall 2017)
30. Obtain a coaching certification
31. Obtain my masters degree
32. Pass the PA Middle Grades Science PRAXIS
33. Pass the Reading Specialist PRAXIS
34. Travel with one of the teams I coach

Just For Fun
35. Attend a concert (August 2017)
36. Complete an adult coloring book
37. Complete one knitting project (April 2017)
38. Do a wine tasting (April 2017)
39. Go for a hike somewhere new
40. Go snorkeling 
41. Go to a beer garden 
42. Go to a concert (August 2017)
43. Go to a MLB game
44. Go to a NFL game (October 2017)
45. Go to a NHL game (December 2017)
46. Go to a NBA game (January 2017)
47. Go white water rafting
48. Have a picnic
49. Learn how to golf
50. Learn how to make a martini
51. Leave a 100% tip for good service
52. Participate in an escape room
53. Pick a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch and carve it
54. Pick berries
55. Play mini golf (August 2017)
56. See a movie in the park
57. Spend a day at the aquarium 
58. Spend a day at the zoo
59. Take dance lessons 
60. Try a new brewery (July 2017- Dewey Brewing Company) 
61. Visit a museum(February 2017)
62. Watch a movie at a movie tavern 
63. Watch a movie outdoors

Friends & Family
64. Eat at Talula’s Table 
65. Give five “just because” gifts(3 down)
66. Treat someone to brunch  (January 2017)
67. Host a brunch
68. Host a cookie/beer exchange
69. Host a dinner party
70. Mail a care package (February 2017)
71. Make a list of birthdays and addresses
72. Plan a ladies’ weekend
73. Send birthday cards

Health & Fitness
74. Complete a fitness challenge
75. Complete A Year of Mindfully Living
76. Don’t let more than two days in a row pass without working out for a year
77. Make a routine of doing yoga/Pilates
78. Make homemade hummus (Summer 2017)
79. Participate in “Meatless Mondays” for one month 
80. Participate in a color run
81. Plant a vegetable garden 
82. Run a 15 K
83. Run a 5k (November 2017)
84. Run a half marathon
85. Try a barre class (July 2017)

Travel
86. Go camping 
87. Go on a road trip
88. Go somewhere with fairly clear ocean water
89. Go to DC at Christmas time
90. Ride a train somewhere
91. Spend a day in Baltimore
92. Spend time in the Florida Keys 
93. Take a trip with my mom
94. Travel outside the United States
95. Vacation on the coast of New England
96. Visit a three new states
97. Visit Boston, Massachusetts 
98. Visit Charleston, South Carolina (August 2017)
99. Visit Chicago
100. Visit NYC
101. Visit Reading Terminal Market

In the past year I have been able to check 22 items off the list. Not quite as many as I had hoped, but it's certainly a start. Take a look at some of the tasks I've completed below. 

Collaborate with a Brand
Check out my post on how to conquer and early morning gym session here


Go a month without shopping
Intentionally, I chose the shortest month of the year to complete this task.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I think it helps that my birthday is this month, so anything I wanted I just asked for on my birthday wish list.  I think I'm going to be forced to complete this challenge again, at some point, this year because we are saving to pay for our wedding and a future house. 

Buy a Car
In April, I got my first teaching position as a Long Term Substitute. The money I made along with what I had saved allowed me to purchase my own car.  It was a little out of my budget, but since I spend so much time commuting to work I definitely don't mind the pricey car payment.  If you're looking for a new car, then I highly recommend checking out Subaru. 

Have My Own Classroom
This summer was spend job hunting.  The first week in August I was on vacation with my family when I received the long awaited "you got the job" phone call.  I spent a few days in August setting up the classroom that I have been teaching in for the past five months.  It's crazy to believe that I'm coming up on the half way mark of my first full year teaching! Here's a sneak peak of my room. I'm planning to give you a more detailed tour in the upcoming month!

Attend a Concert
To conclude the summer, my family went to see Zac Brown Band.  It was such a fun concert. If you haven't seen him, then definitely add him to your list of bands to see.  I would recommend seeing him at a smaller venue if possible. My dad, who doesn't love country music, even thought the show was awesome. 

Complete a Knitting Project
I forgot to take a picture of the final project, but last year I spent several months creating the softest baby blanket for one of my closest friends.  I gave her the gift just before her baby was born, and it turns out to be one of his favorite blankets now! 

Attend a Wine Tasting
Mid May we travelled to Virginia with Todd's family.  We took advantage of being in wine country and toured several different wineries. Our favorite was a small family run vineyard.  They served the tastiest homemade snacks to pair with each wine.  

Visit a Beer Garden
One of our favorite local watering holes during the summer is a pop up beer garden.  They have yard games, live music, food trucks,  a different brand of beer on tap each weekend, kids activities, and are dog friendly.  We're hoping that our pup will be calm enough to tag along with us this upcoming summer. 

NHL Game, NBA Game, and MBA game
So close to making it to all four major sports in one year!  We went to a Philadelphia Flyers game, Philadelphia Eagles game, and a Philadelphia 76ers game this past year.  I'm hoping to make it to a Phillies game sometime this spring or summer. 

Visit Charleston, SC & Play Mini Golf & Try a New Brewery
This summer my family packed up the car and headed down south for a week of relaxation.  Charleston was absolutely amazing.  I loved the balance of history, beach time, and fabulous food/beverages. My family has developed a tradition of playing mini golf on vacation. Of course we searched for a place to keep the tradition going in South Carolina.  You don't know what competitive is until you've played a round of mini golf with us. 

I have 633 days left to complete 79 tasks. I think it is definitely doable as long as I stay focused. As I rang in the new year, I thought about how I can be more diligent with completing my list.  I decided to break the tasks down by month.  I decided that on average I need to complete about 4-5 tasks per month.  

This month I am working to begin crossing off some longer term goals: starting grad school, reading at least a book per month, not letting more than two days pass without some type of exercising, and by publishing a "how to" post.

The short goals I plan to cross off my list this month include visiting NYC, watching a movie at a movie tavern, inspiring at least one other person to create their own goal list, and leave a 100% tip somewhere even if it's just at the local coffee shop. 

If you're interested in making your own list, then I have a few tips for you.  First, take a look at several different people's list to gain inspiration. Second, break your list down into topics. This will make it easier to come up with 101 items.  Third, once you've made your list break it down into small monthly tasks.  Fourth, have fun! 


If you're interested in making a list, let me know so I can cross off that I've inspired someone! 

Stay current with my list throughout the year by checking here frequently. 

XOXO



Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Blog Recap

I started out 2017 on my blogging "A game". I was getting all time high comments, views, and collaborations with brands and other bloggers.  I was posting regularly. I took the time to take high quality pictures with my camera. But then life got in the way... my up and down roller coaster of frequent postings to being MIA continued yet again.  I honestly am blaming life for this.  This year has been a tough one for me.  It was certainly a transition year from being a college student to an adult. A year filled with losing people close to me and my family.  A year that redefined what it means to be healthy.  A year that taught me to truly count my blessings. Regardless of my excuses, I let you (my readers) down and for that I apologize.  I'm looking forward to starting a new year. I'm more than ready for a fresh start on multiple levels. My personal life, my health, my academic life, and my business are all ready to jump start the new year with a rejuvenated dedication to giving everything 110%. The end of the year is always one of my favorite times as a blogger. I enjoy looking back on the year to reflect on what posts you all enjoyed the most, what posts I loved writing and sharing with you, and making a game plan for the upcoming year. 

I hope you enjoy reading my favorite posts from the year! 

January

February

March


April

May

June


July



August


September

October
October was my month of being a bad blogger. I was so caught up in being a first year teacher that I didn't publish a single post. I had tons of ideas, but I never got around to sitting down for long enough to turn the thoughts I had into words/pictures. 

November

December 

Reader Favorites:

February:Styling Booties 




June:June Favorites   



SeptemberSeptember Playlist

October: no posts published

November:Life Lately


I hope you come back this upcoming week to join me on my adventure of becoming a better blogger!
Wishing you a fun and safe New Year's Eve!

XOXO


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Story Behind Our Engagement


In case you didn't figure it out from my post a couple of weeks ago... I have some big news to share with you guys. Last month Todd and I got engaged! I thought it would be fun to share our love story with you all from both of our perspectives, so today we are sharing with you how we met and our engagement story.


How we met:

Her version:
Before I give you the story behind the engagement, I want to provide you with a little bit of a back story.  We met in 2010.  I was a Junior and he was a Senior in high school.  We ran in similar social circles but our paths never actually crossed.  It was Labor Day Weekend, and I was playing in the annual season opener tournament for field hockey.  Our school always hosted the tournament, so we usually had a decent amount of fans (friends from school) present/taunting the other teams and referees. In between games the boys thought it was funny to try to play field hockey. Being the competitive athlete I was, I was slightly peeved that a stranger was using my equipment. Although, I did think the stranger was pretty cute. 

Disclaimer- it was a big recruiting season for me and I was just getting back to playing after a major concussion. I was very serious about getting recruited and I was worried what would happen if my stick was damaged. 

Looking back, I still laugh at this! Later that night my best friend and I went to our local grocery store to pick up a sweet treat.  We opted for what we thought would be the quick check out option, self check out, because we did not want our ice-cream to melt.  Well, the quick option was not so quick.  We continuously tried to scan our items, but each time we did our lane was closed.  We thought the machine was malfunctioning, but several minutes later we found out it was the stranger from our game earlier. He confessed to playing a joke on us and chatted for several minutes.  Later that night we became friends on Facebook. Within the week we started to talk on messenger and in the halls in between classes.

The following weekend we had our first "date".  He came over on a Sunday morning to make breakfast with me.  We made pancakes and bacon.  He was disappointed to find out that my parents house did not have a coffee maker. (Anyone who knows Todd knows his obsession with coffee. He drinks it morning, day, and night) At the time my culinary skills were sub par, so let's just say I was not a expert pancake flipper.  To this day he still makes fun of me for flipping the pancake onto the stovetop rather than the griddle. I guess my cooking skills didn't scare him away because a week later we officially started dating.


At the time I thought he would be a cute date for the annual Homecoming dance and somebody fun to hangout with, but I didn't have high expectations for a relationship with longevity as I was a junior and he was a senior.  He was Mr. Popular (homecoming king, junior prom prince, athlete) and I was just another junior girl crushing on him (honors student, athlete with hopes of being recruited for college, and a girl filled with goals).  I thought we would last through the school year if we were lucky, but clearly we were made to last much longer than that.

Fast forward a bit.. We have been together for seven years now.  During this time we endured going to college at separate universities, a kidney transplant, breast cancer, field hockey games, conference tennis matches, many weddings, tons of family functions, beach trips, nights out with friends, and our fair share of growing pains.  We have been able to grow individually and as a couple, which is one of my favorite things about us.  



His version:

As I entered my Senior year of high school, all I wanted to do was have fun and not worry about any drama. The first three years of high school I played football, and for my last year of high school I decided not to play (We were not very good at the time...). So one Saturday morning I decided to volunteer to record the big east coast wrestling tournament. Our school was hosting the tournament, and I got extra credit in my TV and Video class for volunteering. We stood there with video cameras on a tripod and recorded guys wrestling in tights. Not how I imagined spending my Saturday morning, but like I said it was for extra credit. I got bored very easily, and my friend told me to leave the camera on record so we could go to the field hockey tournament. We walked down there and talked to some of the girls we knew on the team. I never thought that day would be the one that I was going to meet the love of my life. I had work that night. I spent the shift on the self checkout lane. I noticed two girls, who went to my school and who were on the field hockey team, were checking out in one of my lanes. I wanted to prank them, so I closed their lane anytime they tried scanning their items. They realized I was closing their lane on purpose, and I was laughing at them. Later that night, I received a Facebook request from one of those girls... after tons of messages we exchanged phone numbers and started talking more. Little did I know, seven years later, I would become engaged to this girl and my life could not be better.


The engagement story

Her version:
This past October we celebrated our seven year anniversary.  It felt surreal that we are actually so much closer to being together for ten years than we are to year one.  Over the years our celebrations have changed from gifts to the gift of experience.  My gift to Todd was tickets to the Eagles game on our actual anniversary, and his gift to me was a photo shoot with a professional photographer. I was honestly less than impressed, but I was a good sport while he assured me that "it would be fun because it's something we haven't done out of all the years we have been together." Plus we are the worst at remembering to take pictures together, so I guess the thought of having actual pictures wasn't so bad. I was a little surprised that he picked out a date, time, and location without consulting me, but I honestly thought nothing of it.  As the time got closer and closer, I began to get more irritated at the thought of doing this photoshoot.  I shared quite openly that I was not a fan of the whole outing as our dog was not allowed to come, work was at a stressful high for me, and we needed to save the money. I also pointed out that it was dumb to get pictures taken when we would just have to do the same thing in the hopefully near future once we got engaged.  Well..while I was busy vocalizing this to my closest friends, Todd was secretly busy showing them all pictures of the ring he bought me and sharing every detail in his engagement game plan.

The day of our photoshoot, I slept in like really slept in for the first time since school started.  I woke up at 11:00 am to a flurry of text messages from him about what time I would be ready, what I was planning to wear, and other silly things.  I cooked breakfast had some coffee, and finally woke up enough to begin to think about the day.  I had no idea what I would wear and was oddly not stressed about finding the perfect outfit.  Eventually, I managed to come up with three possible outfits.  I sent some lovely mirror pictures to Todd and my friends of my outfit options.  After several votes, I finally picked out my favorite outfit.  It was a chilly fall afternoon, so I opted for jeans, riding boots, a plaid shirt, and a black quilted vest. I spent longer than usual doing my hair and makeup simply because I did not have to rush off to work like usual.  I enjoyed taking my time, and was quite pleased with how my look turned out.  Part of me was actually getting excited for our date.

Todd picked me up and we were on our way to the park.  He was smily and pleasant as always.  He assured me once again that we would have a fun afternoon. On the way we chatted about what we wanted to dinner, but we never figured it out.  We got to the park and met up with our photographers. We walked around, posed awkwardly, and laughed for the first half hour.  I realized that I was actually having fun! About mid way through I looked over and thought I saw a dog that looked like ours, but my attention was quickly changed by getting set for our next picture.  A minute later my brother came around the corner with our dog.  I was so confused, and when I asked what they were doing. My brother told me he was bored and decided to come see us. Still I thought nothing of it even though we lived an hour away from the park.  I then turned to see Todd reaching for something tied around Brody's neck as he was getting down on one knee! I was so surprised. Todd said some things that neither of us honestly don't really remember.  I do know he said my full name and asked if I would marry him. .. the two key things in a proposal. We then spent the next half hour taking more photographs. Todd was so prepared that he brought signs with cute but corny sayings on them.  We took some pictures with our dog and of just us.




The photo shoot ended, and my brother said he was taking the dog home because Todd was taking me out to dinner.  We parted ways and headed to the restaurant Todd made reservations at.  I tried to call my both of my parents and neither of them answered! Todd offered that they were probably sleeping. We got to the restaurant where I was greeted by my second surprise of the day. We walked in to find both of our families seated waiting for our arrival.  It was so nice to be able to share our night with the people that are closest to us.  I was even lucky enough to have my aunt (who is a jeweler) join us and put the ring guard on my ring since it was too big.   At the end of dinner, the restaurant's manager kindly provided us with complementary champagne (my favorite) for a toast.  Before heading home, I was provided with surprise number three of the day.  Todd arranged for my brother's best friend to dress up and be our driver.  It was so funny! Plus after a few drinks neither one of us were in any shape to drive home.  My parents were generous enough to keep the celebration going by having everyone to their house after dinner. We kept the champagne flowing, had dessert, and continued to share our excitement as a big family.  Once we got home, Todd surprised me again.  He gave me three bottles of wine each with my new monogram on the label.  By the end of the night I was exhausted and over joyed.  The day could not have been more perfect from the weather to how awesome our photographers were to the little details that Todd thought of.

I am so excited to begin planning our big day and to be able to spend the rest of my life with someone who has such a big heart.

His version:
The day we got engaged was on a beautiful November afternoon and she had no idea it was coming. I hired a professional photographer to take pictures of us. Mich thought it was just for fun because we never had them done before. Prior to that day, I told Mich our son (dog) Brody was not aloud to come because the photographers were not "dog people". She was not pleased with that one bit. 

Little did she know, I had a plan in place. She and I were going to go the park, and mid way through the shoot I'd have her brother bring Brody with him to the park so he could deliver the ring. As we were getting pictures taken of us, her brother showed up with Brody and she was so confused. Her brother walked Brody up to us, and I had a pouch on his collar. As I knelt down to get the ring out of the pouch, I asked my best friend to marry me. 

After she said yes, I told her we had dinner arrangements at a restaurant for the two of us.
She tried calling her parents on our way to dinner, but they didn't answer. Thats because I surprised her by having her family and my family meet us at the restaurant! 

Lastly, so we didn't have to worry about driving home, I asked her brother's friend if he could drive us home...after a few celebratory drinks it's never a good idea to drive. As we were leaving, I gave the keys to her brother's friend and he pulled the car around. As we walked outside, her brother's friend had a chauffeur's hat, white gloves, and a bow tie on. We got home that night and made a toast to our engagement. That is my side of the story of how I asked my best friend of seven years to marry me.


We would like to give a big thank you to our wonderful photographers! They did an amazing job. If you live in our area and need someone to snap your important moments, contact us for their information and a referral!
(No this is not an advertisement..just genuine appreciation)

We hope you enjoyed reading our sappy story!
xoxo