Sunday, December 29, 2013

13 in '13 Linky

Really excited to link up with Hadar, Kristin and Traci for their fun linky :)

Exercise pants. I loooove them. I will wear them to work, to lounge in, wherever. Love, love, love them.
  Catching Fire, no question. I saw it twice. Once with The Oldest, once (last night) with The Husband. Team Peeta! woo hoo!
 I don't really watch that much TV but lately I have found myself lounging in bed and watching pretty much anything on HGTV.

 There is a little restaurant here in our small town that has the BEST Mexican food ever. I loooove to go there. Esp on Wednesdays for their $2 margaritas!
The 8-station rotation for math and reading that my team implemented this year. I will be posting more about it in January once we're back to school.
 Does it count if its a gift to myself?? :) With my Thirty-One commission in December, I bought myself a 2nd row ticket to the Skillet concert coming in March! :D


 Hands down, it's this one!
 Earning National Board Certification! :)

 This is my favorite because it meant I was back HOME! :)

 The Standing Ovation I got when the Superintendent presented me with my stipend for earning National Board at the last board meeting. 

 To make the biggest difference I can in only 365 days. (More on this in the future. Promise.)


The Caffeinated Teacher

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to take a moment and wish all of my fellow bloggers and readers a very blessed and Merry Christmas! I'm focusing on FAMILY right now, thus the lack of posts.

However, I did want to jump on and wish you all a happy holiday! We've been crazy busy the past few days! The Youngest's birthday was Friday. We've finished up shopping, wrapping and putting together our new Sleep Number mattress! It's been super busy but very fun. I love spending this time with my family and not worrying about work or school anything.

Tomorrow we're hanging out at home for Christmas. Father-in-law might make an appearance....might not. Who knows with that guy? lol Thursday The Husband has to work but then he has Friday-Sunday off. (Hard life huh? Work one day, two days off, work one day, three days off lol) Saturday is our 13th anniversary. :) Since The Oldest is home from school for break, she will take over babysitting duties and we will go out and frolic like we have a life ;)

He doesn't know this but I am taking him to see Catching Fire! I saw it with The Oldest over Thanksgiving Break when she was home but I know he wants to see it too. And honestly...who wouldn't want to drool over Josh Hutcherson again? (Seriously....if only Peeta were real...*swoon*)

Back to some-what reality next week when The Husband has to work all week and I have to catch up on and prepare for some things for 2014. I have big plans peeps. Big.Plans. (To the effect that some day, you will be able to say, "I knew Raye when she was just a lil ole blogger. Bet on it!)

Until then, be blessed, be safe and enjoy this time with your family!

The Caffeinated Teacher

Friday, December 20, 2013

SNOW/ICE DAY! & Thinking Ahead

I think Mother Nature took pity on us poor teachers who had to endure the week before Christmas AND a full moon in the same week because to my utter shock, we had an ice day today. Woo hoo! Christmas Break started a day early. :D

I am not sad about it AT ALL. A few teacher friends of mine (newer teachers) were bummed because they said "now we can't have our party".  Sure you can! Have it in January. My 2nd year of teaching we had a really bad winter and had a snow day the day before break. So we came to school in January and had our Christmas party. It's what I will do this year too. Just hope my kiddos remember to bring their party treats. I will have to mail them a note so they aren't too bummed. (Although we rarely get snow days so I'm sure its the farthest thing from their mind at the moment *wink*)
I'm just glad that I planned for "just in case" and brought my things home....otherwise I would have had no choice but to go in and do some work. A couple of my colleagues did. No, thank you. I have more than earned this break. I have a bit of grading I need to catch up on and I will do it today since technically it was supposed to be a school day. Then I won't feel like I'm cheating on my "no school work over break" rule. 
Yesterday I was a machine. I got all of my stations for both math and reading prepped and copied and even gave a copy of the activities to my teammates so they are all set too. Everything is set for that first few days back which is really important now that we didn't have school today. I can finish up my grading today and then when I get to school on January 6 (we aren't allowed in over break), I can quickly change my calendar and schedule and still be ready for the day. 
I'm kind of planning ahead, which I often begin to do at the turn of the new year. This summer, along with many other teachers, I jumped on the Erin Condren planner bandwagon. I LOVE that planner because it holds almost everything I need in just one spot. However, I have found myself wanting a bit more space of late so I think that for next year, I am going to make my own planner using the ARC system at Staples. I use an ARC for my Thirty-One stuff and I love that I can change my mind and move things around, take it out, add it, etc. So that's what I'm going to do, I think. 
I have used PlanbookEDU and have talked about how much I love it (and I totally do) and I want to be able to utilize it the way I did in the past. I can't really do that when I'm using the bound planner I have because there is no way for me to add papers to be more detailed with some of my plans. That isn't working for me and thus I have had to keep a separate notebook for those plans and that, to me, defeats the purpose. 
Over the next couple of months I think I will experiment with my design and see what I come up with. I do LOVE the format of the Erin Condren planner and may end up making something similar that I can simply customize to my own needs. We shall see.
Enjoy your winter break :)

The Caffeinated Teacher

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I think I'm alive :)

I can't believe its been almost 10 days since I posted. Oops. 

Funny to me since I just read another blog where the blogger basically said the same thing "oops, didn't mean to be gone so long". :)

I think that this time of year is just rough. There is so much going on, both personally with holidays and parties, and professionally with trying to keep 24 9-10 year olds focused a week before Christmas. PLUS a full moon this week? Yuck.

The roughest part of this year is that we have such a long morning. Our recess was moved to the afternoon this year so Monday-Wednesday every week, my kids go from 8:30-12:40 without any kind of real break. No specials or anything except Computer Lab on Tuesday which doesn't count because they take their weekly reading test then. We still use The Walking Classroom (although I need to buy new batteries for our WalkKits over break) and it helps some....they are AWESOME in the morning. After lunch? HA! It's a joke.

It's even more of a joke because we get done with lunch at 1:20 and have recess at 2:10. By the time I get them upstairs and they get the winter gear off, it's 1:30. We're lucky to get a whole writing lesson in before recess. Then they are outside for 20 minutes and then we have 45 minutes left before its time to prepare to go home. The afternoons REALLY stink. They are almost pointless with how short they are and how hard it is to reign the kids back in because they are just DONE after the super long morning. (Last year was perfect - 2 hours of instruction, then recess, then 90 minutes, lunch and two hours and home.)

Sometimes I'm lucky I know my name when I get home! I am SO behind it's not funny. Alas, I am bound and determined that I absolutely WILL NOT spend time over my break on school stuff. I might read a teacher book or two (because otherwise I never have time to) but no lesson planning or grading. No way, Jose. 

It's gonna be tough with only two days to go plus a holiday party on Friday. Lord grant me the serenity....

The Caffeinated Teacher

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's the Final Countdown

If you're an 80s girl (or guy for that matter...never know who might be reading!), you probably just had that song run through your head when you saw the title. Years ago, when I was in a snarky patch with my mother (which, let's be honest, is more often than not), that was my ringtone for her. I'll let you read between the lines on that one.

Alas, I am on a countdown. Otherwise known as SURVIVAL MODE. I have never, ever looked so forward to a vacation/break in my life. It's not even that my kids are naughty or anything. I'm just wiped. Finito. Stick-a-fork-in-me DONE.

I think it is probably the fact that I no matter what I do, I can't seem to catch up on the paperwork. It's really my own fault because of the way that our team has set up our stations since the 2nd quarter's a lot of work BUT it also makes my kiddos be accountable. I just don't like grading it all. And I don't grade it all...but I do look through a huge portion of it. Why would I torture myself like that? Simple.

The way we have aligned our stations this year - with 8 rotations each in math and reading - pushes our kids to really practice each area we wanted to target based upon our data. It takes me about 90 minutes per week to plan and prep these stations (45 minutes for math and 45 minutes for reading). It takes much more than 90 minutes to grade it all! :) A week long packet times 24 kids = lots of work!

My hope is to get a bit ahead over these last two weeks (BAHAHA) so that I can relax over my winter break and come back to a classroom that is ready to go for 2014! Downsides....The Oldest is arriving home on the 19th. Our last day of school is the 20th. The 20th is also The Youngest's birthday. I am not going to want to stick around long after school that day. So it's going to be pretty darn essential that I get everything done the 19th so that I can more or less just change my calendar, wipe the board down and go home after school. Means I'm gonna be working it this weekend to get ahead. Blah.

I'm wiped right now because I did TWO Thirty-One parties this weekend. Am I freaking crazy, you ask? Maybe. But from November 27 to tomorrow was the Ready, Set, Sell incentive. Generate $1,000 in personal volume and get a bunch of new products from the spring line free. Purchase the add-on kit for $60 and combine it with the RSS kit....and you've got 12 new products/prints from the spring line to share with customers. A great deal and I was darn determined to earn it! Spring Premiere was Saturday morning which took about 2.5 hours with travel and the show. It was worth it though--gorgeous prints coming out for spring! Then I had a party Saturday night that kept me out until 9:30. Came home, ate dinner, did dishes and laundry and fell into bed exhausted as hell. Sunday I got up, did a bunch of grading and planning, had another party, grocery shopped, did a ton of laundry, input both of my parties from the weekend (and made my RSS goal -- woo hoo!) and then dropped into bed at 11:49 last night tired as hell but unable to sleep. Lovely! Normally I would not do two Thirty-One parties in one weekend when I had no day off to compensate but with the holiday cutoff day being was a necessary evil.

I actually made it through today without tripping over myself, forgetting my name (or the names of any of my kids lol) and even had the energy to head out to dinner with the family. It's been a long week and its only Monday! :) Now I'm trying to get some of these last grades in so I don't have to fuss with them tomorrow. 

I will be entirely honest and say I would absolutely have called out for tomorrow and just taken a Mental Health Day (read: catch up on this absurd pile of grading in my pjs day) but I have an IEP meeting at 7:30. Ugh! I hesitate to miss Wed-Fri because those are my specials days and I really do want to try to get ahead for break so I can at least have that two weeks to relax and just be with my family. Not sure its gonna happen but I'm gonna try. 

I have some glorious new things up my sleeve that I gleaned from my PD last week that I tried today and worked really well. I blogged about them for my post at PlanbookEDU. I've never EVER had kids beg me to let them keep writing. It was pretty wicked. I plan to keep that up over these last two weeks to try to get some momentum going for them....especially since I know that 98% of my class will sit at home all winter break and not do anything remotely productive like read or write. 

I'm off to tackle this darn grading pile before it gets big enough to tackle me! :)

The Caffeinated Teacher

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Terrific Tuesday

Oh my goodness, what a day. What a week! And it's only Tuesday :)

There hasn't been as much fanfare at work as I think there should be when someone earns NB status. Fireworks, announcements, tiaras, etc. Not that I really want to be in the spotlight (believe it or not....nope) but when this sort of thing doesn't get recognition...and people truly don't understand why it is so's sad. Mostly because then others won't jump on board to take the challenge to better themselves.

As it is, my principal knew that I was feeling a bit down about the lack of fanfare on the district's part so yesterday at our staff meeting, he announced it to the staff and presented me with a paper crown made by one of our kindergarten teachers ;) He and I get along very well because we're both kind of silly and he put on latex gloves like you'd wear when someone is injured before he picked up the crown to bring to me and says to the staff, "I am SO not worthy of touching this priceless crown". It was really hilarious and exactly the way I would want someone to announce this...because yes its serious and a big deal but I also really just want to have fun with it all too. So I wore my crown all day today and kids all over the school kept asking me if it was my birthday. I did tell my class what NBCT means (it was written on the crown) because some of them were my kids when I started the National Board process. I said "do you friends remember in 2nd grade when I videotaped us?" They said, "oh yeah, Mr. Wood accidentally deleted the video and we had to try again". Ha! Yes, we did! (How they remember that from 2 years ago but can't remember the math I taught them yesterday is beyond me lol) So I told them that this was from that. One of the kids said, "wow, Mrs. Wood, you always say you're so fabulous but I guess you really are!" It was too cute. 

I was worried about yesterday being the day back from a super long weekend but they were awesome. We jumped right back into our curriculum and it was like we'd never left. It was an awesome day. Then today was more of the same. Very awesome. Plus they have FINALLY learned to be quiet in a line so we're just a couple of stickers away from moving up on our Super Improver Wall :) (Each child has a goal but we also did a whole class one too.) I can't wait to move them to the next level because it has taken them FOR-EVER to get these lines the way they need to be. 

I stayed late at school today because I have a writing PD tomorrow that I'm super excited about and I wanted to be extra sure everything was ready for my sub. I packed up around 6:30 and headed home. When I got home, I had several presents waiting for me! I ordered from a friend's Origami Owl party and got my Living Locket tonight. It's heavier than I thought it would be but its gorgeous. I can't wait to wear it. I also got a surprise incentive from Thirty-One and my Velata order. A friend of mine who always orders from my Thirty-One events had a Velata party so I ordered a warmer and some chocolate. (I also did a Black Friday order again for another warmer and some cheeses for only $15!) I was really amazed at the size of the chocolate sets. I can't wait to try them. My friend swears I will be an addict with one taste. I hope so. I love chocolate! :) 

THEN I discovered that the lessons I wrote over the summer for a local food pantry are live online with my name on them. All in all, today has been pretty darn amazing. I need every day to be like this. Really. 

Now as long as my munchkins behave tomorrow while I'm gone and my PD is as awesome as I hope it is, things will be just peachy. I have two Thirty-One parties this weekend and then two weeks until a two week break. It's gonna be awesome. Awesomely awesome.

The Caffeinated Teacher

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Night Blues & December Currently

 It has been a long while since I've had the Sunday Night Blues. But I have them now. Big time.

Probably because I have done absolutely ZERO school work this break (which has been awesome) but means that I am sorely behind for the week and thus tomorrow morning might be ugly. Real ugly.

So what better way to continue to procrastinate than to join in on this month's Currently (which I haven't done in awhile).

Listening: The girls love Drake & Josh even though that show isn't on anymore. So whenever there is a Drake & Josh special on, they watch it. I don't mind too much since I liked the show when it was on.

Loving: It's only 18 days until The Oldest comes back home for Christmas! I can't wait. She was home from West Virginia all week and I loved having her back home. We did our nails, went to see Catching Fire together and just had fun. I miss her company so much! Can't wait to have her home for three weeks next time!

Thinking: Considering I have done absolutely NOTHING this entire break that is school related, I really probably should get myself going on lesson plans for this week ;) I know what I'm teaching but I have to put my stations in somewhat of a coherent order or tomorrow morning is going to be very, very ugly :)

Wanting: A few more days off....this relaxation time has been absolutely wonderful.

Needing: A day off to get my plans together for this week, especially since I will be out on Wednesday for a PD and thus have to make sub plans. Ick!

Favorite Tradition: Even though The Littles are 12 and nearly 11, they still believe in Santa and I'm not about to tell them otherwise. So each year we still track Santa on Norad. :)

Okay....I guess I gotta twist my own arm to go pretend to be productive. I did tackle a ton of laundry today...that counts for something, right? :)
The Caffeinated Teacher