Thursday, July 31, 2014

Help me Give Back

As you probably know, I spent last week in Columbus, Ohio at the Thirty-One National Conference. There was so much to learn and take away from those amazing three days. It can honestly make your head spin a little and can be very overwhelming. Fortunately, my teacher brain runs 2,000 miles a minute all the time so I was able to keep good notes and have a future "to do" list for where I'd like to take my Thirty-One business.

I had a Brain Blast (what, in my classroom, we call a Big Idea) the other night while trying to sleep. I don't plan to stop teaching, ever, in some capacity but Thirty-One is also an important part of my life. I have been trying to figure out exactly what my path with Thirty-One is. I do believe that God put Thirty-One in my life for a reason last summer. My Brain Blast was to do something BIG with Thirty-One that doesn't benefit me in any way...but I need help to do it and I'm asking you fabulous readers to help me.

Basically, I am collecting donations of $21 to purchase the Red Wave Thermal Tote that Thirty-One sells. I will collect donations between August 1 - August 10. My goal is 50 totes in those 10 days. The commission that I earn from those 50 donated totes will be used to purchase toiletries and essentials to put inside of the totes. The totes will then be donated to the Ronald McDonald House families here in my area. 

I know it's Back-to-School time and money can be tight for a lot of people. However, $21 is a drop in the bucket for most of us. Look at what we spend in our classrooms, at Starbucks, etc on a daily/weekly basis. I would love your help to make this the best birthday present ever. (Did I mention August 10 is my birthday? This is what I want to do for my birthday.)

Here's how you can help:
1) Follow this link. It will bring you right to the Ronald McDonald House fundraiser party.
2) Search for item #3000, add to your cart and select the "Red Wave" pattern. No personalization.
3) Check out and enter your  shipping information -- please be sure to select "ship to host" so that the shipping is $2 and comes to me. (Don't worry I can fix it if you forget!)
4) Round Up to 31Gives so your total is $21.
5) Enter your payment information and hit "Submit"

That's it! You're done and you've just helped me check one tote off my goal of 50. Please feel free to pass the information along as well. (**Please remember you will not receive a product as you are donating one. However, EVERYONE who donates will be entered into a drawing to earn free product for supporting this cause.)

I have had so many people Pay it Forward to me over the years and I think this is an amazing way that I can Pay it Forward for families and children who are away from home and in the hospital.

Thank you in advance for helping me to reach this important goal!

The Caffeinated Teacher

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Amazing Blessings

Hello from Columbus! What a wild and crazy week this has been at the Thirty-One Conference! Some lows, some highs and some mediums going on here.

If you're the praying sort, please do me a favor. Pray for a colleague of mine and her family. Miss W takes care of her sister who has some functional disabilities. We heard word that sister had a seizure and is entirely non-responsive. They are thinking she will not make it. Please say a prayer for them if you are so inclined. 

That has been a low. I didn't know the sister but I have worked with Miss W on and off for may years. She was at my school went I student taught there back in 2006 and she has been an important part of my life for the past four years as a colleague and friend. 
I arrived here in Columbus on Tuesday and later that evening got some news I wasn't sure if I should believe....and yesterday we got it on very good (insider) authority that it's not just a rumor. I praise God because I have prayed about this for a long time and I will be forever grateful if the news is true. I can't share much yet until I know for sure but just know that things will be SO different this coming up school year. Different for the very better: for my students, myself, my colleagues, our parents and families. All around this will be an epically AMAZING thing to have happened to our school family.
Thirty-One is, as you likely know, part of my heart these days. I love being a part of this amazing company. I really do. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending "Super Day" which is an extra half day of key speakers who provide inspiration and knowledge. The women we heard from were absolutely amazing. I missed part of the second speaker as I was standing in line to get dinner and the gal I befriended here who is staying at my hotel said to me as we were waiting, "If we were meant to hear what she's saying, we would." I kid you not, we got back into the arena and heard the rest of her speech and she told us that she was a survivor of abuse as well. I teared up and felt a shiver down my spine to realize that yes...I was meant to hear that part of what she was saying. She had us all stand up, turn to each other, hold hands or put our arms around each other and say, "You are brave. You are beautiful. You are intelligent. And you are worth it."  It was so powerful. I'm so glad I signed up for that extra day of training!

Today we had our general sessions. We got to see lots of new fall products (holy purple!! I LOVE me some purple!) and Leigh Anne Tuohy from The Blind Side was our guest speaker. What an amazing woman she is. Truly. Sassy and feisty just like me and it was wonderful to hear her message. Yes you CAN make a difference, just do it. 

After the general sessions, my new buddy and I hit the conference store and I spent a lot more money than I probably should have! :) I got lots of goodies, many of which are conference exclusives so no one, not even consultants will be able to buy them later. I also donated to Thirty-One Gives and earned yet another ribbon on my long chain of them on my name tag. We went through the "Product Playground" and got to see ALL of the new products and colors in person. 

OH.MY.WORD. I am going to go broke buying everything in that catalog for myself! haha!

Tomorrow we have praise and worship first thing, then our last general session and finally, after a long lunch break, we have our classes. I'm excited for those. They are trainings being given by other consultants who are "higher up" if you will and I've heard they are the best part of the conference. I'm stoked because while my heart is always going to be in the classroom and I WILL teach for many, many MANY years to come...I know God brought Thirty-One into my life for a reason. I'm not exactly sure what that reason is yet...but I'm hopeful by keeping on with what I'm doing that I'll figure it out. 

I know, without a doubt, that my life's work involves helping other people which I do every day. Being a part of Thirty-One just helps me do it a bit differently.

The Caffeinated Teacher

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thirty-One Conference

Now this is a Thirty-One Bag :)
The Caffeinated Teacher

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Livin', Lovin' and Learnin'!'s been awhile. Oops! I guess I am just very much enjoying my summer knowing full well what and where I will be teaching this fall. I have done NOTHING school related except a little reading (which honestly was all done either before school ended or just after) and I bought fabric at JoAnn's to replace the chevron fabric that might make my kids dizzy. Otherwise, I have done NOTHING for work.

And guess what? I don't care! It's SUMMER. Yes, I know this is when people do all of their planning and whatnot....but for me, that's what August will be for. I have just been enjoying my down time and I'm SO glad I have relaxed and not worried about my job. I'm relaxed and refreshed and that will be very helpful come August when I do allow myself to go back into "School Mode". 

I have, of course, been engaged mostly with my doctoral classes. This past week, The Littles had Horse Day Camp with the YMCA so they were gone daily from 7:30 am - 6 pm. You'd think that would have left me with tons of time to do whatever I wanted, right? HA, so far from the truth. Drama, a pregnancy scare (not me -- that ship has done sailed), running around for The Oldest's orientation at the community college. Whew! Somehow, I still managed to get through all of my assignments, even the one that had me scratching my head for a couple of days going "WTF??" and am still maintaining a 100% in the writing class and a 99.5% in the Ethics class. Yay me! :) Then The Husband had his 25th year class reunion last night. Busy, busy!

This week, The Husband turns 43 and I will be spending my week in Columbus, Ohio at the Thirty-One Conference. I am SO excited about it! I have only ever been away from my entire family alone ONE night in the last 14 years and that was when I dropped The Oldest off at school in West Virginia last August. I've always either been with The Husband or with the kids. The Husband has gone out of town for work stuff lots of times. The only work related trip I've ever made was to the T&L Conference last March but The Husband came with me. So while I'm very much looking forward to the conference, I am a tad nervous of how I'll handle being totally alone in the hotel each night for four nights.

I am leaving Tuesday morning to drive down to Columbus. According to Google Maps, it's about a 5 1/2 hour drive. I will probably leave around 9 am so I can get to the hotel right around check in time. The actual conference doesn't start until Wednesday afternoon for what they call Super Day (an afternoon/evening of guest speakers and other trainings) so I will have almost 24 hours from the time I get to the hotel before I have to be at the conference. That is actually perfect because it'll give me lots of time to work on my part of the group project.

Thursday we began at 10 a.m. and my group has our Awards Dinner so we won't finish until around 9:30. It'll be a LONG day but I'm so, so excited for it. I asked a girl who went to the Denver conference to send me a copy of the store catalog because I am going on a budget and I'm SO glad she did because I have budgeted myself well and will be able to get lots of goodies there. I'm so excited about it.

Friday will be another full day and somewhere in between Thursday night and Friday when our session begins, I need to check in with my group and get all of my stuff turned in for class. Somewhere in there I also have to have time to write my paper that is due Saturday (we have a paper per week for my Ethics class). So basically, I am going to be busting tail the rest of tonight, all day tomorrow and from Tuesday-Wednesday during my alone time in the hotel to get my work done so that I am able to enjoy conference on Thursday and Friday without worrying too much about class stuff.

Once I come home, we'll still be on the move. The Youngest has an appointment with her doctor at the Children's Hospital on Tuesday and then Wednesday she has her surgery to get her tonsils and adenoids out. We will be spending Wednesday night in the hospital. The next day, July 31 (Harry Potter's birthday -- woot!), I have a Thirty-One party with a gal from school. Then of course it's August and its really time to be thinking about Back to School.

Basically, I am totally livin', lovin' and learnin' this summer and probably won't post again for awhile because of being out of town. I'm doing better at reading since I'm using Feedly but I don't comment much because I just don't have time. Things *might* slow down a little for me in August but I doubt it ;)

The Caffeinated Teacher

Monday, July 7, 2014

Online Learning

I have to admit I am loving the online format for my doctorate thus far.

Oddly, it is slower paced than I thought it would be (at least so far but hey, it's been a week). Why do I love it?

1) Everyone has to participate. You get to really hear from everyone instead of having 2-5 people carry the class discussions which often happened to me in my master's classes.

2) So many of our assignments are posted to the discussion board and we are asked to comment and reflect on each other's work. Thus we get to see each other's thoughts and gain a better understanding of our course material.

3) Since so much work is submitted in this way, we also get the benefit of seeing our professor's response to each classmate as well as our own work. I have already learned a lot reading the professor's feedback to other people and it has enhanced my understanding of what our goals are.

4) Assignments are due on specific days but we have a lot of freedom to pace ourselves as we see fit. This will be great for when we have conferences and things of that nature.

I'm really glad I decided to pursue an online format. It's much faster paced than any of the brick and mortar programs I looked into and it is much more concentrated where I want to go professionally. I know it will speed up to the point where I want to kick myself for doing this...but so far, I'm enjoying it.

It has also put my mind on back to school and a few things I definitely want to do differently thus upcoming year. I will be adding all of those tasks to my to do lists.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

'13-'14 Goals Review + Goals for '14-'15

Last summer, Jess at I {heart} Recess hosted a 2013-2014 school year goals linky. Here was mine:

Let me just point out I pretty much failed at THEM ALL, ugh! The only one I did well with was enjoying my students -- as much as they sometimes drove me crazy with their lazy ways, we did have a ton of fun together. I couldn't have asked for more than that. 

To be fair also, I wrote these goals when I thought I was going to be teaching something other than what I ended up teaching. Not that it makes it any better but still. It's my excuse and I'm sticking to it :)

As they say, however, leave the past in the past...and I'm moving forward with goals for the upcoming year instead. (Might have to print them out so I won't forget!)

Personal: I tend to get to school between 7-7:10 a.m. so there is no reason for me to stay at work beyond 4 p.m. (the exception is Mondays as we have our staff meetings and they go until 5).

Organization: When packing up my room for the summer, I organized things in bins and baskets and I want to maintain that organization. I swear this past year was my least organized ever and that is not how I roll.

Planning: Since we have gone to curriculum maps, I really want to set up my planning by unit so that I can prepare what I need by unit rather than by week, this is especially essential with math because of the way we are teaching it now.

Professional: I tend to say "yes" too much and now that I am working on my doctorate too and will be busy as heck just with that...I am not going to serve on all of the committees I have in the past. I am going to do Social Committee (which I have done for 3 years already) and *maybe* PBIS. Anything else? Nope. 

Students: One reason I love Thirty-One so much is because of the motto of Celebrate, Encourage and Reward. I think this is definitely something I want to bring into my classroom - every child deserves to be celebrated, encouraged and rewarded. I know this will be especially true this coming year since we will have some challenging friends in our classes.

Motto: This is the same motto I used last year but I have to remember that when I let certain people make me angry, I am giving them control of me. I am going to do my best to make sure that doesn't happen this year.

The Caffeinated Teacher

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Independence Eve + Happy 4th!

I have been really getting into Twitter lately. Not so much because I have a lot to say but because I follow a ton of education-related Tweeters (seriously what DO you call someone who uses Twitter? A Twit just doesn't sound very nice lol) as well as some writing ones since I dabble in my not-so-spare time.

Amazingly, since going to the Teaching and Learning Conference in March, I have found my people on Twitter. I mean, seriously. I am constantly amazed at the things I read there and I mean that is such a good way. People who say exactly the things I am thinking but am not sure how to say it as eloquently as they do. 

Today as I was reading - and you can probably guess the two biggest things I've seen lately are Common Core and Hobby Lobby related - and I retweeted a couple of things that had already been retweeted. About an hour or so later, I get an notification that Ghadi followed me. lol Now obviously that is not possible but in cyberspace, I guess anything is. It was just funny to see that name pop up in my notifications. I guess you have made it as a Twit (again, lol), when Ghadi follows you ;)

That said, on this Independence Eve (a fun hashtag I got from Twitter today), I want to wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday. If you are traveling, be sure you take a lot of Thirty-One with you (and if you don't have enough Thirty-One, you can order some more right here!) and have a safe trip. 

We are heading up to our cabin for the weekend. We aren't leaving until Friday morning because The Husband had to work late today (he is on call this week). Instead of taking two cars and wasting gas, we decided to just all go together tomorrow instead. The little community we are in up there does their own fireworks show right on the lake and it is very fun. (Well, last year was also very scary because one of the shoots holding up the fireworks tipped and shot the fireworks at the playground...and there were kids there. That was not cool at all.) 

I will be studying my hiney off over the holiday as well so that I can stay caught up (and get a little ahead) on my classes since I have a trip coming up in a couple of weeks. 

Be safe!

The Caffeinated Teacher

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Currently July

Pretty self explanatory this month :)

The Oldest just started her online summer class yesterday. She is so offended that I have work due on Friday. A holiday. I tried to patiently explain that this is the real world and when you only have 7.5 weeks for a course, you don't get "holidays". She just doesn't get it. I don't mind actually because we aren't doing anything on the 4th except maybe having a bonfire at the cabin. The real party is Saturday night. So I have to get everything done by noon on Saturday so I can party Saturday night and not worry about the inevitable hangover.

The Caffeinated Teacher