Monday, August 14, 2017

Create a Teacher Vision Board

I was perusing the internet recently and rediscovered vision boards. Vision boards are spaces that you fill with pictures, magazine clippings and other accessories to showcase your life goals and dreams. They are meant to be personal and uplifting reminders of your hopes for the future and provide a constant visual cue to keep you focused on your goals.

The start of a new school year always fills me with hope and excitement. I feel like anything is possible and I start writing down dreams and goals for the year. Unfortunately, those pieces of paper seem to get lost and I tend to lose focus on some of those goals once the school year starts in earnest. I have every intention of fulfilling my self-made promises but time starts slipping through my fingers in the often beautiful but challenging day-to-day teacher life. I needed to create something that would be a daily visual reminder of my teaching goals.

The only logical conclusion? I needed a teacher vision board! Not just any size vision board, though. I needed one that I would see every day - a constant reminder of all that I hope to accomplish over the year. So what's a teacher to do? Place it on the cover of her teacher binder, of course!

Here's how to create one for yourself:

I usually read magazine subscriptions digitally so I ran down to my local library and picked up some out-of-date magazines for sale near the front. Cost: 25 cents each. Woo! Once I got back home, I rounded up scissors, a glue stick, a piece of 8.5x11 cardstock and an upbeat playlist to jam to while I created my teacher vision board.

This step is obviously very personal. My focus for this board was on the new school year, so I selected images that related to my professional hopes and dreams. I cut out words, titles and pictures that fit with my growth goals. The beauty of vision boards is that each one is perfectly unique.


After cutting out all the words and images I began arranging them on the piece of paper. It took me about 30 minutes to organize everything. Then I grabbed the glue stick and carefully glued everything down.

Ta Da! I love my new binder cover! It's meaningful and will impact the decisions I make this year as I'm constantly reminded of my initial priorities. I'm excited to see where the new school year takes me as I strive to follow my vision for an engaging, student-centered year!

If you create your own teacher vision board, share a picture with me! Use the hashtag #teachervisionboard on social media or send a picture to I'd love to see what you create!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Back to School Must-Haves for the Middle School Classroom

P.S. There are no affiliate links in this post. There are links to Amazon but they're just regular old links! :)
I LOVE shopping for new supplies for my classroom before the school year starts. It's an opportunity for me to upgrade my organizational tools, change the color scheme and work to improve the classroom environment for my new students.

Here are some of my favorite things for Back to School that won't break the bank!

1. Flair Pens - These pens are GORGEOUS and I love using them to grade papers, plan lessons and write little notes of encouragement to my kiddos.

2. Post-It Notes - My students say that I'm the "Queen of Sticky Notes"... and I totally agree with them. There are sticky notes all over my desk. The blue colors are perfect for my d├ęcor!

3. Expo Markers - I'm a little obsessed with having a colorful collection of Expo Markers for my whiteboard.
P.S. I also use mini whiteboards with my students. I always order a few boxes of the skinny markers online because they're often cheaper (unless you can snag some in a great Back to School sale!!)

4. Paper Organizer / Inbox - Stacked inboxes are a must-have in my classroom. Now if only I had a magic wand to make my papers grade themselves...

5. Astrobright Paper - I love printing labels, posters and class sets of directions on colored paper because it's easy to spot. Class sets of documents especially fall into that category since I collect them at the end of every class. The kids rarely take them home by accident because they're so bright and easy to see! I was excited to find the Astrobright paper on Amazon because it actually costs less to buy it there then at my local superstore. Score!

6. Ancient Civilizations Posters - 5 pack - I may have gotten a teeny bit too excited when I spotted these posters on Amazon (and the price). I love the imagery and information on the posters and I know my students will, too. 


7. Cascading Wall Organizer - I like that this organizer from Amazon gets papers off the desk and onto the wall, especially for those of us who have that weirdly-sized wall space behind our desks and can't figure out what to do with it.

8. Desk Calendar - Having a desk calendar is an essential tool to keep life in and outside the classroom organized. How beautiful is this one with the peacock feather design?!

9. Highlighters - I've ordered a bunch of highlighters for my students to use this year when marking up primary and secondary sources. Seeing different sections of the documents marked with certain colors help students break apart difficult text for a better understanding of the purpose of the documents.

10. Paper Trimmer - If you plan on cutting a lot of paper this year, save your hands from scissor-cramps! I love my paper trimmer and use it all the time.

I hope you all are gearing up for the start of a fantastic new school year! Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reflection Connection: August

Pencils (or keyboards) at the ready! Today begins the first entry of our year of reflection. If you’re just joining us, welcome! During the first week of each month, I’ll be posting a question that encourages you to reflect upon your experience as an educator. By answering these questions privately or in the comments, we’ll grow stronger as educators and discover more about ourselves in the process.

Entry 1: What are you most excited about this year? What makes you nervous about the start of a new classroom adventure?

My Response: Like many teachers, I always get a bit nervous to meet my new students. We’re about to embark on a year-long adventure together and I’m anxious to create positive relationships with each of them so that we can create a classroom community that encourages learning, participation and respect. Of course, while I’m a bit nervous to meet my new students, it’s also something that I’m really excited about! I look forward to getting to know each one of them over the course of the school year and helping them grow as individuals. Besides meeting my new students, something else I’m excited about is finding new ways to grow as a teacher. I’m on the hunt for new professional development opportunities that will offer effective strategies for my classroom. Let’s get this school year started!

I invite you to join us in the August reflection! If you’d like, leave a response in the comments below or write it down in a journal all your own.

~The Teacher’s Prep

Monday, July 31, 2017

TpT Back to School Sale and TWO Gift Card Giveaways

Time flies when you're having fun! The glorious days of summer are drawing to a close for teachers in many states. I've already begun to think about classroom decorations and lesson plans for the new year...all of which has become infinitely easier now that I know there is a Teachers Pay Teachers sale happening on Tuesday, August 1 and Wednesday, August 2!
Starting tomorrow, you can save up to 25% on resources for your classroom on TpT. I'm stocking up on clip art, growth mindset activities and some awesome back to school resources that I'll be using all too soon!

Starting TODAY, however, I'm teaming up again with one of my favorite clip artists for TWO giveaways! Enter below to win one of two Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards worth $10.00 each.

Two winners will be emailed a gift code they can enter in the "Redeem a Gift Card" box when they check out with their order on TpT. To enter, all you have to do is complete the Rafflecopter entry below. The giveaway opens on July 31 at 10:00 a.m. EST. You can complete as many entry options as you want and the giveaway will end at 12:00 a.m. EST on August 2. We'll contact the winners and send the gift codes so you can use them for your BTS shopping!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember to use the promo code BTS2017 when you check out on TpT during the sale!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back to School Secondary Giveaway

It's that time of year again: The Back to School Secondary Giveaway has commenced! It lasts from July 30 - August 1 and over 80 middle and high school teachers have collaborated to create some AMAZING giveaways on the Language Arts Classroom Blog. Don't let the name of the blog fool you, though. There are giveaways for several content areas:
Secondary Social Studies Bundle (my personal favorite) ;)
Any Subject: Back to School
Secondary Foreign Language Bundle
High School English Bundle
Middle School English Bundle
High School Math Bundle
Middle School Math Bundle
High School Science Bundle
Middle School Science Bundle
Click HERE to visit the blog post to enter to win the giveaway bundle of your choice. Just think of the incredible resources that will land in your email inbox if you win!
Good luck!
P.S. Here is a preview of the teachers who are participating in the Secondary Social Studies giveaway. You can be sure I've included one of the interactive notebooks from my store in the bundle!

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Five Stages of the End of Summer Vacation

I hope all of you are in the midst of enjoying the long, beautiful days of summer! I am certainly loving the warm weather, blissful days of relaxation and plenty of time spent with family and friends.

Despite all the R and R, there's a little nagging feeling at the back of my feels like Back to Sch.... SHHH, BRAIN! We must not speak of it yet. ;)

The Five Stages of the End of Summer Vacation

1. Avoidance

It's summer! Let's take our hands off the wheel and live a little! School is far away. I can't even remember what my classroom looks like. There's plenty of time left to plan. Right now I'm scheduling a dip in the pool and planning the contents of my next delicious drink. I think it will have a little umbrella. Yup, sounds good.

Image result for ferris bueller's day off car gif
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
2. Denial

What's that sign over there? Oohhh....a sale on Flair Pens and crayons! Oh, hey...what a cute little pencil case and WAIT. WHAT IS THIS? It this a Back to School sale?!?! 
Image result for teachers tv show gif
Teachers on TV Land

3. Panic

Deep breaths. There's no way summer is almost over. Look at the calendar. We still have two weeks left. That's 336 hours. That's a lot of hours, right? RIGHT? I'm not panicking. If I stop shopping I won't see those Back to School sale banners. I can order groceries on Amazon and Netflix doesn't have Back to School commercials. We're good. But what about Target? MY LOVE. No. I can do this. Stay strong. I'M STILL NOT PANICKING, I SWEAR.
Image result for beaker muppet freakout gif
Beaker from The Muppets

4. Planning

Alright, LET'S DO THIS. I've got an endless supply of coffee, Pinterest open in 15 tabs, my favorite teacher blogs, old lesson plans and unlimited ideas. BRING IT ON, SCHOOL YEAR.

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Bruce Almighty
5. Acceptance

Tomorrow is the first day of school and I can't wait to meet my new students! The classroom is perfectly organized and color-coordinated. Every pencil, marker and scissor is labeled and adjusted by height in adorable little table buckets. And just look at my bulletin boards. Do you think the Louvre has any open spots left? I've also taken about 50 pictures to memorialize everything because it won't look like this again for another 365 days...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Image result for excited teachers gif
Teachers on TV Land

~The Teacher's Prep

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Introducing: Reflection Connection

Deep breaths, everyone. A new school year is nearly upon us! Over the course of the 2017-2018 school year, I invite you to join me and fellow educators in participating in a monthly Reflection Connection. During the first week of every month, I’ll be posting a question that encourages you to reflect upon your experience as an educator – whether you’re just starting out or a veteran teacher. I’ll do the same and write my reflection in the post. In order to grow as teachers, I feel that it’s important to periodically reflect, question ourselves, celebrate our successes and identify our challenges. We’ll get to know ourselves better through the process and find encouragement and support through others that will join us in the journey of reflecting and connecting!

The first entry of Reflection Connection will be posted on Wednesday, August 2nd.  I invite you to write your reflection in a journal or even in the comments below the post. See you then!

~The Teacher’s Prep

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DIY: How to Create Your Own Whiteboard Magnets

Designing my classroom for the next school year is one of my favorite school-related summer activities. I love searching the internet for fun themes and inspirations to bring fresh life to my classroom walls while mixing in some of my own DIY ideas, too!
Today I'm excited to share how to create your own whiteboard magnets to fit any classroom theme or design! This particular DIY is easy and fun - two must-haves for this crafting beginner! (I'm staying away from power tools and glue that sticks to you for life.)

Let's get started!

1. Hot Glue
2. Package of Felt Stickers
3. Foam Board
4. Magnets
(I used ProMag Flexible Magnets - 8 pc., .75 in, 19 mm)
I purchased the felt stickers, foam board and magnets from Michaels for $5.61 after the Teacher Discount. (Thank you, Michaels!)
*The best part about this DIY is that you can choose any type of felt sticker that fits the theme of your classroom. You can even use embroidered patches if you'd like. They're a bit more expensive.*

Peel the paper off of the back of the felt sticker.
Carefully place the sticky side down on a piece of thin foam board. This will help to add thickness to the magnet so it's easy for you to pick up and move around your whiteboard.
Cut around the shape of your felt sticker. Try to get as close to the sticker as possible so that the foam board isn't visible from the front.
Place a dab of hot glue on the back of the future magnet and place a magnet on top of the glue. Pinch the magnet to the sticker for about 30 seconds.
Let your magnet sit for about 15 minutes to ensure that the hot glue has dried completely.
Voila! Your whiteboard never looked cuter!
If you try this DIY, I'd love to see your pictures! Share them with me on Facebook: The Teacher's Prep or Instagram: @teachersprep and I'll try to guess your classroom theme!
~The Teacher's Prep

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July (and a SURPRISE store sale!)

Happy Fourth of July, my friends! I hope you and your families have a wonderful time celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (and eating lots of delicious summertime treats). :)
In between all the festivities, stop by my store on TpT to snag 20% off every American History resource in my shop on July 4th and 5th!
Here are a few that might interest you!  Happy Fourth of July!
Check out the interactive notebooks! There is a whole set being created for American History in my shop!
For every paper interactive notebook, there's also a Google Drive version.
Have you tried using skits in your classroom? My kids LOVE them. (P.S. - The Declaration of Independence one on the left is FREE!
Teaching Civics next year? There's a full set of paper and digital interactive notebooks in the shop as well. :)
Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

All About Me Locker Foldable

My mind is already starting to ponder activities for the first week of school. It feels partly crazy since it's only June, but mostly exciting because I'm kind of obsessed with the Back to School season.

I wrote another blog post about my plans for the first week of school last year and I plan to use many of the same ideas this year...with the addition of the "All About Me Locker Foldable"!

It's designed for ultimate customization by each student. I'm going to encourage them to decorate their locker door with drawings, stickers, pictures, etc. to really showcase their personalities. They'll also write their name on the door.

Inside the locker foldable is a series of shelves with various topics and questions for students to answer. With the addition of color and drawings, these lockers will truly give my kiddos an inside look into the interests of their peers!

There are three different locker interiors to really engage my students. I plan on creating a fun bulletin board display with all the lockers. I'm already envisioning the kids crowding around it to open the lockers and read about their classmates!

You can find this new resource in my TpT store here. I think it would also be a fun activity for teachers. How cute would this look like on the bulletin board in the staff lounge?! It's always fun learning new facts about our colleagues. :)

~The Teacher's Prep

Monday, June 12, 2017

10 Ways to Make This Summer Count

There is nothing like the feeling of the first day of summer vacation! You've poured your heart and soul into the school year, helped your students grow personally and academically and attended more meetings than you care to count. Before you awaits seemingly endless days of rest and relaxation - the glorious days of summer break.
Teachers should absolutely use summer break to relax and recharge. I love to work hard for my students but I need to high-tail it to the beach at the start of summer and spend the day listening to the surf and feeling the sand beneath my toes. That being said, I also think we need to make every moment count - in terms of relaxation, personal and professional development. Don't let those beautifully endless days escape you. Here are 10 ways to make summer count:

1. Get a Hobby
No, lesson planning is not a hobby. :)  Find something that enriches your life and helps you develop a skill that you're passionate about. Practice photography, go birding, garden, learn to dance, write stories, take cooking classes, learn about woodworking, or take an art class. There are so many "life extras" that get sidetracked during the school year. Now is the time to explore your interests and make time for you.

2. Travel for YOU
Travel by yourself, with your family and/or your friends and explore the world around you. I love setting up my summer vacation budget to save for my next vacation. It's exhilarating to see the total inch up towards my week or two of summer fun!

3. Travel for WORK
You can combine this idea with your family vacation, but along with my regularly planned summer vacation I also choose somewhere that's relevant to my classroom. One summer I went to Washington D.C. to learn about our country's history. Another summer, I made a point to visit 3 local historical parks to learn about my state's heritage. When you travel for work, you can pick up brochures, take pictures and gain experiences that have a direct impact on your classroom. Teaching my students about the Battle of Antietam after I had seen it brought the events to life. Students were more interested in learning about the history because I had personal connections and stories to tell them.  

4. Volunteer
Teachers certainly put in lots of extra hours before and after school. Summer offers us an opportunity to use our talents to help our community in other ways, too. Perhaps you can use your knowledge of science to volunteer at a week-long summer camp or donate your time to assist at a local park or retirement facility. When you find an opportunity that melds your passion with the mission of a community organization, magical things can happen, my friends. :)

5. Consider a Side Job
Full disclosure: this is the one idea on this list that was the hardest to add because we already have full time jobs. Why should we get a side job? Some teachers need it for financial security. Others want it because they have skills that enable them to make extra money. Some have friends and families that have offered them a way to make extra spending money. Personally, I love, love, love creating resources over the summer to add to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It brings me so much joy to connect with educators around the world and find new ideas on the site to add to my own classroom. Consider finding a summer job if it will enrich your life, challenge you in new ways or provide for your family financially.

6. Take a Class
Summer is the perfect time to sign up for a class! One summer, I took a sailing class. This summer I'm looking for an online class for my own professional development. The fun part is choosing which class to take! I love the freedom of pursuing my own personal and professional enrichment during the summer months. :)

7. Read
Sadly, I don't read a lot of books for fun after work during the school year. I love to read but I'm so tired after work and caring for my responsibilities at home that my unread books are left waiting on the shelf each night. Please say I'm not alone in doing this! During summer break, I make time to read books and I search the web for new teaching blogs that will inspire me for the Back to School days!

8. Write
Along with reading, I think it's also important that we take time to write. Write about our children and our vacations. Write about our ideas for the future or write letters to friends and family. Keep a journal to reflect on your teaching practices and record your hopes and plans for the new school year. Start writing that story you've always wanted to tell. Who knows? I could be picking up your book from the bookstore in a couple summers from now. :)

9. Spend Time with Family and Friends
The summer months are precious days to spend with our significant other, beautiful kids and friends. I love planning little day trips or lunches (REAL LUNCHES!) with friends to catch up on their lives. I also try to make a point to visit with those people who I don't see very much during the school year but who are still very near and dear to my heart. Hosting a summer soiree is on my list of things to do this year!

10. Find Your Spark
Whatever you choose to do this summer, find your spark - the passion that drives you to love your life in and outside the classroom. Take time to reflect on all the reasons why teaching is the best profession in the world and gather your inspiration and energy for the new faces who await you in just a few months.

Now, go make your summer count!:)