Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's Back to School for Me!

So I just picked out my first day outfit and outfits for the rest of the week.  I am such a dork.  It's something I have done since was in grade school.  My mom still jeers me for laying out my clothes like a little person each night. I would take them off the hangers and spread them out over my chair. I just liked to be ready in the morning.  On the other hand, my little sister saved time by wearing hers to bed, so she could sleep as late as possible. She'd probably die if she found out I told ya'll so let's keep that between us. :)

Back to school things to do!
1. Paperwork
 I do have loads of IEPs to write actually, I believe it's 12 that need to be written in about 6 weeks that's 2 a week.  Yikes, I better get moving.  A few years ago our school piloted IEP rewrites in the fall. It was super crazy but once the paperwork was done it was so nice not to worry about meetings scattered throughout the year.  We are actually trying to phase it out now but I really didn't mind it. The best part was actually meeting the parents before parent/teacher conferences. It  really helped to build positive relationships from the start.

2. Back to school staff development
Meet and greets tomorrow and other exciting meetings planned for this week.  Totally wish we had some make and take Pinterest Professional Developments. Actually that might not be such a bad idea.

3. My classroom
 My classroom is progressing nicely, so I feel confident I'm almost ready for back to school night next Wednesday! Here is a sneak peak. What do you think? Feel free to leave any suggestions on better storage ideas. I need to laminate some motivational posters to hang up. I also plan to add some more borders around the white board. So far so good!
The bulletin board outside my office/classroom. SWEET right??! lol

My guided reading/small and group table. I took down my curtain over the shelves to iron. That shelf  is such a mess right now. :( 

Student work table, para desks and you can see my classroom library in the back corner :)

 Till next time fellow bloggers! :) 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Office Chair Chaos

Ok. So last week I was inspired from yuppers-you guessed it- PINTEREST!  OMG, I am so addicted I mean Pinterest and TpT  who can get enough  of them. As my friend Kerry called it 'Pintervention', Well, I certainly need a support group..lol  

I grabbed my husband's handy dandy tool box, my guided reading chair and my chevron fabric planning to conquer what I thought was going to be a quick project.  Yeah right- what was I thinking?

As I was taking apart the chair I ran into a few complications. This quick project turned into a monstrosity. I had anticipated removing the plastic covers and attaching fabric on top with a staple gun, but most of the plastic covers were unable to be removed. I unscrewed about a million screws to find out you can't take all the plastic covers off!!  :(  I was determined to cover the chair no matter how long it took even after a little 5 year old pouting session and I mean a pouting session.  I was able to carefully pry back the plastic using a butter knife and stuff the fabric inside. I was able to staple it in a few places. When it was all said and done it only took a whopping 2.5-3 hours of wrestling with the chair. Mission Accomplished-I now have a beautiful recovered chair!  :) 

A friend of mine from Empowering Great Minds also recovered her chair.  Her's is really super cute and she also made a little tutorial here.

 You can also find the website that inspired us with a tutorial from Diane from In my own Style here.

Tada!!!  Here are the before and after photos! 
Before-Plain old ugly blue chair! 
After :) Lovely Chevron Chair!
It's going to look perfect at my guided reading table! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Last minute projects & decisions, decisions, decisions

So with only 10 9 days left of the summer, I am trying to cram in a few last minute classroom projects and a few home projects. Over the last couple days I made a few four stops to Joann's and Lowe's. I am so indecisive sometimes.  I literally stood in the paint section today for 35 min trying to decide on a color.  Really?? What is wrong with me? I was so overwhelmed but finally I was able to narrow it down and commit to two colors of spray paint. :)   Hopefully, the weather cooperates so I can finish this project before the week ends. I would have loved to start today but the other materials are locked in my classroom. :(

On another note, I just love teacher appreciation coupons and discounts what better way to purchase fabric for classroom bulletin boards or other classroom crafts.  I used my 40% off coupon to buy the chevron fabric below.  :)  If you haven't already signed up for Joann's discounts, you really should you can save 15% on all purchases and you can opt to receive coupons via flier, email/text message.

Love this! 
"A penny saved is a penny earned." Benjamin Franklin

 I was so excited to score cupcake duct tape at Michael's. 

I am going to keep these projects a surprise because I am just so excited about them. Keeping my fingers crossed mother nature cooperates this week and I get one day of sunshine so I can paint, paint paint.

Toodles! I'm off to create and I don't want to keep anyone waiting too long!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Building Relationships and Gathering IEP Input

Having a successful school year begins with building positive relationships with students, staff and parents.

  • ·        Make a phone call or send a post card to introduce yourself!  Make sure to attach your contact information to the note as well. This is not just for the student but for the parents!  J  

We all know back to school means numerous IEP rewrites and addendum changes and what not.  I am not a fan of all the paperwork but I do like meeting with the parents.  Throughout the school year it is difficult meeting with parents, which means I am usually on the phone trying to catch a parent during their (mainly my) lunch break or in some cases I give them a call in the evening from home.   
Be careful when sending emails as they can become part of the student’s record. I often respond to concerned parents in email with a statement like “I will be able to address your concerns via phone conversation. Please let me know when you would be available to discuss this matter. ”
I know it is not always easy talking to parents but in the long run it is more beneficial and doesn't become part of the student’s written record.

Be sure to document your parent contacts in a communication log with date, time and topic. Keep these notes short and sweet. J
  • ·        Be sure to ask for parent input

At the beginning of every school year I give parents a copy of my parent input form to fill out. I use this information to update the students’ IEPs. You can find it here at my TpT store for free.  
Making the initial effort up front really shows parents that you care about their child and it makes them feel a part of the IEP team.  I usually try to call parents once every 4.5 weeks. This gives parents a chance to voice concerns and hear about positive progress! It also gives them a chance to ask questions and to schedule conferences or meetings if needed.    

I can remember a phone call with a parent who was shocked that I was calling because her child made good choices. This parent was tickled pink!  It still brings tears to my eyes knowing that after 3+ years of being in school not one single teacher called home with goods news. All students have positives if you find them and harness them-You will have a great year! J  
  • ·        Get/Give teacher input call a staffing if you must

You must be sure that your classroom teachers and special/resource teachers (music, art, PE, etc) have an IEP snapshot of some sort. You must provide them with accommodations and other information that they need to know. They don’t need you to print a full copy of the IEP they can find that in each student’s cumulative file.   here at my TpT store
Also when writing IEP’s be sure to gather teacher input as well.  I use numerous forms that are in my IEP/504 Collaboration Bundle pack

One hour of effort now could save you HOURS of frustration in the future. So start in the beginning of the year, it will be more rewarding as the school year goes by.  It is easier to build relationships at the start of the year then after a problem arises

Just Remember It's a Piece of Cake!