Saturday, November 18, 2017


Eighteen: Lofthouse Cookies

Before you laugh, let me explain:

Yes, they are delicious.  Yes, I could eat several in one sitting (but don't).  Yes, they have different colored frosting depending on the season. Yes, I think the pink ones are the best.

I'm thankful for them because they are made in a nut and peanut free factory.

As a teacher, this phrase means that I can safely pass them out to my students at class parties without fear.  Not all my students with nut allergies have an epi-pen (or similar medication) at school.  This is one of the safe foods that I know I can buy at the grocery store and pass out to my students without fear of a nut/peanut allergy situation.

(None of my students have reported gluten allergies.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Thankful November post five: craft time

When I'm not teaching, grading, lesson planning, or any of the other tasks that accompany the whole teacher role, I like to spend my time crafting.

I'm grateful that I have this creative outlet. I'm also grateful that I have friends who want me to craft for them.  Not only do I get to make others happy, I get to craft for free (because they cover the cost of materials).

Here's my latest creation:

It's for my assistant principal.

I started with the plain layer, then wove in solid red and chevron.  The flowers came next and the double layer bow was last.

I've had a few other coworkers approach me about making them wreaths as well.  I'll happily craft them, with enough notice.

Saturday, November 4, 2017



While it might seem silly, I am super grateful for  One of my cats has stage one kidney failure.  She's been in stage one for a year and a half.  Her numbers are stable, thanks in a large part to the prescription vet food diet.

Our vet is only a few miles away, but it's easier to just order her pet food online.  It's slightly cheaper, comes right to my door, and if I spend over $49, my order ships for free.

Plus they have a clearance section, so I'm able to order a few treats for the pup at half-off.

Chewy boxes being delivered are quite the exciting event in our house! 

As a side note, she is thoroughly enjoying her bone this morning!  Thank you Chewy for your prompt deliveries, sale prices, and that I didn't have to change from pajamas to purchase cat food.  Winning all around!


Thankful November Three: Professional Development

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to attend some amazing professional development courses.  

In late October, I signed up for an all-day Saturday conference.  To be honest, my primary motivators were:

1) It was close.  It's hard to say no to something that is literally five minutes from your doorstep.

2) My husband was out golfing anyway.

3) It was paid.  I have very few opportunities within the school district to make extra money.  With the holidays coming and a growing desire to redo our master bathroom floors, I'll take almost any opportunity I can get.

4) It was on a topic I found appealing: bringing joy and the arts into the classroom.  

5) Several of my colleagues were going, so I knew other people.  (Yes, not being in a room with strangers is a concern.)

The timing wasn't the best because the night before was my school's carnival and haunted house. I was definitely tired, but caffeine helps (as does the five minute drive).

Our keynote speaker was engaging and we got a copy of his book:

I'm super appreciative of free things.  I also am really enjoying reading it (which isn't always the case with some teacher books).  It has a lot of space to reflect upon my own teaching and is meant to be read at a slow pace (1-2 chapters per week) over the course of a school year (or season as the author calls them).  The focus is on finding joys and empowering others to do the same (or at least that's the focus of the first few chapters).

After the keynote, we had 4 sessions and a wide range of topics to pick from.  I enjoy PD sessions that offer this choice and freedom.

The first session I went to focused on math fact fluency and how to take the pressure of off kids when working on the memorization of math facts.  I was also super excited to see a former colleague and friend as one of the instructors.  

We snagged this freebie:

Which is full of all sorts of math games.  I haven't started using it yet but will!  (I just haven't found the time to start making the card stock copies or gathering the supplies.)

I was fortunate enough to get into the highly coveted reading one before lunch, but it was a bit of a let down only because there was no new information.  All of the strategies that were discussed I'd previously learned in other professional development courses and was already using in my classroom.  I did snag a free book out of the training.

After a lunch break, I joined some fellow teachers from my school to attend a counseling-based session that focused on helping kids cope with anxiety.  The instructor modeled some interesting lessons and we walked away with another freebie.

The fourth session was by far my least favorite.

Overall, it was a successful day, I was home by 4 pm, learned some new strategies, received several new books, and was paid for attending.

These are the types of professional developments that I appreciate.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Thankful November two: Student Teachers

This year I have the privilege of having student teachers from BYU Idaho.  It's my first time having student teachers and it's definitely been a learning moment.  For me, I'm learning how to give constructive feedback in smaller, bite-sized chunks.  I'm working on letting go of control in my classroom to step back and let someone else take the lead.

It's beyond exciting to see how much they've grown. I get to bask in their enthusiasm, try new things, and watch them flourish.  My students have the opportunity to provide feedback to their teachers and are benefiting from two adults in the room.

I am so thankful for this opportunity to work with new teachers and to challenge myself as an educator. 


Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Thankful November post one: my students' parents

I operate with the mindset that every parent truly means well and wants what is best for the kiddo.  While the parent group may be frustrating at times, when I step back and remind myself that I am with their precious baby for seven hours a day, it's a little easier to deal with when I re-frame my mindset to one that emphasizes they are doing what they think is best (instead of thinking they are doing X, Y, and Z on purpose to irritate me).  

Last Thursday, we threw a surprise party for our student teacher.  It was her last day in our (general education) classroom before she transitioned to student teaching in the resource (special education) setting.  I must say, it's tricky to plan a surprise party when someone is with you all day long! I kept finding excuses to send her on quick errands so the kiddos and I could discuss the party in five minute increments. 

I sent home a letter to families explaining our advice book and asking for some donations to our surprise party.

I was blown away by the sheer amount of goodies we received.  I didn't have to buy a single snack supply (and for that, I'm grateful). 

My students wrote wonderful, heart-felt letters to our student teacher.  I glued them into a hard cover book.  Students took the time at the party to share their favorite lessons with her and what they'd learned from her.  There were a lot of tears all around and it was a bittersweet moment.  She's off to a great start in her teaching career.

Parents shared on class dojo how much they appreciated her and their own fond memories of student teachers in elementary school.   I was humbled by their generosity in gifting supplies for our party. 

We had quite the feast and yet, still had left overs.  We had a welcoming party for our new student teacher on Monday.  (She'd completed the first half of her student teaching in the autism room.)  We had even more donations come in for our fall celebration (because I have students who don't celebrate Halloween).

The kiddos had 3 bags of chips, 3 capri suns, cookies, and more yesterday.  I still have boxes of drinks and unopened snack bags of chips.  I guess we'll be having a reading picnic soon!

(Yes, I did also thank them on class dojo as well as in person.  I know many of them do not read this blog.)

Are you up for the challenge?

September and October have passed without any major hiccups.  As November sets in, the month ushers in parent teacher conferences, my 1 year anniversary, Thanksgiving, and a slew of days off.

It also sets up the thankful challenge, where participants (like myself) are tasked with focusing on one positive thing each day to be thankful for. 

It's easy to be cynical. It's easy to complain. It's easy to whine about the amount of work that goes into each parent teacher conference, how difficult it is to attend a 7:22 morning meeting the day after Halloween, or vent about how difficult the students can be the day after a major holiday.  That's the easy path, the one where you've marinated in grumpy feelings and are ready to share them with the world.

Let's focus on another choice: being positive.

Yes, being positive is a choice.  At times, it takes a lot of mental toughness and energy.  At other times, it feels damn near impossible but it is still a choice.  Being positive doesn't mean life is perfect (and often times, far from it).  Being positive and participating in this monthly challenge reflects the unconscious mindset that you attract the vibes you put out into the universe.  If you spend your time looking for all the things that go wrong and loudly, often, complaining about them, it will seem like everything is wrong.  The opposite is also true.  If you cultivate a mindset of being grateful and thankful, you might start to notice the small things and appreciate all that is going right in your life.

Will you join me in this Thankful November challenge? I'll be writing daily (even if I don't share them all) and really trying to limit my negative complaints.  For the next thirty days, my goal is a daily post about something or someone that I am truly grateful for.  Some posts will be heartfelt while others will be silly, but all are written with an appreciative heart.

Are you up for the challenge?