Monday, July 18, 2016

Let's Be Honest

I am, without shame, a child of the Harry Potter generation.

I wholeheartedly claimed to be a Gryffindor.  I have a Gryffindor Quidditch hoodie, tote bag, and tee shirt.  I admired their bravery and albeit, rash decision making skills.

I grew up idolizing Hermoine.  Between the love of books, the tolerance of boys' shenanigans, a fuzzy furball, and the seemingly unruly hair, I found my literary heroine.  Heck, I named one of my cats Crookshanks in her honor.

But, dear readers, it's time to be honest.

I am not a Gryffindor.  

I am a Ravenclaw.

Between the sassy comments, love of witty repartee, and dry sense of humor, this is my true house.

I must not buy all the cute Ravenclaw things on {Etsy}

July Goals

 (Image from fellow {blogger})

I didn't do so well with June's goals, so hopefully July turns out better!  Granted, the month is half over, so let's keep things short and sweet.

In the next thirteen days, here are my thirteen goals:

1) Have the house totally cleaned for when my mom, bro, and his gf come up for my bridal shower at the end of the month.  My bestie and MOH can't make it, but her mama is making the drive up from AZ!  She gets to see our home for the first time, so I want to make a good impression.  

Now the house isn't dirty per say, I've just been in a binging and organizing mood.  Bags have gone to Goodwill full of things that don't bring me joy or reflect the life that B and I are building together.  

Granted, having most of my classroom in my garage & den isn't helping the situation!

I am enjoying redecorating and organizing the house.  B and I had a talk about our future plans for the living room.  We'd like a sectional.  He'd like new end tables.  I'd like larger bookcases (not my ancient cheap ones) and to move our art pieces over a few feet.  

However, none of that is financially possible at the moment so I calmed my redecorating urges with redoing our baker's rack:

I struggled to find bookcases I liked (and could afford) when I first moved to Vegas, so this  baker's rack was a perfect find.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but it's a black cast iron frame with dark wood shelves.  Normally I'm not a fan of the mixing of black and brown, but it turned out to perfectly match our furniture.  Almost everything I owned was black, but he's more a fan of brown, so we are compromising and blending the two.  I snagged this rack at a JC Penney home store on clearance.  I recently purchased the new illustrated copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and naturally wanted to display it.  However, he wanted his Denver Broncos things on display as well, so we compromised.  He got a football shelf (and hasn't noticed I snuck my Cardinals Mr. Potato Head in there!) while I got a shelf for my books.   

Of course, a new couch is far down on our to buy list.  Besides the wedding, a new water softener is our next major purchase!  Then a security door and new bedroom set...then new carpet and tile for the master bedroom...then a patio set...then a new couch.  Then, because that's obviously a several year plan, it will be time to (hopefully) decorate a nursery. 

2) Finish Wonder.  

I've heard great things about the novel and want to read it before my students do.    

3) Finish rewatching The Office with B on Netflix.  He's never seen the series and it's one of my favorites.  We're making excellent progress.

4) Try some new recipes.  This Buzzfeed {video} popped up on Facebook...

...and these bbq chicken sliders are on the docket for Tuesday's dinner!   It's not really a recipe, but I also want to make champagne ice cubes for my bridal shower!

5) Attend my bridal shower and not be offended that I'm not allowed to help decorate.  My future MIL is co-hosting the shower (with my momma and maids) at her house and despite my deep rooted desires to be in charge of everything and craft all things, she has banned me from helping.  She wants to pamper me and I tried to talk her out of it, but I lost.   

6) Set up my new phone.  My Galaxy 4 died around Easter, so I used B's backup G3.  With the issues I had in my classroom involving theft, I wasn't going to buy a new phone until the summer.  I wanted to wait until the end of this month, but alas, my clumsiness won.  I dropped my phone and did a stellar job of ruining the screen:

However, Tmobile is close and I got a new phone.  I even managed to accidentally match my nails to the case! 

There are lots of new tools and apps to figure out!  (But Pokemon Go! is not one of them!) 

7) Finish most of the long range plans.  I {shared before} that we're trying units of study.  We mapped out the first one and while I spent hours typing up notes, my ancient computer crashed and I lost all of it.  I had our ideas jotted down on paper so it wasn't a total waste, just a frustrating afternoon filled with tears and curse words.  

I must also keep in mind that this could have been much worse.  This could have happened during the school year when I don't have the luxury of binge watching Netflix and multi-tasking with typing up notes.  We talked through ideas for the first unit and part of the second unit.  Mrs. H and I have very different personalities (she's linear and sequential in her thinking while I am a complete squiggle), but we balance one another well.  Plus we both like to try new things and are pretty similar with our teaching styles.  Even if the rest of the grade level doesn't want to try our plans (which is fine), I'm excited for them.  

Excitement was something that was a tad lacking in my classroom last year, so I'm hoping this complete change is exactly what I need. 

We're meeting up again this week to keep working on units.  It's not too painful to set aside one afternoon a week during the summer to try and get ahead for next year.

8) Send out birthday cards in a timely manner.  Two of my bridesmaids, my future MIL, and brother have birthdays within the next five weeks.  I've got gift ideas in mind, but I'd like to get their presents to them before their birthdays.

9) I'd say exercise every day, but that's unfortunately a bit of a lofty goal when I haven't done so great this entire summer.  I am going to the gym with a colleague on Mon & Wed of this week, so that's a start.  If I can fit in at least two other work outs, I'll consider that a success.

10)   Finish going through our junk mail pile.  I learned the hard way that you can't do tons of shredding at a time.  I also learned the hard way that the plastic on the outside of envelopes can ruin the shredder blades.  So I'm determined to make shredder #3 last for a while because quite frankly, there are many other things I'd like to spend my money on!

11) Be more consistent with my small businesses.  Having a new phone should definitely help with my {make up business} because I won't have to wait for B to get home to use his camera. 

I did try out a new {lip stain shade} last week and celebrated with some selfies:

Of course, one of my helpers is there too!  I wasn't actually going out for the day and didn't want to do a full face of make up (just primer, foundation, brows, and five minutes of prep), so I seized the opportunity to rock my new shades and bypass doing my eyes.   

 (Side note: thank you Target for having cute, polarized sunglasses for twenty bucks!)

12) Help my mama set up her new phone.  We found a really good deal on a new phone for her and she's getting it as an early birthday present.  We got her a case and screen protector to go with it.  First on the must have app list? Ibotta and Cartwheel of course!

(If you haven't checked out Ibotta, do so with this code: uvnspet    
I'm up to almost $40 in rebates! Once I hit $100, B and I are going on a fancy date!)

13) Nap.  I've got a lot of time consuming goals and I'm going to practice some self care as well.  I love naps. I will be taking advantage of them while I can.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

DENSI 2016

A year ago, I was boarding a plane to represent Nevada at an international teaching convention in Washington DC.  Full of excitement and an open mind, I was ready to learn from the best and build up my professional learning network. I was ready for some tribe time.  I was ready for {DENSI}.  I had an amazing week and started the school year so energized and ready to try new technology tools with my students. happened.  Student behaviors made it very, very difficult to be the teacher that I wanted to be.

Later on this week, a hundred or so educators from across the United States, Canada, and the UK will be descending upon Chicago for Discovery Education Network's annual summer institute (DENSI).  

With a heavy heart, I will not be joining. I applied, but was wait listed.  

This has been a hard pill to swallow and one I've been grappling with for months.  I've started and stopped this blog post a half dozen times, but writing is therapeutic and keeping it to myself doesn't do any good.  The timing of the waitlisted news came within days of learning that I would not be earning a raise for completing my masters +32 coursework (but more on that debacle later). 

My grade level and administration was incredibly supportive at helping me deal with this news in the form of hugs, texts, and treats.  One of the coordinators and my favorite people at Discovery called and emailed to let me know she was proud of the work I'd done and make sure I knew I was still cared for.  It was a tough decision for Discovery. I'm sure they had hundreds (if not thousands) of applications and a finite number of spots.  I've had the privilege to attend twice.  It wasn't my time, as difficult as that is to accept.

I guess professionally I needed an ego adjustment.  I (wrongly) assumed that because I'd been twice and was hosting the ambassador program for the district, I was a shoe-in.  I filmed my application video once and even though I made a mistake in it, I corrected myself mid-video and kept going. I didn't take it as seriously as I should have.    

If I'm being super honest (and reflective), I didn't try a lot of new technology things this year.  We did a kahoot session to review for a test, skyped a few times to other states, and did a virtual field trip.  I struggled with classroom management due to a variety of issues (mainly student thieves) and I let my frustrations get the better of me.  I didn't try new things with my class because I couldn't trust them not to harm the materials or each other.  I learned lots of amazing things at DENSI 2015, but I kept them to myself.  That's not how collaboration should work.  That's not the mindset I want to have as a teacher.

I've spent a lot of time this summer reflecting on last year (because it was a tough year) and changes I want to make for next year.

I will not be teaching inclusion next year.  I will not have the pleasure of working with our wonderful new sped teacher Mrs. H, but I've come to terms with it.  I wasn't explicitly told I wasn't inclusion, but heard through the grape vine that they thought I needed a break.  The other inclusion teacher is also getting a break, so that made it feel less personal.  I had to shift my mindset from "I failed and they don't trust me with the inclusion students" to "they realize it's hard dealing with behavior plans, IEPs, and difficult parents, so let's give them a break". 

I'll be teaching to my strengths next year.  I'll still be co-teaching, but this time with the GATE teacher.  I'll have more of the "outside of the box" thinkers, and since that's how my brain is wired, I think there's a lot of potential for some awesome enrichment activities.  I've already got some thematic units in the work with a colleague, so it's nice to add some fun and excitement back into the classroom (which, truly, is the spirit of the DEN).

I am genuinely excited for my friends that get to spend the next week in Chicago.  I am glad that there are a bunch of newbies that get to experience the magic that is DENSI.  But I wish I was there.

Financially, it wouldn't have been a good time to go. I have vet appointments for the cats and medical appointments next week to keep me busy. I'll be limiting my social media time to keep my jealousy in check.  Luckily they archive everything so when I'm ready, I can learn digitally and virtually. 

For those of you at DENSI 2016, enjoy! Maximize your learning time. Take notes and don't feel like you have implement everything right away.  Your brain will hurt. 

Learn lots for me! 

Hopefully DENSI 2017 is in the cards!