Curiosity was peaked a few years ago. Who was this Harry Potter? Were we going to like this chosen one?
We did and we do!
Popcorn and Potter
We started with a the first film. This movie was just supposed to be a Friday night amusement, but it turned into the next Friday night and the next. Going to the video store after school on a Friday was something we looked forward to. Each film/story pulled us in deeper. As you can see we now own the collection.
Potter at the push of a button
Rainy Day Potter
Whatever we call it it is Perfectly Potter!
Pages and Potter
The books came next. I typically have it a hard rule…read it before you watch it. I find the books are always better than a movie. Movies often try, but there is magic found on the page. Luckily my mini me loved the books just as much as the films. She loved reporting extra details or facts that we didn’t see or possibly pick up in the movies. The best part is she read them….even thought she watched the movies. The power of the pen!
This love for Potter was only growing, so the next step was to head to Hogsmeade.
Potions and Potter
We went to Universal Orlando in search of everything Potter. I have to say…it is very well done. We loved everything about it. There is so much detail and thought put into Diagone Alley, Kings Cross Station, and Hogsmeade.
Boarding the train and traveling to either fantastical land was pure family fun. We loved that this was more than just a train ride. Escaping Dementors was not what we expected.
We did it all, rode it all, were in awe of it all.
We solemnly swear we were up to no good!
Painting and Potter
With all of this love of Harry we naturally had a Harry Potter themed birthday party. It was a painting party where all the children painted owls. It was a very sweet afternoon and even the muggles enjoyed the experience. My mini was in her glory. The soundtrack played as they used their wands to create feathered friends.
Play and Potter
The love still continues in this converted muggle house. We recently attended a Lego event at our local Barnes and Noble. It was free and fun. Children were building golden snitches everywhere! They were looking at books and merchandise with great excitement. I really loved seeing so many of them walking around with more books than toys. Makes my teacher heart full.
Power of Potter
This story came out 20 years ago and it is still delighting fans, bringing in new fans and turning muggles into wannabe wizards and witches. I love that books have this power. The power to take a reader places. The power to connect.
As a family it has been a few years of Potter filled togetherness and I don’t see it going away. I am sure as our daughter gets older it will become less things and more memories. No matter what it has been a powerful connection for us.
Making friends can be hard at any age. I know as a teacher I am always trying to encourage my students to get out there and build friendships. I think it is just as important for teachers to make meaningful and supportive connections for growth and happiness. I realize you might be thinking- saying this is easy…my students say that too, but in reality it may seem difficult or frustrating. I know how isolating and difficult it can be being an itinerant teacher. I am very fortunate to have a small group of TODs I can rely on. There are only seven of us in total, but I rely on my tribe. I realize not everyone has this professional luxury-I never take my tribe for granted.
Even with the support of my local TOD tribe I found myself needing to make more connections. I realized that I needed more support to do work I could be proud of. My number one focus is always my students. That’s why we do it…right? We drive in uncomfortable weather, we eat in our cars, we add on the miles, we are a constant guest in buildings and we are forever explaining what we do- and “No I am not a speech therapist!”
We do it for our students.
Well, this year I decided I needed to step outside my comfort zone and look for more support, so I can keep on going….for my students. Teacher burn out happens easily. I do not think the cranky, frustrated teacher you might eat lunch with or pass in the hall ever wanted to be that way. If you read my blog regularly you will know that I try to grow professionally and personally. I never want to be “that teacher”. The one that should have stopped teaching because they lost the spark or passion to do more than an adequate job. So, I thought I would share some of the things I have recently done to expand my tribe and grow.
I was very slow to get on the Facebook train. VERY. I couldn’t see the need for it, the time for it or the purpose of it as an educator. I understand why people love Facebook for their personal lives. I first started there….I got an account to connect to my child’s school activities. I found value in being able to be connected or in the loop. I never really post, but I can stay informed and I like that.
I think as a teacher so many of us are not on Facebook because of the negative things you hear or a level of fear, related to it effecting your career. You might not care what someone had for breakfast or their current mood. I get it. Maybe you have had it forever and love it, maybe you are a newbie like me or maybe you still don’t have an account- wherever you fall on that list that is ok.
A teacher friend of mine suggested I use Facebook to find other teachers of the deaf for support. I know I squished up my face and sort of thought she was nuts….maybe I am really behind the times, but I had no idea there were groups!!!! There are all sorts of teacher groups out there-search and see what works for you. I have joined a few and I think it is awesome how many teachers of the deaf are out there talking about real things that are part of my everyday world. These are the things I want to know about. How someone is teaching advocacy skills or using community resources to help their families.
I am still shy to put myself out there, but I find that reading the questions people have, the strategies they are using and the problems they encounter are similar to my experiences and that helps me stay fresh. Also, if I am feeling brave I can respond or even pose a question and get feedback. Makes me feel like my tribe has exploded and is sort of limitless.
I personally love Instagram as a platform to see and learn about all sorts of things in the world. When scrolling past something I like-I love tapping the little heart! I find this outlet to be quick, visual and typically positive. I like that I can follow other teachers and SEE what they are doing. If I feel like engaging more I can always follow links or watch people’s stories. I have been inspired by many posts, from all sorts of teachers. Lots if sparks!!!
There is an itinerant teacher I follow who saw a post of mine and she had questions-sent me a message. I love it! I could help her out and it came from a simple picture I posted, about something I do, that is a common thing for me. Simple, helpful and not a huge level of commitment.
My tribe is happily growing!!!
Face to Face
This seems super obvious right…make friends in school, but I sort of think this one can be hard for an itinerant teacher. Facebook or Instagram are at my fingertips 24/7, but time to connect with people in my buildings can be a challenge at times. As I am getting older and further in my career I feel as if I know myself better and I know I need to connect with the teachers in my buildings. I can’t always rush in and rush out. I know so many of us have demanding schedules, but try to make time for one teacher you think you can build a friendship with. I have been very blessed that there are some really great people I can connect, share (maybe over share!), chat…and be myself with.
Things to consider:
Slow down and say hello
Participate in teacher activities like- holiday parties, monthly breakfasts, special luncheons and dress down days/fundraisers
Eat in a staff lunchroom
Use the library- people are always in and out
Volunteer for a school event
Attend a school event
Say yes to a happy hour
I have done all of these over the years. Some years I can maybe manage one, but at least I tried. I have found that making the effort pays off personally and professionally. I have been in multiple districts over my career and some of the friendships I have made were temporary, because being itinerant is difficult and some friendships are still going!
These are the people that get me through a freezing, gross, stressful day. Whether I physically see them or get a text reminding me to drive safe these small moments can get me through. Making these connections and growing these friendships has made me a better teacher. I can’t function all day without adult interaction. I think I could in my twenties when I was just starting out, but I could also wear high heels all day too! I now need comfort in friends and footwear.
Being itinerant can be mentally and physically draining. You do not have to be an island or a one person teaching machine. It is so okay to say you need more:
My hope with this post is no matter where you are or what your schedule/job looks like, you can think about these suggestions and expand your tribe, improve your everyday and be a happier you.
I would love to hear from you. You can email me, comment, or like this post. I would love to know how you keep yourself connected and positive.
If you are itinerant like me, you may be spread all over multiple districts or just work for one, but no matter where you are there is high probability that some or most of your students are little islands. These amazing tiny humans, who work harder than their hearing peers, lack a connection to kids like them. I know, as the only Teacher of the Deaf at my schools, I feel alone at times. I am lucky to have my focus group to connect with, but when I am my buildings I am alone. I don’t have a “grade level team” to rely on for support. I span K- high school all in one day, so I can relate to my students being the only one.
This year I decided to implement a communication journal with two kindergartners. I had tried this activity in years past and found it to be sort of okay…not at all amazing (because of how I structured it-never the kids). This year it was beyond my expectations. There were so many educational boxes checked.
Calendar skills….and more
This is what I used this year. A composition notebook. It was easy to carry back an forth and the layout of a notebook is familiar to the students. The cover is very sturdy, which is great for going in and out of my bag for 10 months. I made sure I had a wide rule style. Bigger spaces are easier for young writers.
There were a couple of things I would change about using a composition notebook.
The lack of white space for an illustration. Lines sort of effect the illustrations. The page count. Having a preset page count put an expectation for how long…how much to write. I think a journal that I can add pages to would take the pressure off of getting to the end of the notebook.
This is a format I used years ago with two students. It was a positive experience, but be sure the technology is available for the experience. Being itinerant can offer challenges with access and opportunities for integrating technology into our sessions. I think 10 years ago I struggled more, but now so many of us have tools at our disposal. This can also be done via two hearing teachers who are in different districts/schools. You can support your student and a colleague’s student. Everybody wins!
Have students communicate with a forgotten art-LETTERS.
Teach them the structure of a friendly letter
Use fun stationary
Fun pens and pencils
Create something to keep the letters in: a box, folder, or large envelope
Use stickers to act as stamps
Have a mail box-if you see multiple students in one location
Send actual MAIL via the post office or inter school mail-this is dependent on your situation, guidelines and parent permission
Most of us text at least once a day. Texts are typically short and concise. This can be a way to have older students mentor younger students. The messages can be short and topic related. How you do this is obviously not via a cell phone.
Google Slides-each student can communicate per slide.
You may have students with varying skills. Maybe writing is not something they can physically or academically handle. These students might need a friend the most. Being able to draw, add clip art, pictures, photos or dictate to you can still make for a positive experience.
Students who are interested-pair excited & willing kiddos
Materials/Method of Communication
Remember to view content-this is supposed to be productive & positive
Follow it through- As the teacher don’t forget make it happen and be careful who you pair….nothing worse than a student who wants to stop (this is supposed to be fun), but the buddy wants to continue….feelings can get hurt.
Enjoy the Process!!!!
The Power of Connection
The experience I had years ago was not the same as the one I just had this year. I think I was better prepared, better organized, and made it part of our sessions-on a schedule. My students were vested in themselves and each other. This activity stretched beyond our sessions, it was no longer just a writing journal. At the end of the year I made two copies of the journal. I bound them and sent them home. Their parents read and saw the growth, the excitement, the pride and the connections that were made between the children. This whole experience granted me the honor and privilege of being inside their world.
I highly recommend trying this out. These ideas can be used for really any student who needs a connection. Getting our hearing impaired or deaf students connected to someone like them is priceless.
I’m always here to discuss or answer questions. Reach out!
I am adding a free resource link. I developed this journal this year….after I started the composition notebook. My plan is print and use this year for multiple communication buddies/partners.
I have been making resources for myself for a while. This year a very supportive friend suggested I started a teachers pay teachers store to sell the things I was making for school. She had a very good point….if I like it and need it, maybe others will too. I started posting resources in December. It has been an interesting experience. I put pressure on myself and I really shouldn’t….I think most teachers do this- TpT store or not. I need to keep remembering that this is a fun extension of my actual job- being a Teacher of the Deaf.
With that being said, summer has been great so far-great family time, hanging with my mini me, and trying to create new resources for my store/my world. My hope was I would be able to make some things I need and want for the upcoming year. My thinking cap was on tight for a while, but last week I hit a wall. I felt like I was staring at a very blank wall.
Looking for Inspiration
If your like me you might scroll Instagram…I have been seeing teachers working on projects and items for their 2019-2020 classrooms. Some of the things I have seen are so inspiring, the trouble is I don’t have a classroom to pick a theme or freshen up. I may have a few great work spaces come September, but as of this moment I know I can rely on my vehicle and backpack, so all of the colorful and beautiful ideas sort of made me blue. I love being itinerant, but like I have mentioned before, sometimes a classroom can be very nice, especially in the hard winter months.
So, I was bummed about it and then started to think of ways to make my world more colorful and fresh….Astrobright paper!!! I have seen people use this for years, but I never have. This is kinda crazy because I love color. If I can color print something I will, but color printing isn’t always an option, so I am getting on the Astro train to happy town.
Easy as 1, 2, 3
I recently made this advocacy resource and thought about making it more fun for my students and myself, so I ordered the Astrobright paper and I am so happy I did. The black and white version looks so different on this cheerful paper. You can totally do this too!
1. I ordered from Amazon…you can get fun paper anywhere, I just love deliveries.
2. I loaded the colors I wanted.
3. I pressed print.
It looks fun!
It was very easy!
It was affordable!
Refreshed and Ready to Rock
This is just what I needed to change and enhance what I am already doing. I love that it is easy and practical. I am sort of kicking myself…I should have tried this years ago. I don’t need to pressure myself to reinvent the wheel, I already have a wheel…it just needed some color.
Suggestions for Itinerants
STORAGE AND PORTABILITY
I am going to use an accordion folder to keep paper in my car. I can easily bring this into school when I want to print out materials for my students.
Choose a folder that has sections for paper and your newly printed resources.
I love that older resources are going to look new! Upcycling here I come.
I am even thinking I might print things for my parents on colored paper. My hope is my pop of color will stand out on the sea of papers that come home in take home folders, agendas and backpacks.
My suggestion is if you do this choose one color for the year.
I am going to pick one color…maybe green…and my hope is every time my parents see the bright green in the folder or mail, they will know it is me sending something home. Your pleasantly, persistent TOD!!!
Ready for September
I am very excited that no matter where I am or what work space I will have, I can open a student’s folder and pull out a bit of happy! My world (compact and portable) will be colorful and new too. Being itinerant can be hard and isolating, so anyway I can make my world brighter- I am going to do it. If you read my blog, regularly, you know I am passionately perusing change for growth and this very simple change is just what I needed for another successful year.
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I just ordered more Beekman 1802 products this week. I know I posted about the cream and soap a while ago, but I have added two new items to my beauty bag. It is kind of silly to be so pumped about beauty products, but I am not very complicated (hahaha) and with this hot summer weather these are doing an awesome job at keeping me hydrated, without the sticky greasy feel of some products. I am beginning to think that goat milk might be magical.
Whipped Body Cream
I wrote about this before in a previous post….nothing has changed about this product except for the fact that I have less of it! I consider this self-care, not vanity. I find that the older I am getting my skin demands different things than it did in my 20’s and 30’s. I need more moisture, but I hate lotions and potions that make my feel dirty, heavy or greasy. I want to feel like I’m not wearing a cream or lotion. This body cream absorbs right in and keeps me feeling great.
I am not crazy about a lot of smells out there. Many things give me that puke headache, so it is nice that this brand sells unscented options. The unscented is awesome to keep me feel good and if I do choose to wear fragrance (headache free options), there is zero conflict. This soap lathers up and rinses clean. It is soap, so I don’t think a lot of explaining needs to be done, but I can say it has brought me back to bar soap. I don’t feel tight or itchy after bathing and it works for shaving my legs too!
This is a category of beauty products I struggle with. I have very dry hands. I often think they look 10 years older than my face, when they aren’t moisturized(insert sad, wrinkle free face). However, even with my granny hands I still detest the feel of lotion on my hands. I especially do not enjoy how lotions and creams can effect the function of my hands. I don’t want them to be slippery or tacky. I have used this cream every day since it arrived. It sinks in and does none of the above. It immediately went into my tote bag. Second new favorite thing.
Drum roll please…..this might be my absolute new favorite thing. It is a luxurious and practical product. It feels heavenly, but is not complicated. It is a hard balm in a tiny pot that packs a huge punch. I rubbed it in and was IN LOVE. It made my cuticles look and feel better, with out weighing my digits down. I could text and type easily; it didn’t leave residue on my screen. I think for the typical user you will like this, but for someone like me who picks their cuticles daily (horrible and gross habit)…they looked almost presentable after a few treatments. Total win for me. My nails even looked healthier.
So, if you are looking to change up your beauty self-care routine, these products might be total winners for you too. I know you can get them directly from Beekman 1802 or you can order from QVC. That’s how I ordered. I love how things come bundled together on QVC’s website. I am all about being thrifty. I am adding the sites. I get zero compensation, but 100% happiness from sharing.
I don’t know about you, but I think with every year that I am itinerant, I am looking for ways to be lighter and more efficient. I love it whenI can leave materials at a school. That is literally heaven, but there are still materials that I transport between sites and students. I know some teachers will purchase multiple items/materials, but I really don’t need 3 of the same game. I can take these things back and forth-even in terrible weather. With this being said I still need to purge and de-clutter my materials. Right now my basement is looking very pretty. Typhoon TOD happened and it needs to get organized for September.
Trash to Treasure
I am sure there are items in my basement that can be passed on (or borrowed) to my co-workers or a teacher I team with. I can see the games and workbooks that have not been touched in a couple of years. This could be for various reasons: I am over it, I don’t want to carry it around or I haven’t had a student who could play or use the materials. These are my top priorities to purge. I know these items are still great-but why aren’t I taking them???? I honestly do not want to psycho analyze why I stopped using an auditory discrimination workbook….too much to organize!
So, my plan and recommendation is if it looks dusty- turn that clutter into someone else’s treasure.
Send out an email to co-workers… looking for a new owner
Have a yard sale and hope for happy customers
Give to students as a reward-kids love free stuff…call it swag!
I did this a few years back. I took old and out dated materials( things that were made when I was in elementary school…gems my mentors passed down) and found new ways to use them. I cut up cards and games and made them into something new I could use. I also let the students write on and in the resources (gasp). I know that is shocking, but they loved it and then when it was used-bye bye. It was out of my hands and either in the trash or a kiddos back pack to use at home.
Think of how you can use parts of it one more time-cut it up, use pieces of a game for a game you create
Let students write in the workbook (double gasp) and then send that achievement home when it is done!
Use two resources together.
Purge and Trash
This might be my favorite one of all. I get out a trash bag or paper bag and just sort and stuff!!! I look at old things that are not confidential and get rid of them. It feels so good to unearth something and send it to the great beyond….my garbage and recycle bins.
Toss old and out of date items
Toss items that are torn, stained, wrinkled from water (thank you rain and snow)
Toss well loved items, that have served you well but should really go
Don’t linger on each item
Don’t look inside the cover or box too long
Don’t feel guilty
Don’t tell yourself you are going to use it- YOU KNOW YOU WON’T
Follow your gut….practice your inner listening skills
Re-group Your Materials
I feel like every few years I like to think about how I need to store and save my materials that will be used or I hope to use (I too ignore my inner voice…as you can see in the above pictured bingo game). Sometimes I clear the shelves and start fresh. Grouping things by a need or topic. The last time I did this I was very determined, so this summer I am just going to insert what I took throughout the year and maybe start grouping some materials to be taken in September by age/grade.
Sort by topics- ASL and sign language, Listening, Advocacy, Speech reading, Auditory Discrimination, Social Skills….you know what you have and need
Sort by building-maybe you know your caseload and can start by putting bins or bags together
Sort resources by theme- holidays, topics (civil war, weather, transportation)
Sort and group all of your games and manipulatives in one area
Sort out all of the still usable folders, binders, and tools that can be reused into bins, containers or pencil pouches-I like to be able to just grab and go if I need new or get a new student
I saved this for last because I think this is the one I am most passionate about now. I am trying to carry less and store less, so this is the easiest option for me….maybe you too? I love that I can save things to my “stick” and just pull up what I need that I have saved and print just the needed copies. I love that there are so many online resources now, especially when I am teaching K-high school, out of the trunk of my vehicle. The web options seem limitless. I am sure so many of us are using the web for things we need instantly or well planned out lessons. I think that I love the internet most when a student brings me something and I know I can support it once retrieved it from my “stick” or do a new search and PRINT. I may have something great at home-but that doesn’t help me when my student brings me revolutionary war text and work that is a bit too difficult and the student needs support right then and there. Thank you Google and Teachers Pay Teachers. I know there are so many more sites, but these are my go to’s in a pinch.
I hope you feel EMPOWERED to have a fantastic new school year.
I would love to hear from you if you have other ideas about organizing or making this job we do easier and more streamlined, you can always comment, follow or email me. There is always room in the tribe!!!!