Posted in Teaching Life

Personalizing September: 3 Tips to Add Style and Flair to Your School Routine

Starting back to school can be a time of joy or madness. No matter what age, grade, subject, specialty or location you teach in, there are going to be pluses and minuses….already thinking about data collection! I think some things are out of a teachers control and those are the hardest to mentally manage, but the things we can control are where a shift in focus should occur to turn sweaty, stressy September into sunny, satisfying September.

The Schedule

As an itinerant this is my madness. Getting multiple schedules and locations to all perfectly come together can be beyond overwhelming. This part of is often the hardest, non-teaching aspect of my job. Remembering to give myself grace and permission to voice my limits is difficult, but I am not robo-teacher and I need to build a schedule that is balanced. A hungry teacher is never a good thing.

I think if you are a classroom teacher and I once upon a time was, the schedule is still a challenge. Doing anything new is often difficult and filled with challenges. Add in the personalities, staff and children, of who we encounter for the day and it can be a very interesting situation. Remember you are not super human…everything will shake out and 10 months can fly by!

TIP: Print or create schedule(s) that are visually appealing. Use colors and images to enhance what you are looking at. Planbooks too! We look at these every day.

This is my color palette for this year. I need peaceful and pretty.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Student-Self-Monitoring-and-Data-Collection-Sticky-Notes-4337240

A pretty mess is better than a dull mess!

Work Space

Classroom teachers are very busy before the start of the year making their classrooms aka “second homes” a place to call home. Beautiful bulletin boards, reading corners, words of inspiration, labels, furniture arrangements and decorated doors….all hard work. As an itinerant I look forward to walking the halls and seeing all the themes and ideas-the scent of fresh lamination!

I miss these things sometimes.

As a seasoned itinerant I have found a few places I can put my decorating skills to work. Granted this is limited and not the norm, but I try. I try to also make my classroom on my back also pretty and engaging. If you only have your bag that’s ok you can still let your personality and taste shine.

TIP: Choose a theme or color you can infuse into your folders, notebooks, post it notes, tools (pencils, pens, scissors).

These can be used to decorate an area where I have space. I try to make it feel like a solid space.

Materials and Resources

I am always looking for new ideas to make lessons and communication materials fresh. I am a huge fan of cute clip art and printing in color. My hope is the color and clipart will make my resources more attractive to my students. I am printing for one student at a time. I understand color copies are not always fiscally possible for a class of 20+ children, but this is where I say print on colored paper. I am doing this more and more. I especially use bright colored paper to send home information for families.

I want my information to pop out of a folder.

TIP: Choose a signature colored paper, colored ink or graphic to send home information, so families can quickly and easily identify your things.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Hearing-Advocacy-Worksheets-4685240
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mini-Notes-Data-Collection-Charts-and-Positive-Reinforcement-Awards-4707126
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Seasonal-Newsletters-Bundle-Editable-Version-4518283
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Parent-Teacher-Notes-4229926

Color Me Happy

I know I am going to enjoy looking at all my pastel pretty this year. Sometimes I go for the brights, but I am feeling the watercolor vibes. Maybe it is all the yoga and self reflection, but I need serenity as I am running from place to place. Hopefully looking at a serene color plate will trick my brain….and keep me zen….fingers crossed!

However you choose to color your world, add personality or spice things up I wish you a sassy September.

Posted in Teaching Life

The Perfect Itinerant Teacher Bag: So Much Searching

I have had many, many teaching bags over the years. With each purchase there is a hope and a dream that this will be “the one”. I get excited when I think I have found it…the bag that will end all bags, but sadly I keep searching….and spending.

Is it me? Is it the bag? Is it a bag addiction?

Messenger Bag

Almost looks new

This was the first style of bag I started with. I loved it in college, so I bought a new one when I started my itinerant position. I wanted to look put together and not like a student. It was not a good choice. It could not hold enough. Depending on my caseload I might need bigger items and this was definitely the case years ago, so then I was carrying two bags! Who likes that?! I know some itinerants have to and I get the two bag need, but I needed to carry smarter. I had to kill this messenger!

Pros:

  • Light weight
  • Wipes clean
  • I hoard and carry less
  • Pockets for organization
  • I look professional

Cons:

  • Not enough room to do my job

Tote Bag

Vera Bradley, thirty-one, Lug

I probably have the most of this style. I was going to take a whole group photo, but I think that might be incredibly embarrassing and make me cry over the dollars spent in pursuit of happiness. I have some really cute ones and I will go back to them to spice up my day to day momsibilities or carry extra stuff when needed, but a couple of these haven’t seen my back seat or a school in years.

Pros:

  • Depending on size- holds a lot
  • I really like ones with outer pockets
  • Some are machine washable
  • Durable
  • I look like a teacher…not a student

Cons:

  • Some are and endless pit
  • I load them to heavy
  • Open tops- rain or snow
  • Shoulder pain

Rolling Bag

Amazon special

I know this style of bag is used by so many itinerant teachers. We have a lot of stuff sometimes and carrying the world on your back hurts, so why not roll it behind you. I tried this bag. It has pros and cons for me. I have a nickname for the rollie-The Rolling Bag of Shame. I am very aware that this is not a cute one or high end version, but it has wheels and that was my experiment. After a good, solid try it rolled right down to the basement.

Pros:

  • I am not carrying the world on my back
  • I can fit a lot in it
  • I can move about quickly

Cons:

  • Loud-I am so noticeable
  • Gross in the snow
  • Stairs are difficult, so I have to carry
  • Lifting it into the car
  • Zero organization- it is like a pit

Backpack

Never going to have a sensible black bag

This is my latest bag I am using, even though I told myself I would never get a backpack. I was totally against looking like my students.

As I have worked as itinerant for over a decade I have thankfully made friends. With these connections I have been able to leave things at my different schools. This has made life considerably easier, so my need for a huge bag has decreased.

This past school year I was using a large tote with zero issue until I was off balance on some ice this winter. I prefer to travel and work without crutches, so I decided to cave and get a backpack. I went to Vera Bradley and found a pattern that I thought would be cute all year and hide dirt-it goes on the floor beside me a lot.

So far so good.

Getting older sometimes means doing things for safety and health, so backpack it is!

Pros:

  • It is a fun pattern
  • Light weight when empty
  • Easy to carry
  • Pockets and organization are plentiful
  • Washable
  • I can maneuver quickly
  • Adjustable over winter coats

Cons:

  • I get mistaken for a student….from behind
  • I load it heavy at times-ouch

So far this is the winner. Never say NEVER.

Also, I can purchase matching accessories for this particular backpack. I love that…of course!

The search is over….for now. If I end up finding “the one”, yet again, I will update this post or add it to my Buffet page.

If your a professional bag lady like me drop me a line. I would love to know what works for you!!!