Apples for the Teacher

We recently went apple picking and it was a delicious day. The sun was out, the field was dry and the apples were easy picking. Getting out for a couple of hours in mother nature’s glory was just what was needed. Back to school can be so hectic.

Family Fun

We picked four kinds of apples:

  • Cortland
  • Macintosh
  • Gala
  • Golden Surprise
This was 1 of 2 bags

After we were done we typically love to linger and get a snack. It was a bit to crowded. Beautiful weather brought people out in droves, so we just headed home. My people were also a little sweaty and a tiny bit cranky. What would we have done in the pioneer days? Hahaha!

The following day I was motivated to do something with our haul. I decided on apple sauce. I don’t have a recipe for this. I just figure it is a basic concept. I am sure there are amazing recipes online, but I just wing it.

  • Crockpot-on low
  • Apples-all four varieties
  • Cinnamon-as much as you like
  • Splash of water

I peel, cut and load the crockpot. As I fill the pot with apple chunks I sprinkle some cinnamon on each layer. Nothing measured…nothing fancy. The lid goes on top and after a few hours I give it a stir. I check to see if they are breaking down. After about 4 or 5 hours I see if the apples are soft enough for me to start mushing.

Smush away!

Then it simmers and cooks down a bit longer. I take the crock out when I think it is smooth enough…..applesaucy. We like ours with chunks too, so I do not puree it. Like I said I am not fancy when making applesauce.

I love eating it warm!

I have plans to make more applesauce and probably some gluten free apple desserts. I will add anything new I bake or create to the post. So check back for updates to this post if you are curious.

Fall is my favorite season and so far this one is starting out with good family fun. I am hoping you have a beautiful harvest season too!!!

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4 Little Things That Shape an Itinerant’s Day of Travel

As an itinerant or person who travels for work…do you have a list of the best places to:

Copy, print, eat, park, and of course use the bathroom?

I know that I do. My time is limited and priceless at points in my day, so I need to know where I can have the best and most productive day. Work spaces are what they are. I try to make the best of any space a school will give me and I have written about awesome spaces in previous blogs, here I am focusing in on the other bits of my intinerant day.

Parking

So this is how I start my day…parking at my first school. Depending on the weather, my mood and if I am pressed for time where I park is very important. I typically don’t care in beautiful weather, but seeing that I teach on the run in all four seasons this location will change. This ties in directly to my mood. I am not a cold weather lover, so ice and snow prompt me to park as close as I can. I always find it interesting how being a few minutes earlybor late can alter where I park as well. One year parking as late as I could was best. I didn’t have to battle the parent carpool line.

Do you have a “spot”???

Printing and Copying

These two aspects to my job are incredibly important. I have had years where the only place I can get anything done is at home. I do not love this….last time I checked teachers don’t get paid enough, so if I can get work done for my students in their buildings, like the classroom teachers, I appreciate it very much. Ink can be pricey and I try to be thrifty!

So, I try to make the most of the resources provided to me. I am very thankful when I have access to these tools. I find I am more inclined to create more resources and activities. I am always trying to keep it fresh for my students and myself.

I have found that making a friend in a building or just asking is incredibly helpful. I never assume I can use resources, so I ask where and what I can use.

  • Copy machine
  • Printing
  • Color prints
  • Lamination
  • Library books
  • Website ID and passwords

Eating Lunch

If you have read other blogs you will know I am conflicted with eating lunch in school. Sometimes I enjoy it and look forward to eating with the staff I work with. I love building friendships. Then there are times I keep a low profile. This typically hinges on how welcome I feel.

Now there is a third reason I do not munch and gab with school peeps….it’s call zero time! I am running my gluten free, gingerbread girl, butt off and have zero time. This is sadly a reality for many itinerants. We run and often eat in between kids-which is in the car or in our work space.

I am sure there are other reasons that keep itinerants out of staff lunch rooms:

  • Being outside in your car with the windows down, music playing and fresh air is a beautiful perk.
  • Wanting to stay positive…I think we know lunchrooms can be a place to vent
  • Needing alone/down time.

Restrooms

Now this seems to be maybe a tacky thing to mention, but in my world I like to know where the best pottys are!!! I think no matter where you work you care and have an opinion.

Things I look for or try to avoid:

  • Location-I can not wander on a tight schedule
  • Kids vs. Staff-primary sized toilets are a thigh workout, even for petite peeps
  • Cleanliness
  • The toilets and sinks-auto is awesome, the less I have to touch the better
  • Staff bathrooms NOT off of a lunchroom….never understood this
  • Hooks-I need a place to hang a coat or bag

As you can see I have thought alot about this. When nature calls…a girl has needs!

I really do love my job. Figuring out how to do my best doesn’t always have to do with lesson plans and materials. I am sure, no matter what you do, you too look for the best of the best to be an effective worker.

Here’s to rocking out your work place!

Growth Mindset for School and Home

It seems like positive phrases and quotes are everywhere. Teachers are really making an effort to put positivism, self reflection and encouragement up and around their rooms. I think this trend is here to stay.

This was in a middle school hallway

Everywhere I go in see things that are inspiring…uplifting or just make me think. People say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a few words printed on a wooden sign or bulletin board might be just as or more impactful.

Saw this in a school.

Schools aren’t the only places trying to get the “word” out. Positivity is popping in just about every store. Try to shop without seeing some message ment to inspire.

This hung in my mini’s locker.

I really love this trend.

This greets visitors when they enter my house.

I feel like theses mini messages are creating a new mindset for all the little people walking around. My hope is that the more they see and read…the more the messages marinate in their being.

We have been living by these words for years!

My house has many peppy, thoughtful messages for an improved mental health. Momma needs a boost somedays. I need a reminder when my day or mood seems like it is in the toilet.

My personal mission is to be more observant of the messages around me. Be more mindful of how those messages resonate with me.

These I found online. I thought these would be perfect for the middle school students I teach.

I made these mini notes to let me students know how awesome they are. They are the perfect size for the square sticky pockets. They are post it note size, so east to staple or tape in agendas, desks, lockers and folders.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mini-Notes-Positivity-and-Encouragement-for-Students-4715415

Back to School Selfcare for Itinerant Teachers: 5 New Strategies to Reduce Stress

Starting back to school can be an incredibly stressful and busy time. Getting children or students back into the groove can be exhausting for parents and teachers. Being both I find that September is a potluck of emotions. I love getting back to teaching, my students and a routine. I also dread the schedule, the planning and the balancing act between school and home. September seems to go by slowly and quickly….when I am in it it seems like I am treading in molasses, but once it is October I feel like it was over in a blink. This is why I think selfcare is so important for the first couple of months.

This years start up I told myself I was going to make time for myself. Little things can make a huge difference and seem less daunting. I tried to think of the top five things that make my day stressful and then tried to brainstorm ideas to alleviate that stress.

Waking Up Earlier

I am not an early bird, not when I was a kid or even as a new mom. I am a night owl. This isn’t always the best sleep habit for a school schedule, so this summer I tried to have a bed time. Going to bed at 2 am is a hard habit to break come Labor Day. This summer I stuck to this self induced rule with consistancy. Much to my surprise it wasn’t that difficult and made for a better transition into going back to work.

I also realized I have to stop the morning routine I have had for years.

  • Shower
  • Get half ready
  • Get child up and ready
  • Breakfast
  • Finish getting ready
  • Sucking down a luke warm cup of coffee at lightning speed
  • Grab everything by the door
  • Leave maybe on time

It was just a mad dash every morning. Probably some panic, yelling and forgetting. This is not a great way to start the day, so I decided I need to get up earlier and develop a new order of operations.

  • 1x snooze
  • Coffee, Instagram and Texts in a cozy chair
  • Wake up child
  • Get child ready
  • Breakfast
  • Get myself ready
  • Leave on time

So far this is working. We are getting out the door on time and less racing from task to task. My mini is also taking time after breakfast to chill for a bit while I am getting ready.

Yoga

If you read my blog or follow me on Instagram you know I love yoga and I try to keep at it. I have only been practicing since March, so I am no expert, but I have discovered it is my jam and I need it to function.

Getting back to work and balancing home takes alot out of me in the beginning and working out would normally go to the bottom of the to do list, but this September I told myself I need to keep at it. I have been trying to head to a class at least once a week and try to fit in home yoga two times a week.

So far it is happening. This might be the most consistent I have ever been-with fitness. I recently tried a new class and it was awesome, however it did take effort to get there. It was a Saturday…could have easily skipped it. It was a farther drive…another reason to put it off, but I didn’t and I am happy I did. Feeding the body and soul keeps me a sane momma.

If yoga isn’t your jam….find and do what works for you.

  • Swim
  • Bike
  • Hike
  • Power Walk
  • Fitness Class
  • Weights
  • Cardio
  • Spin
  • Pilates

Down Time

Being an itinerant teacher I am in the car multiple times a day. I told myself I was going to use this time as a time to recharge. These are a few ways I am staying happy during my between, school drives.

  • Audible Books
  • Music
  • Positive phone calls
  • Silence

Being mentally consumed by your caseload and co-workers all day can be draining. I know all to well how easy it is to get wrapped up in the negativity or not let something go, but this transition times allows me to be fresh for the next student at the next school.

Hydrate

Drinking enough water is something I think many people struggle with or make a priority. Being itinerant I struggle with getting enough water in for two reasons:

  • Forgetting my water in the car or a school.
  • Making time to make a potty stop.

Both I am trying to remedy this year.

  • Bought a new cup only for water that I can leave in the car and rinse at school.
  • Not just pushing through the day. Mentally acknowledging I am a priority.
  • Stopping at each school if needed.
  • Finding all the fountains with the filter systems.

Treat Yourself

I love me some pumpkin spice coffee….however this can turn into a daily sugar issue, so I am only treating myself once a week. I have a low stress caseload, so a daily treat isn’t needed. My waist line thanks all my beautiful students! However I have had years where I need a daily treat. It doesn’t have to be calorie conscious or cost anything. Sometimes it was making time for trash tv at night or a weekly manicure.

Anything that makes you happy and motivates….do it! Fill your bucket, make time for yourself. If you are empty and cranky you aren’t rocking it out everyday. Selfcare is not selfish.

Be Our Guest: Inclusion and Involvement of an Itinerant Teacher

September

When I think of my place in a school, I always try to refer to myself as a guest (that famous song sings in my head)-no matter how many years I have worked in a particular district or building. I have been very lucky in my career to have worked in schools that have very much gone out of their way to make me feel part of the community (This is not going to be a complaint fest of all the places that do not have space for me to work or don’t have a welcome mat. Keeping it honest and positive). I think no matter how much or how little inclusion-just being included helps me be a better teacher.

Do you need to be included?

When I first started being an itinerant teacher I wasn’t sure how to navigate my role in a building. Those first years were very hard at times. Learning where to work, how to schedule, learning to read all the new faces was often overwhelming. Even after all these years I still stop and reflect, check myself and remind myself I am a guest.

I was very blessed to have worked in some great places my first handful of years. I got comfortable. I made friends. I was attached to my students. I think all of those things made me a better teacher. Feeling connected was great. I built relationships with staff, which had a very positive trickle down effect for my students. I find that when a building sees me as part of their community it makes me seem less like this stranger who pops in and takes a student-leaving my student’s classmates wondering. After a couple of years I started to in- service the kids and the staff. I want my student’s peers and friends to see me as a normal part of the school. It is very true I work in random spots and am not necessarily there everyday, but I don’t want to be a question mark, that leaves my student vulnerable to questions. Now if I have a student that is not comfortable with their disability I am stealthy with the classroom. Kids meet me in our spot. I find this is the case with older students or students that get my services even in 4th or 5th grade. For the students I get when they are little,”my littles”, I try to teach them, their peers and the staff that I am just part of the daily routine. This may not work for every itinerant teacher, but I want my students to feel proud of who they are and rock hot pink sparkle ear molds, if that’s what they love.

With this level of blending in I got too comfortable years ago. I was happy and I think those I was serving were happy too, but numbers changed and situations changed and I was relocated. I always knew this could happen, so when it did I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was devastating-I forgot I was a guest. I was loosing my tribe, my students, my routine and was going back to being the newbie. I hated not having my students the following year, but that I could make peace with. Teachers see kids move on every June. That is the norm. We itinerants are lucky, we get to follow kids. It is a total privilege. I get to see them really grow and become amazing humans. Even students that are a challenge-it is a total privilege to build that connection with them and their families.

This little cart is perfect if I need to see multiple students in a building and it rolls from place to place.

Being a newbie, again, in a district or building was the hardest part. I lost my lunch peeps, knowing who could help me, I had to explain my role to EVERYONE again. I think having a tribe is essential. I teach better when I don’t feel like a weirdo that is begging for a quiet place to work. Starting over can be hard, but I did it….we do it right? It is the job. We move and groove. I always feel like I am that rolling stone….gathering zero moss. I need to remember I am a guest, no matter how amazing people are, no matter how much they include me, because it sucks to say goodbye.

I have been lucky again. I have been a welcomed guest for a handful of years in a great district. People know me and I know them. I have started to build a new tribe (still have connections to my old tribe) that gets me, understands my role, my students and how important they are. I am different this time around. I don’t have a lunch bunch. I know I am very welcome, but I am not sure I am strong enough to loose that daily routine again. I join in where I feel I can. I have baby walls, mini boundaries set to keep myself aware I am a guest or visiting for the year. Next year could bring an entirely new caseload.

At least I could leave a bin!!!

So I guess I am questioning where is the balance in what we do? How vested do we get in a place?

Being vested in our students is not a question. That is why I get out the door every morning. In other posts I have focused on self care and recharging, which is essential, but I think if we have a tribe…. how vested we are in the adults we interact with also plays a vital role in how good we are as teachers. Maybe your tribe is the people in your buildings. Maybe the tribe you build is other TODs/itinerants you know. I am incredibly lucky to have an awesome tribe. I need these people. I couldn’t be as successful without their support, encouragement and honesty.

I think because of this tribe I know I am not alone when something happens that makes the job harder-someone is rude, I am forgotten about, equipment is lost or broken, my space gets taken over. They give me the courage to speak up for myself….never forgetting I’m a guest, keeping in my lane, but not being a doormat. I think that could be a whole conversation-how much do we take, flex or suck up?

When the school year ends I am typically happy about where I have been. I don’t foresee major changes for the next year, but I also don’t have a crystal ball, so I leave in June packing up all of my goodies and saying “I hope I am back”. I sometimes hate that part. But I have come to accept it.

I can also see the other side of the itinerant coin. Where being in a new situation every year is great. How being able to be in and out alleviates stress and pressure. I know there are people that love that new feeling. They enjoy being low key. I guess that is what makes being an itinerant teacher so unique. We get to design our job. We can shape and mold what it looks to others and ourselves.

Where do you fall in this continuum?

Do you want to be the out there flying your flag or be the quiet and almost invisible guest?

I don’t think there is a wrong answer here. There are so many factors in defining ourselves. We as itinerant teachers have a freedom and responsibility to our peers. My work bestie and I always say it takes a certain type of personality to not abuse the freedom traveling all day brings, the flexibility in how “seen” we want to be and the awesome ability we have in adjusting ourselves to all the people and places we visit everyday.

(Photos above are from my amazing spaces in my favorite schools. The photo at the top was taken in September. By June it was covered in student work-with their names and idiom posters & a growing word wall.)

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Idiom-Poster-Cards-4462955

I am proud of the job I do. I try to make my profession look good. I am sure you do too-being itinerant is not easy and not for everyone. I’d love to hear from you. Your perspective, feelings and stories. Let’s keep on traveling together!