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

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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!

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.

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!!!

Sunday Funday: Sunshine and Sunflowers

Sometimes just a sprinkle of sunshine can make for an uplifting and beautiful day. We went to a local sunflower field to take some pictures and soak up the last days of summer vacation.

  • The weather was perfect.
  • The bees were busy.
  • The flowers were in full bloom.
  • The company was perfect.

What is it about sunflowers?

Don’t they just make you smile!?

Told you so!

We probably spent about an hour or two walking the field, sipping lemonade and taking it all in. There was a small craft show. I love looking at things people crafted with love and passion.

Baby Gift….the woman who made it was lovely.

This was a splendid, suntastic family day!

Blessed

I am holding onto the last days of summer vacation…before school starts. This time of year is always a mix of emotions, but standing in the middle of a field of sunshine and busy bees…it was nothing but happiness.

This is how I Sunday

It was sort of awesome to see all the bees hard at work. One would think standing in a buzzing field might be scary or concerning, but they wanted nothing to do with us. I’ve never been stung, so I am always mindful, but these busy bees were working overtime.

Buzzzzzzz

The bees were busy, but we were all about the funshine!

I suggested our mini adventure, but then almost changed my mind and thought I would work on some back to school projects. I’m so glad I didn’t. The projects will get done, eventually, but the memories made and time we spent as a family is irreplaceable.

My People

Doing small things can be so huge for the soul.

This Girl!!!

If you regularly read my blog posts you know I try to listen to my inner voice…go with my gut. Today it said sunshine and sunflowers. I’m glad I listened.

Wander…..with the ones you love.

Explore your own “backyard”.

Make memories.

#selfcare

Climbing Mt. Acceptance: Making Peace with Myself on the Way Up

I recently was on a lovely family vacation. We traveled to the Adirondacks for some mountain air and togetherness. All of these things happened and more. It was just what we needed. One of the days started out beautifully. We hiked and hiked and hiked. My husband had seen online there was a covered bridge near by that he wanted to check out, so we drove a short distance to find this restored wooden bridge.

Everything was picture perfect. We decided to climb down to the water. It was a day full of nature and adventure. We took some fun pictures and were just about ready to head back to town, when I decided I was going to push myself out of my comfort zone and be brave.

Back story- I am not the biggest animal or bug lover. I appreciate, I respect, I even think are cute, but from a distance. I have tried over the years to get over these fears- even therapy. Some situations have improved with age and effort, but then I have moments when irrational fear puts me into a full panic attack.

So, with being in all of this glorious nature, I felt like I could do something that would test my fears and hopefully help me get over them or at least one. I decide to take off my shoes and socks and stand in running, fresh water. This was shocking to my husband, but I was feeling good. Feeling like I can do this. He took a few pictures. I look happy. He warned me it could slippery, which I was fully aware of and accepting.

What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I would get wet…oh well. Wet pants is no big deal. As I am about to step to dry land…I slip.

I fall into the water.

I am laughing.

Before the fall

I get up and look down at my self. Everything seems ok. I wipe my back side and then see my hands covered in this small, rice sized black stuff. At first I think it must be river dirt, or plant debris.

It moves.

I panic….of course. I rinse my hands in the water…struggling to get it off. Then all I can think of is what is all over my ass.

I start to hyperventilate. Not for dramatic effect-pure horror.

I run and climb back up into the parking lot, to the car, opening the back and procede to rip off my creepy, crawly, yoga pants.

Yep! Pantsless in a parking lot. Thank goodness I had cute, black underwear on. I also had this foresight to take a beach towel that morning and pop it into the car. I was thinking this might be needed for our daughter-never imaging I would be driving back to our hotel wrapped in a Hello Kitty beach towel.

On the drive back I calmed down, caught my breath and started to do what I always do when I recover from a freak out.

I apologize. I want everyone I upset to be fine. I don’t want my irrational fear ruining the day. I am proud of myself for not crying.

We get back to our hotel quickly and I parade through the lobby in my pink, kitty, towel sarong. No worries. A quick shower to wash away the panic attack and let’s go on with our family fun. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who can stand at the sink and rinse the crawlies off your favorite pants and not make one comment to make you feel incredibly stupid. Not even “I told you it was slippery”.

The day was not done. Our plan was to get in some mini golf and that is just what we did. It was perfect. While we were there we ended up talking to a man working the counter. He was a ray of sunshine and positivity. We had the polite, small chit chat you do when on vacation, but then an extra layer was added. He shared a bit about himself and how he landed in the Adirondacks. My take away was his soul needed whatever the mountains could give him. He was choosing happy. This got me thinking about my earlier experience.

What was the universe trying to teach me?

Why do I have to get over these fears?

Do you have to be brave and push yourself?

Who are you doing it for? You? Or others?

On our drive to Whiteface Mountain, the next day, I was still thinking about these questions. Why? Why couldn’t I have just gotten wet? What is the take away ?

We parked and I was ready to enjoy the day. I climbed that mountain. Fearless. Not a worry. I loved it. I can do it without a second of hesitation. When I got to the top I looked out on everything- green and magnificent and was happy. There are people that can not and will not climb ragged rocks and stand on top of a mountain, but I CAN.

I have decided that it is okay to be scared. Fear can stop you from doing stupid things. I know it can hold you back too. So many quotes out there, but I think sometimes it is ok. I am not going to shut myself up in a bubble and never try to stretch myself outside my comfort zone, but I am not going to force myself to do things that are too much or ignore my inner voice.

I am not going to apologize for my perceived short comings.

I do many things everyday that scare other people.

  • I drive over bridges
  • I can see a spider in my house
  • I can tend to an injury
  • I can climb a mountain

I can do a lot of things!

I think my universal take away is it is OK to have fears. It is okay to say no. It is okay to find your happy and embrace what you can-for right now.

My fear of many living things will have a downside, but I am okay with that. I am probably never going to a petting zoo, snorkeling or letting a hawk land on my hand. I am good with all of that. As long as my people enjoy life and they do what makes them happy I am good sitting out. I keep trying and every time something puts me into a panic. And I think the biggest thing I realized is I am not trying for me, I am pushing myself to make others happy. I have zero desire (not stemming from fear) to swim with the fishes!

I am accepting these limitations. I have hope I might not always have them and I will still think about trying because I believe in personal growth, but only if I want to. If not-no apologizes needed. I accept that this is me.

Accept yourself….all of the things

Find yourself….enjoy the journey

Listen to yourself….your inner voice is probably right

Love yourself….let your quirky light shine

Think of all of your “CAN DOs”!!!

Drop me a line. I would love to hear from you.