Posted in Teaching Life

Back to School 2021: Itinerant Tips and Suggestions

There will be more trial and error this year….never stop growing.

I had incredibly high hopes that school would be opening with an obvious contrast to last year.  Sadly some of the same things that make being a Teacher of the Deaf are still going to be in place. I survived it last year and I know I can do it again.

I have individual record keeping for each student. Keeping pages seperate and clean.

My prep this year is a bit different because I put some things in place last year that will make this years start up smoother and less foreign. These strategies and tools were a bit overwhelming last year, but as with most things repetition and familiarity can make things easier. Being ready and really being ready is my current challenge.

Carts

Using some vinyl is colorful, easy and a fun way to make a cart your own!

Last year to limit cross contamination, between students, I put cute metal carts in multiple buildings. These carts were stocked with whatever we would need for sessions.  They were incredibly helpful, organized and mobile. I love that having something on wheels. If I was relocated for the day, I would just wheel my materials away! This was efficient and also great for my back.  I love to joke that I sometimes feel like I’m carrying the world.  In actuality, I am at times…my little world, but none the less little worlds get heavy, so portability was key last year and will be again.

Materials and tools were easy to find, use and move!

Masks

Masks don’t seem to be going away, so wearing the right one is essential for surviving a school day. I started 2020 with all the cute fabric and clear panel masks I could find or afford. I played around with all the varieties and discovered my students preferred the disposable masks for their auditory needs.  Let be clear…no pun intended, that the clear panel masks were great in theory, but were awful in application.

So, with that being my findings from last year I have already stocked up on disposable masks. I hate throwing them away, but they are the best fit for my situation, so disposable it is. I really wore black a lot, so I decided to try out cute patterned disposable masks. My hope is pretty patterns will lift my mood.

These were an online purchase.

Tools and Resources

For years I have carried my tool bag that has all the things we need for sessions, but with the worry and possibility of cross contamination I made sure every student had individual and dedicated tools and materials.  I will be doing this again this year. It is more for me to set up, but it was mentally worth it. My students also felt safe and secure, so that was a total win.

Each student now has their own.

In the spring I took my carts and materials home. Everything has been reviewed, evaluated and wiped for this new year. I do this every June, but never before have I spent such mental thought about who gets what resources. Will I be able to rotate (with sanitization) and should I consider buying duplicates? I decided that I wasn’t going to purchase duplicates, but find ways to make what I have work. I’m sure there will be further posts on how I am making everything work in 2021-2022.

Going forward and trying to not dwell on all of the difficulties and negativity from last year. I am hoping 21-22 will be positive, productive and peaceful. Here’s to another year.

Posted in Teaching Life

Winter 2021 Itinerant Teacher Essentials

Being itinerant can be a dream situation or sometimes you can find yourself questioning the busy, on the go, hectic daily grind. I happen to love my job, but winter can put a crimp in my peppy step. Cold weather, less sunshine and snowy parking lots make my daily hustle more challenging. I wanted to share a few things that are helping me stay warm and on schedule the winter season.

This is my second winter…or maybe third with these boots. They feel and fit better than other brands that look like these. I will not say that look amazing with a dress, but everything else works. I stay warm, dry and don’t slip as I am running in and out of schools all day. They wipe off beautifully and the interior is still supportive. I also like that they are a bootie. Taller boots sometimes make me feel claustrophobic. Especially, when I put winter wear on and off many times a day. I feel like when you are itinerant, you need to be light and stress free with coats, bags and footwear.

I normally wouldn’t post a pic with a price sticker, but 8 dollar of plastic heaven is worth being tacky.

This little, hot pink cone is genius. I have had the same big, black snow brush since I was in college, so that means it is pretty old. It works, but it is big, whereas I am small and it is an awkward experience. This little, hot pink job fits right in my hand perfectly. It scrapes the snow and ice with complete ease. I always struggled with traditional tools, but this little guy gets the job done fast and seeing that I move on a tight schedule, I don’t have time to struggle in the parking lot. I just zip this over the windows in under a minute and go! The spikes in the top help break up thicker ice. I honestly think if you are on the go, a busy mom, or hate winter car care-you need this. I definitely think it is goof proof and easy to control.

The car seat hooks are really helpful. I had been looking into getting some and low and behold…my mom gave me some for Christmas. I can hang them from the headrest forward or behind any seat. I love that I can hang my bag in the backseat and with winter weather it is staying off the salty, wet floor. I highly recommend these for anyone who wants to keep things off the floor or flying off the seat.

You could hang:

  • Lunchbox
  • Purse
  • Backpack
  • Tote bag
  • Trash bag
  • Grocery bags

Winter is my most challenging season as an itinerant teacher and looking for ways to make the day run smoother is always a good thing. Sometimes the schedules can leave me feeling like the Gingerbread Girl, but with better tools of the trade, it make the day more enjoyable. These 3 items are winter winners.

This winter is far from over, if I discover any other little gems, I will be sure to update you on what is making the day easier.

Check my other posts from last winter for inspiration, lesson ideas or just because.

Posted in Teaching Life

Winter Themed Books & Worksheets

I am back in person with my students and I really wanted to make our first week back fun. I purchased new snow themed books for the month off January. I looked them all over and decided I needed to make resources to pair up to the stories and also have fun tackling goals.

Every student seemed to love How to Catch a Snowman. I loved seeing and hearing what sort of trap they would build. I used this page and book with students K-2. I varied my expectations per student. My kindergartner was only expected to listen, recall and draw a trap. Where as, my 2nd graders were expected to listen, recall/sequence, pick out new vocabulary, design a trap and write/explain the trap.

Sequencing is something that I have been working on since September. We started with peanut butter and jelly activities, A s’mores game and activities, and now snowmen. This little matchbook activity hits alot of goals at one time.

  • Cutting
  • Sequencing
  • Oral language
  • Retelling
  • Writing extension
  • Descriptive language

Playing games has been difficult this year. Keeping everything clean and safe is a top priority. We played this successfully because we each had a spinner. I took the spinner on the directions sheet and the student used the large spinner. Having printed and laminated resources has been essential. I can print many copies or if laminated I can wipe down between students.

I varied the game play based on each students goal. I enjoy materials that I can manipulate to meet multiple needs or goals. This makes planning and traveling so much easier.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Rhyming-Pairs-Worksheets-and-Games-5446711

Rhyming seems to be a difficult skill force few of my students. We will be using thematic rhyming for the rest of the school year. Snowball Moon is a new title for me. Hoping the kids like it too.

Froggy books are not my personal favorite, but my students like them, sonwhen I saw this one I knew I had to grab it. I also knew it would fit into my snow theme for January. My students will assemble a snowman after we read and discuss the story. I intend to have them cut and sort the pieces, then listen for what pieces they can select for gluing. I always try to squeeze in listening somewhere!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-Winter-Descriptive-Language-Game-6339269

These sheets can be cut up into cards or leave as is. I made these to be in color, laminated and cut apart. A printer selection mistake at school…totally my fault, left me with a set in black and white. Instead of recycling, I decided to toss them in my bag for atleast one student to use. So happy. It worked out and was totally fun playing this Winter “Say”rades game. I made a “Say”rades game for each season. I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to playing, but so far this one is a hit!

We seem to need alot of opportunities to use descriptive language skills. Writing can be a challenge, so playing a game and just using verbal skills to describe was fun and time effective.

Winter can feel very long when you live in a cold climate, so making the most out of it is essential for me. I am going to continue to look for fun titles and make activities that engage my students. If you liked this post check back. I have other winter themed lesson ideas coming.

Posted in Teaching Life

Back To School 2020: 10 Itinerant Tips and Ideas

Let me just start be saying I am trying my best to wrap my head around what I need to do to get myself ready for the 20-21 school year. If you read my blog regularly you know I am very transparent about being a teacher that never wants to be in a rut or stale, so I welcome revamping my routines, outlook, approach and materials, but a pandemic is a tad bit different and difficult. This list is what I have been thinking about. I am sure as the weeks go by there will be even more things to to consider.

Being an itinerant teacher has it’s pros and cons. Traveling can be exhausting some days or completely liberating, but thinking about traveling lately has really made me stop and think about how I am going to protect myself and everyone in my multiple buildings. Going in and out will look and feel different for sure. My hope is with some thought and tweaking I will be able to do what I enjoy. With these adjustments and accommodations I think I will eventually settle into a new normal.

One

Depending on your set up, travel and caseload I think no matter how you think about putting materials together this year, everything needs to be seperate for each student.  This will be work in the beginning, but once you have everything divided and contained it will offer you better control and peace of mind.

I know that at a couple of my schools I am able to leave materials. I love this because it saves time, pressure off my back and allows my kiddos to feel like I am part of the day… not just this woman that flies in and out. This being said, and I know I have said it in previous posts, leaving things can not be just one bin this year. I am going to have to have seperate containers or ways of keeping individual materials and tools safe for my students.

Two

Seperate bags for seperate schools may be a healthy option if you can not leave materials and tools. I would consider bags that can be laundered or wiped down. Have one bag per building or per student. I had one bag per student maybe year two or three of itinerant teaching. I liked the ease of just grab and go, knowing everything I needed was in each bag.

Three

Masks for a day. I know that going back will require wearing a mask. I have been stockpiling some cute fabric masks. I personally do not enjoy the disposable masks. They don’t fit right, which makes me anxious when I wear them, so fabric is my personal preference. I recommend trying out various sizes and styles before you head back to school in person.

I know clear panel masks are what most of us consider a great option for our students. Lip reading is essential. Make sure the mask fits, your can function and is anti-fog. I purchased shields for myself. I still waiting on the complete school plan about what will and will not be allowed. I am just trying to be prepared for my options.

Four

The idea of materials for each student started to overwhelm me. Paper resources can obviously be per student, but what about my games and hands on manipulatives? I started to think of ways to divided up a game or deck of cards. I am with only one student at a time, so I obviously don’t need 30 riddle cards or 20 listening comprehension cards, so taking some and storing in little containers or zip bags will work. Germs will be separate. When I am ready to switch materials it should be easy to sanitize and rotate.

If you play games with boards putting some Press n Seal wrap over the board can protect the paper surface from sanitizing between students. Clear contact paper is another option for covering and preserving materials.

I recommend laminating anything that may not survive constant sanitation. I have a home laminator that I use when I am working from home or have the genius idea to laminate at 10:30 on a school night. I have purchased various weights of lamination. Sometimes I want a light, flexible hold and sometimes I want a heavy, strong hold. Lamination at school typically tends to be a lighter level , so needing the heavy stuff is why I did some Amazon clicking.

Five

Sanitizer or alcohol is an obvious thing to have. My hope is wherever you are working schools will provide this. I am sure there will be something distributed, but if you are fussy about smell….like me, maybe consider getting sanitizer that agrees with your skin and sense of smell.

Six

Cleaning Supplies are most likely not going to be an issue at schools. Be sure you find out what is being used or acceptable if you want a personal stash. I know I intend to have a zip bag with small sized cleaning products in my car incase I need to manage things to my liking. We all are going to come at returning to school at different perspectives and comfort levels. I am not a germaphobe or scared to return, but I know I need to be mindful and respectful of my peers and students who do not have the same feelings or outlook I have.

Seven

In a secondary zip bag I am going to have for myself: baby wipes, alcohol spray bottle, tissues and tic tacs. I know on a typical day o like to refresh. Depending on the students you serve or the amount of buildings you enter…I normally just feel like I need to scrub up, so I just want to be prepared for new feelings or the new reality of being itinerant.

These items will be just for me, especially the tic tacs. I have found a mint or mint gum helps my anxiety when I am wearing a mask for and extended time. I am not sure if it the smell or the oral stimulation that distracts me from the gross dislike I have for wearing a mask. I despise anything touching my face. This mask wearing will be a challenge, but my hope is I become a more relaxed wearer and also smell minty fresh!

Eight

One thing I am considering is ditching the big binder. I always look for way to be lighter. I change data collection, notes and organization almost yearly. Having things in a digital planbook is the lightest, but it has pros and cons. Last year I went back to a paper planner and data collection. I wasn’t planning on changing it up, but I started to think about taking it and setting it down in multiple places. I know I can try to keep it clean, but do I want to is my current dilemma. I think the right answer is choosing what you feel most comfortable doing. If changing your process seems like just one more thing and might stress you out don’t change.

Post it notes or a small notebook might be a long option to carry in to use for data and notes. Then this information could be added at points in the day to your big binder or plan book. This could easily be done when you return to the car.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Data-Collection-and-Progress-Monitoring-Sticky-Note-Bundle-4337356

Nine

Procedures and rules for each school may be slightly different. Be sure to know what your expectations are. Where you will be able to safely work with your students is key this year. I know I have had random and inconsistent work spaces, so be pleasantly persistent for what your students need. With social distancing going on workspaces will be at a premium, regardless you are important too.

Ten

Remember to sanitize your vehicle. I keep a small spay bottle, in my cup holder, filled with rubbing alcohol. I like to mist the wheel and my dash area for a quick clean between stops. My vehicle is my partial work space, so I want to make sure it is safe for me and my family.

Starting out may be a bumpy road, but hopefully these ideas help. I looking forward to being in my buildings and seeing my students. Getting back on the road will be a welcome change. Safe travels and happy teaching.

You can always like and follow me. Be sure to look back into my archives if you are looking for any other Itinerant Teaching ideas.