The Balanced Teacher: Part 2


The Balanced Teacher Path by Justin Ashley


I really liked this chapter (I hope you will, too) because it's about BTFs... or Best Teacher Friends!  Having a really good BTF can help you create balance in your professional life.  And who doesn't need a little more balance?    

• Do you have a BTF at work?  

• What makes this person your BTF?

• How does that relationship positively impact your teaching life?

If you'd like to share your thoughts, leave a comment below for others to read.  Who knows... you might even find a BTF here! 

Happy teaching!

Fun Fall Pinterest Boards!


I'll be the first to raise my hand and say, "Yes, I miss the sunny days of summer."  But there is something fun and new about those first fall breezes.  Autumn sort of marks the beginning of all my favorite holidays... they're right around the corner! 

I have 5 GREAT Pinterest boards that are loaded with ideas, lessons, games, videos, and more for some of the big "themes" or holidays coming up soon.  You can click on each board to go directly to it or follow my whole Pinterest page HERE.





Happy teaching!

The Balanced Teacher: Part 1


The Balanced Teacher Path by Justin Ashley

Hi Everyone!  Thanks for joining me!  So this first chapter kind of hits home because it's about our habit of constantly saying "Yes" and our tendency to become overcommitted, especially at work... leaving very little time for the other people and priorities in our lives.

Guilty?  Yeah, me too.

Take a few minutes to watch the video.  It's a quick recap of chapter 1, Be Wonder Woman, Not Superman.  (I encourage you to buy the book so you can delve more deeply into the topics. Plus, that way, you can add stickies to important parts you don't want to forget and you can write all over it... because it's yours.)

I can't imagine not writing in my book.

When you're finished watching the video and reading the chapter, think about these questions.  Let's get a conversation going that might not only help ourselves, but others too.  Feel free to write anything you're thinking about regarding this topic.

Or, if you're studying this book with a friend, or in a small group, talk to someone about your thoughts. 

• How do YOU tell the difference between what's good and what's great?

• Have you said "No" to someone?  How did it go?

• If you're already having some success here, what are some of your strategies that keep you from becoming overcommitted?

• What is one GOOD thing you could give up right now to make more time for something GREAT?

• Who are the people in your inner circle worth fighting for?

"Don't overcommit.  Don't get chained up trying to be everything to everyone.  Save yourself so that you can continue fighting for yourself and your inner circle."  -Justin Ashley, Author

Happy teaching!  

The Balanced Teacher: Introduction


Hi Everyone!  I just ran across a new book (©2017) called The Balanced Teacher:  How to Teach, Live, and Be Happy by North Carolina teacher Justin Ashley. 


To be honest, I bought it with my daughter (future-teacher) in mind, but as I started looking through it, I was reminded of myself (and so many of my teacher-friends) who really struggle to balance their professional and personal lives.  We are trying to be Superman and it's costing us.  

So I thought I'd do a short video series highlighting a few of my favorite parts of Justin's book... parts that resonated with me and I'm thinking will with you, too.  But I recommend considering this book for professional development or for smaller teacher book clubs.  Each chapter is brief, but to-the-point and will lead to great conversations among a group of people who are truly interested in achieving balance in their lives. 

Take a look at the Contents.  He addresses many issues we all face, categorizing them into 4 kinds of happiness:

•  Social Happiness
•  Career Happiness
•  Physical and Emotional Happiness
•  Financial Happiness



If you'd like to join me, watch for new videos to come out each week.  The videos will be short, but they'll give you an opportunity to: 

(1) reflect on your own schedule, practices, and priorities.

(2) talk to colleagues about strategies for achieving balance at school and at home.

(3) consider starting a professional book club where you and other faculty members can dig deeper into the content of this book.


So much good information to think about.

The videos can be viewed here on My Blog or over here on My Facebook Page.  By following both, you won't miss one.

Oh, you should probably know... I'm not an expert video-maker. And I don't live alone.  So sometimes you might hear the doorbell, the dishwasher, and the dog.  If that won't bother you, then we're good to go!  :)

See you soon!

And happy teaching!

Responding with Emoji Sticks


I love these emoticon sticks, especially the little ones... so cute! But they're smart, too.  And they're perfect for reading workshop, writing workshop, class meetings, and more.  

During reading workshop (or even small guided reading groups), use the large teacher emoticons to introduce a specific feeling or reader-reaction, as well as to model your own thinking out loud. Once you have introduced an emoji, give each child their own smaller version of that same emoji for a growing collection of emojis they can use during read-alouds.  They work for both fiction and nonfiction texts. And I really like them for kids who are less communicative and who struggle to participate verbally. The emoji sticks give them a safe, non-threatening way to respond to texts and share their feelings.



I also love the idea of using the sticks during writing workshop as children learn to respond to their peers' writing.  Because this is much more personal than responding to an unknown adult author (as in reading workshop), I recommend using only the emojis that will lead to positive comments, such as "happy," "love," and "funny."  Once you've established a healthy community where constructive feedback is welcomed, you can introduce other emojis such as "confused" and "surprised."  

It wouldn't be too hard to make your own, but if you'd like a set that's ready to print and use, you can find these materials here at this link:  Emoticon Responses (TpT).


The set includes:

• a large teacher set
• a smaller version for student sets
• posters for teaching and building anchor charts
• an emoticon key
• black & white copies for students (as a lower-ink option)

Happy teaching!

Halloween Snack Mix!


This October, grab a few fun ingredients and let your kids make their own Halloween Snack Mix.  I like to put out several choices and invite the children to build theirs the way they'd like... this way, they can leave out anything they don't really care for. Here's what we do:


I teach primary children (which means I have "primary" parents), so I steer clear of things that are too gross.  But I have a 5th-grade-teacher-friend who uses the spicy Hot Tamales candy and calls it "Vampire Blood."  I also saw another teacher call the candy corn "Goblin Teeth."  And, to be honest, depending on the students (and parents) I have each year, I've been known to call the green candy "Frog Boogers."  The kids LOVE the icky-ness of boogers... I'm sure you're not surprised.    

Be creative and do whatever suits your class... they'll think it's so fun no matter what you choose.  


Happy teaching!

Unconventional "Timers"


I think it's fun to have a few unconventional timers in the classroom and these balls that light up for 30 seconds hit the mark.  Because of their short duration, they're perfect to time small clean-ups or to signal turn-taking during short discussions with young children.  Need a little more time?  Just bounce them again!

...and SO MUCH MORE FUN with the lights turned off!

(Or just down, if you don't have windows.  That could be a little scary... LOL.)

Happy teaching!
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