Monday, June 29, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Make Your Masterpiece!

And with that it's already WEEK 3 of the TpT Seller Challenge! This week I have finally created something that I have been meaning to pull together for a long time now...
I have been using most of the activity pages featured in this Word Wall Pack for YEARS and they are always a hit with my kiddos. So I finally put all of my resources together (along with some new ones!) to share with YOU! 
My favourite thing about this pack is all of its possibilities: you can use them at ANY time, throughout the ENTIRE school year, and with ANY Word Wall! PLUS, many of the pages can be used in a variety of ways; I have used some for literacy enters, as fast-finisher activities, and I have even left them as emergency substitute plans. The possibilities are endless ;)

Want to use this with your own kiddos?!...

Well I'm giving one away for FREE! 
All you have to do is enter below for you chance to win!

The winner will be announced next Saturday, July 10. Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

ROCK Your First Year of Teaching!

Hi everyone! I'm linking up with Teaching With Crayons & Curls and My Mommy Reads for a great collaboration of tips for new teachers. I've actually been wanting to write a post on this topic for a while now so I'm excited to share some of my thoughts and ideas through this link-up!
Now I'm practically a new teacher still myself as I have only been at this for 3 years. But on the other hand, I feel like I have a very current perspective on this topic and there are many things I know now that I really wish I knew back when I first started. So without further adieu, here are my tips at-a-glance:
Now let's dig in a bit deeper...
1. Find a mentor.
This was one of the greatest assets to me as a new teacher. I was actually extremely blessed with an entire school filled with incredibly friendly and supportive staff, but one individual in particular was my go-to for support and advice. It was invaluable to have someone there to just bounce ideas off, ask quick questions here and there, but also to really dig in to planning, learning programs, seeking advice when it comes to student parents, etc. etc. etc. Seriously. Find a mentor...they may just become a fabulous new teacher friend for life!

2. Develop a solid behaviour plan & be consistent.
In my first year I *thought* I had a solid behaviour plan (don't even get me started on the dreaded clip chart) but I was not nearly as consistent as I needed to be in order for my program to be successful. I've tried many but my current preferred behaviour plan is 1, 2, 3, Magic! Find whatever plan works with you, your teaching style, and your students, and BE CONSISTENT. Inconsistency will cause any plan to fail, no matter how "fool-proof." Set clear expectations and stick to them. It sounds easy enough...this was actually something I "already knew" when I first started teaching. But I admittedly wasn't as strict with my plan as I needed to be at the beginning and it showed later. 
Clear expectations. Consistency. No exceptions.

3. Be silly with your students.
This is a big one for me and my Type A, slightly OCD personality. Now I don't mean be silly and inappropriate and fool around all the time. I mean that once you have established a solid behaviour plan and have a defined teacher-student role, have FUN with your kids! Be silly with them! The first time I did this was a snow day (for us that means school is still open but buses don't I had just a handful of kids in class). Because I didn't feel the pressure of curriculum, I was able to relax and have fun with my students. And the great thing was they didn't act out and chaos did not ensue like I had always envisioned it would if I ever let my "teacher" guard down. They didn't suddenly forget or chose to neglect our class rules and expectations. They enjoyed seeing a more playful side of me that they could actually relate to and I truly believe they respected me more for it. So go ahead, relax, and enjoy your time with your students!

1. Work every night & weekend...done is better than perfect.
Oh my. I fell into this trap and ran myself to the ground. To this day I have to consciously remind myself of this. If you don't learn to accept anything else as a teacher, this is the one thing you need to remember: 
You will never be completely done. And that's okay
Teachers always find something to do, make, create, mark, prep, etc. and the work is never completely done. There's always something to do! But in my first year, I wish I had convinced myself to simply do what my students needed in order to learn. I wish I didn't worry about how cute or colourful the activities were. I wish I didn't spend hours re-vamping anchor charts and trying to reinvent the wheel for every single lesson and activity. It doesn't make you a bad teacher if you don't work every night and weekend. In fact, it will make you a better teacher if you take care of yourself. So remind yourself that having the work done, is better than spending a ridiculous amount of time making it perfect. Enjoy your life!!! You deserve it.

2. Implement everything you learn at every P.D. session.
Aaahh. Another biggie. In my first year, one way to make me feel like an absolutely horrible teacher was to send me to PD. But that's only because I was taking PD way too seriously. YES it is incredibly important to continually learn and grow in this profession, but you will drive yourself mad if you try to implement every single thing you learn at every single PD session. I would just get started doing something one way in my classroom, go to a PD session, and then start doing it another way based on what I had learned. So it never had a chance to actually work and work well. The biggest thing I learned about professional development in my first year is the importance of listening, learning, but then selecting what strategies, programs, and resources you feel would benefit you and your students the most. If you focus on just one or two aspects of improvement at one time, you are far more likely to grow and develop successfully than if you try to juggle a handful of new strategies half-heartedly. Your time is way too valuable for that! 

Comparison is the thief of joy.
There is a fine line between admiring and learning from another teacher's lessons/style/classroom/etc., and comparing yourself to that teacher. It is SO easy to compare yourself to other teachers and feel like you are not doing enough, especially in this profession and in this day in age. Fabulous teacher-bloggers and social media (like Instagram in particular) often only show us very small and seemingly perfect snippets of an individual's life. A teacher's feed could display just a handful of images of cute activities, but suddenly we feel completely inadequate in our own abilities. Stop that NOW! First of all, everyone is at a different stage...don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. Secondly, we all have strength and we all have weaknesses. Don't let someone's strength let you forget your own. Learn from others, but don't compare. Never stop growing but never forget your own fabulousness ;)

For more great advice, head back to read what other teacher-bloggers have to say!

Monday, June 22, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Dream Big

I'm back for Week 2 of the TpT Seller Challenge! 

This week, I am sharing my TpT goals and dreams...
My Dream:
Live a life of purpose and do what matters most. Plain and simple. 
I dream of spending my life enjoying every second, not sweating the small stuff, and doing things I love every day. For me, this means spending time with my growing family, going on adventures together, and being creative every day. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit in me and always dream of being my own boss full time. I don't want to own my own business to necessarily be a full-time stay at home mom, but rather I would like the freedom and flexibility to set my own hours and spend way more time with my family (and by that I mean spending time physically AND mentally...not stressing and worrying about making money and the endless list of things I need to do for work).

What does TpT have to do with this?!
Creating products for my TpT store is honestly my favourite "job" I've ever had. If I had the time, I'd work on creating something new every day! It's so rewarding for me to not only create things that my own students love, but that YOUR students love and that save you time!!! With hard work, I dream to one day be blessed to work full time as a "TpT-er," be my own boss, and spend time doing what matters most every single day.

Read the dreams of other amazing teacher-bloggers or share your OWN dream! Head back to Sparkling in Second, Third in Hollywood, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, or Teach Create Motivate to link up :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: MAKEOVER MADNESS!

Hi everyone! So I'm sure you've already heard about a few fabulous ladies (Sparkling in Second, Third in Hollywood, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, and Teach Create Motivate) and their super motivating TpT Seller Challenge! I'm all for a kick-in-the-pants so I will be participating in their challenge and posting my work each week:
Week 1 is "Makeover Madness" where we were motivated to update one product cover and/or product content of our choice. Well I have recently been working on building consistency throughout my newer product covers and have been meaning to go back and re-do a few of my covers for a loooooong time now. So I updated FOUR product covers/products! 

Here they are! ( any of the pics to get a good close-up of each image!)
This is the cover of one of my best-selling products, "Chalkboards & Banners", a classroom labels and decor pack. I don't actually hate the original but, like I mentioned, it wasn't consistent with the rest of my store. So it got a facelift!!

Oh boy. This one is embarrassing. That horrid image on the left was the PRODUCT COVER for my "All About Me" autobiography template pack. How I sold as many as I did is beyond me, bless all of you who were brave enough to click to learn more!! But again....FACELIFT! aahh. Much better.
P.S. if you own this pack, go download the update! I improved all of the writing lines and added another option on the "My Favourite Things" page.

Next is one of my kiddies' favourite products; my "Dry Erase Binder." It got a little facelift as well and went from drab to fab! Well...maybe not FAB, but it provides a whole lot more information-at-a-glance :)

Last but not least, I gave this *entire* product a little facelift. As another one of my best sellers, my "Telling Time" pack got a much-needed update in the form of new fonts, better layout, and a conversion of one of the activities to a more hands-on cut-and-paste activity...
...and I obviously updated this cover as well :)
If you own my "Telling Time" pack, go download the update!

Now for the best part: 
All of the products above are ON SALE in my store 
until Friday! 

See you next week!!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Reading List (a linky party!)

Hi everyone! Long time no blog post! I have a very adorable excuse though...
If you follow me on Instagram (@funwithfirsties), you saw this picture and already know that our first little boy was born on April 29th and has been keeping us busy ever since! Love him!!!

But I'm excited to be joining Molly from Lucky to Be in First during Zack's nap for her Summer Reading List for Teachers linky party to share some great reads with y'all!
Now first I have to confess...I'm actually NOT a big reader! I love love *love* children's books and have a ridiculous collection, but when it comes to reading "big people books" I don't have much of an attention span (honestly I think being an English major in university and being forced to read things I was not at all interested in killed it for me). ANYWAYS, my reading list is a little unconventional but I'm super excited about it!!

1. Creative Coloring Flowers - Valentina Harper 

2. Enchanted Forest - Johanna Basford (if you haven't heard of this one, Google Image it now!)
The first two books are not actually summer READS...they're colouring books for adults! I've had these on my Wish List for a long time now and I'm hoping to snag at least one this summer for some art therapy every now and then!

Yes, it's a magazine. But it's my fav and technically it involves reading!! I plan to catch up on the stack of unread magazines that have accumulated since the school year started...hopefully on the deck, in the sun, with a drink in my hand ;)

4. Hands Free Mama - Rachel Mary Stafford
Okay so here is the one ACTUAL book on my reading list! It was recommended to me by a whole bunch of people and it really hits home based on our generations my preoccupation with social media, and my Type A perfectionist personality. Can't wait to read it!

Now for my recommendation list! Again, they're not all conventional but I loved each of them!
1. Honolulu - Alan Brennert

2. Moloka'i - Alan Brennert
I've always had an inexplicable obsession with Hawaii (and I haven't even been!). So I literally judged these books by their covers and bought them based on their names and cover photos! But I'm so happy I did because I absolutely LOVED them.

3. Bringing Up Bebe - Pamela Drukerman
If you're gonna be a mama or are a new mama, I highly recommend this one! It's one of those books that I totally agreed with every point but she wrote it better than I could ever articulate and I actually learned a TON as well. Great easy read.

4. Things We Love - Kate Spade
Here is my unconventional pick! If you love Kate Spade and bright colors and stripes and mimosas and happiness, you will love this fun coffee table book. I flip through mine again and again <3

What's on your summer reading list? Link up HERE to share!
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