Posted in Me, School

Tuesday Teacher Talk

Hello!

Well, a big part of my life (for almost twenty years!) has been being a teacher. It dawned on me that I haven’t shared much about that aspect of my life, and a few readers commented on my recent Three Things post about my current Academic Interventionist job.

So, today I’m taking a stroll down memory lane and sharing my teaching experiences through the years in my first ever…

My first year of teaching was in a small school outside of Columbia, Missouri. I graduated from MIZZOU in May of 2002 and wanted to stay there a bit longer (and I was dating Travis at the time). I taught in a very small school where I was the only English 1 teacher. I had ninth graders all day long (I was more energetic then ;). Fun Fact: I was also the cheer leading coach that year. While I may have had more energy, I’ve never been described as peppy. The coaching position was attached to the English 1 teaching position which I actually don’t think you are allowed to do! Ahhh…small town life. Anyway, I enjoyed my time there. One funny memory I have is that one day I wore two different black shoes to school…both had a bit of a heel. It was a day the cheerleaders had to stay for the basketball game, and I just remember wanting to get home and out of my mismatched shoes!

The time came where Travis wanted to move back home to Kentucky and get into the horse business. While we were serious and had discussed marriage, I just didn’t feel like I could move to Kentucky yet and he wanted to get settled with a job. So, I took this opportunity to move back home to KC. I taught at large high school with a diverse population, and my mom taught at the middle school that was a feeder school to where I taught. Since I wasn’t married at the time, some of her students got a kick out of the fact that they had Mrs. Galvin in 7th grade and Ms. Galvin for 9th (or 11th) grade since I taught both of those grade levels that year. I also had the school newspaper as a class and loved it! They were a great group of kids. I loved being closer to my family, making more money, and being in a bigger school. My mom retired at the end of that school year right as I made the decision to move to Kentucky with Travis.

We got engaged in May of 2004 right as I found my job in a somewhat rural district in Kentucky. Nicholasville is right outside of Lexington and is a great community. There are two high schools in the district, and I loved my time at East. I taught English 1 for many years. I was blessed to work for the same four principals for 11 of my 12 years there. They were amazing principals and great leaders for our school. During that time, so much changed in my life. I got married, had the kids, and met some of my best friends. It was also during that time that I earned my two Master’s degrees. In the fall of 2005, right after I got married, I started on my Master’s in Literacy. I earned the degree online over the next two years from the University of Missouri. I have always loved the literacy part of teaching English, and especially the reading aspect.

my classroom at East

With that degree, I earned my Rank 2 in May of 2008 which led me to a Literacy Coaching position at East. Our district was a part of a four year grant with the University of Louisville. During that time, I did reading intervention with students. I typically had two classes of freshmen and one class of sophomores. Because it was a grant, the boundaries of those classes were dictated by the stakeholders, and I couldn’t have more than 12 in a class! The other half of my day was spent being a resource for teachers. I worked 1:1 with students, I shared strategies with teachers, I facilitated professional development opportunities and more!

Throwback photo in my old classroom.

Also, with the grant was the opportunity to earn a Reading Specialist degree. I put that off for a bit because it was optional, and I had a lot going on. Finally, I started that degree when the kids were two years old and worked hard for a year to complete my 36 hours. It was definitely a crazy time, but I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t take advantage of earning this degree, and it was paid for by the grant. In May of 2012, I finished that degree and earned my rank 1. When the grant ended, I went back into the classroom and taught mostly juniors and seniors. While at East, I also took on other roles as teacher rep on SBDM and splitting the English department chair position for a few years. The year my kids were in kindergarten, I knew I needed a change. As much as I hated to leave, I needed to be on the same school district schedule as them, and I was unhappy with the new administration at my school. So, I looked, applied, and interviewed; I was able to secure a teaching position at a school in Lexington.

my first classroom at my new school

I now teach at one of the largest high schools in the state. It actually reminds me of where I taught in KC. I taught English 2 for the first time ever when I moved to this school. I taught sophomores the first year, then the second year I had sophomores and two MTSS classes for students who hadn’t met benchmark on the English or Reading sections of ACT. We did other things like reading strategies, study skills, test taking skills and more. The next year, I had sophomores and one class of freshmen! Blast from the past! They were actually a great way to start my day. Then, there was a job posted for a reading interventionist at my school which I applied for and got the job in late October 2019.

My current classroom

My job title now is Academic Interventionist. It feels like I’ve been doing this job forever, and it also feels like just yesterday I made the switch. This position was created because we needed extra support for students, especially freshmen. I started by checking in with students who were struggling in their classes, and provided some support for them. Sometimes that meant study or reading skills, other times I helped them complete work, and there were times we’d empty out backpacks and get organized!

I’d barely started that work when in March of 2020, everything changed. During the pandemic and virtual learning, I still helped students…just via Zoom. I’d also make lots of phone calls home to check on students and set up appointment times to work with them.

Crazy enough, this year is the first “normal” year I’ve had in this Academic Interventionist position. We’ve been able to expand how we help our students. Thanks to additional funds, we’ve added more teachers and are now a team. I now focus on Social Studies and English classes because there’s a new counselor to now focus on students who are struggling overall academically, and there’s a science and math interventionist as well.

What I love about this job is meeting new students, and every day is different. I have a Google form, and teachers add students to it who need additional academic support. Some days, my room is a quiet place for a student to take a test, other days I’m reading chapters of Of Mice and Men aloud to a few students and then we answer questions, I help students brainstorm ideas for their paper and then complete an outline, and I also encourage students to use reading and writing strategies. I help students 1:1, pairs, small groups and even half of classes. I’m also an extra resource as I sometimes go into classrooms on days when teachers need an additional teacher when giving a test or sharing new content.

I’m also on various committees such as MTSS (academic support for students), PBIS (behavioral support for students), and 9th grade Task Force (helping plan intentional strategies and help for our 9th graders).

I hope this job lasts as long as possible. I love it. Unfortunately, in education, the funding for these positions doesn’t always last forever. That being said, this job has been just what I’ve needed at this point in my career to have some flexibility in my day (sometimes, in education, you feel like you are stuck in a rut!), help students in a different way, and use some of my other teaching skills and credentials.

Favorite Education Quotes:

You know as an English/Language Arts teacher I love a good quote. Here are some of my faves:

  • “Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” -Unknown
  • “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats
  • “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

Shew! That was a long post. I guess when you’ve been teaching twenty years, you have a lot to recap! It’s really crazy to me that I’m 2 / 3 of the way finished with my teaching career. I swear I still remember what it feels like standing in front of my first hour class on my first day of teaching in 2002. Time flies.

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know if you have any questions! Also, if you are a teacher (or have been one!), share with me how many years you’ve been teaching, and what you teach. Teachers are a tribe that sticks together!

Posted in School

All the First Day of 6th Grade Things:

Happy Wednesday! Well, the 2021-22 school year is officially underway. We all had a great first day of school yesterday. While I always am sad to see summer wrap up, it’s always good for us to get back into a routine. Also, I was kind of ready to get the kids off to school just because this is a new phase for us with a new routine and a few nerves! I knew we’d all feel better after getting the first day under our belts.

Today, I’m sharing all the back to school things: our traditional brinner, first day of school photos, and a back to school interview with the kids.

Back to School Brinner:

Since Kindergarten, I’ve always set up the Back to School Breakfast for the kids.

With the transition to middle school, I thought I’d change things up a bit and have a Back to School Brinner. We had the brinner on Tuesday night to kick off the first day of school on Wednesday. Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?

I used all my usual supplies that I keep organized in a bin.

Per tradition, I ordered a book for each of them and then picked up a mini bundt cake for dessert. (Red velvet for Hadley and lemon for Hayden.)

I kept it simple for mine and Trav’s place setting just using the napkins I already had and writing our names on a name tag.

I baked the same muffins from a mix that I typically make, put out yogurt and fruit and baked one of my favorite breakfast casseroles.

Hadley helped me roll out the parchment paper that I use to wrap presents, and it can also double as a runner for the kitchen table. I meant to write a few quotes, sayings, and other school related ideas, but I forgot!

We all love breakfast for dinner, and I don’t make it enough! It’s so easy, and we had the leftover casserole for dinner last night!

First Day of School Photos:

Middle school starts way later than elementary school in our district, so it’s going to take us a few days to get the hang of “how late can we actually sleep in?” On the first day, we definitely didn’t want to run late, so the kids were up and at ’em and ready to start the day.

They had breakfast, got dressed, did their hair, (and Hayden officially has the hang of putting in his contacts on his own…just in time!), and then obliged me with a few photos.

I can’t get over how much older they look!

They both were really excited and didn’t seem nervous at all. (Also, I almost mentioned that they were unknowingly #twinning with their outfits, but I knew Hayden would change if I did mention it!)

After the photos, they grabbed their backpacks and masks, and they were ready to start the day!

I thought about them all day long. Hadley sent me an email when she was in math class. I love my emails from Hadley! For them, I was the most nervous for lunch. I remember that feeling of looking around the cafeteria and wanting to find someone you know to sit with at lunch. Obviously, they know many kids from elementary school, but a lot of their friends are on the other 6th grade team. They reported back that they have to sit with their class at lunch (for Covid tracing), and that it worked out okay.

Back to School Interview:

Hayden’s Thoughts:

  • This year, I’m excited about: having in person school.
  • By the end of the year, I want to: earn straight A’s.
  • My favorite subject is: social studies.
  • I love learning about: history.
  • I’m great at: reading.
  • My favorite school cafeteria food is: nachos.
  • If I was the principal for the day, I would: let kids do whatever they want.
  • When I grow up, I want to be: undecided.
  • The best thing about school is: lunch.
  • My first day of school was: good.

Bonus: One thing I’m looking forward to in middle school is: sports.

Hadley’s Thoughts:

  • This year, I’m excited about: changing classes during the day.
  • By the end of the year, I want to: have good grades and know my way around the school.
  • My favorite subject is: Language Arts.
  • I love learning about: foods from different cultures.
  • I’m great at: being organized.
  • My favorite school cafeteria food is: spaghetti and nachos.
  • If I was the principal for the day, I would: let the students be in charge.
  • When I grow up, I want to be: an elementary teacher.
  • The best thing about school is: meeting new friends.
  • My first day of school was: awesome.

Bonus: One thing I’m looking forward to in middle school is: having more freedom than I did in elementary school

I’m so pleased that they had a great first day, and I hope it continues for the entire year. I know middle school can provide some tough years, and I’m thankful they have each other…even if they don’t realize how lucky they are!

See you back here tomorrow for this week’s Friday Favorites.

Posted in Kids, School

So Much to Celebrate

Well, we’ve had a quite a week. On top of having family in town and celebrating my mom’s birthday, the kids also made the decision to be baptized and had their 5th grade promotion in a matter of a couple of days!

This week has been one full of excitement and wonderful memories have been made.

Baptism

On Sunday, the kids were baptized with other 5th and 6th graders at our church. We had a large class of students scheduled for baptism due to last year’s group not being able to be baptized due to Covid. My kids and seven others were baptized on Sunday.

Before our family came over, I had the kids take pic with the cake I got from a local bakery.

It was beautiful and tasted delicious! (Hadley joked that it looked like a gender reveal cake. πŸ˜† )

Our friends and family enjoyed the cake before heading to the church.

We arrived about thirty minutes before their baptism.

We were so excited for them and their baptism class.

Each baptism candidate had a mentor that they met with over the past couple of months. Together, they read the book of Mark and completed a service project. My kids had terrific mentors and joined forces for their service project. Together, they baked desserts (brownies and cookies) and then delivered them to church members who are unable to attend church right now. It was so great seeing them work together and bring joy to others.

At the baptism, the mentors talked about their mentees and shared about the service projects. It’s always sweet, and a moment of pride, to hear great things about the kids. Believe me, they aren’t perfect, but it’s nice to know they can pull it together when it really matters!

The baptism was live streamed, so out of town family could watch as well.

Thanks to alphabetical order, Hadley was baptized first. Travis and I were able to join them on the stage as they each accepted Christ into their hearts.

I love this moment so much. Hayden waiting for his turn…while Hadley goes first.

The baptism was made even sweeter because they each had a great friend being baptized in their group.

Afterwards, we snapped a few family photos…

I hope they know how blessed they are to have such an amazing support system and family near and far who showed up for them on their big day.

Afterwards, family came back to our house to eat and enjoy one more cake! Since I knew we’d have plenty of people to eat all this cake, I went ahead and ordered them an ice cream cookie cake from Baskin Robbins to celebrate their upcoming 5th grade promotion.

It was so good!

I also had these fun cups on hand with the kids’ first day of kindergarten photo.

5th grade promotion:

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the kids’ 5th grade promotion was virtual, so some families decided to get together to celebrate our grads afterwards. We are very blessed with a great group of families who have pretty much been together since kindergarten. We were missing a few families, but we had a wonderful afternoon.

Since I had hosted out of town family and then family after the baptism, I kept up my “hostess with the mostest” title and had the kids’ friends and families over on Tuesday afternoon after the promotion ceremonies.

We decided to grill out, and we all divvied up food, drinks, desserts, and decorations to make the afternoon a success.

One mom brought these fun balloons!

…that we then, of course, made our kids hold for a photo!

These sweet ladies have so much fun together.

These boys are tons of fun too!

I probably would have scheduled the lawn letters anyway, but I definitely went ahead with it knowing all the kids would enjoy them, and they provide a great photo op, obviously!

These years have been the best because of these ladies. I feel so blessed to do life with them!

After we grilled out, the kids ran around, ate delicious cupcakes, and then went up to school to silly string their younger siblings as they left the building on the last day of school. Many of us sat around and chatted late into the evening, and it was certainly a day that I will never forget.

Seeing the kids make one of the most important decisions of their lives and celebrate two major milestones in a matter of days makes me so proud, thankful, and…emotionally exhausted! We’ve had such a wonderful and blessed week.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites. My favorites from this week are pretty easy to share!

Posted in Kids, School

Last Day of 5th Grade

Well, they did it! The graduated from the fifth grade. (I mean, what choice did they have? πŸ˜† , but, of course, I’m very proud of them!)

Here’s a little look at their last day of elementary school!

How it started…

August 2015

How it’s going…

Last Day Photos:

We were up and at ’em a few minutes early, so I could take their last day of school pics! We were going to walk to school, but it started to rain a bit, so we had one final car line drop off.

My friend is a teacher at their school, and she sent me these pics of them as they walked the halls and the little kids cheered for them! I was so happy this tradition was able to continue.

Travis and I settled in to watch each of the kid’s promotion ceremonies as the district said there could be no in person ceremony. I was definitely bummed with that decision, but tried to make the best of it.

Hayden’s class went first…

followed by Hadley’s class…

When their ceremonies were over, they could stay or be picked up early. A few families decided to get together to celebrate the kids, so we walked to check our kids out from school.

The weather had improved, so I took the opportunity to walk to get them like I did on their first day of school.

They were so excited to share about their morning, and show me their promotion certificates.

Both kids had straight A’s this quarter, Hadley also won the Positive Attitude Award for her class, and Hayden was recognized for being the only student in his class perfect attendance, virtually and in person, all year as well as a sportsmanship award.

Celebrating the Graduates:

Once we got home, they let me take a few more photos. I used a local yard sign company to decorate the yard to celebrate the occasion. #Ihavezerochill

Hadley loved the signs, and Hayden hated all the attention. πŸ˜‚

On Sunday, we had some family over to celebrate another occasion, so we had a Baskin Robbins ice cream cookie cake to celebrate the upcoming graduation.

After we got home from school, the kids put up their backpacks, changed their clothes and got ready to celebrate with some friends!

How fun are these balloons? Another mom picked them up for our festivities.

We had a really great afternoon with friends celebrating these awesome kiddos! I hope to share more later in the week.

As I wrap up my end of the school year posts, I have to thank their teachers. We entrusted them with our children, and they thrived under their guidance. They cheered them on, helped them, taught them, championed them, and did so with grace under pressure. They adjusted their teaching style to an online platform to ensure that they were engaged in academic rigor over the past year. Through the years, they also provided them with fun activities and remembered they were kids who wanted to play in the snow and trade Valentine’s Day cards. Hadley wants to be a teacher because of them. Hayden’s confidence has grown because they provided him with tools to be success at school…and in life. I’m forever indebted to their teachers who have given their all to them over the past six years.

Through the years, the school admin and support staff outdid themselves with events like International Night, school performances, spring carnival, family night spaghetti dinner and so much more. They provided the kids with well-rounded, diverse opportunities. They provided a safe place for my kids to grow, learn, and take risks. Again, I’m forever grateful.

I treasured our time at this school. I know my kids have a wonderful foundation in which to start middle school and move on to the next chapter of their lives. I just wish it all hadn’t gone by so fast. As they say, “Don’t blink.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Thanks for indulging me with my reflective posts and trips down memory lane this week! I feel pretty emotionally drained but have a very grateful heart!

I’m headed to high school graduation today. I bet the parents of those graduating seniors also wonder where the time has gone.

Have a great day!

Posted in Kids, School, Tuesday Talk

Tues Talk: Reflection: The Elementary Years

It’s Tuesday Talk with Erika and Ashley.

For this link up, we chat about any topic, and, well, the end of the school year has certainly been on my mind.

And…

Today is the day. Today, my kids will be finished with elementary school. I blinked and they went from toothless grins to braces, from the babies of the school to the oldest ones that the babies look up to, and from teeny tiny to almost as tall as me.

Where. Did. The. Time. Go?

I’m going to take today to reflect through their elementary years. This post is a mix of “why do I do this to myself?” to “there are so many memories, and this post will provide one place to house them all.” So, here we go…

Reflecting through the years…

Kindergarten:

I remember how excited Hadley was to start kindergarten. I also remember how hesitant Hayden was to start “big kid school.” (That being said, he was adamant that he didn’t want to be in Hadley’s class!)

That whole year was filled with new school experiences.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Walking to school
  • Learning to read
  • Pumpkin Patch field trip
  • All about Me posters
  • School lunch!
  • Spring kindergarten performance
  • Ran first ever mile race at the PTA mile/5k
  • 100th day of school celebration
  • They loved their teachers!

1st Grade:

This was a year filled with growth and new school activities. Hayden had “the best teacher ever!” and Hadley loved being her teacher’s helper.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • More walking to school
  • Field trip to the Living Arts and Science Center
  • 50th day of school celebration
  • Chess club
  • Pete the Cat 1st grade performance
  • Book Fair
  • Hadley clipped down to yellow one day, and rule follower Hayden exclaimed, “Hadley!” as we walked home from school, and she told me she was talking when the teacher was talking.
  • Field Day fun

2nd Grade:

Second grade was their last year in the primary hall of their school. Hadley learned that “boys can be teachers too!” as her teacher, Mr. B. was assigned to the class about a week before school started. Hayden loved the second grade and his teacher’s Safari theme for learning and room decor.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Academic Team(both kids)
  • Boosterthon Fun Run at school
  • International Night
  • Derby Breakfast (Hayden’s class)
  • Both kids got braces
  • Family Night: spaghetti and puzzles
  • Valentine’s Day parties
  • Making signs in support of teachers when their retirement was being threatened
  • Student led teacher conferences
  • School carnival
  • Safety City field trip
  • Indoor field day
  • Black History Month celebration: class project and third grade school performance.

3rd Grade:

Third grade was the first year in the secondary wing and the first year earning grades on report cards! Hayden had a few rough patches when his teacher left in October for a district level position, followed by a teacher that lasted less than a week, and then a replacement teacher for the remainder of the year. It took him some time to adjust with the sudden changes. Hadley loved her teacher and really excelled that year.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Academic Team (Hadley)
  • PTA movie night
  • Indoor Boosterthon Fun Run
  • Arboretum field trip
  • first KPREP tests
  • Book character dress up day – (Hadley dressed as Pinkalicious)
  • Class science fair
  • Family night: spaghetti and puzzles
  • School carnival
  • Cat in the Hat performances
  • Zoo field trip
  • Girls on the Run
  • Multiplication!
  • Family heritage project

4th Grade:

In the 4th grade, the kids continued to do well in school. Hadley had the same awesome teacher that Hayden had for 2nd grade, and Hayden’s teacher was perfect for him with her love of reading and very structured classroom.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

  • Academic Team (Hadley)
  • Cross Country (both kids–with their dad as the coach!)
  • Chorus (Hadley)
  • Field trip to Newton’s Attic
  • Movie Night
  • Recorders for music class!
  • Science Fair – Hayden earned honorable mention and Hadley made it to the district Science Fair!
  • Family Night: spaghetti and puzzles
  • Read Across America week
  • Packed up their belongings for what they thought would be two weeks…but didn’t return to the building before summer break
  • Waving at their teachers as they drove through the neighborhoods
  • Became proficient at Zoom and Google Classroom
  • Virtual Field Day
  • Said goodbye to their teachers and classmates on Zoom

5th Grade:

Their 5th grade year started with more virtual school. Seven months of virtual school to be exact. The kids both had awesome teachers who did an amazing job teaching via Zoom. The kids attended a pod of learners (friends!) two days a week which provided them with structured school, academic support, and social interaction. They *finally* returned to in person learning on March 8 to close out their elementary years in the same building they’d attended since kindergarten.

Memories, Activities and Field Trips:

first day at the pod in August 2020

return to in person learning March 2021

  • Delayed start to the school year
  • Drive through for textbook and supplies pick up
  • Virtual School
  • Pod two days a week
  • Became distinguished with Zoom and Google Classroom
  • Teacher front porch visits
  • Cross country (both kids, with their dad as their coach…again!)
  • Braces again!
  • G/T dance and dance club (Hadley)
  • Learning the flute (Hadley)
  • Return to in person learning in March which included thermal checks, plastic desk partitions, mask wearing, limited interactions at recess, and lunches in the classroom
  • Oldest kids in the school building
  • Field Day
  • Tie dye day and pizza lunch
  • 5th grade promotion

Final Thoughts:

Today, they enter their elementary school building one final time. This year hasn’t been what we expected, but they adjusted, they made the best of it, and they thrived.

Walking them to school provided me with memories and opportunities for conversations to last a life time. Seeing their independence grow each year was both bittersweet and rewarding. We went from kindergarten where we walked them to their classrooms every day for the first two weeks of school to stopping at the crosswalk and letting them finish the walk to the building on their own. (**and many days pulling into carline with minutes to spare! πŸ˜† )

Letting go at each phase feels natural, but sad as I see the time pass by right before my very eyes.

I will forever treasure our time in this amazing school. The teachers and administration did an amazing job kicking starting their educational career.

Dear Hayden and Hadley,

Happy last day of elementary school!

You’ll move on, you’ll continue to learn, you’ll continue to grow, you’ll make new friends, you’ll keep forever friends, you’ll test your independence (& my patience!), and you’ll continue to become the people you are destined to be.

I tell you all the time how lucky you are to have had the teachers, the administrators, the experiences and the opportunities that you’ve had over the past six years. I know you’ll remember these years fondly.

You’ve made dad and I very proud. Keep leading with your heart, keep being kind, and keep putting your best foot forward. I promise hard work, dedication, and kindness will always pay off.

Through the years, I’ve shared some words of wisdom with you; you know your English teacher mom loves a good quote. Some of my faves are:

“Be silly, be honest, be kind.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“Anything is possible. Anything can be.” ~Shel Silverstein

…and…

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~A A Milne

So, I will wrap up your elementary years with this:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” ~Henry David Thoreau

I hope you have the best last day of elementary school. You deserve it! I know this is only the beginning for the both of you! Keep up the good work!

xo,

Mom

P.S. No, I’m not crying…why do you ask? πŸ˜‰πŸ˜’

……………………………………………….

Tomorrow, I hope to share our last day of school photos. We have lots of fun planned for today with my 5th grade graduates!

Thanks so much for reading!

Posted in Kids, School

End of School Year Interview: 5th Grade

Hello! How was your weekend? We had a busy but blessed weekend. I hope to share more later in the week.

*Warning!* This week’s theme for posts is all about school…wrapping up the year and the elementary school years. #holdme

I used these questions last year to have the kids reflect on their school year, so I’m using them again this year! I love that I also have an opportunity to share my responses too.

Hayden’s Thoughts:

  • What was the best part of this year? Going back to in person learning.
  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher? She was kind.
  • What was your favorite things to learn about this year? Government and reading Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Who was your best friend? Graham and Jonny
  • What did you like to do at recess? Play 4 square and basketball
  • What is something hard you did? learn at home
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? “Undecidedor maybe a track coach…or a firefighter.”
  • What was something that made you laugh this year? My classmates
  • What was your favorite specials class and why? PE because my teacher is a GOAT
  • What was your favorite school activity or field trip this year? Field Day

Bonus: What is your BEST memory from elementary school? Safety City field trip in 2nd grade

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because…you’ve worked so hard to overcome obstacles and have persevered!
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you win the district championship cross country meet.
  • It has been fun to watch you: become more independent in your learning and enjoy your favorite subject areas like reading and social studies.
  • Three things I love about you: your loyalty to your friends, your determination, and your sense of humor.
  • An area you grew in was: confidence when speaking.
  • You strengthened our family by: taking on more responsibilities and becoming more independent.

Hadley’s Thoughts:

  • What was the best part of this year? Going back to in person learning.
  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher? She makes learning fun.
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? Long division (#smartypants)
  • Who was your best friend? Elise
  • What did you like to do at recess? Play four square
  • What is something hard you did? Wear a mask during school.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Elementary school teacher
  • What was something that made you laugh this year? Miller (a boy in her class)
  • What was your favorite specials class and why? PE because it’s awesome.
  • What was your favorite school activity or field trip this year? Field Day

Bonus: What is your BEST memory from elementary school? Safety City field trip in the 2nd grade

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because: you stayed positive this whole year while learning at home, at the pod, and finally at school.
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you run cross country, improving with each meet, and placing in the top 5 at the district championship.
  • It has been fun to watch you: be a classroom leader.
  • Three things I love about you: your energy, your generous heart, and your outgoing nature.
  • An area you grew in was: musical performance and playing the flute
  • You strengthened our family by: being helpful and remaining focused and positive.

I can’t believe tomorrow is their last day of elementary. Where has the time gone?

I hope you have a great week.

Linking up with Tanya and others!

Posted in Kids, School, Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts

Hello and Happy Thursday. How is your week going?! We are in that transition to back to school (yay!) which means earlier wake up calls, the hustle and bustle of making lunches and packing backpacks, and the rush of getting out the door. While that all can be exhausting, I’m here for it!

Today, I’m reflecting on the last 355 days at home for virtual learning as I know it’s a time the kids and I will always remember, and this post will be perfect to have those thoughts all in one place.

Virtual Learning:

  • March – May 2020: We all mastered Google Meet and Google Classroom. We lived in two weeks chunks of time while decisions were made at the state and district level about in person learning. Most days, the kids could sleep in before joining their class Google Meet at 10:00. They were on with their teachers for about an hour before completing their work for the day. Even a field trip and field day took place virtually. We missed out on fun events like the school carnival. I heard the sadness in their teachers’ voices as they said goodbye for the summer. None of us realized how long we’d be out of school.
  • August 2020: Back to school was delayed a few weeks, and we started school on August 26 rather than August 12th. Leading up to the first day of school, we drove through the car line at school to pick up materials and meet the teachers from our car while wearing masks. We decided to send the kids to a pod (at my friend Amy’s with their school friends…mostly girls, much to Hayden’s chagrin!) two days a week. “Back to School Night” was held via Zoom.
  • August 2020-March 2021: Synchronous and Asynchronous instruction were the new “buzz words” for the year. We mastered Zoom, Canvas, and Google Classroom. The kids’ school day was much more structured, and they spent most of the morning on Zoom. They had a 1.5 hour chunk of time for lunch and would often play with their friends in the neighborhood or at the school play ground. They would get back on Zoom in the afternoon for the last hour of the school day. Parent/teacher conferences we held via telephone. We lived in bigger chunks of time while waiting for decisions on return to in person learning. The number of school activities the kids missed out on is endless: field trips, lunch bunch, spaghetti/puzzle night, chorus concerts, academic team, clubs, the books fair, and more. January 2021: Their school schedule basically remained the same, but with an earlier start time and a bit more structure with the goal of prepping for a return to in person learning. Late February 2021: We learned that K-2 would begin on February 22 and 3rd-5th grades would start on March 3.

What we thought would be a few weeks in March and April of 2020 turned into months…and almost of a year of learning at home.

Real talk: I actually teared up typing this time line…I can’t believe we’ve made it through this time. There have certainly been ups, downs, learning curves, tears, frustration, and more.

Thankfully, they have amazing teachers who have hosted virtual lunch bunch, dropped off gifts on front porches, met with students individually who were struggling academically, made phone calls home with words of encouragement, waved as we drove through the car line, and so much more.

At the pod, the kids were able to read in groups, play games, bake, have holiday parties, learn about the election process, go roller skating, and experience many more fun activities.

Memories at home learning provided us…

and some things I will miss about at home learning...

  • The kids showing me what they are working on and asking for help.
  • Meals: enjoying leisurely breakfasts and lunches. (Bonus: Hadley now can make a quesadilla and soup on her own. Hayden has mastered heating Spaghetti O’s on the stove and can make a mean grilled cheese!)
  • Hearing their awesome teachers and the sweet replies of their classmates.
  • (also) Hearing Hayden and Hadley’s thoughtful responses when sharing answers with their classes.
  • Friday Chick-fil-A lunch
  • Time outside with them during “recess” and going for walks
  • Flexibility and maximizing our time: I’ve been able to start dinner in the slow cooker at 10:00 am vs 7:00 am, they’ve completed chores on a break, and we’ve been able to schedule ortho appointments during lunch break.
  • Extra Homer snuggles
  • Impromptu play dates during recess or learning at home with friends
  • Pajama pants as suitable school attire!

That being said, it’s time. It’s been 355 days since they’ve walked into their school building. They only have nine weeks left in the elementary school building they’ve attended since kindergarten.

Real talk (again!): I’ve also said that their age during this time has been a blessing. They are old enough to work pretty independently, but are young enough to still need me. I will treasure this experience forever, but I’m also happy to release them to the elementary educational professionals πŸ˜‰

I asked them both what they will miss about at home learning and why they are excited to return to the building. Here are their responses:

Hayden:

I will miss being at home with Homer all day.

I’m excited to actually be in the school building to learn with my teachers and friends.

Hadley:

I will miss being able to stay in my pjs while learning at home.

I’m excited to see my friends and my teacher in person.

A few photos:

First day at the pod: August 26, 2020

Last day at the pod: March 2, 2021

First day of 5th grade: August 26, 2020

First day of in person learning, 5th grade: March 3, 2021

Back to School Breakfast (again!)

I decided to have another back to school breakfast, and was able to put this together pretty quickly thanks to a trip to The Dollar Tree (thanks, Amy, for the idea!) and a few items from my “Back to School Breakfast tub.

I love these little lunch trays from The Dollar Tree, and I assembled an easy breakfast of donuts, yogurts, Cuties, and juice boxes.

I got them each a little notebook and the “Star Student” tags were perfect for the lunch trays.

Other Back to School Breakfast posts:

When they enter the building, they go through a thermal scanner to have their temperatures taken, there are plastic dividers at their desks, they will eat lunch at their desks, they have to stay with their classes at recess, and some of the their specials teachers will come to them.

I received emails from both kids within the first couple hours of school πŸ˜‚

Hayden was telling me he’d forgotten his watch, and could I bring it to school (the answer was no) πŸ˜‚, and Hadley’s email brought tears to my eyes. She said she was so happy to be at school and that her teacher cried happy tears!

Their assistant principal sent me pictures of them at their desks. Hadley looks so happy, and I’m proud of Hayden for “going with the flow.” ( I know that’s not easy for him).

Hadley’s teacher shared this photo with me. So far, Hadley has been pretty consistent with her plans to be an elementary school teacher 😊

I know school will look so different compared to when they were last there on March 13, 2020, but I’m forever grateful for the school administrators, teachers and staff who have made this transition from at home learning to in person learning as smooth as possible. The school sign said, ‘Welcome back,” there were lawn letters greeting them with sweet “back to school” wishes, and so many wonderful teachers were outside waving and opening car doors at car line yesterday morning.

Everyone was smiling: students, teachers, and parents, and even a mask couldn’t hide the enthusiasm that returning to the school building after 355 days has brought to everyone.

My wish for the kids: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” ~ Dr. Seuss

(read: mom loves you, but bye!) πŸ˜‰

The weight of the pandemic, as a mom and as a teacher, has been very difficult…probably more difficult than I have realized at times. Getting my kids back to school yesterday was a huge step towards normalcy, and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Next week, students start to return to my school building, and I’m so looking forward to that next step as well!

Thanks so much for reading today’s post. I hope you’re having a great week. I know mine sure has taken a turn for the better!

Posted in Kids, School

Distance Learning Routine

Well, we’ve been doing distance learning for one week now. We are not pros at this, but we’ve been implementing a few tips/tricks/routines over the past week to get us in back to school mode.

Last week, was a lot of “get to know you” activities with their teachers and classmates. They also had Zooms and videos with their specials teachers about supplies they’ll need and tours of classrooms. I was really impressed with all that the teachers planned to keep the kids engaged. Their virtual classrooms are impressive with links to Zoom, the schedule, the 5th grade website and more. Also, my kids were in small groups via breakout groups and teachers incorporated mini breaks throughout the day which became the perfect time to grab a snack, gather supplies, or quickly fill me on what they needed to do next.

This week, they’ve been taking pre-assessments for math and reading while also beginning regular coursework with their teachers.

And, so far, juggling between the tutor’s house and the days they work at our house has been going very smoothly.

Hayden working on a class assignment.
Hadley, hard at work, while Homer supervises.

Distance Learning Routine:

  • Technically, the kids need to wake up a little earlier on days they go to the tutor’s house, but I’ve been keeping bedtime and wake up time consistent no matter which day it is. For the at home days, they are just a little less rushed or have more time for morning work or to complete a household chore πŸ˜‰
  • During the regular school year and even summer, I have them get dressed, make their bed, and brush their teeth. Even if I know it’s a lazy day in the summer (or on the weekend), or an at home learning day, I still think it’s important for them to get out of their pajamas and get the bed made.
  • I have them log on about 30 minutes before they are supposed to just so I can see what’s due for the day. That way at the end of the day, I can ask them if they’ve turned in “x, y, and z.”
  • I also have them make sure they have their supplies ready for the day. The Chomebooks are in their rooms with their other supplies, but we keep all the textbooks on a shelf in the hall closet. So, I have them grab what they need to start the day.
  • Since they are on their computers quite a bit, I try to limit technology during the day. So when they have a bigger break, I may let them watch a show while eating lunch, but no Xbox, Ipod, Ipad, etc. during that time. Their break in the middle of the day is time for lunch, recess, and then typing or reading. So, I make sure they understand how to use that time: relax/take a break, eat, play outside, type/read.
  • I try to have a couple of snacks out for them to grab when they need them. I had thought about packing a lunch even for “at home” days, so they wouldn’t need to interrupt me for help with that, but we haven’t done that yet. I either have had a natural break from work to make their lunch, or they are pretty self-sufficient with making lunch. Hadley will even make soup or Spaghetti O’s on the stove for them!
  • They know they don’t have to always stay in their rooms while working! I do like that their desks in their rooms are “home base” for supplies, and they start their morning in their rooms for morning meeting and specials. Then, they usually bring their computer to the kitchen table for typing or Hayden sat on the couch with his computer for the end of the day meeting. I don’t want them to feel confined to their rooms, and they’ve done a good job being quiet if the other is still working.
  • While their teachers follow the same schedule, sometimes one class may finish before the other. Also, I didn’t want Homer being loud and barking while they are on their Zooms. So, we put Homer in the kennel during their main work time in the morning and afternoon. Homer likes his kennel, and when life is normal, he’s used to being there during the day.
  • Lastly, and I’ve only done this one time so far, but when they logged off for the day last Friday, I had them tidy up their work spaces. They made sure their Chromebooks were plugged in, put away supplies in their baskets and cart, stacked their books up to put in the closet, and pushed in the desk chair…similar to what they would do if they were in school.

We are far from having distance learning/virtual school mastered, but so far this routine has been good for us. Also, I’m so happy with our decision to send them to the tutor two days a week. It’s good for all of us that they have that option, and they’ve been enjoying their time there too.

How’s school going for your kids (and you!) so far this year? I’d love any more tips and tricks to add to our routine.

Happy learning!

Posted in Friday Favorites, Kids, School, Traditions

Friday Favorites {#36}: Back to School Edition and Other Faves!

Hello and Happy Friday!! I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post!

Can my first favorite just be surviving this week? πŸ˜‚ Seriously, it was a doozy filled with school, activities, and more. That being said, I’m very glad that we are back on some kind of schedule. So far, we’ve had one learning day at the tutor’s house and one learning day at home (with me!). The kids really do have a handle on the technology, and thankfully haven’t needed much help. Their teachers are doing such an amazing job, and I know they are putting in long hours to help their students feel welcome and to make their lessons engaging.

We have a pretty free weekend, and I think we all need it to recharge and relax.

For today’s post, I’m sharing some of our favorite back to school traditions as well as some other faves from the week.

Favorite Traditions:

First Day of School: 5th Grade Pics

I shared more about this in yesterday’s post, but we always take a back to school picture (or two) with the chalkboard!

We also take a picture in front of their school sign. We did that again this year as I couldn’t let Covid ruin my five year tradition!

Wednesday was a day at the tutor’s house, and she had a sign for them to hold up for a picture. It’s the 2020 version of my back to school chalkboard!

Back to School Breakfast:

Every year, I have a Back to School Breakfast for the kids. I’ve been reading Andrea’s blog for years, and loved her Back to School Brinner idea, but tweaked it for breakfast. I may move to the Brinner idea next year when the kids start middle school.

ready for the first day of school
breakfast is served…
Hayden’s place setting
Hadley’s place setting

The kids seem to enjoy this tradition, and I do too! I feel like traditions like these get us all excited to start back to school.

Books:

For the breakfast, I typically give both the kids a new book. Amazon always comes through with books with their grade in the title!

My big 5th graders!

Cookies:

I started getting the kids these sweet little cookies a couple of years ago. I’ve purchased and taken cookie classes with Maddie of Maddie’s Cookie Co., and her cookies are amazing. I’m always so impressed with her designs, and the cookies are delish!

This year, I got Hayden and Hadley the mini cookies (hoping they will share with mom and dad ) πŸ˜‰ as well as the backpack cookie with their name.

I even picked up a sweet treat for their tutor. An apple cookie with her name on it.

Flashback Friday:

I don’t know why I do this to myself (😭), but it is fun to look back at the first day of school through the years.

Kindergarten:

1st grade:

2nd grade:

I think this is my favorite back to school photo of them ❀️

3rd grade:

4th grade:

4th

Other Faves:

Other favorites from the week:

Hadley’s dance studio used the month of August to make up for April and May classes. They brushed up on their recital routines in preparation for Wednesday night’s recital.

Their routines (Hadley had hip hop, jazz, ballet, and tap) were videoed, and we will receive a DVD. I hate that we didn’t get to see the performance in person, but I know the DVD will be fun to watch and a 2020 keepsake!

Hadley’s hip hop performance was first, so I snapped a few photos before we headed to the studio.

Then, she had ballet, and then tap and jazz.

It’s always difficult to choose which professional photos I want printed, but I settled on these two to share with family:

I love watching Hayden play baseball. To be honest, we are just lucky to have (finally) had a season. He grew so much as a player and a pitcher this season. He also loves playing short or first, and it’s been so fun to watch his team play. At times, he’s too hard on himself, but I hope that translates into just wanting to continue to be a better player.

His team finished second in the standings for the regular season and then unfortunately lost in the semi-final round of the tournament in a close 3-1 game. There’s nothing worse than little baseball boys bummed after a loss, but Hayden did his part, and I reminded him to celebrate the successes they had as a team this season!

Ready to throw a strikeout!
Up to bat!

For Sunday’s first round game, Hadley wore Hayden’s jersey from last year. He rolled his eyes when he saw her, but I hope he knows she’s his biggest fan (when she pays attention to the game) πŸ˜‰

As with the dance pictures, it was hard for me to choose which of the two professional photos to get copies of, so I purchased both! 🀣

The red plate is another favorite tradition in our house. Since school started this week and dance and baseball wrapped up, the kids each had the plate for a meal on Thursday to celebrate their hard work and successes during this past dance and baseball season as well as getting the hang of the 5th grade!

Thursday lunch
Thursday dinner

Favorite Kid Quote:

I finished the third season of Selling Sunset on Sunday, and Hayden caught the tail end of the final episode of Christine’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful and over the top. Hayden said, “That’s a wedding? If I was getting married, I would just have it at a church with food.” Boo lives a simple life.

Favorite Sweet Treat:

I made a quick trip to the grocery store yesterday and saw “break and bake” Pillsbury Oreo cookies. So, I made those for Hayden and Hadley as they wrapped up their second day of virtual school. They were delish.

Favorite Mom Meme:

I saw this meme a few weeks ago, and ain’t it the truth?!

Friday Funny

I occasionally play Words with Friends, and my dad wins most games we play. I was winning the latest game, and he said he was sending me to my room if I played on the triple letter! haha For the record, I did win that game!

If you made it to the end of this post, thanks so much for reading! Lots of favorites this week.

What are some of your favorites from the week?

Weekly Recap:

I hope you have a great weekend! See you back here on Monday.

Take care,

Posted in Kids, School

First Day of School: 5th Grade Pics and Interview

Well, we did it! We all made it through the first day of school!

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, we are starting back virtually, and we decided for the kids to go to a tutor (our friend who is former elementary education teacher) two days a week. Well, the first day of school was a tutor day! So, the kids were up around 7:00, ate their Back to School Breakfast, got dressed and then let me take their traditional first day of school pictures.

As I snapped the first day of school photos, I couldn’t help but think:

Time sure has flown by….and here they are on their last first day of elementary school:

We still shopped for back to school outfits. Hadley was adamant about a denim skirt and the shirt (both from Target) was perfect for the first day of school.

I thought Hayden would wear one of his new Vineyard Vines t-shirts, but instead he busted out the new VV polo…looking sharp on his first day.

We did pit-stop at the school for a picture in front of their school sign. We’ve done that every year for five years, and no way was I going to let that tradition slide πŸ˜‰

We went to the tutor’s house Monday night, and she has everything set up so sweetly. You definitely get the elementary school vibe as soon as you step foot in her basement.

Monday night at the tutor’s house.

When we arrived yesterday, she had a cute sign for the kids to use for a photo, and then took a group photo.

Hadley and one of her besties had the same Target shirt on!

Throughout the day, the tutor sent some photos. I love this thought as the students came down the stairs.

There’s no escaping the group of girls in this pod. Hayden’s the only 5th grade boy, but there are a couple younger boys to play with when they aren’t learning!

Seeing these photos brought me such peace throughout the day. I’ve been anxious about starting the year, but I know, from these photos, my kids are well taken care of two days a week, and I’ll bring up the rear on educating them them other few days πŸ˜‚

As I got ready for the day, I found Homer on my bed…I think he was wondering where the kids went. He’s had us around for 5 1/2 months (I can’t even believe it’s been that long!)

Then, I went to school. I almost worked from home, but realized I’ve had a first day of school…in a classroom…for 35 years. I didn’t want to stop that streak!

It was odd being at school with very few staff members, empty parking lots, and quiet halls. I hope a we are all back together soon.

Last week, I decided to do a back to school interview with the kids. Here’s what they had to say:

Back to School Interview:

Hayden’s Thoughts:

  • This year, I’m excited about: talking to my friends and seeing them when I can.
  • By the end of the year, I want to: be better at math.
  • My favorite subject is: Reading
  • I love learning about: Social Studies
  • I am great at: PE class
  • My favorite school cafeteria food is: nacho
  • If I was the principal for the day, I would:take a day off
  • When I grow up, I want to be: a golfer, an umpire, or a commentator
  • The best thing about school is: recess
  • My first day of school was: weird but ok

Hadley’s Thoughts:

  • This year, I’m excited about: having one of the best teachers, and to learn at my friend’s house (pod/tutor)
  • By the end of the year, I want to: have to gotten better at math
  • My favorite subject is: grammar
  • I love learning about: different people’s countries and cultures
  • I am great at: spelling
  • My favorite school cafeteria food is: chili with noodles
  • If I was the principal for the day, I would: would give extra recess to everyone
  • When I grow up, I want to be: an elementary teacher (1st or 4th grade)
  • The best thing about school is: getting to see my friends and having a partner
  • My first day of school was: amazing and interesting

We wrapped up the day with a dance recital (performances were taped in class, but I still had to get Hadley ready with hair, makeup, and getting her costumes organized), and a tournament semi-final baseball game!

Today, I will be home with the kids working while they learn! Wish us luck πŸ˜‰