Posted in Kids, School

First Day of School

Hello!

Well, we all survived the first day of school. Overall, I’d say it was a success.

While I’m always sad for summer break fo end, this was me by Tuesday evening:

On Monday, my district held a convocation at Rupp Arena. That meant that I had to be at school by 7:15 (earlier if I wanted the catered breakfast!) to board a yellow bus to Rupp. We were at convocation from 8:00 until about 1:00 and then we had time to work in our rooms. Then, on Tuesday, we had a faculty meeting and professional development from 8:30-1:00 with more time in our rooms in the afternoon.

Even though our county is in the “red” for Covid, we are still mask optional. The superintendent’s stance is that Covid is everchanging, and we’ll continue to navigate however we need to. The motto on wearing (or not wearing) masks is “Either way is ok.”

This summer felt so short, but it was great to finally see students on Wednesday.

Back to School Brinner:

We had our Back to School Brinner on Sunday. Hadley had dance late the two nights before school started, so I thought breakfast for dinner on Sunday would be good.

I pulled out my tub with supplies from last year (plus a couple of new additions), and set up the table.

I’ve used this same chalkboard since Kindergarten. 🙂

This year, I wrote a few things on the paper “runner” which I think the kids liked.

I picked the kids each up a book and a Bundt cake to add to their place settings. Otherwise, I used the same folder, plate, and napkins as in previous years.

Unfortunately, Travis was out of town, but I set a place for myself too!

I served fruit along with muffins and yogurt.

I also made Shay’s Bacon and Tot Casserole, and it hit the spot.

We all enjoyed dinner and chatted a bit about summer and the new school year. It’s a fun tradition that I hope the kids will let me do through high school!

First Day of School Photos:

We had a pretty easy breezy morning. I did wake the kids up a bit earlier than they will typically need to wake up, but I needed to get those first day of school photos.

This time last year, Hadley was a head taller than Hayden. He sure has caught up!

They both look like they are almost able to drive me to school.

I couldn’t resist Maddie’s (@maddiescookieco) Back to School cookies. I put them out for the kids to see in the morning.

Maddie’s Back to School “groovy” theme was so cute!

Travis got the kids off to school, and headed to school myself. Y’all, I can’t believe this is year 21 for me. Over the weekend, I cleaned out my bedside table (my final organizational task of the summer), and I found some old pictures…including this one of my first year teaching (2002-03). Check out that computer!

….and now!

Y’all, I was tired! Travis had been out of town since Saturday for work, so I was doing all the mom things + all the back to school teachers/mom things. Then, he got home home really late on Tuesday night (technically, Wednesday morning), so just didn’t get the best sleep. Truth be told, I always have trouble sleeping the night before school starts….back to school jitters, I guess.

Overall, it was a great day! It’s still weird for me not starting the year with classes full of students. Since I do intervention, teachers will start sending me students need week. That being said, I enjoyed helping students find their classes, passing out schedules, helping teachers, and whatever else needs to be done. It’s a great way to ease into the school year.

Back to School Interview:

I’m probably pressing my luck with the kids’ interviews, but here are the kids’ thoughts on heading back to school:

Hayden’s Thoughts:

  • As a 7th grader, I’m most excited about...being with my friends.
  • A goal I have this year isto get all A’s.
  • I think my favorite subject will beSocial Studies
  • One thing I’d like to get better at this yearturning my work in on time.
  • The first day of school was... fun.

Hadley’s Thoughts:

  • As a 7th grader, I’m most excited aboutbeing upstairs in the building.
  • A goal I have this year is.study for every test.
  • I think my favorite subject will bemath.
  • One thing I’d like to get better at this yearstaying on top of my school work.
  • The first day of school waschaotic and energetic.

The first day of school meant pjs as soon as I got home and an easy slow cooker dinner.

I hope everyone is having an easy transition back to school!

Posted in School, Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts: Tips from a Teacher

With less than a week until school starts, of course all I’m thinking about is school.

I cannot believe I’m starting my 21st year in education. Where has the time gone? I also can’t believe my kids are starting 7th grade. My mom taught 7th grade Language Arts for 31 years. I don’t know how she did it! She has remained friends with so many of her colleagues, and I always looked up to them ( and still do). They made teaching look so fun.

Today, I’m putting on my “teacher hat” to share to few things.

Even with 20 years as a teacher, I’m still no expert, but here is what I’ve learned through the years:

Teacher to Teacher:

  • Make your expectations very clear on day one….and stick with those rules, expectations, and standards: Kids, even your toughest ones, like structure and routine. Actually, your most difficult kids need it the most, and all kids like to know what to expect. Also, we don’t give kids enough credit…they are smarter than we think! Once you cave even a little, then it’s hard to get that control back.
  • Keep your sense of humor: Thankfully, I’m naturally sarcastic 😉 …but really…my students keep me laughing, and I try to make them laugh too! We’re all in this together.
  • Try to leave school at school: Being a teacher can be all-consuming…in good and bad ways. It took me a while, but I’m pretty good at setting boundaries now. Also, with my students, I always preach to them about using time wisely (I say this to my own kids too!) If I give 100% while at school and use my time wisely, I very rarely have work to do outside of school. I’ve also learned, that I don’t need to read school emails outside of the school day very often, so I do try to check email very minimally or not at all past 4:30. I know some who don’t keep school email on their phone, but I do. There are times it comes in handy, and I need it accessible.
  • Be approachable and relatable; show students you care: I feel like we say this now more than ever, but you never know what kids are going through (adults too!), so lead with kindness and compassion. I tell students all the time that I will give them grace, but I’m not a mind- reader…they may have to let me know why they need to put their head down, and I can understand they may be tired or sad and will check in with them but give them space.
  • Have a plan, and then have a plan B and C!and be prepared: It took a long time before I could fly by the seat of my pants as a teacher, but I still always have a back up plan for a back up plan. If students have too much time on their hands, then that may not end well.

One of my first blog posts was about The Four Agreements, and I still try to remember them both while at school and at home. I’m not perfect, but I try to keep these in mind, and do better every day.

Also, stay positive! You’ve got this.

Teacher to Student:

While going through the transition to middle school with my own kids last year, I found myself telling them some of the things I tell my own students:

  • Ask for help/advocate for yourself: This is something my kids really had to work on. They are both pretty quiet in the classroom, and would rather blend in than ask for help. I’ve told them to see teachers at the end of the day or send an email, but at least reach out and communicate with their teachers.
  • Use you time wisely during the school day: Honestly, most teachers don’t give much homework, and lots of times, homework is started during class in case a student needs help. I remind my kids to complete and turn in classwork by the deadline as to not get behind.
  • If your teacher lets you make corrections, do it!: Again, even if my kids earned a decent grade, I tell them they may need those extra points some other time. Not all teachers allow for corrections to earn back points, so definitely do so when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Learn how to study: Kids needs to be taught how to study. It’s not a given. Last year, I encouraged my kids to rewrite notes they took in class, use note cards to make flash cards, complete practice problems, and more. Also, I reminded them that all study habits don’t work for everyone. You have to find what works for you.
  • Plan for the week ahead: My kids are very busy, so I told them that Sunday would be a great day to plan ahead for the week. If Hadley knows she has three hours of dance on Monday, then the should know that Tuesday would be a great day to study. Also, I’ve encouraged them to study a bit each day for any upcoming tests, so that they aren’t cramming the night before.Planning ahead is definitely something they need to continue to work on this year.

Twenty years of saying these things to my students paid off as I began to preach this advice to my own kids last year.

Student to Student:

Sometimes I feel bad for my kids –having a mom that’s a teacher isn’t easy. My standards are high. That being said, I want them to be self-starters and driven, but I also am not asking for perfection. If I know they’ve given 100% and still earned a B, I’m ok with that. I refuse to get wrapped up in labels and test scores for my own kids. They are more than one test on one day. I want them to be well-rounded: join clubs, play sports, have outside extra-curriculars, be involved at church, play with their friends, be kind, be inclusive and more. That being said, like my students, they need structure and routine too in order manage their time and see what works best for them.

To wrap up my “tips from a teacher,” I decided to ask them what they think students should know going into a new school year, and here is what they said:

Hayden:

  • Go over new material when you learn it
  • Make friends
  • Pay attention in class

Hadley:

She texted me her response, and this is what she said:

  • Be organize (like with your backpack and schoolwork)
  • Don’t be worried about all the work people say you have (it’s not that bad)
  • Keep your old friends but also try and make new ones too.

*Maybe they have been listening when I talk 😉

One more thing before I go…

Blogiversary:

Today, is the 3rd “Blogiversary” for Show Me and Sweet Tea.

I started this blog in 2019, and to be honest, I’d wanted to start one for years. I love having this creative outlet, I look forward to writing posts, and I love sharing about family, fun, recipes, books, and more. This is my very own scrapbook of life, and I only wish I started it sooner. This SMST community is so amazing, and I appreciate my readers so much. I never imagined that I’d get to “know” so many of you and even grow as a blogger through the years.

As a thank you, I will choose one winner for a $30 gift card to one of my favorite places: Amazon, Trader Joe’s or Target. Your choice!

I believe when you comment, I will see your email address. So, I will email you and share the winner in Monday’s post.

Make sure to comment and let me know: What was your favorite year/grade in school and why?

I loved 4th grade because my teacher taught next door to her best friend. Our classroom had a wall that opened, so the classes would often be combined. Also, my teacher worked at an animal rescue, and would bring in animals that she would foster and care for until they could be adopted or released. Also, I remember being excited about being in the older grades, but not being the oldest in the school.

Anyway, I can’t say “Thank you” enough! I appreciate my readers so much.

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Monthly Musings, School

Monthly Musings

Hello! How has your week been? We got back from Missouri late Tuesday, so I’ve been trying to get us back on track with all the things…unpacking, groceries, errands, and more.

I can’t believe it’s the end of the month already, so I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

I can’t believe it but we have less than two weeks left of summer break before school starts! I’m definitely savoring these days for sure! Here’s a peek at Back to School Prep.

1. How do you get organized for the school year?

The last couple of weeks of July, I start tackling the last items on my summer “to do list” and then I really start thinking about the school year on August 1. At that point, I’ve made appointments for back to school haircuts, and we have the supply list for back to school shopping. Also, I go to my classroom and get unpacked for the year. Once that task is completed, I feel like I can savor the rest of my summer at home.

2. Favorite places to shop for back to school clothes?

Well, that used to be Target, but as the kids have gotten older, their taste has changed.

This made me laugh:

Also, I’ve always just bought one new outfit for them to wear on the first day along with new tennis shoes. Hayden usually doesn’t want anything new, so often times he just shops his own closet whereas Hadley and I may visit the mall or find something on Amazon.

3. Do you meal plan? Favorite back to school meals?

This summer, I’ve been pretty relaxed with meal planning which is a summer perk for sure! I will definitely get back to meal planning as school begins because I will have to maximize my time as much as possible.

We (maybe mostly me!) look forward to our Back to School Brinner. When the kids were in K-5th grade, I always did Back to School Breakfast, but decided to shift to dinner a day or two before school started because middle school starts later than high school rather than before like during the elementary years.

breakfast
brinner

4. What are your kids favorite things about going back to school?

I asked, and both kids had similar responses. Both are excited about getting their schedules and seeing what friends they have in their classes.

Honestly, I thought Hayden would say “nothing,” so I will take that as a win.

5. Best place for school supplies?

I very rarely go to Walmart, but they do seem to have the best prices on school supplies. We usually start there and then check Target or Amazon for anything else that is missing.

6. Any first day of school traditions?

Besides the breakfast or brinner, I always buy the kids a book to start the year. I usually get lucky and find books with the grade level they are going in. Also, we always have a back to school photo!

7. Best lunchbox tip?

Pack the night before…which we almost never do! That has to change this year! I need to pack the night before too!

8. Buy lunch? Bring lunch? Both?

In elementary school, the kids went through phases of wanting to take their lunch or buy their lunch. Last year, Hayden bought his lunch every day, and Hadley took her lunch every day. I pack a lunch every day too.

9. Does school start before or after Labor Day?

TOO SOON! I swear it feels even earlier this year. Our first day is August 10. (And, it usually is the second Wednesday in August, but it still feels too early)

I hate to say it, but “when I was a kid..,” our summer was Memorial Day to Labor Day, and I think that’s how it should be.

When we were visiting family in KC, I heard all their back to school dates on the news…and school districts can’t start until nine days before Labor Day to help with tourism in August. I feel like that’s a great idea!

10. Best money saving tips for back to school?

I always feel like all I’m doing is spending money in August. From new shoes to school supplies to school fees, and more it just feels never-ending. I do try to space out spending as much as possible. Also, school supplies will never be cheaper than they are in July/August so stock up while you can.

It’s always good to get back in a routine with the start of school, but I also always cling to summer! Time is just flying by too quickly.

Posted in Kids, School

School’s Out…for the Summer

Hello!

It’s official…

Yesterday, I shared the end of the school year 6th grade interview, and today I’m sharing the last day of school photos.

first day:

vs. last day…

I knew Hayden grew this year, but the proof is in this photo from yesterday!

Hayden:

First vs. Last Day of 6th Grade:

Hayden was involved in:

  • Cross Country
  • Basketball
  • Track
  • Beta Club
  • Wyldlife

Hadley:

First vs. Last Day of 6th Grade:

Hadley was involved in:

  • Dance
  • Track
  • Chorus
  • Wyldlife
  • Student Council

When your mom is a teacher…

It’s probably both a blessing and a curse to have a mom as a teacher. When the year started, I wasn’t sure what to expect in regards to communication with teachers and classwork. Their school has two teams for each grade, and my kids were on the same team. The lead teacher sent daily emails with activities, assignments, and due dates. It was so nice because they had the same teachers which meant the same assignments and due dates. I got the notifications on assignments and grades. If an assignment was flagged missing, I definitely let my kids know.

This year, I really tried to help the kids stay organized and plan their time wisely. I encouraged them to talk to their teachers, ask questions, and advocate for themselves. Bless Hadley’s heart. Every year she wants all the colored pens, sticky notes, and cute folders that Target has to offer. While she does tend to stay pretty organized, some of that falls to the wayside as a school year continues. Hayden subscribes to “shove everything in my backpack even though I have folders and binders” method of organization. Aye yai yai!

While sometimes I felt like we had to talk with them a bit too much about expectations, I also know that if we didn’t teach them these skills, then who would?

In the teaching world, we use “gradual release model” as best practice with our students. This year felt a lot like “I do” (in regards to teaching expectations and academic habits) and now we will work towards “we do” and “you do” in 7th and 8th grades. 😉I’m hoping some of these habits will roll into next year, and the kids will know how to manage their time, study, and meet deadlines with less help from Travis or myself.

The kids learned so much this year. It’s a big transition moving from elementary school with one teacher to having 8 classes in a day. Also, with 8 different teachers come a variety of expectations and procedures. They ended the first quarter at home for two weeks with Covid. That being said, both kids made the Honor Roll every quarter and their grades continued to improve throughout the year. The kids are both pretty well-rounded, and with the transition to middle school and as active as they are, I will take it.

Middle school can be a really difficult time for kids. I continue to be thankful for the community of people that it takes to keep my kids headed in the right direction. From teachers to coaches to family and parents of friends, it definitely takes a village, and I appreciate everyone’s help!

I’m going to take a few blogging days off as I finish up the odds and ends of the school year and just take a moment to decompress from the weight of the world right now.

Thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Kids, School

End of the School Year Interview: 6th Grade

Hello! Well, we made it! Today, is the…

and the last lunch of the year is packed 😅

This year really did go by so quickly! Maybe it was because it was a “normal” year after a year and a half of non-traditional instruction. The kids really did have a great first year of middle school.

I tweaked the questions that I’ve asked them in the past in order to include a few specific middle school questions.

Hayden’s Thoughts:

  • What was the best part of this year? Meeting new people
  • Who was your favorite teacher? my Language Arts and PE teachers
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? In Health, we learned about fitness.
  • What was your favorite class? PE
  • What is something hard you did? Math
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Undecided
  • What was something fun that you did at school this year? Going outside during class
  • What is one word you would use to describe this school year? Chaotic
  • What was your favorite school activity and why? Being with my teammates in basketball and track
  • What is one thing you enjoy about middle school? Having more freedom

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because you persevered through obstacles and never gave up.
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you run.
  • It’s been fun to watch you: grow as a learner and as an athlete.
  • Three things I love about you: your tenacity, your inquisitiveness, and your quiet leadership abilities.
  • You strengthened our family by: becoming more responsible and taking ownership in your learning and training.

Hadley’s Thoughts:

  • What was the best part of this year? Meeting new friends and walking to classes with friends.
  • Who was your favorite teacher? my math teacher
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? budgeting basics in Tech Ed
  • What was your favorite class? Math
  • What is something hard you did? Writing two essays for Language Arts at once.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? An elementary teacher
  • What was something fun that you did at school this year? Sometimes we’d have free time in class to play games or talk with friends.
  • What is one word you would use to describe this school year? A learning experience (more than one word…but relatable ;))
  • What was your favorite school activity and why? Ice cream party for track because our hard work paid off.
  • What is one thing you enjoy about middle school? Having eight different teachers during the day.

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because…you stayed true to yourself but also blossomed in a new school environment.
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you dance and run.
  • It’s been fun to watch you: make new friends and keep your elementary friendships too.
  • Three things I love about you: your generosity, your inclusiveness, and your desire to try new things
  • You strengthened our family by: being happy, silly, and sweet.

This first year of middle school flew by! I was probably more nervous about the transition to middle school than they were. Overall, I’m proud of their academic effort as well as their willingness to spread their wings in a new school. They’ve met some great friends, continued to grow friendships, were active in clubs and sports, and took on more responsibilities at school and at home.

*As this school year wraps up, and I write this post about my kids’ year, I can’t help but think of the horrific events that unfolded at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas yesterday. I’m absolutely heartbroken for that community and my prayers are for those who lost loved ones in this senseless act of violence.

I’m hugging my kids extra tight.

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. 😆 )

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? 😆 , 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. 😂

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.”

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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! 😆 )

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? 😉😢

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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!