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 ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • 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 School, Traditions

My Back to School Prep

Well, it’s August which means it’s definitely time to start thinking about heading back to school. Of course, 2020 “back to school” looks so different for everyone this year. To be honest, in times of uncertainty, I cling to routine and traditions which is what this post is all about.

Also of random note…Today is my 200th blog post, and Tuesday was my one year anniversary of my very first Show Me and Sweet Tea blog post. Time sure flies! So did the summer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I saw this on an Instagram story and LOL’d ๐Ÿ˜‰

And this one…#truth

As a teacher and as a parent, I have routines and traditions for myself as I prepare to start a new school year. I also have the same for my kids as they start a new year too.

As a Teacher, I…

  • Buy a cute lesson plan book and Paper Mate felt tip markers. I’m pretty loyal with my Blue Sky Planners that I usually buy, but I bought this one from Amazon this year to try. I always purchase new colorful pens to write down dates and tasks.
  • Write down important dates. In my planner, I always take some time to write down dates that we don’t have school, meeting times, and kids’ activities. I always feel overwhelmed at the start of the new school year, but having everything written down helps easy that anxiety.
  • Complete small tasks each day. I will be the first to admit that once the calendar turns to August 1st, I kind of panic. August 1st means summer is almost over and school is close to starting. So, to make myself feel better, I try to tackle a small school task or two as I can per day. So, one day I write down the dates in my lesson plan book. Another day, I might update my syllabus and go make copies. On a different day, I may set up all my Google Classroom and Remind text codes. Crossing those small tasks off starting early August makes me feel like I have a huge chunk of my day left to enjoy time with my kids, go to a movie, or hang out at the pool.
  • Finish my professional development hours. Teachers in my district have to have 24 professional development hours each year. Every summer, I knock those hours out before starting the school year. That’s usually pretty easy, as we typically have a 6 hour district day to focus on curriculum, a 6 hour English department day in August as well as a 6 hour school professional development day a couple days before school starts. Typically, I get the other 6 hours by going to a technology conference that the district usually hosts in June. This summer was different, but I was able to do the tech conference online, we will still have our school PD, and I completed a technology requirement for Canvas that’s 6 hours. So, the past week or so, I’ve been crossing off an hour at a time with online PD hosted my our media center specialist. Anyway, the point is that I don’t want time to catch up with me getting those hours and put off doing something I have more time to complete in the summer.
  • Get prepared for first week, so I can leave school ASAP. After setting up my classroom, I always plan the first three days of school, make all the copies, make sure technology links work, etc. The first couple weeks of school are so exhausting, and I’m always anxious to hear about my kids’ first few days as well. So, I like to be as prepared as possible in order to leave as soon as I can after school to get home.

This year’s planner and new pens! They make my teacher heart happy.

My classroom:

I make my classroom a comfortable place to be, so that I want to be there as well as the students. Itโ€™s warm, inviting, organized, and tidy.

This was my classroom last year before I moved down the hall. It was all set up for homeroom on the first day of school 2019.

2020. Right? ๐Ÿ˜‚

As a Parent, I…

  • Start back to school tasks a couple weeks before going back to school. Tasks like getting hair cuts, finishing summer reading, ordering backpacks, and getting school supplies always creep up on us if I don’t start crossing them off the list around the beginning of August.
  • Look at the Summer Fun list with a couple of weeks left of summer. The kids and I look to see what we haven’t incorporated into our summer yet and plan a few more fun activities. By early August, trips are usually completed or we don’t have any more time, but we’ll squeeze in a movie or an ice cream date.
  • Take the kids back to school shopping for supplies. I take my kids, each with their list, to Walmart to get their school supplies. I find that this gets them excited about school starting. They usually cross items off as they find them, and they each choose their own color folders, notebooks, pencil boxes, etc. Then, if we can’t find something, I still have time to order on Amazon.
  • Have a positive attitude. This is mostly a reminder for myself ;), but I find if I’m excited about school, the kids are too.
  • Start adjusting bedtime/wake up time. During the school year, we’re pretty firm with the bed time, but it tends to get pushed back in the summer. Starting the beginning of August, I start making the kids come in from playing outside earlier than in the summer. Then, I try to get them into bed a little earlier each week. Also, as much as I love that my kids sleep in past 9 am, I start waking them at 9:00, 8:45, 8:30 and so on leading up to the start of school.
  • Plan our back to school breakfast. I have all the breakfast decorations in a box, so that’s easy to get everything situated when they go to bed. I just make sure to bake the muffins and buy extra fruit, etc. for a special breakfast. Starting the second day of school, I’m usually throwing a Poptart at them while they make their beds ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Plan a fun activity for after school. The past few years we’ve lucked out with no practices or anything on the first day of school. So, we’ve made a point to hang out at the pool, eat dinner out, or go get ice cream as a way to be together and hear all about the first day!
Back to school haircuts and supplies, 2017

Our Back to School Breakfast is always something to look forward to. Next year, middle school starts later, so I may move to a Back to School Brinner the night before!

2019

I’ve already said that I can’t believe it’s the last year of elementary for my kids, but I also can’t believe that I will be starting my 19th year of teaching! Crazy!

Soak in these last days of summer before we head back to school in 2020 style!