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Digital Learning

Five Tips For New Teachers

Hi wonderful new teachers! I am so excited for you, and just a little jealous, that you are beginning your career as an educator. Oh, to step back and tell that new teacher that I once was some of what I've learned along the way. I hope that some of these tips will help to make your first year just a little easier and more fun.

Being a teacher is very challenging these days, and staying the course is even more challenging in the face of all the current initiatives. Please, please, please stay strong and don't give up the first time (or hundredth time) you think you want to. The next smile and thank you from a student whose life you have changed for the better will make it so worth your while. There truly is no job or calling more  rewarding than teaching. Congratulations on the courageous choice you have made to be a teacher!

Tip #1: Keep Smiling
I remember my first day as I stood in the doorway to my new beautifully decorated (way before Pinterest) classroom of an inner-city school, wearing high heels, pearls, and a too short for teaching tiny dress (I'll get to that later!), anxiously awaiting my very first fifth graders. Nervous doesn't even begin to describe it. The clearest memory I have of that day was when I invited one of my new students to have a seat (which I had ever so lovingly prepared for her and her classmates), she informed me that she didn't have to anything other than remain a member of her cultural group and die. Lovely.

It went downhill from there. Fifth graders in chaos everywhere, little me trying desperately to get control, and the only ones smiling were the kids who had come that day just to tear it up. I had been warned not to let them see me smile until Christmas.

Wrong! Your smile is the most critical tool in your teacher toolbox. Use it often. You won't run out of smiles, and they can be counted on to turn many negative situations around. Even classroom chaos. Try looking around the room and smiling if you find yourself in a situation like I had on my first day. Even laugh. Don't say anything. Raising your voice won't help anyway. Try it. Little by little, they will stop, look at you. and wonder what you're smiling at. Not the effect the little troublemakers were hoping for. Instilling wonder (even if they wonder if you cray-cray) is the first step in getting them to wonder about all of the amazing things you want them to learn!

Keep smiling throughout your teaching days. Smile at parents in the morning. It will reassure them, and they will assume that you know what you're doing and have likely done it before! Smile at your students. They might be nervous too, and your smile will be contagious and will calm them. Smile at your coworkers. They will wonder what you're up to. Then show them!

Tip #2: Pack Up the Bar Clothes
You won't be needing them anymore. You might feel like drinking after work, but you're not going anywhere other than home in exhaustion and to a pile of papers and notebooks to review while renewing your action plan for tomorrow.

The new teacher that I was, and some of the new teachers that I've met over the years have thought that tight or short clothing, thong underwear that shows through clothing, exposed midriffs, low cut tops, and high heels (some of which we didn't have when I started teaching - I'll let you guess!) were "dress-up" clothes and that you should dress up for work. Of course you should dress up for teaching, but please don't arrive at school looking as if you are arriving at a party and hoping to meet someone. (If you are now screaming at me for this tip, please feel free to fast forward to tip #3. This tip is obviously not meant for everyone. But since I have seen this mistake as recently as last school year, please give it some consideration if it speaks to you at all.)

So clothing meant for adult parties frequented by single people is probably not appropriate for school. You don't have to spend your entire salary on clothing though. Two or three pairs of nice black pants, a few cute but not sexy tops, and a couple of cardigans may sound boring, but it can get you through many school days and keep you looking smooth and professional. Try wearing flat shoes. They are very helpful when racing from desk to desk or room to room as you will often do during your day. And pants are soooo much easier to sit criss-cross applesauce in when you join the kids on the floor!

Tip #3: Listen More Than You Talk
You will likely be involved in many PD situations, team meetings, PLCs and PLTs as part of your new job. Keep listening. You will soon learn who holds the power in the school, who can get a job done when it needs to be done, and who you can turn to when you need help. There will be many years for you to offer advice or a helping hand. For the first year, or at least the first few months, just listen. I promise you won't regret it.

At team planning meetings, you may have the perfect idea that will save time, delight parents, and captivate kids, but save it until everyone else has spoken. Offer it up little by little, not all at once. Your teammates will be more likely to become your friends if you don't overwhelm them all at once with EVERYTHING you know and can do. You want to be part of their team, not appear as a threat to them.

You will probably figure this out before the first day, but just in case.... Make friends with the secretary and/or clerk in the front office and the custodians - especially the night custodian. The night custodian can dash in and out and empty your trash, or he/she can put your room back together for you, assemble furniture, move heavy things, and even draw little cartoon notes on the board for your kids to see the next day. Friends are like that.


Tip #4: Fake It 'Till You Make It
Of course you want to start smiling immediately, and keep it up all year. You also want to appear cool, calm, collected, and knowledgeable in front of your students. Know your subject matter inside and out before you step in front of your class to deliver a lesson. If you don't know the answer to something, admit it and promise to help them find the answer. (Except for inappropriate questions about sex or religion. For those, say, "That's a really good question. I think you should ask that one at home." Yes, I've had to use this response many times over the many years I taught!)

Tip #5: Track Everything
I learned this in Weight Watchers! Ha! Yes, I'm back there after trying everything else that didn't work. You need to track everything. Don't lie to yourself. You won't believe you. The lady with the scale won't believe you either. Trust me.

Never find yourself sitting in an evaluation meeting or a parent conference without all necessary data and artifacts right there in front of you. Be ready for all questions that might be coming your way. Anticipate them and prepare. You can't possibly memorize every piece of data about every student in your class, but you certainly can prepare a binder that will help you to find all that information quickly and efficiently. Having photos, student samples, and narrative observations that you've made along the way are also very impressive. They will all make you look like you know what you are doing. You DO know what you are doing, but will be surrounded by people and initiatives requiring you to PROVE IT. A binder is an easy way to do this. Try sitting at your desk for just fifteen minutes each day after school and writing a few sentences about two or three kids that you noticed doing something special (or even not so special) that day.  Keep these notes in your binder. Parents and administrators will be impressed.

Again, I wish you the most life-changing, magical career ever! I know that your impact on the future will be huge! Thank you for taking on the hardest job for the most precious of rewards. Congratulations, new teacher! Get out there and make a difference!

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For more ideas from our Sharing is Caring Blogging Cooperative, visit these great blog posts!


Bringing the Past to Life

I am so excited to bring this bright idea to you today! I was at my monthly book club meeting last night, and my head was spinning with all the possibilities for bringing the past to life for kids with a few simple tweaks to some historical photos.

Our book choice this month was Mary Coin by Marisa Silver. The cover photo is an iconic photo from the era of the Depression in American history, instantly recognizable to so many of us. The book tells the fictionalized story of a mother of seven, married far too young, widowed, and trying to scrape by on the intermittent and meager earnings of a migrant farm worker. You can catch a glimpse of her worry and sense of hopelessness in this colorized photo. Depressed yet? I was.

I was depressed about Mary's situation, yet intrigued by the interwoven story of the photographer who took this picture for government record-keeping.  The book tells us as much about the photographer's life, also living through the depression as a young wife and mother, as about the subject of her photograph. Click on the book cover for a more in-depth article about this book after you read my post! Please stay with me a little longer first!

Before your next history lesson or historical fiction or narrative nonfiction lesson, xerox some historical photos connected to what you are studying.  Make enough copies for your students, using the same photograph or different ones. Change up the usual "Write the story of the person (or people) in the photograph" by adding in the photographer. Assign your students to write the story from two perspectives: that of the subject, but also from the perspective of the photographer. The subject has a story to tell, but the photographer frames that story and tells a unique version of it by capturing a moment and choosing the expression to click on.

Using similar historic black and white photos to the ones in "Bright Idea #1", ask kids to take out their color pencils or water color markers to colorize the photos. Then discuss. Notice how adding color makes the event shown in the photo much more real to your students!
This idea would also lend itself well to the discussion of primary and secondary sources. The original photo of course is a primary source, but when you colorize it, you are adding your own take on it, making it a secondary source.

Look at the amazing photo transformation below. You can read all about it later (I'm not done with you yet!). This photo is the work of artist/photographer Jane Long. She goes beyond colorizing to add touches of fantasy and whimsy to her work. Challenge your students to have some fun adding modern elements or even futuristic or fantasy elements in brighter markers, such as paint markers, permanent ones, or even, yes, glitter markers!

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you will check out some of my other posts and let me know you were here by leaving a comment. You can also find me:
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That's it for now. I hope you'll enjoy adding some color and creativity to the study of history with some of these ideas! I also know you'll find many other great and fun ideas by following the Bright Ideas Blog Hop! Thanks for stopping by Rainbow City Learning!


Communicating With Parents in a Caring Classroom

Aaaah! Time for a fresh, sparkling, new school year! You may have already started, or like my friends here in sunny Michigan, you may be setting up your room and just about to greet your new families and students right after Labor Day.
     Something that came to mind each year for me as I readied Rainbow City for our new citizens is this Stephen Covey quote: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Armed at this time of year with a daunting list of standards and books and binders bulging with endless curriculum to be delivered, it is really important to remember that a caring classroom is a learning classroom. We need to build caring relationships before and while we move forward with curriculum.
Here are some easy-peasy ways you can get the learning love-fest going:

  • Enlist the parents/caretakers as your true partners for the journey. I used to think that I’d love to send the parents on a year-long cruise in September and return a wiser, more well-adjusted, and independent child to them in June. The next best thing to the cruise idea, I soon discovered, is to enlist the partnership of parents, guardians , and caretakers on a “cruise” through the wonderful school year I am planning. So many of these parent partnerships have developed into true lifelong friendships. 
  • Learn something positive about each student to use as the first building block for a year long and possibly lifelong friendship. 

I am so blessed to have real life and Facebook friendships with so many of my former students and their parents. What a pleasure to watch the fruits of our joint efforts blossom as their children grow to adulthood!
I have had the joy of watching their successes as they have started families and embarked on rewarding careers. Looking back, I can honestly say that each of these friendships began with a positive partnership with their parents in that long ago classroom!

Here’s a free resource to get you started on that journey in your classroom this year:

  • Provide lots of opportunities for students to connect with each other in a meaningful and positive way. There are so many icebreaker games to choose from. One of the most popular games uses Skittles candy, but began long ago with toilet paper squares! I personally like to use pennies for this one. With students seated in a circle, pass the material of your choice (bingo markers, pennies, Skittles, etc.) around, inviting each student to “Take as many as you think you’ll need.” I also pass around a small paper cup for each student as the Skittles tend to melt in their warm little hands! After everyone has selected as many as they think they will need, explain that as we make our way around the circle, each one has to tell something about himself/herself to the group as they place a “marker” in the cup. 
There are so many ways for students to continue to get to know each other all through the year. They need as many opportunities as possible to collaborate and just talk as they make their way through the curricular standards, too. Talking is a very important way that humans like to interact with other humans!
  • Continue to invite parents in throughout the year. There are many ways for parents to get involved in your learning community. They can be “curriculum coaches”, manning a center activity or just helping individual kids practice handwriting, learn the times tables, or edit their writing pieces.  They can be CPA parents at home (Cut, Produce, Assemble), helping you to stay up to date with hands on materials and Interactive Notebook pages from behind the scenes. This volunteer opportunity is very popular with working parents who still want to be involved. 

Here is another freebie for you to start recruiting volunteers:

Even a frantically busy parent can find one opportunity during the school year to get involved, and your students will benefit so much from their visit!
Another popular volunteer opportunity in many classrooms is the “Mystery Reader”. By phone call or note, invite a parent in to read a favorite picture book to your class. It’s always an exciting and special surprise for the student who belongs to the Mystery Reader!

  • Reach beyond the classroom to show that your class, as a learning community, cares about others and about the world around them. Encourage your students to do acts of kindness for their classmates and others in your school and community. Work together as a class to raise funds for a family in need through a local “Adopt a Family” holiday program operating in many communities. 
There are so many ways for kids to raise funds to help others. You can enlist parents to help with a pay for chores system for a limited time. You can have a poetry cafe and ask parents, grandparents, and friends to pay a small entrance fee to be a part of the event.  A favorite Rainbow City fundraiser in years past was “The Rainbow City Cafe”. 
(Rainbow City is the official, student-generated name for my classroom community.) 
We would display our group integrated projects (Try some of my Maker Task or Storybook STEAM projects!) around the classroom. 
Moms and dads would prepare breakfast and lunch menu items to serve, and we would officially invite the school community to pay for the privilege of having breakfast or lunch  in Rainbow City. Aside from a delicious breakfast/lunch served by Rainbow City Citizens and a grand tour of the project work, visitors were also treated to storytelling (in several languages), singing, dancing, and even a magic show (all showcasing the talents of our students). The superintendent, curriculum directors, school board members, and teachers from all over our district were among our honored, contributing guests each year. We used the proceeds to purchase gifts, cards, and wrapping supplies for holiday gifts for a needy family in our community.  
Students pulling together in this way to help strangers became an even closer and more caring community together as they worked. 

  • Set an example yourself by showing that you care for other teachers. One great way to do this is to choose to help a wonderful organization, bringing much needed supplies and funding great classroom supplies for many teachers. It’s no secret that we all spend so much of our own money to equip our own classrooms each year. Why not reach beyond your four walls, and help  another teacher with a DonorsChoose project?  

Kids who care about each other learn better together and play better together. Here's proof: some of my amazing students! We also reached out to other kids by teaming up with Lessia Bonn in sunny California to make some videos. Our mission was to help other kids work better together, control their emotions, and find balance in their lives. Before long, Bullyproof Rainbow Resources was formed to help teachers everywhere form more caring and collaborative classrooms of their own! 

Please, please, please check out our complete units by clicking here! (New covers are in the works for all of our units! Here's just one!)

You'll be so glad you found the Bullyproof Rainbow! I promise! And if you live anywhere near Charlotte, NC, Lessia and I will be presenting at the NCAEE Conference with some fun activities and prizes for you! Please stop by and see us! 

Here is a link to one of our fav videos:

We now have enough units for a year-long program which will blend perfectly with your standards for ELA in Grades 3-6, with the added bonuses of just building better and stronger kids from the inside out!

And...parents who are truly your partners will trust you to post pictures of their kids on your blog! Thank you, wonderful parents, for that trust and partnership!

Wishing you the best school year ever - with caring students, involved and caring families, and a dream cruise through the standards! 

Be sure to check out some of these amazing posts from the Sharing is Caring Blog Cooperative for more ideas on dealing with Parent Communication: The Good, The Bad, and Everything Else!


Don't Go Back to School Without

Some of us are already back in class. Some of us are watching the last days of summer slide all too quickly away. And some of us are watching you all and remembering happy days in the classroom at the start of a fresh and shiny new school year.

Here is a list of my personal favorites, some things I think you should not go back to school without!

A smile! 
Be the happiest teacher in the school. Even if you don't always feel so happy. Research has shown that the simple act of smiling will actually make you feel happy. Smile at everyone you see when you arrive at work. Even the complainers. Respond with a smile and a positive thought. Smile at your students when they arrive. Smile often throughout your lessons and throughout your day. A smile is contagious. As Annie sang, "You're never fully dressed without a smile!" Make that smile part of your back to school wardrobe! 

A little piece of home!  
Bring something to school with you that will make it feel a little more like home. It will be your home for most of your waking hours for five days a week for the next 10 or 11 months! Make it homey! I always liked to keep my favorite hand lotion on my desk, and of course some photos of my family and my dog. 
Can we talk about the teacher's rest room for a second here? I know! Can you hold it for the WHOLE day just to avoid that place? Didn't think so! Try bringing in a little basket of nice toiletry items that you would use in your powder room at home. Replace them when they get used up. Make it your back to school gift, Christmas gift, etc., to colleagues. I made sure to keep my favorite hand soap in that teacher rest room all year long. It made me happy when the room smelled like Sea Island Cotton after the last person washed her hands. 
And just one more rest room thought before we go. Is it often left in just a little worse shape than you have hoped so that you find yourself cleaning EVERYTHING before you use the facilities? Well, I made a cute little meme, laminated it, and hung it on the wall. Frame it if you like - it will have even more impact. Don't tell anyone it came from you. Just smile every time you enter a clean space when you have like 30 seconds to use that bathroom and get back to your class! Here's one just to show you what I meme. 

You're welcome!

Erasable pens!  
You will thank yourself every day if you have a set of erasable pens in your teacher bag and another set on your desk. OK, I'm a little OCD on this one. And a set in my purse, and another set on my desk at home....  Get the idea? The greatest invention ever for marking papers and for commenting on them. I bought one set at first to use in my planner, but then... found that they had so many more uses. At meetings, you can write what you're really thinking on that exit slip, then cleanly erase it and write the politically correct thought. When you mark papers and make a mistake, no one will EVER no! ummm....know!  

My favorites are Frixion by Pilot. Get some now! Don't go back without them! 

A custom bundle from Rainbow City Learning
 You will also thank yourself for this one! I promise! All materials in my TpT store are based on many years of classroom experience, research, and training. They are all kid-tested, tested in other classrooms, and teacher-approved. But maybe they don't all fit your needs and you're wishing that you could get a bundled price, but choose your own items. Here it is! The resource you have been waiting for! (Didn't even know you've been waiting, did 'ja?) 
Hope you'll download this free look at it and let me know which items you'd like in a personalized bundle named just for you!

For even more ideas on things you should definitely not go back without, check out these posts by the Sharing is Caring Blog Cooperative.


Oh Snap! September!

Almost September! And if you're not thinking Back-to-School yet, you should be! Seriously! Thinking! I've been thinking about what my must-haves would be for September if I were going back to a classroom. Of course, I will be going back to four classrooms in a few weeks, as a volunteer retired teacher, but I've still got plenty of ideas of what I would need for own 3rd, 4th, or 5th graders if I were going back to my own room. I miss teaching and having my own classroom and my own kids to get to know for a year and to keep in my heart forever, but I sure don't miss that other stuff. You know. I'm sure that I don't have to list it all here and make us both sad and angry. You know. We know.

Anyway, September! My favorite month of the school year! I always loved the excitement and promise of my freshly prepped and decorated classroom, the sharpened pencils, the interactive notebooks waiting to be filled, the unwritten journals waiting to be read, and the thousands of questions to ponder with my class, and our version of the answers to send far into the future where some of the things we thought and did together will live on in my students.  

Janie Lynn Panagopoulos, an awesome writer of time-travel historical fiction, visited our school a couple of times, and one thing she told us has really stuck. One hundred years from now, very few people will know that you ever existed. Oh, a few members of your family might find your name on a family tree during a genealogy search, or you might be part of a family story handed down orally for a few more years, but really, few will know anything about you. But if you keep a journal and record your activities, thoughts, emotions, day to day feelings and interactions, you are leaving those memories as a legacy for future generations.

Journaling is to me the most important life skill you can kickstart in September. Get those kids journaling. Do whatever it takes. Many of them won't like it at first. It takes seven weeks to turn a practice into a habit. By the time the leaves start to change colors here in Michigan, I found each year that I had most of my little journalers hooked on a lifelong habit. I love it when my former students return many years later, old journals and current journals in hand. I wish  I could adequately describe the rush of teacher happiness it never fails to bring!

Journaling! Start on Day 1! Make it fun and make it attractive to the reluctant writers. Put out lots of decorating tools and stickers for their pages. Let them draw more than write a first. A picture tells a thousand words, right? Try a whole class journal and try writing together. To help you get started, I am joining up with Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals to offer my year-long journal prompt resource (which comes with 10 journal pages, 20 prompts per page, and 2 poster sets!) at a 25% discount in my TpT store. I will also offer my gratitude journal resource for $1.00 (usually priced at $3.00). Grab yours now! This offer will last from August 15 through September 15! 


Classroom Organization

OK, so I have known about this post for a few weeks now, and just have not been able to write it. I'm linking it up with my wonderful "Sharing is Caring" blogging buddies, and yet I have never been able to get past the title. Classroom Organization. Organization.

Organization. My whole life is a "before" example. What on earth would make me think that I have any tips to share with teachers about getting organized? Nothing. So I have written nothing so far, and today is the day I promised my friends that we would link up. Yikes!

The picture above? It's how I imagine my life: neat and tidy rows of rainbow colored containers, organized, accessible, and beautiful. The picture below? Just another example of how it really is. This is just one of the countless boxes I brought home from school when I retired a year ago. I go through a box or two every week and try to discard or give away as much as possible, but it's really, really hard.

Trash, you say? Get rid of it all? Sorry. Can't. Every box holds a treasure. At least one and sometimes more. Here are a few that I can not bear to part with. Ever.

A Valentine's quilt made for me by the sweet 4th graders in my last class ever. Look at how much some of them wrote!

A hand-painted (hand. painted.) brick. This was made for me by a very special mom. She didn't trust me at first with her very special child, and soon changed her opinion. She painted every single little line on there herself. Every line. I love, love, love her and I love her son. Isn't it the cutest thing ever? You know you want one!

A brick retrieved for me by a mom who became a special and lifelong friend. She went to the site of our beloved school where I had taught for 24 years and captured this brick from the exact space where my old classroom once stood in all its disorganized glory. She wrapped it and brought it to my retirement party. A brick from the birthplace of Rainbow City. Discard? No way! I once heard an overweight clothing designer on a shopping channel advise that, "If you can't lose it, decorate it!" Well, I can't lose this brick. Not ever. Notice the fairy garden decorations I've placed around it. Hey, I'm trying! The brick stays. It stays right there. Do. not. touch. it.

I have recently read a wonderful, inspirational book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, an expert in letting go of stuff. I thought she must have written the book just for me. I love ALL my stuff. Marie tells us to let each item know that we have loved it, thank it for its service to us, and let it go. I have tried it with cleaning out my closets. (Yes, plural. Closets.) It sort of works. I wasn't in love with most of the clothes anyway. My friend takes them from me and makes sure they all find new and good homes. But Marie also advises that if an item brings you joy, keep it.

In every box I unpack, I find things that bring me joy. I put them gently into another box and stash them in the basement. Or decorate my living room with them. Depends on how much in love I am.

Are you still with me? "What?" you say. "How can this disorganized person who can't let go of things give me advice on classroom organization?" Here's how:

As a teacher, I always had (and probably still have) a reputation for caring much more about the kids than about maintaining a neat and orderly room. We put our hands on everything, dug in, explored, got messy, and didn't always do the best job of cleaning up. I did know however, especially in recent years with all the data collection and performance evaluations tied to whether you can find stuff and PROVE IT, that some kind of organization is necessary. The open classroom, whole language, and huge integrated, open-ended project based learning are gone. (But not for long, heh-heh. If you've been teaching for awhile you know that they will all be back with new names and hordes of educators acting all like they just discovered it! Project based learning is already back. The rest will cycle around again. Wait. You'll see!)

Anyway, organization: Necessary, but I don't believe in overdoing it! That should be obvious by now!
The single best tool that I have ever found for organization is BINDERS! I wish I could put my clothes and shoes into binders. Shoes. Oh my. We will not even go there in today's post!

I participated for several years in a little program for interventions called ICT, where the classroom teacher invites another trained teacher into their room for coaching and support in providing interventions to kids who need them. Our meetings always happened at lunch time. After teaching nonstop all morning with no bathroom break, I needed to be able to go to the bathroom before that meeting rather than trying to root for the materials somewhere on my disorganized desk. So I designed binder covers and dividers to help me organize my handout materials, data, and training manuals. I stood those two binders up in a rack on my desk, and could grab them in a second on my way back from the bathroom, peeling kids off of my arms as I went to the lunchtime meeting. (Peeling kids - you know! No explanation needed. Right?)

Before long, everyone on my ICT team wanted binders like mine. I made them for the whole team. You can get them now in Rainbow City Learning in two versions, customizable by me for you, and just for ICT. (Just please buy extra licenses if you make them for your whole team. They're copyrighted. TIA,)

I got all caught up in the system for reading and writing workshop practiced by a couple of lively and adorable sisters a few years back, purchased their books, and bought a subscription to their online system for keeping track of conference data when I'd meet with students. This soon became unwieldy for me, especially when I needed to show a parent or my principal a piece of data about a kid. I made up a system that works for me, tested it for three years in my classroom, and it works! You can have one too! Easy to set up, and easy-peasy to find data when you need it!


Teacher Evals. Please! Can we please talk about those? What a nightmare for the first few. New principal. New system. I show up expecting my usual friendly post-observation chat on the awesomeness of me as an award-winning, experienced educator and the particular magic I had woven into the lesson that was recently observed, and... BAM! I get hit with Quadrant 3, data point 56, and the rubric for whatever little teaching point I was only now about to become aware of. WHAT?!?
Reminding my principal that I was Teacher of the Year in our district and county, and in a six state radius, and that my portrait hangs on the wall in the school board meeting room did not prove to be particularly helpful in our consultation about my rating. Hmmmm... Sigh......

Fast forward to the next post-observation meeting, me with professional looking binder in hand containing data, lessons, photos, samples of kids' work and growth, and specific narratives about how I rank in each lovely little quadrant. When my principal's pencil hovered over a less than desirable ranking in a particular area, I interrupted with, "Let's have a look at this section." Big improvement in scores. No one needed to be reminded of my award-winning status. We had hard evidence in front of us. Yay! Do not start the new school year without an evaluation binder. I know you'll love this one. If you don't, let me design one for you! Don't go to your eval. meeting without evidence in hand! Be organized! (Giant smile and blowing kisses to you here!)

And finally, my teaching girlfriend in the room next door and I got so far into the life-changing magic of using binders (apologies to Marie) that I designed a set of the Cutest Binder Covers Ever so we could file lessons and handouts for all subjects inside. They looked so pretty on our desks! Love!

So my tip for classroom organization for this year is to USE BINDERS! Use them for everything! And, oh yeah, try not to take too much stuff home. It's too hard to let go!

For more helpful tips on classroom organization, please join my super-organized pals in the Sharing is Caring Group: Teacher bloggers bringing great ideas to your classroom!