Why I Left the Classroom

Why I left Teaching
Why I Left the Classroom

The Struggle

I am so thankful for everything that is part of my life right now including you!  My life is drastically different than it was a couple years ago!  I’ve never talked about it openly because I was fearful, insecure, and riddled with anxiety.

A couple years ago, it was my 20th year of teaching.  My son was in 5th grade at our school.  For me, it was a year of H-E (double hockey sticks!)  For the first time in my career, I had a principal who hated me. Still not sure why.  Not only did she hate me, but she got the rest of the staff, who I considered my family for 18 years, to pretty much dislike and/or avoid me too.  I was threatened with my evaluation, lied to, challenged with impossible tasks, given 5 MAJOR behavior problem students who physically hurt me and the other children regularly, and faced life-threatening health problems because of the stress.  Prior to the last year, I had been a well-liked and highly effective teacher who loved her career path.

Depression

Without going into a lot of detail, I suffered from depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety/panic attacks.  For the first time, I had been broken.  My mind, my spirit, and my body were broken!  I consider myself lucky that prior to that difficult year, I had never been on any kind of prescription drugs.  But I knew after waking up in fetal position next to my husband, crying that I didn’t want to go to school, and losing 16 lbs. in one week due to stress, that I had to give in to what my Dr. suggested…  A good therapist and drugs.  I was on anti-depressants, blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medication, and XANAX!  So basically, I was drugging myself to go to work. I even developed an eye twitch.  If I wasn’t at work, I was fine, but the thought of going every morning would begin a cycle that was dangerous to my health.  I fought it because I wanted to stay in the classroom.  I loved the students and figured I could transfer the next school year.  It was important to me to be there for my own son who was in 5th grade.  But, even on the medication, I continued to be harassed.

Abuse

After getting beat with a chair again, punched in the stomach, calling the front office for help, and realizing no one was coming to help me, I knew I had to leave the classroom.  Seeing the scared faces and hearing the ear-piercing screams of the other kindergarten students as they watched their teacher get hit repeatedly, shook me to the core.  I knew the only reason they were in this situation was because the principal didn’t like me.  So, I had to remove myself.  Now, if you question, why didn’t you report it? Why didn’t you collect data on the principal? etc.… Let me tell you, I did.  On doctors orders, I left two months before the school year was over.  I still had to pick up my son at school, so Xanax to the rescue. I dealt with a staff who wanted to know what was wrong with me, and because I wasn’t ready to tell them, they made up their own inaccurate stories of why I left my dream career.

My husband planned several mini vacations because I was told to relax.  I know he was thinking this was the end of the wife he knew when we married.  These getaways were frowned upon by staff (according to the county investigator’s report) because I was on sick leave.  Little did everyone know the pain I was suffered from because WHY would I post that on Facebook?  In hindsight, I should have never posted pictures of me relaxing on social media.  But, in my defense, at the time I was on medication. Maybe it was also the need to let people know that I wasn’t completely broken too.

The LAST STRAW

It wasn’t until my son’s 5th grade graduation where his Certificate of Completion was conveniently removed from the pile that I pushed for a harassment investigation with the school board.  Seeing her smirking face as my son sat alone in a row as his friends got their certificate knowing she was behind it as my son signaled to us that he was okay was a total mind-blowing experience.  I had to beg my husband to leave before he made a scene as anger filled his “un-Xanaxed” body. Other parents were stunned, taking video and making noises to get staff’s attention that a student was forgotten.  I had to stand up to tell them they forgot my son.  Anyway, an investigation was done which amounted to nothing even though 9 other teachers came forward with their painful stories of harassment they endured from the principal.

The New Chapter

After that experience, even though I was offered other jobs, I decided I could not go back to teaching in this district.  I took me about 6 months to wane by body off all the medication that was mandatory for my survival.  Crazy how stress can mess up your entire body!  I tell you this story for two reasons. One is if you are experiencing anything like this, you can know that you can come out of it stronger than you were prior to the experience.  That you can find confidence, security, and begin a new beautiful chapter to your life.  I found a love and passion for making educational resources that I didn’t know existed.  Through this experience, I developed strategies to build my confidence back up and to become healthy again. Keep up with this blog in the future, and I will share some of the strategies that helped me.  I would have never left the classroom to discover this passion without that crazy experience. The second reason is I want you to know that YOU are part of my new chapter.  I love making teaching resources and helping teachers like you save time and money.  This is one reason why I offer freebies and discounts regularly.  Thank you for being there for me and for your students! My heart will always be in education. I value you!

Here is a Forever FREEBIE:

Spaceman Finger Spacing for Writing
Spaceman Finger Spacing Tool for Writing

Christmas Themed Days in the Classroom with The Polar Express

I don’t know if you like or LOVE themed days in your classroom, but I LIVED for them!  Themes get kids excited, which can be exhausting, BUT, they get them engaged.  Don’t get upset when your kids are loud and jumping with excitement.  When they are excited to learn, especially when they are having so much fun they don’t even know your academic objectives, is when you can pat yourself on the back knowing you are Teacher OF THE YEAR!  My favorite theme that I used most of my career was The Polar Express.  The story is perfect for squashing any “non-Santa believer’s” verbal language with other students who want the magic still.  I’ve also used a Winter Frozen theme and a Movie Theater themed day.

The Polar Express

I’ll walk you through my typical Polar Express day.  Parents are asked to send in hot chocolate, marshmallows, and dress the kiddos in their school appropriate PJs. (Make sure you get your principal’s permission first.) In the morning, students arrive to a chalk or taped train track on the floor leading to my classroom door.  At the door, they are greeted by a crazy conductor (ME), who wants to collect money or items in exchange for a golden ticket.  This is really fun!  It is also the time I tell parents to come and take photos.  I joke around telling kids to get some money from their parents, and then settle for a shoe or pencil in exchange for a ticket.

Polar Express Ideas

When the students enter the room, they hear train sounds, see the chairs in rows (like a train), smell hot chocolate in the air, and are instructed to stay on in their train seats with their

Golden Tickets for The Polar Express

golden ticket.  After they settle, we review rules for the day.  I take out a hole punch to ask for each person’s golden ticket.  I pretend to punch holes in the ticket by excitedly putting the tickets under my let, over my head or behind my back making the clicking sound.  You can either collect the tickets and reuse them every year, or allow them to take them home for a keepsake.

 

We read the book first.  I tell them that the movie came out after the book.  Students are encouraged to find differences when they watch the movie.  We talk about characters, settings, problem and solutions.  We talk about the author’s purpose.  During the week they do various writing activities, but the main themed day is about keeping the excitement all day, so focus on the fun.  I tell students they are going on the imagination express to take their seats on the train.  After beginning the movie, I have a little cart that I keep the hot cocoa on that has wheels.  When the part of the movie comes on where the kids get cocoa, I roll out the cart, I DANCE, yes, DANCE around like crazy.  Before I got to old, I did cartwheels!  This is always the part of the day that the kids go home telling their parents about.  I have a hot cocoa maker that I use every year that makes a whole pot of cocoa.  I make it really strong and then, mix it with water so it is not too hot.

Hot Cocoa Time

After The Movie

After the kids watch the movie, we do a Venn Diagram to compare the book and the movie.  I hold a bell up and ring it.  I pretend like I can’t hear it, because I must be too old or not a believer.  (Sniff Sniff)  The rest of the day we make crafts, sing holiday songs, and usually write a letter to Santa.  This way I can send the letters home to help the parents out with some gift ideas.  If you are looking for a fun themes holiday day, The Polar Express just may be your ticket!

Mr. Coffee Cocomotion Hot Chocolate Maker

Polar Express Activities for Writing and Author's Purpose

 

 

Strategies for Teaching Science in Elementary School

If you struggle with figuring out how to teach science to young students when you have little time in the classroom, I have some strategies to help you achieve a positive learning experience for your students.  I know for me, finding time to squeeze in science and social studies in my jam-packed plans was a struggle.  The first thing I do to alleviate the stress is to integrate my reading, writing or math into a science lesson.  By utilizing the other subjects during science lessons, it is a real time-saver.

Integrate Subjects

If having students being engaged in your lessons is a problem, integrating science into a boring math lesson can help to produce 100% engagement with the students.  For example, if you are teaching addition in math and matter in science.  Why not have students collect types of matter, write about the properties of matter and then create addition problems with the matter they collected.  Which brings me to the most important way to teach science.  Kids need to have their hands actually on physical items in order to help retain information, especially after a long morning of learning.  Encourage students to set up experiments or participate in science discussions to help boost their confidence and critical thinking skills.Science, Technology, Education, Research, Digital

 

 

 

Science Notebooks

Providing a Science Data Notebook helps student develop writing skills while exploring science concepts.  Encourage them to collect information and drawings about their observations.  Have students record steps they need to take to create a science experiment.  Have them think of a  burning question they want answered.  Then, develop a safe plan to test something in order to answer the question.  You can pick one out of all of them to actually do with the whole group.  This will help them understand the scientific method.

Investigation Stations

I like to always refer to my students as scientists during science class.  I want them to know that everyone can be a scientist.  On Fridays, I would have Science Investigation Stations.  Students could wear their father’s white button up shirt, and goggles to feel more like a scientist.  Then, they get to explore at different stations.  I incorporate reading and writing in the lessons to ensure I’m hitting all my academic targets.  Each station has posters with vocabulary words that go with the unit we are focusing on that week.  Learning science vocabulary is essential for helping students to think and communicate in future science lessons.

Make It FUN!

Most importantly, be excited for science.  Students feed off of your energy.  Making learning fun is simple when you use science lessons!

Here is a FREE Energy Sample for Kindergarten and 1st Grade, if you are looking for some ideas.

K-1 SCIENCE Made EASY Year-long Lessons

Teaching Thanksgiving to Kindergarten

Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

I love teaching in November!  I know that I have so much to be thankful for this time of year!  Young students should learn about Thanksgiving by focusing on being thankful, spending time with family, the First Thanksgiving, and the Mayflower Voyage.  You can even teach about teamwork of how the pilgrims had to work together to build a common house.  Every year I would perform a Thankful Festival for parents.  The performance focuses on being thankful, family and the feast.  I use music by Jack Hartmann.  He is my favorite children’s musical artist! We invite the families in to see us sing songs, and eat together.  Sometimes we do traditional food, but  I’ve done breakfast instead, if the timing of the show was early in the morning.

I use this time of year as an opportunity to talk about family traditions, sharing, cooking together, and teaching where food comes from.  Of course there is always the traditional turkey hand print that goes home every year and other turkey crafts.  I like to invite guest readers during this time too.  The holidays can make students a little excited, so a fresh new voice reading a book usually is just what the Dr. ordered to keep their attention.

School Plays for Children - Thanksgiving Activities

Turkey Craft Table Centerpiece

Turkey in Disguise Family Project

By far my favorite home project all year is Operation Disguise Turkey! We send a letter home with a turkey printable for the family to help disguise the turkey so it is not on the table for Thanksgiving.  Students also have to write a few sentences about the disguise.  The families are always creative! My son made his into a dog.  My daughter made hers into a vampire. Yes, a vampire.  I guess she still had Halloween on her mind.  The projects make a great conversational piece during the celebration with the family.

My Daughter’s Disguised Turkey

Turkey in Disguise Project  

Great Turkey Stories

I have two favorite turkey stories I read during Thanksgiving.  Turkey Trouble and A Plump and Perky Turkey.  Students compare and contrast food, write about how to trick a turkey, summarize, practice comprehension, and learn new vocabulary words with these stories.  If you have not read these adorable books,  I suggest you buy the books or find it at your local library.  They are my “Must Haves” for November.

A Plump and Perky Turkey Lesson Plan on Summarizing and Activities

Thankful for Teachers Giveaway

Teacher Giveaway

Attentions Teachers and Educators, here is your chance to win part of $500.00 of Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards!  What would you buy with it, if you win?  I know many teachers are wanting to find some science and social studies curriculums to help cover what is not being provided for them in the classroom.  Here is your chance to win in this teacher giveaway.  Just CLICK the links to the different teacher authors TpT stores, follow, write the follow number in the action box and click enter.  The more you follow, the better your chances are at winning.  Good Luck!

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Refer other educators to increase your chances to win daily! Raffle Ends at 12:00 AM EST Tuesday. (11/13/18) The lucky winners will be announced by 11/14/18. #ThankfulforEducators

You must be a teacher or educational professional working in a school to win, and provide proof within 48 hours after contacted or a new random winner will be selected. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this page and not to Facebook , Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers. No Purchase Required.

Teachers Accept the Ron Clark’s #GradingPapersChallenge

If you are like most teachers, you keep up with the amazing founder of Ron Clark Academy.  Ron Clark is a visionary who transforms classrooms around the world by demonstrating high quality techniques that are game changers in the education field.  Not only are students engaged in energized lessons, but teachers dream of visiting his school to have some of that inspiration and creativity rubbed off on them to take back to their classrooms.

Recently the hashtag #gradingpaperschallenge has taken off on Instagram due to a challenge that came out of him being bored while grading papers.  He recorded himself grading papers while lip syncing Lady Gaga.  Then, he added the hashtag, and challenged teachers to have a little fun while doing this tedious task of grading papers. Check out his post.

Teachers all over the world have been responding to his challenge with some impressive video clips.  Here are some of my favorites, so far.  (You may even see mine at the end. Not going to lie… this #gradingpaperschallenge was fun!)

Wade King @_wadeking

 

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@_wadeking is on deck!! ROCK-ING-OUT!!!! #gradingpaperschallenge #teachersofinstagram

A post shared by Ron Clark (@ronclark__) on

 Mary Beth @houseofnichols

Barry White Jr @thatsbwhite

Sarah Barnett @simply_steam

Sparkle & Sprinkles @first_grade_teacher_life

Junior Bernadin @mrjbernadin

@thereactionwithkarachante

Me! Cindy Martin @teachersbrain

 

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Teachers, it’s your turn! Join @ronclark__ for the #GradingPapersChallenge !I am not in the classroom anymore, but was also challenged by by daughter to do this, and remember the long days of grading papers. 😉 What do you rock out to while working or grading papers? A little THRILLER keeps me pumped in October! 🎃🤣❤️🎃 I challenge all you EDUCATORS to take a fun 15 seconds out of your life to make your video. Smile & please tag me in yours, if you do. My IG is @teachersbrain teachers I expect to tag me: @the_whimsical_teacher @teachingthestars @mrsaverysisland @simply_steam @teachwithtori @jamieprncs #betherevolution #ronclarkacademy #GradingPapersChallenge #teachersfollowteachers #teachers #teacherspayteachers #friends👭 #elementaryteacher #edu #educhat #thriller #teachersofinstagram #teacherstyle #teacherlife

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So, get out there and take the challenge! Please share yours with me by tagging me in the post. ( @teachersbrain )  Learning should be fun, and so should teaching! There is no shame in your game.

First Man: Apollo 11 Lessons for Kids

3… 2… 1… BLAST OFF! Apollo 11 was the first manned space flight to the moon where the first man walked on the moon.  It is the moment the whole world watched with wonder.  What was it like to walk on the moon?  What was it made of?  Would they be able to return back to Earth?  NASA has just started to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo’s Space Program which landed a dozen Americans on the moon. So, I think now is a great time to teach your students about the Apollo 11 mission.  The movie First Man also comes out October 12th, 2018.

Lunar Module STEM Activity

To really get students to engage in your amazing moon landing lesson, let them do a STEM activity.  The astronauts used a lunar module during Apollo 11 called the Eagle to land on the moon.

 Give students supplies and have them create their own lunar lander.  Some supplies to give the students can be plates, cups, packing tape, rubber bands, paper clips, tin foil, card stock and marshmallows.

The marshmallows could be used as shock absorbers or astronauts in the space craft.  They would have to create a module to safely get their astronauts home.  The space craft would have to have 4 shock absorbers, and two astronauts.  To test their craft, they would drop it from 4 feet.  If it didn’t land upright, they have to re-design and re-test their space craft. 

Free SPACEMAN for Writing

Read a book about Apollo 11.  Have students summarize it during writing.  For young students you can use these FREE “Space” man word spacers.  Just attach a Popsicle stick or pencil to the back of the spaceman.  Students can place it as a spacer between words, if they struggle with spacing skills.  Students can share their summaries with each other.

I am a huge supporter of guest speakers in the classroom, so why not ask a someone from NASA to Skype with your class.  They can do a little presentation about their job.  Then, students can ask questions.  Incorporate writing skills by having your students write good old fashion thank you cards.

Our solar system is so amazing.  The fact that we landed on the moon 50 years ago revolutionized our thinking about Earth, and it’s peers. Bring the excitement into your classroom this year by teaching about Apollo 11.  Who knows what the lesson may lead your students to discover!

Related Teaching Resource:

MOON LANDING APOLLO 11 K-2 Unit

 

Celebrate International Peace Day in the Classroom

Peace can and SHOULD be celebrated all year!  Today is International Peace Day, so I want to help bring an awareness to peace and kindness by  telling you some things I do to celebrate peace in the classroom and offer you a  teaching resource you can use in your own classroom or school.  Hopefully you celebrate peace daily, but maybe you aren’t aware you are even doing it.  Here are some simple things you can do for International Peace Day.  Use the hashtag #DoitforPEACE and post something you have done that is similar to these examples.

  1. Hugs (Yes, it is an easy one! Go hug someone today!)
  2. Teach peace
  3. March for peace
  4. Buy someone food who is in the car line behind you
  5. Play peaceful music
  6. Meditate
  7. Make a new friend
  8. Share examples of peace with your students or staff members
  9. Write a nice note to someone
  10. Write about peace

So what have you done today?  What will you do tomorrow?  Small bits of kindness can grow a tree of peace.  Start today!

Here is a great lesson you can do in your classroom or even have your whole school participate with these cool painted rocks.

Strategies for Teaching Comprehension

As if teaching the basics of reading is not enough, you are responsible for teaching the most important skill of reading… comprehension.  So your students can read.  GREAT! But, if they can’t understand what they read… Huston, we have a problem.  I always wondered when I would see posts that say, “If you can read this, thank a teacher” how many people can’t read it?  How many can read it, but still don’t understand what it means?  While looking at ways to improve your literacy instruction, try these 5 strategies to improve reading comprehension.

  1.  Activate Prior Knowledge
  2.  Questioning
  3. Analyzing Text Stucture
  4. Visualization
  5. Summarizing

When you use these five strategies, students will begin to comprehend naturally.  Activating prior knowledge is one of my favorite ways to engage students in reading.  Research has shown that comprehension improves when students are engaged.  What better way to engage students than to bridge their old knowledge with new knowledge? For example, if we are going to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, I might ask students to share stories of when they saw a caterpillar or when they felt really hungry.  You will notice that when one student shares a story, they usually all do.  That should not irritate you.  When students are all wanting to share their prior knowledge, YOU GOT THEM!

Of course improving vocabulary skills, fluency, phonics and phonemic awareness are ALL pieces to the puzzle when it comes to comprehension.  Teaching reading can be complex with all the skills needed to be competent readers. Using the five strategies suggested is a great way to ensure students are comprehending what they read.

Narrative, History, Dream, Tell, Fairy Tales, Book

Here are some free reading passages with questions for you to enjoy.

 

$1000 Teacher Giveaway

The MEGA Labor Day Giveaway is here! We have teamed up with some AMAZING TpT authors to bring you 5 SHOPPING SPREES just for TEACHERS! We KNOW your job is a LABOR of LOVE  and want to THANK YOU for your dedication to your students!

We will raffle off:
 5 $200 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Cards ($1000 in TpT gift cards)

Enter the raffle here: http://gvwy.io/ycgbefy

Refer your teacher friends to increase your chances to win daily! Raffle Ends at 11:59 PM EST on 9/7/18. The lucky winners will be announced by 9/9/18. #LABORDAYLOVE

💚 Good Luck to you and all your Teacher Friends!

You must be a teacher to win and provide proof by providing your school name and grade level within 48 hours after contacted or a new random winner will be selected. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Teachers Pay Teachers. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this page and not to Facebook or Teachers Pay Teachers. No Purchase Required.

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