Teacher Calendar & Planner

Oh my goodness, I am SO happy with how this came out, but I am also SO glad to be done working on it. It was a labor of love that's for sure. Thanks to the girls organizing the TPT Seller Challenge, I was motivated to finish it early on this week!
(Hint: Make sure you stick around for the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!!)

I have used an Erin Condren teacher planner for the past two years. I really love the size, color and many things about it, but I never used the entire thing. I always had good intentions about using those lesson plan pages in the back, and would sometimes even remember to fill it out. But, it was a lot of money to spend for so much wasted space. Plus, there were things I would have loved to have in the planner that weren't offered. After searching the internet this summer for a perfect planner, I realized I would need to make one myself if I truly wanted it to have everything I need! So it began...

Let me start by saying that if you are looking for an actual lesson planner to write your plans in, this is probably not for you! I used to team plan and we would type our plans into a Word Document. At my new school, we submit them online. So, I have never been looking for a planner where I hand-write all of my lesson plans...I don't know how some of you do it!! I wanted something I could take to and from and around school that would have EVERYTHING I could need.

Here's a little glimpse of what I came up with (so far! I know I'll be thinking of more pages to add over the next few weeks.)

This shows the front and back covers (the front cover is editable so you can include your name). I included all of these "extra" pages at the front of my planner. There's a spot for classroom information, birthdays & holidays, a place to quickly map out the school year, a place to set some teaching goals, keep your passwords in order (important!) and sheets to record IEP goals and accommodations. If you are a blogger and TPT seller, I also included pages to brainstorm! I would constantly think of product ideas throughout the school day last year, so this way it will all be in one place for me and not on sticky notes that get lost in my purse. :)

Ahh, the calendar pages...one of my most used sections! Every month has a two-page spread...perfect for jotting down important events or even quickly mapping out curriculum. After each month, there are 4 to 5 weekly planner sheets (depending on how many weeks there are in that month!). This is perfect for jotting down to-do lists and any change in your normal schedule. I'm excited to have this in one place also...normally I'm making multiple to-do lists every week and losing them! There are also extra note pages after these weekly snapshot pages. Of course, if you don't need certain pages, you can customize it to make it your own!

These are the sheets I ended up including in the back of my planner (once again, you can put yours together however you like!). I am SO excited about the Parent Communication Log sheets. All of my student and parent contact information will be at my fingertips and it will make it super easy to log important communication with them. The checklist pages are something I always use to track homework or field trip forms. And of course, every teacher needs LOTS of notes pages. It includes half-sheet pages for taking notes during meetings, pages to take notes on professional development books you read, and just plain ole' note pages!

I've already had mine printed, just need to laminate the covers, add tabs, and get it bound! That will be a separate blog post. :) Here's a quick look at what it looks like printed!

If you're interested, you can grab it here!

I'm also giving a copy away for FREE as well as a $15 Staples gift card that can go towards the cost of getting the planner printed and bound!! Enter to win! :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Job Hunting Tips for Teachers

Well, I never formally announced it on the blog, but my husband and I just made a big move! We are now living in NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE!! We were both born and raised in Orlando, and just wanted to try something different for a little bit. So far, we are loving it! However, I'm still on the hunt for a teaching job up here. I wanted to share some tips that I've learned along the way...this has truly been quite the process.

If you're even thinking about moving or searching for another job, start updating your resume here and there. It is NO fun to update it all at one time. By keeping it updated, you're preparing to begin job searching at anytime. Plus, the more times you are editing it, the more likely you are to catch spelling and grammatical errors, which is a huge plus.

Transferring a teaching license is a pain, y'all! First and foremost, check out your new state's licensing requirements. It would be a huge bummer to move across the country only to find out you need a Master's degree to teach in that state, which you may not have. I suggest calling the state's Education department and explaining your situation and qualifications, just to double check that your teaching license will transfer smoothly. Once you know it will, begin getting the paperwork together right away. I had to get paperwork filled out by my prior district's offices, and it took awhile...so again, don't delay!

No one wants to see another resume in Times New Roman font. Don't get too crazy here, we definitely need to keep it professional. But by dressing it up a little bit, you're going to get future principals to notice and remember your resume, which is GOOD. I grabbed this resume template from Tori Gorosave's TPT store, she has a lot of creative yet professional templates to choose from.

Don't limit yourself to applying to just one district! Make sure you thoroughly research all of the surrounding districts in the area you're moving to. Ask around and find out which ones teachers enjoy working for. I applied for 3 different districts when we moved to Fort Myers, and am currently applying to 3 districts here in Nashville as well. Yes, it takes a.lot.of.time to fill out all of those district applications, but remember you are upping your chances for finding job opportunities this way!

Once again, I know this takes SO much time to do, but it can make the biggest difference in a principal deciding whether to contact you for an interview or not. Research the school, and try to include points about their mission and beliefs in your cover letter to show why you're a good fit for their school. Of course, be truthful! Make sure your cover letter also conveys your passion for teaching and strengths in the classroom.

I wish I could say I didn't speak from experience on this one. But one time right after I hit "Send" on an email to a principal, I realized I forgot to change the name on the email (it was the name of the last principal I'd emailed). Big OOPS. Not surprisingly, I never heard back from her. Don't make the same silly mistakes...always read through an email or cover letter before sending it. Double check that you've spelled their name correctly, the school's name correctly, etc. Even pay attention to something as silly as saying "Good morning" when you're emailing at 3:00 in the afternoon. Pay attention to those details!

I have heard some districts highly frown upon potential candidates contacting principals themselves. So please make sure you read up on the district's policies first. However, if it is encouraged, then by all means DO IT! It's a great idea to send personal emails to the principals at schools you want to work at, but even better to go in and hand deliver your resume. This sets you apart from the hundreds of resumes they're seeing on the district's website. Even though you may not hear back from some, keep in mind that they just may be holding onto your resume for when they have a new opening. This has happened to me a few times.

Let as many people as you can know that you are looking for a teaching job in your new district or city. Share it on Facebook, many people know someone who knows someone, so you are likely to find some sort of contact this way. I was able to get in contact with teachers in Nashville districts just because friends on Facebook put me in touch with them. Once we moved in, I was telling my neighbor about my job search. The very next day she knocked on my door to tell me she'd just heard about an opening up the street at her son's school that wasn't even posted yet. For goodness sake, even the guy at Home Depot had plenty of advice to give me on school districts around here once we got to talking. You truly never know the connections you will find, so talk to anyone you can!!

Perhaps the hardest tip of all. I'm sure my husband would tell you that I do my best to stay positive about my job search, but it's not always easy. It's hard to email dozens of principals and never hear back. It's hard to go and rock an interview, and then find out you didn't get the job.I've cried a few times here and there, because it can be so darn stressful and frustrating. BUT, I remember that I've gone through this before 2 years ago when we moved to Fort Myers, and guess what?! I ended up exactly where I was supposed to. There were a few jobs I didn't get that I wanted, and I was seriously stressed all summer, but I ended up getting a position at a school I loved, and working with a team of women I loved even more. So, try to stay positive, because you WILL end up exactly where you are meant to teach!

Are you job hunting right now?! Leave me a message and let me know how it's going for you...do you have any tips that I missed? Check back later this week for a post on Prepping for the Interview!


Student Data Folders

First of all, it has been a long time since I've blogged. This year has been busy and crazy, but I'm hoping to check in a little more this second half of the year. ;)

Second - I can't believe I haven't blogged about data folders yet! I really thought I already had. This was quite the project I worked on this summer, and I wasn't quite sure how they would really work in the classroom. BUT, now that I've been using them for an entire semester, I love them!! Please read on if you are interested in having your students track their own data...weekly...and INDEPENDENTLY!! Yes, you read that right! ;)

At the beginning of last year, I was trying to find a way for my students to track their own data. I had a really hard time finding something that was kid-friendly enough for my second graders. Everything seemed to be geared towards the upper grades. Eventually, I convinced myself that my brand new second graders could track their data by each Common Core standard (and that I had the time and patience to manage that), and bought a shiny new pack on TPT and created beautiful Data Folders for each student. I'll tell you that we did open them. Once. *ONCE!* ((As a side-note, the pack I bought was ah-mazing, it was just not appropriate for my second graders. :) ))

 Tracking student data has huge benefits -- most of all being that students really begin to take ownership for their learning, they're self-motivated to do well, and as a bonus, they will be graphing EXPERTS by the end of the year!!

*The Set-Up*

In my class, each of the folder has three main subjects: Reading, Math & Reflections. Reading can include writing, grammar, vocabulary, and more. (We don't take true Science & SS grades, so I left those out. However, there are lots of printing and editing options with this so you can customize as much as your little heart desires!) I use the little post-it tabs to make it quick and easy for students to get where they need to go!

In the past, I have stored their data folders in a hanging file crate. I didn't want the folders to get crammed inside of their desks, or to be inaccessible to them. They also look nice in a cute basket at the front of your classroom. This method has really worked out perfectly for us. 

 *How We Use Them*

At the beginning of the year, we did a lot of practicing during whole-group. We practiced how to graph, and how to find the appropriate page to graph on. The practice paid off, because now my sweet kiddos can do this completely on their own.

On Fridays, I will pass out all of their graded tests, quizzes and assignments to them. I will list the titles and dates for them on the board, and they flip right to the correct page to graph their scores. I flip-flop between doing this during whole-group and small-group (to be honest, it depends on how much time we have! Fridays are always a little hectic.). I walk around my classroom and hear things such as
"I'm improving! My scores are going up!" 
"I'm really going to work harder on my spelling next week."
"Great job, Alan!! You worked so hard in math!"

It.is.AWESOME!! They really do get it, and it has motivated many of them more than I could have thought!

After they're done graphing, they turn right to the "Reflections" section, my favorite part! Each Friday, they think through and write down 2 things they did great at that week, as well as 1 thing they want to improve on next week. It really is fun to see what they come up with. This part took the most practice at the beginning -- I had a lot of kiddos who wanted to write that they did great at reading and math each week. We really practiced being specific and picking out moments they were really proud of that week.

 *This was from my line leader of the previous week, who was having trouble stopping at the correct stopping points in the hall. ;) It's so cute the things they pick out!

Then, that's it! They're done for the week. My students do actually use their data folders on a daily basis as well. As they take AR tests, they log them in their data folders. It's very motivating for them to fill up their reading logs, they are always so proud of how many books they've read!

*Are Data Folders Right for You?!   Grab yours here!! 

There's definitely no wrong time to start data folders! Several of my teammates are just beginning them this semester. I created this pack to be completely EDITABLE so that teachers can tweak it to fit their needs. You'll find dozens of editable pages so that you can create the perfect data folders for your class!!! 

If you do use data folders - What do you use? How do you use them?! I'd love to hear! :)

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