R.I.P. Teaching

I've decided from my experience with various age levels of male students that there is a very significant difference in their thinking as opposed to the female students. Let's write a simile. Boy's minds are like cars; they don't work unless they are in drive. I think most of these students want to be good students and listen to what the teacher says. But their mind's are not actively engaged unless they are active. On the other hand, a girl's mind is similarly like a car. Except that they seem to have the power to turn the key themselves; they can choose when to engage their mind without actively involving their body. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. How do we differentiate teaching so that boys and girls are both engaged? Do we try to cater separately to boys and girls? Do we try to incorporate activities that stimulate both? Do we do both simultaneously?

I hate the thought that some student will always be bored in my class. Although most of this has to do with my actions:

Does my class Relate to the students' lives? I've struggled with this a lot. Obviously, there is a lot of lessons that my students will never use again in life, especially those not going to college. I can always give the generic answer of how math improves logic, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, etc etc. But who is that helping? Now, I've decided that the real question is, Do I relate to my students' lives? I had one student during my student teaching who told me the first day he was going to ask me when he would use this in real life every single day- and he did. Even on days I couldn't come up with a sufficient answer, I could persuade him to do it anyway because of my relationship with him. He held some sort of respect for me because we had talked- he told me about his band, he talked to me about his girl drama, he showed me videos of his paintball team- he knew I cared about his life. I think this is the number one thing my students need anyway- my attention, and knowing that I care about their life. I've been finding some really great projects and and ideas on how to relate more lessons to real life. I think that, combined with caring about the students themselves, is the best thing I can do.

Am I Interesting? Or am I teaching the same things over and over, using the same worksheets, the same style, the same everything? We all need variety.

Am I Passionate? Intense emotion always captures attention.

You looked, didn't you?

So when it comes to differentiated instruction my main approach, for now, is to differentiate the way I approach my students before I even think about my lesson plans.

I found a great article on the basics of differentiated instruction that really broke things down and made it practical. Check it.

Key to Ignition

Do you ever wish that you could gain insights on how to deal with your students? Just the right thing to do to touch each individual?

Do you want to come up with creative lesson plans that actually work - lessons the students enjoy and actually learn?

Do you want that uniqueness that sets you apart from other teachers and causes students to want to take your class?

Do you want students, parents, colleagues, and the administration to see something different in you?

Do you want to stand out, make a difference, and change the world?

Me too.
I think the answer to all these questions and more are completely available. I know there are thousands, probably millions of blogs out there. Thousands of education blogs. Hundreds of math blogs. Hundreds of high school math blogs. But how many out there are about Spirit-led high school math teachers? I believe the Holy Spirit has an entire realm of creativity for educators. It's available. I want to tap into it. Imagine, the whispers in your heart from the creator of the very children you are teaching. Who knows them better?

"A good teacher is like a candle - consuming itself to light the way for others." This is one of my favorite quotes. I was thinking about it's meaning...We are the candles but the students are the wick and the Lord is the flame. We surround the students and hold them up. We are their support and protection. But we must get out of the way in order for the students to burn. As the candle melts, the wick grows taller. But the Lord is the flame.

How can I ignite each student? It is the Lord that ignites. But since I am the candle, part of the process, I believe that the Lord gives me the key to ignition. The sooner they ignite, the longer they burn.

Where are your keys?


9 Tips For Your Classroom Traffic Jam

I love organizing! There is something about color coordinated things neatly labeled and appropriately stacked that brings a flutter of joy in my heart. Being a substitute does not bring the same flutter. But from my limited teaching experience, I have observed quite a few helpful tips. I have also worked in an office setting (filing, alphabetizing, and data entry, oh my!) and will also share some of the tips I've stolen learned. I will now attempt to neatly stack them in a very organized list where there might possibly be some color coordination. Yes, that is right.

I like to avoid traffic jams in and out of the classroom. (Random Fact #1) From what I observe, the traffic jam tends to be around the teacher's desk. Yes, just what I want. Your grubby, snotty hands coming into contact with everything that I touch and inhale within a 3 foot radius. Or not. So here is my award-winning advice to avoid the breaking of the personal space bubble.

Stop: Create a New Traffic Jam

Designate a specific table, counter, or cart that belongs to the students (complete with cute colored tubs, trays, holders, and more). This is the table where you put the Kleenex, lotion, antibacterial hand sanitizer (a must!), the wet ones, stapler, hole punch, scissors, etc. If space allows, this could be a good place to put calculators, extra pencils and paper, and extras the students can work on when they're done with class work.

2. Stackable bins. Not bins as in Benz (this isn't a parking lot!) but the ever-important "bins". Say it with reverence. Stackable bins. Labeled for each period. Colorful. Convenient. Pure ecstasy. Students know where to turn in papers and your desk stays clutter free.

3. File folders. Pick one for each period. Label it clearly. Staple at least two staples along the sides. Now attach these to the walls. (For the anal organizer, in two rows of three within arms length of the #1.) Each day as you pass out notes, worksheets, etc the leftovers go immediately to the folder for that period. Students who were absent can go straight to the folder and see what they missed. Now you don't have to lose extra copies for the missing student who you then go make new copies for only to return and find the original leftover copies. You can even color coordinate- the file folder for that period can match the corresponding bin.

All traffic is now diverted to a new neighborhood. Even the germs live there. And now back to our previously scheduled color coordinated journey.

Caution: Look Ahead

4. Post Assignments
Whether it is by chalkboard, SMART board, or white board,
there should be a consistent place where assignments are posted for each period. Some teachers post each day for a week and start over the next. Some update daily. Some post just the homework assignments. Some post mini lesson plans. You know your students well enough to know what will work best. If you don't know, try something. If it doesn't work, change it.

5.Photo Chart This is the new and improved seating chart. (Some online grading systems come with this option.) Using your handy dandy digital camera, take a picture of each class sitting in their assigned seats. This makes it a lot harder for students to get feisty with a substitute. You still need names but besides that, your hardest task is taking the picture when every student is actually there.

6.The Plastics Especially for math, you can store manipulatives or anything (pentaminoes, protractors, rulers, compasses, puzzle pieces, etc) that has a lot of pieces in ziplock bags. Clearly label. You can then hang a string or wire anywhere in your classroom and clothespin these up. This is a space and time saver. Students or substitutes can find things quickly, your supplies are handy, and hey, it's kind of a decoration for your classroom.

Green Light: Teacher's Sanity

7. Binders
Label one binder per
class. Each binder has all the papers needed for that particular chapter or unit. Personally, I use transparencies on a daily basis. I keep the transparency and a paper copy for each day's lesson in the front of the binder. In the back of the binder, I keep copies of quizzes and tests. Everything can be reused for multiple classes or for the next year. I can flip open to any section to copy for the class and my transparencies can be wiped off and used over and over. I store the materials for each chapter in a manila folder in a filing cabinet or desk drawer. When we get to the next chapter, the new material goes in the binder. I have a ton of resources at my fingertips and I can look at different quizzes or tests I've used in the past.

8. Bins. They're awesome my friend, I promise you. Keep a set of bins for each period. These are nifty for copies you make ahead of time or papers you need to hand back. Keep behind your desk or where students don't have easy access. Label clearly. Insert papers. Instant organization. (P.S. Everything you need to copy is already in the binder! Sigh. Satisfaction.)

9. Flash/External Hard Drive This is your digital paper trail. It's so easy to organize, it's almost magic. I like to create my own notes, homework assignments, quizzes, and tests. So before I ever print, copy, and file, the documents is created and saved to my flash drive. First, I make a folder for each class. Then within that folder I make three other folders: Guided Notes, Quizzes, and Tests. If necessary make another folder for homework, projects, etc. I do this for each class and so everything has its place and I can find it easily with a click of a button. It's also a great place to save e-mails from parents. Each student can have their own folder. Flash drives are now so inexpensive that you can even buy one flash drive per class! That could get a little messy trying to remember which one is which, but don't forget, there's always color coordinating! =)


10 Things Every Teacher Should Know

The top 10 things I've learned from being a substitute teacher.

10. You can always be more organized.

9. You can never be too detailed in your sub plans. Don't assume subs know anything. Seating charts, bathroom breaks, teachers they can ask for help, students who know what's going on, switching classes, phone and computer use, school rules, are just examples of things substitutes would love to know.

8. Having things in your room clearly labeled and all in their place makes life easier for the teacher, the students, and the substitute.

7. School secretaries are your best friends.

6. Subsitutes should leave notes of the students' behavior for the teacher: good or bad. I like to write something for each period and mention specific names if needed. Duh, teachers love feedback.

5. Posting common class procedures is a great first week of school idea but is also a lifesaver for the substitute who is clueless as to how you work.

4. Being flexible and creative is a vital characteristic for teaching. As a substitute, you have to make something out of nothing. You have to stretch things out to last longer, manipulate it to fit your personality, and yet it still all has to make sense to the kids.

3. Breaking the ice with students makes your life easier. If you ask students about activities going on at school, sports, what they're wearing, what's for lunch, or anything other than class the students immediately are more interested in what you have to say. In the school I'm subbing at, I generally know a lot of the student's parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. Letting them know that sometimes makes them easier to handle.

2. School and students are unpredictable. You have to make split-second decisions constantly and not lose it when your plans get messed up. Go with the flow, be flexible, and make things work. Maintain order even if it's not your order.

And the number one thing...

...every teacher should know...

...and every substitute wants to share...


1. Never sub for Kindergarten teachers the day before Valentine's Day! Their job is no joke. Obviously, the academic material is not challenging. That's because if teachers had to deal with challenging academics and challenging behavior, they would die. Die. Combine this with a ton of candy, rub-on tattoos, cakes, cookies, Valentine's Day cards, toys, balloons, flowers, and tons of cellophane and you have a recipe for heart-shaped disaster!!!

5 x 5 = Surprise!

What all the cool kids are doing on Facebook...

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged . You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. I love lamb.

2. I'm wearing fuzzy socks right now.

3. I enjoy Chapstick brand chapstick.

4. I sleep with a dog named Bear.

5. I give wonderful hugs.

6. I'm comfy.

7. I've never flown on an airplane.

8. I've never been trick-or-treating.

9. My favorite thing ever is to give gifts. Not just any gift, but the perfect gift. The one that you open, and you say "No way." And then you smile and laugh because you can't believe you actually just got that for a present. And that it is actually perfect and exactly what you wanted. That's my favorite.

10. I love to steal quotes from movies, other people, or books and use them in real life. You know, the ones you wouldn't actually say out loud.

11. I detest most things gold.

12. I had eye surgery as a child.

13. I always keep a kite in my car. You never know when it might be the perfect day to fly one.

14. Men's cologne lasts longer and smells better than the girly stuff.

15. For some reason, I actually like watching trashy reality shows such as The Hills and The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

16. I kept a diary as a little girl and I still write down important stuff all the time. Except now I call it a "journal" or a "notebook" because that is much cooler. I like writing so much, I buy journals ahead of time because I never know for sure when I'll need it. And yes, I still have the diaries from when I was little.

17. I love gray. Gray clothes, gray shoes, gray cars.

18. I'm never attracted to guys with blonde hair. Except Brad Pitt.

19. I am an Ebay addict. I rarely buy anything without consulting it first.

20. Apple makes amazing products. Yes, expensive. Yes, worth it.

21. I would rather know the truth than be stuck in between. Truth, I can deal with. Not knowing, what do you do with that?

22. I like to wear cute socks. Preferably with stripes or argyle.

23. Scarves are a must-have accessory for guys and girls.

24. I believe my mom reading the Bible to me when I was in the belly has made a profound difference in my life.

25. I believe in a magical love.

My about me Wordle:

Books That Jump Off Shelves

I am a math teacher but I love reading. I've loved it all my life. In fact, my mom read out loud to me while she was pregnant with me. I believe this had a significant impact on my reading and learning abilities. Reading is necessary for every subject, hobby, and job. The better our students can read, the better they will do in ever arena. So, in keeping with that, I plan to have a lot of books available for my students. I have two teenage sisters so it's very easy for me to keep up with what's new. I've made a tentative list that I want to start acquiring by this fall. If anyone has any more suggestions or see's a good deal on any of these books, please let me know in the comments!

Classroom Library Book List

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
New Moon – Stephanie Meyer
Eclipse – Stephanie Meyer
Breaking Dawn – Stephanie Meyer
Uglies – Scott Westerfield
Pretties – Scott Westerfield
The Specials – Scott Westerfield
The Extras – Scott Westerfield
Impulse – Ellen Hopkins
Burned – Ellen Hopkins
Crank – Ellen Hopkins
The Freedom Writers Diary - Erin Gruwell
Taking Sides – Gary Soto
Don’t you Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey - Margaret Peterson Haddix
Against all Odds - Paul Kropp
Avalanche - Paul Kropp
Caught in a Blizzard - Paul Kropp
Foul Shot - Paul Kropp
Ghost House - Paul Kropp
Hitting the Road - Paul Kropp
Juvie - Paul Kropp
My Broken Family - Paul Kropp
One Crazy Night - Paul Kropp
Playing Chicken - Paul Kropp
Scarface - Paul Kropp
Show Off - Paul Kropp
Street Scene - Paul Kropp
Student Narc - Paul Kropp
Terror 9/11 – Doug Paton
Liar – Winifred Morris
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman - Louise Plummer
Make Lemonade - Virginia Euwer Wolff
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series – Ann Brashares


Life of a Substitute Teacher

I just wanted to share some moments from my substitute and student teaching so I could look back and laugh at how crazy students are. Maybe you'll laugh too...

From a third grader: "You know, every day since I was born has been nothing but misery."


“Yeah. The only happy days are Christmas and my birthday.”

“Well, if you smiled more, I bet you would feel happier.”

“But I have a stupid smile. See?” He scrunches up his face and smiles to show every tooth. At this point, I can do nothing but laugh. And his final comment, “I have huge teeth!”

From Kindergarten - A little boy tells on another little boy for saying the s- word. I pull him aside and ask him (with my serious face) if he did say the word. He looks everywhere but me and finally makes eye contact to say, "Well yeah. But my bwother has three Nickelback cd's that say it..."

Another one from Kindergarten - The students are playing pass the beanbag, another version of the hot potato game. A cd plays a song and stops randomly to ask "Who has the beanbag?" The kids are passing it around furiously until one little boy - who doesn't quite understand the game - picks it up and throws it across the room. All the other kids stop singing and stare and he shouts, "Who has the beanbag now?"

One day in geometry class I was teaching with the overhead projector (which I happen to be obsessed with). A girl in the second row kept sliding the chair out from under the boy in the first row hoping he would fall. The boy kept pulling it back in place. He got up to go get a piece of paper and when he came back to sit down she slid the chair away again. As he began to fall he grabbed the edge of the desk and the edge of the projector cart. The cart is on wheels and did a 360° causing the boy to slowly twirl around in mid air until he hit the floor. Hard to explain but the glass giggled for the rest of the hour.

The numerous times I tripped over the overhead projector cord...

The time my university supervisor came to observe my teaching and one of the students raised his hand to ask me if he was my husband. He is in his late 50's and I am 22. Enough said.

It's recess for Kindergarten but they can't go outside because of bad weather. The littlest boy in the whole class is making the other boys play army and he is the commander. Some of the soldiers get distracted playing with cars and the little boy runs over to tell them, "Put those down. We're too big for that!" They're five!

The numerous people who get hit in the face with a dodgeball during high school gym class. Ouch, but wow. Hilarious. In addition to the ballerina moves, dives, rolls, flips, and back bends that the boys due to keep from getting out.

Mat ball.

Two 17 year old boys who are best friends and chase each other around, fighting, poking, punching, and hugging like they're five.

The time two senior boys kissed each other on the lips because someone dared them a dollar to do it. Oh the joy that dollar brought.

Homecoming Week.

The boy who runs around tapping people on their shoulder and moving to the other side, thinking they won't know it's him. They always know.

Girl fights.

The smell of the bathroom. Each one is unmistakable.

The funny things high schoolers find. Like animal crackers that are very...close.

When the class I was supposed to be subbing for snuck the fire extinguisher out into the hallway and started spraying it. It's only funny because it wasn't me.

What's not funny: the hundreds of times I've had to hear how much me and my sisters look alike.


7 Things Every Math Teacher Should Use

My favorite teaching quote:

A good teacher is like a candle - consuming itself to light the way for others.

My favorite teaching book:

Also my favorite teaching movie:

My favorite teaching blog:
I Want To Teach Forever

My favorite lesson I've taught:
My favorite math website:
My favorite pens to grade with:
PaperMate Flair

(They don't bleed and come in amazing colors!!)


The Beginning of Something Beautiful

I love blogging. I love reading. I love writing. I love math. I love teaching.

Therefore, this blog exists.

Let me introduce myself. I am 22 years old. I graduated college in December 2008 with my Bachelor of Science in High School Education. My major is math. I'm better at English but Math is what interests me. Plus English comes naturally to me so I can't explain it as well. Math, I've struggled with. I know that beast.

I am currently substitute teaching at my old high school. It is so crazy and undpredictable. I go from Kindergarten to first grade guided reading to high school chemistry to gym class to after school tutoring. I think it's giving me priceless experience with classroom management, flexibility, and dealing with the unexpected. By the time I'm done subbing, I will probably have met every student in the school. That goes a long way for building relationship.

I have always wanted to be a teacher. When I was little, I made my little sisters play school with me. I had my own chalkboard, chalk, and eraser. They were too young to write so I would make up my own assignments just so I could grade them and, you guessed it, make my own gradebook. I was always the teacher's pet in school and my parents would always share my dorkiness at my parent-teacher conference. So of course my teachers would call on me even more or put me in the front of the class because they knew my plans. I would come home from school and tell my mom I wanted to be a teacher so I could show my teachers how to do it right. Still feel that way. And of course, my number one reason: I wanted my own classroom to decorate. Oh, how straight my priorities were.

Being an older sister definitely made me a leader at home. This carried into the rest of my life and made me sort of a mini-mom. I've always been a leader at home, school, church. Mostly that comes from my perfectionism and believing that no one can do it as well as I could, so I might as well get started doing it. Inferiors.

I love organizing. I like alphabetizing, color coordinating, measuring, data entry, charts, graphs, and so on. I love rearranging and being creative. I match my underwear, jewelry, and eye shadow to my outfit and put my dollars in order from least to greatest facing the same direction. Order makes like easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

I love talking. I share every detail of my life with someone. Usually my mom or anyone on the street that has two ears. You know, whatever. I love storytelling, making jokes, imitating people, faking accents, and quoting lines from movies. It just makes life more interesting.

I love learning. Once I find something that interests me I google it , read blogs about it, look up pictures, ask questions, and talk to every person I know about it, just in case they have a different opinion. I have an obsessive love for books which may feed the obsession for learning. Not sure.

I am hilarious. I don't know what it is, but I have this crazy ability to talk about very boring situations in an extremely funny fashion. (It's all in the details.) I am witty. I can snap back comebacks faster than a boomerrang rubberband. And that is fast people! Humor is the #1 way to break the ice and make people like you. It comes in very handy in a high school class room and takes away some of those awkward silences. But trust me, where I am concerned, there's plenty of awkie.

In conclusion, I believe that all the aforementioned ingredients make a pretty original recipe for a teacher aka masterpiece. If I could bottle this up and sell it, I would not do it. But, I had you going for a minute. Sorry to crash your hopes so quickly, but I couldn't let you think that you could actually reach my level of skillz. Yes, that is right. Not the regular skills but skillz. It's that serious. Forutnately, I am not.

Stay tuned for the funniest moments in life.