Organize and Simplify Archive
The Mint belongs in your classroom!
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Okay, so as you know, I recently partnered with Silhouette to showcase their super amazing Mint stamp-making machine.  I loved the Mint and got such a great reaction to my “Contacted” stamp post, that I decided to show you how else I use it in the classroom, with another stamp that serves multiple purposes!

Now we all know how important small group work is, right?  I love conferencing with my students in multiple ways… individually, partner conferencing, and even small groups.  I typically have my student conferencing notepad on my desk with my schedule of who I need to meet with and when.  This is super helpful to keep me organized and help me plan for the progress monitoring of my students (thanks to my Teacher Anchor®!)  But occasionally, I’ll be running a small group and I will notice the need to meet additionally with one of my kiddos.  Let me give you a real-life example:

I am doing a writing prompt in small group following a guided reading.  I notice that one of my students, Susie, is still leaving out capital letters, even though we just wrapped a mini-lesson on this yesterday.  I note that I need to meet with her to just revisit this skill before moving on.  I used to jot down on a post-it my intentions of following up one-on-one with this student, but we all know how post-it’s just kind of disappear into the abyss of our classrooms, right?  I needed a call to action for this student so I can monitor her progress but also so I can make a physical step to plan for it within my day/week.

That’s where the stamp comes in!  I created a quick and simple stamp that allows me to not only remember to conference with Susie in the future, but also allows me to literally stamp it on the date that I plan on touching base with her!

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It’s perfect, right?   I especially love that I can stamp it directly into my Teacher Anchor planner on the date that I want to meet with my student so it’s is done.  Scheduled!  And the word “schedule” signifies to me that I need to plan my content and get my ducks in a row before I actually sit down face to face with the student… pulling her portfolio or writers notebook, having an activity or teaching point ready, etc.  We must always be prepared!

And in case you missed my last post, creating it was super easy.  I just typed it up within my Mint software, sent it to the printer, added my ink and voila!  It took longer to decide on a font than to create my stamp!

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But of course, this little stamp will not just serve our students… no, no, no!  Luckily, as teachers we have multiple people who we need to conference with.  When I say conference, you may think parents.  Well, you can use your stamp to schedule specific conferences or calls with parents too.  And the “regarding” line allows for you to focus on one reason for the conference so you can plan accordingly.

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Sometimes we teachers even need to meet with our administration.  So I used this stamp in the “Reminders” section of my Teacher Anchor®, which allowed me to touch base with my principal to discuss my most recent observation!

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The ways to use this are endless… IEP meetings, PLC meetings, colleague/grade level meetings… I could go on and on!  I’ve already found multiple ways to use it in just the first few weeks of school.

As I said in the opening picture of this post, the Mint belongs in your classroom!  Think personalized stamps, book stamps, reminder stamps, “Put your name on this” stamps (ha!), parent signature stamps, and on and on!  You can make yours on your very own Mint machine here!  And check out all of the other Silhouette options for you to make your life in the classroom easier too!

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Happy New Year!

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The Kindergarten Toolkit
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I’m a mom.  I’m also a teacher (for over 10 years!).  And there is little to no training that prepares me to actually sit down and teach my own (almost) four year old those early learning skills that I know he needs to know.  He doesn’t want to listen to me, he has a hard time focusing on what we’re doing and he does not find it fun.  Well… until now!  Let me introduce you to the Kindergarten Toolkit!  This wonderful product was created by my friend Carrie, a kindergarten teacher turned teacherpreneur!

What is the Kindergarten Toolkit?

“The Kindergarten Toolkit is a teaching tool for parents, grandparents or teachers to use with children ages 2 thru 6 that fully prepares your child for Kindergarten.  It helps build a basic foundation of reading, writing and math skills as your child prepares to enter the early grades.  Start with your 2 year old with shapes and colors or start with your 6 year old the summer before Kindergarten and focus on all 10 Kindergarten goals!”

I love it so much because it includes everything that you might need including a spiral bound book of lessons that are differentiated to your child’s level.  And!  The lessons are simple and written in a way that any parent can be a “teacher” to their child – no prior education experience needed!

So, what does it include?

* The Toolkit booklet focuses on 10 main Kindergarten goals.
There are 3-4 mini lessons for each of the 10 goals. Supplemental pages in the back are designed to be copied for future assessments and lessons. You don’t want to write in the booklet so it can be used with multiple children!

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* Four sets of flashcards
– Upper and lower case letters
– Numbers 1-20
– 25 Kindergarten sight words
-10 colors and shapes

*Also included is a whiteboard and pen to use with assessments and lessons. As well as a piece of sidewalk chalk for outdoor learning!  Sidewalk chalk!  Brilliant!

I was so impressed with how well-made and thorough this toolkit is.  Even as a former kindergarten teacher myself, I forgot what all needed to be done to prepare kids for kindergarten readiness!  I also love that it includes a whiteboard and marker/chalk so the writing component is also included!  My son’s favorite are the shape cards – because it is shape week at school!  So we’re able to connect it to his school setting at home!

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Also, you have to follow @thekindergartentoolkit on Instagram!  Carrie does such an amazing job of giving you on-the-go learning activities and fun games to play everywhere from the car pickup line to the playground!  (I told you, she’s amazing!)

And this toolkit isn’t just for parents… Early childhood teachers from pre-school through first grade would find benefit in these activities to prepare their students for early kinder-readiness or to review those skills that may need practice!

Build your student’s confidence and help them be prepared to excel as they embark on their educational journey. Quality one-on-one time for at least 30 minutes a week using the Kindergarten Toolkit will help achieve that goal!

Go, go, go check it out!

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Teaching Magic Interview
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I’m so excited to have been interviewed by Sheila over at Teaching Magic!  She is such a doll and our conversation was so wonderful! I was a little nervous to be interviewed, but Sheila could not have been nicer and made me feel so comfortable  –  like we were just chatting over coffee!

I talked a lot about starting a business, the product line, my life in the classroom, and the Teacher Anchor™!  I also gave lots of peeks into the new Teacher Anchor™ and discussed how I used it in my own classroom and how you can use it now.  Most importantly I talked about my journey as a teacher.  The things that pulled me down in the beginning of my career (burnout, negativity, trying to “do it all”) and how setting boundaries and focusing really got me back to my passion in the classroom.  I also talked about the purpose and the intention behind my products, specifically the Anchor – also my favorite moment in the classroom EVER and why I don’t want a meal planner in my lesson planner – ha!  I don’t want to spoil it, so tune in to see the whole interview here.

Thanks again Sheila for such a great conversation!  You are destined for big things, I just know it and I can’t wait to watch your journey.  And anytime in the future, I’ll graciously be a guest on your show!

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The Reason for the Season

So the blog has been quiet lately because I am the one woman shipping department of C. Jayne Teach.  I was blown away by how many of you ordered from the shop this holiday season and I am so grateful for your support.  That being said though, I neglected the blog while I wrapped up my Methods course I was teaching this semester and got your pretty packages out the door to you for the holidays!  But I’m back today to share a special morning that I had at my former elementary school today.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by our friends at 4Moms to see if I wanted to play “Secret Santa” this year.  Of course I was all in!  As a teacher (and now as a mom) this is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the holiday songs, the bustle in the air, the Christmas cookies and crafts, and the celebrations with friends and family.  But I also make a conscious effort to truly celebrate the reason for the season and give as much as we can to others each year.  I always wanted my students to understand the lesson of giving most of all and to do this we always participated in some type of community service – be it an Angel tree or school supply drive or even making cards for the local nursing home.  I have some of the most special memories from my time as a teacher, doing these types of projects with my students.  And through your support of the C. Jayne Teach shop, I’ve been able to continue to do these types of projects still!  One of my favorite things to do is to make anonymous donations through Donorschoose.org and help teachers get the supplies and support they need in the classroom.

So let me back up for a minute and tell you a bit about 4Moms.  They are a company that believes in better.  They create the most amazing infant and children’s products that are not only visually beautiful but practical and simple for parents (especially new parents) to use.  When I was expecting Lincoln, my mom and dad gifted me the Origami and the MamaRoo.  As a first time mom, these two products helped make my transition into mommyhood so much smoother.  The MamaRoo was where Lincoln napped during the day for the first 4 months of his life.  It not only allowed me to have my hands free to clean, do laundry, and cook dinner but it also allowed for me to get some rest myself because he slept so soundly in it.  The Origami was so easy to use as we took our daily walks on the Greenway and to the zoo.  I had new moms stopping me everywhere asking me about it and how they could get one!  And since we travel so much to see our family back in Ohio, we had to have the Breeze.  It has made our lives infinitely easier after a long drive home with a very sleepy little guy.  When we get to our parents house, it took approximately 4.5 seconds to set it up and lay down our little babe and he was back out.  The peace of mind all of their products has brought us is worth every single penny.

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The best part though?  4Moms is a company that gives back.  Their 4Moms Cares program gives away one MamaRoo A WEEK and donates countless others to NICU’s around the country.  In addition, they are constantly donating their products to non-profit organizations as well.  They are a company that I am so proud to support and have had the pleasure of getting to know their staff.  So again, I was honored when they asked if I wanted to participate in giving away a Breeze to someone special.  And I knew just the person…

Ms. Maria is our school custodian at the elementary school I spent the last 4 years at.  She is one of the hardest working people I know.  During my time as a teacher, she constantly supported me throughout numerous classroom moves, plenty of sick students, and both an engagement and a pregnancy (I got engaged at school and Ms. Maria unlocked the door to let Eric into the building to fill my classroom with flowers before school started… and when I was expecting, she helped me pack up my classroom and lift those heavy boxes).  She is a special person to me and I think about her often.  She is currently expecting a baby this spring and I knew how much she deserved the Breeze.  So Lincoln and I headed to school today to do a little holiday gifting!

When we got to school I told her I had something for her.  I brought her down to a vacant classroom where I had the Breeze box.  She was overwhelmed with emotion when she saw it, thanking me for thinking of her and graciously accepting it.  But I told her it wasn’t like a normal “playyard” that’s tricky to use and hard to set up.  Once I showed her how easy and simple it was to use, she was speechless!  Even Lincoln helped us show her what a great product it is!

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Seeing the joy in Ms. Maria’s face and knowing how happy her family and her new baby will be with this product totally made my year.  I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of such a fun donation and I was even happier that Lincoln was able to be there too.  I want him to truly understand the reason for the season and although he may not “get it” yet, I hope that one day I’m able to show him these photos and share with him the wonderful feelings we feel when we give to others.

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I want to thank 4Moms for all of their generosity and I want you encourage you to go out and help make someone’s day.  There are lots of ways you can celebrate the season and I’d love to hear some of them!  Hearing stories of others demonstrating compassion and giving just puts a huge smile on my face too.

I wish you and yours the most joyous of holiday seasons this year.  Thank you so much for supporting my little site and shop this year.  I hope to continue to give back and share joy with others!

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[Oh and did you notice the sweet little face on the homepage of the MamaRoo?  Yes, that’s our little Lincoln.  He did some modeling for 4Moms last winter… he doesn’t even look like the same baby!  Also 4Moms did not compensate me in any way for this post.  All opinions are my own.]

Time Management
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Time management was always my strong suit.  I knew how to fit in a full days work, plan for the following days/weeks, cook dinner and make it to a workout before bed.  Even when I had Lincoln, I knew how to fit it all in.  But lately… lately I think if I just fit in a shower, then it would be a good day.

But that has to change.  I have things I have to do.  I have to be a mom.  I have to be a wife.  I have to be a teacher.  And I have to do all of these things every single day.  And when I don’t plan out each of those roles, I’m not very good at any of them.  So I thought we could talk about time management today.

“If you fail you plan, you plan to fail.”

I saw the above quote on someones Instagram a few weeks back and have been thinking of it recently.  I used Beyonce, but you can use anyone you think is fierce.  The reason it resonated with me is because it’s true.  We are all given the same amount of time each day.  What we do with it is our responsibility.  I find that when I don’t plan my days, I end up with a lot of wasted time.  So I’ve started to sit down the night before and make a list of things to do the next day.  When I was in the classroom, I practiced the same routine and I managed to always fit everything in!  Why I lost touch with this routine, I don’t know.  But it makes such a difference.

For example, a list I made last night looked like this:

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[Sneak peek of a new shop product, coming November 8th!]

Now I realize that’s pretty specific, but that’s what I need.  Otherwise, I forget to do certain things (I actually forget to cook dinner sometimes because I have 825 other things running through my mind).  When I was a first grade teacher, I would make to-do lists for before school, during planning, and after school.  This helped me not chit-chat with other teachers during those times.  When I knew I had a to-do list, I could tackle more things and not be distracted.

*Also you’ll notice that I set my alarm to get up earlier than my child so I can get ready and enjoy my coffee in peace.  This makes a HUGE difference on how I start my day! 

Set Yourself Up For Success

To go along with the planning, you have to prepare.  I’ll lay my clothes and Lincoln’s clothes out the night before.  I’ll make arrangements to meet a friend at the gym so that I’m held accountable.  I’ll cut up the veggies for dinner the night before so in the morning, I just throw it in the crock pot.  I can even schedule the Keurig to start brewing my coffee at a certain time!  All of these things help me be successful and be a better mom, wife, teacher.

When Lincoln is home from school, I’ll make a list of nap-time to-do’s which often include grading papers, preparing for this weeks class, or fulfilling shop orders/writing a blog post.  The day before, I’ll set everything out, so as soon as he goes down, I can get to work!  It’s wonderful.  And on those days I’ll also get up a tad earlier even to get some of those to-do’s done before he’s even up for the day.

What will you do with your time?

Think about Beyonce.  What do you think she’s doing at this very minute?  Do I think she’s sitting on her couch watching reruns of Project Runway?  Probably not.  She’s probably planning her next world tour or something.  But that’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy some downtime.  We all need a break.  Sometimes we just have to schedule that downtime.  When I finish all of my to-do’s* and have a productive week, I’ll take all day Friday and then the weekend to enjoy my downtime.  I don’t have to worry about lesson planning, or shop maintenance or folding laundry on those days because I finished that throughout the week.  So my weekend is for nothing but spending time with my family, visiting food trucks, and enjoying the sunshine.  And that time spent doing what I love is what energizes me and gets me ready to tackle the week ahead.

*Yes.  Sometimes I don’t finish everything.  But don’t be so hard on yourself.  There’s always tomorrow.  Your list will get done.  But I find it’s best to let it go until the next day instead of sacrificing time from something else trying to fit in those last five papers to grade.

Now go make your list for tomorrow and go run the world.  Beyonce would want you to.

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