Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Once again, this post will be a hodgepodge of my thoughts lately! I haven't written anything in a while purely because I wasn't exactly sure how to process everything. First, I want to thank everyone who has called me, text me, facebooked me, or left a comment on one of my posts. I read all of them, and I appreciate them so much. My soul is refreshed and encouraged daily!

We are now into our 3rd full week of school, and I can't believe that so much time has gone by. I feel like I have learned a TON, and I am constantly changing my perspective in the classroom. There is still so much that I do not know, but there is so much that I am figuring out. I think I have written this before (HA!), but one of the biggest changes at my new school is the lack of team teaching. Yes, we plan as a team and we are all friendly, but it is completely different than team teaching. I have learned (and am still learning) how to be completely independent of others and completely dependent on myself. I had my first big breakdown last week, and sweet Amy was there to invite me to dinner so I could sit at her house and cry! We made dinner and watched Friends, the perfect way to change my day around. There wasn't one specific thing that happened, I just all of a sudden felt like a steamroller had hit me. If you are are a teacher, then you know what I mean by "there is so much STUFF you have to do!" There are papers to grade, parents to call, tests to type, homework to plan, centers to plan, lesson plans to complete and type out, school paperwork, weekly newsletter to type, filing old papers, keeping yourself (and the students) organized, differentiating instruction, ETC. I can usually handle it and deal with the stress, but I just got worn out last week. I have to learn how pace myself, and this week has been much better.

I would like ask all of you to please pray for the Lord to give me patience and grace to show to these babies! I truly do LOVE my students and think they are precious, but oh my goodness can they frustrate me. They have absolutely NO idea how to read AND follow instructions, and they are constantly asking me the same questions 25 times a day. I know it doesn't sound bad, and you might think "oh then just make sure that you speak all of the instructions and write them down". I do BOTH of those things for everything that we do. I am learning at what pace these students learn at, and so it is a constant balance of keeping them busy, but not overwhelming them. So please pray for me to speak with the love of Jesus because goodness knows I need it and they need it. :)

I have titled this post "Independence" for two reasons. I already mentioned above that I have had to adjust to being on my own in the classroom. I am also learning how to be independent in my everyday/social life. To take you back a few years..I graduated with a high school class of 10. 8 girls, 2 guys. Throughout college, I stayed close friends with several of those girls. At Mississippi State, I lived with 3 of my close friends, 2 of which I graduated high school with. We did everything together, and I loved every minute of it. The Kristin you see with her best friends and the Kristin you see in a big crowd of people that she doesn't know is completely different. My mom likes to say that I have a "stone face" when I am in a social situation with people that I do not know. I am not forward, bubbly, won't go introduce myself to others, etc. It's really weird, and I know it's because of all of my insecurities. Well being back in Madison, I have had to learn how to live my life without my best friends with me at all times. Last semester was a really hard adjustment, I'm not going to lie. (This post is going somewhere, I promise!) I also was having difficultly figuring out where I wanted to go to church. Through a series of events, the Lord put on my heart for me to go to Highlands which I was thrilled about. They have put together this new group of young adults who are all in their 20's, singles and married, but no one has kids. I have had to learn to be myself right off, I have had to walk into a room full of people that I don't know without my friends, and it has been great. I pray SOOO hard before social settings that the Lord would give me peace and a sense of security. Because I have given my fear to my Lord, I have been blessed with this amazing peace and it has been so fun. I have loved getting to know new people! I feel like I am in the perfect place because Highlands is my home church so I feel comfortable, but I am meeting all of these new people.

If you read all of that, then give yourself a pat on the back! I know it was a lot, but I wanted to write down all of my thoughts before I forgot them. I hope that everyone is excited about this 3-day weekend coming up. Goodness knows I am! We are headed to a friends lake house, and I can't wait for some fun in the sun.

"Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Survival Mode

I have survived my first full week of school! I feel that since I came out alive, then I can face the rest of the school year. This week was wonderful in so many ways. Each day got better and better. My students are sweet and hard workers, the other teachers have been encouraging, and most of all- I SURVIVED! :) I never felt discouraged or that I couldn't do the job. I just feel like I can't be a great teacher right now and that bothers me. I expect things out of myself that I cannot reasonably achieve. I go into the other teachers classrooms and see their centers, KWL charts, etc and cringe because there is none of that in my classroom, and I feel like I am failing as a teacher. But I honestly cannot be doing anything else. I am trying to keep my head above water by just doing what I can. I plan for the week ahead, but am changing things day-to-day. I see things that aren't working in my classroom and so I will change it for the next day. I feel so bad for my students because I keep changing routines and procedures around on them- poor dears! People keep asking me if I am a strict teacher, and I have to say yes and no. Yes because I expect my students to behave, but no in the sense that I feel bad for them since I keep changing everything up on them! I try to be a little lenient because I know it's hard on them. (I know this post is all over the place. Please bare with me!) I keep telling myself that it's only the first week and things will keep getting better. Each week means a steadier pace, an easier routine, and it means that I will keep figuring out what works best for me and my classroom. I don't feel like my students are learning anything, and that makes me feel horrible! I really do feel like I am doing my best- it's just not enough! AH! So frustrating! :) Many people have told me that the first year is awful, that I am feeling normal, that at the end of the year the students really will do well and graduate to the 5th grade, and that the 2nd year is a little bit better, and the 3rd year is when you feel like a seasoned teacher. I am so thankful to have this job, and I am thankful to be at the school where I am at. I know I am there for a God-ordained reason, and am excited to see how He works in me and through me this year. My prayers is that my students see the light of Jesus Christ shining through me even when I am frustrated and frayed!

On a different note, I am excited to say that I am a new small group leader for the 8th grade girls at my church. I grew up going to HPC, and loved the youth group. I have so many memories that involve youth friends and lots of trips! This past year I had been praying about where I would go to church when I moved back to Madison. Through a series of events, the Lord has put on my heart to stay at my home church. There is a new Sunday community group for people in their 20's which I am thrilled about! This weekend we had a 1 night small group leader retreat, and it was deja vu! My old youth pastor is now the pastor of youth and families, and he lead the retreat. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that I grew up in this church and had wonderful people invest in my life. I hope that I can be one of those "special people" for the 8th grade girls! Even though sometimes (or all the time) I feel like I am back in 8th grade and not an adult with a real job! HA!

I am now laying in bed (at 8:15pm), and I am about to turn out the lights! Here's to a new week!

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Classroom Tour!

I have always been interested in classroom decor. Even when I was a student in the classroom, I felt like I could know the teacher based on how he/she decorated his/her room. Needless to say, the past four years I have spent dreaming about what it would be like to have my own classroom! I knew that a classroom library and reading center would be a crucial component in my plan. I have always loved to read, and I feel like it opens up so many doors to people. I also knew that I would want my classroom to be organized and non-cluttery. Well as a teacher, it is very hard to be non-cluttery because teachers have so many materials. As a first year teacher, I am sadly lacking in math manipulative and teaching materials, but I hope to add to my small collection very quickly. Hope you enjoy the tour and get a small glimpse of life in my classroom! :)

^ The classroom library and reading center is what you see when you walk straight in the door! There can be no more than two students in the reading center at one time, unless they are browsing.

^ This is to the left of the library/reading center. Thanks Amy for helping me make the valence and all of my pillows! The project turned out great. :) I have 3 student computers, and I am very thankful for those! The boxes on the table are going to be where the students put handouts, worksheets, white boards, etc. That table will also be where they turn in homework, quizzes, tests, etc.

^ This is the view from my desk, which is in the back left hand corner. The board in this picture will be my main teaching board. I don't have a Smart Board, but I have a overhead and computer projector! The books under the board will be distributed to students on the first day, I just didn't have anywhere else to put them! I will hang up the "classroom rules" sign above the board in the middle of the other two signs up there. The rules need to be front and center. Ha!

^This is the view when you walk in to the left. I have the class calendar, rules, procedures, etc on the blue part. I will write homework and morning work on the white board. The school is implementing a "traffic light" behavior system and the students names are magnetic, so it had to be on one of my white boards. I have the cupcake that my mom painted, and I have each month printed out on fun colored paper. I will write the birthdays for that month and then stick it on the cupcake canvas! I thought it was a fun idea that is a little different than other classrooms.

^This is my desk! I positioned my desk at a place where I would be able to see who is entering and exiting my room, and so that I can see all stations around the room.

^This huge piece of furniture was left by the previous teacher, and I am so thankful for it! It is positioned to the right of my desk area. All of the white baskets are the students "cubbies". Each basket has a number that correlates with a student. Their books will be kept at their desks, but I need a place where they can put their "overflow" materials.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour around my classroom. I have had so much fun setting it up, and I can't believe that we have open house on Tuesday and then school starts Wednesday. Time is flying!