Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Blog: Tales of Teaching Heels

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be a guest blogger here today! Thank you Emily so much for asking me to write. My name is Stephanie and I blog over at Tales of Teaching in Heels. I am a high school English teacher, though have taught 7-12, and just completed my 5th year of teaching. I teach in a public charter school in North San Diego County and LOVE it.  If you like this post, head on over to my site and check out all the other cool ideas I have…all my products are FREE!

You’re on a Roll: Keep up the Good Work

I’ve got a great little goodie for you guys today. I have found that a little encouragement, even in a high school classroom, can go a long way. I used to write little notes to students and pass them out when they were doing a great job, or overcame an obstacle. But then it got to be so time consuming that I stopped doing it all together. But I now have the perfect solution: pre-made acknowledgements. 

I saw an idea similar to this on Pinterest, I mean we all get our teaching ideas from there don’t we?? I knew I could make my own version, so I did!  I’ll show the product and then give you the steps. I also have a FREE printable of this sheet, with a blank space to handwrite your name to personalize it :)

Steps for making this great treat!

1. Down load this FREE printable of the tags and write your name in the blank space. Then make copies [Do the name first so you don’t have to write your name 50 times]
2. Take a 2” circular hole punch, I got mine at JoAnn’s Fabric, or use a 40% off coupon at Michaels, and your teacher discount of 15% , and cut out the tags.
3. Take a hole punch and punch a little hole in the corner, careful not to get too close or the ribbon will rip through the hole.
4. Use 3 Tootsie Rolls, I opted for the colored ones because Dollar Tree had the packets, but the red tag will go nicely with the regular Tootsie Rolls too.
5. Tie a ribbon around the Tootsie Rolls [works well if you make a pyramid of two on the bottom and one on top], then tie on the tag. 
6. Viola! You’re done 

I hope you enjoy this little FREEBIE and find it helpful in your classroom…or maybe as a parent to sneak into their lunch one day as a little encouragement.  Thanks again Emily for asking me to write today, and we can’t wait until you’re back and bloggin!!!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Insta-Friday -- Brittany W. Guest Blogs

Hey y'all! It's Brittany here from Lovely Literacy and More
I hope all of you are having a fabulous summer, especially for those who are heading back to school too soon very soon. As you might already know Emily is away (lucky girl!) and she asked me to guest blog for her Insta-Friday. Isn't that sweet? This is my first guest blog. Can you believe it?! I was pretty pumped about it and Insta-Friday is perfect for me because I take pics on a daily basis. Okay... maybe a little too much sometimes.

My Friday started out at the grocery store picking up food & these pretty flowers for our family BBQ we are having at our house Sunday.

If you follow my blog then you may have read that getting a fence up was on my summer to-do list. The fence got put up a few days ago and it is Emma's new favorite place to play. Friday she was putting her ball on the stairs and knocking it down so she could chase after it. It was a funny sight.

 Speaking of a funny sight... While Emma loves playing outside Boozer apparently does not so much. He prefers to lay in bed. And no I did not buy our big dog that small bed. Notice the big bed in the back there... That's his bed. For some reason he likes Emma's little bed.

 Being productive on a Friday... Why yes I was!
All you need is a pencil holder, glue gun & a feather boa & waalaah--- you have yourself a fancy pencil holder for our "fancy journal" pencils. I tell my kinders that these "fancy" pencils can only be used during journal writing because they must use their best handwriting and these fancy pencils help their handwriting. :) They love em'!

 Journals & handwriting are a big deal in my class so I found these "writing wands" at the Dollar Tree. Three for only $1.25. I plan to add glitter on the border of the star. You may be thinking- how will I use this? After they write in their journal & illustrate their writing I will tap their journal with the Writing Wand which will signal that they did a great job & can put it away.

 While I was at it with the fancy pencil holder & writing wand, I also made a sight word game that the kids can play. I found the popcorn bucket & the sponges at the Dollar Tree for $1.25 each. When the students read the sight word on each sponge (we'll pretend its popcorn) they get to put it in their popcorn bucket. If two are playing than who ever fills their bucket first wins.

Happy Friday peeps!!!
You can stop by my blog to pick up some freebies & enter giveaways as I'll be giving away more of my units & products for back to school.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Ok, right, I know it's Saturday...but, just go with it, okay? This was Friday:

The day's playlist :-)

Doesn't everyone pack like this?

Fresh Mani! I Seriously have an addiction to Essie nail polish.
This is "Lacquered Up" -- my all time fav.

Laziest Chihuahua ever. Wouldn't even help me pack.

Grapefruit sky.

Frozen hot chocolate -- you know, because I worked so hard on packing ;-)

Finally finished. It only weighs 50+ lbs...Sorry not sorry.

I had a lovely Saturday with my grandparents in Charlotte, enjoyed one last American meal (unless you count continental breakfast...and I don't), and now I'm hanging out at the Wyndam Resort (which is less resort and more sketch-establishment...) before I proceed to the airport in the morning! Send me some good vibes, because even though my mom was a flight attendant for years and I have flown more than 100 times, I'm still utterly terrified of airplanes. But, I'll manage because this airplane is taking me to Italy!!

Can't wait to blog about my Italian adventures (and also hopefully blog about my new job?!) when I get back. Until then, I guess that does it for this installation of Insta-Friday!

Happy Weekend!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Interview 2.0: His Plans Are Good

Good stuff first: Congratulations to Melissa over at Elementary Endeavors for winning my Bloglovin' giveaway!  Thanks to all my lovely readers, I'm at now at 65 followers! I will be planning another (bigger and better) giveaway as soon as I hit 100 followers, so keep an eye out for that!

Well, I had my second-ever interview yesterday. Thankfully it was a much better experience -- I was even able to articulate coherent thoughts and used real words this time! I'd say that on a scale of 1-10 I earned a solid 8 (solid, folks). In my own biased opinion, compared to last weeks train wreck, it was interview gold. And I was wearing a cutesy outfit, so that helped, right?

Snagged this cuteness at the Tommy outlet last week -- it
says "hire me", right?

As soon as I walked in the building, the atmosphere was completely different than my previous interview. The principal and two other teachers welcomed me into the conference room and immediately started talking and laughing with me like we were friends. I really can't get over how nice they were and how warm they treated me. The principal really worked to make me feel comfortable, spending the first ten minutes cracking jokes and telling stories. He knew I was nervous and he made a point to let me know that it was okay -- I am so thankful for this gesture, because it really did help me to relax and think about what I wanted to say. Before I even started answering their questions I knew that I wanted to work at this school, with this principal, and these teachers.  And, as I got up to leave, I felt confident.

And then my hopes were crumpled like a note confiscated by an angry teacher during a test. As I was leaving, the principal told me that he had seven other candidates to interview after me (Seven -- seriously?!) He didn't indicate when I could expect to hear anything from him, but he did say that I would only be contacted if he intended to offer me the job -- that if I didn't hear from him to know that he truly felt I would make an exemplary educator. I won't lie, I was a little bit a lot discouraged as I walked around the block to my car. I knew that I did my best, but I couldn't help but wonder if my best was going to be better than seven other peoples' "best".

Even so, I am feeling peace. Honestly. As I was preparing for my interview in Frankfort last week I prayed a specific prayer: that if it was God's will he would open the door wide; if not, that he would close the door and lock it. I now know that working at that particular school wasn't God's plan for my life ... but I do know that has a plan. I know that his plans for me are good -- they are plans to prosper me and to give me an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11 -- one of my favorites -- and the verse I have hanging above my bed). 

Such a great reminder to see each night and every morning

This morning as I was driving to the interview in Charleston I was reminded that he opens doors that no man can shut, and he closes doors that no man can open (Isaiah 22). My constant worrying and striving does not change his sovereignty. Nothing I do or fail to do will strip him of his supreme authority in my life. He knows best. I do not. 

I'm a worrier. I'm detail oriented. I'm a planner and an organizer. To say that the uncertainty of what I'm going to be doing this coming school year doesn't put me on edge would be a lie. But, I know that God is in control, and day by day I am learning to REST in that realization -- that he is making all things work together for my good. It's hard, but it's enough for me that God has a plan -- who am I to tell him how to execute it? 

So, for now I will wait. Patiently, with expectation and hope, knowing that he is intricately orchestrating every aspect of my life. 

And while I wait I will eat this delicious watermelon. 

I hope that this encourages you, wherever you are. God has an exceptional plan for each of our lives, and it is far superior to our own. We just have to acknowledging such. 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Today I'm Wearing Crocs

….and no deodorant. And I won’t blame you if you stop reading right here. 

My mom has worn Crocs for years and for years I’ve made fun of her. Because let’s face it: they’re just plain ugly. Seriously. So, when we were at the outlet mall on Wednesday and I saw that sparkle in my mom’s eye when she spied the Crocs store (yes, there is an entire storefront devoted to Crocs...seriously), I rolled my eyes and made a bee-line for Ralph Lauren. I tried on cutesy clothes and flirted with the cute salesman, and when I decided that ample time had passed to ensure that I could avoid the aforementioned Crocs store, I went looking for my mom. And found her knee-deep in rubber footwear. Still. 

Long story short, I was somehow suckered into buying a pair of these bad boys. A gift from my dear, sweet, mother. I tried to pick the cutest pair and covered my face in shame as I left the building, Crocs bag in hand. I swore then and there I’d never wear them. 

Well, it’s five days later, and I’m wearing the Crocs. They’re comfortable (I know, I know, you’ve heard that line before, but it’s true!) I’m not thrilled about it, but they fit the generally damp mood I’m experiencing right now, so I figure I might as well at least be comfortable while I’m sad.

The offending Crocs

Not that bad...right?!

Sad because I just made an appointment for my faithful doggy friend, Jude, to be put to sleep tomorrow. Jude is the most gorgeous collie I’ve ever seen. We got him when I was twelve and for 11 years he’s been the best dog anyone could ever have. Unfortunately in the past few years he’s developed debilitating arthritis and can no longer stand up without assistance. It’s the most pitiful thing I’ve ever seen and to say I’m heartbroken would be a gross understatement. 

My precious buddy, Jude.

And sad because, last night, for the fourth time since mid May I’m packed up my suitcase and headed to my “other” home. See, my parents live in NC (which is where I graduated high school), but since college I’ve been living in KY. I’ve been hanging out in NC for the majority of the Summer, working my old high school job and generally being depressed about the fact that no school system seems to want to hire me. But, on Thursday I received a call from a the principal of a school that I forgot I even applied to work at asking me if I could come for an interview on Tuesday. So, I cleaned out my NC room and headed back to spend my few dwindling days of July in the Bluegrass state. But, at least I got to wake up to this sweet face this morning:

Salsa baby

It’s always a bit depressing to leave my parents and come back to my big girl life, especially since I feel like I’m back home to face uncertainly and possibly more rejection. I’d rather stay snuggled up in my room with Charlie the Australian Shepherd and eat chocolate covered Goji berries all day, and hang out with my new little friend, Brielle. Sounds like a better alternative, yeah?

My best friend Lauren's brand new baby girl, Brielle.
Absolutely precious. Love those girls.

Unfortunatley, the big girl world has called me to don my Crocs and face reality. So, I’m off to run my errands which will mainly consist of sitting in the doctors office for an hour just for a prescription re-fill, laying in the tanning bed, and browsing Latta’s downtown (the teacher’s supply store) while drying my tears on my rain jacket. I hate today. 

Wish me luck as I face another interview on Tuesday — pray that I don’t say “maked”. I just may wear a scarf this time. 


Friday, July 12, 2013


So, this is how my Friday developed. I'm calling it "Insta-Friday". Who knows, maybe it'll become tradition.

Every good morning starts with Keurig. Duh.

Charlie hadn't had her coffee yet....
(Charlie is my dad's new puppy -- I love her!)

Work. You know. Because I don't have a real job yet...

Rain. No more work.

No works means time for outlet shopping.

And a fresh new pixi thanks to my mom's hairdresser.

Hide & Seek

Home made guacamole :)
Yeah, so this was Friday. What'd yours look like?

P.S. Don't forget to enter yesterday's giveaway!!!

-- Emily

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bloglovin' Giveaway and Liebster Award!

First of all, lets start out with the free stuff — who doesn’t like free stuff?! Because I am fairly new to the blog community and have just recently joined TPT (meaning I don’t have anything for sale yet), I’d like to give away something that I think every teacher will appreciate (especially in the weeks to come). All you have to do is follow my blog on Bloglovin’ and enter the Raffle Copter below and you have a chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card!! Who doesn’t need coffee on those early morning commutes to the classroom?! So, get to it! And then come back for the rest of this post! :)a Rafflecopter giveawayFollow my blog with Bloglovin

Alright, now that that’s taken care of, we can move on to some other news. I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by my fellow blogger and teacher Mrs. Smith over at Mrs. Smith's Class, as well as my friend Danielle over at Carolina Teacher. Thank you girls so much!! The Liebster Award is given to recognize new blogs and welcome them into the community. I am so happy to accept this award! 

To accept this award, I must: 

1. Link back to the blog(s) that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator
4. Create 11 questions for my nominees
5. Share 11 random facts about yourself
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them

11 Random facts about me:

1. I always run out of shampoo before I run out of conditioner.
2. I need the volume on my TV and radio to be on "even" numbers. The OCD in me, I suppose...
3. I'm currently eating peanut butter M&M's -- I don't even like peanut butter.
4. I watched Scooby Doo on Netflix last night. Scooby was my childhood.
5. My favorite colors are teal/aqua/sea green and red.
6. The National Anthem makes me cry when I hear it.
7. I was a gymnast for three days when I was in elementary school. Needless to say, I wasn't too impressive.
8. I have a birthmark in the shape of Ohio on my leg. It unnoticeable until I get tan. Then it's like "whoa"....
9. I generally can't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, but I pretend like I can. 
10. I love country music. Love.
11. I may or may not have read every single book in "The Babysitter's Club" series before I was 10.

Questions for me to answer: 

1. Who is your hero and why?

I’m going to have to go with the Sunday School answer on this one. Jesus is definitely my hero. I don’t like to refer to people as my hero, but Jesus fits the bill.

2. What is your best management tool?

Recently I made a cute little magnet board courtesy of Pinterest. Cookie sheet, fabric, spray adhesive. Simple. I'm thinking of using it for taking lunch count. I saw a fellow teacher do this at the middle school I was working at during student teaching and it looked like it worked so well -- cuts down on a lot of unnecessary stress at the beginning of homeroom to have students be responsible for their own lunch count. All they have to do it place a magnet on the cookie sheet if they want lunch (that way all I have to do is count the magnets and enter the number of hot lunches into the computer instead of asking each student!) Here's a picture of my board (sans magnets right now):

3. What is an activity you do during the first week of school?

When I first started my middle school placement, my teacher had the students stage a “talk show” to get to know me. I can see myself using this to get to know the whole class. One student is the host, one is the announcer, and then the rest are audience members who ask questions to the guests (I was the guest). It’s fun and helpful for getting to know students and their personalities, and I found myself remembering students for the rest of the time I was there based on their answers/questions from the "talk show".

4. Do you play any musical instruments?

No. I took piano lessons for years and can’t play at all. Sad, really. 

5. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

English of course! I really love teaching poetry because I love to see students reactions change when they realize that it’s not as boring as they thought.

6. Where would you take an all-expense paid vacation?

NYC. I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve been a ton of other places, but something about riding a dirty subway through Queens excites me. Call me crazy.

7. What advice would you give a first year teacher?

Well, since I’m a first year teacher myself, I don’t have much to offer. Be confident — that’s what I’ve learned so far.

8. What are your favorite blogs to read?

Tales of Teaching in Heels, The Brown Bag Teacher, Sweet Blessings, and E, Myself, & I :)

9. What are you doing when you aren’t blogging/teaching?

Reading, making late night trips to Waffle House with my friends, or shopping. Or Napping. Naps are wonderful.

10. What is your favorite easy recipe to make?

Ramen Noodles. ….You think I’m joking? I’m not. (My mom is no doubt cringing as she reads this...)

11. When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?

I always sort of "knew", but I concretely decided to pursue it as my career when I was a junior in high school. I wavered a bit during my first year (deciding to pursue nursing....even though I hate needles), but found my way back home shortly thereafter. I'm so glad I did -- teaching is truly what I was made to do. 

My Nominees:

Questions for YOU to answer:

1. How/why did you become an Edublogger?
2. What is your favorite subject/topic to teach and why?
3. What is your favorite book?
4. School lunch or brown bag?
5. What’s the first thing you do after a long day of teaching?
6. How do you feel about heels in the classroom?
7. How do you keep track of your planning for the semester?
8. What is your favorite tech resource for teaching?
9. Classroom pets: yes or no
10. Do you realllly plan on your planning period? 
11. What is your favorite first week of school activity?

Happy Thursday, everybody! :)

-- Emily

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I think I "maked" a bad impression

I said “maked”. For real. In my interview I used the word “maked”. It came out like this:

Assistant principal: When did you decide that you wanted to become a teacher and why?

Emily: Well, I had a handful of fabulous teachers — I credit them with inspiring me to become a teacher. They maked me who I am. 

Assistant principal: (blank stare)

Teacher #1: (blank stare)

Teacher #2: (blank stare)

Teacher #3: (blank stare)

Teacher #4: (blank stare)

Emily: uhhhhhh….I mean….um….shoot….I know that maked isn’t really a word, I’m just super nervous. I’m sorry.

::: Crickets. Pin drop. Tumbleweed. ::::

Assistant principal: So, Ms. Updegrove, tell us what you feel is your strong point within language arts — what is your passion? Is it creative writing? Reading? Language mechanics…..? (obviously not!)

Talk about a boo-boo. Sheesh. Actually, all in all it wasn’t a terrible experience. I was definitley much more nervous in the days leading up to the interview than I was when I actually got there (until I used the word “maked”, that is….). 

Because my interview was at 9 this morning, and I live about two hours away from the school, I left my house at about 6. I wanted to have plenty of time because on Saturday when I drove from my parents house in NC to my house in KY I sat in traffic for about two hours near VA. I definitely didn’t want that to happen on the day of my first interview!  I felt a bit overdressed (my mom insisted I should wear a black pencil skirt, a black cardigan, and pumps). In July.  And when I pulled out of my driveway at 6AM, it was already 70 degrees. Like, whoa. Summer in Kentucky is always a downer. Even without mourning clothes. I arrived at about 8, went to the school around 8:40, made smalltalk with the very nice secretary, and was called into the conference room around 9:25. I was walking out of the school at about 10, so the whole interview lasted about 35 minutes.

I was fairly confident in most of the questions I answered, although there was one that I had to say I honestly didn’t know enough about to answer. I believe it was “how do you incorporate the common core standards into your curriculum?”, which slightly confused me. WV began using the common core last year and so most of my unit planning for the education department has been based on CC standards rather than state CSO’s. So, I very politely said “I’m not sure I understand the question….”, to which the interviewer responded “what do you know about KY standards, KTIP, and the Common Core integration?”. And then I said “I honestly don’t know enough about KY standards to answer that question”. At that point in time it felt like the kiss of death, but later in the day I realized that perhaps the interviewer thought that I was only using state CSO’s in WV, and was therefore unfamiliar with the Common Core initiative (maybe....?). In reality, I have been using CC/Next Generation standards since day one in WV, so there really is no “incorporating” them into my lesson plans — they’re just what I draw from in order to shape my units. If I had given myself another few seconds to think about it logically I could’ve answered intelligently. But, I didn’t. 

When I left, the assistant principal (the principal was called out for jury duty, so he wasn’t in the interview) told me they had several other candidates to interview and would let us know something “soon” (which I find to be a very arbitrary word...). I do feel a lot better now that the first interview is under my belt. I feel much more confident and prepared for the next one...should there be a next one. We'll see. 

Thanks to all of my readers for helping me with scenario questions -- they SO helped!

And now back to writing my thank you letter in my very favorite Starbucks. Ever.

Pullman Square -- Huntington, WV

Happy Tuesday!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Help -- I can't wear a scarf in July!!

So, after applying for 17 (yes, I really applied for that many jobs…) in 7 different counties, I finally got that long awaited call from a secretary asking if I was available for an interview next Tuesday!  The 20 second conversation between myself and aforementioned secretary was slightly comical and borderline disastrous. It went something like this:

Me: Hello?

Secretary: Hello, I’m calling for Emily.

Me: This is Emily, how are you today?!? 

Secretary: I’m just fine, this is Ms. So-and-so from Elkhorn Middle School calling to….

Me: Oh, how are you?

Secretary: I’m good, thank you.......... I was calling to ask if you were available for an interview next Tuesday at 9?

Me: Absolutely! 

Secretary: I’m sorry, you’re breaking up…

Me: I’m sorry, I have a uh….bad connect….bad reception-ignal in this room. Can you hear me now??

Secretary: Yes, I can hear you. 

Me: Absolutely, I’d love to come for an interview next Tuesday. 

Secretary: Great. See you then. 

Me: Absolutely, see you then!

So much for playing it cool, right?? (Who says “absolutely” three times in twenty seconds?! …. And what the heck kind of word is receptionignal?!!?)

Anyways, after I calmed down a bit, I started thinking about how UNPREPARED I am for a professional interview! I have no idea what to expect. I get super nervous in high pressure situations and am already thinking about all the things that could go wrong. In college there was a running joke about me in my methods course — whenever I got nervous for a presentation I turned beet red, so my classmates started telling me to wear a scarf...seriously...when it happens, its practically impossible not to notice the scarlet splotchiness that overtakes my entire upper half...  (I’ve lost count of how many people have pointed it out to me...and how many ridiculous excuses I’ve come up with on the fly — my favorite being that my necklace was irritating my skin. Yes. I really used that excuse….)

In fact, once during my very first  clinical I was so nervous to be teaching a class of seniors for the first time, I turned red rather quickly. Before I could even finish reading the page, one of the students raised her hand and frantically waved me over to her. I tried to ask her to wait until after I was finished, but she insisted that I come to her desk. Right then. When I got to her desk and bent down to hear what she had to say, she very loudly told me “I think you might be having an allergic reaction — you’re whole chest is red and so is your neck…! My mom is the nurse here, I can show you where her station is if you need me to!?”

Yes, this is my life. 

Since then I’ve learned to stay away from V-neck tops. I can look back and laugh now that I’m so comfortable in the classroom, but sitting across from the principal who has the power to hire me or send me walking on the other hand ... makes me a little nervous, I admit (and July is entirely too hot for scarves...)

So, to my blogger/teacher friends: what advice can you give me to help prepare? Are there any specific questions you think I should expect? 

I look forward to hearing all of your awesome pointers!