Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Week Back and August Giveaway!

Hey guys! I'm finally back after a whirlwind first week back to school. There are all kinds of things at home I should be doing, but I need this day to recharge. I love getting back into my routine, but the adjustment from summer life to normal life usually takes a little while. I thought it might be entertaining at the least (and helpful at best) to share with you guys the things that I did right to start off my school year and the little failures I had as well.

Let's start with the fun stuff... the failures. :P

  • I definitely did not buy enough groceries to make my lunches for the week. I don't know what I was thinking! By Friday, I was eating a granola bar for lunch.
  • I went to bed late Monday night. Tuesday we had professional development and meetings... for five hours. Guess who probably wasn't as alert as she should have been? This girl right here.
  • I completely forgot to have my students say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning this week. I'm going to have to assign a kid to be our Pledge leader, because Mrs. Richardson is obviously not capable of remembering this daily detail.
  • I wore a sleeveless dress and a cute bright green cardigan on the first day of school. It was not only a very cute outfit that actually showed a bit of my personality, but it also looked very classy and professional. Sounds like a good thing, yes? Okay, my classroom, for the first time in history, was a million freakin' degrees on the first day of school. So guess who had to wear her cardigan all day long in the swampy environment of her classroom because she was wearing a sleeveless dress? That would be me... the one with a serious case of swamp boob by the end of the day. (too much information?)
  • I wore high heels on Friday. I don't usually wear heels to work, and I should have known better than to wear them during the first week, because I'm not quite used to being on my feet all day long again. I feel like I should clarify why I decided this. A few weeks ago I got a pixie haircut (which, by the way, is maybe the best decision I've ever made regarding my hair). It's super cute, but you really have to dress up a pixie haircut to maintain a certain sense of femininity. Friday, I wore my staff polo shirt (black) and khaki slacks. With my androgynous outfit and my black-framed glasses, I was sporting a not-so-feminine look that I didn't want to work with so early in the school year. I decided to class up my outfit with dangly silver earrings and the heels. The earrings were a yes. The heels led to a day of blisters and band-aids.
  • I didn't do my homework about Edmodo. Have you guys heard of Edmodo? It's a classroom website/network and I got super excited about it and I just jumped right in face first and set up my Edmodo classrooms and thought this was going to be the best thing since sliced bread to ever happen to my classroom. (This is extremely uncharacteristic of me, by the way. I'm the person who will deliberate for twenty minutes over which brand of cheese I should buy. I did research for four weeks before deciding to cut off my hair. I'm in the midst of deciding if I'm going to buy this cute pair of boots I saw in the store three weeks ago.) It turns out that our school computers hate Edmodo, approximately 30%(!!!) of my students don't have internet or computer access at home, and a teacher in the building had major issues with Edmodo in the past and apparently the "next big thing" is called My Big Campus. I've already been fielding parent phone calls over this whole thing. Tell you what, I'm about over the whole virtual classroom craze at this point, and I love virtual worlds! I blog, for Pete's sake! But seriously, this is dumb. Just let me teach in my classroom. Amen.
Now for the things that make me proud... the things I actually did right!
  • I made all of my copies for the first two weeks of school before we started back. I spent a ton of time in my classroom over the last several weeks and, even though I was banging my head against the copy machine a couple weeks ago, I did not have to make any last minute copies. This is a major success in my book.
  • I did my usual first day of school seating arrangement, and it worked like a charm. This year was the a record for me... fastest time taking attendance on the first day.
  • I let the kids pick their seats (for now) and instead of passing around the chart and letting them write their names in the correct spot, I took the time to make eye contact with each kid, look at their face, and write their names down on the seating chart. This is already helping me learn their names faster.
  • I'm going to tentatively say that my new Writer's Workshop program this year will be a success. I'm already seeing good signs. (I pinkie promise I will write about this very, very soon.)
  • My room is a well-oiled machine, better than ever before. It was so easy to maneuver around my classroom! I knew exactly where everything was, the layout of the room is comfortable, and it's generally just a pretty happy room to be in. I'm very pleased with my classroom at this point (exceptforthebackcabinetsbutIdontwannatalkaboutit).
  • I have the entire 1st quarter of the school year planned down to the day. My Friday prep for the upcoming week was exceptionally easy yesterday. Boo yah!
  • I arrived to school early every day this week. This, my friends, is a major accomplishment.
  • I ate breakfast every day except Wednesday, and that's because I had the first-day-of-school jitters. (Do you guys still get those??)
  • I have been much more sociable than usual with my coworkers, which is a big deal for this introvert.
  • I did not spill any food or drink on myself at work this week. Not even once. It's sad that I'm proud of this.

I think the year is off to a great start! I'm already particularly excited about the group of freshmen I have this year. They are enthusiastic, creative, and chatty. That's the way I like 'em!

And now for the giveaway!

Even though I'm back at it, lots of you lucky readers still have summer left! I've got a giveaway for August, and it's something a little different. For those of you who are still preparing for your school year, why don't you class things up a notch with some unique items from Etsy? Let me show you some Etsy finds for teachers that I'm loving right now.

Adhesive Chalkboards
Monthly Calendar Chalkboard Wall Decal

Classroom Sign

Teachers Plant Seeds That Grow Forever

Personalized Teacher Notepads

Hall Passes

Customized Teacher Stamps

Coffee Lovers Unite - Caffeine Molecule Tote Bag

Monogrammed Canvas Tote Bag

Custom Name Notebook

I don't know about you guys,but I would love to have every single one of these items, and tons of others! (Y'know, in case you are someone who wants to give me things. I hope my husband reads this...) 

A $25 Etsy Gift Card
You are on your way to adding some class to your class!

Your name can be entered twice in this giveaway!
Ways to Enter:
1. Leave a blog post comment telling us your funniest teaching moment.
2. Create a Facebook status including #EatWriteTeach. (If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.)

Convinced yet? Join the giveaway fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy teaching!


  1. My funniest teaching moment happened this year. My Grade 12s completed a test on Catcher in the Rye. The first part was matching. One student didn't bother to read the instructions and assumed it must be a true and false question. He put "T" and "F" for each empty space. The best part came when I gave the tests back and he saw that he got one right. He was such a good sport about it- I was laughing so hard I was crying. Every time I gave a test or quiz, he would always raise his hand and clarify the instructions :)

  2. I taught in inner-city Philadelphia for three years before I got married and moved out to the burbs. You had to laugh at everything or you'd cry. There are too many funny moments to count!

  3. Okay, so, first up -- Edmodo... Yes, I used this last year with my GT 10 kids. It worked well for me, but our school computers didn't hate it. The kids liked it because they could upload essays and written assignments there (and I liked it because I could score them there), it was easy to post a message to the whole class (like the day I forgot we were supposed to be in the classroom for class and not the library), and for those who don't have email (still scratching my head on how that's possible with so many tech things out there today) they could easily leave me a message and I could reply and they'd get the message on their phones. So it worked well for me last year, and I'm looking into using it again this year.

    First day jitters... every. year. I usually also can't sleep the night before. It's like Christmas Eve when I was a little kid. Heck, I still don't sleep well on Christmas Eve...

    Classroom funny... The day a kid told me he knew how to kill a mockingbird. Apparently, you stab it in the eye with a pencil. And he was so serious when he raised his hand and said this. Poor kid couldn't quite figure out what he'd said that made the entire class burst out laughing.

    What's your first day of school activity with your kids? I'm always in a rut with mine.

    1. Sarah, I tried a new activity that I really liked last year. In groups of 4, students get an envelope that contains a famous quote. I usually choose motivational quotes that help put students in the mindset for the year. Here's the activity part: in the envelope, the quote is all cut apart into its individual words. Students have to work together to figure out in which order the words should go. About ten minutes in, I enforce ABSOLUTE silence, so they are not allowed to talk to each other while they figure it out. It spurs good discussion about teamwork and communication, and then I make them write the quote down and do a written response about how they will apply these words to their upcoming school year.

    2. I switch up my first day activity each year. This year, in the spirit of my new Writer's Workshop program, I gave each student a piece of paper with a little picture in the middle that said "100 Things I Love." While I worked on housekeeping details (assigning books, taking attendance, etc.) the students had to see if they could come up with 100 things that they loved. My chatty kids were allowed to discuss their paper with others, which started some very interesting conversations. My quiet kids who prefer not to work with others were able to do some deep-thinking and soul-searching. This worksheet will go in their writer's notebooks this year.
      AMD I like the quotes activity. :)

  4. One of my funniest teacher moments would be teaching my algebra class about polynomials. My very talkative 6th period class was struggling with understanding the process of naming polynomials. One girl asked who had the time to come up with the names. I replied, with a straight face, "Ain't nobody got time for that. We have to learn the names anyways." They apparently told my other students in the hall because someone asked me if I really did say that. I told him: ain't nobody got time for that question.

  5. Probably the funniest teaching moment I can remember: I'm not sure what prompted the comment to begin with, but I had a student randomly say, "Did you know animals can be gay?" Thinking the student might be referring to that children's book about the two male penguins who attempt to mate and end up "adopting" an egg that had been abandoned and hoping this wasn't referring to some actual animals this student had seen, I gave the vague answer of "Oh, yeah?" The student said, "Yeah, cows can be gay, I guess." Knowing better now but not thinking at the moment, I asked, "How do you know that?" The student answered, "Because it says 'homo' on my milk." I did my best to quiet the raucous laughter in the room without bursting out laughing myself. I then had to explain that the word was "homogeneous" and not "homosexual". I don't think that poor student ever lived that down. Side note: I keep picturing this student believing that there must be milk out there somewhere that said "From Straight Cows" or something and that for some reason the school only offered "gay cow juice". It's amazing how little our students know sometimes!

  6. I think it's funny that our students don't like to believe that my husband and I are married. We both teach at the same school. Same last name. Yet they never quite want to believe.

  7. Its going to be my first year as a teacher but I'll share something from my student teaching days in middle school. I was explaining to them what to do for the assignment with the worksheet and instead of saying worksheet the normal way, I stumbled on the sheet part and it sounded like sh*t. Of course, the students caught on right away and my master teacher was there too to hear it all. For the rest of the week I refused to say worksheet and the students were coaching me in how to say it.

  8. I just finished up two years in 6th grade. I guess the funniest/most touching moment was taking my kids from the very flat Mississippi Delta to the hilly Ozarks. The kids pushed their noses up against the bus windows and shoved cell phone cameras and disposable cameras at the clear spots by the windows, just to capture hills they had never seen before.

  9. One of my funniest teaching stories came from our end-of-the-year test review. I teach World History, and the other World History teacher and I held an after-school review and had bribed some of students to come by counting the review sessions as make-up attendance days. One kid who had missed about 20 days that semester was convinced it was the Ottoman Twerks that invaded Constantinople, not the Turks. We still laugh at that one every year and use it as a mnemonic device to help students remember it.

  10. One of the funniest, and funnest, teaching moments of my first year teaching (about to start my second!) was during a game I call "Name It or Wear It". I'm a French teacher, and to review clothing vocab, I bring in a large box full of funny clothing. I hold up an item, choose a student, and he/she has to identify the item in French, or else put it on! Well, my seventh graders were just too smart and I ended up wearing the whole box - skirts over pants, jackets and coats piled over t-shirts and sweatshirts, belts, sunglasses, hats...My students showed off their knowledge and had a lot of fun - and my crazy picture ended up on Instagram.

  11. Background for the story: I am 23 years old and have dark brown hair with streaks of gray in it. The gray is natural; I'm prematurely turning gray (like my mother..thanks mom!). Also, I teach eighth grade English.


    One of the students was reading her short story aloud to the class. It was a "romantic" story that detailed a kissing scene. After she was done reading, a boy commented, "That was worse than Fifty Shades of Grey." After we all had a chuckle about that (and an embarrassing moment of me trying to get the class back under control), the SAME boy went on to say that "you know, Ms--- , YOU have fifty shades of grey in your hair." Needless to say, no more teaching could be done that day.

  12. I had some particularly stinky students in my 7th period class a few years ago, and I couldn't stand it, so I broke fire code and set up a little candle warmer behind my desk. It made the room smell delightful, and I loved it. Unfortunately, I had set it on a rolling cart. (I kind of forgot it rolled, because it just stays behind my desk for storage.)

    A rowdy senior decided he'd try to scare me. So he snuck into my room and hid behind said rolling cart-- props to my students, because they didn't give the slightest indication that I had a visitor. When the kid jumped out to scare me, he moved the rolling cart to the side, and the wax went EVERYWHERE-- on kids, on the floor, my desk, me, the walls, the door, books . . . it was a disaster.

    After I nearly cried, it was really funny! Guess I learned my lesson the hard way about candle warmers!

  13. I have a beautiful, lop-eared bunny for a classroom pet. She's absolutely wonderful, and very helpful with classroom management as well. All she has to do is thump her back feet and my students know, "'re disturbing Lola"; and who knew students would be willing to work for the privilege of cleaning a rabbit cage? Some of my funniest moments have come from students' comments about Lola. When she first arrived one student told me she was a good class mascot because she was bi-racial (she's black and white). Another student, whose academics improved greatly after Lola's arrival, told me he had no choice but to improve because Lola was a college-educated rabbit (she had been living at ECU prior to coming to me), and he wasn't going to be shown up by a bunny. Another student, commenting on the fact that I'm a vegetarian, wondered if Lola had talked me into it, since she's a vegetarian, too. :)

  14. Stephanie, it sounds like you're off to an amazing start of the school year. I hope my first week can go half as well as yours.
    ~Kim @ Confessions of a Multitasker

  15. Thanks for sharing all of your ups and downs during your first week of school! I'll take your words to heart and keep flats on my feet. My funny event happened after I bought a collection of plastic farm animals to use while reading Orwell's Animal Farm with my 9th graders. A few of the boys thought it would be great to play a trick on me, so at the end of class one day, when I flipped up the video screen, all of the animals were there with their feet taped to the chalkboard! They looked like they were marching in a parade across the board. We all laughed so hard that I know they will never forget the horses, pigs and dogs of Animal Farm! Keep the blog coming!

  16. Oh, I just remembered another hilarious story: We were reading the short story "The Leap" and a big part of the story is when the house catches fire. Thinking I would help the students remember common safety practices, I asked, "What do you do if your house is on fire?" One of my students piped up, "Stop, drop, and roll!" A few of the kids were even nodding their heads. I said, "NO! That's what you do if YOU are on fire, not your house!" The students all burst out laughing at that point.

  17. My funniest teacher moment would be during Halloween - I tutor my students in the evenings and one of them called me the Homework Fairy so I dressed up as an actual Homework Fairy with my lesson plans for the day written on post it notes and attached to wings and my subjects written out and attached to a tutu and I had wand made of dry erase markers and puff balls and I went around all day "blessing" my students with homework. It was awesome and hilarious!

  18. I keep a running list of the crazy things students have said in class. One of the most recent was "Can I write a memoir about myself?"

  19. I taught Othello for five years. Never failed, every single year when we watched the film version, a kid would say, "Wait, Othello is black?!?!"

  20. One year my students read a short story about football, and when we were finished we had a tailgate party in the classroom. I asked the kids to bring in snacks and drinks to share - and one of my students brought habanero peppers! I didn't realize this until several of the kids at them. Of course they felt horrible afterwards. They kept running to the bathroom, thinking they were going to be sick. That day ended up not being so fun, but after my students were feeling better they talked about how awesome it was. I learned the hard way to double check the foods that are brought in!

  21. My funniest teaching story is, well I don't have one yet! My first teacher workday is Friday! This first year teacher needs that etsy card!

    1. Hi MK.....if not tell Mom to get you one! Best Wishes this year!

  22. Not sure if it is the funniest comment, but I can't remember anything else that was semi-funny right now (is that sad?)! When we were reading Julius Caesar, one of my students BEGGED to do a British accent to accompany her reading of one of Antony's soliloquies. I allowed her to, but when she started reading all I heard was a Jamaican accent, nothing even close to British. I can just remember trying so hard not to giggle because this student was just darling. Something I will never forget!

  23. I teach high school American Sign Language (as a world language). My second year class was learning clothing vocabulary from a new textbook and the sign for underwear came up. Signs can have regional variations and I explained that in our area we sign it differently than what was illustrated in the book. To help them remember the sign I told them it looks similar to the sign for cherish or treasure. A girl commented "Ew, who cherishes their underwear?" I replied (open mouth/insert foot)"It's not the underwear, it's what's in it!" The boys instantly cracked up, with most of the girls about 5 seconds behind them. We must have laughed for 10 minutes!
    And then there was the young man who signed "vagina" when he meant to sign "pizza"! Poor guy still gets razzed about that one!

  24. My funniest teaching moment so far has to be when a student came up to me desk, handed me his cell phone, and said, "I accidentally called 911, and they need to talk to you." I swear I thought he was joking. It turns out the 911 operator was seconds from sending the SWAT team into the school building to make sure everything was okay!

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