Must Read Monday. {what's on my shelf?}

Monday - here we are again + if your Monday has been anything like mine, it's dragged on forever and left you dreaming of your bed and being pantsless in your apartment. 

The bright spot in my Monday is I have 2 books on hold at the library + that is life changing for a nerd like myself. With two new books to start and finish, here are a few of my summer recommendations to keep the Monday blues at bay - 

Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler was a quick read for me for so many reasons! Taking on the world of beauty pageants and reality TV obsessions, Butler creates identifiable characters in Miranda Miller, Bailey, and Ray - I instantly could relate his fictional characters to real life people in the lime light. Using satirical humor, Butler pokes fun at the state of reality TV and the need to live up to the Joneses'. If you're looking for a darkly humorous, yet perfect beach read, check this one out. 
Another quick read was Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham - it took me a day, a literal day, to finish this hilarious gem that is written in e-mails and text messages. Chronicling the relationship of Madeline and Elliot, it resonates so many relationship realities that we face in the 21st century. Too long text messages, not texting enough, texting too much - Read Bottom Up takes on social media's impact on relationships and does it in a cute and romantic way. 

Remembering my mid year resolution to try a new recipe each week, Food Network Magazine: 1,000 Easy Recipes has become such a helpful guide. It comes complete with grocery lists and most of the dishes require minimal cooking skills. It is separated by sections, making it easy to plan by the ingredient that you plan on using for dinner. While I borrowed it from the library, it's been added to my purchase list, so I can track the changes I make to the recipes. 

Here are just a few of things on my shelf - enjoy your week, loves! 
Until next time, 

Motivation Monday {Mid Year Resolutions.}

Did you have new year resolutions? I did. My list was actually pretty exciting - save $500, take one big trip, and be a more present friend. 

Well, I find myself in the middle of 2015, like everyone else and my list has one resolution completed. I took a big trip with my co-workers to Harry Potter world, and it was worth not being able to save $500. 

July has made its appearance, with it's over excited confidence that the year is half over, and Christmas countdowns can start, but what about our resolutions? What about our promises to ourselves or family or friends to be a better person? Do they get erased, marked through, or marked with an asterisk, because you might get to it? In my quest for constant improvement - perfectionist problems - I have taken July's appearance as an opportunity for a clean slate. By the way - you can always start over - don't believe otherwise. My clean state are my mid year resolutions - clearly short term goals that I want to reach in my last six months of 2015. 

1. Pay off my credit card, my car, and short term debts. Being a twenty something, debt is like an iPhone - everyone has it and few people know what to do with it. I crave financial independence. I got it from my parents when I was 15, and now I want it from Capital One and Suntrust. By creating a sound and realistic financial plan, I plan to be short term debt free by the end of 2015, leaving only my student loans and that's an entire blog post in itself. 

2. Try a new recipe every week. God bless my boyfriend's heart. He doesn't ask for much - he doesn't even require that I cook every day, but blame my traditional gender roles and my need to be like my mother, I like cooking dinner for us and having somewhat of a routine in the evening, since we both work long hours. With all of this being said, I have to expand my recipe book. Between my mom's cooking blog (check it out here) and Food Network magazine, I want to try a new recipe every week. 

3. Plan a vacation. I love traveling. My boyfriend loves traveling. There are so many places to see and so many things to do, and I can't let the second half of 2015 pass me by just staying in North Carolina. Whether it's domestic or foreign, another adventure awaits me. 

Three goals, six months - the game is on, 2015. The first half of 2015 was nothing short of amazing and I have no doubt that the second half of 2015 is going to be equally amazing. 

Another Monday, another chance for a fresh start, but don't let July slip away without thinking about the big picture and thinking about what you are doing to reach the goals you set for yourself. 

Here's to a marvelous Monday + mid year resolutions! 
Until next time, 

Strategy Saturday {looking towards 2016.}

The Saturday of a long weekend has to be one of my favorite feelings - endless possibilities and knowing that I have another day for shenanigans, which is beautiful. This long weekend was so necessary. At this time, this long weekend was needed for everyone. When we go back to school, we will have 5, FIVE, days till the EOGs start and that is mind-blowing. My babes and I have been working so hard to read word problems and practice close reading strategies, and we are tired, so we were all grateful for our three day weekend. 

As the end of the year approaches, we have 14 school days left, it's time to start thinking about next year and how you can better prepare your physical space for success next year! 

Most schools have end of year expectations, and their own checklists to complete, but there are some simple things you can do to make the next year start smoothly! 

1. Purge, purge, purge! My mother is a teacher, but God bless her, she still has filing cabinets full of good ideas and great lesson plans, but in this digital age, it's a lot easier to keep electronic copies and digital files than it is to keep color coded file folders and paper copies, so my advice to you is purge those filing cabinets, center buckets, writing folders - recycle it all! My rule is if I didn't use it this year, I don't need it. 

2. Be selective in your anchor chart choice. Anchor charts are a necessity, especially in elementary grades, but darn, don't those things take up a ton of space! The great thing about anchor charts are that you can create new ones each year to fit the needs of your class. My suggestion for these beautiful learning tools is keep a select few if they are foundation skills, and recycle everything else. Students benefit from helping you create the anchor chart, so look forward to those memories with your new babes. 

3. Organize your library. All good classrooms have a library, but great classrooms have an organized library. Take a few minutes every day from now till the end of the year to label, categorize, and level your library. If you spend the money to create a library, please spend the time to keep it up. Book Retriever is a great app for iPads and iPhones that helps you create an electronic database for books and provides information about their levels (Lexile, DRA, and Guided Reading.) 

4. Give away at  least 5 things. Part of teaching is sharing and collaboration, and we have all started with nothing, so make sure to create a donation box for new teachers who are new to your building or just to share some gently loved items. Great things for donation are boarders, extra organizational supplies, teaching resource books, and extra copies of books for libraries. 

5. Label all your boxes. This sounds silly, but when packing up your stuff create specific labels to clearly identify what is in there. This will make unpacking a breeze, especially if you are in the same classroom, and you know where you keep things. I use blank name tags from Dollar Tree to label my boxes and it quickly lets me see what's in the box, so I can make sure my time is spent well when unpacking. 

I know it sounds crazy to start thinking about next year, but what separates good teachers from great teachers is planning in all aspects. Follow these quick easy steps to ensure an easy start to the next school year! 

Enjoy your three day weekend, loves! 
Until next time, - 

Strategy Saturday {How to Survive the End of the Year.}

If your life is anything like mine right now, the speed is hyper-drive, and you are just trying to hang out for dear life, while maintaining some sense of professionalism and appearance of having your life together. 

Before you start to say, "Lucy, it's so hard.", "Lucy, I am so tired." - let me tell you one more important detail - 

I have everything I have ever asked, wished, and prayed for and the gratefulness in my heart pours out daily. 

Yes, you read that right - despite my long days due to supervising an after school tutoring program, despite my weekend drives to another city to see my boyfriend, and despite my inability to make it home to my parents, because I had been busy with grad school - y'all, I am sublimely happy (in my Cher Horowitz voice.) 

I completed my first semester of grad school at UNC, and I found it mentally challenging and I was eager to learn, which means I made the right choice. Academics is my only claim to fame - I am as uncoordinated as a baby giraffe and for some reason, Hollywood hasn't rang up your girl yet, so academics is the one thing I am holding onto. When I chose UNC, I was looking for a challenge, and I found it and I loved it. I am mind blown to think that very soon, I won't be someone's teacher anymore, but it's exactly where I want to be. 

In addition to finishing my first semester, I have been supervising an EOG tutoring program at my elementary school, and it has been a great learning experience for my future as a school leader. Coordinating transportation, handling parents and discipline, and ensuring teachers are doing what they need to do has been a great learning experience, and while I am very ready to have my Monday through Thursday afternoons back, I am glad to have received another great highlight for my resume. 

The end of the year is quickly approaching, and when I say the end of the year, I mean our time with students is numbered. I know very few teachers who will take the complete summer off - whether it is for financial or professional reasons, the summers that teachers will have will be short. The end of the year is such a difficult time for so many reasons - the sense of urgency is realer than ever, and all emotions are running high. Just remember: this is what you have been working for. The journey you have been on with your students for the last hundred and something days has prepared for them for nothing but success. Know that when I say success, I am talking about growth and their readiness for their next experience, and nothing to do with their performance on standardized assessments. That is not where the beauty in teaching is - not at all. 

Just remember: to breathe and keep your eyes open, because your time with your students will be over before you know it. Soak in their corny jokes, their endless questions, and their love for you. Every class is special for a million different reasons, and just remember to love them so hard for these last couple of weeks. Also remember, that your worth and their worth are not tied to any test, assessment, or evaluation - if students are walking out of your door with growth, you did your job. Teaching is about growing students and making them better and more capable every day. 

As the year wraps up, be as fabulous as you were at the beginning! 
Until next time, loves - 


confessions of a full time everything. {two days till spring break, y'all.}

I can think of a million sayings about hard work, success, and never quitting - I can think of quotes by business men, coaches, and celebrities about never giving up on your dreams. I am sure you can too. 

Ask yourself: Can you think of any quotes that talk about how hard it is? Can you think of any quotes about the sleepless nights, the missed calls from friends, the declined invitations for dinners - can you think of any? 

If you can, the number of those quotes is probably far less than the ones about success and never quitting. People are rewarded in public for what they have practiced in private, and the world forgets that - I forget that. How many years did Bill and Melinda Gates eat Ramen and watch basic cable? How many years did Jay-Z still sell drugs, because rap wasn't making the ends meet yet? How many dinner invitations will I decline before I can say yes?

This is what it's all about, right? Right. Accomplishing one goal to move to another, to achieve the life you have dreamed of for forever. 

Well, today, with two days before spring break, all my full times are wearing me thin. As I sit in my Wednesday night graduate class, (yes, I am updating my blog during class), I am drained emotionally and physically. With spring here, the days are long and the hours are longer, and the reward seems far off. 

Whether you are in education, business, finance, customer service, retail - it doesn't matter - spring fever is real. It is real. It is here. It's here, set up shop for a while - so, how do we do it? 

It's so important to take time for yourself and for the ones you love and the things you love. With the sense of urgency reaching it's breaking point, it's important to take time to recharge for yourself and the people around you. How do you do that? How are you taking care of yourself, so that you can take care of all the things that need you? 

1. Unplug. Put the phone down. Turn your notifications on silent. Close the computer. Walk away. With constant connection, it's hard to be okay with being alone and be unattached, but I am here to tell you - it is okay. It is okay to leave your phone on the dining room table and cook dinner in the kitchen and watch TV in the living room. Being able to be alone and enjoy solitude is a positive character trait. Unplug. Let yourself detach from constant updates and be okay with being with yourself and the ones you love and the things you love. 

2. Do an activity. I love to read. I love to color, paint, and be artsy. What do you love? What do you love that is separate from your job, separate from your children, separate from your spouse - what do you love? Whatever it is, do it. If you need a nap, take it. You want a glass of wine? Drink it. You want to read that US Weekly? Do it. A key to renewing yourself is providing yourself a time to fill yourself back up after you have depleted what you have for others.  

3. Eat your favorite meal. I realize that food should not be a reward - you're not a dog, spare me the dietary facts. The reality of the situation is that good food and good friends, or one of each can change your life. 

4. Dress up. Male or female, a good outfit can change your outlook on life, so tomorrow, dress up, show up, and never give up! (: 

Friends, Ginger On the Move is a year old, and y'all have been rocking with me the whole time - I am so grateful! I hope your spring fever gets a vaccination soon! 

Until then, 
- Lucy 

Strategy Saturday {How to Use Volunteers + Tutors.}

I need a Strategy Saturday in my life after not seeing my students for a WHOLE week. I feel my heart breaking into a hundred pieces - my life without them isn't really much of a life at all. So, hopefully a Strategy Saturday will make me feel warm and mushy about school, because I miss it way more than I should. 

Today's topic is about how to effectively use volunteers and tutors who find their way into your classroom with their eager smiles and helpful hands! I am blessed to have 5, that's right FIVE, tutors in my classroom at various times throughout the week, and without them, my classroom could not run efficiently. Tutors and volunteers, when you have them, can make your life and your classroom so much easier as long as you know how to use them. 

Most volunteers, parent or otherwise, come with little education experience, but a desire to help in any way possible, which is why they are so amazing! Someone who wants to be in your classroom and to help you and your students is such a positive influence in the learning environment. 

In order to effectively use volunteers, you, as the teacher, needs to identify the areas of need that they can logically address. Obviously, you are the first source of instruction, but volunteers can be used for review, one - on - one tutoring, fluency activities, basic math fact review, writing conferences, and literature circles. Volunteers can be a great intervention for students in tier II and III of the RtI process, and it allows for more interventions that you may not have time to deliver. 

Once you have identified the needs that you want your volunteers to help with, tell them. I know that seems logical, but talk them through the activities and tell them a little about the students that they may be working with. If you're asking a tutor to complete an oral reading fluency drill, show them how to mark miscues and record retells. If you're using them to facilitate a literature circle, show them how to question and guide conversation. Again, volunteers are there to make your life easier and to help grow students, and you would be doing yourself and your students a disservice by not being clear about the expectations. 

So, you've identified the needs, discussed the activities with the tutors, and now the sessions have started. The key to making sure volunteers are true intervention and are truly assisting with student growth is to document their activities. 

Documentation is such a dirty word in education, because it instantly takes a negative connotation, but I've created some easy templates that you can use in your classroom to document time in and out, as well as, the activities completed and with who. I use something very similar in my own classroom and just add copies to my student's intervention folders and my Title I crates. The truly easy thing about this documentation is that the tutors can complete it by themselves and you can easily keep track of frequency of interventions for those who need a high level of help. 

I have made the volunteer packet available for download for free, so check it out here

Ultimately, whether volunteers are reading to students, helping you file papers, eating lunch with your babes, or reviewing multiplication tables - at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. Volunteers will make your classroom a fun, exciting, and multi-dimensional environment. I love my volunteers and I hope you find volunteers who make your classroom more fun and exciting! 

I want to update one more time this weekend. I need to get better at controlling my life, so that I show how much moving the Ginger is doing! Great things are happening, loves and I hope great things are happening for you too! 

Until next time! 

one down, thirteen to go...

Photo credit: Google Images 
Today, my second class in my new master's program started. The first hurdle out of the way - my first class done and  I would like to think that I was more than successful. 

Despite my academic success in this class, a doubt that this is the right path for me has crept in anyways. My professor proclaimed, on the first day, that part of his job was weeding out those who didn't truly want it. He said, on more than one occasion, that there are great students who don't become great principals, and it's human nature to wonder if I was one of those he was talking too. I already felt a level of apprehension coming into the program, and after all he said, the feeling still lingered. That feeling that I am meant for great things, but maybe just not this has been rolling around in my mind. Then, something happened. Well, a few things happened. 

1. I received a great observation from my principal. Say what you want about the evaluative measures of North Carolina, and how effective they truly are, but the reality for me, right now as a classroom teacher, is that these evaluations mean so much more than a few boxes with check marks. My principal is someone I have grown to respect and value her professional opinion, and having her give me a great evaluation meant a lot. I already know that I am doing what I need to for my students and at any cost, but having someone you respect say that to you can make your day. 

2. I was honored with being chosen as the monthly spotlight educator for my district, which is, as my friends and coworkers tell me, a big deal. Believe it or not, being praised and complimented is something I still struggle to accept, and this is an unbelievable honor that I am so grateful to share with my students, my team, and my school. Teaching is not an individual sport - the sheer complexity of my task as a teacher can only be carried out with a school and team that has a culture of excellence. 

3. My teammates, both who are new teachers, got glowing evaluations too. This, again, speaks to the testament of the atmosphere and environment we have created for each other and for our students. When one of us shines, we all shine. 5th grade is an all or nothing team - we all get it or we all don't. Having them feel empowered and successful is, by far, the greatest victory so far. 

As I write this long over due post on the lunch break of my Saturday class, I think of my future - I am sure a lot of us do. What will it look like, who will be there, what will I be doing, and for once, one thing is for certain. Regardless of the physical space or the people who occupy it, I will be educating someone in some way. 

My classmates are starting to straggle in, so I am sure this is a natural wrap up for me. I hope you find your Saturday productive (: Stay tuned for a special edition of Strategy Sunday tomorrow! 

- Until next time, loves...