Saturday, December 15, 2012


Yesterday, a tragic event occurred at an elementary school in Connecticut.  I repeat, an elementary school.  Twenty-six people were killed, more than half were children between the ages of 5 -10, just babies!  What type of person goes to a school with the intent to kill babies?  I cannot fathom experiencing what those children and school staff experienced during that short time period.  I can't concentrate on anything at the moment, my mind keeps going back to that small town in Connecticut.

Here I am sitting in my classroom, expecting students to flow in at any minute for Saturday School.  I'm wondering if any of my students have heard about this, and if so what do I say to them?  Because of the times we're living in, my school as most schools around the country participate in lock-down drills.  This is where we "pretend" that an intruder is in the building and we lock the doors, find a safe spot in the classroom and keep quiet.  Well, to many students this is a quick game of "Hide and Seek" and many do not take it seriously.  No one ever believes that something so tragic would happen to them.  What happened in CT could have happened anywhere.  Praying for the families and the entire community of Newtown, CT.  May GOD bless their souls.   

Friday, December 7, 2012

My first Observation

Well my first observation has come and gone and I can breath a little easier, just a tad bit.  Lol!  My principal came in on last Friday during guided reading time.  I begin my lesson maybe five minutes before she arrived.  I was fine at first but the minute I saw her walking towards my classroom I became nervous.  I was afraid that some of my students would act out or maybe I would say something wrong.  Overall it was a good observation.  There are definitely some areas that need improving and I'm working to improve them.  

Which brings me to the reason of this post. My school uses Everyday Math for our math curriculum.  Anyway, I was just browsing the site and looking at the professional development videos, something I planned to do back in September.  But being the procrastinator that I am, I'm just now watching the videos.  I know what you're saying, shame on me.  Lol!  Anyway, I wished I had watched these videos earlier.  Maybe my students would have caught on to the lesson much better.  I know many of them could use extra practice in this topic so I plan to do the lesson again.  I'm sure they will have better success the second time around.  

Cue the music!  "If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again, you can dust it off and try again, try again."

Thanks for stopping by!  Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts!

Well yesterday was Thanksgiving and I wasn't able to make a post so here it goes........

I have so much to be thankful for!  I will be here all day if I tried to list everything but I want to share just a few things with you all.  I'm most thankful for a supportive family, where would I be without them?  I'm thankful for my job and school family.  I love my kids and co-workers!  I'm thankful for good health!  In all of my 33 years I've never had any sickness or accidents that resulted in a hospital stay.  I'm thankful that Hurricane Sandy showed us mercy and everything is still intact, although some families were not as fortunate as mine.  I meant to blog about the hurricane but never got around to it.  We were out of school for seven days!  The hurricane did a lot of damage.  I still can't believe that a storm of this magnitude happened in Jersey.  I usually see storms like this on the news in places like Florida but never in my state.  Again, I'm thankful that we made it through the storm!

On another note, I happy to say that I survived the first marking period and my first Parent/Teacher Conferences.  The conferences went well and I'm pleased with my student's progress.  I have my first observation coming up next week and I'm a little nervous.  I pray that all goes well.   Wish me luck!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Owls and Technology

Hello Folks!

It's been quite a whiles since I made a post.  I'll say it again, I don't know how others keep up with a blog.  Nevertheless, I'll recap what has gone on the past few weeks.  About three weeks ago, third grade finished up our owl unit and I must say it was an awesome study.  We finished the unit with our students dissecting owl pellets, in other words, owl puke.  Are you disgusted yet?  LOL!  Many of the students were grossed out with the thought of looking at, let alone, touching the pellet.  But after awhile, all of the students were engaged in the activity and enjoyed trying to figure out what animals these bones belonged to.  Of course after this assignment, my little scientist want to dissect  everything!  LOL!  Are next unit of study was bats, and everyone wanted to know if we were going to dissect, one.  My response, "Absolutely not!"  LOL

Bones found inside the owl pellet

Bones and fur

Bone matching

On to the next update - so I received some gifts last week, well I guess you can call them gifts.  I received a few Mimio products - Mimio Teach, Wireless Mimio Pad, MimioView, and MimioVote.  I was so excited to receive these products and cannot wait to use them in my classroom.  How did I get these awesome products?  Well, I expressed to a parent that my goal is to implement more technology into my classroom, he informed me that he could assist me in making that happen.  And a month later he made good on his promise.  I don't own the products, you can think of it as a lease.  My job is to use the products and write reviews as I use them.  So I'll be sure to let you all know how I like the products.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Day in the City

For the first time in my life I traveled alone to one of the biggest cities - New York City. There I was standing in the middle of busy NY Penn Station.  People surrounded me on every angle.  Everyone seemed to be in such  a rush.  I walked at my normal pace trying to catch eyes with a friendly face.  I wanted to stop someone, anyone, and ask for directions.  But I was too afraid to ask for help.  Crazy as it seems, I didn't want to let others in on my secret, which was, I had no idea where I was going.  LOL!  So I blended in with everyone else and pretended like I knew where I was going.  I already knew that once I arrived at Penn Station, I had to take the #1 subway to 125th street and walk a few blocks.  Sounds easy enough right?  Well, there were two #1 trains and I wasn't quite sure which one to take - uptown or downtown.  I remembered that Harlem was located uptown but I needed confirmation.  So I gathered up the nerve to ask a passerby if the #1 uptown was the correct train I needed and she confirmed that it was.  Everything was smooth sailing from there, that is, until I reached my stop at 125th street.

I stepped off the train and walked down the stairs to the street level.  Which way do I go?  I looked left, then right and decided to walk left.  I must have walked about 20 blocks, all in the wrong direction.  I was pissed!  Before I left school and was given my ticket, I was promised that the route was fairly easy and the train would take me straight there.  What was the problem?  How come I can not find 120th street?  I'll tell you why, I'm directionally challenged.  LOL!  To make a long story short, I did make it to my destination albeit hot, frustrated, tired, and late.  The workshop was entitled "Rally Third Graders for This Year's New Challenges".  I've heard that the workshops could be quite boring so I walked in with the mindset that I was going to be bored to tears.  But I actually enjoyed it!  I walked away with a wealth of information and I plan to implement most of what I learned into my classroom.  The workshop was mostly geared to reader's workshop which is excellent, because that's what I want to try in my classroom.  All in all it was good day, even my hike through uptown.  LOL!  Oh and by the way, at the conclusion of the workshop I made it to the subway in no time.  And my co-worker was right, all I had to do was walk a straight path from the college to the subway.  I'll remember this for my next workshop which is scheduled in February.

Until next time.........

Friday, September 21, 2012

I Survived Back to School Night

"It's Friday night and the weekend's here I need to unwind with the party, Mr. DJ, DJ!"

Well it's Friday and the weekend is finally here!  I wanted to make a post earlier this week but I was experiencing technical difficulties with Blogger.  Tuesday evening was Back to School Night, but not too many parents attended.  The low attendance was due in large part to inclement weather.  I can tell you that I was very nervous at the thought of standing in front of a room full of parents by myself.  Yes, I've attended Back to School Night as a Teacher's Assistant, but I wasn't in the forefront or alone.  Anyway, we started the evening in the multipurpose room where the principal introduced all the teachers.  Teachers were called by grade level, with kindergarten being introduced first.  My heart pounded as each teacher was introduced.  Finally, I here my name called, and wouldn't you know it, I hear cheers of "Yay Ms. Leach!" and "Go Ms. Leach!"  By then I was cheesing!  LOL!  It felt good to hear the cheers and see people genuinely happy for me in my new position.  After the introductions, I became less nervous.  

The teachers were dismissed to get ready to meet the parents.  I mingled with the other teachers in my grade hallway, and talking with them released more of the nerves.  By this point I was ready to meet the parents.  Only three parents showed up, but as I stated earlier we were experiencing bad weather.  Having worked with some of these same parents in kindergarten, I know that the majority of them are involved parents and I'm quite sure there will be more in attendance during Parent/Teacher Conferences.  Anyway, I was happy with the parents who did come out and they were happy and satisfied with me.  One parent raved about our OWL Folders, she loves it!  Another parent even offered to assist me with getting more technology in my classroom.  Yes!!!!  I'm very much pleased with the way things are going.  

Before I end my post, I have to tell you how proud I am of my students.  I was having issues with writer's workshop in getting my students motivated to write.  Most of my students didn't seem interested in writing, for some it was like pulling teeth.  Nothing I seemed to do worked.  Well yesterday, I sat in on my grade partner, Jill's writing lesson.  I took everything she did back to my students and reassessed my approach to writing.  The lesson went much better then previous lessons and my students were prepared to write.  

Fast forward to today's writing session.  Writing is right after recess so they're pretty worked up after playing on the playground.  After making a restroom and water fountain stop we proceeded to class.  My lights were already off when we entered the classroom, so I decided to keep them off and let the sun do its job.  I reviewed the strategies for writing and reread one of my journal entries.  I gave my expectations and set them free to write.  I walked over to my computer, clicked on Pandora, hit the classical station tab and watched the magic begin.  I couldn't believe it was the same group of students.  They wrote the whole time without any complaints.  They were so engrossed in their writing, I was in awe!  I wish I would have taken pictures.  I have to remember to keep my camera nearby.  But even hours later, I'm still happy with the kiddos and their progress.  I hope it continues next week!

Have a great weekend!

Oh yeah, these are the images of our OWL (Organized Weekly Learning) Folders  

Front Cover

Homework pocket & OWL Folder rules

Class information (blurred for privacy)

Weekly report 

Parent/Teacher Communication Log

Important Papers

Keep at home

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back to School

Well I survived the first two weeks of school!  The first week consisted of two reduced days and two full days.  I'm now going on week three, and I really don't know how all the bloggers manage to keep their blogs up and going.  I have been so busy with my classroom and trying to stay organized that I really don't have much personal time.  Anyway, my first year experience is off to a smooth start.  I love my grade partners and our 3-5 grade level team.  My grade partners are awesome and they have helped me tremendously with lesson planning and great advice.  Some goals I would like to work on in my classroom would be incorporating technology into lessons as well as gain a better understanding and implement differentiated instruction in class.  Tuesday evening is Back to School Night where I will meet the parents.  I guess I need to update my classroom website sometime tonight........

Until next post!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The First Day of School

The 2012-2013 school year is off to a great start!  I was a tad bit nervous and so were my kids.  The first 20 minutes they were all shy and quiet.  I encouraged them to take a look around the room or talk with a friend about the summer vacation.  They just stared at each other.  I was thinking to myself I have a boring group of kids. LOL! That all changed about 15 minutes later.  Much of the day was devoted to going over routines and procedures with a mixture of fun activities.  All in all, I have a great group of students.

Experience is the best teacher!  I have had the pleasure of working with a great group of teachers during my five years at the school as a TA.  I've learned so much from these ladies.  Working alongside these great teachers has made my transition from TA to classroom teacher much easier.  My mentor has been dubbed the "Differentiation Queen".  Implementing differentiation instruction, is one of my goals for the school year.  I'm very eager to implement it into my classroom.  I was told that my mentor started off in my current classroom.  See where I'm going..... :-)       

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Weekend

Okay so the classroom is 98% complete.  I'm still waiting on a few things that were previously ordered.  Once they arrive, my classroom will be complete!  This is the last weekend before the 2012-2013 school year begins.  I have still have sooooooo much to do but I also need to take the time out to just relax.  I haven't been to the beach all summer long and my family is planning to go in the morning.  I think I'm going to take them up on their offer and go.  Maybe I can lay on the beach and read a book, hopefully I won't fall asleep ;-)

Here's an updated picture of my math wall.  As you can see I still don't have my book bin labels, I'm printing them out tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Vacation is Over!

Summer vacation is officially over.  Where did the summer go?  Yesterday was a very eventful day, my first day of orientation.  Although I've worked at this school for five years, it is my first year as a teacher.  In addition to myself, we have five new teachers.  For the most part orientation was good.  What I enjoyed the most was the Principal's slide show.  She showcased her k-8 school years, and spoke of how each teacher had an impact (positive and negative) on her life.  It was really cute and I'm thinking of doing the same thing for my students.  She also asked each of us to think of a song that describes us, my pick was "God in Me" by Mary Mary.  But I thought of two more that I love, "Beautiful Flower" and "I Choose" both by India Arie.  I consider "I Choose" to be my theme song (click on the songs to listen).  Anyway, as stated before, I'm going to create a slide show for the first day of school, so that my students can get to know me a little better.  I'm going to end the slide show with "Who are You?" or something along those lines.  This will start the dialogue up and break the ice. 

BTW.......Can you believe that I'm still organizing and arranging my classroom?  After today, I feel much better with my progress, I'm about 90% complete.  I have two more days (in between meetings) to prepare.  Wish me luck!  Pics soon to follow!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Library is Complete

This is going to be a short and sweet post.  I'm happy to report that after four days of organizing, my library is now finished!  Yay!!!!!  I never thought it would take this long!  I'm so glad I decided to get a head start on working in my classroom.  Tomorrow I will begin working on my bulletin boards.........

I have to add labels.....

I'm going to switch out these bins to make them all uniform

Need to add labels and decide if I want alternating colors or all red......

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Books, Books, Books and More Books!

I visited the school yesterday and today, to start cleaning and arranging my furniture.  I like the arrangement I have, and loving the fact that I will have only 13 students.  Sweet!!!!!!  This year third grade is split between three rooms, thus the small number of students.  There are 40 total students in grade three.  

So far, I spent about eight hours total, arranging my classroom and it doesn't look like I accomplished much.  I've spent most of the time organizing my classroom library.  In a previous post I stated that I would spend a few hours a day in my class, at least twice a week.  Well that was weeks ago and I didn't keep my I'm spending a great deal of time organizing.  There are so many books in my classroom, every-time I think I'm finished with the books, I find another bin.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the books it's just taking much more time than I expected on getting organized.  Let's see what I can tackle tomorrow.

This is the only organized area in the classroom so far........

I'm arranging the chapter books by author.  To get organized, I placed these letter punch-outs on the floor and begin sorting by last name......


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Decided.....

So I have been going back and forth on how to organize my classroom library.  Should I organize by level or not?  I have finally decided to organize books by topic and authors.  I want my students to learn how to choose books that are the right fit for them.  I don't want students to limit their book choices based on level.  I remember substituting a class where one child wanted to choose a book that was in the level 4 bin and she was a level 2 reader.  All the students knew she was a level 2 reader and insisted that she was not to read any of the higher leveled books.  The student really wanted to read this particular book.  So I told the student to read the book to me and if she struggled with it, then she would have to choose a different book.  I'm glad I allowed her to read the book because she read it with very little help from me.  She did an awesome job!  From then on she would choose a book in the level 4 bin and ask to read a few pages to me, I would oblige.  We kept the same agreement.  On her own, she learned how to choose books that were the right fit.  So now that my mind is made up, it's now time to create labels and purchase additional book bins. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting Organized

So I visited my classroom today to tackle my library.  And to my surprise, I didn't have much to do.  The last teachers did an awesome job in maintaining and organizing the classroom library.  As promised, my niece helped me to cover my books with contact paper.  I also had additional help from my sister-in-law.  The three of us managed to cover 100+ plus books in five hours.  I'm so thankful for them!  It would have taken much longer, had I done it by myself.

While in my classroom I took a look around to see what I did/didn't need.  I was delighted to see some board games that I have on my Lakeshore wish list, inside the cabinets.  I took the boardgames out to see if all the pieces were present, and sadly they were not.  I wonder if I contacted Lakeshore would they sell me the pieces.  I probably could make the missing pieces, but who has that amount of time?  I would hate to have to buy those same games again...........

I'm going back to my classroom again to begin cleaning and organizing my cabinets.  I can't really do anything else until the floors are done.  I'm trying to get ahead of the game because I tend to be a huge procrastinator at times.  I don't want to be freaking out a week before school begins, because I don't have enough time to organize my classroom.  So I'll spend a few hours in my classroom for the next week or so.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taking Care of Your Classroom Library

Back in June I went to the Scholastic Books Warehouse and walked out with a great selection of books.  I purchased about 50-60 books and only paid $85.  Sweet!!!!!  These books will be added to my classroom library, I'm bringing about 100 of my own books.  Because they are soft covered books I was worried about the condition the books will be in, once students start reading.  While browsing another teacher's blog (my newest hobby) I came across Mrs. Siegel's (The Teachaholic) method of making your classroom library last longer.  It's pretty simple and I thought of doing this, but it's oh so time consuming.  But I enlisted the help of my niece who happens to be home for summer break, to help with this project.

All you need is clear contact paper and scissors and your books will come out like this...... 

Click on The Teachaholic above for step by step directions

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Upper Elementary Linky Party

Hey All!  As you already know I'm a newbie to the blogging world.  Lately I have been spending a lot of time browsing various blogs and my new addiction Pinterest!  I found this blog linking numerous blogs of teachers who teach 3rd-5th grade.  If you're an upper elementary teacher looking for more ideas, join the party by clicking on the link.....


My Classroom

I visited the school today to drop off some materials for my classroom.  I love my new classroom!  It's spacious with lots of windows.  It probably won't be as spacious when furniture and students are added to the equation.  LOL!  I can't wait to decorate!  I originally planned to go with a frog theme but I have since changed to an owl theme.  That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.  LOL!  Here are a few pics of my classroom, it is in the process of being painted.

Last Day of School

June 22, 2012

Today is the day, the last day of the 2011-2012 school year! Thank you Jesus! I'm sooooo tired, I may go straight home, shower and sleep til Sunday. But I had a great time in first grade with a GREAT group of kids.  As I dismissed my students, one student came back with a card.  I later opened my card and inside was a letter and a check.  Let me tell you this was the best gift (letter) a teacher could receive!  It's better than flowers or gift cards, simply because those things will fade away, but that letter will remain with me forever. Some of it reads like this "We would like to thank you for your patience and professionalism in teaching our child, 'Kenya'..........."Your efforts are the stepping stones to "Kenya's" success in life." Tears, but happy ones!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Great News

June 11, 2012

What a way to end my graduation celebration!  This morning, I was called into the office by my Head of School and Principal.  They set me down and gave me the sweetest news ever!  I was offered a teaching position for the 2012-2013 school year.  I will be one of three third grade teachers, I'm so excited!!!!!!  I was told that I didn't need an interview, my five years working at the school (Kindergarten TA) was my interview!  

I'm thinking of purchasing this shirt for the first day of school!

Graduation Day

June 9, 2012
Well today is the day! It's finally here and I'm sharing it with my niece who is graduating from high school.  Today I will walk across the stage and receive my diploma - Masters of Arts in Education/Early Childhood Education. 

On my way to Philadelphia to participate in the commencement ceremony

The Parents & I
Proud Sisters

Proud Big Brother
Sister-n-law & my God-son

Nephew & I

On a personal note......

May 15, 2012

Last year I chopped off my hair in an effort to get rid of my relaxed ends. Since then I've noticed several girls at my school chop their hair as well. I'm not saying it's because of me, it could be the influence of a family member. Either way, I'm proud to see these young ladies feeling comfortable in their own skin and choosing at such a young age to be proud of the texture they were born with. Natural girls rock!

The day after I chopped off my hair - Mother's Day 2011!

Back to Work - Hello First Grade!

April 23, 2012

It's funny how things play out. I had a discussion with my CT about which grades I would like to teach.  Right away I said I don't think I could teach first grade. Well that same day I received a call from my school's Administrative Assistant.  I was asked if I would be interested in filling in as a sub (first grade) for the remainder of the school year.  I gave it some thought.  I really loved working with my kindergarten classroom teacher and was anxious to get back to our classroom and kids.  Although I would miss working in our classroom, this would be a great opportunity for me to gain more classroom experience as the lead teacher.  And with me searching for a classroom position for the 2012-2013 school year, what better way than to show what I have learned and applied them in the classroom?  I would love to work in my current school next September, so now is the time to put my best foot forward and show and prove how much of an asset I could be to the school. 

So, after seven weeks away from my job, I returned back to work!  I'm so happy to be back!  The sad part, is that I will not be with my kindergarten kids :-( The good thing is that I will be right across the hall from them so I will still see them every day.

Wish me luck!

Student Teaching Experience

Well it's Friday, April 20, 2012 and my student teaching experience is officially over!  This was the best experience ever.  My CT and her assistant were great.  They were very supportive in my endeavor of becoming a certified teacher.  Whatever I needed she gave, I felt very welcomed in the class.  This was my second placement in a pre-k classroom.  My first setting was in my very own classroom where I assist kindergarten students.  I'm an Instructional Assistant at a K-8 charter school.  Now that I think about it my first placement really didn't "feel" like student teaching.  Like I stated before, this was my normal classroom, therefore I knew all the students and the classroom routine.  Student teaching in the classroom where you work, has its pros and cons.  If I had to do it over again, I would have chosen a different grade level.  But I learned from the experience and had an awesome CT, so that's all the matters.   

In case you didn't know, the Master of Arts in Education/Early Childhood Education  program is different from other Teacher Education programs.  One being is that student teaching takes place in two different settings - preschool and elementary.  Each placement is six weeks long, totaling 12 weeks.  There have been cases where students were able to remain at the same school only if the school included pre-k.  Well my school starts at kindergarten so I had to take a leave of absence for six weeks to complete student teaching in a pre-k classroom.   

Those six weeks flew by very quickly!  I'm very pleased with my growth as well as the student's growth.  My CT gave me an awesome recommendation letter that I will use in my portfolio.  Speaking of portfolio I really need to get on the ball of finalizing mine.  Although my placement is finished, I'm definitely not finished with the program.  I still have one more week to go in seminar with much work to do.  I really should have taken a week off before heading back to work, I'm exhausted!  Oh and by the way, I was offered a long term substitute position in first grade.  So when I return to work I will get my first experience of having my own classroom in an elementary setting, well at least until the next nine weeks. 

For those of you still working towards your degree, please don't give up!  Yes it's hard at times but the end reward will be so much worth it! 

My CT surprised me with a farewell breakfast and wonderful gifts.  I was so overwhelmed and cried like a baby.  I wasn't expecting this at all!

I'm a Newbie!

Hello All!

I'm new to the blogging world so please bare with me.  My intentions were to create a blog during my student teaching experience but I never got around to creating one.  While I didn't create an official blog I did write my thoughts down and shared with my online classmates as well as my Facebook family.  Although the date is stamped with July, I'm going to take you back to April.  I hope you enjoy reading my blog! 

Thanks for stopping by!