September Favorites

I'm starting a new series of monthly favorites! Here's what I'm loving this month:
This post contains affiliate links.

1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson I had multiple people list this book as one that changed their lives on this Instagram post, so I decided to read it! Not a light read, but so, so important. The author shares stories of his work with prisoners on death row and the racism that is so embedded in the criminal justice system. There are some truly shocking statistics in the book, but it's mostly personal stories of actual cases. Be prepared to cry and shake your fist at society.

2. Naranjas Puzzle I just completed this puzzle and it's one of my favorites! It's a 1000 pieces and on the challenging side, but not crazy hard like some of the puzzles of paintings I've done.

3. Daily Harvest Smoothies These smoothies come frozen to your door, and you just add liquid and blend! They're a little pricey, but they've been working out really well for me since I'm kind of bad about keeping food in the house or eating at all when I'm home by myself. I get 6 every two weeks and they're great to have on hand for breakfast or as a snack. I try not to eat added sugar, so it's great that there are plenty of options without it. My favorite flavors are Acai + Cherry and Cold Brew + Almond. You can try it out and get three free cups with this link!

4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before This Netflix original movie is the cutest! Tons of you recommended it to me on Instagram so I watched it one night when my husband wasn't home so he wouldn't ruin it. 

5. Veggie Grain Bowls This is one of my favorite recipes to meal prep ahead and eat for lunch all week. I've only ever had the first one (there's two listed in this recipe), but it's SO good. I'm not sure in what world sweet potato takes the same amount of time to cook as all the other veggies though, so pop those sweet potatoes in first.

6. Neko Case's Hell-On This album is a couple months old but I'm just getting into it now. I'm a sucker for songs with my name, so Halls of Sarah is my personal favorite from the album.

7. Paper Mate Fine Gel Pens I know everyone has strong feelings about their flairs and Inkjoys, but these are my go-to pens! Ever since I started bullet journaling, I've been on the hunt for the perfect pen for me, and I think these are it!

What are your favorites this month?

September Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Teach Mug I know it's a cliche that teachers get tons of mugs as gifts, but I, for one, have never once received a teacher mug! Regardless, this campfire style ceramic mug is perfect for your morning coffee or for keeping at school! {Retail Value: $15}

Face Mask This Charcoal Detox Sea & White Clay Mask from True Beauty Organics soothes skin and removes dirt and impurities. {Retail Value: $2.75}

Art Print Naturally the queen of teacher farmhouse style, Jessica of The Magnolia Teacher, designed this month's 5" x 7" art print! {Retail Value: $8}

Oatmeal Soap This gentle oatmeal soap from Serenity + Blossom is perfect for sensitive skin. {Retail Value: $4}

Matcha Chai Latte Mix Chai is the perfect fall drink, and this special mix from Teapigs combines it with healthful matcha! {Retail Value: $2.25}

Wooden Sign I polled the Teacher Care Crate Instagram audience about whether they would like a sign for your classroom or home-- and you choose classroom! These beautiful wooden signs were handmade by Cabin20 Creations. {Retail Value: $11}

{Total Retail Value: $43}

While the September crate is sold out, you can visit on September 15 to sign up to receive the October Teacher Care Crate!

9 Items of Clothing from Amazon to Complete Your Teacher Wardrobe

This post contains affiliate links.

Amazon has some surprisingly cute and inexpensive (okay, that part's not surprising) clothing options for teachers! Unfortunately it can be kinda hard to hunt down items that are actually your style since Amazon is so vast! I did the work for you and found nine items perfect for teaching! They're all under $50, and most of them are WAY below that. My biggest tip for shopping for clothes on Amazon is to the check the brand's size chart and read the reviews. The clothes are often coming straight from Asia and the sizes tend to run quite small. For example, I'm usually a US extra small, and often wear a small or medium in many Amazon brands. Happy shopping!

1. Tote Bag This tote looks basic, but can hold a ton and has lots of useful features like dividers, pockets, and a keychain strap.
2. Striped Button Down This button down would look great untied with skinny pants or tied with a skirt!
3. Black Midi Skirt Speaking of skirts, a black midi is easy to wear and goes with everything.
4. Striped Long Sleeve Tee This top is a little more casual, but still appropriate for most schools.
5. Ballet Flats Some of the colors of these Tieks look-alikes are as low as $14!
6. Open Front Cardigan A neutral cardigan is a must for dealing with eccentric school heating systems.
7. Black Drawstring Pants Can't wear jeans? Why not wear something even comfier, like these drawstring pants!? 
8. Sloth Dress Look, what's even the point of being a teacher if you're not wearing whimsical prints à la Ms. Frizzle? 
9. Long Sleeve Ruffle Top So cute and would look great with a statement necklace!

Cultural Appropriation in the Classroom

From teepees as reading nooks to Drake decor, cultural appropriation is rampant in the classroom. Before I give some examples, let's make sure we all know what cultural appropriation is. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, "the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture." I actually like this addition from Wikipedia as well: "It is distinguished from an equal cultural exchange due to an imbalance of power, often as a byproduct of colonialism and oppression."

As teachers, and particularly if you're a white teacher, it can be difficult to find the line between cultural appreciation vs. appropriation. Teaching your students about other cultures is important and absolutely not appropriation when you're doing it in a respectful and accurate manner. So how can you tell when you're taking part in cultural appropriation? Consider the intent AND the impact. Is your intent just to be trendy and cute, or is to truly and accurately teach about a culture? Is your intent to gain attention and profit (thinking TPT sellers here!) or is it to honor the culture? Now, consider the impact. Could the impact of your actions be negative, even if your intent is good? If a person of the culture you are appropriating tells you it's appropriation, listen to them! If you are a white educator teaching about marginalized cultures, you need to come at it from a place of humility. If you make a mistake, stop doing it, apologize, and make amends. 

Here are a few common forms of cultural appropriation in the classroom:

1. Using a whole culture or aspects of a culture as decor. "Tribal" is not a classroom theme. Sadly, if you search tribal decor on Teachers Pay Teachers, hundreds of results come up! There are many different Native American tribes that have all different customs and forms of art. They should not be reduced to some zigzag patterns and arrows for the sake of decorating a bulletin board. In the same vein, I also see tons of "teepees" being used as reading nooks! Just because something is sold at Target doesn't make it okay. You can learn more about this specifically in @readlikearockstar's Instagram post on the topic

2. Cultural dress as costumes. This can come up at Halloween, as well as throughout the year. Dressing up as a specific culture or nationality often turns into a stereotype that doesn't promote true understanding. When it comes down to it, traditional cultural clothing (such as Native American headdresses or Japanese kimonos) just are not costumes. When we treat them as such, we are not being respectful.

3. Creating crafts inspired by a culture, but not explaining the significance or incorrectly interpreting it. Most teachers like cute crafts, and there's nothing wrong with that! However, sometimes these crafts are inaccurate or reduce the culture to just one aspect. When you have your kids make a sombrero-and-mustache craft for Cinco de Mayo, you're promoting an inaccurate and often hurtful stereotype. Creating sugar skulls for Dias de los Muertos can also be a form of cultural appropriation. Again, consider both the intent and the impact. Is your intent just to make something cute or is to truly learn about and honor Mexican culture? 

4. Rapping. There's been a trend recently of white teachers taking rap songs and changing the lyrics to be educational or about school. Rap is a uniquely and powerfully Black form of music. It's been used to address social, political, and economic issues and can be seen as a voice of a marginalized group. If you want to listen to and appreciate rap music, great! If you want to study rap lyrics with your students and treat the art form with respect, great! But don't steal from a culture that isn't yours and turn it into something silly.

5. Phrases. Thankfully, many culturally appropriative or racist sayings are no longer socially acceptable to say. Unfortunately there are still quite a few floating around, some of which you might be using at school. I see sooo many shirts that say "teacher tribe" on them. Guess what? Unless you're referring to an actual cultural, regional tribe, you're not in a tribe. A group. You're in a group. Spirit animal is another one I see thrown around a lot, and unfortunately is something I used to say as well. A sloth is not your spirit animal, coffee is not your spirit animal-- NOTHING is your spirit animal, unless you are Native American and it is part of your religion. Also, I really hope no one is still saying this, but your students shouldn't be sitting "indian style"-- just say cross-legged! 

Wondering how to teach about other cultures without culturally appropriating? Consider using teaching resources created by members of the cultures you're teaching about. You still have a responsibility as an educator to do your own work, but this can be a great jumping off point. LaNesha Tabb and Naomi O'Brien have created an amazing K-3 Social Studies Curriculum that would be a great place to start. Jillian of The Starr Spangled Planner also has a great instagram post on cultural appropriation as well.

If you're not sure if something you're doing constitutes cultural appropriation, do some research or just don't do it!

August Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Find out exactly what comes in the August Teacher Care Crate in this video, and then read below for more details and the retail value of each item. Subscribe by 7/14 at to get the crate shown! 

Beaded Lanyard Handmade by me, this lanyard is both cute and functional! The cord is elastic so you that you can scan your ID and unlock your classroom without having to bend over or take off the lanyard. {Retail Value: $18}

Bath Bomb You all have been asking for another bath bomb since I first included one back in January, so here it is! This one was made by Pink Tub Boutique and contains baking soda, citric acid, rose petals, rose pink clay, jojoba oil, rose essential oil and witch hazel. {Retail Value: $3}

Self Care Pouch This zippered pouch is perfect for keeping in your teacher desk as a place to store your self care items! {Retail Value: $12}

Hand Sanitizer This French Lavender hand sanitizer spray from EO Products is all natural and 99.9% effective against most common germs. {Retail Value: $3}

Art Print Jess from The Social Speechie designed this beautiful 5 x 7, professionally printed art print! {Retail Value: $8}

Self Care Schedule Notepad I designed this notepad as a way for you to schedule out your self care each week! It contains 50 pages-- plenty to take you through the school year! {Retail Value: $6}

Adaptogen Coffee This instant coffee from Four Sigmatic is blended with tulsi, astralagus, and cinnamon. {Retail Value: $2}

This month's Teacher Care Crate is a great way to start taking your self care seriously this school year! With a retail value of $52, it's also a great deal. 

Subscribe at by 7/14 to get the August Teacher Care Crate!

3 Bulletin Board Ideas for Back to School

These ideas will get your hallway bulletin board looking back-to-school night worthy in a snap! Each of these ideas would work for just about any subject or any grade K-8, plus they all include differentiated prep and writing options!

1. Growth Goals Cactus Bulletin Board
Students cut out the cactus templates and then write a goal for the year. There are even blank cacti if you prefer just to write student names!

These llamas are both on trend and an easy craftivity. Students answer the prompt "I will make this year great by..." on the llama's blanket. 

Students put together these rainbows and write something that makes them unique on each color. This is a great activity for the beginning of the year to show students that diversity is valued in your classroom.

All three of these bulletin board kits are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store separately or as part of my Monthly Bulletin Board Kit Bundle. Each kit includes the craftivity versions shown here, as well as a B&W no-prep version that students can color in. 

Happy Bulletin Board-ing! 

5 Tips for Getting Along with Your Co-Teacher

Inclusion (sometimes called "push-in") is the ideal least restrictive environment for many our student with IEPs, but having two teachers in one classroom can be... difficult. As an introvert and someone with strong opinions, I honestly preferred teaching in my own resource room! But getting along with your co-teacher can go a long way towards making inclusion more pleasant, and ultimately making the classroom a better environment for students.

1. COMMUNICATE. This one is first and in all caps because it's the most crucial. You have to talk to your co-teacher outside of your teaching time. I wish this went without saying, but if you just show up during your scheduled "push in" time and that's the only time you speak to your general education co-teacher, things. will. not. go. well. And I say this as someone who's done it. At points, I was working with 5+ co-teachers, some of whom clearly did not want me in the room. You have to push past it and insist on meeting at least once a week or things are never going to get better.

2. Give gifts. Yep, I blatantly ingratiate myself with co-teachers throughout the year. Gift giving is my love language and I really do enjoy making and giving gifts, but it can also be a great way to start things off on the right foot! I give little gifts at the beginning of the year, the holidays, and the end of the year, at a minimum.

3. Take on tasks. Some general education co-teachers might be unsure of how much you're willing to do. Show you're a team player by offering to take over certain tasks. That could be lesson planning for a subject (I lesson planned a quarter of gen ed Social Studies for the whole grade level because I was the most passionate about the subject, which was Black History in Illinois), completing running records, or changing the bulletin board each month.

4. Exchange phone numbers. I genuinely hope you're thinking, "Duh," but I'm including this because it definitely wasn't the case for me with some co-teachers. Having each other's phone numbers means you can communicate last minute when you need to, and I think can lead to becoming friends as well. When you have someone's phone number, you can text them from Starbucks before school and see if they want anything. And we all know coffee leads to friendship.

5. Share & care. Your co-teacher doesn't need to know all the ins and outs of your personal life, but sharing some information can help you become closer. While some might think this is TMI, I truly think sharing with certain co-teachers that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder helped them to be more understanding of me. Of course, it doesn't have to be that personal. It can just be talking about your pets, or kids, or your new apartment. And this goes both ways! Show that you care about your co-teacher as a human being by asking about their life (in a non-prying way) outside of school. Ask what they're doing this weekend, remember their kids' names, and ask if they're feeling better when they have a cold. Some of you are probably thinking, "Thanks for the primer on being a normal, nice human being, Sarah," but I know it's not always easy when you're nervous or new! There will be some co-teachers that this all comes naturally with, and others with whom you'll really need to make an effort.

As I developed relationships with co-teachers, it became clear that some of them were a bit chilly towards me at first because they were used to special education teachers who in their minds, didn't do anything. Keep that in mind if you think that your co-teachers don't like you at first! Show them that you truly want to be a co-teacher, not just an assistant-- and hopefully even a friend! 

If you're looking for more tips on teaching in an inclusion setting, check out these 7 Things You Can Do as an Inclusion Teacher.
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