Saturday, July 22, 2017

Should Your Classroom Have A Theme?

Every year as the back-to-school season approaches, teachers everywhere start to contemplate setting up their classrooms. Seeing beautiful, coordinated classrooms on Pinterest and Instagram can get even the least cutesy teacher wondering if they *need* a theme. So, does your classroom need a theme? The short answer is no. Here's the long answer:

And y'all, I am NOT anti-theme! I love a good theme (cacti or pineapples, anyone?), but if it's not your thing, don't do it-- especially if it's getting you stressed out before the school year has even begun.

So if any of your answers landed you in the "NOPE." category, let it go! Focus on making your classroom functional and student-centered, and the rest will fall into place.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

9 Amazon Items For Your Cactus Classroom

It's no secret I'm a mega-cactus fan. When this trend hit, I was READY. I've got cactus leggings, framed cactus prints, plenty of real live cacti, and now a Cactus Classroom Room Decor Pack. But if printables aren't enough for you, check out some of these Amazon finds to cactify your classroom.
This post contains affiliate links.

1. Cactus Banner
2. Cactus Clothespins 
3. Cactus Pen Holder & Desktop Organizer 
4. Cactus Wall Hanging This would be perfect for a photoshoot or cool down corner. I LOVE the colors.
5. Cactus Throw Pillows
6. Cactus Lamp
7. Cactus-Shaped Pillow So cute for your classroom library.
8. Cactus Pencil Sharpener You can google ANYTHING + cactus and it probably exists. I am dying over this pencil sharpener.
9.Cactus Erasers Perfect for prizes or your desk (which is where mine reside).

Don't forget the complete Cactus Classroom Decor Pack to complete the look!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

7 Special Education Classrooms You Need To See

Being a special educator can sometimes mean being a bit isolated. As a resource or self-contained teacher, you might have only have a few similar classrooms (or none!) in your building. Which is why the internet is AMAZING! Check out some of the best special education classrooms from around the blogosphere:

1. Michaela from Especially Education has the most rainbow-riffic classroom of all time!

2. Melissa's (of Autism Adventures) classroom is soooo organized!

3. Julie from Superheroes in SPED has a SENSORY ROOM!

4. Alyssa of Simply Special Ed has a beautiful, bright, & streamlined classroom.

5. Check out Erin's (of You AUT-a Know) colorful & organized classroom!

A post shared by Erin Hagey (@youautaknow) on

6. Jennifer of Positively Learning has designed a beautifully simple resource classroom!  

7. And at the risk of of bragging, I like to think my resource classroom is pretty nice too!

A post shared by Sarah (@thedesignerteacher) on

You can see more of my classroom here! Which special education classroom inspires YOU? 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

7 Healthy Lunches for Teachers

If the idea of making three healthy meals a day feels near impossible, you might want to try meal prepping! Taking an hour or two on Sunday to meal prep ensures that you have healthy lunches all week without any additional stress. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Sweet Potato Wraps with Pesto and Caramelized Onions
This recipe makes 8 wraps, which is great if you're prepping for a spouse too, or means you can throw a few in the freezer for later! 

2. Black Bean Bowls with Confetti Slaw
These are soooo good! When prepping for lunches, I keep the beans and everything else separate so that I can heat up the beans separately.

I hate touching raw meat, so I tend to buy pre-cooked chicken or throw some tofu in instead!

This is my very favorite salad! I switch out the "facon" for bacon, because #bacon, and I normally skip making my own dressing.

I ate so many of these last year! If you run out of pitas (#pitaproblems), you can always throw everything on top of greens for an equally tasty salad.

I think I'm just bad at ordering, but I actually like this lo mein better than any I get as take-out. You can eat this as lunch or dinner... so tasty!

Guess who skips the whole making-your-own-falafel thing and just buys frozen falafel from Trader Joe's? If you guessed me, you are correct.

A healthy and filling lunch can help you make it through those long afternoons without getting too hangry! Don't forget to take care of your mental health too-- you can check out 40 Acts of Self Care for Teachers here!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cultivating a Growth Mindset in Your Students

Growth mindset is everywhere in the education world right now, but that doesn't mean it's just a fad. Growth mindset is the idea developed by Carol Dweck that those with the belief that talent and intelligence are malleable, rather than fixed, perform better in school and in life. If we can teach our students that effort and perseverance matter more than inherent intelligence, we will have done a powerful thing. There are many ways to cultivate a growth mindset in your students, from modifying the way you praise your students to modeling it yourself! Here are a few ways you can get started:

Introducing growth vs. fixed mindset is a great lesson for the beginning of the year! Start by explaining that people with growth mindsets know that their brains are always getting smarter. They know that mistakes are simply an opportunity to learn, and that challenges will make their brain smarter. Explain that students can cultivate a growth mindset in themselves simply by changing their words! Create an anchor chart of words and thoughts to encourage a growth mindset.

Another great way to introduce growth mindset at the beginning of the year is to have students set "growth goals" for themselves. My Growth Goals Bulletin Board Kit makes a perfect first week of school activity, as well as an adorable, but meaningful, bulletin board display. 

While it's great to dedicate a whole lesson to growth mindset at the beginning of the year, it can also be helpful to have reminders posted throughout the classroom. My cactus-themed Growth Mindset Posters are perfect if you're looking to print and go, but you could also have students work together to create posters themselves.

Help students to reflect on their use of growth mindset by periodically coming together as a class to discuss challenges, mistakes, and growth. You can also use my Growth Mindset Writing Prompts as morning work or for journals to encourage reflection.

We can help our students develop a growth mindset by praising them for hard work, overcoming obstacles, and learning from mistakes. Avoid praising students for inherent intelligence or talent, instead noting their perseverance in the face of obstacles. In addition to verbal praise, you can also reinforce a growth mindset with these Growth Mindset "Brag Tags." If you don't currently use these incentive tags in your classroom, you can learn more about them here.

One of the most powerful ways to encourage a growth mindset is to model it yourself! When you make a mistake, talk about what happened and what you can learn from it. If the class is struggling with something, talk about how you, as a teacher, need to consider other strategies rather than give up. Here's hoping for a year of growth for you and your students!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Creating a Summer Schedule

The single greatest perk of being a teacher is undoubtedly summer. After 10 months of unceasing dedication, we absolutely deserve a break. Though as we all know, plenty of professional development, planning, and prepping goes on too! As delightful as it is to wake up at 10:00 and stay in one's pajamas all day, some of us teachers actually struggle a bit without structure. After all, we're used to not just having a start and end time to our work day, but having our day divided up into 15-minute segments (5 minute segments if you teach kinder!). I don't know about you, but on an average school day, I know exactly what's going on at 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, 8:45... and so on... until 3:00. During the school year one free hour or one free day was unbelievably precious! "Just think what I could do with an extra prep period or a day off!" we would think to ourselves. And now we have whole hours and days! 

But you know what? I've finally resigned myself to the fact that I thrive on a schedule. With a schedule, I remember to do things like eat, and exercise, and you know, leave the house. 

So without further ado... a blank summer schedule for you to fill out!

I'm not trying to run myself ragged here... I have plenty of chill time built in. But if you're like me, it can be really helpful to have a wake up time, meal times, and exercise scheduled! So go ahead and put together a daily schedule for yourself using my editable template