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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Planner Printing: more tips!

If you haven't seen it yet, go check out my first post about my planner that I created to use as a combination home management binder / life planner / teacher planner. It gives a ton of details about what pages I have inside, and how I set it up, including products and ideas that I used for binding and accessorizing. Click on the picture below to go to that post:

In this post I want to specifically address tips for printing the pages for your planner. Whether you have made your own pages on the computer or downloaded them online (like my new line of planners in my store!), there are some things you can do to make your planner just as fancy and wonderful as those pre-made planners that you pay a month's salary for.

When I first started my quest for a planner that met my needs as a teacher and mom last year, I started off looking at planners you could buy pre-made. While there are some super-cute and awesome planners out there, by nature of being mass-produced they are more generic and don't fit my exact needs, and they are expensive. Like wow, I can't buy coffee shop lattes for a year expensive. I did bite the bullet and buy one that was on the cheaper end but still pretty awesome. Although it was nice, I still ended up crossing out and rearranging things because it didn't exactly work for me. So I decided to go the DIY route.

THEN I was faced with another problem: although my pages were definitely perfect for what I needed, my planner felt cheap. Because, well, it was. Everything was printed in black and white on the cheapest paper with the cheapest binding options possible. So while I boasted to friends and family about how I was saving so much money blah blah blah, the truth was planning wasn't as fun and I wasn't motivated to use the planner.

What I've found after comparing the expensive, pre-made planners and my super-cheap DIY version is that there are a few small things you can do to get the nice feeling of the expensive ones without adding more than a couple of dollars to the cost. So here are my tips:

#1: Print Double-Sided

It is a complete and total waste of not just money, but trees and space in your bag to print single-sided pages. Please, whatever you do, don't print single-sided planner pages. Just think about it: 1. you pay for twice as many sheets of paper, 2. your planner will be twice as bulky, 3. you can only see one page at a time which means you can't see as much information at once and you will be flipping pages to find what you need all the live-long day.

There are a couple of things you need to check before you print double sided:
1. Are your files designed to be printed double-sided? If not, which pages will be facing each other when you print them double-sided?
2. If you are combining several different files, especially from different sources, check if the pages start with a front cover or the left side of an open 2-page spread, and if the pages end on the back or front of the paper. Even if all of your files are designed to be printed double-sided, if you print them as one document you could potentially end up with your 2-page spread printed front-and-back. If you need to make an adjustment, you can either print them as different files or insert a blank page to get everything back on track.

#2: Print Only the Front Cover in Color

Now I love my color just as much as the next guy. But printing in color is expensive. And I have found that, at least for me, I can fulfill my happy color quotient from my colorful tabs and pens. The great thing is that I still have a design in the background so all of the pages still have a stylish feel without the price tag (and most, if not all, of the planner designs in my store are designed to look good this way... just a thought *cough*). If you are having it printed professionally, there should be an option to print just the first page in color. Just scroll through the options and look for "cover page options" or "special pages". To be honest I think it also helps make the planner a little less dizzying. Sometimes the colors are too much and I get cross-eyed just trying to look at it- not to mention when you start adding different colored writing! Oh my!

#3: Print on Thicker Paper

This was the biggest a-ha moment for me when I was comparing my cheap-o planner and my pre-made one. I thought as first that the difference in fanciness quotient was in the color printing or maybe the tabs, but it's not. It's the paper. And guess what? It's waaaay less expensive to upgrade your paper than it is to upgrade your ink. So go ahead and move up in the world to the next-thickest paper: usually 28lb. There are a few advantages to getting the nicer paper: 1. your writing won't bleed through or show on the other side, 2. your pages won't get worn-down when you are flipping back and forth, 3. it will be easier to flip through and find the right page because each page will be slightly more substantial, and 4. it just feels nicer. Trust me- it is worth the tiny investment. When I finally tried it my DIY planner felt like a "professional"-quality one!

I hope these tips help you as you start getting your planner set up! If you have any questions please comment below. Do you have any other tips on printing planner pages? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: behavior management (part 1)

On today's edition of Teacher Tuesday, I want to introduce you to part of my behavior management system. Before we get into it, though, I want to tell you a little bit about my experience last year.

Last year was my first year in my current position. I had been on extended maternity leave and worked at an international school in South Korea before that (another story for another day...!). So it was a year of big changes for me, to say the least. As luck would have it, it was also a year of big changes for my current school. Because of some zoning changes and other factors, our school got a lot of new students coming in from some... shall we say... more challenging school environments. And many of these new students were not happy to have left their familiar school environment and friends- especially the older students. There was a lot of upheaval and confusion as everyone tried to figure each other out, and do so in a space that we were quickly outgrowing. Let's just say there were a lot of behavior problems. Coming in as a new specialist teacher is always a bit challenging (I bounced around a bit at the beginning of my teaching career, so I knew that going in). Starting my new job when the whole school was having a difficult year? More than a little bit crazy.

I did a lot of soul-searching (read: pinning ideas on Pinterest) over winter break. I knew I had to change some things about my behavior management system. Up until that point I had used one and only one system- the class sticker chart. If they did well, the class got a sticker. If they didn't, no sticker. When they finished a row of stickers the class got some "free choice" time to choose their favorite music activities at the end of the next music class. Done. Obviously it was a bit more nuanced in terms of how they earned or didn't earn their sticker, and I haven't talked to you about what my class rules are- but that's the basic idea.

One of the main issues I found with my old system was, for my current students, the feedback wasn't immediate enough- particularly for the older students. In my current position I see 4th-6th grade once a week for an hour. There was way too much happening in a 60-minute class to depend on a single sticker. I also found that my current students have a more difficult time dealing with the concept of the group being affected by one person's choices and actions. While I still stand by my desire to teach them that concept, especially in a music room, we needed some more scaffolding to get there.

Enter my letter system:

I'm sure most of you have seen examples of this type of system in other classrooms. You start the class with a word, and if they are misbehaving they lose letters. Often (as in my case) they can also earn letters for exceptional behavior or achievement. When I first started the system I had a rolling whiteboard at the front of the room, and I just wrote or erased letters in the top corner of the board. Once I got rid of the whiteboard, I switched to these velcro-ed letters. I laminated some black construction paper and pre-made letters and attached velcro squares to them. This poster is right at the front of the seating area, where we generally start and end class.

One of the first questions I got from the students when I introduced this system was whether or not they could earn letters above and beyond the original word "MUSIC", and if so, what would those letters be. I had already thought about the additional letters question, and the answer was yes, they could. The second question, though, I hadn't really considered. To be honest I was just going to write down little music notes or something for anything they earned beyond the word MUSIC. This did not satisfy my students. They felt it should spell something. Thus it quickly morphed into spelling the word "MUSICALITY". Those are the velcro squares you see in the second row. And yes, I did have one class get the entire word one time. They went absolutely nuts and the whole school knew about it by the end of the day.

I kept the sticker chart and the free choice time for finishing a row of stickers, but now they can earn different amounts of stickers depending on how many letters the class has at the end of the period. If they have the original word "MUSIC", they get 2 stickers. If they have fewer letters, but still have something, they get 1 sticker. Any letters above and beyond MUSIC are an additional sticker each.

I love this system. It has helped give students more immediate feedback throughout the class period, and gives them something to work for as well in the additional letters they can earn. If they start to get out of control, all I have to do is walk towards the poster or put my hand up to a letter, and usually I hear an audible gasp and we are back on track. I hear students regularly encouraging each other: "Guys, we gotta get that C back! Come on, stop talking!", or "Hey, she might give us an extra letter if we get this done faster! Focus!". Often if we get close to the end of a song or activity and they have been working hard, I will pick up the next letter and casually hold it where the students can see it. Just that little hint of positive reinforcement if often all they need to keep them focused until the end of the activity and it helps them stay on task when the finish as well. I can't tell you the number of times that I have seen a student elbow their friends and point to the letter in the middle of the song, and they both give each other a knowing glance. Gold, people!

Because they can earn more than one sticker in a period, it also means they get to a class reward more frequently. I may eventually tone that down a bit to make the reward more difficult to earn, but for now they need more regular encouragement to keep them motivated. And since the reward is still a musical activity, I don't mind that much.

I made several other changes to my behavior management system, and I still haven't introduced you to the basis for it all- my class rules- but this post is already long enough. I will cover the other aspects of my behavior management in a future Teacher Tuesday post. For now, I hope this gives you some ideas as you start to think about the new school year. This simple addition was a life-saver for me last year!

Have you tried a similar system in your classroom? How did it go? Leave me a note in the comments section or come share your ideas on my Facebook page to get a conversation started with other music teachers (click on the Facebook icon on the right-hand side of this page)!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mommy Monday: visual calendar and chore chart for toddlers

Welcome back to Mommy Monday! Today I want to show you something that I made recently for my girls who are currently 2.5 years old. You see, my girls already have a fairly complicated schedule for their age. They visit their dad a couple of times a week, and during the school year they go to their nanny's house while I'm working. And one of my girls is VERY uncomfortable with unpredictability. She was waking up every morning and running through her list of possible occurrences for the day: "Today we play with Mommy?", "Today we go to [nanny]'s house?", and on and on. So I took to trusty Pinterest to find some kind of visual calendar that would work for toddlers. I knew I wanted to be able to show who they were with when, and other big activities they would be doing- going to the library, church, or visiting grandparents- especially during summer vacation. Although I found some simple daily routine charts with velcro, and some pre-made magnetic chore charts and routine charts, I couldn't really find what I was looking for. So I came up with my own. I had seen the idea of using an oil drip pan from Walmart as a magnet board before, so I decided to use it to create a calendar, and while I was at it, go ahead and add a chore chart too. Why not? They are really into helping around the house right now. Better take advantage.

So here's the visual calendar at the top of the board:

I had already made a weekly calendar for myself and had some scrapbook paper left over, so I used those as strips for each day of the week. I literally just put double-sided tape on the back and stuck it on the pan. I have a bunch of different letter stickers from my paper scrapbooking days (lately I've gone the more digital route) so I used those to label each day of the week. I got some adhesive magnet sheets from Amazon, printed out some clipart and photos of important caregivers etc, stuck it on the magnet sheets, and cut them up into little squares. And done! The girls love looking at it each day. I use one of my magnets from the fridge (the little round striped one) to mark which day it is today. I eventually added some blank magnets as well to indicate "free play" time at home, because they were concerned that they were not going to get to play when I didn't have it on the calendar :) It's nice because it's easy to change things out as the week progresses and plans change, but still gives them an idea of what is coming up that week. Since they measure their days by meals and sleeping times, I included those each day as well.

Underneath we have the chore chart:

I had a pretty intense internal debate about this one: should I have a chore chart for each of them, or a shared one? Having recently gone through potty training, I decided that for now, I was going to stick with a shared one. One of my girls does not do well in competitive situations (as I quickly found out when I gave them sticker charts for potty training), and I feared that's what it would become if they each had a chart on the wall. Also: what things should I include as "chores"? (disclaimer: I definitely do not use the word "chores" with them. We call them jobs and they think "jobs"="privileges".) Should routines things like brushing teeth be included or not? I ended up choosing to include some routine items, and I can replace them with other chores when they get older. The nice thing about this chart is I can add or take away chores to be done that day depending on what is happening- if we're not going to be at home for any of our meals they can't do the dishes. If they are eating breakfast at daycare, they will only brush their teeth at home once that day. They love getting to take turns moving magnets to the "done" side, and we have a little celebratory dance every night when they move them all over. So far it's working well!

I still have some empty space at the bottom. I know there is something awesome waiting to be added there- I just haven't figured out what yet. Any ideas??? Oh, and did you notice my place to put the extra magnets? I dumped the crayons out of their box, covered it in duct tape, and stuck it on the wall above the pan with thumb tacks. The oil drip pan is attached with a few command strips. The girls have even tugged on it a few times but so far it all seems very secure.

Do you have a calendar or job chart for your toddlers? Or do you have a visual calendar in your classroom? Leave your ideas in the comments below- I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Get connected to discounts, freebies, and updates!

I just launched my facebook page:

This will be a great way for me to post updates on new products in my TeachersPayTeachers store, and offer special discounts and freebies for my followers. It's also a great way for us to connect- ask questions, give me feedback and suggestions on my blog or store, and have conversations about teaching, music, being a mom, and everything in between!

If you are interested please click on the facebook link above (or via the facebook button at the side of the blog) and click "like".

**HINT: I will be offering an exclusive freebie to everyone who is following me on facebook when I reach 50 likes!**

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: color coding!

I have always been a huge fan of rainbows. Exhibit A:

Yep. That's my 7-year-old self in all my glory. That shirt was my favorite. Later on my favorite shirt was a rainbow tie-dye shirt. I had that thing from middle school all the way through college. So when it comes to organizing and decorating my room, nobody should be surprised that I love my rainbows!

For my first-ever Teacher Tuesday post I'm sharing a work in progress. I just started at my current job last school year, so there was a bit of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants going on while I adjusted to new students, new classroom, new schedule etc. But I have had a wish list of projects that I have been saving for summer (when I have some time) and this is at the top of my list!

If you have seen my seating chart on TeachersPayTeachers (free download here), you know that I have had my students in 3 rows of 8, with an aisle down the middle. I am keeping the same arrangement but assigning each group of  chairs a color. I bought brightly-colored duct tape and I am using it on everything! I am hoping to use this color coding system in a lot of different ways to streamline procedures in my class, but here are a few that I have started on already:

#1: Seating

Obviously the first application is with the seats themselves. I think this will make it a lot easier to call students to move to another part of the room or get instruments. Instead of saying, "everybody in the back row on the window side", I can say, "blue group"!! I call students in small groups all the time so that there isn't a mad dash when I want them to go pick an instrument (they are stored on the opposite side of the room) or go to another part of the room for a movement or small group activity. And besides, don't those colors look so happy and wonderful? If the chairs get moved around a lot during class, I also use the lines to help the students (or I) move them back quickly for the next class coming in. 

#2: Circle Spots

When I came into this position last year, I inherited one of those wonderful oval rugs with numbers and letters of the alphabet around the edges. I like to have my kindergartners sit primarily on the floor in a circle, and we use circles in movement activities and games in the upper grades, so I had the rug out on the open side of the room for that purpose. The problem was that it was too small. We were always having to start out squished around the rug and then scoot back- which kindof defeats the purpose of having the rug. Would've been faster to just have them make a circle on their own. And of course there was always the discussion of wanting to sit at the letter with which their name starts. Or picking at threads on the edge of the rug. Sigh. So this year I knew I wanted to put tape down on the floor instead. AND they have the same colors that they have in their chair groups! My plan is to tell students from each color group to pick a spot with their color. That way they have some choice but because it is limited it won't take as long and there will be fewer arguments. And it's guaranteed to mix them up from who they are next to in their chairs! For kindergarten, I am currently thinking I will assign each student to a color but let them choose their spot, as long as it's the right color so that, again, they have limited options. I can't wait to try it out with my students!

#3: Supplies

Obviously this is still a work in progress, but this gives you an idea of where I'm headed. I am sorting all the supplies we use most often- clipboards, dry erase staff boards, pencils, erasers, crayons, and pens- into colors to match their groups. Not only will this system make it easier to hand out and collect supplies each time, but it will also help with another problem I had last year: the Case of the Disappearing Pencils. It was amazing how many discussions I had with students about whether the pencil they were trying to stuff in their pockets at the end of class was mine or theirs. And even with all of that, I STILL managed to keep losing track of pencils, erasers, and crayons. It was amazing. I have seen several examples on Pinterest of putting tape on pencils like this one from Kristen Dembroski (side note: Isn't that rainbow tape awesome? Don't worry, I have some of that too and I have a special plan for it already.):

 Pencil Flags (c) Kristen Dembroski

It occurred to me that I could take this idea and also coordinate it with my color groups. Multiple birds, one stone! I am contemplating the possibility of writing numbers on those tags- 1-4 for each color- and writing the same numbers on the chair tape so that I can keep track of exactly which student hasn't turned in their pencil etc, but I haven't gone that far yet.... :)

I have some other applications planned for my new color system, but I will save those thoughts for later when I have finished making them and can actually show them to you. Thanks for reading! Have you used color-coding systems in your classroom? How do you use them and do you like it?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mommy Monday: it's the little things

If you're keeping track, this blog is aiming to share organizational ideas about both teaching and mothering/homemaking. So in an effort to keep myself on track, I've decided to implement "Mommy Mondays" for ideas about mothering/homemaking. That means the teaching ideas will be on- you guessed it- "Teacher Tuesdays". So here we go with our first-ever Mommy Monday post! Yay!

My previous post detailing my teacher/life planner was intense. Today I'm sharing an idea that is both small and simple:

Yep. That's my dryer. With a stain removing pen on it. As a mother of twin toddlers I deal with a lot of stains. There are so many times when I need to be able to rip off an article of clothing and frantically stab said clothing with a stain pen to try to get the grapefruit-sized blueberry juice stain out of a boutique dress from my grandmother before I have a panic attack (yes, this is a real story). I need that stain removing pen at the ready! Unfortunately my tiny stacking washer and dryer are in an equally tiny closet. There is no space for shelves or storage. And setting the pen on top of the washer was a pain- I never knew where to put it when I opened the lid to put in dirty clothes! I bought a set of pen holders with adhesive on the back for another project, but as soon as I got them home I knew where I was using this one. Even though the stain removing pen is thicker than a regular pen, it fits fine and has stayed there for over a year now with no problems.

And that's it for my first Mommy Monday. What are your favorite organizing tips for tiny laundry spaces?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Linky Party: five favorite pins of July

I'm linking up- a little late- with Mrs. Miracle's linky party!

Click on the image above to see her post and all the others from music teachers around the web!

Here are my 5 favorite (teaching related) pins from July:

An idea for an "arts celebration day"?

This may be a little random but I saw it at the perfect time. The art teacher at my school wants to do an art show for the first time next year, but she was worried about turnout if she did it outside school hours. Solution: she and I are hoping to team up and have an "arts celebration day" next year! We are still in the "throwing ideas around" stage, but we are hoping to have one day when the entire school is involved in creating visual and musical pieces and integrating our two disciplines in class projects.

Great suggestions for using your iPad in the classroom!

I am super excited because I am getting an iPad next school year! I got a donorschoose project funded at the end of the school year. I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on that thing and use it in centers and on my interactive whiteboard. The students are going to go nuts when they see it too! I like this infographic because it has a lot of basic but really useful tips consolidated in one place.

Music with Mrs. Dennis: Minions Invade the Music Room!!! FREE Download

I love these free lessons full of little minions! And I love even more that they used Pharrell's song "Happy". The minions are going to be invading my classroom next year. I already have a poster up with a picture of a minion and the quote, "Don't judge. I was born to be awesome, not perfect.", which the kids love. And then I found duct tape with minions on it at a craft store. So that is going somewhere too- that much I know. The harmony lessons will be great for my 5th graders when we talk about chords. 

World Music Composer.  This is the coolest thing ever.  Listen to samples of instruments from all over, then compose a piece with them.

I honestly am dumbfounded that it took me so long to find this. As someone who grew up in 3 continents and taught in international schools for many years, I have a passion for "world music". This is a great introduction for younger students to hear instruments from around the world and use them to compose their own pieces! SO awesome. We will definitely be using this on the interactive whiteboard next year.

Set iPad so student can only access certain apps during centers! Easy to do!

I was so relieved to find this tutorial on how to limit which apps children can access on your iPad. I have a confession to make: I am not a Mac person. I am definitely a PC person, and I don't think there is anything you can do to convince me otherwise. Please don't kill me. One of the things that turns me off from Macs is the seemingly limited capability to customize, and I didn't know what kind of child lock settings were available on the iPad. I'm glad to know I can limit which apps are accessible so that I can keep students locked into the app I want when they are working in centers!

Well that's it for me. I'm so excited to be linking up with my first linky party- I hope I did it right! :) Thanks for hosting, Mrs. Miracle, and sorry for the late link-up!

Planner tour

**note: see my updated planner for the 2015-2016 school year here!**

As long as I'm starting a blog about organizing chaos, let's start with the mother ship, shall we?!?

Behold, my all-encompassing and yet still surprisingly slim and cute planner!

I started using the Arc system from Staples about a year ago and I love it. It has the little black discs that you see on the side that serve the same function as the rings in a 3-ring binder. Except it lies flat like a spiral-bound notebook. You obviously need to have a special hole-punch, but I found a cheap one on Levenger's website for under $20 that fits the bill for me! I also got these tabs on Amazon, which as you can see are starting to wear down because they are just paper, but I don't mind because I have plenty of replacements, they are cheap, and they are cute :) And oh yeah, this pen loop. Nothing fancy but it does the job.

*Note: I'm not fancy enough to remotely be getting any incentives from anyone for telling you about these products. I'm just sharing what I use because they work well for me and the price is right! OK moving right along...

The tabs I currently have are as follows: schedule, grades, contacts, cook&clean, information, and journal. Obviously this planner is both for my home and school life. I am one person so why should I have to have more than one planner? I have tried a lot of different planners, both physical and electronic, and I have found that I really like having a physical planner. Although I do A LOT of things electronically, I need the physical process of writing things down to help me organize my thoughts. Also I like pretty pens.

The problem: I haven't been able to find a teacher planner that fits my needs as an elementary music teacher. There are plenty of awesome Mommy planners/ home management binders out there that I love, but again, I don't want 2 planners.

Solution: make one that I like and can use without crossing out all of the headings and re-drawing boxes to match my schedule/life or spending more money than a month's groceries (can I get an amen?).

So let's take a look inside!

The bulk of my planner is under the "schedule" tab. It starts with the general and moves to the specific. So first I have my year-at-a-glace calendar, then space to copy my school district's yearly calendar, and my class schedule. Because my class schedule changes from year-to-year, and even within the school year when we have state testing (joy), I print out a copy and tape it in with washi tape.

Next I have my year-long planning pages for every grade that I teach. I have a box for each month and I just write down the main concepts I plan to focus on, or projects they will be working on (especially the older students) during that month. It helps me stay on track as I plan my lessons throughout the year. Then come my monthly calendar pages, where I write down appointments, special events, or anything else that I plan long-term. And then we get to the real nitty-gritty:

Each week is a full two-page spread. I note appointments, play dates, meetings, birthdays, and holidays in the top box labeled "events". Then I have my lesson plans. I teach on a rotational schedule so I have a little box where I write down which rotational day I am teaching. Now, if you look back at my teaching schedule, you will see that I do in fact teach more than 5 classes per day. I actually teach 8-10. But luckily with my younger students I see two classes of the same grade level in a row, so I write their lesson in the same space. Sometimes the two classes are on different lessons because of the rotation, but my brain lumps them together so I keep them in the same box. I find there is enough room for me to write down what I'm doing for each one. At the bottom I have a small space for prep- copies I need to make, people I need to contact, repertoire I need to select, and anything else that needs to get done in my "spare time" goes there :) And guess what- I still have space for a to-do list and notes section! I use the notes section to write down ideas when they pop into my head, notes from meetings, and things I want to remember (like a friend who has a big exam on Thursday that I want to check up on). I cross off things as I do them on my to-do list. Anything that doesn't get done gets copied to the next week.

Oh and see my cute little spiral paper clip? I clip the pages from the current month to the current week together so that I can easily flip to the right page.

The next tab is "grades". I honestly only keep track of the report card grades from each trimester here. The rest of my day-to-day grades are either on my computer or my seating chart (you can download that for free if you want to see what I use!). It is nice to be able to look back and remember what I gave students on previous report cards throughout the year.

The rest of my planner is my life planner/home management binder/whatever else you want to call it.

Under "contacts" I have, obviously, my contact list with names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Although I used to feel I didn't need this in a planner because I have all this information electronically, I have had several occasions when it has been much easier to have all the information consolidated and in hard copy. For obvious reasons I'm not going to show you that page today, so moving right along...

My next tab is "cook&clean". Notice the sheen on my cleaning page? That's because it's laminated just on that side (moment of silence for the powers of laminating). I use a wet erase marker to keep track of my cleaning each month so that I can keep re-using the page without erasing (If you are looking at what I have marked as "monthly" you may be cringing right now. Let me remind you that I am a single mother. I tried keeping up with the pinterest-Mommy cleaning schedules for a while and got depressed. Don't judge.).

My "cooking" section is still a work in progress. Basically I have a few categories of recipes with little self-sticking pockets to stick in copies of recipes. Again, I have all of this information electronically, but I don't really like having my phone in the kitchen and it gets old having to log in because the phone turned off while I was finding an ingredient. Obviously I have started with the desert recipes first, but I am slowly adding new recipes to my planner when I have time :)

The "information" tab is the bulk of my "home management binder" section- I have a list of bills, medical information, and child care information. The "journal" tab is mostly blank- just some headings for "family", "friends" and "other" to jot down things and people I want to remember to pray for, gift ideas, and thoughts about life :)

In the back I have my zippered pocket:

I keep a few blank note cards and envelopes, postage stamps, documents from school or the doctor that I need to keep handy, and (at last right now) slips of paper to write down more recipes (see, I told you I was working on it!).

And that's pretty much it!

If you're interested, I've got the files for this planner, plus several others, in my TeachersPayTeachers store. I have made lots of design options for the format I use myself, and I've also made planning pages in other formats to accommodate elementary specialists with different job descriptions and planning styles. You can see what I'm talking about by downloading the free sample of all the different lesson planning formats.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Organized Chaos

Welcome to my first post on my new blog! Here's what I am planning for this blog...

  • Ideas, tips, and tricks for organizing your classroom, teaching, and life as an elementary music teacher (or other kinds of teachers too- we can all learn from each other!)
  • Ideas, tips, and tricks for staying sane by organizing your life as a mother
Basically I want to share the strategies that work for me as a single mother of twin toddlers and elementary general music teacher. Everything will be categorized into one of those two categories, so if you can relate to one but not the other, just ignore the other half, OK? OK!

I've titled the blog "organized chaos" because that is what my life, both as a teacher and a mother, looks like (and I like it that way). I like my lines, color-coded classroom supplies, and neatly ordered instruments, and I have not yet been able to suppress the loud gasp that comes out of my mouth every time one of my toddlers decides to take their coloring project to our white couch, but I also love creativity and fun- which can sometimes get a little noisy. It's taken a lot of trial and error, research, and thought, but I think I can now say my chaotic life is organized enough to have some ideas worth sharing. 

Thanks for reading- and stay tuned!