5 back to school ideas

These are great tips for Back to School, especially for new teachers! I really like number two!

I found these 5 great ideas on Pinterest for Back To School.

I love this post from Aimee at Primarily Speaking.  She really gets into details about routines and procedures that will help.

This is a great idea from Jillian Starr at the Star Spangled Planner.  These Friend Wanted Ads are a great first week activity.

This great article by Michael Linsin from Smart Classroom Management about setting a good tone the first week of school is very insightful.

I really like this great article from Jodi Southard at Fun in First.  She has some great ideas about how to explain classroom expectations using pictures.

Here's another great article by Michael Linsin about how important a first lesson on classroom management can be for the rest of the school year.

After you look at these great articles about, check out this great post from Linda at Teach 4 the Heart.  She points out 10 common mistakes that you should avoid to have a great first week.

And there you have it. Some ideas that I hope you find really insightful to help you with your first week back to school.

Thanks for stopping by again today!

ORLANDO 2016 for the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference.

I just got back from the trip of a lifetime.  The whole family and I went down to Orlando.  After going to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Las Vegas last year, I knew I really wanted to go again this year.  And this year did not disappoint.

Here's what I learned from the top TPT sellers at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando Florida.

When I was there last year, I made a lot of good TPT friends and it was great to reconnect with them again this year.  I got to meet up with some TPT rock stars, and I also got to meet a few people in real life (IRL), who I have become facebook friends with over the past year.

This year I also came with my family, so once the conference was over we spent 5 days in Disney and had a great time (but that’s another blog post on another day).

The conference started out with the Cool Kids Meet and Greet put on by Kayse Morris and Sherri Tyler.  After that we went to the Florida Bloggers’ Meetup.  After that, a group of us Canadian TPT sellers hopped on a bus and went to Disney Springs to have drinks on the dock and watch some fireworks in the distance.

The next morning was early for breakfast and then the keynote by Amy and Adam from TPT and Jen Bengel from Out of this World Literacy.  After that the sessions started.  I attended 4 sessions each day.  Let me tell you, they were all fantastic, and they were all SOOOO informative and right now my brain is very full of all the information I learned.

The second night I went to the big Blogger Meetup and won $100 of Creative Clips swag!  Then I went out for dinner with some Canadian blogger friends.  I skipped the breakfast the next morning as it was outside and even at 7am it’s flipping HOT in Florida in July.  So I slept in and had 4 more sessions and then went to the Happy Hour put on by TPT as a wrap up and good bye.  I was really sad to say goodbye to everyone that I connected with, but then went out for dinner and to EPCOT with my family that night.

Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando 2016

Instead of boring you with the little details of the conference I thought I’d summarise what my takeaways from the conference were.

1                     COMMUNITY - The top sellers were all very friendly.  Whenever I met one, they were always happy to pose for a photo and spend a few minutes talking about TPT.
2                     FIND YOUR NICHE!  This one was drilled home to us in almost every session that I attended.  And after much time and thought, I think I may have found mine.  (I’ll leave that for now, and see if you can figure that out after a few more posts from me next week).
3                     TIME MANAGEMENT – plan out your TPT time.  This is one that I am terrible at.  I tent to just go with the flow when working on TPT and seriously, I need better time management.  I can manage my time really well in the classroom, so why not with TPT.
4                     SOCIAL MEDIA – it’s extremely important.  Find one or two platforms that you are comfortable with and then manage your time appropriately.  Learn all you can about them, but don’t waste your time on them.  Personally I can get totally sucked into facebook, and it’s such a time waster.
5                     VIDEO is the way of the future.  Get on the bandwagon now.  Learn how to put video in your posts on social media and your blog.

I can’t wait until next year to meet up with all the friends I connected with this year, and I can’t wait to develop the product line that I have in mind.
Thanks for stopping by again today!

4 things that have changed after 24 years of teaching

This post was originally titled, 4 Things That Have Changed Since I Started Teaching and Tips On How to Adapt.   But I decided to change that when I realized that one of the things that has changed is me, and not everyone changes in the same way.  

4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
I've been teaching for 24 years.  That makes me seem really old, but I don't feel old.  In fact, I feel that my wealth of experience can only make me a better, more energized teacher.  And, after all this time, I still love coming to work, and I still feel inspired to try new things all the time.  This post is a bit of a walk though the past to show you just how much things have changed.  If you are a younger teacher, just imagine all the fantastic changes that will come during the length of your career.  


Duh!  Right?  I mean this one is totally obvious.  And after writing this, I decided that this one deserves it's own future blog post because SO MUCH has changed with technology in the past 24 years.

For this post I'll highlight visual media where we've gone from this...
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com

to this...
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com
By Liftarn, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22220395

to this.
4 things that have changed in teaching over the past 24 years  www.savvyteachingtips.blogspot.com

This is an image of my classroom's SMART Board in case the photo is not clear enough.


Oh boy, here's another biggie.   Now I realize that the Common Core and standardized tests are what is going on currently in the USA.  But here in Canada the pendulum has started swinging back towards what the curriculum was when I started teaching.  

So within my teaching career, we started with Whole Language and Centers Based learning where the kids have a lot of choice and there's very little structure to planning and curriculum.  Let me tell you, as a beginning teacher, I completely drowned.  I had no idea what I was doing.  This approach worked well for experienced teachers, but was a real struggle for beginners like me.

Then more structure came into play.  We got dedicated Science Topics to cover and the Math curriculum became far more specific.  Teaching reading became more structured and Guided Reading was a big buzz word.

For Americans the next step was the Common Core and lots of specifics.  Standardized testing started taking over and many teachers are not happy with this style of curriculum and assessment.

Here in BC where I live, we have a new curriculum starting in the fall.  It's very similar to that old curriculum that was in place when I started teaching and I worry that many beginning teachers are going to have a hard time with it.  I know that I will be able to use my experience to ensure that student's learn everything they need to move on to the next grade, even if these things are no longer specifically outlined in the curriculum.

or BEHAVIOUR as we write it in Canada.

This is something that has changed over many generations.  Of course parents have different expectations of behaviour from their children than what our parents expected of us.  But somewhere along the way many children lost the ability to self-regulate.  Maybe it's society, maybe it's environmental, maybe it's parenting, or maybe it's too much technology at a young age.  Who knows?  All I know is that attention spans are getting shorter, and impulse control is extremely difficult for more and more kids, which makes our job, as a teacher, that much more challenging.


My attitude has changed a lot over the years.  When I started teaching, I knew I wanted to be a teacher but I was more driven by my own ideas, than what the kids needed or wanted.  Over the years I have learned to trust my own knowledge and instincts.  I have a much better understanding of what kids need to learn and how to pace out my year and this is something that comes more naturally the longer you teach.  I no longer feel inadequate or overwhelmed like I did when I was first teaching.  I have much more confidence in what I'm doing and how I'm doing it in the classroom.  Becoming a parent for the first time, after teaching for 15 years, really changed my classroom presence.  I am much less structured, and much more free flowing in my classroom management than I was before I had my own kids.  

Of course I find the job more tiring, but that might be because of the changes in children's behaviours these days, or it might be because I'm older than I was and I have less energy to spare.  Probably it's a mix of both these factors.  But the thing is that I still love my job.  I talk to lots of adults out there in the community who simply go through the paces to do their job every day, and then come home to live their life.  I feel that I live my life every day at work too.  Teaching is never boring and I'm always learning something new from the kids.  

So there you have it.  4 major changes over 24 years.  I thought I'd finish this post with a little summary of my teaching statistics.  It's an idea that's been floating around facebook these past few weeks.

At the end of the 2015-16 school year, here are my educator stats: 
24 years of teaching 
6 elementary schools 
2 cities, in 2 countries, in 2 different hemispheres
I've worked with 13 principals, and 11 vice principals
grades taught: K, 1, 2, and Music to K - 7
specialist positions: Music Teacher, ESL/ELL Teacher
students taught: 800 and counting!!!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Father's Day Gift Idea

Last week we sent our Father's Day gifts home.   I know that many of you do not teach in the month of June, but for those of us who do, Father's Day gifts are pretty important.

Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gift Idea from Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

There's a few things I really like about this gift.  Firstly, it's really easy for a child to choose to give this gift to any loved one.  Some children do not live with, or see their fathers so they can choose to give it to their Mom, or Grandpa, or Uncle because it doesn't actually say anything about Dad on the gift, it just says "I love you to pieces".

Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gift Idea from Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

First I took a picture of the student holding the sign which says "I love you to pieces".  They were in front of a black background so that the child's photo had more contrast.  

Second, I cut out the picture frame from cardboard boxes.  I usually save pieces of corrugated cardboard boxes and cut them up into small pieces.  These ones were 8 x 10 inches.  I used a box cutter to cut the opening from the middle to create the frame.  The kids painted the frames with tempera paint.

Third, the kids painted the backsides of old puzzle pieces.  You know when you lose a few pieces then a puzzle is useless?  Well I save them for art projects.  I set out the pieces and 6 colours of paint and asked the kids to each paint 10 pieces in random colours.  Then I let them dry and had the kids randomly chose some of them to glue onto their frames.  I also gave them some foam sports stickers that I bought last year on clearance.

Finally, I glued the photos to the back of the dried frames and voila!
It's really easy, and very cheap.

Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gift Idea from Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

Thanks for coming by!

5 Year End Ideas for Teachers (to help keep you sane)

Memorial Day is upon us.  This is traditionally the start of summer in many American minds.  As the end of another school year approaches, it seems that everywhere you look, at least in teacher circles, there is so much talk about ‘survival,’  ‘exhaustion’ and ‘just getting through’ the end of the year. Personally I have one more month of teaching to go, and the thought is daunting. While it’s easy to fall into step with all of our colleagues and feel all the same emotions, I've decided that this year, rather than merely ‘survive’ the end-of-the-year, I'm going to thrive and celebrate it!  I've even decided to find several meaningful (and some frivolous) ways to revel in the completion of another academic year…

Teacher gifts for colleagues are great, but here’s also some other ideas to help make a teacher’s last few weeks go smoothly and help teachers feel good the last few weeks of the school year.

There will be more than enough time over the summer to look at what might not have worked well this past year, but for now, why not be kind to ourselves and honour all the hard work that we, as teachers, have put in all year long?  Here are some ways that I've chosen to celebrate the end of the school year--and I hope that some of you will think of ways to do the same for yourself:

1.  Say “Thank You” to a co-worker, with words or a small token of gratitude. Whether it’s the School Secretary, who always (and often cheerfully) helps when you need it, or the cafeteria lady who goes out of her way to smile at you every day, or the custodian who works harder than anyone should have to--I plan to stop at Starbucks and pick up a small gift card for each one of these folks.  Surely, they deserve some acknowledgement for all they do.

2.  I'm going to ‘Pay it Forward.’  Is there a fellow teacher or administrator at your school whose work you admire? I have at least one at my school.  I plan to leave them a little note in one of my hand made cards.  You could write a short note or send them a brief email telling them so.  My hope is that by doing this now, I will be sowing the seeds of kindness that will come back to me in the fall.

3.  I'm going to type up a short note to be copied and sent home to parents thanking them for the opportunity to teach their child this year. I will also take a quick 10 minutes to jot down just one sentence on each note, about what I will miss about their child.  Personalizing the message for them and their child will mean so much to them and will also round out the year in a very positive way.

4.  A book swap!  I'm going to send out an email to my team asking if they would grab a copy of their favourite professional development/teaching book, so that I could borrow it over the summer. I will also lend them one that I recommend too!  The one I just finished reading, and highly recommend is Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller.  I will also lend this one out to any of them who would like to read it! 

5.  A book sale!  Tying into the afore-mentioned book swap, I will look through my professional development books, many of which are tired dinosaurs that offer me nothing in the way of genuine help in my classroom, and find a few that may sell on Amazon over the summer. 
With the money from that sale, whether it’s $10 or $100, I plan to:

          A.   Enjoy an overpriced milkshake
          B.   Treat myself to a movie with my very OWN popcorn
          C.      Have lunch with friends
          D.    Get a pedicure
          E.      Be a tourist in my own town & visit a cool museum or park

I hope you will consider trying to stay focused on the positive and while doing that, have some fun by making a list of all the ways you can honour yourself, and others, at the end of another school year.

All my best to you for an awesome June and a relaxing & positive July!

Thanks for stopping by today. 

Freebie and a Giveaway

The school year is coming to an end soon, and teacher's minds are turning towards rest and relaxation.  In Canada we have 6 weeks left until summer holidays start and although I love my kiddos this year, I will truly enjoy some R&R come July.
This week something exciting happened to me and I thought I needed to celebrate!  I passed 1000 followers on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Can you believe it?  1000 people are following my little store.  I am terribly flattered.
To celebrate I'm having a giveaway and a freebie.
Enter the rafflcopter below to win one of two products.  If you are a Primary teacher you will love all of my animal research units.  They are perfect for independent non-fiction study.  

to check out the Animal Research
If you are NOT a primary teacher then perhaps you will be interested in ALL of my Digital Mini kits.  I"m adding 12 more this week.  That means there will be 24 Digital Mini kits up for grabs.  
to check out the Mini Kits.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
and the FREEBIE?
It's a sampler of many of my top sellers.
to grab your own copy.
thanks for stopping by today!

Earth Day Stuff!

I've got some new Earth Day product in my store.
First up is my free craftivity.

Next up is my latest addition to the Class Book series.

And finally my Earth Day Mega Unit
Over 100 pages of blacklines and printables.

or scroll down to check out the complete image below!

Thanks for stopping by again today!