Sunday, July 16, 2017

10 Prep Materials EVERY Teacher Needs PLUS a Velcro Hack!

Summer is upon most of us my friends.  I hope you are finding your time to be with family, vacation, and just get some good old relaxation in! I have been BUSY but, in a good way. I decided this summer that instead of killing myself with trying to prep just in August I would spread out the wealth a little. So, here and there during the summer so far I have been prepping things.
I had a friend recently get her first teaching job and she asked me what things she needs and so this sparked a blog post of things that I feel are the most important tools a teacher could have in their classroom for prepping materials. Yes, of course there are going to be some that you know but, I think I might have a few tricks up my sleeve!
1. Laminator:
I know, I know. This is not a surprise for probably most of you. Seriously though, if you thought I'd do a blog post about teacher prep must haves and not include this you'd have to be crazy! Now, here is the thing with laminators that I have learned over the years. I love my scotch laminators. I have had 4 in the 10 years of teaching and that's not because they have all broken. It's because it's nice to have one at home and one at school and it's nice to have a larger one that is able to do things like file folders! I got this one this that is larger and I am loving how that is working out! Here is a video that Chris from Autism Classroom News created on how to do it!

2. Paper Cutter: 
This is something that I wasn't really sold on using until this year and I am so happy I finally gave in! There is so much cutting involved in our prepping. And sometimes you just get overwhelmed with it and a paper cutter has worked awesome for the shapes that have straight sides.  There are two different kinds of cutters and really either one works fine. Now most of the guillotine style ones tend to be heave and the rotary ones tend to be smaller but, it really just depends what you buy! 
Swingline - ClassicCut Lite Paper Trimmer, 10 Sheets, Durable Plastic Base - 13" x 19 1/2"
Guillotine Style
Fiskars 12 Inch SureCut Deluxe Craft Paper Trimmer (152490-1004)
Rotary Style

                                   Ziploc Easy Open Tabs Sandwich Bags, 500 Ct, ClearImage result for ziploc bags
3. Ziploc Bags:
These are Lifesavers! I buy sandwich with the freezer sized bags for different reasons. They can store all kinds of things from baby wipes and tissues when you just need a few for a field trip ( don't store together of course). I use them most of the time for storing pieces for the work tasks.For that I use the sandwich bags and I velcro the bag to the back of a file folder. The freezer bag I use for storing things like puzzle pieces that don't have a box, work tasks that I want to keep together like clip cards with all the clothespins so it's all together and then I can just store it in my classroom and dump it into a bin when I want to use it.
 Image result for file folder with ziploc bag storage

Another idea for the bags is sensory bags! My students love these! You do have to be careful to seal them up good and probably tape them as well!

4. HP Instant Ink Printer: 
   This baby has saved me SO MUCH! If you have not gotten into this trend and you are a teacher that prints a lot of your own materials you are crazy! I discovered this program last summer and I have save so much money for ink. There are monthly fees that you pay for be able to print a certain number of pages each month. And the other kicker with this plan is that when your ink gets low, HP sends it to you at now extra charge other then your monthly fee! They have varying plans and even have one that they don't advertise which I currently am using for back to school prepping which is 500 pages for $14.99  Here is more info!
Image result for hp instant ink plans

5. Astrobrights:
   This was another item that took me some time to get on the bandwagon, but now I am sold. I have dedicated to color coding my students materials this year such as their binder covers, name tags, labels for supplies in the room, ect. Astrobrights has saved me on ink big time, just like Instant Ink but the nice thing is that you only use black or whatever color your font is and the rest is the astrobrights paper! I love all the color options and they are so vibrant! 

6. File Folders:
 I love file folders. They make great tools for multiple things but most importantly to me they are great for housing work tasks! I use them with a lot of the materials that I use in my classroom and like I said earlier I always use a ziploc bag that has two velcro dots on the back that attaches to the outside of the file folder so it is easy for students to take the bag off, get the pieces out, and then put it away when they are done. I have also used file folders and cut them to make view finders to cover up communication boards or even worksheets that might seem overwhelming to a student when they look at the whole thing. 

7. Duct Tape/ Clear Packing Tape:
If you are not a millionaire, and that is totally me, you need quick fixes. I hate when the little lamination pieces to work tasks start to peel and come apart so I constantly have clear packing tape around because in a quick fix when it is between a student getting the task done or having a meltdown I'm not worried about it looking pretty. If I need a quick visual that is more durable then a sticky note I just create the small visual and cover it in packing tape. The duct kind of works the same although you can see it. It works great for items that you need to really stick to something, although I don't suggest using it on the walls! LOL

8. Spring Loaded Scissors:
Another great find that I didn't know existed until last year. My para who LOVES to prep for me now is like begging me to find things for her to prep with these scissors. They are so much easier on your hands and makes it so the cutting is less labor intensive. I use these ones below!

9. Binders
I know you are thinking, these aren't really for prep, but they are if you are like me and you use them to house a lot of your work task materials. I use a lot of binder tasks in my classroom because they take up less room then the traditional boxes. Now, don't get me wrong I have a TON of work tasks boxes but I have also discovered using binders to save space. So when I am making file folder tasks I actually sometimes laminate the pages, 3 hole punch them, and stick them in a binder instead. You can read more about my "BinderWork" station here.

10.  Velcro! 
Last and certainly NOT the least is my good old buddy Velcro! I could never in a million years run my classroom with out it. There are so many kinds from coins, to strips in different sizes, widths, with adhesive on the back and without. You would not believe the amount of Velcro a teacher uses unless you are well, a teacher! The best place I have found to get Velcro in the amount that I need it in is through Feiner Supply. They have these giant rolls and the prices are awesome! You do need to buy a certain amount to get free shipping but, in most cases you are good for a loooooooong time if you buy it that way!

Here is a HACK! I figured this out this summer and it has been a game changer!

Here is the affiliate link from amazon to get the towel holder!!

Friday, June 2, 2017

10 Reasons Why I Love My Teaching Job

There are some times when I get to write a blog post and I know exactly what I want to write about and exactly what I want to share with my readers. Then there are times like this where I don't know if I have something to say that will interest people. That's the whole fun of this though right? If you don't like this... just close it out! 

I'm just going to talk about my love of my job today. If you don't know I teach special education (finishing my 4th year in SPED and my 9th year overall) in a middle school (yes, with teenagers!) to intellectually disabled students which most of the time means they have a diagnosis of autism. A lot of people would say that I am an "angel" because the work that I do is not always the easiest 

 Here are 10 reasons why I love teaching and why I love teaching students with autism and other disabilities.. 

10. My students are so literal!
Image result for literal
This picture made me literally laugh out loud! I totally mean this, my students have the best personalities. Most people may say, do they really because they don't talk much, they don't show most emotion but, when they show you who they really are by laughing, smiling or cracking a joke it is the best! My students listen to everything they are told and if you are not careful the picture above is what you might get if you ask for hand soap! 

9. My students have awesome memories. 
Image result for autism memory
If you have never heard of this guy google, "Steven Wiltshire" who is this awesome guy in the picture above who literally flies over cities and memorizes them, then he draws them without ever going back! My students from time to time have caught me forgetting, which is fine because we are all human but, they things they can remember are astounding!

8. I get to continue learning right along side my students. 
Image result for learn every day
I do not mean you have to go back to grad school even though most of us do. I mean you seriously have a different adventure everyday that you are in the classroom and my students teach me those things. It may be to never say a direction the way I just did because like I said before my students are literal and instead of writing 8 nouns on a piece of paper like dog, cat, etc. they wrote "8 nouns". You learn all kinds of things from all students if you just look inside enough to take every moment as a learning opportunity. 

7. I get to run the show and do what's best for my students!  
Image result for teacher boss
No, I don't mean that you get to be mean, but you get a say in what happens and how things are running in the classroom. You get to shape the lives of students and make an impact. That concept can be so amazing to think about and so scary all at the same time, but the opportunity is priceless and I try to remember that everyday!

6. The students love structure and routine and so do I!
Image result for schedule routine quote
I think one of the best things about my students is they love structure and routine. Yes, I could also say one of the most challenging things about my students is they love structure and routine when something happens that is not a part of that normalcy. We know that ALL students and even people in general need some sort of routine in their lives and yet, I find helping my students get that balance is so important and an honor to have. 

5. I get my summers off (I know cliche). 

I love it because it gives me time to learn, grow, and create. How many professions let you have time off to do that?? And throw in a vacation or two! We work our butts off for 10 months and that equals out way more work then anybody else does in 2 years. 

4. My students learn and speak in pictures!

Visuals, visuals, visuals they save our butts all the time. If all else fails find a visual or draw one on the fly to help your student understand. I love that I work in middle school and still have excuses to add color to my room in some way!

3. I constantly have an ever changing day. 

No matter how many schedules I create and how many everyday routines we have there is always something new that happens and needs to be managed every day. It makes for a very fast paced and interesting day. 

2. My students are so talented in different ways!

I have students good at drawing, like amazing. I have students good with math facts and can rattle them off in no time. I have others who have the abilities to see something put together before they have even taken the holding materials out of the box.

1. I get to do what I love everyday! 

I feel lucky and privileged to say that I get to work with these students. They challenge me yet they teach me so much about life. My advice, do what you love!