Crafty & Cheap

Did you know that many teachers regularly spend over $250, on average $500, of their own money on their students and classrooms each year? 

I've been lucky that I can reuse certain things I buy for my students (because they have been taught how to take care of them) and veteran teachers gave me extra books and supplies (like bins and white boards) when I first got started- but I've bought my fair share of classroom materials and still need to buy more for my ideal classroom. (Why are plastic book bins for a classroom library $50?!)

Anyway, even though I'm willing to spend on my classroom, there are some things that are better to DIY. Some of my students are struggling with word boundaries when writing, focusing in on the parts of words, and left to right tracking. So, instead of buying creepy plastic fingers for $6, I decided to make my own pointers for students to use with materials I already had. 

Update: Professional Goals

Effective teachers need to goal set and have time for reflection- not just for our students, but for our own professional practice. I made these teaching goals for myself back in September and then wrote about them in January. Here is how I think I'm doing. 

Goal 1. Less complaining, more action. 

I'm continually working on this one. I have noticed that I complain less frequently and less openly than most coworkers (woo!), but I will still vent to colleagues that share my frustrations. The difference is that I've turned my frustrations into some sort of action: 
Frustration: Not all of my colleagues seek out ELL support or collaboration. Action: I started doing a newsletter for my cooperating teachers. Whether they ask or not, I'm providing them with updates on what is going on in my ELL classroom, reminders about testing, and providing them ELL resources that they can use. 

Frustration: Working with an uprofessional and unprepared cooperating teacher. Action: I started documenting how their behavior impacted my work and my students' learning. I arranged meetings and reached out to that teacher to provide support. There is a way to bring up uncomfortable issues with a colleague and not make seem like you're making assumptions or making it personal, so I was as adamant about making sure I was advocating for my students when their needs were not being met. 

Frustration: Teaching can be stressful and you feel like you aren't doing good enough. Action: I started doing my 'teacher life' illustrations for fun. It's been great seeing different teachers and friends like them on social media. It's a great reminder that we shouldn't isolate ourselves as teachers. 

 Goal 2. Create one system of data collection that is easier to keep updated and organized. 

The one system part: Nope. 
The updated part: Not consistent 
The organized part: Yes. 

Goal 3. Time management. 

My Master's degree classes began at the end of January, and right now I feel 8/10 about it. I've been able to keep up really well with all of the homework and readings, but I'm just a little behind on the research paper front. When it comes to my research sources- I need to dig in and read them all and starting organizing the information. I've started doing it, but I could be a lot further along to be comfortable. Overall, the time management piece is not at all as difficult as I anticipated. 


Politics can become personal. 

When teachers become teachers we focus on our students. 
We focus on lesson plans. 
We focus on creating a welcoming classroom. 
We read up on best practice and pedagogy research. 
We come to work early and go home late laden with post it notes, paperwork, and books. 

What I don't focus on is how teachers can also be called upon to be human shields. 
But then we are forcibly jarred with a breaking story of another mass shooting at a school. 
Kids and their teachers being ripped apart by bullets. 

I personally have thought about being trapped in my classroom if there were an armed intruder- or not being able to hide in time. 
I could die protecting my students. 
I would tell my husband and my dog that I love them as I head out the door, and that would be that. 

That is frightening.

But it is absurd (and wildly unpopular) to believe that arming teachers is the answer. 
I am a teacher because I want to help kids learn English so they can live productive and independent lives. 
I am a teacher to be a role model. 
I am a teacher to show that there is value in effort, knowledge, and collective caring. 
I am not a teacher because I want to learn how to shoot a gun. 
Especially if that gun is willingly paid for by the administration, when paying for books and field trips and school supplies is denied. 

In the words of Rebecca Berlin Field, a teacher from Virginia, and so many others around the country:
"Instead of making dead teachers into saints, make them safer when they are still alive. Make it possible for schools to have smaller class sizes so that we can get to know our students and look out for the ones who need help. Hire more counselors and school nurses and social workers and psychologists so that many people are caring for each child. HELP us prevent this."

I am planning to go the March For Our Lives event at my state's capitol on March 24th. I would encourage fellow educators and advocates for children join the movement where they live. 

I am an advocate for my students, not for guns.

Note: There are responsible and reasonable people who own guns. I know a few. But that should be the norm for gun ownership. People should have to prove that they are responsible and reasonable to be able to buy a gun- they should have to pass an extensive background check, take classes on gun safety, and be included in the conversation to ensure that unstable people and criminals don't have access to guns and military style weapons. This isn't blindly talking about taking sensible people's guns away. This is about prioritizing what is best for children and not what is best for guns. 

The Ordinary

The Ordinary sells a variety of pretty potent skincare formulations at a low price point. They don't have a traditional marketing campaign and there isn't any 'extra fluff' to their brand or products. I recently purchased a few things: Retinol 1% in Squalane, Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%, Resveratrol 2% + Ferulic Acid 3%, and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and here are my thoughts.

Right off the bat I'm going to tell you that I was overzealous with the Retinol 1%. I should have been more cautious seeing that retinol can use redness, dryness, and peeling. For me it caused all three. To be honest, it also could have been to the alpha lipoic acid since it's a higher concentration... but I'll just go with the retinol since those are common side effects.

For me the side effects didn't last more than two days, and I combated it with an aloe gel and rose hip oil. Now, just to be safe, I don't use these products in combination with one another- except I'll still spot treat with the niacinamide + zinc.

Overall, these products have made my skin noticeably smoother and clearer in a relatively short time. You also can't beat the price. But the acid products definitely smell when you apply them, and I think that overuse of these products could really irritate your skin since they're so strong.

(I also purchased their Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5, but I don't like it as much. It has a sticky texture which detracts from any added hydration it may be providing.)

Purpose Driven

The other day I was meeting with someone, someone whom I admire, over coffee and she had some very kind words to share with me. She said that I seem very purpose driven, and something along the lines of needing to do work that is in service to others. Of course her words felt good and were validating, but I think what got me was that it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

Of course I'm dissatisfied with certain things at my job. There are things that are heartbreaking, time wasting, ineffective, and frustrating- those things can seem all consuming certain days. BUT, her words reminded me of the question that will often keep me going: "Yes, but what else would you want to be doing?"

Maybe one day God will give me an answer to that question to pull me out of education, but it definitely isn't right now. I'm also quite risk adverse, so it would have to be a pretty significant sign...  
In the meantime, I think I'll just be grateful that I have a job that I find meaningful. I definitely worry about the kind of legacy adults leave behind for children, and future generations... There is so much work that should and can be done.
It is a privilege to be an example of some of the things I value: work ethic, kindness, responsibility, and personal reflection and growth in learning.

What a great thing to be reminded of.

Three Things I've Been Liking

This product definitely falls into the 'useful' category, rather than the 'I'm going to display this on my counter top  because it's beautiful' category. But, having a flaky and itchy scalp is annoying. And it is embarrassing when you have dark hair. Living in a place with long cold winters just makes my scalp dry and itchy, and even though it's not to the point where I need a dandruff shampoo- I would say that this product has really helped calm my scalp. It has a distinct tea tree and peppermint scent (it doesn't linger), and leaves a cooling and slight tingling sensation. It also doesn't leave any weird residue on your hair. Overall, this product does exactly what it says it does- which is nice. Very nice.

I love that these rain boots don't necessarily scream RAIN BOOTS. They're made of rubber, but have a classic and sleek Chelsea boot shape. I also love that Sam Edelman makes size 5 shoes, and the price tag isn't outrageous. At some point I just had to realize that my suede black booties were not holding up to years of messy MN winters, despite my best efforts to keep them in good condition. 

3. The North Face International hoodie 
I grew up watching the winter Olympics, I was born when Korea hosted it's first Olympics, and Korea is hosting the winter Olympics for the first time this year- so this hoodie represents all of that. I like the nod to the Korean 'taeguk', and the little Korean flag on the arm. The hoodie is also very soft and comfortable- I even received compliments the first time I wore it. 
PS. The color looks white online, but it's actually 'glacier grey'- kind of like the color of a Macbook Pro.

How is Your Tuesday Going?

I feel like I've seen this shelf set up all over the place- Target for the win. 

Teaching is about being flexible, and being able to just deal with it- whatever it is.