A Teacher without a Child

My Story
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a secretary, architect or teacher, and I always thought I'd be a mom. I often played family with friends and dolls (when I wasn't reading). My guess was that I'd have a few children (when I was pretty young, I wanted four). 

As I went through my teen years and into college, I didn't date or have a boyfriend until my sophomore year of college. After college, I became a teacher's aide, then a second grade teacher and I quickly found out it was tough to meet guys as an elementary school teacher.  In the very early days of online dating, I gave it a try (before Match.com!) I met someone in my mid-twenties and we dated for a year; however, it did not work out. I was busy with teaching, but still hoped to find the right guy and was still pretty positive I would and I'd be a mom. 

In my mid-thirties, I dated someone for four years but things ended unexpectedly.
At that point,  I was about to turn 39 and determined to meet someone great. I tried online dating again. After that, I was frustrated and started to realize I might not meet someone right for me anytime soon.
The Decision
After I turned 40,  I spent a long time thinking it over, and decided to start looking into becoming a mom on my own. I didn't tell anyone until I had more information, and went through many medical tests and procedures. In my state, insurance does not cover the first six months of treatments unless you are married. Therefore, I  spent most of my saved money and some more.  After almost two years, the realization came that it was not going to happen.

Meanwhile, my cousin had been a foster parent in Massachusetts and I talked with her about it a lot. I decided to look into foster parenting in my state. I took and completed all the required classes,  and was almost done with the process. Before I proceeded I decided to take a serious look at finances. The state provided foster parents with a $16 a day stipend.  When I looked reality in the face, I realized there was no way, having drained my savings and being on a tight budget as a teacher (still paying off student loans), that I could not afford to host a foster child who needed all day daycare while I was at work or before and after school care for a school age child. If I was in  another state, I would be getting a much larger stipend and perhaps be able to take a child in; however, the small stipend in my state meant it would maybe cover formula or food, but not diapers and certainly not daycare. I had to resign myself that I could not continue the process.
Being a Teacher without a Child
How does it feel to be a teacher without a child? So many different feelings! I still feel sadness that I won't get to experience the joy of a child growing and learning in my family. I have children's books I collected at home that are still sitting on the shelves. I collected a few stuffed animals and a baby hat but I donated the stuffed animals to Toys for Tots. With that being said, I have made some peace with this. 

Sometimes to be honest, I have feelings of relief when I get to leave to head to a quiet home after a challenging day at school. I appreciate my independence and the flexibility that comes with being able to make my own choices. I am so glad I have time to write posts blog and create curriculum that helps and supports so many teachers and students. It's a little funny to me when parents ask me for advice about their child's behavior at home or homework routines. I wonder if they assume I am a parent too, because most elementary teachers have children. I can only advise them based on what works at school and I let them know that.

My life has led me in a different direction then I thought in some ways. Overall, I feel like I am okay with it not but sometimes I am still in disbelief that I am single and childless. It's a road less traveled perhaps, but one in which I am finding contentment.

My Saint Bernard "baby", Archie, who I got in 2017!

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    Flexible Seating: Do THIS, Not THAT

    Looking for some tips for flexible seating? I sure was when I started implementing it a few years ago. I couldn't find any quick lists, so after using it for three years, I thought I'd tell you my top tips! Also, if you want my free Flexible Seating Ebook, click here to grab it!

    First: DO Try it! If you want to know why, check out some of my other blog posts about Flexible Seating, at the end of the post!

    Don't put seats out without modeling and going over the expectations. Post them with visuals. This might mean you need to put out one type of seat at a time, or if you are doing them all at the beginning of the year, introduce just a few each day. If you end up having a student who can't follow the guidelines, and you have to tell a student they aren't allowed to use a certain seat for a day or tow, do it!
    (Heidi Songs, Make my own, link to Alyssa Hacker)

    Don't expect it to work for everyone and don't expect it to solve all problems. A few students will do best with traditional chairs, a desk, or both. Keep a few in your room in case, or try a half and half mix. Students with limited core strength, for example, will have trouble sitting on stability ball chairs and IKEA stools/wobble stools (though the balls and wobble stools, if used for a few minutes a day by students, will help strength the core). Students with trouble focusing may need a separate seating area, like their own desk. Make sure you read all IEPs and 504s thoroughly so you know your students' needs when it comes to seating. Flexible seating will be beneficial to so many students, though!

    Listen, let's get real, students fall off EVERY type of chair. I have had students fall of traditional chairs, fall off IKEA stools, wobble stools, and fall backwards off scoop rockers. The only things    kids have never "fallen off" were cushions of the floor and camp chairs, though I am sure someone      could fall off one!

    This is how I started! I first got 4 wobble stools from the Scholastic teacher store using my points. The students loved them and after that year, i decide to go full flexible seating. Start slow if you think that's best for you,, maybe introduce one or two types first before going full flexible seating -especially if it's the middle of the school year! If you want to go full force right away, and you know that works for you, go for it! Just again, make sure you follow my first tip, and model and go over expectations for every seat before students use it!

    Do stay flexible based on the needs of your specific students and situation. For example, when something doesn't work you may need to take it away. Last year, I did have to remove stability balls from the classroom for a few reasons. Also, you can add more of a seat type that works well for your students, or if the excitement is wearing off for one type of seat, try something news and switch things up. Keep in mind, you need to stay flexible based on your specific students' needs. Don't go into it assuming something won't work or that something will work!

    Expect questions, comments, and positive feedback from parents! I have an upcoming post with tips on how to talk to parents about Flexible Seating! It will be posted on August 4, 2019 .

    Here are some other Flexible Seating posts that may help you, especially if you're getting starting, or evaluating what you have!

    Adorable Flexible Seating clip art is from Educlips!

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      Flexible Seating Round Up

      Hey teachers! Are you looking for flexible seating ideas?! I have compiled all of my flexible seating posts here to make it convenient for you so you can choose what the best one is for you right now! Enjoy and let me know which one your favorite is!

      Would you like a flexible seating ebook to help you on your flexible seating journey? Click here or on the image below to download it!

      Grab a Flexible Seating Freebie!

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        Digital Resources to Help your Students

        Are you looking for new ways to integrate technology in your classroom? Well, you must know and use task cards already!  How about trying out digital math task cards?! They are for use with Google Drive and Google Classroom, a cinch for you to share with students and engaging for students! My second graders love these and they make fun math centers, fast finisher activities, morning work/bell ringers and more!

        Let's talk more about specific digital math task cards sets. They come in two options (well three actually):
        • Bundles of digital task cards, with accompanying printable task cards in color and black and white versions
        • Digital Task Cards Only
        • Printable Task Cards Only (in color and black and white)

        What topics are available?
        • Coins
        • Skip Counting
        • Hundreds Grids/Number Grids
        • Part Part Whole (broken into three separate resources with sums of 1-10, 11-14, and 15-18)
        • Addition Equations
        • Subtraction Equations
        • Place Value
        • Geometry
        Let's check out some video walk throughs of these digital task cards so you can get a better idea of what to expect,  how your students will practice, and how engaging it will be for them!




        If you want to learn more, Teachers Pay Teachers listings have previews where you can get a very look look at individual digital task cards (and printable task cards). Here are the links so you can check them out! 

        Digital Only
        Digital and Printable Task Card Bundles
        What's your favorite way to integrate digital learning into the classroom? Let me know by commenting!

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          Flexible Seating Q&A

          So many students are struggling to pay attention and develop solid work habits in the traditional classroom. There must be a better way to help them! Do you want to try flexible seating to help your students focus and get more engaged but have questions? Or are you trying to  answer parent questions or questions from your colleagues? Hopefully this Q&A can help you! Also, if you want my free Flexible Seating Ebook, click here to grab it!

          Q: Don't students just get sleepy and tired in the more comfortable seats?
          A: Actually research has shown that students are focused, pay better attention and get more done with flexible seating options!

          Q: Will it help all students?
          A: Nothing is right for all students, so there are probably always going to be a few students who need a traditional chair and desk or table. I keep 3-4 in my classroom for this reason.

          Q: What about standardized testing?
          A: My principal was fine with students using flexible seating during standardized tests. They were very focused. However; if not, you could arrange for students to use the computer lab, another teacher's room, or have the custodian bring desks and chairs in for the test.

          Q: If they don't have a desk, where do they keep their stuff?
          A: Cubbies, bins, storage containers on bookshelves, chair pockets... there are many options!! My students keep quite a few things in a central locations, like their large 300 page reading books.

          Q: Will students compete to get the favorite spots?
          A: There probably will be some popular spots. I'd recommend that you let students pick seats the day before. I use a lottery system and draw numbers randomly and they place their magnet on the seating chart before they go home the day before.

          Q: Is it expensive?
          A: Not necessarily. Some things can be procured for cheap, such as the stools I ordered from IKEA and the other stools I got with my Scholastic bonus points. Some items can be found for free or cheap, like at yard sales or Craig's List!

          Q: Why not?
          A: Remember, "We miss 100% of the shots you don't take" (Wayne Gretzsky), so why not?! Take a shot!

          If you want more details, grab my free EBOOK on flexible seating! It goes into more specifics and will really help you get going!
          CLICK HERE or on the image below!

          5 New Teacher Tips

            Find a Mentor or a Pal
                Hopefully your school has a mentor teacher program, but if not, and maybe even in addition too, find a pal! Find a teacher who has ideas and is willing to share and help! Sure, it's great if they are at your grade level, but my first mentor teacher taught a different grade - she was still very supportive and helpful. I also still remember two young second grade teachers helping me a ton that first year. Don't be shy about asking for help and information!

              Go Home
               No, we are not trying to get rid of you! But you will burn out quickly and get yourself tired and sick if you don't go home at a reasonable hour. Sure -  come in early and stay late, but it is not good for your health if you're in school from 7am -7pm! Take care of yourself!

               Pace Yourself and Be Realistic
               The year before this, I was a mentor teacher for  a new second grade teacher. She worked very hard, but she was also realistic. She didn't think she would be able to learn and implement every single app/website/piece of technology we had available, which was right! She focused on a few and the second year, learned and implemented the rest of them. Also, be sure to pace yourself. Give yourself a reasonable timeline for things!

          Don't spend all your Money 
               DO not, I repeat, DO not spend all your money on classroom supplies or run up your credit card to buy classroom books. There are other options today! Ask for parent donations, go to the library, yard sales, Donor's Choose, find out where teachers put stuff they are getting rid of. Repurpose and recycle things for storage and supplies!

              Get Basic Supplies
               Ask your principal for basic supplies or money to put towards them and get the essentials. Again, don't spend tons on these. What should you grab? Check out my blog post (link here) for details!

          And new teachers, just be kind to yourself! It's a really tough job and you are doing great!

          Do you have a tip for new teachers? Tell us in the comment section please!

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