It's That Time of Year...

Hello December. 
Hello blog. 
Hello readers...if you're still around.

This is truly my favorite time of year, said every other blogger/female/instagrammer...insert your title. 

Funny story, the other day a male student asked what I was drinking and I told him a pumpkin protein smoothie. His response...oh your just a basic white girl. Frankly I was pleased he omitted the word bitch but seriously how did this become a thing? Or something that is supposed to be insulting: yes I like pumpkin, PLL, boots and the holidays. Basic my ass...end rant.

And since I bothered to actually show up on the 1st of the month I figured it was about time I linked up with Farley for this month's currently.

Listening: I am completely obsessed with youtube makeup videos, its a weird obsession which has lead to a horrible obsession of buying makeup. And then spending too long putting makeup on in the morning while watching more videos thus encouraging me to buy more makeup. It's a nasty nasty cycle...don't fall down the rabbit hole.

Loving: My Christmas tree. Watching Christmas movies. Making Christmas Crafts. Christmas shopping. Pretty much nailed all of those over Thanksgiving break and now going to work just seems so trivial when there are things that need glitterfying. I am making words up left and right this blog post.

Thinking: After three long months of stressing about funding, dates, student involvement, school buses, t-shirts, permission slips and staying after school until 6 multiple times a week its all coming to a end. Are we ready, not really. Will we ever be ready, who knows. But fingers crossed the robot does what it needs to on Saturday, no one misses the bus and we don't look like the team of misfits like we did last year. Plus this means I might finally get back to blogging on the regular, or having a life. 

Wanting: On top of the Robotics competition, I also have my normal classroom stuff, progress reports to get out, a Math/Science night, PBIS meeting to run and a student leadership academy this week. Because that is how my life works, nothing or everything at one time. Pray for my sanity.

Needing: Due to all of the above moaning and groaning you can imagine my workout routine has gone done the drain. I held out strong until about two weeks ago when I just gave up. So my plan despite all of this weeks craziness is too stick to the Blogilates calendar because the only way for me to start a routine is to start on the 1st which happens to fall on a Monday which makes the OCD side of me super satisfied.

Giving: My giving is a little random, but I am pretty sure this entire post has been completely random so just roll with it. Sometimes we get sucked into the black hole of pinterest and never actually make anything that we pinned. Other times we try the pin with the best of intentions and end up with a sloppy mess on your hand and in the drive through of Sonic trying to forget the time and money we just just me?!?  But these five pins have been complete knockouts and you should definitely try these:

Motivational Monday: Middle School Style

Sometimes as a teacher you are lucky enough to be able to witness the purest and simplest acts of kindness from one student to another and in that moment the reasons that often take you down the road...why am I teacher...fade away and you want nothing more than to share the story with anyone who will listen.

I feel like this story should start with this preface: the last group of students we pushed out the double doors said goodbye to in June was a rough class. I loved them but they needed all the love in the world and then some. They celebrated when students got hurt in 'school yard fights', wore badges of honor for each teacher who didn't return and were the type of group that was so focused on themselves they didn't care who they pushed down or stepped on to get to the 'top.' Don't get me wrong they weren't all like that but it was very much the feel of the entire class as a whole. So for me random acts of kindness were so few and far between that they had me crying silent tears about what the future holds for them. 

But this year, this year my students are so insanely different it would be like comparing lions to bunnies. We have of course had our share of fights but the overall feel of the school is camaraderie and not the set of Dangerous Minds...too far?!?

Which leads me to tonight's story...

Every football game day the football players and cheerleaders are required to dress up, the boys wear a collared shirt and tie and look so dashingly professional that I wish that was the dress code everyday. Given our population, title one inner city school, you can imagine there are quite a few students whose parents either can't afford or won't purchase 'dress' clothes for their sons. If their not dressed up, they don't play that night. Period. Our communities in schools(CIS) office does a good job of stocking dress clothes for the boys with the highest needs.

Our first football game rolled around in September and at morning duty I was blown away by how seriously this group of boys took the game day rule: suspenders, brief cases, freshly starched shirts...

I made it back in for first period, my first time having a first period ever, and in walked multiple half put together or not even closely put together football players. 

One girl simply started tying ties and tucking down collars of all the boys to help them out. Another put down his briefcase and informed me that each football player needed to head to CIS for clothes. I of course followed directions, he had a briefcase, and one by one players came back some what put together.

One of our taller boys came back with pants two sizes too large and about a foot too short, another boy in class offered up his belt so the students pants would stay up.

But one of my favorite 8th grade students was just too large for anything that CIS had to offer, so dejectedly he said he didn't care to play anyways. No one in the room believed him, they spent the rest of the day asking around to teachers and other students to locate him a shirt and pants. And by the end of the day he was dressed per coaches standards due to a 7th grade teacher but mostly due to the power of the group of my first period students who wouldn't let him sit the first game out.

So began the tradition of getting every football player properly put together during my first period class this semester, and I can promise I haven't lifted a finger just sat back and given them the time and space to help each other succeed. And as we approach our last playoff game tomorrow evening I plan on cherishing first period tomorrow and enjoying those little moments of kindness. 

Sure bell to bell instruction is important and they should probably be getting ready at home but life isn't black and white and there is a bigger lesson to be had here, a lesson on how to treat your fellow man. And if I were to give them a grade on that they would be acing my class. Hands down. 

A Day In The Life of a Teacher

Well hello there.

It's been a bit and I could go on and on about being 'busy' but really that's boring. Because frankly my dear, life has been pretty darn boring lately. Chaotic but nothing all that blog worthy. Or perhaps its that life has been so busy that boring doesn't rank high enough to open up this blog and put down my mess of babbles for the world to read.

Over the summer I did a little blog post on a day in the life of a teacher during the summer so I thought I would turn it around for what life looks for a teacher during the school year. Scratch that, the first three months of a school year. 

Monday - Friday:

5:00-5:30 the alarm goes off...let's be real there are at least four alarms and the mister generally is ready to smother me.

5:00-7:00 I attempt to pull myself together which consists of: shower, blow dry, warm lemon water, blog reading, spark, make up/hair and the deep venture into my closet to put together the perfect outfit. And then a few dozen selfies that go to die on my phone. Make my morning smoothie, pack my lunch and become the pack mule and haul it all out to the car to deal with traffic. 

7:00-7:30 Is the three mile drive to work, some days it will take ten or so minutes and other days I get stuck behind a bus that loads nearly fifty elementary students across the street and I want to pull my hairs out one by one.

7:30-7:45 I unpack my bags, set up my powerpoint slides for my day and get everything ready for the day. I try to squeeze in a restroom break considering those are pretty much like golden tickets that aren't given out nearly enough this semester.

7:45-8:03 Morning duty. This morning it literally consisted of watching six grade girls twerk on the football field...or drop it like its hot but not sure that's a real dance move. Stopping a boy from squeezing his water bottle on people like he was jerking off and then stopping a boy from corn dogging other boys. So loads of fun!

8:03-1:50 I teach 180 students in Web Design, Career Tech and Robotics in six different classes with preps that never are back to back.

I do get a nice little 20 minute lunch around 12 but for the most part I just enjoy using the is so last year.

1:50-2:42 We have my designated PLC time basically a time for staff to be trained on various amazing and informative topics such as epipens, seizures and fire safety. Basically a time for me to sign my life away for any and every major event that could possible happen in my classroom. I am totally prepared for any and everything...your glorified boys scout essentially minus the really cool patches.

2:42-3:34 I get to plan lessons, grades, answer parent emails, meet with my mentee, plan PBIS stuff, plan SEL stuff and every other admin thing that could possible come up...conquering the world one email at a time.

3:34-3:45 Afternoon duty...aka...the one and only time I look at my phone all day.

3:45-4:30 Catch up on all that stuff I didn't accomplish in the lovely 48 minutes I am provided...or sit there in a motionless coma thinking I am conquering things but really I am asleep. Tuesdays I stay until 5:30 with Robotics club and every Thursdays we have staff meetings until 5:30.

4:30-6:00 Home. Complete whatever workout the Blogilates app tells me to...the best 99 cents I have ever paid for a gym membership.

6:00-8:00 Cook dinner. Shower. Take care of whatever household items that warrant my attention, you know to keep the house from caving in around us.

8:00-10:00 Watch a few shows with the mister and then I crash.

Sleep. And then repeat to make a difference the next day...or survive. Potato Potato.

Hence why I have been a little MIA lately. Not that I am complaining I have a job that most days I enjoy but there is something about this schedule that makes me feel like I am basically in the weeds for the majority of the day. 

Does this mean that I am back, maybe. Does this mean that I will start posting regularly again, probably not. So what does this mean...I have missed this little space and of course all of you so I want to try and carve out a little more time for blogging as the semester finally starts to even out. 

But honestly I wouldn't hold your breath...

Currently September

It's September so once again its time to link up with Farley for this month's currently. I love how I rank currently's before my monthly goals link up...which will go live tomorrow...shameless plug.

The seasons finale of Pretty Little Liars, I was actually a few episodes behind but thankfully was able to binge watch a few episodes and catch up. Priorities people. I told my students how much I love PLL and then threatened them if they ruined the finale. Making connections left and right.

Three day weekends. We did absolutely nothing and I loved every moment of it. I was able to get the house cleaned, workout 3 times and have plenty of healthy goodies in the fridge. The perfect amount of productivity with binge watching TV shows. Our newest addiction: Game of Thrones.

I need to get some major money for my Robotics team to get registered and start prepping. I have a few little goals this year: taking a full team, actually having made tshirts (not the spray painted ones we made the day before last year) and placing in the top 10. So anybody out there know some good grant websites please let me know.

I have been following the blogilates calendar and have completed 31 straight days of working out while still juggling starting school, tooting my own horn. But there is a lot a whole lot of planking and my wrists are killing me. I need to figure out how to make them a bit know to hold my body weight. 

A smooth start to the school year is basically a give me, but considering I never see the students true colors to around week 3 I am definitely putting it on the list.

Seriously once school started I have fallen off the face of the social media world and I. hate. it. I want to be able to keep blogging but I get home at 4. Workout til 5 or 5:30. Shower. Make dinner. And sometimes get an hour or two to see the mister before its bed time. How do yall do it? I know some of you have kids too, so some serious props are sent to you.

Ireland. I feel like if the mister and I ever took a honeymoon it would hands down be Ireland, it fits us in more ways than I have time to type.
Costa Rica. I have been talking about running away with the bestie to Costa Rica for the last seven years and hopefully fingers crossed I will be heading that way for my 30th.
Italy. Wine and amazing food. I love the culture and the history. I could easily get lost for a month. At least.

Come back by tomorrow for my September monthly goals link up.

First Week Rants

Oh hey remember me, I blog around here. Or something like that.

Let's be real for a moment:
I haven't read any blogs on bloglovin in almost a week. Don't get me started on other forms of social media.
There are at least 3 episodes of PLL on my DVR box.
And I have only washed my hair once this week.

Happy first week of school!

Real talk, I hate the first week of school. Don't get me wrong I love being back, interacting with the students everyday brings a great big fat smile to my face and I crave routine. 

But the first week is not routine: our campus runs homeroom 2 hours each day for the first week of school. The rest of the year its two 40 minute periods a week. We do this to go over school wide norms and procedures and don't get me wrong, I see the importance in this...hell I wrote all of the lesson plans for pbis...but only seeing my classes for 29 minutes a day is rough. What can really be done in 29 minutes?

Let me tell you, I talk about my classroom rules.

And then the class leaves and I repeat the rules again, and again, again and again. Until my voice is sore and my feet hate me.

I run a technology shop so for me procedures are my bread and butter, I spend the first two weeks reviewing them. Drilling them into their pretty little heads until they have no choice but to conform to my crazy. And for the rest of the year I generally have very few discipline issues. It's worth it but so exhausting. I just want to fast forward to week three when I give 10 minutes worth of instructions and they spend the period doing something creative, solving real world problems and actually using technology. And I get to really know them. #thatsthedream

While I am on a roll, why don't I share a few more first week rants with you:

one. The students get to make schedule change requests for the next two weeks based on how much they like me, the students in the class and their lunch schedule. The important stuff. So my roster changes literally every hour and our new grading/attendance sucks a big...

two. My class size is way too big. 32 students. 30 computers. Do the math. We are a magnet/comprehensive school and comprehensive students have block english/math so there are fewer electives that aren't magnet electives so they have been packing the classes. I have been biting my tongue until schedule changes even out but CTE (my departments) policy is there are no more than 26 students for safety, they literally only gave me 26 chairs to make that point. Management wise I can handle 30, but I don't even have a place for two extra students to sit.

three. My teacher computer has a virus and literally every time I try to take attendance tells me I am forbidden or has 800 pop ups making different noises. Fun times.

four. I don't have a homeroom, our homeroom is called Social Emotional Learning and I am on the SEL leaders team, cause I can't learn to say no. I was told I could use this time to plan for PBIS stuff since I am the leader of that. But literally every SEL (twice a day) I spend running around campus collecting attendance know to help out. I obviously will/do have other duties but since its the first week this is where I am needed. Fine whatever so glad I did my make up and hair. But then I saw a fellow SEL leader making her classroom copies and I wanted to choke her. #proudadultmoment

five. This one is long, you were warned and has basically made me feel like the biggest b*tch all day.

I teach Robotics, Web Design and Career Technology. Since I was hired my principal has expected me to have a team compete in a Robotics tournament each year, last year was my first time. I need to find grant money to do so, hello this weekends to do's. But it is something that is expected of my job, you know that whole other duties line in contracts.

I tried doing this after school but no one showed up once they learned there was work involved. So last year I ran it through the class and just took the 10 best students. It worked out decently well. My plan is to repeat this process this year, but it means I have to teach Robotics incredible fast in order to have them be ready by December. Like a fast that doesn't bode well for accommodations or modifications. But in the last two semesters my students have really surprised me with what they can accomplish with the bar set that high.

This year I have 6 lifeskills students enrolled in my Robotics classes, this was tried two years ago and then stopped because it wasn't a good fit, but we have a new program leader and so here we are again. The capabilities are all over the place and yes there are two teacher assistants present but some of them don't/can't/will never get on the computer and some of them just sit on the floor and play with toys they brought. 

In a highly mobile classroom with lots of equipment this just seems unsafe to me. Seriously I had the easiest day until that class today and I am trying to cover my 25 students, not trip over students on the floor and at least help those lifeskills students try and log in that can. As it is the class is overloaded so if a student is just going to sit there and not log in it irks me. And at this point we haven't introduced the 9000+ legos. 

I understand the need for inclusion into the mainstream classroom but I feel like there needs to be a realistic chance of success and I don't see that with most of them. At the speed in which I teach the class in order to get ready for the competitions I feel like they will never keep up. I could say they do every other project or something but they always end up being completely lost as projects require set up and I only have one project table. Students are constantly moving to get supplies, practice and legos are every where. But if a lego is thrown they all get locked up. end. of story. 

Isn't the point of inclusion so they start to accumulate to the mainstream classroom, see those little successes and build skills to allow them to progress. Maybe I am being quick to judge, unwilling to accommodate or change...all thoughts that have ran through my head. I know the class gets treated like the red headed step child and there aren't a lot of options but I feel like the choices should be made based on the best fit both for the lifeskills students individually (not as a group) and the class as a whole. 

So today reluctantly, I emailed the lifeskills teacher kept my focus on safety and how as of now the class isn't going to be a safe environment given the logistics of class size, range of the lifeskills students abilities and types of materials. I did offer a solution I have another class, Career Tech, with only 15 students and we could make it work but I know the times don't mesh well with their schedule. So we shall see what her thoughts are come tomorrow.

Either way I feel like a selfish b*tch. My students and classes mean the world to me and I want the best experience for all of them but I also can't sacrifice our competitions so I feel like I am stuck.


Don't worry I do have positive moments from this week, cause this post took a debbie downer turn quick, but I think I will save those for tomorrow's Five for Friday. A sign I am back at blogging regularly this is not.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday, I figure if we aren't doing this tomorrow we will all be alright...

Face Palm

And just like that summer is over.

I wish I could say that I did something glorious on my last day of summer but I went and finished my classroom, worked out and I am planning an early bed routine. Planning key word, haven't been to bed before midnight in over six weeks.

We have all day professional development for the next two days 8-4 with a little 30 minute lunch. Yippie. And then we get two days to complete the two page admin checklist we are given. And I guess the expectation is that we spend all weekend setting up our classroom and writing lessons.

Hence why I carved eight days of my summer to set up my classroom, cover my first two weeks lesson plans and all of my pbis responsibilities. #lifeofateacher

My main focus this year is to prevent all of the things that annoy me from happening. Happy teacher = happy life. Someone should start texting students that now...

And my students have the power to annoy the sh*t out of me sometimes. I love them but goodness they can be annoying.

So all of my little Monday Made It's are focused around preemptively saving my sanity. Real talk I am sure my students will figure out other ways to annoy me but that's another story for another day.

Annoyance one picking up the paper at the door. We need paper about once a week in my classroom, generally at the beginning of a unit. Let me lay out exactly what happens:

I set a stack of papers at the door.
I greet the students at the door and ask them each individually to pick up a copy.
The first five students accomplish this like pros.
Then a student needs to talk to me about something: the sky, the weather, what I am wearing...
And the next 15 students fail to pick up the copy.
The bell rings, we do the warm up and I start explaining the paper.
"Miss I don't have a paper."
Me: They were at the door.
And so now 10 students all get up and mosey to the door for the paper.
I try again.
"Miss I don't have a paper."
Me: They were at the door, we just covered this.

If I had the money I would have neon lights flashing around the paper, but I don't, so I used neon duct tape and wrote all around it to get the students attention. It might not be the ultimate fix but it has to be better than the scene above. #Fingerscrossed

A nice new metal shelf appeared in my room so I claimed it as my own, possession is nine tenths of the law right and that shelf is now directly across from the pick up spot. I used duct tap across the top to create three sections for each of my preps copies. And then have folders for each periods copies later on in the week. The joys of teaching three preps that are never back to back.

Annoyance two the tardy students. We have a really really big tardy issue at school, we have a set tardy consequence system but it is so hard keeping up with which consequence each of my 180 students is on. Then there is the awesome arguments about which tardy the student is on because they have the memory of a inebriated person. Let's pull out the old tardy sheet, that has a spot for the reason for the tardy on it (school wide form)...

Me: You were tardy last Wednesday, you signed your name First Name, Last Name sorry you forgot that.
Student: Nope that wasn't me.
Me: You wrote that you were bitten by a dog as the reason for your tardy.
Student: Oh yea...
Student 2: Oh yea and I was late because I helped him...
Student 3: I was late cause I killed the dog.
Insert all students laughing.

Thank you student for wasting the last 5 minutes of my time, now please call home.

This semester I am doing something a little different starting with a Tardy Binder. It's divided out by period and each period has enough sheets for all of the students. There is no space for the reason why they were tardy ps I don't care and the student just adds the date for each tardy. I then can go back through and check off as we cover each consequence. And each six weeks we start over with new copies. This will make writing up referrals super easy as all the data is in one place and not on five different weekly rosters. I made this little nifty spreadsheet which is fully editable and free if you are interested.

All I need to do now is find a way to tie a pen to the binder so the student can't use the "I don't have anything to write with" excuse. #iamsmarterthanamiddleschooler

My last and final annoyance has nothing to do with the students and everything to do with the word wall. The stupid thing melted during the summer. Last summer I accidentally ripped the old one. So basically I hate the stupid word wall that the students never bother to look at but admin expects to be up and current. 

Last year on my word wall rant a fellow teacher suggested using scrapbook paper and adhering it individually to the wall I figured it was worth a shot so why not. I laminated all of the paper, cut them out and then hot glued clothespins in order to hold the actual words. I then both taped and hot glued them to the wall. Better safe than sorry. 

I ran out of scrapbook paper about half way through Friday so I figured I would finish up today, I was welcomed by a half hanging word wall poster and border. So I retaped it and then sprayed clear spray paint over it all. This wall seriously hates me. I do like the way it turned out just need to add a few more clothespins. And now I perhaps need to do some sort of voodoo witch craft spell to keep the darn thing up throughout the year.

And that's it. Here's hoping there will be little actual face palming this semester. A light beating of the head against brick perhaps but I have always been a realist.

Linking up with Tara.

Meet The Teacher

In order to get 'ahead' this week I have been tweaking aka adding more gifs to my first week powerpoints and trying to come up with a really great two minute all about me to give the kids. 

This year is a little bittersweet because I just completed my first cycle of students, so I will have a lot lot lot less repeat students which means I will really need to work on those relationships and letting them get to know me. Falling Into First created a very very popular Meet The Teacher link up and the timing felt perfect.

My name is The Babbling Box or A, I really try to keep my name off this blog just to protect my identity, you know while I am busy filling you in on all my comings and goings and every picture I take, glass of wine I consume and funny classroom story. Real talk, my students are crafty and them finding this little ole blog scares the crap out of me.

This will mark my fourth year teaching middle school, side note - there are not nearly as many of us middle school bloggers as there are elementary bloggers and I have always wondered why. Anyways back on track. I teach all three grade levels career electives: robotics, web design and career technology. Before you say how easy and fun that must be lets be real, I teach a demographic that doesn't have access to technology so forcing them to get on a computer everyday is a battle. Yes we have fun. A whole lot of fun. But it ain't a walk in the park. #endrant

Me in middle school: a little collage I made to show my students that I am and will always be more awkward and weird than they are.

I live in Austin with my boyfriend aka the mister, we have been together for over 7 years. No we are not married. No it doesn't bother me. No we don't have kids. No it doesn't bother me. Just practicing for when my students start badgering me...

I am the oldest sibling which pretty much explains my bossy ways, need to take care of everyone and my patience. I have a brother the firefighter aka the hulk, a very sassy younger sister and a little brother who just turned eight. Yes eight, I was 21 when he was born.

These are a few of my favorite things...
Music. Target. Tacos and queso. Shopping. Pinterest. Blogging. Maxi shirts. Did I mention shopping? Makeup. Working out. Hanging out with the mister. Sister time. The beach. Skulls. Bad Reality TV. The pool. Playing in picmonkey. Skyping with the bestie. Instagram. And booze. Although I should probably leave that out on the first day of school.

If you weren't a teacher, what would you want to be?
When I graduated high school I wanted to be a news anchor. When I graduated college I wanted to be a event planner. A few years after that I wanted to go into marketing and graphic design. So I pretty much just found a job that involved all three. I still really want to be a counselor but that's a long term goal. 

Three little words to describe you. 
Weird. Giggly. Dedicated.

Finish the sentence, "______________ said no teacher ever!"
Yes I would like to attend another meeting, said no teacher ever.

It's your birthday and you can invite anyone dead or alive to the party. Who are you inviting?
Jacqueline Kennedy. Audrey Hepburn. Marilyn Monroe. Grace Kelly. Madonna. Talk about some major girl power.

You get to pick one super power. What is it?
The ability to stop time, there never seems to be enough time in the day once school starts and I usually end up putting blogging or the mister on the back burner. Awesome girlfriend award goes to me.

What's your favorite quote or saying?
This changes depending on my mood but these two have become my mantra's this summer.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl, could you please find me a school that just starts at 10:00 am already. Please and thank you.

What is your favorite resource that you have created in your TPT store?
Hands down my blogging unit, we use kidblog which is free and spend a few weeks focusing on posting information and pictures to the internet in a safe manner. The kids are mostly engaged because they are talking about themselves, their interests, the latest gif they laughed at, etc. Basically I get to teach them how to be mini bloggers and I love it!

Share something we might not know about you.
I can be very insecure at times, something I probably haven't talked about on this blog at all. I also am a big brat when I have to do something I don't want to do for instance the three hour pd next week on drama based instruction I am required to do. If you could be in my head you would probably here: "I don't want to do this. Can I just play on my phone? Could I go to the bathroom and hide? They want to blindfold someone, avert eyes! avert eyes! Nope not going to do, just not. They want us to do what?"

It probably has a little something to do with my insecurities but my brattiness can rival that of a teenager at times, its something I am working on though. We are all just works in progress, right?

And there you have it, me in a nut shell or a long I am guessing that means...

Now its your turn to link up!