teaching tip 48: just breathe.

teaching tips from {a tattooed teacher in texas}

i was joking last week about who of the first year teachers was going to cry first.  i was thinking about my first week of teaching.  by the wednesday of that week, i was broken.  i had no idea how hard it would be to work in a school for at-risk students.  not to mention, the school leadership was crumbling before school even started.

i cried silently on the way to school in the backseat of my carpool.  i dried it up as we pulled up and made my way quickly to my classroom.  i tried to stay busy, thinking that would help me correct my mindset and get ready to battle another day.  but as soon as the experienced teacher across the hall came in to check on me right before school started, i broke down again.  she told me to go in the corner away from the hall windows and just let it out.  she locked the door and wouldn’t let the kids come in for first period until i had myself under control again.  i am still grateful that she took the time to do that for me. she knew i could do it, but she also knew that i needed to take a minute to realize it again.

everything will be okay

it wasn’t one of the new teachers who cried (that i know of).  it was me, the seasoned one.

last week was hard.  the first week always is, but this one seemed particularly challenging.  with a new principal, a new (expanded) position, and old stresses, there were a lot of hiccups.  by friday, i broke down and just cried it out over one particular issue.  my assistant principal knew why i was upset and came found me before anyone else could.  he also knew exactly what to say to calm me down and give me a better perspective.

i’m still a little upset about the issue, but there’s nothing to be done about it now.  i don’t have any control over it anymore.  so it’s time to just breathe, accept it, and move on.

it’s something you’ll come to face over and over.  there will be times when you are pushed to the breaking point. and often, you will just need to let yourself break down.  and then you can think about it in a different way and move on.  because it will be okay even if it’s not right away.  i hope you can also find those people in your school to support you and care for you when these moments arise.

8.29 | high five for friday!


…one…   i went into this week with a great attitude. but as the week went on i went up and down with it. but by thursday, i got it mostly under control. I just needed a little reminder that…


….two…  i like being back at school and into my routine again, but i am … tired.  i missed thursday because of a football game, but i brought it the other days.  i pushed my workouts this week, but it was forced.  i didn’t enjoy them.  i know it’ll get better again… with some time.


…three… i made this kickass muffaletta pasta salad for my lunches this week.  i paired it with a simple green salad.  joy the baker is definitely one of my favorite blogs.  her food never disappoints!

…four…  whew!  the first week is in the books.  my students made me laugh from the first day of school.  these were just a few of the interesting answers i got to that question on their student info survey.


…five…  the annual rodeo is this weekend.  one of the perks of working at a small rural school.  it’s actually in my teacher contract to help out over the weekend at the rodeo.  you won’t find that in the average contract!  :)

BR Rodeo

this year is the 70th anniversary of the rodeo. i found this picture recently from one of the first rodeos. that’s a crazy amount of history for one event!


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teaching tip 47: set up a teacher website.

teaching tips from {a tattooed teacher in texas}

i dragged my feet on setting up a teacher website.  i didn’t know if it was worth it.  my district is small so if i want to talk to a teacher or student, it’s easy.  i actually signed up for one last year.  however, i didn’t do much with it.  but i finally worked on it this summer and got the kinks worked out.  it’s ready to be rolled out this school year.  here it is!

my classroom website

the main page

i chose to go with weebly.  it’s easy to work with once you know what to do. i just kept messing with it and figured it out.  the website kind of hard to keep up with, but i think it’ll get better as i update on a regular basis.

i set up a few pages for ed tech web resources.  instead of sending out emails every couple of weeks, i’m going to try this instead.  i think it’ll be more user friendly.  i set up a page for each core subject and a page for general resources.

the ed tech page on my teacher website

my ed tech page

i also set up a page for each of my classes.  i chose not to do one for my dual credit government class because they have one for their class through the college already.  i am planning on posting weekly for my classes.  i figure that will be easier for me and the kids.

sample class page

my pre-ap world history class page

the first day.

so it’s the first day.

there’s all sorts of expectations – both for the students and the teachers.

and there’s only one thing you can do…be prepared for anything.

best teacher mug ever

this is the prezi that i use to introduce my students to my class.  we go over a little info about me and then get into the rules and procedures.  i then hammer them into the kids for the first two weeks with reminders.  after those two weeks, they should know them (they are high schoolers after all) and i introduce consequences for not following the rules.

*if the prezi is not loading for you, here is the direct link.

i am also using remind for the first time this year.  my school district has a strict policy on teacher-student communication, which it should.  no one’s arguing with that for safety reasons.  but, remind is a way to create safe one-way communication.

i hope everyone has a great first day back to school! :)

8.22 | high five for friday!


…one…  well, we start back to school on monday.  i have a feeling i’ll be spending my saturday at school finishing up last minute preparations.  for some reason, the “first day” always sneaks up on me.  it seems unreal that summer is over and we’re starting a new year.  but a new year also means a new start.  so bring it on!

children are not a distraction

….two…  my workouts were better this week.  i worked out each day.  i did a mix of HIIT, kickboxing, and walking/jogging.  besides a couple of meals, i’ve gotten my food under control.  meal planning helps a ton.  i freaking love this workout!

…three… because of excitement about school, i’ve been pinning like a mad woman.  (i’ll admit most of it has been during boring inservice meetings.)  here’s a couple of my boards: classroom ideas | education technology | education funnies.

…four…  this quote:

belongs to you

…five…  i am finishing up decorating my high school social studies classroom today.  it’s one of my favorite parts of the beginning of the year!  it still needs some work, but it’s definitely coming along.  (i’ll do a more detailed post in a couple of days.)

2014-15 classsroom

my desk area

2014-15 classroom

my desk and bookshelves, my objectives board, and numbered desks.

2014-15 classroom

by the door bulletin board (for the bell schedule and rules, athletic schedules, and other info), the “please pick up” table, supplies counter and front of the room.


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WOW 8.20 – HIIT me baby one more time.

WOW button

so…i gave up on the couch to 5k program at the end of july.  i wasn’t enjoying it at all, and i didn’t feel like i was getting better at the pace that i should have.  i like to run…just in short distances.  i would do the first week of the couch to 5k all the time.  but once i got to week 5, i just couldn’t hack it anymore.  maybe i wasn’t putting in the effort.  maybe my heart wasn’t in it.  whatever it was, it wasn’t working.  i’m still walking though.  i think i like that more. an hour of a brisk walk clears my head more than a 30- 45 minute run.  so i’m done with running for now, and i’m exploring other things now and revisiting others.

i figured out in the past two weeks that i miss HIIT.  i’ve talked about millionaire hoy before but hadn’t tried his HIIT workouts until recently.  he started a 30 day HIIT program a couple of weeks ago, and i’m loving it.  it’ll probably take me about two months to finish it because i know i’ll throw in some strength training and other workouts for some variety.  i love that he explains everything and demonstrates everything.  i also like that he has a good warm-up and stretch at the beginning.  i’ve learned that i need that for HIIT.  i do have to modify some of the moves due to my wrist or skill level, but that’s no big deal.  each workout is just 30 minutes, which is perfect for me with school starting soon.  below is the first and second day of the 30 day body burnout.  day one is total body.  day two focuses on abs, but still works everything.  love it!

The Hump Day Blog Hop

teaching tip 46. create a teacher binder.

teaching tips from {a tattooed teacher in texas}

i’m all about organization.  if i don’t have everything in order, i will lose my mind.

one of the things that i use to keep myself organized is a teacher binder.  i keep my lesson plans, planning calendars, seating charts, sub plans, and more in my binder.

1.  buy a heavy duty binder and sturdy dividers (with pockets).  this thing will see some action throughout the year so make sure that it can handle it.

2.  decide the categories you want in your binder and the order.  i teach high school so i’ve used these categories in my binders: seating charts, monthly planning calendars, lesson plans, info on my dual credit college class, sub notes, and notes.

3.  fill your binder with all your info and stuff!

4.  create a cute cover.  you’ll be using it often so you might as well make it adorable.

5.  use binder clips to keep your lesson plans updated to the current week.

6.  put post-its to work in the front of your binder as to-do lists and notes.

other tips:

  • since it will contain some important info, make sure that it is secure when not in use.
  • don’t be afraid to change your binder over the course of the year.
  • sometimes a supply bag in the front is helpful to keep colorful pens, highlighters, and post-its handy.
  • it doesn’t have to be fancy!  see below. :)  just make whatever you have work for you.  i just used paper, markers, dividers, and a binder.


oh, netflix…i don’t think you get me.

i got netflix this summer to try it out and because summer television is not the greatest.  i knew i’d have some free time.  plus, it’s pretty cheap.

but the real reason was because i wanted to see the second season of “orange is the new black”. (i was not disappointed.)

netflix marathons

i’ve noticed something though…

netflix likes to give you recommendations.  often, these recommendations are totally off base.

if you watch one weird documentary, netflix pigeon-holes you as a weirdo.  it then suggests a whole bunch of other weird documentaries that it thinks you’ll like.  and before you know it, every recommendation is for weird documentaries.

then i watched the last season of “the killing”, “the fall”, and “southcliffe”, all criminal mysteries.  so now netflix thinks all i want to watch is movies about killers.

so after “orange is the new black”, the weird documentaries, and the criminal shows, netflix thinks i’m a lesbian-loving weirdo murderer.  and i not any of those things.

…okay, maybe i’m a bit of a wierdo.

but now i’m kind of nervous for anyone else to see my netflix listings because it is not a representation of who i am.  anyone who saw those listings would be put off for sure.

netflix…i don’t think you get me.  you assume so many things about me.  just be open-minded, would ya?

8.15 | high five for friday!


…one…  we are headed back to school this week with a whole week of inservice ahead of us.  i hate inservice, but it’s nice to get back to work in a way.  i’ve been working on my classroom some this week.  i don’t do as much as elementary school teachers, but i like to make my high school room cute.  i spend most of my day there so it better look cute!  it’s kind of a mess right now, but it’s coming along.  more pics next week!


….two…  my august birchbox came yesterday.  and it was great!  i am seriously considering buying the perfume.  it is a grapefruit sandalwood blend, which is right up my alley.  it smells amazing, and it’s only $55.  the bb cream golden glow and bronzer are a little too much for me, but i think i can use them sparingly and make them work.  i think i might try adding the bb cream to my foundation and see what happens.  the mango lotion smells amazing, and it leaves my skin so soft.  i have yet to try the anti-wrinkle cream, but it smells like grapefruit too so i’m sure i’ll like it.


…three…  i’ve been struggling with my workouts lately.  i just haven’t had much motivation.  however, this week i did a decent workout each day.  they weren’t the longest or best workouts, but it was something every day.  i really think i’ll do better once school starts…

…four…  i found this song a couple of weeks ago and i just can’t quit playing it.  it’s so cute and very texan.

…five…  i was staring into my closet and i hated everything hanging in there.  so i signed up for stitch fix this week.  i am a strict budgeter so i decided to wait until last month to get my first box.   i am terrible about shopping.  i buy things i don’t even really like and second guess myself.  but i’ve been trying to invest in better pieces and things i really love.  i even made a pinterest board specifically for my stylist, as they suggested.  but i’m super excited! i’ll share my pieces when i get my first box next month. (if you have any experience with stitch fix, let me know in the comments!)


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10 things…they don’t tell you about being a teacher.

10 things series button

i’m keeping it real today.  here are ten things they don’t tell you about being a teacher.  they are things that you definitely won’t hear in a college education course or even during your first few years of teaching.  they are probably things that you will learn through your own experiences.

the truth about teaching

1.  you’ll have to buy a lot of your own supplies. and that can get incredibly expensive.

2.  you may be the most positive, loving, and reliable person in your students’ lives.  try to live up to that each day.

3. you will learn to hold your bladder because there just isn’t time to pee.

4.  most people will hate you in the summer, but parents will love you come august.

5.  you will hope to be able to use the same lesson plans every year, but you’ll most likely be starting over each year.

6.  some of the kids’ stories will break your heart and you won’t be able to do anything to change their situations.

7.  at some point, you will get a kid’s bodily fluid on you.  usually it’s snot or puke.  i’m not ashamed to call for back up.

8.  sometimes the parents are harder to deal with than the students, especially when the parent thinks their kid is perfect…and you know better.

9. kids are manipulative and they will try to outsmart you, anger you, and even ruin you.

10.  your evaluation is important, but it most likely won’t show the work you do each day in the trenches.

how to entertain your niece for two and a half hours.

this is lylli. 20140808-210053-75653670.jpg she’s one of the most creative, energetic and interesting girls i’ve ever met.  she also talks like an adult most of the time and has the sense of timing of a seasoned comedian.  we spent an afternoon together last week and craziness ensued.


first, frozen yogurt.  little girls love fro yo.  and big girls love it too.  my favorite in town is orange leaf.  yum. yum.

then, turn on netflix for a movie.  but just watch the first twenty minutes.  and luckily, your niece will tell you everything that’s going to happen anyway so you don’t really need to watch too closely.

craft time with my niece

our finished products!

up next: an art project.  the messier the better.  we did a collage with magazine clippings, stickers, and drawings.

then, it’s time for some toe nail polish painting.  add a couple coats of glitter for her mama to struggle to take off in a couple weeks.

while the nails are finishing drying, discuss some beauty tips.  but limit them to basic eyeshadows, lip glosses, and perfume.

after that, allow her to chase your cats around the apartment until the slow, fat one gives in and accepts the love.  struggle for two minutes to get a picture of it.

luca and lylli

luca begrudgingly accepting lylli’s love.

finish with some yoga.  complete no less than eight sun salutations along with some random poses stuck in there.

don’t forget to laugh the entire time because you’ll never get these special moments back.  and there will be a time in the future when she won’t want to hang out with you anymore.

i love being an aunt

this picture pretty much sums up our relationship. :)

8.8 | high five for friday!


…one…  my workouts were okay this week.  actually, they were pretty good.  but my heart just wasn’t in it.  it was like pulling teeth to get myself moving.  but i actually think it’s getting better.  school starts next week for us teachers and i’m craving my regular schedule.


….two…  i love amy poehler anyway, but the new zen pencils comic rocks.  {click the comic below to see an enlarged image.}

amy poeler

…three…  i had coffee with my friend jess this week.  it’s becoming a sort of regular thing.  we got have coffee at this place downtown and then walk down to this wine bar for hummus.  we call ourselves “those bitches” now because we order water and hummus at the wine bar every time.  clearly, the waitress hates us.  but we have fun talking about random crap on the internet, people we went to high school with, and our dating lives.  in other words, stuff that no one else wants to sit for four hours and talk about.  :)

coffee with friends

…four…  i’ve been working on some things for school.  not a whole lot.  but a few lesson pieces!  i’m going to head up next week to my room and start organizing.  to most people, this would seem like a chore.  but this time of the year is actually my favorite!

teacher discounts for back to school shopping

if you’re a teacher, click for a list of teacher discounts i’ve found recently. also, this saturday (august 9th), mardel is having their annual school sale. 20% off all school stuff.

…five…  my friend kat and i have planned a back to school party for tomorrow evening.  she’s making pulled pork sliders and coleslaw.  i’m making potato salad and my sweet tea with lemonade icing cake.  everyone else is bringing snacks and appetizers and of course, beer.  it’ll be fun to catch up with everyone and have a couple beers before we have to get serious next week.

sweet tea cake!

i made this southern living sweet tea cake with lemonade frosting a couple of weeks ago. i liked it so much, i’m going to make it again!


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30 great things about being 30.

a few months ago, i was terrified to turn thirty.  i didn’t know what to expect.  people kept giving me their opinions though… it’s the best decade of your life.  it’s all downhill from here.  you will become who you really are.  single and thirty? i’m sorry.

friends thirtieth birthdays

it wasn’t very encouraging. but i remember watching the “friends” all turn thirty, and it was hilarious.  i knew it couldn’t be all that bad.  in fact, i’ve kind of embraced it.  it’s like a new start.

so here are 30 awesome things about your thirties:

1.  you’ll be more confident and comfortable in your own skin.

2.  you may be older, but you won’t feel like it in your mind.

3.  you’ll develop some healthy skepticism.

4.  you will have a larger world view.

5.  you’ll truly appreciate being carded for buying alcohol.

6.  you will know that love is a feeling AND a choice.  it takes work.

7.  your stuff does not define you.  only you do that.

8.  you’ll have a better, more equal relationship with your parents.

9.  you’ll learn about your body (because it will betray you with a slowing metabolism).

10.  you will know which foods you cannot eat for digestive reasons.

11.  you have built a home for yourself that’s a reflection of you.

12.  you have life experiences that you’ve learned from.

13.  you’ll learn to accept that everyone moves through life at a different pace.

14.  your friendships are stronger and more honest.

15.  you know there are things you just can’t change about your body.

16.  you know how to make a big purchase responsibly.

17.  {hopefully} you’ll be more financially secure than in your twenties.

18.  people come to you for advice and support.

19.  you’ve learned how to prevent and treat hangovers.

20.  you know the positives and negatives of credit cards.

21.  you know when and how to stand up for yourself.

22.  you know which clothes look good on you and what fashions you like.

23.  you have better, healthier relationships with men.

24.  you’ll learn to appreciate peace and quiet.

25.  you know when to splurge and when to spend.

26.  you have figured out your political and religious beliefs.

27.  you’ll understand that everyone has a past full of mistakes and bad experiences.

28.  people take you more seriously.

29.  you’re still up for trying new things.

30.  you can truly be yourself.

WOW 8.6 | “oh, you know… just diet and exercise.”

WOW button

a few weeks ago, i ran into a friend of a friend that i haven’t seen in probably more than a year.  she immediately greeted me and then said, “wow, you look great!  what have you been doing?”

i replied, “oh, you know… just diet and exercise.”  i think i even laughed at it.

she was visibly disappointed.  she just said, “oh, okay.”  and then turned back to her group.

i know she wanted a different answer.  i’ve seen things she posts on facebook and i’ve heard her talk before about different fad diets.  she lost some weight last year using advocare and generally not eating, but it’s obviously creeping back.  i’m sure she wanted a new idea.

but i just don’t have that anymore.

no new ideas.

just a diet of good, natural food and consistent exercise.

i haven’t done my best this summer.  but i think that conversation gave me a jolt i needed.  up to that point, i was kind of starting to think about what i could do to get in shape before school started.  every summer, it seems like i come back to school with a few extra pounds.  i thought this summer would be different, that i would go back looking and feeling better.  and in a lot of ways, i have.  i haven’t gained but a couple of pounds, but i haven’t done all of the things i planned.  it could be worse, i guess.


this woman reminded me of the nature of my health goals.  i want to eat real food.  i don’t want to take any unneeded supplements.  i don’t want to follow any temporary fad diets.  i want to do all different kinds of workouts.  i want to be active and strong.  i want to create a new and permanent lifestyle.  i want to leave behind all of that temporary crap.  i just want to be healthy and happy for years to come.

i know that for me, school provides more structure to my day.  that structure helps me to get more done.  i know that sounds weird because it seems like i have all the time in the world during the summer.  but that’s the problem. there’s too many distractions.  so as i countdown the next week and a half, i’m kind of looking forward to being busy again.  a daily schedule works for me.  free time does not.   free time equals netflix marathons, time by the pool, and sleeping in way too late.  so bring it on, school!  i’m ready for ya!

The Hump Day Blog Hop

teaching tip 45: use teacher discounts.

teaching tips from {a tattooed teacher in texas}

it’s that time of the year again!  back to school shopping is in full effect.

up until recently, i didn’t seek out teacher discounts for new school clothes or other items.  my school doesn’t use IDs on a regular basis and i actually lost mine for awhile. so i just put discounts on the back burner. but i kept hearing about more places offering them so i decided to do some research.  if you have a recent paystub, that will work in place of an ID. luckily, i found my ID but now I know that i have the paystub option if i need it. so without further ado… here are the most common and usable teacher discounts i found:

teacher discounts

office supplies

  • the container store  – offers a teacher discount program which gives the member 10% off.
  • dollar tree – it’s not advertised, but at most stores teachers can get 10% off with their school ID.
  • office max – teachers can join MaxPerks Rewards for Teachers and earn a $10 reward for every $75 spent.
  • staples - with the Staples Teacher Rewards Program earn 10% back in rewards on most purchases.
  • office depot – with the Star Teacher Program, get 10% back in rewards on Ink, Toner, Paper, and more. you can even get 1% back on almost everything else and 15% off copy and print orders.
  • mardel – this store has a back to school sale each year at the end of july or early august with a 20% discount on ALL education items.  check their website for the date.  for the 2014 school year, it is august 9th.

craft supplies


  • barnes & noble - with the B&N Educator Program, teachers can save 20% off list price & up to 25% off during Educator Appreciation Days.
  • half price books - apply for a Teacher & Librarian Discount Card and save 10% off their purchase.
  • books-a-million – shop at your local Books-a-Million and receive 20% off for faculty (in store only).


  • ann taylor loft - this is my absolute favorite clothing store for teacher clothes. with a valid ID, get 15% off your purchase.
  • j. crew - show an ID in store or at an outlet locations and save 15% off.
  • banana republic – save 10% when an Employee ID (in store only). 
  • eddie bauer – save 15% off of regularly priced merchandise with valid student ID (in store only).
  • ny & co. If you are looking to update your back to school wardrobe, save 5% with an Employee ID.
  • the limited – you can save 15% when you show your pay stub or teacher ID card (in store only).


  • at&t - provide your ID and save around 15% off your monthly bill.
  • apple store – save 5%-10% when you shop through the apple.com educational store for faculty, staff, and students.
  • hp – receive up to 10% off when you shop through the academic purchase program.
  • sprint – save up to 18% for teachers with a teacher ID card.