Classroom Reveal

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My classroom is officially DONE being set up for the new school year. While I am savoring every last bit of summer I have left, I am excited for the new year to begin. This will be my first full year teaching (seeing as I started back in January, I’m still a newbie). I cannot wait for all that lies ahead.

I wanted to use this post to share a few photos of things around my classroom. I am sure that if you follow me on Instagram (talesofanaccidentalteacher) you have probably seen most of these photos before, but I’ll try to add a little more commentary here.

In the photo above, you can see that I am as I have said before, taking on flexible seating. I believe it empowers our children in the classroom. It allows kids to utilize their unique learning styles, be more comfortable and increase their motivation for learning. It can also improve behavior and the atmosphere of your classroom which is a big plus.

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My cousin wrote my name on my pencil sign I picked up at the Target Dollar Spot. I think it’s one of the cutest things and this was the perfect place for it. I love the inspirational signs I have underneath too (they’re from Glitter and Glue 4 K-2’s Teachers Pay Teachers store).

I hung my spelling words pocket chart over here as well. I wanted my spelling words near my Word Wall so all my word work items could be together.

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The above photo is a closer look at my Word Wall. As you can see I already have some words on there. I know most people start the year with no words. I did this because these words as Saxon Phonics words that my kids will be introduced to throughout the year. I truly believe if they start the year using these words, they will learn them much better and they will already be familiar with them improving their performance using and recognition of the words.

I also have index cards that I will write high frequency words, commonly misspelled words and words that students as for help spelling throughout the year. It will be an ever growing Word Wall.

My Word Wall is also mobile. I believe in empowering our students to take control of their learning. Have a static Word Wall to me doesn’t allow that. If it’s something they can go grab with their own hands, work with the words, know when they need help and seek the words they need, they are learning much more. At least that’s my philosophy I suppose.

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I will most likely be doing more like a Daily 4 because of time constraints, but I am utilizing the Daily 5 mindset/centers during my Guided Reading time every day. This board allows me/students to know where everyone should be during that time.

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Being a book lover and someone who loves learning about people, I wanted my kids to have an Author Study section of our classroom. I took a bin I will have books in each week by a specific author. The area will also include posters and other materials for them to learn about that author.

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I love my trunk in my classroom. I’m using it for seating and storage. Inside I have my Rooted in Reading units and Guided Reading units for the whole year.

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Since I am using Rooted in Reading, I took one of my bulletin boards and turned it into a RIR focus board. I have our focus book, vocabulary, posters and anything extra related to our story for that week here.

My classroom library is also now completely labeled.

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This is just a photo from my teacher space in my classroom. I love quote signs. I also added a tennis ball coin bank because I will also be coaching tennis this year. YAY!

Below are just a few more photos…enjoy!

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The above are Saxon Phonics crates that I just added Duck Tape to in order to make them cuter.

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I wanted to end with this photo because my brother said this was his favorite area in my classroom. I love how colorful it is!

I have had so many people tell me that they’d love to be in my classroom and they love what I’ve done with my room. That makes my heart so happy and to me these kids deserve the best. It is well worth all the hard work.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing photos from my classroom!

-Miss Layfield

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How to: Crate Seats

The first time I saw someone post about crate seats, I knew I needed them in my classroom. After switching over to flexible seating, I’m always on the lookout for any new seating options. I especially love if something can double as storage.

I recruited my mom as I always do for most of the DIY projects I take on for my classroom. So give her a round of applause for helping with these!

Let’s start with what you need to make your own crate seats:
-Crates
-Fabric (I bought two yards for four crates)
-Ribbon
-Scissors
-Stapler (the heavy duty kind, not what you have in your classroom!)
-Plywood (sizing will vary depending on what crates you are using)
-Cushioning of whatever kind you choose (I used an old memory foam bed topper)

Step 1: Measure and cut your plywood to fit the inside of the crate you are using. We literally DIY’d this with plywood and other wood we had from other projects. However, you can take your crate to somewhere like Home Depot and they will measure and cut the plywood for you.
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As you can see it fits perfectly inside the crate!

Step 2: Cut your cushioning to fit the tops of the wood.

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*Tip: We used spray adhesive on top of the wood before adding the foam to help it stay put better.

Step 3: Cut your fabric to fit allowing for some overlay to staple the bottom. There’s no need to cover the entire wood top and bottom since nobody will see the bottom.

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Step 4: Cover seats with the fabric and staple bottom securely. Cut and fold corners if needed.

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Step 5:  Add ribbon. I do not have a photo of stapling the ribbon. All you need to do it make your ribbon into a loop however long you want it. Staple it to the bottom of the seat where it will stick out of the crate. This allows you to easily remove the seat top from the crate at any time. You can clearly see the ribbon in the photo below.

Step 6: Admire your adorable new crate seats!

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I think these seats are some of the cutest things EVER! Seriously. I also personally tested each seat to make sure kids will not fall through them and that they are secure.

Below are what they look like in my flexible seating classroom.

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-Miss Layfield

Classroom library? Nah, library classroom.

First of all, I LOVE to read. I always have and I’m 99.9% sure I always will. This past half school year, I taught all subjects. However, this year we are departmentalizing our second grade. I will only be teaching reading, English, writing, and phonics. That news made me feel like a kid in a candy store. All my favorite subjects!

Being a new teacher, I did not have a lot of books in my classroom when I started. Since then, I have done a DonorsChoose project, had people donate books to me, and bought a lot on my own. Seriously, if you are someone who has donated to me in any way, you have a special place in my heart forever.

I read somewhere that a classroom library should have close to 1,000 books. I believe it too! I don’t have nearly that many, but I’m working towards it.

Why would I want that many books?

I think it’s very important to expose kids to as many books as possible within the classroom. I love our school library, but I also wanted to build my own as large as I can get it. I know it will help with activities in the Daily 5 and during Guided Reading. It helps expose kids to books they may have previously not gotten to read and having books surround them in a loving environment creates a positive connection to books for them.

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I know a lot of people level their entire library. I honestly just don’t believe in that. I have one row  of book bins in the above photo that are leveled by Guided Reading levels. These books are also not Reading Counts test books. I did that on purpose. I wanted the leveled books to be used specifically for tracking what level a child is on and also so that students learn to read books other than the ones they can take a test on. Their Reading Counts goals are important, but I feel exposing them to books that don’t have tests attached to them helps them to develop a love of reading instead of just thinking they need to pass a test to get points. They should be developing  a love of reading and I aim to help them do that.

All of my other bins are organized based on book series, characters, and similar topics. They are numbered bins with corresponding numbers I will put on stickers on the front of the book so that my kids can easily put them back where they got them.

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In second grade, a lot of kids aren’t reading a lot of chapter books. However, when I had a few last year that definitely could read them and did read the ones I had in the classroom. I know when I was in second grade, I was reading chapter books and would have panicked if my teacher didn’t allow it. So, I went out of my way to make sure I also have enough chapter books in addition to picture books to challenge students and provide those high readers with what they need.

Knowing what reading level my students are on is important to me and helping them progress while developing their love of books is my goal. I never want students to feel like books are punishment or reading is boring. I never want to be a teacher that tells a child they have to read now because they didn’t at another time. To me that is completely detrimental when helping students develop their motivation to read. I never want to tell a child they have to read from a specific bin of books or that they can’t choose something slightly above their level because challenging themselves is a good thing. I only want books associated with positive things in my class. If a kid thinks reading is boring, I think they haven’t found the right book yet and hopefully I’ll help them find that right book.

The title of this post says library classroom instead of classroom library. That’s basically what I went for when designing my room. I didn’t want a specific area for books in my classroom. I have them literally everywhere. I did that because I wanted the kids in my class to associate books with positive things. I aim to make reading fun for them and to me, a variety of choices when it comes to books helps with that. I want to see kids when I ask them to get a book walking around the whole room searching for the perfect one just as if they were in a library.

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I do hope my future students develop a love of books and reading. I hope they remember that Miss Layfield made reading challenging and fun. I hope struggling readers in my class make that breakthrough and find a book that sparks their want to read. I hope all of my future second graders succeed in reaching their reading goals because reading is essential to the rest of their lives.

-Miss Layfield

Whoa. Your room is purple?!

Yes, my room is purple. Yes, we painted it that way.

First of all, let me say I’m super lucky to work at a school that allows its teachers to paint and decorate their rooms however they want (of course there are still guidelines, but you get the picture).

When I first started back in January, I didn’t imagine I’d really do anything to the classroom I was given. The room still had some decorations left by the previous teacher. The walls were the same white walls I remembered from being in school there. In fact, I’m teaching second grade in the exact same classroom I was in second grade in. The room had many great memories for me and I knew I wanted to make those same memories for my students.

Being brand new to the teaching thing, I did not fully understand how much a classroom can influence the learning for a student. As I started slowly decorating the room with a few things here or there, I noticed how much more excited and happy the kids were with the room. They even told me how much they loved what I was doing with it.

I told myself I wasn’t going to paint anything in my classroom until I had passed all my certification tests and knew I’d be in that room another year at least. I also already knew I was going to paint it purple if that happened.

Why purple? Other than the fact that it is my favorite color, I think it sparks creativity and learning in kids. In fact, there is research that shows that. I read it somewhere so it has to be true, right?! Ha.

April came and I had secured that I’d be in my room another year and so the painting began. Big shout out to my mom because she’s the one that painted all the walls and my door. I was sad the students I had this past half a year didn’t get to see the finished product. However, I was pleased with how much they loved what I got to do while they were there.

Once school was out for summer, Mom and I headed immediately back to the school to finish the walls. Here is the finished product on the walls…

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The light purple actually wraps around the whole room in a stripe. Brilliant idea from my mom and I absolutely love it. I think it’s so much brighter now and just a happier place to be.

Then, there’s my door…

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I can’t tell you how much I love my green door. It’s the perfect color to compliment the purple everywhere else.

You may be wondering why I don’t have desks and if you’ve never heard of flexible seating before you need to look it up. I’ll do a post sometime soon about that, I promise.

“What’s the name of that color?”

Well, I’m glad you asked…

All colors are Glidden. The dark purple is Orchid Blush (GLD3031). The light purple is Sugared Plum (GLD3011). The green is Granny Smith Apple (GLN6212).

In case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely, completely, utterly, 100% LOVE my classroom!

 

-Miss Layfield

Let me introduce myself…

First of all, welcome to my blog! My name is Lauren Layfield or Miss Layfield to my students. As you could have guessed, I am a teacher. I have the pleasure of teaching second grade in the great state of Texas. I teach at a Title I school. I couldn’t have asked for a better career.

You may be wondering why the name of this blog is ‘Tales of an Accidental Teacher.’ Well, the name comes from the fact that I never planned to become a teacher. I recently graduated from Sam Houston State University in December 2015. I received my degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Multi-Platform Journalism. I had every intention of becoming a journalist in one form or the other. I even received a job offer to work at a newspaper upon graduation. Something about that didn’t feel right, I turned it down and I am so glad I did.

Moms always know best right? RIGHT.

My mom is actually the one who saw the job opening for an elementary teacher at the school in my hometown. The same school I attended my whole life. She told me to apply for it and go for it. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do it long term or pursue my teaching certification since at the time the job was just for a long-term sub. The idea scared me to death. I had never taught before. My Mamaw, who had recently passed away, also had told me while she was living to get my teaching certification because she thought I’d be a great teacher. So there I was with two of the most influential women in my life’s voices in my head telling me to go for something I never knew whether I wanted or not. So I did…and I got the job.

I literally interviewed and started the same day with only a half a day to prepare for the kids coming back from Christmas break since I started mid-year. I was terrified, excited and nervous. After my first full day of teaching I told myself it wasn’t for me. I thought I was absolutely the worst teacher ever, but me being who I am I kept going.

Guess what? It got better. Within about two weeks, I knew I had found where I belonged. It wasn’t easier by all means, but I absolutely LOVED every minute of teaching. I loved never fully knowing what to expect when I walked into the school. I loved the students I taught. I felt like they needed me, but more so I needed them. They gave me purpose.

Becoming a teacher was a complete miracle wrapped in an accident. It was truly a God moment in my life. I truly feel I have been placed where I belong and cannot be any happier with my life at this moment.

 

Oh and yes, I did receive my teaching certification through the Texas Teachers alternative certification program and was hired as a full time teacher. I will be returning to teach second grade again at the same school and I’m so happy about that.

I cannot wait to share my adventures with all of you.

 

-Miss Layfield