Ten Bible Verses for the New School Year

In preparation for the upcoming school year, I’ve come up with a list of some of my go-to Bible verses and what they mean to me as a teacher. I find I’m a better teacher throughout the year when I remember who I’m really working for and why I’m doing what I do.

  1. “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” -Psalm 94:19
    At the beginning of the school year (and often times throughout the year) I find myself full of nervousness and oftentimes doubt. It’s simply because I want to be the best teacher I can be, but it’s important to remember to give all our concerns to God. I’m capable of anything as long as I rely on Him to guide me through.
  2. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philipians 4:6
    This goes along with #1 and remembering to trust God in all situations. I have anxiety and I know a lot of teachers do. I find myself much less anxious when I remember to stop, pray, and lean on Him. Throughout the school year we as teachers are faced with many challenges and remembering we aren’t alone in those challenges makes them easier to face. Pray for his wisdom and insight during those tough times. Surely, there is a positive in every situation.
  3. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.” -Ephesians 4:29
    This verse speaks to me whether I’m dealing with my students, parents of students, co workers, or anyone else I encounter throughout my job. I think it reminds us to think twice before we speak because our words have impact. Especially when shaping the minds of our world’s future. In reference to co-workers, we should never get caught up in gossip or bad mouthing of any kind. If you know that’s something that’s hard for you to avoid, pray about it. Teachers encounter many people during the school year, and it’s always important to remember to keep our words kind, positive, and wholesome.
  4. “And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”” -Matthew 18:3-6
    I often find myself thinking throughout the school year that I feel sorry for people who don’t work with kids. Yes, it seems like the most challenging job in the world, but it is also the most rewarding. Kids keep you on your toes. They remind you that there is still innocence in the world and you fight every day to help them keep that innocence. In return, I feel while we are shaping kids, they’re shaping us. I feel I’ve become a better person since I started teaching and I owe a lot of that to the kids that have come through my classroom. How awesome is it that everyday we get to work with those that are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Not everyone gets to do that and we must remember it is a privilege.
  5. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” -Hebrews 12:11
    I think all teachers would agree that disciplining children isn’t the best part of our job. It’s necessary though. We set high expectations and follow through with consequences because we care about the child as a whole. We don’t do it so the student will prosper just during the time they’re with us, but hopefully to have a lasting impact on their entire life. We must also remember to accept discipline or criticism from our principals and administration because nine times out of ten, they give us feedback because they care and want us to grow as teachers.
  6. “Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” -Ephesians 4:2
    Again, this goes for working with students and co-workers. Work with your colleagues in a loving way, help them, ask them for help, etc. We’re all in this together. As far as working with kids, I know since I’ve become a teacher, I’ve become so much more patient. It’s something I struggled with, so this verse really speaks to me and reminds me to be tolerant and patient in every situation.
  7. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” -2 Corinthians 9:7
    As teachers, we can often find ourselves seeing the negatives because there is so much pressure put on us. It seems we always have a hundred things to do and that list just keeps growing. We have to remember that teaching is a calling. God has purposed it in our hearts and that we should see it as a blessing. We must do our best to teach and compose ourselves in a cheerful manner. Usually if you do that, your day will go so much better because your outlook is better. Our moods are also contagious. If we’re in a bad mood, that sets the tone for our classroom. Our students pick up on it and reciprocate how we act. I’d much rather have a happy classroom environment that kids want to come to, than one they don’t because they think their teacher doesn’t want to be there that day.
  8. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in purity.” -1 Timothy 4:12
    This goes out all the new teachers out there. Just because your the new person (which I know how you feel because I was the newbie not long ago) doesn’t mean you don’t have so much to offer. Your ideas and thoughts matter. This verse also reminds me that I’m an example to those around me and I need to be there best example I can be. My goal is for anyone who comes into contact with me to see Him through me. Never let your light stop shining. This verse also reminds me not to ever look down on my students because they are kids. Kids have great ideas, creativity, and suggestions. Give them more power in your classroom and watch them flourish.
  9. ” And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business.” Ecclesiastes 4:4-8
    This passage to me speaks about taking on too many things. I’ve done this in the past, and all I know is that I wasn’t as good of a teacher as I could have been. We have to remember it’s okay to say no and to limit the amount of things you’re involved in. It’s better to do a few things and still have energy for the next day than to do everything and be burned out. A constantly busy teacher does not equal a good teacher. We have to remember to take care of ourselves. I’ve made myself commit to do that more this year and I know my students (and tennis team) will benefit from it because I’ll be more refreshed. Your family will also benefit from it because you won’t be giving all of you to your school work. 
  10. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 1-:31
    Teaching can be just a job or your ministry to the world. Sure, you can’t preach in your classroom, but if you’re working as for God, not man, you’re going to be making much more of a difference inside those four walls of your classroom. Those that encounter you will know you’re doing this more than just to get a paycheck. It’s because it’s your calling and God is allowing you to do it. I never planned on being a teacher, but God put me on this path, He put me in my classroom, and is allowing me to work for him as a teacher. Hopefully, I will make a difference in kids lives.

I hope some of these verses will help you during the school year. I pray each of you has a great year!

-Mrs. Kaldahl

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Summer Finds

It’s inevitable that every teacher will think about their classroom during the summer. Even the teachers, like me, who told themselves they wouldn’t. While I did better this summer to relax and recoup for the upcoming school year, I still came across a few things I couldn’t pass up.

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I found this bookcase on the Facebook marketplace. I’ve seen bookcases like this selling for $50 and I’ve always thought they were adorable. I knew when I found this one for $15 (actually $10 after she found out I was a teacher) I had to snatch it up. The lady even threw in a matching standing bookshelf for free.

Below is a picture of it in my classroom.

*My classroom is not set up yet for the new school year. I just moved some stuff around and put some things in their place because I had to move some furniture out of my room to repaint it.

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I’ve also had my eye on these garden tables (pictured above). I finally purchased them when I found them on sale at Big Lots for $12. I just think they’re so cute. I know I can find a use for them in my flexible seating classroom.

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Last, I’d like to thank generous people who willingly give to classrooms. I didn’t purchase the books or markers in the photo above. A friend from college asked me to create an Amazon wishlist of books I’d like for my classroom. She then purchased and had these books (and markers) sent to me. I’ve wanted these books for so long for my kiddos to enjoy and now they can.

Teachers spend so much of their own money to keep their classroom running and to provide students with necessary things (or just things we think will make their learning environment more enjoyable) so when someone gives back to us it makes our job so much easier. It also reminds me that there are people out there who “get it” and know how much we as teachers do.

I head back to work Wednesday for our first teacher workday. I know the 2018-2019 school year is going to be a great one!

 

-Mrs. Kaldahl

What I’m Up To

Hello there again!

You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to this summer.

I know what I haven’t been doing and that’s obsessing over school. Usually I’d spend most the summer getting my room ready, over preparing for the year ahead, and stressing myself out before the year even started.

This year, I’ve decided to go with a different approach. One where I actually recuperate during the summer and I must say, I’m loving it.

This summer, I’ve picked back up on a writing project I started awhile ago. I’m about 30,000 words into my first novel. It’s a new adult mystery. It’s also has some romance, with some witty humor here and there. So far, I’ve received good feedback from those reading it as I finish chapters.

Writing is something that comes easy for me, but it’s also super hard. Especially when trying to write a novel. If you ever meet an author, give them a pat on the back because they deserve it. Writing a book is hard and courageous. Authors deserve more praise than they receive.

I also have a few children’s books I’m working on.

I’m hopeful I will get one of my projects published one day.

I was born to be a writer and it feels good to finally be writing again.

-Lauren

 

I’m a hot mess teacher and that’s okay

I’ve been MIA on here for awhile, and I thought I’d get on here to explain a little bit of why.

First, the good. Life got crazy. I got engaged and then I got married. We took a trip to Disney World, and are creating our life together. Understandably, life got a bit busy and overwhelming…therefore, I haven’t been able to write on here like I was before.

Now the not so great.

Teaching is a stressful job. If you know my backstory into how I became a teacher, you know I never planned on teaching (and before I started teaching, I never wanted to teach).

I found teaching accidentally, and despite the fact that yes, it is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, I still love it.

I have been a perfectionist my entire life. I always feel I need to be perfect, or have things a certain way. What people also don’t realize, is that perfectionists often procrastinate a lot too from fear of failure or doing something wrong. Of course the fact that I am a teacher doesn’t always help my behavioral tendencies because of course things in a classroom cannot be perfect. I am extremely hard on myself. Harder when it seems I have 50,000 tasks to complete and not enough time to complete them.

Teacher anxiety is real. Especially if you already know you have tendencies towards anxiety.

I’m not writing this post for sympathy or anything like that. It’s simply because I think non teachers often look at teachers and do not understand how our job can be so stressful.

We do not just shape a child’s mind. We shape their lives. There is a lot that goes into it. Worrying, encouraging, disciplining, coaching, serving, listening, speaking, creating relationships, and then teaching. On the academic side, we worry about failing students, how to push our high learners, how to get all the content to fit into one school year, planning, making copies, testing, accommodations, modifications, differentiation, putting kids in groups, creating stations, and so on.

When a teacher leaves school, our brains don’t just shut off. We think and worry about our “kids” because we know not all of them go home to perfect houses with people who love them. We worry about the ones we know may not have food, or if they’ll get a good nights sleep. We wonder how we are going to get our never ending to-do list done. Teachers are faced with so many tasks, it’s almost actually impossible to get them done.

Teaching second grade, I do not teach a grade that’s tested by state tests (STAAR), but I know those teachers face another type of scrutiny as does their students because of a test. Testing season does a number on a teacher’s mental health.

I’ve learned this year that I do have anxiety (even though I’ve known it my whole life), but it got to an all time high. I’ve been extremely stressed, emotional, and not easy to be around sometimes because of it. I even tried anxiety medicine for a week (it gave me terrible side effects and therefore, I decided to stop taking it). I was willing to try anything to make my mental health feel better because I knew I did and do LOVE my job.

Considering I made the decision to not take medicine to help me feel better, I’ve had to try to figure out ways to take care of myself. I realized I rarely was taking anytime for me. Weekends were also taken up by a lot of teaching stuff (ask any teacher, it can consume you because we CARE SO MUCH). I had forgotten stuff I loved to do.

So I started focusing more on ME. I make sure I workout (which is like therapy to me), I do something for myself each week (paint my nails, watch my favorite movie, spend time reading, writing…just SOMETHING). I actually rest on the weekends, and if I absolutely have to do any sort of work I make sure I absolutely do nothing related to teaching at least on Saturdays.

My husband also deserves an award. I couldn’t take care of myself if it wasn’t for him. He makes me relax and do what’s best for me mentally and physically. He steps up and helps me always when needed. He’ll spoil me completely. If you ask him, I’m sure he’d tell you sometimes it’s not easy for me to even let him do things for me because yes the perfectionist in me. I feel like I need to do stuff. So I’ve learned thanks to him to allow someone else to do something for me for a change. He’s truly the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

So again, I say I don’t write this for sympathy. I write it because the next time you hear or see a teacher take a mental health day off, they deserve it. More teachers than you know deal with anxiety or depression. If you wonder if your child’s teacher is a superhero, they are. Teachers deal with so much more than the outside world sees. That was and still is my biggest eye opener when I became a teacher. There’s so much more to it than standing in front of kids teaching them stuff. Teachers need to learn to take care of themselves, but our society also needs to learn to respect teachers more. What a teacher does in a year helps shape our society.

Give them some respect. Stop trying to take things away from teachers like sick days and retirement. Maybe one day, teachers won’t be thrown so many responsibilities that the legislature keeps putting on us and then wonder why more and more teachers are leaving the field. Maybe one day the endless testing will stop and we teachers can do what we love to do…TEACH and not be so stressed doing it.

I do indeed, LOVE my job. I love my kids. I’d do absolutely anything for any of them.

I just wanted other teachers out there to know…you can be a hot mess and be a great teacher.

-Mrs. Kaldahl

 

 

Praise for Rooted in Reading

When I first started teaching one thing bothered me a lot about when our reading block rolled around. The lack of engagement and that the kids were uninterested in the stories being taught frustrated me.

As someone who describes themselves as a reader and a book lover, of course reading would be the subject that would interest me the most to be teaching. However, the basal text and what was required of using that basal didn’t help me much. I honestly couldn’t even get as excited about our reading block as I wanted because I knew how the kids felt.

When I asked them about the textbook, they told me the stories were “too hard,” “not fun,” and “boring.” Now not every story WAS boring or too hard, but the use of the basal text as our main focus of reading instruction to me seemed very flawed.

I thought back on my own education. The reading instruction in my elementary education I remember had to do with read aloud, interesting and fun ones. It also included reading novels. I remember my Kindergarten teacher who used to make every picture book she read to us so exciting. She had a real purse like Lily in Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and dressed up as Miss Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson is Missing and totally had us believe she was missing. I wanted that. I wanted to be that teacher that made reading EXCITING and ENGAGING. I wanted to read stories that the kids wanted to hear.

So I set out, after learning about Balanced Literacy and the importance of read alouds to find a program that allowed me to reach my goal.

I came across Rooted in Reading. Created by Amy Lemons and Katie King, the Rooted in Reading Units contained everything I needed and wanted. I bought the August unit immediately and poured through the resources! Each monthly unit contains lessons for four different read aloud books, has a variety of resources for each book including writing and grammar. Thrilled, I ran to show my principal and ask if I could give up the basal text the next year in order to exclusively use Rooted in Reading as my main ELAR curriculum in addition to doing Guided Reading.

Her response was yes, and I was overjoyed. I couldn’t wait to use the units the next school year.

Throughout this past school year, I read the majority of the books listed in the Rooted in Reading curriculum. I could tell the difference in the way my students this year responded to our reading time and those from last year. I could tell they actually enjoyed the stories and were engaged in them. The below photo was an activity from one of the questioning cards where the students curled up as if in a box for a minute to relate to Henry (one of their favorite activities) in Henry’s Freedom Box. My students this year loved when they heard the magic word to move to our reading area because they knew I was getting ready to read to them.

Rooted in Reading provides you with everything you need to make your reading block awesome. It gives you reading strategies, posters, questioning cards, weekly lesson plans (which I did change and tailor to fit me personally), anchor charts, writing practice for your kids, and a lot of activities that go with the books each week (think comprehension quiz, vocabulary, etc.). I used the extra activities that went along with each story for our reader’s notebook or for center activities during Guided Reading.

You’re probably wondering about grammar…right? I mentioned it I know, but YES, Rooted in Reading includes everything you need to teach grammar as well.

It gives you different ideas and strategies to teach whatever your grammar focus is that week. The units made teaching grammar fun, for me and the kids. You also get grammar anchor chart ideas, posters, and a variety of activities for each week.

If you’re wondering, yes each weekly unit contains the Common Core or TEKS standards so you know you’re covering everything throughout the year to meet your ELAR standards.

I follow Amy Lemons and Katie King on Instagram so I know the time and effort they put into these units. This is not me advertising at all, this is from my experience using these units.

I am a forever fan of Rooted in Reading because it put enjoyment back into my reading block for my students. By the end of the year, they had a list of their favorite book and the majority of them came from Rooted in Reading. Anyone looking to revamp or spice up their instruction while upping engagement should look into these monthly units (or the bundle).

My last note is that the books for each week are AMAZING! There was never a dull book. The books chosen for the units are all awesome to plainly put it. The books will definitely add something to your classroom library. There are even supplemental book recommendations in the RIR intro document that contains books worth investing in as well.

To Amy and Katie, thank you for your time and effort creating these units. They have made a difference in my classroom.

-Miss Layfield