Oh hello. Yes, I'm still alive. I have 8 days of teaching in the books. I have been absolutely exhausted. And overwhelmed. I always forget how the beginning of the year does that to me.

I have a bit of a nail polish obsession/fetish. But, when you drive the entire way home and then realize you've picked all the nail polish off your fingers, you might be stressed.

I teach in a departmentalized school. Almost every grade level teacher (K-5) is either a STEM (Science & Math) or Literacy (Reading, writing, and social studies) teacher. We all teach 2 blocks of students, each for half the day. Students are flexibly grouped by ability (with the opportunity to move up or down as needed). This year I am teaching 1st and 2nd grade STEM to the lower level learners (which I LOVE), but after teaching Literacy last year, it's hard to get back into the swing of things with math and science.

The way I'm teaching both groups is very different, and it has been seriously exhausting. Today is Saturday and I just woke up from a 2 hour nap mid-afternoon. Seriously, I never nap. I'm a mom of 4 (with baby #5 due in December), and we are constantly on the go, and I just don't have time for it (however, I would LOVE more naps!). But I was just so tired, I couldn't help myself!! #Realtalk for a minute--- One day this week, I even had one of those moments....like why did I ever become a teacher, down and out, depressed, feeling sorry for myself, ugly face crying in the van. It never fails, every year, in the first 3 weeks or so, this overwhelming start to a new school year gets to me. I question my life choices. My husband gets an earful. I debate and wonder why in the world I ever went into this profession.

My point is.... I struggle. As educators, I feel like at one point or another, we all have felt this struggle.

And then I had a real heart to heart with myself. Anything that has ever happened in my life that has been MOMENTOUS has been challenging. I am constantly (like many educators I know) trying to become a better teacher. Obviously, my administration thought I could handle this group of kiddos, otherwise, why would they entrust me with them!?!  I've been given these kiddos for a reason, and even if they aren't where 1st graders are 'supposed' to be at the end of the year, as long as we have made progress along the way, and I have made them feel loved, then I have done my job.

I became a teacher to help, to love, to make a difference. One of my little babes the first week of school, came in without any sort of school supplies, not even a bookbag. Many of the kiddos at our school live in poverty. I e-mailed our guidance counselor, and we have many generous, local businesses that donate supplies for families in need. Our guidance counselor was able to get her a bookbag filled with school supplies. She is a very quiet young lady, and yesterday, she came in and pulled on my sweater and said, "Ms. Ebersole, I have a note for you."

I'm sure she didn't write it herself. However, it meant the world to me that someone helped her write it. She has taken that pencil box and every single item of school supplies to and from home each day---proud as can be. This is why I became a teacher. This is why I love my job. This is why the struggle and challenge at the beginning of the year is all worth it. :)

Hang in there my dear friends. I'm not going to lie and say teaching is an easy job. Seriously---it's THE hardest job ever. BUT...all the stress, the picked off nailpolish, it's all worth it. Wishing everyone an amazing school year :)

What a fantastic experience! I hooked up with some fantastic ladies for a Back to School Survival Kit. My partner was Carrie from Adventures in Kinder and Beyond. She is a Kindergarten teacher in Texas. I have been a fan of hers for a while, so it was awesome to be paired with her!!

I was super excited when I got my package! I am a school supplies addict so I couldn't wait to see what Carrie picked out for me!
I am super excited about this adorable item!! I have been a horrible mother! I take pictures of my kids on the first day of school, but I've never remember to write down anything like I have seen others do--SO this is perfect! My kiddos don't start school until August 24th (so I won't have pics posted until after this blog post has been published). But I am so excited to use this!

These babies are dry erase sentence strips! How marvelous! I plan on using these in guided reading, as well as like a centers activity--I'm going to write events of a story on them and then have the students puts them in order. (Then later in the year have them write the major events and put them in order).
These super cute sticky notes are in my small calendar planner in my purse! I am always writing random notes to myself on post-its and they get lost. So I put this notepad in my calendar planner so I always know where it is!!
Oh, confession time. I have an addiction. OK, I have many addictions. BUT, one of those addictions is to PENS!! And scented things---so how perfect are these Tutti-Frutti Scented Markers!! YUMMY! I had to hide them from my daughter, because when she saw me open them, she said, "OHHHHH I want those!!" Sorry sweetie...those are mommas! :)
These jumbo paper clips are perfect for holding my daily work. I teach literacy to two different classes of kiddos. Each class I have 4 guided reading groups, so I am using one of each color for each group! LOVE IT :)
These chalkboard clips are absolutely adorable! I used my chalkboard markers and made labels for my sharpened and UN-sharpened pencils.
These bookmarks are absolutely adorable! Since starting school last week, one of our focuses has been to help each other. So I have been giving these bookmarks away to students who are caught helping others!
Ok, so let's be real....a teacher can never have too many notepads! These notepads are super cute and so festive for back to school!
Awwwww....these mini ink joy pens are super cute and excellent for small hands! I've added them to my writing center and the students will be able to use them (once we've practiced it later in September).
This washi tape (did I spell that right!?!?) is perfect for my classroom! So I use this tape to divide my whiteboard into sections, and these colors match my room perfectly!
Not sure if you can see on the whiteboard--I used the tape to divide to let my students know the date, and what encore (specials) we have today and tomorrow. I also write homework in one of those sections.
So thank you Carrie for you fantastic Back to School Survival Kit!! I absolutely LOVE everything in it, and it has all been put to use!! (I apologize I don't have pictures of it all---I've been overwhelmed with the start of the school year! Whewwww).

Wishing everyone a great school year!

I am linking up with the fabulous Stephanie from Mrs. D's Corner for a fabulous four week linky. All about the building block of back to school! Absolutely perfect for the month of August!

Relationships. Whether they are with co-workers or with our students' parents, they are essential to our job. It is on our must-do to build those relationships.

So I have 3 tips for building relationships with co-workers and 3 tips for building relationships with your students' parents.

Respecting your co-workers time has to be at the top of my tips for building relationships with your teammates or fellow teachers.

If you are supposed to sit down for a meeting at 7:30 a.m. and you roll in at 7:38, people are going to notice!! (AND be annoyed!) Be respectful! You are an educated professional! ALSO--just because you and your fellow teammate have the same planning time doesn't mean he/she wants to spend all 45 minutes listening to you and your wedding plans!

We are all at different stages in our lives--no matter what profession you are in. Some people are single, and spend many hours working in their classroom. Some people have young children and spend all their time with them carting them around to baseball practice, piano lessons, or play dates. Some people have sick or elderly people they are responsible for. Whatever phase of life your co-workers are in---they need to be respected, and their time needs to be respected.

Everyone wants to be heard. Whether they are voicing their opinion about the changes in the breakfast program, or informing the art teacher about the behavioral issues in the class. If you could CARE LESS about building relationships with your co-workers I would suggest to NEVER listen to anything any of them say. However, if you plan on being in this profession for awhile, it's important to build those relationships.

I know when I am talking, I can tell the difference with someone who is pre-occupied with their cell-phone or something else, and who is listening to me.

One time at a meeting after school, a fellow educator started talking about using technology in the classroom. The other teachers within the group started to have a conversation to the side, while I was the only one listening and engaged in this teachers conversation. Afterwards, she thanked me for listening to her and said "It's nice to feel like someone is hearing what I'm saying." LISTEN to your co-workers!!

Last time I checked, NO ONE knew everything. We can all grow and learn from each other! The people you work with are a great resource---whether they have been teaching for 25 years, 9 years, or 2 years---we have all been on different paths and journeys, and we all have different insights into this profession.

There may be a teacher at your school really knowledgeable about math fact strategies, someone else may be really good with classroom management. Reach outside of your comfort zone. Go to those specialists! See what makes them that way--learn from them!!

My first year teaching, I had a defiant student that oftentimes acted out violently. When I found out who he had the following year after he left me, I went to that teacher. I tried to offer her what worked for me advice for this student, but she was quick to tell me she's been teaching for 7 years and would be able to handle him. OKKKKKKKKK I thought..... Flash forward to the spring, after this teacher had had this student for 3/4 of the year....they finally came to me and asked, "what worked for you again?" It was so frustrating for me, seeing that student struggle and fail, and that teacher not take my advice and could have avoided the issues with the student. LEARN from your co-workers!!

Ok so as you read this, you will notice that the tips to build relationships with parents is very similar to my list on building relationships with co-workers. This relationship is very important, the parents are their first teacher after all.

All people deserve your respect, especially your students' parents. You may not like them. BUT they are still people. They are the ones raising these little people. Respecting them is the first step in building a relationship with them. It doesn't matter what they do for a living, or what kind of education they have. All parents deserve your respect.

I teach at a school with a very wide range of families from different socio-economic backgrounds. Whether my students' parent is a hair dresser, chef, doctor, stay at home mom, or WHATEVER I talk to them the same way. I care about all their kids the same way. They are all my kids!

I will never forget when my youngest son started Kindergarten. I was an un-wed mother of a bi-racial son in a rural school. I was in the process of going back to school, and working full time. I had volunteered to bring cupcakes in for a holiday party around Halloween. When I arrived, the students were at library, so it was just the teacher and I. She was about the same age as me, having taught about 3 years. We had some small talk, and then she asked me if I went to college. I told her I had gone up until my junior year, when I dropped out because I had my son. She gave me a look of disgust and didn't say another word to me while I was there. I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed of myself and my life. When I finished my teaching degree and got a job, I VOWED to never make any parent feel that way.

Again, all people want to be heard. This includes your students' parents. They want you to listen to them. They are entrusting their child with you, and when they have something to say, they want you to hear it.

OK, so we have all had that one parent. You know that one. You check your mailbox at the end of the day only to find ANOTHER message from this parent to call them. Then upon calling them, they inform you that little Johnny may be acting out today because he got up 7 minutes earlier this morning (OK I'm so exaggerating, but you know what I'm talking about!)

Some parents need you to reassure them. ALL parents need you to listen. So whether you are calling that parent back for the 18th time this month, or meeting that parent for the first time, it is important that you listen to their concerns.

Your students' parents have the BEST insight to your students. If you are having an issue with them in the classroom, more than likely the parents have seen the same issue at home.

Call that parent, find out what works or doesn't work for their child. You are in this together, to get their child to succeed! Build that relationship with your students' parents!

Hopefully you have learned some tips when building relationships with co-workers and parents of your students. Make sure to check out the other bloggers' posts about this same topic!!

I am linking up with some wonderful educators, thanks to The Owl Teacher for hosting this, to bring you some fantastic tools to head back to school for the 2015-2016 school year!

I am starting my 3rd year as a teacher. I absolutely love my job! I teach 1st grade, and this year I will only be teaching literacy (including reading & writing with social studies integrated).

I will have 2 groups of kids. Our kids are being grouped homogeneously, so my homeroom has 14 in it (at the moment).  These kids in my homeroom need more assistance (they are all below grade level), so that's why they have a lower number of students in their class. The 2nd class I will be teaching literacy to, doesn't need AS much assistance (they are functioning a little lower or on grade level). There is currently 20 students in that class.

This type of arrangement will not be that different than what we did last school year. We were completely departmentalized between 5 first grade teachers. And I absolutely loved it!! You can read a blog post about it on a blog I am apart of Who's Who and Who's New Why I Love being Departmentalized . Another blog post I wrote about What does a departmentalized classroom look like? Then I did a guest post on Rachel Lynette's blog Minds in Bloom about Trying a New Classroom Approach.

One tip I could offer you, if your school doesn't have good PD sessions or offer good resources---I HIGHLY suggest investing in some great resources! I teach in Maryland -- we are a common core state. And this book, The Common Core Companion: The Standards Decoded K-2 by Sharon Taberski and Jim Burke is a FANTASTIC resource! This one pictured is for Literacy. I can look the standard up and it gives great ideas how to teach it (or scaffold it, or push the students to the next grade level!) LIFESAVER!! So invest in some good resources, or if your school offers them---take a peek and read them!

Now for some freebies!! Who doesn't love freebies!! I heard somewhere "If it's free, it's for me!" :) This first freebie is a BACK TO SCOOT Task Cards that include 20 task cards for question asking, along with a recording sheet. If working with younger kiddos, (like with my 1st graders) I verbally ask them the questions and we move around the room depending on their answer (if you like sledding go to the back of the room, if you like swimming come to the front). It's a great icebreaker activity that gets the kids moving and helps you get to know them the first week or so of school. Click on the image and it will take you to my TPT store to download it!

 Another freebie that I LOVED when teaching my kiddos contractions, was this freebie, you can also find in my store by clicking on the picture!


I recently wrote a blog post about utilizing your volunteers. I know some teachers struggle with confidently setting boundaries with parents when they come in to volunteer, and it turns into a parent-watching-the-teacher-visiting-with-the-kid-session. This blog post also has some freebies you could use to get your parents lined up to volunteer with their interests and strengths. Click on the picture below to read all about it!

The last thing I want to leave you with is a little reminder! Remember this year, to take time for yourself! Do what you love and you'll love what you do :)

Wishing you a great year and lots of love!

ALSO Make sure you enter to win this K-2 prize pack!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I am linking up for a Blog Hop and Giveaway with some fabulous educators! It's that time of year, to start anew, a clean slate, fresh and rested!!

First, I would like to offer you a freebie! One that you can start the new year by printing and adding to you math centers. This product is perfect for the K-3 classroom and can be a fast finisher activity for a student, or an activity for a group of students to work on. You can access it by clicking on the picture.

Next, I would like to tell you about a great product that saved me so much time and headaches! Last year was my 2nd year teaching. I've only ever taught with the common core, but it was still a bumpy year understanding the common core standards and how to teach them. So, my Common Core No Prep Printables BUNDLE 1.NBT was born! These no prep printables allowed me to do check-ins or quick checks with my kiddos to see if they got a concept or if I need to re-teach it. They worked great also for homework, quizzes, or like I mentioned before formative assessments. I also have a Common Core NO PREP Bundle 1.OA

A piece of advice I would love to give other teachers is to not stress. The buses are going to come the first day, regardless of whether you have every cutesy thing in place. Don't worry, the kids WON'T notice any different :) Take a deep breathe, you are going to change lives! How important is that!! Remember to take time to take care of yourself! Those kiddos need you and if you are sick, that isn't good for anyone.

Check out these great rafflecopters for some awesome items! My giveaway is in Rafflecopter 4, and it is a $10 credit to my TPT store!! You can check out my store Momma with a Teaching Mission TPT Store to wishlist some items if you win!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wishing everyone a great back to school season!!! 
I am linking up with the fabulous Stephanie from Mrs. D's Corner for a fabulous four week linky. All about the building block of back to school! Absolutely perfect for the month of August!

So this week's linky is about Meet the Teacher. My name is Melanie. I am 32 years old. I teach in Maryland, and live in Pennsylvania (right over the MD line). We live in the country!! This is a view from our front yard.

I am getting ready to start my 3rd year teaching. I teach 1st grade. I absolutely love it. I have always wanted to be a teacher. I would teach my cabbage patch dolls when I was a kid in my basement :) This year I will only be teaching literacy (reading, writing, social studies integrated, and our phonics program) to 2 groups of kiddos.This is our 'scroll' for the upcoming 1st marking period. If you and your team doesn't scroll, I highly recommend it! We start out with the major standards and then weave in the minor standards, and then we think about assessments. It's not until after all that do we think about themes and texts we are going to use. It's a very different way of planning, but I love it!

I am a mother of 4 amazing kids! Karter is going into 5th grade, Katie is going into 2nd grade, Christopher is going into KG, and Alexa is almost 2 years old!! They are my world!

I have an amazing husband. Not only is he a great husband and super supportive of my blogging/TpT journey, BUT he is a wonderful father. I met Chris when Karter was about 18 months old. Chris is the only father Karter has ever known. I prayed that God would bless me with a partner to help me raise my son, and he really did!

As much as my husband is supportive of my hobbys :) I am also supportive of him and his hobby! He races every weekend (March-October) at a dirt track in Hagerstown, Maryland. If you follow me on IG you probably have seen me post some pictures from the race track :) We pretty much live there every Saturday night!

So that's me! Well pretty much :) I thought I'd also leave you a little something you could use on your Meet the Teacher or Back to School Night! Hopefully you utilize your volunteers or parents--here is a freebie you could use! Utilize your Volunteers

Check out the schedule here, and check back each week to read all about it!

Welcome to Reflect and Refresh! This is the 2nd part of a 2 part linky where teacher bloggers share their reflections (part 1----you can read about Part 1 Here ) and ways they are going to refresh their teaching in the 2015-2016 school year.

This year I am going to continue to make myself available to my parents. I choose not to give out my personal phone number, however they are given my e-mail address, as well as the school's phone number. This is an example of the newsletter I will be handing out on back to school night, the night before school starts.
We also have a planner that parents can write notes to the teacher in. Our school has a high FARMs rate (Free and Reduced Meals for Lunch), so many of our students do not have technology at home, so their parents are unable to contact through e-mail. The phone number and homework planner give the parents the option to call or write with questions or concerns. I also recently wrote a blog post about utilizing your volunteers---->Check out blog post about utilizing volunteers here.

So if you haven't gotten on Periscope, you need to check it out. There are so many fantastic teacher authors on their sharing their GENIUS!! The other day I watched a scope from Erin Klein of http://www.kleinspiration.com/ and she talked about de-cluttering the classroom. It was just complete genius! At the end of the year I was pitching a whole LOTTA stuff that was left to me from the teacher I replaced when she retired. I was grateful, however, the stuff she left me just wasn't what I was going to use or need. From pitching her stuff, I was able to organize my teacher files and items that were in piles around the room! Now everything really has a home and a place within my classroom, other than a pile!! The classroom is now going to be completely ready for the kiddos to learn and collaborate anywhere and everything throughout the room!

This summer I have read some amazing books! Whole Brain Teaching, Teach like a Pirate, Learn like a Pirate, The Literacy Teacher's Playbook by Jennifer Serravallo and The Reading Strategies Book also by Jennifer Serravallo. I have gotten so many ideas and strategies to use, but that is for another blog post! I had originally planned to dive deep into the common core for 2nd and 3rd grade, because I thought I would be teaching 2nd graders. However, the group of kiddos that I'm going to be instructing are low level 1st graders, so I really took a look at the KG common core standards for a starting off point for these guys. I want to make sure they are successful and that they are feeling accomplished in what they are doing to build their confidence. I was shocked and super stressed about taking on a group of extremely low level 1st graders and getting them to show one years growth throughout the course of the year. BUT I will say that I am feeling more confident about this amazing opportunity!

Summer Project
So one of my projects this summer was to create a sequential homework pack for the first marking period. Last year, with our homework, we would just haphazardly copy something, really without thought. I spent quite some time on creating this homework pack for my kids and I was able to convert it into a product for my store, you can check it out ------->1st Grade NO PREP Homework Pack. I have already sent that item off to printing (our department that does all of our printing for us) and it will be bound and hopefully waiting for me in my classroom when I return on August 4th!

I am super excited to embark on this new journey and to be only teaching literacy all year long! Feel free to follow me on my journey and I will try to post my adventures as much as I can!!

Check out my other bloggin friends' refresh posts!!

Hello! I am linking up with some OH SO FANTASTIC teachers to bring you some must-haves for back to school! My name is Melanie and I am a first grade teacher in Maryland. Much of my resources that I create are for primary aged students.
Have you heard about the sale that is happening tomorrow, Monday August 3rd and Tuesday August 4th?!?! Many stores are having sales (including mine) and then MAKE SURE you type in the TpT Promo code upon checkout to receive up to 28% off of items.
My most wish-listed item, is the one listed above. It is a Non-fiction Unit ALL ABOUT SHARKS! My students LOVED learning about sharks last year. This includes posters with informational captions, vocabulary cards, mini-books that are differentiated, as well as some no- prep printables. You can access it by ------>Non-fiction Shark Unit

Another item that may be helpful to you or your classroom is this product all about Community Helpers! It contains 12 printables with different community helpers. Each printable has a passage and comprehension questions to go along with it. It would work for independent readers in 2nd or 3rd grade, or later on in the year in 1st grade. You can preview it here ---->Community Helepers NO PREP Printables

As we all head back to school, I wish you a fantastic new school year!!

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