Wednesday, February 27, 2013

10 Tips for Student Teachers

Since I have finally finished my student teaching and am now in the realm of subbing (happens to a lot of December graduates) I feel that I should share some of the major things I learned while student teaching. Obviously each school district is different in their requirements for your student teaching experience but here's just a few tips...
10 Tips for Student Teaching

1. Ask your mentor teacher before hand if you are going to be using their existing plans or need to create your own new material. A lot of colleges WANT you to do that however it is a lot to take on when you are trying to learn what your classroom management style is plus try to make lessons.

2. Invest in some comfy shoes, walk around a lot, proximity is key. Especially when working with middle school and up.

3. Dude. Don't fight the cell phone fight, you won't win. The key to teaching is to be firm but flexible. Cell phones aren't going away, ever, therefore what you need to teach kids is how to be respectful with their cell phone. It's not a big deal unless you  make it one. Honestly I never had a single problem with phones when student teaching.

4. Do your research. In Colorado there is a new thing called Senate Bill 191 which essentially has to do with how teachers are "graded" and evaluated each year. Understanding these major shifts will help you with understanding what your focus will be in the future as an educator.

5. Make friends with the Special Education teachers. They are your best resource. You can talk to them about various differentiation strategies that you never learned in college. Behavior strategies, learning strategies, scaffolding... all those things. SpEd teachers are #bombdotcom.

6. Build relationships with staff and students. If the principals see you high fiving kids in the hallways, them getting excited to see you everyday, the principal feels more comfortable having you in the building (read: future job kudos).

7. Ask questions. Lots of questions. Don't wait for someone to tell you. Get to know the counseling office, talk to the office ladies, leave nice notes for the custodians. Even if you are just commenting on the weather or that you like their hair. Make a good impression.

8. Keep a journal of your experience. Jot down ideas for your classroom in the future, things you noticed about kids, different lesson plan ideas. Those are the best.

9. Be the "real" you to kids. Believe me they can tell the difference. Of course I don't mean to go about telling them how drunk you got this weekend, that's a bad idea. But be goofy, be funny and have a good time.  However one thing I will say, especially for anyone student teaching in their twenties. Decide where you stand on social media. Do you want to be friends with the kids on FB? Is it cool if you follow them on Twitter? Decide and communicate that to the kids.


10. Most of all, love teaching. Allow yourself those moments to just reflect on your experiences. I think most of my "holy crap I'm happy" moments were while I was teaching. The relationships you form with kids can last a lifetime and you never know when a friendship with another teacher will help you out.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Top 5 Messy Business Redos

I've owned my house for quite awhile now and feel like I've done a lot of upgrades. But sadly most of them I did before discovering the blogging world, so I didn't "do it as a I went" I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my big projects and some of my favorite projects. That might light my fire to pick up a paint brush again. or something.

1. Kitchen. The kitchen overhaul was my number one favorite favorite thing. (Besides installing wood floors rather than uglio carpet that was originally there.) This is what the kitchen looked like before. Clean. Dated. Nasty. Ew. 

The kitchen had everything from the handles spray painted... to the cabinets painted... to the walls painted... to the countertops. It got real painted all up in there.

Installing wallpaper backsplash from Lowe's was also an awesome money saving solution and made it actually look pretty.

Here's a comparison of the before... and after. Way better in my opinion!

Total cost: $300.00
Total time: 10 days

find all the details: painting the cabinets here, painting the countertops here, see how i added little details here, tile backsplash here, accessories here and here,

2. Guest Bathroom. My second favorite project I actually did quite awhile ago... almost two years I think... might be time for some switcheroos! But anyways. This guest bathroom has undergone at least three transformations. The most recent one being from a baby blue nursery with the same dated cabinets as the kitchen to an elegant, relaxing space.

Here's what it looked like back in 2008:

And in 2010-2011:

Everything in this room got a face lift. The countertop was replaced awhile back but I painted the cabinets a blue gray color and moved the shower curtain up to the ceiling and put in two panels which makes it feel bigger and allows light from the teeny tiny window to come through.

New light fixture for super cheap from a WalMart clearance sale (I think it was only $20.00 or something)  and even added a storage component where the old towel bars used to be. That's the problem with a house like mine... no storage. At all.

Total Time: 1 week
Total Budget: $150.00

find all the details: how it got started here, some cabinet assembly info here, and the final product here.

3. Jewelry display built-in.

Total Time: 2 days
Total Budget: $35.00 (already had beadboard left over, bought trim and hooks)
find all the details: built in details and origination here, how the whole bathroom panned out here.
4. Laundry Room.
 This room was originally such a total nightmare we called it the "murder scene" when we first bought the house. (I say we because it was my parents and I.) Everything was basically wrong about this room and I've managed to correct most of it. The venting for the dryer was being pushed under the house, which is real bad bad for the insulation under there. So that was rerouted and new flooring was put in when we first did the overhaul on the place.

Here's what it looked like for the first couple years of living here (roughly 2008-2011):

My washer and dryer came from Habitat for Humanity. The dryer I actually got off a dude that was shopping that same day. For free! So they were okay for the first few years. They were super loud and sometimes you had to wash stuff twice and definitely not energy efficient.

Gross. That's all I can say.


After the great flood of 2010 (when my entire house had to have the flooring replaced due to a slow leak from the water heater) I decided it was a good opportunity to redo the laundry room, though I feel the color is a bit too dark now.

We ended up tripling the amount of usable storage/work space in the laundry room. Which has been really great.
And this was the final reveal picture:

Total budget: $900.00 for the washer and dryer. Roughly $150.00 for wood, paint, and accessories.
Total time: 3 weeks
 find the details: starting the project here, making the awesome countertop here,  making the shelf here, finishing up the accessories here.
5. Free Furniture Painting.
I think free furniture is the best furniture. If you know exactly how to make it pretty anyways, otherwise it could get a little out of hand. 
One of the first things I painted was this park bench my Mom gave me. I don't recommend actually sitting on it but some spray paint and a little can of exterior paint can go a long way.

A previous roommate had left behind this old desk. It was sort of warped and funky but with a little engenuity it worked out well in the laundry room for the litter box and extra storage. That's my thing if you haven't noticed... creating storage.

Not to bad eh?

 I had another friend that was moving into an apartment from her townhome and didn't have any back yard space for a full 8 piece outdoor furniture set. They weren't awful but I thought they could use some more class...

9 cans of spray paint and 1 horribly sore thumb later I had an awesome, all matching patio set.

This chair was given to me by my Mom also. She found it at a thrift store for about three dollars. So it wasn't free exactly but pretty close. I think it came out of an office or something.

Some spray paint and cute fabric made it totally awesome. No more weird chair! Yay.

 Before my parents moved away to New Mexico they found this buffet/cardenza thing on the side of the road that said "Free" they loaded it up in their mini van and brought it over! It cost me nothing to redo it because I used a bunch of paint I already had and reused the handles.

Not too bad ey?

I suppose when I stop to think about it I do have a lot of things accomplished in my little house. I also now think that I've got a few more ideas for other things to do. No more blogging slump! Hopefully anyways. lol. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions on any of these. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Back "Yard"igans

One of the things I mentioned still wanting to do in my Year of the Upgrades post was de-ghettoifing my back "yard" area. Really it's a glorified dog run that is mostly useless and largely unappealing. I hate that I can see the neighbors gross collection of used up tires. But first I want to come up with the best ideas...
Here's a reminder of the awful view.

The door also needs to be replaced pretty badly. I haven't decided about the pet door. Recently I received a notice from the city that my dog barks too much so I'm not sure that I would want Sebastian just coming and going as he pleased when I couldn't monitor his barking (I really don't want a ticket for that. That would be dumb.)

This is what the door looks like from the inside (before the remodel lol) and I honestly don't remember the last time it was used. So I am thinking about switching the "swing" from right hand swing in, to left hand swing in. I like having a window in the spring and winter because it makes it very nice and bright in there but in the summer it tends to heat it up way too much... and the litter box is in there. Bad combo.
Maybe something like this? (Again not sure if I want the pet door or not)
The other part of the back yard that needs some specific attention is the porch.... that crap is nasty. No other way to put it. Sebastian won't even walk on it.
I found a few ideas when I went a-googlin'. Sorry some of them I couldn't find sources for.
Something like this might be nice in terms of actually being able to USE the dang thing. This way I could maybe put the recycling bins from under the sink out there and perhaps create some other storage options. I would have to have steps on both sides for access reasons... more trouble then it's worth maybe?

I could go all super basic and just have steps on both sides of the landing. Access both directions. Pretty basic. 
Or maybe an upgraded version of what I already have, just you know, something you could actually walk on without fearing for your life.

The fence is also part of the issue. It's chain link, which does the job but adds zero in terms of privacy and doesn't help with keeping Sebastian from barking like a crazy beast. These are called "slats" and you just stick em into the chain link. It would be about 1/8 the cost of installing even a four foot privacy fence. 

Exteriors seem so much more complicated then interiors sometimes... Let me know if you think of any better ideas for that useless backyard space.