You will find a paper cutter next to my daily devotional on my nightstand…. I don’t always act rationally during this time of the year. While we are at it, there’s a green container on my bookcase hurting my feelings. It refuses to look right in the space. During the school year, household organization and decor don’t even register in my brain because- school teacher.
But this year life is taking a turn. For the last 18 years I have been teaching… I have known nothing else but teaching. Before marriage- while having babies- one thing that was always a part of my life was…teaching.
Last school year, things changed for me. An immediate family member began going through a debilitating health crisis. All of a sudden my priorities were being pulled away from school during the midst of a busy year. I went on intermittent leave to care for my mom who lives 40 minutes away. During this time, as anyone would be, I was dealing with all sorts of emotions, family role changes, and love stress, but at the same time I was devastated to be out of school and away from my school babies. I knew they were getting the content they needed. I was able to plan and communicate with my incredible subs and my team. I saw my students a couple days a week but then would be gone again.
Maintaining the lessons and creating for the classroom kept me sane during that time because it gave me something I am passionate about to focus on. It made me feel like I was contributing to my work responsibility.
My husband, kids and I decided that taking this next year to focus on our family needs is the best decision for us. My principal and team are very understanding. I am still very connected to my school and district, but this year I am going to focus on my family, education research and technique, and creating content for the classroom.
I am also very excited to continue to be a part of SDE conferences this coming year. I never thought it would be part of my life to speak publicly but when it comes to sharing about teaching, I can’t get enough! It is a wonderful focus for me to be able to still develop and contribute while I care for my family. I hope you will continue to stay with me during this leap of faith.
Cue the sobs at the wailing wall (also known as my home) because this teacher doesn’t have her own
classroom this year to decorate. Although I joke about it, I am going through a lot of emotions that wake me in the night as well as live in the pit of my stomach. I know that God has been with me through all of my ups and downs. It’s a big step for me. I am leaning fully on HIM. I feel both joy and excitement at a new chapter in life but I also feel anxiousness and hesitation at letting go of the tangible classroom.
Although I don’t have my own classroom this year, I am helping at my school, so I
will be sharing pictures of classroom/bulletin board design this month.
A wonderful teacher friend I connected with through the blog and facebook asked for a detailed lesson plan for back to school. I know some of you shared that it’s your first year in first grade and anything I could share would help when it comes to back to school. It’s funny, when I am going through the preparation for back to school, I can’t even think about lesson planning until my room is ready. I mean paper and container choices completely take over my life for the month of August.
I put together a little checklist and description of the first day of school, and then a more general outline of the following days. But before you grab it let me explain…
The checklist has more than you need for day one but the level of exhaustion after day one is similar to that of the wicked witch under Dorothy’s house. can’t.even.move.
Here’s a little tip I learned after the first year: Have filler activities that you may or may not use already prepped and ready to be used at a tired/panicked moments’ notice. Chances are you won’t need it, but if you do it will be there. Waiting like a little activity dropped down from heaven.
Also, don’t expect the first day to look like the rest of your year. Getting everyone to sit on the rug, sit at the correct table, say their names, make you a drawing, write their name, tour the school, eat the right lunch, and get home safely is a successful first day!
My first day plans are not in any order that needs to be followed. Everyone’s schedules are different. I didn’t include bathroom breaks or lunch and recess procedures, but of course that is going to be a part of your first day! Think of it as bullet points for things I cover during that first day. Then plug them in to your particular schedule.
I also added a basic overview of the rest of that week in the same download. Plus you can visit THIS POST to see last year’s first few days of school in action. (It might explain the watermelon) The download has links to the materials that I use. After you download the first week plans, you can click the pictures to be taken to the activity.
Let’s take a moment here and talk about Meet the Teacher Night. A few years ago, I got so tired of the craziness I felt running around to make sure everyone knew what to do, that I made a system that parents could go through at their own pace. This ensured that as I was busy getting to know a student and their family, the other families could take care of important tasks without waiting around on my instructions. To check out what this looks like, just click the picture below!
I hope this post has helped give you a couple more strategies and procedures to tuck into your teacher brain for the beginning of school!
Mrs. Griffith says
What an opportunity to get to take the time to be with your family. That is truly a blessing that you are going to be able to do that. I look forward to hearing all the good things this new adventure holds for you!
Jennifer Johnson says
Thank you so much for the plans! They will help as the first few days are always such a blur! Your rise and shine binder is in my cart ready for the sale tomorrow! Thanks for all that you do to make my life easier!
May God bless your mother, you and your family members. One of my principals along the way always said to our faculty, "GOD, Family, Job." You are doing it right, my friend. I admire you and will continue to follow you. Prayers for you and yours.
Mrs. Wiley says
You are so strong. I wish you and you're family all the best. Take care.
Mrs. Wiley says
You are so strong. I wish you and you're family all the best. Take care.
Elizabeth Cannon says
I will be praying for your mom and family! I can't even understand what emotions you are feeling but I know God has a plan for all of this. The almighty has his hand on all of your family. Thank you so much for sharing this. While I don't know you personally, I want you to know that you are one of the few women who have inspired and encouraged me to create my own blog and business on TPT and using those as tools to share my teaching ideas and effective instruction with others. You are an inspiration as a teacher and educator leader! I can't wait to see what the Lord uses you to create and share with us for this next year. 🙂
Many Blessings & Payers,
Ms. Pretzel says
Lots of prayers being sent your way! It's exciting that you get to spend time with family.
All the best,
Ms. Pretzel's 2nd Grade Bugs
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you take this path in your journey. Your passion for teaching comes through in all you say and do so this could prove to be a bit bumpy. But as someone who has walked a similar path, I'd give anything for just one more day with my mom. He is guiding you so take time to be still and listen. Don't worry about the teaching. It's who you are – just like your eye color:-). It's not going anywhere. Peace be with you and yours.
Mrs. S says
Just had to comment. I had to leave my beloved 6th graders this year due to a move because of a family members health. It was totally led by the Lord, but I had so many of the same emotions. I did just get a job as a first grade teacher in a Christian school so I am totally doing the container thing! Thanks for all of your posts and help learning this new job. 🙂 I will pray that the Lord will fill your time and that you won't miss it terribly. I have left and gone back four different times in my career, and I know the "missing the classroom" feeling. God Bless.
Chris Saunders says
Reagan–You are truly an inspiration to many! When one door closes others open and you will have time for your family that is not available in a teaching day which will be a blessing! Have a wonderful year with your family and I too have struggled with caring for a parent, children, taking care of yourself and home and it is a struggle so my prayers are with you and it seems like a wise decision and you will not regret this time you will have this year!:)
Flor Flores says
Reagan, you could have been speaking about me in your post today. I too had a similar experience this past school year. Although I hated being absent from the classroom I needed to be available for my younger sister whose prognosis was grave. I too would appear intermittently in my classroom while rushing out during my lunch breaks and conference periods when I was there. It was a tremendous help to have materials copied and sub lessons prepared ahead of time (many of which I did at her bedside or in the hospital waiting area). All the while I was working on my master's program. Ugh!
Sadly, my sissy lost her fight. Although I thought about taking time off from teaching I realized that I needed something to focus on as our whole family adjusted to her absence. Plus, my son is leaving for college in a couple of weeks (trying to be strong for that as well).
I pray for you, your mother, and your family. May taking this time off from the classroom offer you the opportunity you need to focus on them. Don't forget about yourself though! I have learned that you have to be a little selfish and take care of yourself so that in turn you can take care of others. God has a plan for you. We may not always understand what it is, but that's where faith comes in, right?
Blessings to you and your family. Wishing you continued success outside the classroom. I (we) will continue to support you via your blog and your shop. Your resources are a Godsend. Thank you!
Best wishes to you on this new journey. Time is very precious and moments with your family can never be replaced. Take care of yourself also! I always appreciate your willingness to share your wonderful ideas and explain the procedures. Thank you again and will be thinking about you. I hope to attend some SDE conferences this year. I will keep following you and also your TPT store. Take care and praying for you each day to make it a little easier for you.
It's true that this world of blogging brings amazing people into our lives. As a 2nd grade teacher in Alberta, Canada, I have learned so much by reading blogs each and every day. I always start with yours first. May God, whose love knows no bounds, give you both courage and strength to rise to His calling. I admire you greatly and hope that the challenges that you will face bring you the enduring heartfelt love of your family. Know that there are more prayers than you can count, being sent to you!
Reagan I truly admire you! What a blessing it is that God has allowed you to change roles in life to be there for family. You are such an inspiration to so many teachers out here. Thank you for creating AWESOME products and always willing to share your AWESOME ideas. Blessings to you and your family! #Godhasyourback
One Fab Teacher
L. Stringer says
Like many of the other readers here Reagan, I too am continually inspired by the blog posts!! Your blog is the first I check and you are truly an amazing person. When I read your posts last year I always thought 'How does she fit it all in?'. Now I know that you also had a struggle at home it makes me realise how very hard you work in all areas of your life!! How very proud your family will be. Sending hopes and prayers from the UK to you and your family!! XXX
Suzanne Robinson says
I'm sad you and your family are going through this, and will keep you in my thoughts. You contribute SO MUCH to so many people's lives (I'm sure with more than just teaching). I want to say thank you for everything you do: sharing your wisdom and resources, creating great content, and creating this great teaching community. Thank you! and God bless!
Raegan Bowden says
Not only do we share the same first name but our stories are parallel. I also have been dealing with family heath issues for the last year. Daddy past away last October and we are finally feeling settled again. I took the summer to just enjoy myself and my family and feel refreshed after a very long school year. I am actually looking forwArd to this year.
Enjoy your family and make time for yourself.
Sara Haskic says
Elena Gruwell says
Thank you for sharing your lessons! enjoy your time with your family. Some times we encounter these situations and we need to take care of it, and realize that we teachers, have a life with our family and relatives.
God bless you and your family.
Jessica Wyatt says
You amaze me! I love the idea of a hunt for the watermelon to introduce the kids to the different places in your school. Can you share your clues? I imagine they are pretty clever!
Darlene Sommer says
Thank you for this blog. I'm back in first grade for the first time in three years! All these refreshers will help my transition go so much more smoothly! I'll check back soon to grab more great ideas!
Thank you for sharing your ideas. I love to read your blog! Enjoy your time with family. Where can I get the font that you used for the headers for the parts of the day?
I totally understand where you are coming from! I taught for 19 years at one school and made the decision to leave the classroom and go into administration. I knew that God was having me take this next step but it was difficult. I mourned the loss of my classroom! I actually felt as though a part of me died. I then went and taught at a university for 3 years and finally a couple of months ago decided to go back into classroom teaching. I am so excited. I know it is hard watching all of the things other teachers are doing. Know that God has His ultimate plan for you…and He will bring you back into the classroom at His timing. For now, keep shining your light where He is telling you to go. 🙂
Love this blog post! Isn't it funny how good teaching consumes your life? I'm so glad to hear that you will be able to take sometime for yourself and your family. We have been dealing with my Grandmother being very sick this year, and it's so hard to balance care giving and everything else. Blessings on your new journey!
Wendy Camarena says
I wish you much luck on your journey, I will be thinking of you as you transition into your new role. I have found you and this blog to be such an inspiration to teach and to do the best I can for my kids, so I wonder if you will continue to blog? Also is this plan for the first week of school on your teachers pay teachers page yet? I haven't been able to find it. Thank you!
Debbie K says
I'm a bit behind on my comments but I just wanted to encourage you as you go through this change. God never closes a door unless He opens a window, and although you're out of the classroom at the moment He has other great plans for you during this time. You've already stepped ithough a couple of doors, as daughter and creator of quality teaching resources that benefiy so many of us and our students. My prayers are with you!
Amanda Maliwauki says
Thank you so much for your post and blog! As I read your post, it felt like you were describing my life last year! It was so hard to leave my second graders, but totally worth it to spend a little bit more time with my daddy. Glad to hear you are taking a break to care for yourself and family. As for me, I will be starting my second year in second grade this next Wednesday, so thank you for all of the tips and I LOVE the checklist you made! Thank you!
Natasha L says
I do wish you all the best as you focus on yourself and on your family's needs. Many thanks for all the wonderful ideas you've shared here and on TPT. They've been invaluable.
Many of us understand your situation and wish you all the best.