Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So...I have an announcement...

So, some of you know this and some don't...

I am giving up teaching! 

..only for a year. 

I have been presented with an amazing opportunity to go back to school to work towards my goal of being a special needs teacher. 

This wasn't the easiest decision to make but it is what is best for me and teaching children with special needs has always been my ultimate goal. With the help and support of my amazing family and darling boyfriend, I will resign from my current position of "toddler teacher" at the center I am at next week.  I am enrolled full time at a university around us for classes starting in January. 

Some may ask,"why not go to school part time/night classes/online  and still work?" Well, that was my original plan however, a full semester-6 classes of pre-requisites to get into the program are only offered on campus and during the day. I asked my former director if she could accommodate me in any way so that I could do both and she completely shot it down. I approached my family about it and they all agreed-if bettering myself and advancing my education isn't that important to her then I probably don't need to be working there. 

In this time, I will also be traveling. 
Currently, I have 3 trips planned.

I will be using these trips and learning experiences and to gain more knowledge about other cities as well as myself. 

After this first year of prerequisite classes,my plan is to continue online while interning as a special needs assistant for the school system here.

I do fully plan on returning to this blog in 2015 and will transition into educational posts focusing on special needs!

Until then though, follow my lifestyle blog: Coffee&Glitter
I hope you all enjoy coming on this journey with me! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

True Life: I am a Preschool Teacher

Well hello! I have been debating on whether to write this post or not because it will become pretty "uncensored". Basically, I want to bust a few assumptions that some other people have about preschool teachers and I also want to share a few of my personal ups and downs so far. I guess I will just jump right in (grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine..this is a long one!)

My Story/Experience
So, in 2009, I graduated high school. I, like most 17 year olds, had no clue what I wanted to do. The only thing that was for sure was that I would be shipping off to Ohio in August for college. At the time, my major was Hospitality and Tourism Management..that was fun and all but it wasn't my "calling". I finally chose to listen to my heart and switched to childcare. I moved back to Florida and started applying for jobs right away. Being that I had no teaching experience and had only babysat the neighbors children, I assumed I would only be able to be a "teacher assistant". To my surprise, I went to an interview for a TA position but landed a spot as the lead teacher in a 2-3 year old room. 

Busted Assumption #1: Preschool Teachers do NOT just sit around all day and play
When I told some of my friends how surprised I was that I got hired for a lead teacher, they acted like it wasn't a big deal and that it wasn't a very strenuous or demanding position (insert grumpy cat face)
I will admit, when I was first hired, I did not think that I would have had to do as much as I did but, I was quickly corrected. 

Preschools-at least in Florida- are held to pretty high standards. I had lesson plans to do each week following a specific curriculum and also tying in each developmental area, emotional support, spanish and sign language lessons and, a special interest area. Now, I am not saying it was "hard" or looking for a pity party but, it was a decent amount of work and I did actually care and want to put a lot of thought into my plans. 

Continuing on, the director that hired me, told me that she too started the way I was and became somewhat of a mentor to me. I immediately registered for classes to obtain my CDA certification (child development associate).  With this, you are looked at more seriously than a teacher with the minimum requirements from DCF and you are most likely to get a higher pay rate. 

busted assumption #2: preschool teachers didn't go to school/ it is a "cop out" career
You're right, you do not need any form of a degree to be a preschool teacher. All that is required is a 45 hour course through the Department of Children and Families. Now, let me clarify, I have a bachelors in Hospitality Management. I have my CDA. I am completing my Bachelor's in Early Childhood and will be finished in Fall 2015. There are several preschool teachers I know with Masters degrees. Yes, there are some preschool teachers that do not have formal schooling but, they are qualified to do what they do and there are many courses and certificates that they can take. However, not every preschool teacher chose that route. 

So, the first director that I worked with..we will call her "S"... seemed to be the perfect boss. She guided me, offered advice on various issues I had while obtaining my CDA and, it got to where I was promoted to the assistant director. I worked at this particular center for just under two years. Being a "newbie", I was definitely biased and thought my center was perfect until I started to talk to my professors at school a little more. I will not go into extreme detail but, it turned out that the center I was at was not exactly to code-the children were all very well taken care of and it was nothing to do with neglect or the well being of the children but, the bookkeeping end of the center was a disaster and that can get a place shut down. In Florida, if the center gets fined or shut down for any reason, it will go on the record of all of the employees. When I learned that things needed to be fixed at this center, I approached "S" and she didn't take kindly to what I was saying-in fact she showed her true colors and get extremely defensive. I decided shortly after to put my two weeks in and find a different-more legally proper-place to work. 

The second place and most current center I worked at was amazing! It was an 8 room preschool, 18 teachers, 98 children and all up to date! The director and I really clicked during my interview and she said something to me that I will always take with me

"You will only be as good as the center you work at"

this may not make sense to all but, if you are ever a preschool teacher, this will speak volumes. 

At this center, we have monthly inservices, staff meetings, center wide projects, weekend team building projects, course requirements, and mandatory conferences we have to attend...

busted assumption #3:...you're not a real teacher
ugh. excuse my french but bull shit! Nothing..N O T H I N G makes me more mad than hearing this...and I have heard it from teachers in the school system, parents, friends, etc. The only thing I really have to say to this is PLEASE spend a day in my shoes. You have anywhere between 6-12 little two-three year olds running around for 8 hours a day. You have to conduct state mandated assessments, follow a specific curriculum guide, plan for the theme, teach through play, and hit 7 developmental areas each day. 

What People Typically Won't Tell You:
-If I had a complaint about preschools vs. school boards, there is no real chain of command. It is teachers and director. If the director is doing something wrong (like at my first center) you can talk to them but if they don't agree, you are pretty much SOL. Yes, there is a labor board; yes, there is DCF; yes there are private lawyers but, it is pretty damn hard to swing people to see it your way if you are a new teacher with limited experience- believe me, I tried. 

-No, you will never get rich. In fact, you will end up spending A LOT of your own money. I started at $9.50p/h and currently am at $15.50p/h. I am fortunate enough to work somewhere that reimburses the teachers for classroom supplies but, that is not the norm. I spend at least $30 a month and around back to school/August, I spent $375. 

-It is hard work and can be heart breaking. I have now had to talk to DCF three times about a child's well being. obviously I would never want to see a child separated from their family but, you are a state mandated reporter when you are a teacher. Toddlers and any child really, will be children but you know or will learn the signs of abuse and neglect and it will never get easy to make that call, write the statement or bring it to a 'higher ups' attention. But, it is your job to ensure the well being of the children. 

-It is R E W A R D I N G! It is W O R T H IT! It is F U N! Each and everyday with these children is different and you can do your best to plan but, sometimes you just go with the flow. 

The bottom line is that teaching children from birth-5yrs. is extraordinarily rewarding but it is also a time consuming commitment. Some of these children have little to no stability in their homes and look to you as the one constant so you can not bounce in and our of classrooms from center to center because these children need you. Watching a two year old come out of his or her shell and start to develop 2-3 word sentences is a feeling that is indescribable. Walking into your classroom of 6-10 little ones on a monday to get attacked with hugs and "hey hey guess what I did this weekend"s will bring a wave of emotion you didn't know was possible and hearing the tiny soft voice of a toddler saying "I did it!" "I love you Miss Sarah" or "see you tomorrow" brings so much joy into your day. Regardless of what is going on in your personal life, it is impossible to be sad around all these smiling faces. 

I know that this is very long but, thank you for sticking with it! I appreciate you stopping by. 

I will now leave you with a photo montage of some of my favorite moments:

Playground Time!
Water Day

Name Practice
Fire Week!
Ringing in the New Year

Classroom Hop Scotch

Strawberry Shortcake
Reading time!
Night crawlers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whiffleball Manipulative!

Hey teachers! 

So, I came across a pretty neat idea for a manipulative. My children are two years old so if they can do this, a lot of ages can! 

How easy is this? I bought a 3pack of whiffle balls at Walmart for $2.49 and a package of pipe cleaners for $1.89. 

My class loves this! I usually do this a a group activity so that I can keep a close eye to make sure no pope cleaners go into their eyes but, it is easy, quick and simple. It is great for little hands and fine motor skills  

I originally saw this on pinterest. 

What do you use to strengthen fine motor skills? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sensory Boxes!

Hey y'all! If you've followed me for a while now, you'll know that sensory play is a big thing for me. Some of the teachers here that are "anti-mess" teachers (as I like to call them) look at me like I have three heads because I will do anything with my class! 

We have made our own playdoh, oobleck, galaxy slime, sand play, water play, shaving cream, frosting, cool whip, noodles, you name it, we've probably done it! 

I know that not every teacher approves of this kind of play but it is important to me and I like to include it in our lessons every day so, if I am out of work or sick, I have made a few easy "cheater" sensory bags.

Basically, these are premade sensory experiences that will keep your children entertained and clean. 

My plan with these are to just dump the bags and then add something simple such as blocks, cars, little people,etc to add different textures.

Easter Grass 

Mardi Gras beads-cut into smaller sections 

Colored confetti 


Textured and patterned ribbon 


Rocks-obviously A LOT of teacher supervision is needed here 

Paper shreds 

Sand dollars. 

What do you use for sensory experiences in your classroom? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Community Helpers Unit

During the whole month of September, my toddler class worked on their community helper unit. We broke it up into four weeks. 

Week 1: grocers/chefs/bakers
Week 2: firemen and police officers 
Week 3: doctors, nurses, and dentists 
Week 4: construction workers, postal office personnel, and teachers 

I love community helpers month because for me, it is an awesome way to get my classroom parents involved. 

At back to school night, I sent out a flyer explaining that this unit was coming up and if we had any 'community helper' parents that we'd greatly appreciate them coming to talk as a guest speaker or to do an activity. Y'all are going to want to sit down for this next part... ALL of my parents..ALL signed up AND ALL of them actually fulfilled their commitment. -I don't know about you but, I almost never get all of my parents to get involved and it is always a hassle involved with multiple reminders and flyers. Not this time! I was floored! 

Anyways, we had parents from all work types come in a speak, read a story, or help with an art project and it was awesome! 

Here are a few examples of projects that we did over the course of September: 

What do you do for your community helpers unit? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Favorite Fall Treat!

Well, it is still 85-90 degrees in lovely Florida but, I am determined to get into the fall spirit!

This past weekend, we made 'Grammie Joyce's Famous Apple Crisp' 
This is my absolute favorite y'all! 

(again, I am HORRIBLE at taking pictures so, there is no 'after' picture but, trust me, it is to die for!) 

What you will need for the apple mixture:
9x13 Greased baking dish
8-10 peeled apples
1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon of nutmeg

What you will need for the crisp topping:
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of melted butter (cooled) 

1. preheat oven to 350* and grease the 9x13 baking dish
2. wash and peel your apples. cut into bite sized chunks-no need to be precise. 

3. in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugars, butter, and spices. mix well until fully combined then gently fold in apples until they are completely covered. dump into the prepared baking dish and make sure it is as even as possible. 

4. prepare the crumb topping by combining the flour, sugar, and butter with a fork until it forms a crumbly consistency. 
5. evenly spread out the crumb topping over the apple mixture. Top with extra cinnamon if you'd like. 

6. pop this baby in the oven at 350* for 45 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown. 

serve warm with ice cream and whipped cream or, if you're feeling extra 'betty crocker-ish', make a homemade caramel sauce to top it off! 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday Fellow Bloggers! 
I hope you all have had a fabulous week and are enjoying the fall season! It is still 88-90 degrees here but, we're making it work! 

I am linking up again with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! 

I received my second SLANTBOX on Wednesday from Christine at Glitter, Gadgets, and Grade School! I had such a blast getting to know her and I think that she is just a fabulous teacher, person, mother, she is just great and has an awesome teaching story! One of my favorite things about Christine is a quote that she has said many times to me, in her instagram videos and on her blog: "you matter". Although this is a simple two word phrase, I think it carries so much behind it! 

I had every intention of listing the items she picked out for me but, she is so amazing that she made a video for me about my SLANTBOX and I just don't think I could top this so, here you go: 

As you know, this house is 100% Pats territory! We found out this past weekend that the Patriots have a PatriotsPETriot contest for 'pet of the month'.. obviously, we jumped right on this! 

The cuteness will never fade! 

So, although it is like 100 degrees here still, we are breaking out the Fall Beers and Ciders! 

Have you had Pumpkin Cider? Well I can say that the Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider is delicious! 

Welllll surprise surprise, I dyed my hair again! This time, it actually turned out how it was suppose to the first time! 

Bright Burgundy! Hello, Fall! 

My best friend and sister has been up in Massachusetts at college for the past two years. She is a rock star and has been taking advanced classes, extra classes, and summer/winter break classes so, we haven't been able to see each other too much but, yesterday, I got FABULOUS news that she will be home for Thanksgiving this year! 

I can not even explain how overjoyed and excited I am! 

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! Thanks for stopping by!