Back-to-School Pinspiration

When the school year wrapped up in June, I felt pretty burned out. I was also over my classroom set up and needed to change things–new posters, new room arrangement, and a new view. This summer, I looked to Pinterest for inspiration to revamp my procedures come September. Here is what I’m digging into.

I love some well-placed snark and sarcasm.  Check out Meme Hall and Bathroom Passes and Using Memes to Connect with Students. Every time I use a meme, students actually read its message!


My class rolls for the 2015-16 school year look mighty brutal. The table I use for supplies like pencils (because middle-schoolers NEVER have a freaking pencil), glue sticks, scissors, and paper will have to be commandeered as a student desk. I went to IKEA with some teacher friends this week and bought a Dignitet curtain wire, Riktig clips, and Bygel containers. I’m going to mount the sucker under my whiteboard for easy access to supplies and for hanging awesome work and/or papers missing names. There are so many IKEA hacks on Pinterest, and homeschool resources have amazing ideas for maximizing space and staying organized.


I also found these Valbekant sticky notes at IKEA. They only cost $0.49 for a three-pack. These would be awesome to use with an activity center like Tabletop Twitter, having students respond to quotes or primary sources.


Since our students are issued Chromebooks, I also keep an eye on technology resources. Here are a few pins I’m interested in incorporating into my classroom:

Movie Poster Template — Because it’s just cool.

Playing History — So many games, so little time.

SMS Generator — Students create fictional text messages between historical figures.

Tagxedo — These word clouds look incredible!

Tools for Your Paperless Classroom and Google Tech Tools — I already use a few of these apps, but there’s always more to explore. I am going to survey my seventh graders at the beginning of the year to find out what educational/project apps they like using, what they hate, and why.


Teacher work week officially starts on Monday, but I went to school today to set up my classroom. I bought this Ullgump rug at IKEA to add texture to my room.  I put it under my desk, and all I could think the rest of the day was… “It really ties the room together.”  Thanks, Lebowski.

(Image sources: Pinterest)


The Best of…Teacher Life 2015

Slightly late posting this one since school ended on June 12th.  As the school year winded down, I reflected on the highs and lows, went through my little notes about activities, revised what needed to be revised, etc.  I am slowing making my way through dozens of sticky notes I plastered on units, notes, activities, and projects.

As if life in seventh grade isn’t awkwardly horrible enough, it felt like morale was an all-time low among teachers this year.  We had a dozen new initiatives to implement, including a new online evaluation/professional development thing, Chromebooks distributed to every student, adult learning plans, peer observations, way too much technology training… Yep, teachers were burned out by November.  Meanwhile, our poor kids are stuck in the middle of middle school, and there’s a huge spread between those who think they know everything and those who are still clueless.  They’re awkward.  Some are jerks.  They’re kids.

Despite the challenges, there were some hysterical moments this year–moments that had my sides and face in pain from laughing so hard.  Here are my favorite shocking/enlightening/delightful moments of the 2014-2015 school year.

1. The “brothers don’t shake hands” moment.  Student J finished a quiz in my classroom during lunch and was on his way to another teacher when Student B came in.  These two boys are friends.  J opened his arms and stuck out his chest to give B a chest bump.  B misread all those cues, wrapped his arms around J, and gave him a big hug.  J’s face turned very confused as he said to me, “I guess this works, too.”  And I died.

Teacher Top 10 2015

(Image source: http://s.quickmeme.com/)

2. The ask.com fail.  Every time I give project directions or talk about reliable sources for research, I tell students to never, ever, ever use ask.com or answer.com.  This little ESL girl completed a project on Henry Ford, and one of the components asked students to find charities or projects their Industrial Giant was known for.  She ignored the ask.com restriction.  Again, I died.

Henry Ford

3. Field trips!  You know what it’s like to have cabin fever?  That’s how I feel being in my classroom every day.  I love field trips, and we took great ones this year.  They make for long days, but they’re fun and give everyone a chance to stretch their legs.  This year I had to beg for parent chaperons, though.  Seriously, who would not want to spend the day with their child and 149 other 12-year-olds?


Hall of Mammals

4. Letters from former students.  During Teacher Appreciation Week, I received a letter at school from a student I taught in sixth and seventh grade.  This year she was a freshman in high school.  Like divine intervention, I received her letter on a day that I was feeling particularly frustrated.  I got in my car at the end of the day and cried like a baby.

“Your style of teaching and passion for history inspired me to develop a strong feeling for the subject of the past…”

“It reminds me of the potential you saw in me and helps me pick my head up and push through…Thank you so much for always pushing me to do my best.  I appreciate it!”

5. Letters from current students.  I appreciate well-placed snark.  This boy wrote me the best Christmas card I’ve ever received, and there wasn’t even a gift card inside (not that I held that against him).


6. Food in the teacher work room.  File this one under the “enlightening” category.  One morning, delicious gourmet popcorn appeared beside our copy machine.  My coworker graciously shared the recipe for peanut butter cup popcorn, and she made me very fappy (fat and happy).  This crack corn was so good, it’s my food highlight of the year.


7. Larry.  That Larry, he’s a scoundrel.  This sketch was brought to my class one morning as a gift from one girl to another and caused a commotion.  I do not shock easily, but fishing this paper out of the trashcan…well, my jaw hit the floor.  I later learned that Larry is a mash-up of two One Direction singers.  When my girlfriends give me gifts, it’s usually in the form of gift cards or wine, not sketches of gay celebrity porn.  But this sketch did provide us with our catchphrase of the spring: “Don’t get Larried!”


8. An abundance of snow days.  They really are the best things behind winter, spring, and summer breaks.  My boys definitely enjoyed extra pancakes and sledding between January and March.


9. The “Bye Felicia” trend.  I love a good 90’s throwback, and “Bye Felicia” was all over the seventh grade.  And none of the kids ever saw Friday!  Between Felicia and all the Tupac, Biggie, and Eazy-E t-shirts, I felt like I was reliving middle school.

10. The Last Day of School!  Well, duh.  I am lucky enough to call my team members my friends, and I look forward to our summer adventures.