Saturday, September 3, 2016

Creating a Classroom

Recycled Items
Creating a classroom is a daunting and time consuming task. I always feel like I need another week to make everything perfect! But this year, I'm not going for perfect. Since this will be my first classroom for a full class, it was a different experience setting up and thinking about how to arrange everything. I came in a week before our planning week to get to work. After 18 hours of just cleaning, sorting, and recycling the previous teacher's items that were left, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Going through 2 packs of cleaning wipes
creates piles of these everywhere! 

After days of organizing tables, carpets, and the teaching materials I've brought to use, my room was ready for students. This experience was actually joyful and it gave me a lot of time to process my vision for the school year and dance around my classroom without 22 sets of eyes watching. I focused on creating a room that was simple and free of clutter. Some areas are more simplistic than others and some areas still need a lot of work. My advice for anyone still designing your room or moving into a room that was once occupied by another teacher, would be to get rid of anything that would be labeled as a "could be useful in the future" and store in bins anything that "would be useful in the future". I threw out and recycled a lot of "could be" materials and supplies. Yes, I felt guilty at times because I'm sure money, time, and energy went into creating or making those materials. However, I need to prioritize what is truly needed for the classroom and for my students. 

We just finished our third week in the classroom and I'm very happy with my decisions so far. Our classrooms are our home away from home. It's nice to have a joyful and clean place to spend with our students and relish in the meaningful work we do everyday. 

Hope everyone enjoys their long weekend and takes time for you! 


Monday, August 15, 2016

Quick Recap of the First Day of School

 Today was my first day teaching 2nd grade! I was super pumped and thankfully that I was able to get in about 7 hours of sleep. This is something that I didn't expect at all. My first days of school over the last few years, I haven't been able to get more than 3 hours. This already let me know when I woke up, that things were going to be okay.

  I got in about 45 minutes before students arrived so I could finish last minute preps and review my lesson plans. I scripted my day will almost minute to minute instructions of what I would be doing throughout the day. Scripting my lessons was something I dreaded during my first year of teaching. Now I find it extremely helpful. Four pages of lesson plan reading and I was ready for my first lesson!
 It was so exciting meeting my students in the courtyard and being apart of the school community right away. We had a morning pledge that everyone recited in English, Spanish, and Cantonese. It's great being at such a diverse school. The transition from courtyard to classroom was a bit rough for me but it didn't ruin the rest of the day. When I got to lunch, I realized that I forgot to teach my math lesson! We got too carried away on GoNoodle! Either way, the rest of the day went fairly smoothly. Only one student cried and no one got hurt or in a fight!

After dismissal, I spent about 3 hours prepping and processing the first day. I completed a "positive" and "needs improvement" chart for the day. I love being reflective and focusing on the positives. It has also been helpful to know that I'm growing each day and that perfection is not my end goal. Overall, I'm ready to chill out for the evening by watching The Office. Hope everyone is loving their first day or their Monday! 

Take care!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Year Four: Believe in yourself, let go of perfection, and lean on others.

     Today is my "official" last day of summer. Today I did a quick workout, showered, and went back to bed. It was wonderful and I felt like I deserved some more sleep so I took a nap at 9:00am. This started my day of self reflection on my personal and professional goals/habits that I want to establish as I enter my fourth year of teaching. Today I also printed materials, made lists, and joined a group of 2nd grade teachers from my district in an informal setting to discuss our why, what, and how for teaching and more specially teaching reading. It was awesome! 

  In the last few weeks, I've thought about how I want my fourth year in the classroom to look and how I don't want it to look. This is the first year that I will not have any outside commitments at the start of the school year. For the last three year, I have been taking courses for certification or completing my Masters degree online. I've also put a ton of pressure on myself to be this perfect teacher. Now anyone who has ever been in my classroom or have seen me teach, may not have known that this was one of my goals in the back of my head. However, I have seen growth and failures in this mindset as I've maneuvered through various schools and settings. It is one thing to hold yourself to a high level of excellence in teaching and it is another to produce negative self-talk about your practices on a daily basis when using these standards against you. These things may seem very different but in my mind during my first two years, they were always connected. This lead me to feel constant stress and pressure on myself to do things as perfectly as I could. I want to expand on this in a later post in the future, so I'll leave my experience of my first few years in the classroom as that. 

  Making it a priority to embrace more self-love, positive and growth mindsets, and not adding unnecessary stress to this school year, I'm excited to take on this year with a whole new perspective and array of positive emotions. This year, I am going to make it my goal to reach out to others and not try to reinvent the wheel. This year, I am going to give myself more time to enjoy basic things without the guilt. This year, I am going to fail fast and let it be okay. 

 At 7:30am tomorrow, I will meet the staff and teachers at my new school and get the day to work in my classroom. I'm not going to try to make it perfect. I'm going to make it practical. If you need more inspiration on this topic or anything else related to teaching with grace, check out Angela Watson at The Cornerstone For Teachers. 

Check out the article that inspired this post: 

You can’t do it all, but where can a teacher really cut corners?

Have fun this week and show yourself love and grace! 


Thursday, August 4, 2016


      Welcome to my teaching blog: Bright Eyed Classroom!

  I'm very excited to share and learn from other amazing educators from around the world through blogging. I am starting my 4th year of teaching in less than two weeks in the beautiful Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. I moved to San Francisco last year and taught as a K-5 Resource Specialist for a year before deciding to make the switch to a full time 2nd grade classroom. Prior to moving to California, I taught for two year in the South Side of Chicago as an elementary Special Education teacher. This was an amazing experience that helped me jump into "real life" teaching with extremely high expectations, difficult situations, and wonderful administration and staff to help me along the way. I want this blog to be honest, resourceful, and simply chronicle the ups and downs of urban education. I love the education field and can't see myself doing anything else. I also have a thirst for health, fitness, nonfiction reading, documentaries, and wasting my day away watching The Office on Netflix. Since I am very new to blogging and sharing in general, I expect to have a learning curve and will see how this experience goes in the next few weeks.