Tag Archives: Texas Middle School Connection

Same URL with a slightly different name

When I started Texas Middle School Connection, I envisioned a blog where middle school teachers would come together and share ideas. I still hope to find and support that collaboration, but being as my specialty is Special Education I want the name of the blog to reflect that content for those who are looking for it. I decided to change the name of this blog from Texas Middle School Connection to Texas Special Education Connection. And now that the school year is starting to stabilize slightly, I hope to be able to resume posting on a more regular basis.


Don’t forget to document your phone conversations!

Phone Log Documentation

As a Special Education teacher, I know how important it is to document everything, but I will be the first to admit that when things get crazy I don’t always do the best job of logging my phone conversations. Sometimes a parent calls when I’m not right by my desk, or when I’m rushing out the door to pick up my own kids from school. I scribble some notes on the first piece of paper or Post-it note I can find, and drop it in my file. This year I vowed to have a more systematic way of logging phone conversations, and making sure that I was following up with parents. Sometimes there are things I need to do on my end before I follow up with parents, so I create this phone log with that in mind. I plan to make a binder that I can keep near my desk or take with me to log conversations as they happen. Worst case scenario, if I have to grab a scratch piece of paper, at least I will have a central location to transfer the information to once I am able to do so. With only one call per page, it will be easy to copy if needed for inclusion in a student’s file or evidence of communication should any disputes arise.

Nominated for TWO Liebster Awards!

I want to thank Mandi at Life with Middle Schoolers and Danielle at Oh, My Science Teacher! for both nominating me for a Liebster Award! I feel like I must be doing something right. This award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It helps other bloggers get to know us “newbies” and helps circulate great new blogs for all to read!

There are a few rules/guidelines:

  1. You have to link back to the blog(s) that nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions posted by the person that nominated you.*
  3. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 more blogs that have less than 200 followers.
  5. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answers.

11 Questions…Answered

*Since I was nominated by two different bloggers, I’m going to pick a selection of 11 questions from each of their blogs! It takes a long time to answer these questions!

1. What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love to sit outside at Starbucks with a Pumpkin Spice latte, people watching and enjoying the crisp fall air.

2. What’s your favorite part of starting the school year?

I love meeting my students and meeting the teachers that I will be working with. There is so much positive energy at the beginning of the year. I wish I could bottle it up and save it for February!

3. What’s the worst thing about starting the school year?

Getting up early and getting everybody back into a our school routine.

4. What advice would you give to teachers for starting the new school year?

Take the time to organize yourself now because three weeks from now, you won’t have time! Putting in the extra work to plan and prepare seems tedious, but the payoff is huge. Many new teachers skip the planning part because they think that they have it “all in their head”. You don’t. You are a better teacher when you plan.

5. What is your favorite professional book?

I am constantly referring to my book “Behavior Management” by John Maag.

6. Where did you study and what was your degree in?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I also have a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, plus I’m just 3 credits away from another Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Art Education.

7. How many years’ experience do you have?

I will be starting my 4th year of teaching. I also spent also spent 3 year working as a para-educator which was trial by fire and a great learning experience. I have a lot of respect for paras.

8. What is your opinion on the Common Core?

I have lived and taught in two of the five states (Nebraska and Texas) that don’t use Common Core, so I’m not as familiar with it as I probably should be. I am anxious to learn more about it.

9. Give me a book recommendation and tell us why.

The best book I read this summer was “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer. I love books that turn familiar stories on their head, and make you look at it from a different perspective. This book is part of the Lunar Chronicles. I also love series because I when I finish one book, I can move on to the next one!

10. Coffee VS tea?

Coffee, for sure! My Verismo machine will definitely be accompanying me to school this year.

11. Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

The glass is always half-full. There is no point in going through life any other way!

11 Random Facts

  1. I start every morning with a cup of coffee.
  2. I drive a stick shift.
  3. My first major in college was Biology.
  4. I recently moved to from Nebraska to Texas.
  5. I have at least five machines/methods for making coffee in my house.
  6. I have travelled across country with two small children in the car and made it home alive.
  7. I hate high-heels.
  8. I hoard fabric.
  9. My husband is from Brazil.
  10. I have a basic proficiency in Portuguese.
  11. My favorite station on Songza is “Sunshine Indie Pop”!

Bloggers you should follow

  1. Surviving and Thriving: Teaching Middle School Social Studies
  2. Middle School Stories
  3. Middle School Teacher to Literacy Coach

11 Questions…Asked

  1. What made you decide to start a blog?
  2. What made you go into teaching?
  3. How many years have your been teaching?
  4. What do you teach?
  5. What would you do if you weren’t a teacher?
  6. Have you ever been to another country?
  7. Do you speak any other languages?
  8. What advice do you have for new teachers?
  9. What is your favorite lesson?
  10. What is your favorite app or technology for the classroom?
  11. What was the best thing you did this summer?

Beginning of the year: Teacher Binders

Teacher BinderThere is nothing like hitting the ground running, only to realize that the group left an hour ago. That’s why getting organized right from the start is so important. There are so many ways to organize your stuff. Most of my masters are on my USB drive, which has made it easy to move from one place to another. I also keep a school binder, so that I have all of my important information for the year in one place. Last year, our school actually gave every teacher a school binder which I thought was brilliant, but you can easier make your own. There are lots of great tutorials and resources online from which to choose. I also usually have separate binders for my student data (because I teach Special Education, and I have a lot of it!), and my behavior monitoring/goal-sheet data. I have also found binders useful for keeping blackline masters handy and easily accessible.

There are some great resources out there on TpT for teacher binders and classroom organizers aimed specifically at middle school/high school teachers. I’ve listed some of my my favorite below. You can also find a great example of how to organize your binder by clicking in the image above from Beyond the Grades.

1.  I found this classroom organizer from The SuperHERO Teacher on TpT. It is fully editable in PowerPoint, and contains over 70 pages to get your year started right. I choose the black/white one because printing in color can be really expensive, but she has other cute color combo’s if you want!

Back to School Binder SuperHero Teacher

2. This editable Sub Binder is also from The SuperHERO Teacher. No one plans to be gone in the first couple weeks, so this can get overlooked. It’s better to be prepared, than to have to scramble to through things together if you have an emergency come up.

Back to School Sub Binder SuperHero Teacher

3. Finally, there is this fantastic Back-to-School Binder from Presto Plans. It has 90 pages of organizational goodness, and it comes both blue/grey chevron and black/pink zebra print!

Middle School Teacher Binder

Do you have an awesome way to organize all of your things at the beginning of the year? Share out in the comments! Also, be sure to follow my blog and like me on Facebook and Pinterest. Thanks!

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