Sunday, July 27, 2014

Teacher Tech

Whilst perusing the paper this morning, (let's be real, I was flipping through to find the crossword) I noticed a big headline on the Indy Star front page about ISTEP. Apparently, ISTEP is changing to include an online portion where kids have to use the computer to highlight text and do more "interactive" work. (It always confuses me when people call internet-based things "interactive" because 9 times out of 10, the computer is not reacting or interacting...the user is just inputting....)

Anyhow--I began to think about how the education world is shifting away from paper, colored pencils, and glue (sad face) and toward iPads, laptops, and technology.

During my freshman year, in a technology class I hated, I was assigned to create an ePortfolio. I never thought I would actually use it, but with the huge shift toward teacher technology, I thought it might be a good idea to keep it around. I did a little editing recently and added some of my more recent lesson plans and classroom materials.

What do you guys think? Is an ePortfolio silly and superfluous, or might it be a useful tool in this changing age of education?

- Ellen

PS, here's the link, in case you're intrigued: Click here!

Friday, July 25, 2014

15 Teacher Fashion Basics

As I inch closer toward full-time student teaching, my wardrobe is becoming more and more teacher-y! (And I don't have a problem with that at all :)) We teachers are lucky because we get to wear adorable clothing and FLATS every day! I'm not all about that business suit/stilettos life.

This post consists of items I have as well as items I wish I had, but everything listed below is something I believe every [female] teacher should have in her closet!

1. Dress pants in at least three colors.
Because who wants to wear a skirt EVERY DAY? I recommend you get some comfortable dress pants that are also cute and versatile. I got some skinny ones from Francesca's because I can't stand the idea of wearing flared pants, do you.
2. Skirts in at least three colors.
This is one I'm working on. I struggle with this because I'm not accustomed to wearing skirts or pairing them with shirts. I just got a cute green one from ModCloth that I can't wait to pair with my white and black polka dot top!
3. A million casual dresses.
These are so easy because you don't have much mixing and matching to do. Just throw on a dress and call it a day. Here are a couple on my wish list.

4. Black, nude, and gray flats.
Flats on flats on flats. So comfy, so versatile. A teacher's foot's best friend.
5. Cardigans.
Gotta cover up those shoulders for school! I personally can't stand white cardigans because they make me feel like a child on Easter, but, to each her own. I have these in classic colors like black and tan, but also mustard yellow and salmon.

6. Scarves out the wazoo!
These can make an outfit go from zero to hero! My favorite scarf is this gray zebra one!

7. Statement necklaces.
For when you don't wanna wear a scarf, but your outfit needs a little zing! I have red and black, but white, pink, and blue are all on my wishlist!
8. Roughly 37,000 button-downs.
If I could afford to buy an Express button-down in every pattern they come in, I would. They are flattering, comfortable, and easy to style.
9. Something with apples on it.
One of the weirder items on my list, I know. But I just feel like teachers should pump up their adorableness as much as possible, so an apple-y item really is a must.

10. Blazers.
Sometimes a blazer works better with an outfit than a cardigan because of its clean, professional look. I own them in tan and black but I would love to add blue and green ones to my collection!

11. A denim shirt.
You can wear these with skirts or pants of any color or pattern!!
12. Dressy, yet comfy boots.
Because winter is a cold, cold time, friends.
13. Something polka-dotted.
See #9. This is just for the cute factor.
14. Stylin' glasses.
Also on my wishlist. If you gotta wear glasses to see the chalkboard, why not do it in style?
Need need need. Because what kind of elementary teacher are you if you don't own a sweater vest for every season of the year? Or, better yet, month. Or, better yet, day. Sweater vests are key. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weeds and Wildflowers

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog! My name is Ellen and I'm a pre-service elementary educator. I am just about to finish up my last semester at Indiana University Bloomington and dive into four months of student teaching!

I started this blog not only for you readers, who may or may not be interested in my crazy antics, advice, and musings, but also for myself. I want to document my journey into teaching so I am able to look back and see how far I've come by the end of all this!

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Now, as for the title Weeds and Wildflowers, here's my explanation. When I was little, a decent-sized patch of white, puffy dandelions sprouted up in our side yard. My mom was dismayed, and worked long hours trying to rid our property of those pesky weeds. I, on the other hand, thought they were a perfectly good and even somewhat beautiful plant. I delighted in blowing the little seeds off, making wishes, and watching them grow into tiny yellow flowers.

In the spring of my junior year at IU, I walked past a similar patch of white puffballs in the yard of a little college house and found myself thinking Wow. That looks terrible! Remembering my childhood pleasure of picking those little dandelions, dreaming up wishes, and playfully blowing them through the air, I felt ashamed for the negative shift in my viewpoint.

Immediately, somehow, the thought connected itself to my perspective on teaching. All teachers (even brand new teachers, or pre-service teachers like me) find themselves exhausted, exasperated, and upset every once in a while. It's easy to grow impatient and wish away your annoyances, your problems, your weeds.

My challenge to myself, and all educators, is to view our weeds as wildflowers. Start seeing the good in the bad. Children are absolutely crazy, and they do things that frustrate us, confuse us, and challenge us. But, above all, they are wondrous, brilliant little people. It's up to us to nurture those wildflowers so they can grow into something beautiful. If we view them as weeds, that's how they'll view themselves. If we view them as flowers, they will bloom and blossom with confidence and grace.

I hope to keep this idea in mind as I begin my teaching career, and, of course, as I progress through the years. I look forward to this amazing journey, and I hope you'll join me by visiting this blog!

- Ellen