Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Club Christmas

Friday was the last day of school before heading into our two week Christmas break so my book club ladies (who all teach with me) decided we'd have a little gathering at my place to celebrate the holidays & our friendship before heading our separate ways for vacation! I hosted the gathering because I live only 4 minutes from school which seemed like a convenient place to meet up!

For our gathering I decided to try a recipe for Cranberry Mint Holiday Punch. Three of the ladies in the group are pregnant and I thought this would be a festive and delicious 'mocktail' to serve (I altered the recipe by using a caffeine-free mint tea).  It did not disappoint!

Cranberry Mint Holiday Punch recipe

The green of the mint and lime alongside the red the cranberries makes this so pretty and festive! Some of the other punch recipes I found seemed like they would be far too sweet so I was pleased that the sweetness of this punch can be altered by the amount of seltzer water added to the mix.

Cranberry Mint Holiday Punch recipe

In addition to the preggos, we've got vegan, gluten-free, and Paleo dietary restrictions in the group so finding foods to serve that everyone can eat can sometimes be a challenge! For snacks, I served chocolate caramel pretzel turtles (using gluten-free pretzels) along with dark chocolate-dipped strawberries!

I'm so blessed to have such great colleagues who have also become such great friends! It's nice to have people in my life who 'get' what I do professionally but are also super fun to hang out with! I have no doubt that this little gathering will become an annual tradition we will all look forward to with each passing year! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Graduation Tassel Christmas Ornament

Christmas has arrived in the land of Crafty Teacher Lady! I spent all day Sunday (and the last two nights) decorating for the holidays!! I'm hosting four separate holiday gatherings between now and New Years and so I want to make my home really special and welcoming to my guests!

I went to my favorite local farm stand to by my tree (fourth year in a row)...they sell such nice looking trees and I like to support local when I can. I plan to do a separate post featuring a little 'holiday home tour' but today I'd like to share a really clever ornament idea that's both easy and meaningful...

Graduation Tassel Christmas Ornament Craft Idea

My graduation tassels (from high school and college) have sat in a storage container basically since the day I graduated as I didn't really have much use of them after the ceremonies! By taking an expensive clear plastic ornament (purchased for $1 at WalMart) and adding my tassels, I now have a meaningful way to display and preserve these mementos.

Here's how to do it:
1) Purchase your clear plastic ornament
2) Remove the top metal piece
3) Remove the metal number from the tassel (it won't fit through the opening and into the ornament)
4) Push the bottom of the tassel into the ornament
5) Punch a small hole in the top of the metal piece (I used a leather belt hole punch purchased at a hardware store but you could use a hammer and nail or drill)
6) Thread the tassel string up through the hole
7) Thread the metal numbers with the tassel string
8) Hand on your tree and let the memories of graduation day flood back into your mind!

The tassel from my high school graduation is extra special to me now since I'm back teaching at my Alma mater! I'm going to share the idea with my senior students since I'm sure their tassels will just end up in storage otherwise! This would make a really great graduation gift, too!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Advice on Becoming a Teacher

 A few weeks ago I received the email below from one of my followers on Instagram:

Hi Kelly-Anne,

I am sending you a quick note asking for a little advice on becoming a social studies teacher. 

A little about me: I am a college junior majoring in secondary education with a concentration in social studies/history and I have an overwhelming passion for U.S. History and government! As I begin to think about life after graduation, I have been asking for advice and talking to several educators and administrators, including a few of my high school history teachers. The majority of responses I am getting are making me terrified of becoming a teacher. From the low pay, to new common core standards - I am being very negatively influenced on the profession. One of my favorite teachers has now quit teaching after just four years in the school system and has made me question my college major. I feel overwhelmed because people say teaching is the hardest job and you aren't rewarded and compensated like teachers should be. I understand that I won't become rich being an educator, and I am OK with that :) 

I am hoping you can share your teaching experience with me because you seem to love what you do, and you look so very happy! I admire you and I only hope to be the crafty teacher you are someday. 


It took me a little while to respond as it's sort of a daunting question...what advice can I give those looking to enter the teaching profession? Here was my response:


First, thank you for the lovely compliment at the end of your email...I am, for the most part, very happy in my life and chosen career!  I, too, majored in secondary education with a concentration in social studies (focusing on US History) and was very excited and passionate about my area of studies! I'd like to disagree with what others have said to you about the low pay, low recognition, and high stress, but I can't. Those are all very real downsides to this profession. I'd also like to say that I hadn't seriously considered leaving the teaching profession for some other career choice but I can't say that either because I have, at one point or another, thought about other career paths. 

I've heard and read that over half of all new teachers quit within the first 5 years (so it doesn't surprise me that your favorite teacher quit after only 4 years in) and I, too, personally know friends/colleagues who quit after only a few years. It's an extremely demanding career field where you will work harder than you ever imagined. There will be lots of days where you will work yourself ragged and will be so very patient but still wonder 'am I really making any difference here'? Some teenagers can be ruthless (I use the word 'some' because others are thoughtful, helpful, and kind) and can be very quick to complain.  It's hard to not take that personally but you will eventually realize that it's often times not really about you and really more about them.

I still remember my days as a student teacher where I would spend hours coming up with what I thought were such creative, fun, engaging lessons and activities only to have my bubble burst when some kids would still complain about what we were doing and wouldn't complete their classwork, homework, or any work at all! I almost gave up right then and there because I thought 'what's the point of working this hard if they're just going to complain'? But, luckily my mentor teacher told me he thought I was going to make a really good teacher and that I should stick with it.

Here I am 11 years later and I'm still in the trenches! So, here's the good side...if you can learn to tune out and/or tolerate the bureaucratic nonsense that is public education, the parents who enable their kids to be lazy and entitled, the increasing demands from administration to do more with less time, the aforementioned complainers, and every other person who thinks they can do this job better than you (because obviously having once been a student means one is an expert on teaching), there's a lot to love about this job.

It feels really, really good teach someone something they didn't know before (like really good). It feels really good to show a kid kindness and patience and to see them make progress and reach goals. It feels really good to laugh out loud almost every day (because my kids can be so funny, witty, and clever). It feels good to put in a hard day's work and know that your life is dedicated to serving your community. It feels AMAZING when, every now and then, you get a letter or an email from a former student thanking you for not only teaching them something they are now using in their life but for teaching them to be kind & hard working people, especially when it's from a kid whom you never expected to receive such a note.

I am a more patient, more tolerant, more industrious, more creative, more enthusiastic, and better-educated person because I am a teacher. Until the cons outweigh the pros, a teacher I shall remain!