Sunday, April 26, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

I love Teacher Appreciation Day! It's May 5th for those of you who just panicked. ;) Usually it turns into a teacher appreciation week full of little celebrations each day. Often, it's pushed back closer to the end of the year too. No matter when it is, it's always nice to feel especially appreciated. 

My students would often give me handwritten notes with little pieces of candy attached. Or a flower from the garden along with a personal drawing. One of my favorites is a picture a student drew for me claiming Ms. Fultz for President of the United States. How precious! The heartfelt gifts, no matter how small they might seem, are always the best. Another no-cost idea is arranging parent volunteers to cover lunch or recess duty one day so the teachers can spend time together duty-free. That is golden, friends!

But if you are looking to pick up a small gift for the teacher in your life this year, here are a few of my favorite ideas. They make great gifts for coworkers, assistants, or student teachers at the end of the year too. 

Teacher Appreciation Idea #1: Classroom Items
Teachers spend thousands of their own dollars every year to make sure their students have the tools and supplies needed to learn. By the end of the year, there is often not a pencil to be found. Sending in a few basic supplies is so appreciated! What isn't used this year can help the teacher get a jump on next year. Pencils, crayons, glue, ziploc baggies, paper, scissors, etc. are all basic staples that you can't go wrong sending. You can go in as a class and collect a few dollars per student and do something like this too. 

Colorful pens, sticky notes, fun paper clips, or even a nice stapler for the teacher to use personally would also be a great idea. How about donating a few books to the classroom library? 

Teacher Appreciation Idea #2: Something Personal
When a family sends something truly personal to me, it totally melts my heart. Our classrooms turn into families during the year as we get to know each other. One of my favorite teacher gifts from my entire career was something I received my first or second year teaching because it was so specific to me. One of my sweet boys gave me a set of dog bowls (that I still use today) along with a matching toy. It was such a thoughtful, personal gift! Another student gave me a beach towel the year before our destination beach wedding, a great gift that show how well we know each other. 

Last year, a student sewed a pillow for my rocking chair out of purple chevron, that could not have been more ME! Think about what your teacher is into-- what's her favorite color? Does she have a classroom theme? What's his favorite snack? 

Teacher Appreciation Idea #3: Me Time!
A gift that gives the teacher a little me time is always appreciated too. A small gift card to the local coffee shop or a local place to eat is a fun way to treat your teacher. One of the teachers down the hall received a gift card to the local spa. What teacher couldn't use that at the end of the year?! ;) An inexpensive alternative would be a bottle of lacquer or my favorite Jamberry wraps. You can grab my printable template here for free. Be sure to print full size.

Teacher Appreciation Idea #4: What about the guys?
Guys can be more difficult. The go-to lotion and candles just don't have the same appeal, plus one teacher can only use so many mugs. Instead, what about items for a summer cookout? A barbecue sauce and fun apron or mitt would be thinking outside the box.  

Is your teacher techy? How about a gift card to Amazon, iTunes, or the Redbox?

No matter what you decide, it truly is the thought that counts! Still looking for more ideas? Check out these Pinterest boards. 

Teacher Ideas:
Follow Christi Fultz's board Gifts for Teachers on Pinterest.
I've been collecting some year-round DIY ideas here, plus a few other fun items just because:
Follow Christi Fultz's board Gift Ideas on Pinterest.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Establish healthy habits for bringing work home and decompressing

Healthy work habits is a topic near and dear to my heart. When Angela Watson asked me to read her new book, Unshakeable, and write about one of the chapters, Establishing Healthy Habits for Brining Work Home and Decompressing was a no-brainer.

When it comes to your work habits, it's often hard to "win" no matter what you do. It seems you get the side-eye whether you're the first to leave after the dismissal bell or the last car in the parking lot each night. You either care too much or not enough, judged by the size of your "teacher bag" each evening. You know... the one you often take home full of papers to grade and then back to school the next morning without touching anything inside. Let's face it, some nights mine didn't even make it out of the car. Other nights that same teacher bag felt like a ball and chain, and I'd sit for hours with a pen glued in my hand grading papers, begging my husband to help with the math fact sheets. So.much.stress.

But as I went along in my career, I realized it was all about balance. As a new teacher, I lived at school. I was one of the first ones in the building each morning, spent evenings at school planning, and still took papers home to grade each night. I remember locking myself in a bedroom at my grandmother's house one Thanksgiving, grading animal essays before dinner. No fun.

Fortunately, with a little experience and limit-setting, that didn't last long. Whether you're a new teacher or a veteran, it's all about the balance and you DESERVE time to decompress. I personally found that I resented the paper pushing less when I could do it from home. This meant I left school shortly after my students with a slightly full teacher bag. I was able to enjoy time with my family and then work on "school stuff" in my pajamas while catching up on the DVR or listening to music. This was SO much better for me than sitting at my desk under fluorescent lights at school. I also had fewer distractions and interruptions. And when it was time to put it away, I put it away. Your job as a teacher is never finished and there is always something you can do. It's okay to leave some of it for tomorrow. 

Another way I managed to keep a better work-life balance and decompress was making the most out of my commute, something Angela also recommends. I can be really good at beating myself up. I'll replay moments in my head over and over and am a pro at the should/woulda/coulda game. I wrote "Artic" instead of "Arctic" on my whiteboard during a guided reading lesson while I was being evaluated. Seriously?! I'm a great speller, what was I thinking? Then I have to remind myself that I am human, I make mistakes, and my teacher brain was just running faster than my teacher hand. Plus, my students ignored my mistake and all spelled it correctly on their poster for the win! Was this worth stewing over? Absolutely not. I taught myself to do my mental work in the car so I didn't have to rehash it with my husband when I got home. Little things like that can make a big difference!

For more advice on bringing a better balance to your life and gaining more satisfaction from teaching, I highly recommend Angela's new book, Unshakeable. It's packed with 20 easy-to-read chapters that will help you get more joy out of teaching. 

You can follow along with us and download a printable poster of the 20 ways over on Angela's website, The Cornerstone. Here's a link to grab your own copy!

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Tutorial: How To Dress Up Your TpT Store!

Hey, fellow TeachersPayTeachers friends! I have a quick tutorial for you today that will show you how to dress up your store. Check this out:
Blogger Tutorial: How To Dress Up Your TeachersPayTeachers Store

Can you spot the difference? This was my before:

In the new version, instead of a text quote and a link to my digital paper section I've highlighted this area with a picture and it still links to my digital papers. This is a great way to feature a section of your store, your newsletter list, Facebook page, or blog. The best part? It's really easy!
Blogger Tutorial: How To Dress Up Your TeachersPayTeachers Store

How To:
1. Use your picture editing program of choice (most will probably use PowerPoint) to design your picture. Make sure the proportions are 3 inches wide by 1 inch tall. The actual picture size I used in PhotoShop was 1.5 wide by .5 tall, but PowerPoint wouldn't let me pick those dimensions so I doubled the size to keep the ratio. Then I reduced the size before uploading. This would be the same as 450 pixels by 150 pixels. PicMonkey is also a good choice, so is Luna

2. Save your picture. For best results, use the same gray background as TpT (gray #f1f1f1) or make your image transparent (clear background). This will prevent you from having a white background/box around your pretty new graphic. 

3. Upload your graphic to the internet. Keep the file name short to stay under 120 characters total. Most people will use Photobucket, but you can also save the image to your blog, domain, etc. You just need the URL of your image stored somewhere on the internet. If you need to use a URL shortener, use won't work for this.
This is the link you want if you're using PhotoBucket

4. Copy the link where you want the quote section to go. In my case, it leads to the digital paper section of my store. 

5. Shorten the link using a tinyurl or This will help keep you under the 120 character limit. 

6. Copy/paste this code with YOUR information. You'll need to put your information in where it has capital letters.
<a href="LINK"><img src="PICTURE"></a>

7. Now head over to your TeachersPayTeachers account and edit your profile. You will need to past your code into the "quote" section. Once you click save, you'll see the preview if you did it correctly.
Blogger Tutorial: How To Dress Up Your TeachersPayTeachers Store

8. If you get an error, double check your links and be sure you've carefully completed the code. Leaving anything out or making a typo will break the code, so you'll have to start over.

9. Admire your hard work!

I made a video tutorial so you can get an idea of how it works too. 

If you run into trouble with the code, I'm happy to take a look at your code and see if I can spot your problem. 

If you need me to make your graphic, upload it, and write the code for you I can do that over at my blog design site Design by Christi for $15. But I know you can do it! =) 
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