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Even though the world has gone digital, nothing beats pen and paper! Fun fact: Scientific American reports that students who take handwritten notes learn more than students taking notes on laptops!
Becca Foxwell is not only the 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, she’s the blogger behind foxwellforest.com, an education-based blog chronicling the adventures of teaching in a first grade classroom.
When I started teaching first grade seven years ago, I knew I was beginning a great adventure, but I had no idea of all that would be in store.
Throughout my life I have been blessed to have teachers who invested in me, believed in my best, and helped give my dreams the wings to soar. Teachers who left Forever Fingerprints on my life and now inspire me to leave Forever Fingerprints on the hearts of my students. When it comes down to it, I think that teaching is truly all about changed lives, changing lives. True life change comes through relationships, and I am so blessed that I get to spend my days investing in and making a difference in the lives of my students. They are the best part of my job! They challenge me, inspire me, and daily cause me to be the best teacher that I can be. Each one of my students holds such a special place in my heart and the Forever Fingerprints they leave on my life have changed me as well.
Last December, a new teaching adventure began when I was named the 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. My responsibilities take me all around the state as I have the privilege of speaking to others about the amazing profession of which I am so blessed to be a part! Starting in January 2017 I will be the Pennsylvania representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition and will be traveling around the country for different engagements throughout the year.
My Erin Condren LifePlanner™ has been a lifesaver as I have had to balance my teaching schedule, my traveling schedule for Teacher of the Year events, and my personal schedule. Even though I love technology, when it comes to organizing my life I need to be able to see and physically touch my calendar. When I was named Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year I knew I was going to need an effective tool that would help me streamline everything so that I could still have time to focus on the important relationships and things in life. I love Erin Condren’s mantra “Let’s get it done so we can have some fun!” Time is our most precious commodity. Erin Condren’s planner is a must have tool that I use to manage my time so that I can work smarter and not harder!
While there are many life planner options, the one that I love the best is the vertical planner. It allows me to see all of the 3 main areas of my week at one glance.
- Top Row is for my teaching/school dates–meetings, deadlines, student birthdays, school functions, etc.
- Middle Row is for my personal dates–doctors appointment, date nights with my hubby (a weekly favorite!), hair cuts (yes please! Does anyone else besides me just love getting your hair cut?) church activities, time with friends and family, etc.
- Bottom Row is for my teacher of the year responsibilities–speaking engagements, phone calls, newsletter/blog deadlines, etc.
The awesome thing is that you can make your LifePlanner™ fit your needs! Some ideas on how to use the 3 rows in the vertical planner are:
- Bottom Row: Meals for the Week
- Middle Row: Home Schedule
- Top Row: Work Schedule
- Top Row: Morning Schedule
- Middle Row: Afternoon Schedule
- Bottom Row: Evening Schedule
- Top Row: Work Schedule
- Middle Row: Kids/Sports Schedule
- Bottom Row: Exercise Schedule
Truly the possibilities are endless!
I also LOVE that you can personalize your planner and change the covers of your planners. While I loved my “and so the adventure begins” planner cover last year, this year I decided to put my theme for Teacher of the Year “Leaving Forever Fingerprints” on the cover. I can’t tell you how much I love how it turned out! Isn’t it pretty?!
All of the accessories and options that Erin Condren has to accompany our planners are so beautiful and inspiring!
Thank you Erin Condren for designing such organized and practical, yet beautiful and inspirational planners! I’d be lost without mine! Click here for $10 off your first purchase!
Ah, homework! Back to school means back in the begrudging afternoon homework routine. Some don’t mind it, for others, it can feel like pulling teeth! Never fear, proactive parents, we’ve got a few tips for creating a peaceful place where the focus can be… well… focus! Training our young children to be efficient time managers is a daunting task, but it can certainly start with the homework station. Keeping this space organized (and helping your child maintain it) is the key component to an inviting, peaceful learning environment that they will want to come home to enjoy. Mainstreaming this process and making it a routine they don’t have to think about will make homework less painful, and hopefully lead to an easier after school routine!
First things first, find a spot in your house away from distractions. This means a room or area with no TV, no phones, no devices. If your child has a device, make sure they turn it in to you for the duration of the homework period or have them put it out of reach. If your homework is timed like ours is, then give them a separate timer, like an egg timer or kitchen timer. Do not use one on a digital device or they will be tempted to play games, or worse, ask Siri for the answer!
The Chair! This is important, especially if you have younger school children. Because most chairs at home are suitable for adults, the place where your child will sit each day after school should be fitted to their height. Be sure to have a chair that is the correct height: the child’s feet should be flat on the floor in order to stabilize themselves when they write. There is a direct connection to nice, controlled handwriting and their feet being flat on the floor! Some desk chairs are height adjustable, so be sure to take time to fit your child to the chair every few months.
Supplies! Set this desk up with the same love you’d have to set your own desk. Get a set of colorful supplies to be used exclusively used at this homework station- meaning one glue stick, one nice set of colored pencils, one set of markers, plenty of pencils and erasers, paper clips, stapler, scissors, etc. to avoid breaking concentration in order to go sharpen a broken pencil lead or find a highlighter to mark an important place in the reading. Don’t forget a scratch pad and file folders! Keep everything they might need within reach to avoid having them get up and lose focus. Additionally, sticking to the same time for homework each day will help set the routine. For example, my kids come straight home, have a quick snack and then get right down to homework. Whenever I get a little homework push back, I always pull out my favorite quote, “Let’s get it done so we can have some fun!”
Still need a few supplies for the school year? Shop our entire line of black to school accessories! Best of luck to you this year with all your homework adventures 🙂
One of my favorite projects at my kids’ school is the annual 8th Grade “gift” that is presented to each 3rd grader at our school. It seems like just yesterday that my twin 3rd graders came home BEAMING about their special day with the “big kids.” Now my kids are in 8th grade and I think they may have enjoyed their part even more this time around. I thought it would be fun to post the details in case you want to present this idea to your teacher or principal.
Here’s how it works: Every 3rd grader is given an “All About Me” questionnaire (click here to download). This helps the 8th grader get ideas for a story that relates back to the 3rd grader that he/she will be matched up with. The 8th graders write a story for credit in their Language Arts class and attach photos or drawings that make it more fun to read at the 3rd grade reading level. Our Hermosa Beach Education Foundation donated the funds to have the books bound into a colorful assortment that looked so nice on the tables on presentation day.
The day of the event, I volunteered with a few other moms to bring cookies and juice to the outdoor auditorium at our school. It was a precious gathering of students and it was amazing to see the size difference between all the 3rd and 8th graders together! (Just look at my son’s legs in this photo!)
They found a quiet spot to read the stories aloud to their 3rd grade buddies and I must say, I got a little teary-eyed! It really is such a wonderful memory for all, hope you can make this happen at your school too.