Teacher Week Day 4: Work Life Sanity Savers

Paper trails could seriously wipe out our sanity completely. From the back and forth home paper trail to the desk monster hoarder... Having papers all over the place drives us bonkers!
 We know we will always have a hoarder whose desk is the Black Hole. You know the ones-you innocently peek into their desks only to be attacked by 47 papers that are barely being contained. Their pencil box and workbooks are the only things stopping the avalanche. Not a single paper has found it's way into your hands.

We love our system for turning in papers. The Green Box is for "Go" which means go ahead and grade this. The Blue Box is for papers that we've already looked at and graded before being turned in. 
***Hot Tip*** teach your kids to turn in their papers so each paper faces the one before theirs. A huge Type A Trait time waster is having to flip around upside papers as you're trying to grade them.

Another Sanity Saver is we keep a few baskets on our book shelf that is located right as our students walk in our door. Buddy Books is our home reading program where a student is assigned a certain day when they return their Buddy Books and Sharing Pages {click here for info on our Sharing Page program}. This is to prevent us having to switch out books for 20+ students in one day!!! The black tray is for any notes or loose papers that need to be turned in.
Organizing our Math Games into individual plastic shoe boxes has been a life saver! We type up the instructions for each of the games on card stock and include them in the boxes (also great for parent helpers). No more hunting for manipulatives, game pieces, dice, etc. Everything is wrapped up in one, nice and neat package! This also makes it extremely easy for our students to grab a box and go find a friend to play the game with. Clean up is easy when everything is thrown placed orderly back into the box.
 Small cardboard magazine boxes are perfect for storing individual books. We call these our "Book Boxes" (we know...super original!). Here, our kiddos have books that are just the right readers for them. We number the boxes and each student is assigned a number for the entire year that corresponds with their name. 
This way we can also use them year after year!
 Do you have some great sanity savers? We want to here about them! Leave a comment below and Link Up with our friends over at Blog Hoppin'. Here's to saving our sanity, one tip at a time!
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Teacher Week Day 3: Classroom Tour!

Our teaching philosophy is that education should be a positive experience which empowers children to feel successful and have good feelings about themselves and others, while taking responsibility for their own choices and actions.
We chose the colors green and blue several years back for our classroom color scheme and we haven't looked back since! They are such calming colors and they keep our wandering classroom shopping eyes focused. :)
We adore Sit Spots! With unpredictable and ever growing class numbers, they are perfect for us. Plus, no more tripping over the classroom rug (us, not them)!
We like to keep everything at the kids' fingertips. They have all their supplies on their table, books for quiet reading time, a trash bin and water bottles which you can see how we manage {here}.
Our Promethean Board was a welcome addition a few years back. We use it for everything, but one of our favorite times to use it is when we do our Listen Up activities. After working on their papers, they practically beg to listen so they can come up and show what they know on the big screen. It's been a great tool to keep our class focused!
Our classroom catch all...Mailboxes, class rules, Whale of the Week board, announcements, etc.
Best work board...
Our Word Center...
If you've been following our blog for awhile now, you know that our class fish tank is a highlight. It's a community building project at the beginning of the year, becomes one of our writing centers (they write notes to our fish), calms kids down when they need a little breather, and is just an all around one of our favorite spots in our classroom. 
We snagged these handmade jellyfish from near disposal after last year's Book Fair to add to our ocean themed classroom. Score!
Are you ready to show us your classroom? Head over to Blog Hoppin' to link up for Day 3 of Teacher Week!
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Teacher Week Day 2: Make Ahead Meals

Make ahead meals are life savers for us Teacher-Moms. There is nothing worse than coming home from a day where you've been observed by your principal, rocked your math lesson, got your fingers stuck together during your art lesson, took the kids out for a rousing game of kickball and just when you muster up enough energy to drag your exhausted body through the door, you hear the dreaded words..."What's for dinner?"

Having a game plan is half the battle. On Sunday nights, we sit down as a family and brainstorm a few meals that are quick and easy sound delectable and construct a shopping list for the week. Monday night is a stop at the market on the way home from work. Grabbing an already cooked chicken and some veggies for Monday night is our go-to. We also do "No-Cook Fridays" which means the Momma ain't cooking! Pizza or take-out tacos from our favorite Mexican restaurant all make our tummies happy.

Crock Pot recipes are an ideal way for teachers to have a warm meal on the table when they get home. A favorite crock pot recipe of ours is Polynesian Pulled Pork. It's so easy that you can put all the ingredients together in a gallon size Ziploc the night before and then dump it all into the crock pot as you whiz out the door in the morning.

Here's what ya need...

2 lbs boneless pork cutlets
1 small onion chopped
1 minced garlic (1 tsp or to taste)
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple

Sauce: *to be added before serving
3/4 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (or bbq sauce can be substituted)
3 Tbsp brown sugar

Spray crock pot and place pork on the bottom. Cover with onion, garlic, pineapple and juice. Cook on low for 8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, drain liquid from crock and discard. Shred the meat in the crock pot, mix in the sauce, and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes. Serve on hoagie rolls or over brown rice.

The best thing about this meal is that our kiddos devour it=Kid tested, Mother approved! Do you have a delicious, quick and easy recipe that you love? Link on over with our Blog Hoppin' buddies and Let's Get Cookin...

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