Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Habits 1 - 3 (and a Giveaway!)

Good morning y'all! Today I'm going to give you a bit more information on the first three habits - they are the foundation upon which the habit system rests, so it's very important to work on these first. I know some of you may be interested in lesson plans and/or activities to help teach these habits, and I've already begun drafting those posts, but I want to give an overview of all the habits first before I get into those - I just want to make sure I give y'all enough information on each habit so that you can more easily use and understand the lessons and activities that follow!

Habit 1: Be Proactive (You're in Charge)

I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.
This habit is so, so important for kids, and I saw my third graders become more responsible and self-aware after they learned about what it meant to be proactive. This habit will teach children that their circumstances don't make them who they are, but their choices do. While all the habits are obviously important to model for kids, this is one that might take some practice on your end. An easy way to model this habit is by simply changing your language - no longer can you say "I didn't have time to..." or "I had to...". Instead, you must take ownership of yourself and the situation, and say things like, "I didn't make the time to..." or "I chose to...". When you use this kind of language in your classroom and even in the hallways when you're talking to other teachers, your students will observe you talking the talk and walking the walk, and they'll quickly begin to use this habit effectively thanks to your example. At the beginning of the year when I'm tired and stretched thin, I am going to make a very concerted effort to not make excuses or complain; I will actively work to change my thinking and my language, and I'm positive my attitude will change, too. If I find myself struggling to take charge of myself, I can always remind myself to not be like the people in this video:

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (Have a Plan)
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision. I look for ways to be a good citizen.
Basically, this habit can be summed up in this quote: Failing to plan means you are planning to fail. As teachers, planning ahead is definitely one of the biggest job requirements. While my district requires us to turn in lesson plans every week, it doesn't cause me any added stress because I've already made those plans anyway! I think the majority of people who become teachers are inherent planners, so this habit probably won't be so difficult to model or implement in your classroom. Creating a mission statement aligns very closely with this habit (see last week's post here for more on writing a mission statement), and keeping a planner or calendar that outlines specific deadlines and schedules will ultimately help you become more efficient. It is very important to think through things first before creating anything, and this is why the mission statement was such a big part of our training - everything we plan for should parallel the goals and results we desire and/or need to achieve. 

Habit 3: Put First Things First (Work First, Then Play)
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.
This habit means you must begin to put the things that are actually important first, even before those things that may seem urgent. It is so easy to get distracted by emails, phone calls, TV shows, Pinterest, etc., and while making some time for yourself to relax is definitely okay, you will be more likely to truly enjoy your time to relax if you have already given your attention to the things that really needed it. Of course, there are certain urgent things that will demand immediate attention - getting sick, for example - but for the most part, you should focus your efforts on accomplishing the things that will help you in the long run. Muriel shared this video with us, and it summarizes this habit wonderfully:


I hope this little Cliffs Notes version of the first three habits has been helpful! I know y'all are smart and probably already had a good grasp of what each habit meant, but I am just so excited about this initiative that I can't help but share (as my boyfriend says, I drank the Kool-Aid!). Now, I bet you're wondering about why the title of this post also says giveaway. Heck, you're probably thinking, didn't she hint at a giveaway way back when she hit 100 followers? Yes, I did, but I wanted to wait on purpose because my giveaway parallels so perfectly with habit #2! I'm sure I'm not alone in my love for planners, making lists, color coordination, and organized spaces, so that's why I've decided to give one lucky reader their choice of an Erin Condren teacher planner! I ordered myself one at the beginning of the summer and I can't even tell you how IN LOVE with it I am! 
My planner - I chose the zig zag cover (I blurred out my last name and school name). 
Year at a glance - oh how I LOVE!
STICKERS! Are you kidding?! 
To win a planner of your own, there is only one required entry - you must follow my blog - but there a few other ways to get more entries! I'll pick a winner next Monday, so you have plenty of time to enter! My birthday is on Thursday, so I'm planning to put that as my first thing first and celebrate with my friends at my apartment's pool, but I'll be back soon with a post about habits 4 - 7! Have a great day, friends!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 28, 2012

7 Habits: Mission Statements

Hey there friends! My sweet cousin was here all this week visiting from North Carolina, so my sister and I were busy showing her around Austin (and one day she even helped me work in my classroom!). It was fun getting to act as a tour guide of my city - we went hiking, ate great food, and went to this amazing place called the Cathedral of Junk. Gotta love the folks who truly do Keep Austin Weird!
My cousin Johanna, sister Claire, and me 'deep in the heart of Texas.'
Anyway, I want to share one more thing about the habits with y'all before I begin going deeper into each habit individually. If and when you begin teaching the habits in your classroom, it is important to start with habit #1 and move along from there because the first three habits must be established, well understood, and used effectively before the others can truly be utilized. You see, the first three habits are all about YOU and your PERSONAL victories. You must take responsibility for yourself - your choices, behaviors, feelings, wants, needs, etc. - before you can begin to work with and for others. You must take time to determine your values and beliefs so that you can effectively identify how to take charge of your life (be proactive), what you need to do to accomplish and achieve your goals (begin with the end in mind), and what your priorities should be to ensure you do accomplish and achieve those goals (put first things first). 

One of the most important (and most emotional) parts of our training was when we were given time to write our personal mission statements. We reflected on the things we'd learned, took into consideration the people and principles we valued most, and spent time thinking, writing, and revising our statements. This was by far the most meaningful thing I did during our training - I don't often give myself time to think and reflect on the kinds of things I want for myself and others or what I need to do to ensure those things happen, and once I started thinking about all the people I love and the children that have been and will be my responsibility for a year, the floodgates opened. Writing a mission statement is so much more than just making a list of things you want to accomplish; it's about figuring out the kind of person you want to be. You must consider what you will need to do today, tomorrow, and every day to ensure you become and continue to work on being that person. 

I want to encourage you all to take some time for yourself in the next few days to reflect on the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to live. Begin by thinking of the people around you - your friends, family, coworkers, etc. - and consider what you need to do to maintain and strengthen your relationships with them. Think about yourself, and what you need to do to take care of YOU! I know this all might sound kind of cheesy, but I can't tell you how empowering it was to realize I have the ability to give myself the kind of life I want. I had to be real and honest with myself, and I had to accept the fact that there are some things I need to change and some things I need to work on to make sure I become the person I know I can be. I now know I have the ability to impact myself and the world in a positive way: the training pointed me in that direction, and it's up to me to follow through. 

If you would like to work on creating your own mission statement, Franklin Covey has an online tool to help you organize your thoughts and get started - click here to check it out. I hope y'all will consider taking some time for yourself to think about your own personal mission statement, because it will feel so good if you do! I know many of us are thisclose to starting a new school year, and I personally can't wait to start because I know exactly what kind of year I want to have for both myself and my students, and I know just what I need to do to make sure it happens. While mission statements are very personal, I'd love to hear if you took time to write one or started taking steps towards writing one! 

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, friends! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Habits of Happy Kids: An Introduction

Good morning, friends! Happy Monday! Today I'm meeting with my third grade team to begin mapping out our year, so I wanted to make sure I woke up early enough to get this post written. I am so excited to share with you some of the wonderful things I learned at the Leader in Me training at my school last week. (For those of you who don't know what the Leader in Me is, it's basically teaching Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to children by having the school as a whole learn and practice the habits, but the habits are by no means just for school, they're for using in every aspect of your life). It was a very meaningful and emotional training, made all the more special because Muriel Summers was our leader. She's the woman behind this whole amazing idea:

"In the latter part of 1999, the 7 Habits made another significant entry into schools. During a presentation in Washington, D.C., I was approached by an elementary school principal named Muriel Summers. She wanted to know if I thought the 7 Habits could be taught to young children. I pointed her toward Sean’s book, but she came back with the reply that she was referring to very young children—as young as five years old. I responded, “I don’t know why not,” and then casually added that if she ever tried to do it to let me know how it went." - Stephen Covey (written in the forward of his book, The Leader In Me)
Muriel Summers and me! :)
I say it was emotional, too, because not only were we, the teachers, taking time to examine ourselves and think deeply about the things we value, but as I'm sure most of you know by now, last Sunday, Stephen Covey passed away. Our training began on Tuesday. As we began investigating the habits, we watched videos and heard stories from Muriel about Stephen, and she made it very clear to us that even though his life may have ended, we are part of the reason he will never die - his legacy will live on through us as we work together to teach kids about his and Muriel's powerful vision for them.   

Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself, so next I want to share with you the 7 Habits. Many of you may already know them, but below I have copied the habits (from here) with the kid-friendly definitions that go with them:

Habit 1: Be Proactive (You're in Charge)

I am a responsible person. I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (Have a Plan)
I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision. I look for ways to be a good citizen.

Habit 3: Put First Things First (Work First, Then Play)
I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say no to things I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.

Habit 4: Think Win- Win (Everyone Can Win)
I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want. I make deposits in others’ Emotional Bank Accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Listen Before You Talk)
I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in the eyes when talking.

Habit 6: Synergize (Together Is Better)
I value other people’s strengths and learn from them. I get along well with others, even people who are different than me. I work well in groups. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than anyone of us can alone. I am humble.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw (Balance Feels Best)
I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I find meaningful ways to help others.

At the end of last year, when our school had just decided to go for it and implement the habits on our campus, I decided to read one story a week from the book, 7 Habits of Happy Kids. These stories are written specifically for kids, and my third graders couldn't wait to hear a new story each week. We rounded out our school year together by practicing these habits and using the language - I would overhear my students said things like, "I noticed ______ began with the end in mind because her homework is already turned in and it's not even Friday!" or "I can see that ______ is upset because she is crying - I think you should seek first to understand and just leave her alone because she is sad and doesn't want to talk to you right now."

I was so impressed and proud of my kids - they immediately began taking ownership of themselves and their choices and actions (Habit #1), and it made my teaching so much easier! Because my students all had the same language to use when communicating with each other, not only were there fewer problems, but they resolved many of their issues themselves - it made my teaching so much easier and stress-free!

So, if you're interested in learning more about the habits and seeing if they'd be a good fit for you and your students, I highly recommend you start with reading the children's book. I promise that book will be more helpful for you than getting the adult version - even Muriel suggested we read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens if we wanted to go a bit deeper, because it's basically a Cliff's Notes version of the adult book.

I've got to head out to meet my team, but I'll be back later this week to go a bit deeper into the habits and what I personally experienced during our training. I also think I've finally decided on what to do for my giveaway, and I'll give you a hint: it starts with an Erin and ends in a Condren.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Redesign + New Name!

Good evening everyone! I've been super busy since I returned home from Houston after attending Debbie Diller's conference, and part of what I've been up to is a little makeover for my blog! Although I liked what I had come up with a few months ago, it still wasn't as "me" as I thought it might could be, so I did a little tweaking to my banner, color scheme, and background. I also decided to change my blog name! I am hoping this does not cause a lot of problems for any followers or subscribers; I'm assuming that if you were already following me via Blogger, an RSS feed, or Google Reader that nothing will change, but I wanted to alert those of you who might just bookmark my blog that the domain name is now http://yaythirdgrade.blogspot.com. Part of the reason I changed my blog name is because I'm in the process of redesigning and updating my Etsy site, which is called Yay Paper. I'm hoping by correlating my teaching/blogging endeavors to my Etsy shop it'll push me to create more and put my products out there.

In other news, I am over the moon because I noticed I now have 100 followers! I started this blog a little under a year ago, and it was mostly so I'd have a site to link back to as I blog stalked - never did I imagine I'd become so addicted to being a part of this wonderful teaching community! I am so glad you've found me, and I hope that by following me you've found something useable for yourself and your classroom. I will be hosting a giveaway soon to celebrate this milestone, but I want to take some time to think long and hard about what it will be. As a way to say thank you to you all right now, I've reduced the price of my fonts on my TpT site (which is also now called Yay Third Grade). I love the feedback I've gotten from y'all on what I've created, but since no one has purchased a font yet, I think that may mean the price is too high. I know there are a billion free fonts out there, so I get that paying for a font seems unnecessary, but perhaps someone out there will want to spend $2 so that I can at least say I've made my first sale on TpT! That'd be two milestones in one week!

Thanks for stopping by to check out the change! Tomorrow is my school's final day of the 7 Habits/Leader in Me training, and next week I will share some of the great things I learned and experienced with y'all. I also got lots of great ideas from the Debbie Diller conference, and after I create the things I'll need to implement those ideas, I'll be sure to share those, too! Have a great rest of the week, y'all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

And the Winners Are...

 6 = Keri @ Teach~Play~Smile 

 2 = Stephanie @ Third Grade Thoughts

 8 = Colleen @ Totally Terrific in Texas 

5 = Jennifer K. @ Herding Kats in Kindergarten 

Congrats ladies! Thanks to everyone who entered - you helped make my first giveaway a success! I'm really close to having 100 followers, and as soon as that happens, I'll have another giveaway, so stay tuned!

As for now, I have to pack and get myself on the road to Houston because tomorrow and Friday I'll be attending Debbie Diller's Summer Institute! This is my first training of the summer, and I can't wait to see what all we'll be doing - I'll be sure to share once I get back! If you'll be there, too, let me know, I'd love to meet you!

Happy Wednesday y'all!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Made It

Hey y'all! I'm happy to finally be able to participate in Tara from 4th Grade Frolics' Monday Made It! Last week, when I was reorganizing and cleaning up my Pinterest boards, I made a list of the things I'd like to try and make before the summer is over. Today, I realized two of the things on my list could be made using materials I already had at home, so I got to work!

First, I made this Kiss Your Brain treat jar (source; pin). I used an empty plastic rice container, scrapbook paper, left over glittery stickers from a wedding project made for a friend, and Modge Podge. I love using the phrase "kiss your brain" when a student says something super smart or inquisitive, and now my students can grab a Hershey's Kiss from my jar if I tell them to kiss their brain!
(just imagine there are Hershey Kisses inside!)
For myself, I made a spiced concentrate (source; pin) to add to my chai tea lattes. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I.am.obsessed. with chai tea lattes. Unfortunately, I can't afford to spend $5 at Starbucks every time I crave one, so I've been on a mission to try and recreate the drink at home. This concentrate is made using sweetened condensed milk and a combination of spices, and it definitely mimics whatever it is they add to the chai at Starbucks! I've made sugar syrups (both vanilla and cinnamon and then vanilla and cinnamon combined), and those made my drinks gritty and overly sweet. The sweetened condensed milk is sweet, too, but it's not so sweet that you feel like you're going to get a cavity from drinking your tea! If you're a chai tea latte lover like me, I highly recommend making this to add to your tea (I make the base of my drink from Tazo chai tea concentrate and vanilla soy milk).

If you'd like to link up with something you made or just want to check out what other people have made, click the image below to join the linky!

And, just in case you haven't checked them out yet, I made a few new fonts last week and you can win your favorite if you just visit this post and leave me a comment telling me which one is your favorite (they're also for sale in my TpT store)! There will be four winners, and the giveaway ends tomorrow evening, so don't forget to stop by!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fun New Fonts + July's Currently + A Giveaway!!!!

Hello friends! I've been super busy these past few weeks - my mom was in town visiting for awhile, and then I went up to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to visit a friend and my boyfriend's family. This week, I finally had some time to get creative, and I'm so excited to have a few new things share with you all - I've made four new fonts, and I've just posted them to TpT!

This one is called PlainPrint Bold
 This is called Boxy Print:
 This is my fancy shmancy Calligraphy Print:

And this guy is called Bubbles!
This is my first time to list anything for sale - all of my other products are free, so I'm nervous and terribly excited to see if there will be any purchases! The response to my first font was overwhelming (it's still posted over on dafont.com - over 17,000 downloads as of today!), and I still get so happy when I see my font pop up on people's websites and products. I hope these new fonts will be just as useful and popular as my first one was! 

If you like what you see, head on over to my TpT store to purchase and download! And, if you're interested in getting one of my new fonts for FREE, please leave a comment below telling me which new font you like best! Since there are four new fonts, I'll pick four winners - don't forget to include your email address so I can email you your choice if you win! I'll randomly select the four winners next Tuesday, July 10th, so be sure to leave a comment before then! 

In other news, since I missed June's currently, I wanted to be sure to link up with Farley this month with my July currently. I know I'm a little late, but here's what I've been up to:
For my reads, I picked Holes as the book I love to read aloud to my third graders. I have a few go-to books (Matilda, Because of Winn Dixie, and Charlotte's Web are a few others I read regularly), but I really love Holes because it provides so many great conversation starters. I also appreciate that the main characters are BOYS who are strong both physically AND emotionally.

For my go-to professional book, I immediately thought of the Two Sisters, as their practices and teachings definitely changed the way I approach reading in my classroom. However, next year our school is going to become a 7 Habits Campus, so I've been reading The Leader in Me, and I'm sure that will end up being my new go-to book.

Alrighty, that's all for now! Don't forget to comment if you'd like a chance to win your favorite font! Have a great weekend, y'all!