Bye Bye Boring Hair!

The other day a coworker who I have worked with for about 8 months  asked my what my hair was like when I interviewed at my current position. See I interviewed in November and didn’t start till January because it was a cross country move, so she did not see my during my interview, when I explained that I had straight hair over my locs, and then proceeded to explain the whole crochet braids process because she had no idea how that was possible, she went . . .

” I cannot picture you with straight hair AT ALL!”

And in that moment I knew one thing. . . my hair had gotten BORING!

Before I moved here I had a new hairstyle every month or so, even when I locked my hair I would install twists and crochet braids I Would get bored and change it up regularly. After I moved here I stopped, now I don’t know if that was because I was just more content with my hair style, or because I live in a REALLY small town now and don’t feel the need to impress anyone, or because of the same small town that I don’t want to have to go through the process of explaining my hair changes to people, or maybe because I would now have to order my hair online. . .

Well anyway I don’t know the reason but for the past 8 months, my hair has been pretty much the same, I had loc extensions and then I took them out but either way my hair was locked, and it just looked like I cut my hair. Nothing crazy there. When she said that it was like I snapped to attention, wait, why am I not changing my hair more often?

So I did.

I bought FreeTress 3x from Amazon, I bought two packs just to be safe and I ended up using about 1 and 1/3 pack if that.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 3.36.50 PM.png

Now my locs are quite thick now and that was the only problem I have found so far with this install is that the top does not look as natural as it has in the past. the braid is just too bulky to blend in well. Now I think the solution next time will just be to do smaller braids, I only did 5 braids this time, since that is what I would do with my unlocked hair and be fine. Learning the difference in unlocked and locked hair I think I will need to split my top two braids into 4 next time. And I am working on reducing some of the bulkiness around the top but my fear of thinning my own hair is making it so I only do a little at a time!

But over all I am happy with the results and plan to keep them in for a couple of weeks at least, and the coworker ran up to me saying how much they loved it. So there it is, I still got it, the hair envy queen can still change my hair up at my own whim!

All pictures taken in my classroom in front of my lovely filing cabinet.

-Rae

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In the third year of marriage

In the first year of marriage my marriage gave to me sweet good morning kisses, and someone to share in HGTV

In the second year of marriage my marriage gave to me comfort, stability, sweet good morning kisses and someone to share in HGTV

In the third year of marriage my marriage gave to me, really hairy legs, ugly underwear, comfort, stability, sweet good morning kisses and someone to share in HGTV

Here I am in the third year of marriage, marriage is still a place I fee like I entered yesterday, I can still feel the butterflies of walking down the aisle, and the warmth of the sun on our honeymoon. I look back and can’t believe enough time has passed from that day to be over 2 years away from it.

But then I look at the way things are now and I realize that a lot has changed over the past two years and some change. This weekend we discovered I was deeply in need of some new underwear, all my mine were getting holes in them or didn’t fit right anymore or were a style I wouldn’t wear everyday .. . not teacher underwear if you will. So when we stopped at the store I went straight to the underwear section,  I looked through all the “cute” read expensive underwear and then went over to the underwear I would have groaned at 3 years ago, the kind that comes 6 to a box, the plain colors, ugly read cheap underwear. I grabbed a box of those and went right back to my husband. He said, do you want one pair of the cute underwear, when I said no he was not upset and went right about his shopping.

Now a few other things have changed over the past two years, I no longer worry about having perfectly shaved legs around him, I also fart and discuss my stomach aches, underarm smells and sores, and essentially just tell him what is on my mind.  So all this to say you could say we are out of the “honeymoon” stage. . .if you must say that. But my marriage is full of laughter, love and I wouldn’t say that the relations department is any worse than in year one. . . I would say it is better because I am willing to just tell him whats on my mind.

Now I still get the sweet good morning kisses, now they may just be filled with morning breath as well, I still have someone to share in HGTV, and now he even understands what I mean when I whisper “Johanna would be proud” when we entered someones house, I get to forget about the annoyance of shaving my legs until I feel like it, and I get to spend way less on underwear. The best part is in my ugly underwear, with my hairy legs an stinky breath, while I am watching my 16th episode of Fixer Upper he still tells me that I am the most beautiful girl in the world.

-Rae

 

 

 

What’s the big deal with the Circut?

So I have seen them around, at Micheal’s, Hobby Lobby, Amazon. Pretty much any craft store ever. Mr. H at one point was even receiving a commission from his job to sell more of them. But up until this year I never really thought twice about them, or really understood what they were. I thought they were just a fancy laminating machine, and my 20 dollar laminator from Amazon does just fine, so I thought, why would I need that?

But then I wanted to make words to put on my new classroom door, and I started researching the best ways to do it and I came across a million Circut articles, videos, blogs so I started looking into it and thought. 400 dollars, yeah no thank you!

And then a magical thing happened I was looking in my school store room for something and looked up to the back corner where no one ever goes . .. and there it was, a Circut expression 2 waiting for me! So I took it down to the secretary and asked about it. Her response was

“Oh yeah someone donated that and I don’t know how to use it, take it home and figure it out if you want.”

So that’s how I ended up with a borrowed Ciruct to play with and see, what’s the big deal with them anyway?

Now let me just tell you the first night after I got my mat and vinyl in the mail, there were mistakes, angry faces, cussing and eventually giving up after completely ruining one piece of vinyl and thinking to myself. This thing is not worth the trouble. I could just cut it out my damn self.

But after a good nights sleep, round two went much better than round one and we came out with some beautiful words to adorn the front of my classroom as the students enter.

Be Kind
Work Hard

 

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Because they are simple enough high school students can’t make too much fun of them and they still hold meaning for all my K-12 students.

Will this experience lead me to invest 300 dollars in my very own Circut. . . I think not.
At least not as long as I have one from the school to use!

 

 

How Do I do this again? The Scheduling Nightmare that is Sped Life!

I did this last year, right?

I made a schedule for myself, the students, paras, it had inclusion time, academic service minutes, and everything else you could ever need. .. like you know lunch breaks. On it right?

How did I do it again? How did I make a schedule that fit all the grades schedules, so I am not pulling from any non-negotiable times so that students still feel like a part of their class? But are also getting the academic and speech, and behavior, and OT times they need in order to be successful? Did I give my para’s meaningful work to do not just busy work right?

How? How did I do this? Did it really get done or did a magical scheduling fairy appear and do it for me and then wiped my memory clean so I felt like I did it myself?

I would take a magical scheduling fairy right about now because I am on draft four of my schedule for the year and I just feel like crying! How in the world is it all going to get done in the time allotted? How?

Other people in the sped world, do your in-service days get destroyed by the beast that is scheduling as well?

How do you do it? What makes your schedule run well? Or do we all wipe our memories clean after this every Spring so that we are crazy enough to do it again every Fall?

If you have a formula that works and doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out or your eyes go crossed from staring at your spreadsheet all day. .. PLEASE let me know!!!

-Rae

Sometimes I think my hair doesn’t grow. . .

Ever since I cut off all my hair and have anxiously been watching it as it grows back. I found the habit of length checks I first found them on Just Grow Already (http://justgrowalready.com/) when I wasn’t sure if I was transitioning or just stretching out my relaxers. The periodic picture check of visible growth helped with the million of other days when my hair felt like it was standing still, or worse the days when it felt like it was creeping back into my head.  So randomly I would stand pull my hair over my shoulders and compare the length of my hair to my tattoo on my back!

Looking something like this. . .

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Then I decided to loc my hair and it really felt like it was creeping back into my head, let me tell you the shrinkage in those first few months of locked life is real! And for the last year and a half I have pretty much felt like I am trying to make up for lost ground, work back to where my hair was before. But then today on my time hop it showed me a picture of my hair in a snapchat selfie exactly a year ago, and I instantly remembered why I loved those length checks! They show you that it is worth it, patience the frustration and all the retwisting was worth it because look . . . IMG_3607.JPG

My hair it grew!

So be patient,  take pictures, keep retwisting, learning the ways that your hair works best, keep it up because it is all worth it!

-Rae

Why do we idealize the “dramatic” relationships?

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I am currently rewatching two of my favorite shows; Friends and One Tree Hill. I have seen them both all the way through at least once and love them both, but this time while watching them I have noticed a similarity I did not see before. . . both of the ‘Great’ love stories are SO dramatic.

Take Ross and Rachel to start with, the first 4 seasons or so it is all build up will they be together or won’t they. There was the meeting Ross at the plane, and the “I’m over you” phone call

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Then there is the short period of time where they were SO happy and you just cheered to yourself every episode because all was finally right in the Friends world.

And of course then comes the “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” saga, that would carry us through for many more episodes . . . seasons even!

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Fast forward a few years, they have a daughter and they STILL don’t get together. It takes them so many years to finally get it together that by season 10 they are still figuring it out.

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Then there is Lucas and Peyton from One Tree HIll. They go through a similar on and off again saga for the first 7 1/2 seasons of One Tree Hill. So much that when they finally do get married (at least we get to see that wedding) Lucas has been engaged and said “I Do” to someone else, all while writing a love story to Peyton. They have not been together more than they have been together throughout the seasons. And during their wedding, Haley even starts out with this

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Both of these relationships are so full of drama that not even the characters can figure out if they are going to be together until it is almost too late. And yet we LOVE them we claim them as #couplegoals we all go around trying to find the Ross to our Rachel.

Why is that?

Why do we crave drama, does that equal passion in our mind? The fact that they can never make up their minds or stay together for more than a season really makes us think they are made to be together? How in the world do we think they are going to have a healthy marriage when they have been running at the first sign of trouble for the last 10 years?

I believe this just sets us up for failure. We are so busy waiting for that “passion” that when we find our Monica and Chandler, or our Nathan and Haley we think it is boring and move on looking to fill that dramatic void TV has set us up to believe should be the leading characters in our lives.

Well, today is my 2nd wedding anniversary, and let me tell you that there was none of the Ross and Rachel drama involved in our courtship. Once we decided we wanted to be together, we were together. And then we worked our asses off to make sure that we stayed together, there were no breaks, no scandals no drama. Not to say we didn’t have our fair share of fights because let’s just get real EVERYONE FIGHTS. But fighting doesn’t equal passion and drama doesn’t equal love and we worked to stay together and happy through the fights and walked ourselves right through dating, engagement, and marriage just fine.

I took one of those stupid online quizzes the other day “What TV couple are you and your SO?” and guess what it came back as ROSS AND RACHEL! I sat there all. . . okay, I will give you the “He’s her lobster” version of Ross and Rachel, but don’t give me any of that “WE WERE ON A BREAK! ” Ross and Rachel. I want to be Nathan and Haley. I want to fall in love at 16 get married and work like HELL to get through the hard times. To grow together

I want to be  Monica and Chandler, or Nathan and Haley. I want to fall in love at 16 get married and work like HELL to get through the hard times. To grow together, to grow up together. To fight, hate each other at times but always fight for the love you want.

To make a choice and stick with it! Because in the end that is what love is, it is a choice every day to fight to push the other people to be their best self to be your best self for them.  To live your best life together!

 To live your best life together!

So why doesn’t TV show us those leading couples, why is there always the DRAMA, because then we are left looking for what we think passion is. But when it comes down to time to fight for what we want., to make a choice and stick with it. When we are forced to examine life together, we turn to, let’s take a break. Instead of let’s work this out. We think that if it is meant to be after 10 season and endless other relationships and marriages (If you are Ross) you will find your way back to each other. But that is not what love is, love isn’t finding your way back together, love is choosing to stay together. To fight for each other every day!

“I don’t believe in soulmates, and I don’t think that you & I were destined to end up together. What I do believe is that we fell in love & that we work hard for our relationship.”- Monica Geller

So forget Ross and Rachel and Lucas and Peyton. I want to make my choice, the same choice every day.

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Here is a picture of my husband and I celebrating our 2nd anniversary in San Fransisco this weekend. Yep, I got him these cheesy socks because we do traditional anniversary gifts and year two is cotton.

-Rae

 

DIY Pinterest Teacher!

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I have always wanted to be a Pinterest teacher, the teacher that has the perfect room that somehow stays clean after 30 students live in it day in and day out. But it turns out that 30 students or 16 students with special needs in my case can make it pretty easy to turn into an Amazon prime teacher; even easier with that two-day shipping! Like what is this magic?

But this summer I came across this stool at a yard sale for 2 dollars

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I couldn’t resist the idea of a DIY teacher stool project.

So I turned to trusty Pinterest and began looking at people who are actual Pinterest teachers and set to work copying their wonderful work.

The post I found most helpful and the stool I decided to try and recreate came from One Artsy Mama, and you can find that original post with all the supplies and goodies you will need here (.http://www.oneartsymama.com/2016/08/thrift-store-challenge-babanees-inspired-painted-stool.html?crlt.pid=camp.8BUAsF5KNkB4)

I set to work cleaning and lightly sanding the stool before applying my first coat of paint to the bottom half of the stool. I used Folk Art Gold paint and let me tell you, the first coat was ROUGH! I considered starting over with a new color. But after the second coat, it was looking much better, and I set into starting on the top half of the stool.

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After I finished painting and letting it dry I knew I wanted something written on the top along with my name.

I have a shirt with the saying

Be like a pineapple
Stand Tall
Wear a crown
And be sweet on the inside!

I decided that this cute saying also carried an important meaning for my students about self-confidence and so that is what I wrote on the top.

I used the transfer method found here, (http://angelamariemade.com/2016/11/how-to-easily-transfer-a-design-onto-wood/)

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I LOVE the way that the finished product turned out. It is ready to enter the classroom in a few weeks!

And at least for this week, I am finally a Pinterest teacher, take that my Amazon prime addiction!

-Rae ❤

Must Have: Read, Reread, Write Strategy for Older Students! **Freebie**

If you are like me you are always looking for easy independent work for my struggling students, to reenforce strategies we work on in reading group. I have spent hours searching the internet for a reading comprehension packet that was both appropriately scaffolded; but also contained grade level content for my students that need work on their reading comprehension. Every time I could find reading fluency packets, or reading comprehension packets that were way too hard. Or I was stuck with packets that were appropriate but had content for younger students. So after attempting to piece together other peoples comprehension strategies and finding things that actually worked at different grade levels.
 I decided to make one myself.
Enter, Read, Highlight, Reread, Write!
During guided reading groups I use re-reading and color coded highlighting for my reading comprehension groups all the time.  I have found that this ensures the students are reading the text multiple times and also helps their brain locate and remember the important details to include in a written response question.
Many of my students that struggle with reading comprehension are able to immediately recall details and facts about what they have read but are unable to locate it to use in a written response answer. They have not been explicitly taught memory strategies to help them locate and recall important details after a delay.
For many students, explicit instruction is key for improving skills and independence.
These packets are placed in my student’s independent work stations so that they can practice these skills outside of guided reading group instruction. I have used guided reading time in order to teach and enforce the reading, highlighting, rereading strategy so that students are familiar with the strategy prior to independent work time.  These packets include both fiction and nonfiction texts and help build scaffolded study skills and reading comprehension strategies for students while utilizing grade level content.
As students become more familiar with the strategy I may include texts at their instructional level and request that they use a written response question to identify the key points to be highlighted. Effectively increasing their independence and working towards removing the scaffolds I have in place.
Because once they are independent they can use this strategy for ANY text they are given in order to identify and recall key details.
Here is a preview of the second-grade packet, I hope this strategy proves as valuable for your students as it has for mine!
            
This NO PREP preview will be available for FREE on my TPT store, you can find that here, www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/my-spedtacular-special-heart , so that everyone can try this strategy out, then full reading comprehension packet will be available soon, organized by grade level for easy use!
-Love Mrs. H

Dear Hair. . . Just Curl Already

Now that’s something I never thought I would say!

 

Growing up my hair was always a source of frustration, whether it was that it wouldn’t lay flat like my friends or that I couldn’t wear my hair down whenever I wanted to. As I grew up my hair became more of a hobby, I would cut it, color it, straighten it, curl it, whatever my heart desired at that moment. And it became pretty damaged as a result.

 

So a little over 4 years now I cut it all off and started again. I had just started looking into natural hairstyles for black women and I wanted to be able to wear all of them so I did a big chop. Then again over the next 3 years my hair became my hobby but in a new fashion. I wore twists, faux locks, braids, I wore wash and go’s, braid outs, puffs, crochet braids anything I could think of and I loved it. I also loved writing about it sharing the different styles whether I loved them or hated them, how long they lasted and the trials of perfecting each one.

But then something happened, in November of 2015 I put in a set of faux locs. . . and fell in love! I left them in far longer than any style I had previously had and when it was time to take them out I went for the real thing.

I locked my hair!

So a year and a half later I love my locs! They are maturing and wonderful. But I could not for the life of me get them to curl!

Starting a couple weeks ago I tried Bantu knots… .nothing.

Then came a twist out. . . after a week in twists my locs barely resembled a curl.

So then came loc knots… I knotted my locs up and rocked a head scarf and short hair for a week, pictured here. IMG_3436.JPG

And waited. . . could I get my locs to curl?

I had seen it done on my countless youtube searches, I knew that locs could curl. But the problem was that mine were always thicker than the ones pictured by the beauties on youtube.

See I only have about 60 locs, compared with people who have hundreds, I have way more hair per loc to force into a curl if I want that to work!

So I waited. . . and took countless snapchat selfies with my cute head wraps. IMG_3424.JPG

Then after 5 days, I decided it was time to take them down, I was going out that night and let’s see if I would have popping curls or if they would fall short again.

Well, here it goes. . .

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Popping curls if I do say so myself!

So I guess patience and finding the right way to work with the hair I have will always be something I am working on when it comes to the hair on my head.

If you have any tips for curling and keeping curls in thick locs I am all ears over here!

I am going to try and post more hair updates here again, just because my hair is locked doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

-Kelsi Rae

 

All the things I didn’t know teaching was. . .

 

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When you decide, hey I am going to become a teacher, you think of the little smiling faces, the children, you think of reading lessons, you think of addition and subtraction, you think of hugs and bubbles in the hallway, and watching little people grow up into bigger people

In my case I even thought of the terrible behavior, the hitting, spitting, cussing, and crying. I thought of the ways I would have to teach them things that most students learn inherently, they ways to speak to each other. The ways to treat people with kindness and communicate your wants and needs. All the ways I would help the world see my students for the wonderful people they are. I thought of all the things that I would teach my children and the things they would teach me. I did a residency year so I had been in the district for over a year already so I think I was more prepared than other new teachers but I still walked into that first year as a teacher only to be blown away by the things I did not expect. . .

  1. The politics, the teachers union, the disagreements with the district, the school board, the superintendent and the instructional superintendent’s.. . all the politics Teacher-meme-05-political-view-on-teaching.jpg
  2. Speaking of politics, why was my worth, my salary, always up for political debate. I was not prepared to be so frustrated with people who have never taught or in some cases even been a student in a public school continually telling me that my job was worth less than I was already receiving. Essentially telling my students that they are worth less
  3. The nights up thinking about my children, wondering if they got dinner, whose house were they sleeping at tonight. Did student Z get to speech therapy on time? Did student J make it home on the bus okay? The amount of time outside of the classroom that I spend just worrying about them.
  4. Also that fact that I started calling my students, “my children” I have no biological children but every year I gain a few more of “my kids” and I will do everything in my power to know I love them just that much.
  5. The amount of work I would do outside of the classroom, that wasn’t “teaching” I was prepared for the weekly staff meetings that for a special education teacher, rarely, were applicable to my teaching life. But I was not prepared for the hours spent at home researching the new teaching styles, ways I could reach a difficult student, ways I can improve my teaching practice. The hours that I was not worrying about my students, I was  planning for my students.
  6. Being a boss. . . so this may be a little unique to the special education world but I walked out of grad school and into supervising 12 students and 3 paraprofessionals full time. Now I knew I would be supervising these three paraprofessionals and I walked in with their beautiful schedules in hand ready to kill it at being a boss. But then relationships happened. . . and I realized that I was managing one woman who had been a para almost as long as I had been alive, one girl who got the job because her aunt worked at the school and had never worked in special education before, and one girl, my age, who wanted to be an art teacher. How could I offer advice to the woman who could have been my teacher? And I quickly learned that the other two would be more drama than the students. . . It took me a few months. okay, maybe a year to figure out the balance of being a friend, a boss, and a teacher. . . okay maybe I am still working on the balance but we are figuring it out.imgres.jpg 7.How much I would live for the good days! I wrote a blog post about this earlier explaining in detail how much a good day can mean in the special education world. The smallest things can make a huge difference because, without the little things, there would be so many reasons to stop being a teacher. But with the little things, by becoming excited when Suzy read 5 words correctly today when last week she only read 3. Sharing the joy with a student when they didn’t hit anyone for an entire day, and then an entire week. Cheering as a student begins to speak more clearly, or communicate their needs in any way.                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now, these little things may look different in a general education classroom but they are still there, all of the little things those students bring to your life, the reason that we think about them at night. The reasons we care about them, the reasons we continue to do what we do. When the politicians tell us it is not worth it when the salary means you cannot buy a house in your own city when you watch little people have to deal with things no one should ever deal with. Remember the little things, remember why you started teaching think back to hugs and bubbles in the hallway, think about the smiling faces and when a student accidentally calls you Mom. Because no matter what things come up that we didn’t expect these are the reasons I am a teacher!

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This is an Instagram post from that first year teaching when we were celebrating one of those little things!