Classroom Theme Reveal!

New State, New District, New Classroom, New Expectations

Man, am I excited.

We are in the process of taking one district and adding it to another district, which means we are starting everything over. New beginnings are allowing us to basically start from the ground up to create an excellent school.

My administrators (who are awesome) have challenged us to decorate our rooms to the extreme, like the Ron Clark Academy (look it up, the rooms are amazing.)

We each got to pick a theme and no two rooms could be the same. I was alerted of this via a phone call while I was blue crab fishing with my sister so we immediately for to work thinking of a theme.

Fishing in Galveston

Fishing in Galveston

With Krista’s help, we decided on something.

Vintage Airstream Camper

Why? Because it’s different. Because I had tons of space. Because no one else would think of it. Because “Under the Sea” was probably taken.

We took the idea and ran with it. I started Pinteresting and didn’t find much; apparently it’s too different! 

I was lucky and found an awesome Teachers Pay Teachers post of vintage campers in every color. Thanks to RebeccaB Designs for my inspiration! Her post can be found here.

I have been working at home for about 6 weeks and in my room for 2 days and will post the entire classroom tour when it’s before-school finished! (We all know it will change before kids actually get in the room.) 🙂

Emptiness=Possibility. Bring it on.

Emptiness=Possibility.
Bring it on.

Texas Teachin’

I’m Back!

Last fall, I was lucky enough to be a blogger for the K-State College of Education. I loved talking about my journey as a (basically) first year teacher. Since then, there has been a lot of changes.

In February, there were lots of rumblings about Kansas not starting school in the fall because of the lack of budget. As a music teacher (or specials/extracurricular as people say), I started to worry that my subject would be cut and I would be out of a job. Luckily, it didn’t get that bad, but I started to look elsewhere for a job. After some life changes earlier in the school year, there was nothing holding me back from picking up and moving somewhere else. By “else” I mean south.

I took a bit of advice from my mom and applied in Texas. All over Texas, actually. In February and March, I applied for dozens of jobs from band to choir to mariachi from Corpus Christi to Amarillo. One job stuck out to me; not only because it was a clean slate opportunity, but also because it was ten minutes from Galveston. Grading papers on the beach sounded a lot better than shoveling snow!

In March, I was hired as a middle school choir director in the great state of Texas. I would be moving to southern Houston to teach in a great district. I resigned from my position in Lansing, packed up my classroom (LMS was set to move to the “NEW” middle school), and moved 1200 miles away to League City, Texas, a suburb of Houston.

I have been here since the middle of June and I absolutely love it. It is hotter than the surface of the sun, but the abundance of fresh Mexican food, super friendly people and a short drive to the ocean makes it all worth it. I have fully embraced the move and have surrendered my Kansas citizenship to become a Texan. Sorry Kansas, love you but….Texas.

TexasGreat

I have had such a warm reception here; I have found a great church on Galveston, been working with a P.E.O chapter on the island and have a super supportive school staff. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be.

deepintheheart

It’s Been Fun…

I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog through the wonderful K-State College of Education. It has been an honor to write for the college and show off my classroom to help bridge the gap between undergraduate and post-grad educators. I have learned SO much about the power of reflection and promotion of education that I feel empowered to continue writing about my classroom, but also sprinkle more hobby-based posts such as cooking, crafting and traveling. This experience has me bitten by the blogging bug!

Anyone who is interested in taking the plunge and starting (or continuing their own) blog, DO IT! You will love sharing your experiences with others. I felt that through my writing, I became a more positive person. It is weird to think about, being a positive or negative person, but when you have to write something down that is semi-permanent that other people will read, you realize that some of the things you complain about (the copier being broken, kids asking dumb questions, etc…) don’t seem like that big of a deal when you go to write it down. Many times I would think, “I should blog about this because it’s frustrating and others are probably frustrated about it too,” but I get home, think it through and decide that some things aren’t worth worrying about.

Once again, thank you all for following the blog through the COE, it was a blast and I would love to contribute to K-State and the Education department in any way that I can in the future. Wildcat Teachers (or EdCats) need to stick together!

Serving Families During The Holiday Season

This week is a week for family, giving and caring. Unfortunately this time of year tends to show the staff who is missing out on the important needs, like food, clothing and shelter.

My school just finished a food drive for our school’s food panty. We serve up to 25 families each week, sending bags of food home on the weekends because they have fallen on hard times. We have a great group of ladies who come in to organize the pantry, stuff bags and fill in what is low. They work with a local church to make sure our kids and families are taken care of; it really is a cool program.

We also participate in an Angel Tree. I picked up an angel for a 6 year old girl who needed clothes; what a perfect way to spend my time! I loved picking out cute little outfits, especially knowing that one of our own kiddos would be wearing them to school.

I personally try to help out the students who walk into my classroom, whether they have a bad day or a bad home life.

  • I always have food in my office: Someone comes in crying? Have a chocolate. Someone needs breakfast? Have a granola bar. Food solves everything.
  • I work with kids to pay for their uniforms; they can work off debt  (if that works for their parents, they’re just middle schoolers after all.) or do a payment plan.
  • I let kids express themselves in my classroom. Can’t handle working on an assignment in class? I’ll give you an alternate task to get your mind off whatever is bothering you. My room is decorated so much because I have kids who come in and say “Ms. S, can I decorate today? I want to take my mind off (X).” I always let them.

Yes, kids need to know how to read, write, read music and do math, but they also need to have their basic needs met. They cannot focus on fractions when they are hungry. They don’t care about reading when they may get beat up when they go home.

During this holiday season, be understanding. Not every student will have a great Christmas break. Not every student will have a large Thanksgiving dinner. Not every student will have a coat when they have to walk to school in the snow. This is the world we live in.

 

Keeping Your Classroom Clean

November is the time to get sick. Kids can take the day off; you can’t. You have to sniffle to work, cough while lecturing and overall feel badly. There are a few things you can do to make your room feel a little healthier, while probably helping that funky smell problem, too.

  1. Buy hand sanitizer. I went to Costco at the beginning of the year and bought 2 gallon pumps of sanitizer. This has made me feel so much better just having the ability to get some cooties off of my hands since the nearest bathroom/sink is in the office.
  2. Clorox Wipe Everything. At the end of the week, I wipe down the piano, my podium and my desk. I am amazed at how disgusting it is even after a week. My janitor is awesome at keeping the floor clean, but he isn’t responsible for surfaces. I also have students wipe down my drums and chairs, which makes the room feel better.
  3. Fabreeze. I have scentsy-type warmers and fabreeze to spray on everything. Middle schoolers have that fog of “stank” that follows them everywhere and these precautions help get you through the day.
  4. Take care of yourself. Don’t let kids cough on you or play their instrument when they have strep. Ew.

These few things help a lot in the fight against kid germs. If you have other ideas, shoot them to me- I always want to save a sick day!

I’m Too Tired To Name This Post: November

Every good thing must come to an end. The energy that I got from teaching the kids at the beginning of the year has finally caught up with me.

I’m so tired that I came home and laid on my floor for an hour. The cat fell asleep on my back.

November, also known as “Kids Are Jerks” and “Everyone is Puking” Months, is known for Thanksgiving. The problem is that once Halloween (and the following sugar coma) hits, there are only a few weeks left in the semester. You know it and the kids know it, which means they will not turn in homework, won’t listen and won’t care until after that Thanksgiving break. Keeping track of who was sick, who is in the nurse and who was sent to the office is tiring, especially if you tack on lack of internet (going on 4 days!) and extracurricular activities, you are spent by 10am.

To my future teacher friends (and current teacher friends, I don’t know who reads this!), take care of yourselves. This is my second semester teaching, but I already feel a little crispy around the edges. I come to school at 6:30am, spend my plan and lunch in the office or workroom, I spend every afternoon with lessons, concession stands, drama club or tutoring, then come home and work on school stuff until I fall asleep on the couch.

I have a problem.

How do you say no?

If you know me personally, you know I am non-confrontational. I don’t like making waves and don’t want people mad at me. I am a yes girl, as in I cain’t say no (Name that musical!) This applies to my personal life, as well as my professional life. For the record, I AM NOT COMPLAINING, I love my jobs and duties very deeply; I just have too many things on my plate, which I have realized.

Here’s what’s on Ms. Scheuerman’s Docket:

  • SWACDA, NEKMEA and KSMEA Honor Choir Students (require rehearsals, travel)
  • Pep Club (concession stands, incentive cards, shirts, placards for teams)
  • Drama Club (putting on a Melodrama in the Spring, costumes/props/lights/sound/sets)
  • Rehearsing 6 choirs
  • Teaching 4 hours of private lessons per week
  • Planning my best friend’s wedding (Maid of Honor, whoop whoop!)
  • Developing curriculum for 2 new classes next year
  • Decorating my classroom for Winter
  • Preparing for the 60 new students who signed up for choir in the spring (not including the 85 that are already in 7&8 grade choir)
  • Taking over for the NEKSMEA Middle Lever Honor Choir Chair
  • Serving on the LMS Site Council
  • Playing piano at the Lansing Correctional Facility for the Men’s Choir
  • joining PEO
  • balancing family, friends, pet care, house work, and my new car (Ford Fusion Hybrid, highly suggest)

Just remember; November is beautiful and the weather is great, but it kind of sucks in the school world. Dodge those flying germ sprays, take care of yourself and go home and watch two hours of How To Get Away With Murder, you deserve it.

Remember, it’s all for the kids!

Learning Where You Least Expect It

I have been thinking a lot as I come up to my first year teaching anniversary, meaning I have been away from Manhappiness for almost a year. There are days I really miss Manhattan and K-State because I don’t attend classes; I teach them. I don’t go to rehearsal; I run them. I can’t roll out of bed in sweats and run to class, I have to put on dress clothes and drive 40 minutes 🙂

While I think back to the more influential things I encountered on campus, I realized that I am a great teacher because of my experiences at K-State, (not to toot my own horn). I had some really neat experiences that I can transfer to my classroom and here are the greatest hits.

  1. Dr. Kelly Welch’s Classes. I was lucky enough to take Human Development and Human Sexuality from her in person on campus. Dr. Welch is a FANTASTIC educator with great classroom management and compassion. I learned SO much about teaching middle school from her Human Sexuality class; why kids act weird (hormones) and how to spot unhealthy relationships (this applies to more than just students, sadly.) If you ever get a chance to take a Dr. Welch class or just take her a Starbucks and introduce yourself, it is definitely worth meeting her!
  2. Culture and Context in Leadership through the School of Leadership Studies. I feel horrible because I can’t remember who my teacher was, but that class was fantastic. Learning so many different things from different people with different perspectives really helped me develop my educational philosophy. Another must-take class.
  3. K-State Marching Band. I was a clarinet player in The Pride for three years. It was one of the hardest but most enjoyable things I have ever done. The discipline, management and leadership I learned through the organization is second to none. Dr. Frank Tracz is a hard-working, high-expecting and excellence-driven man who has made the band great. My kids can’t believe that I was in the band (especially since I teach choir!) and it is truly one of the coolest things I have ever been involved in. I could talk about the KSUMB and the band department all day long, but I will spare you. 🙂
  4. College of Education Catalyst. The Catalyst taught me how to use a copy machine and a laminator. This may be the most important skill of all! I actually worked there for a semester and learned a lot about logistics of a school environment, I would highly recommend working there!
  5. Dr. Julie Yu. Dr. Yu is the co-director of Choral Activities. I look up to this woman so much. She is amazing. I want to be her (but not in a creepy way!) While I was busy with band (and wasn’t a choral major), Dr. Yu ALWAYS took the time to say hi and see how I was. I had the pleasure of being in her Women’s Choir for a semester and I learned so much about choral directing, which turned out to be invaluable in my current profession. To this day, I still admire Dr. Yu. She is another woman you should know, no matter who you are.

Of course there are many, many more people and events who have influenced me over the years, but these are some that help me in my current job.

My advice to you is to try everything; you never know what will help you connect to your kids!

Don’t Fear the Middle Schoolers

IMG_0973

Last year’s 7th grade choir playing with props.

20150911_082613

My 8th grade choir women dancing to the Cupid Shuffle.

20150930_171756

My pep club kids in the Lansing HS Homecoming Parade. (We Won 3rd place!)

20151001_113957

Some of my 6th graders working on a choreography project. These kids can DANCE!

20151001_144922

My Show Choir experimenting with a Selfie Stick.

Do these look like kids you should fear?

Honestly, I was TERRIFIED of middle schoolers when I started my training at K-State, mostly because I remembered my middle school years. Yikes.

I am here to debunk the myths. I promote teaching middle level because my whole thought process has changed. I originally wanted to be a big time high school band director (think Olathe, Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission, etc.) then I got the opportunity to work with elementary kids so all I wanted to do was elementary (especially Kinders!). I took this job with 6-8 graders, thinking it would be ok for a few years, then I would go back to elementary.

Now I have fallen in love with the middle level. I get 6th graders that are still elementary; they want to please you, they still have that young spirit, but they can still follow high expectations. 7th graders are in that awkward stage of finding who they are so they need you to set a positive example of character, while 8th graders are starting to grow up. They will do what you ask, but with a more adult flair. You are able to start to discussing more adult matters and the true meanings of things, like song lyrics. They are also able to lead and take care of the 7th and 6th graders.

I don’t know if I could go back to elementary. I treat my kids like adults; I expect them to solve problems, take care of themselves and take responsibility for their actions. At this age, I can teach those skills, which I really enjoy.

If you ever encounter middle school kids, don’t be afraid. They mean well, I promise. They might fight back or cry or roll their eyes, but they are thankful for your attention, for your care and for you just being there. This is the age where we can make the most difference.

There are scarier things than middle schoolers, like certain parents and spiders. Even then, spiders are worse than (most) parents.

Have a great week!

-K

 

Choir Council: Getting Students Involved

My kids are better at my job that I am most of the time. They have such great ideas that I never think of; they don’t have a formal training that has put the traditional dos and dont’s in your mind, limiting creativity.

When I was in school choir, you stood on the risers, sang, then left. There was no crazy dance moves, minimal talking to the audience and it was a traditional choir concert. This is where I learned my discipline that I teach my kids.

What I have learned from my kids is that we can loosen up; music is about creativity! Concerts are to show off what we do in class, which is have fun! There can be decorations and dancing and costumes and props and skits and other fun things that create a well-rounded experience for my singers.

I have started a choir council to help plan our Christmas/Holiday concert in December. Kids applied to be on the council, since we meet during their study hall. I would only take students who had good grades because they wouldn’t need the study hall for the few days we met.

We had two brainstorming sessions, and now all of our business will be taken care of via Google Classroom. During the brainstorming session, kids threw out ideas for songs, choreography, costumes, decorations, program design and other aspects of the concert. My intention is to give them ownership and responsibility of the program. They applied to be on committees such as the Costuming committee or the decorations committee, and they would plan, prepare and execute these things (with my advice, of course, they’re still in middle school!)

I won’t give all the details away yet, but here are some things they have already come up with:

-Each choir (a total of 6) will have a holiday-themed name

-We will have an audience sing-along, led by student conductors.

-We might decorate the stage with large wrapped presents and lights.

-The kids want our principal to dress up as Santa (we’ll see if that happens!!)

-We will sing a variety of pop, traditional and sacred pieces, while also highlighting a German students’ culture to sing in German!

More ideas to come, this is just a taste!

🙂

Brighten Someone’s Day Wall

20151006_072453

Originally I started the “Brighten Someone’s Day” wall to cover up a blank white wall. I thought that a few kids would write silly things, then someone would draw something inappropriate and I would have to take it down. Boy, was I wrong.

My kids continue to surprise me. The feeling they have and how they interact with each other are amazing. Many times they can’t understand what they want or know how to communicate things, but this wall proved me wrong. This allowed kids to express themselves, encourage others and prove support.

I encouraged them to write on the wall, but no one really took me up on the offer. There was one day we ended class a little early so I could do dress fittings and one particular class filled it up when I wasn’t paying attention. I looked at the wall when they left and almost cried. Here are things they wrote:

20151008_122547

After two class periods.

20151006_153733

20151006_153700

I had to graffiti too. Ms. Scheuerman <3 you!

20151006_153729

And this…. We have a student who was struggling and someone wrote this for them.

20151006_153719