Okay. So let’s be real. My floor can get so gross. Six year olds are not the cleanest animals on the planet.
BUT! One thing about six year olds that IS awesome is the fact that you can get them to do anything if you call it a game.
So how to I use this to my advantage, you ask? We play the Magic Trash game.
When our floor is a mess, especially after we have art, I pull out this little game.
I walk all around the room and decide on one piece of trash in my mind. Any little piece will do – paper scraps, pencils, crayons, glue caps, etc. I then stand where I can see the piece out of my peripheral vision so it’s not quite so obvious which piece I chose. (I’ve heard of some teachers writing a description of the piece on a piece of paper, that way there can be no claims of cheating!)
When I say “GO!” my kids quickly go around the room and pick up pieces of trash. I watch everyone as they pick up the pieces and show it to me. I don’t tell who picked up the “magic piece” until after the floor is clean, though. Because we both know that if I said that the first kid who picked up the piece was the winner, the floor would still stay a mess.
Once the winner is announced (and most importantly the floor is clean!), I give away the prize. I’m all about those free rewards in my room. The prize could be a coveted high five or a ticket. We use our tickets for free classroom prizes that I will blog about later.
I’ve heard another variation of this game where each student has to pick up a certain number of pieces. My kiddos do better with a competition, though. Another friend shared that she puts a smiley sticker on a piece of paper on the floor at a random point of the day. The kids are constantly pickup up paper and checking it throughout the day!
How do you keep your floor clean?
I sometimes live a super exciting life on Friday nights. The kind where you throw your hair up in a bun, put on leggings, turn on the TV to watch some Netflix, and tackle the pile of papers that I neglected to grade all week. To be fair, this doesn’t happen every week, but, hey, it happens. This week included Valentine’s Day, Parent/Teacher Conferences, PD, and penguin lesson plans prep. Clearly, this Friday night was going to be spent at home.
I decided to watch a documentary that has been on my watch list for a while. I figured I could watch “Minimalist: A Documentary” in the background and still be able to get a lot accomplished. Little did I know that I would get sucked in.
Now, let me preface the rest of this post – I am not a “minimalist” nor do I intend to adopt this lifestyle. But it definitely made me stop and think about job as a teacher. Probably because of the pile of papers on either side of me and marker in my hand.
One of the ideas that stuck out to me the most was that a goal in many people’s life is to work at a job to climb the ladder of success. It is generally thought that being “rich” is earning 50k a year. But once many people reach this bracket, they don’t “feel” rich.
I’m still a fairly new teacher, so my salary isn’t very much. On top of that, I have a massive amount of student loans I have to face monthly. Oh, how I wish money wasn’t an issue – but it definitely is. I wish I had a larger pay check where I wouldn’t have to budget for every little thing. Ha – I even have a category in my budget to spend on school! I mean, what other jobs do you have to budget in order to put right back into your work? Oh, that teacher life.
BUT. You know what? I wouldn’t trade my status as a teacher for anything. Is teaching hard? Absolutely. Is it tiring? All the time. Is it frustrating? Way too often. Is it fun? YES! Is it hilarious? Every day. Is it the best? In my opinion, definitely.
Although I’m not “rich” by America’s standards, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I’m rich in my life because of my job (among other things – my faith, family, friends, etc.).
My life is so full bring surrounded by my students. They bring me so much joy and laughter! I promise that we don’t get through an hour without laughing. I love my little firsties so much because they make me see things in a whole new light. I love reading their writing and seeing the world through their eyes. They value the simple things, which makes me value the simple things. We cherish hugs, smiles, and silly jokes. We crave time to read books together. We enjoy simply talking to each other during snack time. Recess is good for the soul – enjoying fresh air, laughter, playing with friends, and of course chats with the teacher while playing beauty shop. I could go on and on, trust me.
Not only do my students mean the world to me, but also my relationships with my coworkers! I absolutely could not do my job NEAR as effectively without my dream team. We laugh together, plan together, eat together, and simply do life together. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind talking to six year olds all day…so it’s necessary to pop into my friends’ room to gesture pulling out my hair through the window. Or share a funny picture that was drawn. Or fill my mug with her Keurig (one of my love languages, in case you were wondering.)
The main thing I took from the documentary was “How do you define success?” It’s easy to get wrapped up in wishing I earned more money to buy more things. I truly believe that I am doing what the Lord has called me to do with my talents that he has entrusted me with.
I truly believe that I’m a rich teacher. Are you?
What about your job makes you feel rich?
Let’s be real – we have a million things on our mind at all times. So many things to remember! We have to remember to differentiate, learning styles, interests, data, meetings, bus duty, classroom management, rules, procedures, plus so many more things constantly. I LOVE this meme – it’s so true!
So how do we keep up with everything? I’ve found a super simple trick to help me and my students remember things that need to happen at specific times.
I have a student who gets medicine daily at noon and another student who leaves school on a special bus thirty minutes before the rest of the school packs up for the day. We are in centers when noon hits, so I’m never looking at a clock. We are wrapping up math and starting centers when my other student’s bus leaves, so I need to remind that student to get her stuff packed up before the bus comes. Friday afternoons are crazy and I have a student who receives a “Snack Backpack,” which is a grocery sack from a local organization (RIFA) filled with non perishable items for her to take home and eat over the weekend. And then of course you know I want to participate in #TeachersFeetUpFriday on Instagram! But how do I remember it all??
I use my phone’s built in alarm! I simply create an alarm for each of the things that I need to remember and then when the alarm sounds, I check my phone and know what I’m supposed to do. EASY - PEASY.
I even set a different ringtone for each of the alarms, so all the students know what each sound means. For example, my phone make the “Radar” noise for my student’s medicine time. Whenever the alarm goes off, I don’t even tell my student to go to the office – he and his friend automatically head to get the hall pass and head out the door. It’s FANTASTIC. If for some reason the boys don’t hear it (when they have headphones on), I have several girls who take it upon themselves to make sure they get the memo. The same thing goes for my student who packs up her things early – I don’t mention it to her anymore! She has learned to gather her things quietly while the rest of us continue what we are doing.
The alarm that goes off only on Fridays is especially helpful. I would sometimes forget to send my student to “Backpack Club” to get her sack sometimes because it wasn’t part of my daily routine. I felt horrible! Now she listens for her “song” on my phone and knows that she is allowed to head on to the guidance room.
This little trick has definitely helped me this year. Not only does it cut down on my stress level, but it puts responsibility back on the students. They know what to do when a particular sound happens and they just do it.
Do you use alarms in the classroom? What other ways can you use this little trick to make your life easier?