Friday, August 27, 2010

"Do you have a teacher discount?"

It's my new favorite question.

You could say I am a thrifty shopper. Like anyone, I love the thrill of a great clearance rack find and I peruse the aisles of Arc's and Saver's on almost a weekly basis.

I have this odd fantasy that I will be wearing a skirt every day of the school year. No pants. No capris. Just skirts. So my summer goal was to build my teacher wardrobe in the cheapest of all possible ways. As the dog days of August are quickly winding down, I can accurately proclaim that my goal was accomplished successfully.

I purchased 18 skirts this summer. Only 1 was purchased at full price (and that was the turquoise skirt from The Limited that landed me my job). My total estimated expenditures = approx. $100.

I bought in bulk at a store called TurnStyle in Roseville. It's like Plato's Closet for the 18+ crowd. There are many around the metro area, and all have surprisingly affordable deals on quality, name brand clothing, and an abundance of adorable skirts. I also made some great discoveries at the Richfield Arc's Value Village and Bloomington's Savers. I also found a very cute Vera Wang skirt (seen below) on the Kohl's clearance rack for $4.99. Here is just a taste of some of my fabulous finds for teaching:

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

It's a good thing I am easily attracted to bright red "SALE" signs because I am also a self-proclaimed Shopaholic. It's a hobby of mine right up there with scrapbooking, cardmaking, and writing.

I have learned in the past few weeks that many great retail stores really appreciate teachers. Perhaps they recognize (more so than our government) that we work pretty dang hard not necessarily for the paycheck, but because we love what we do. And that deserves a special discount.

So lately, as I purchase my new cardigans, school supplies and classroom decorations, I've been asking at the check-out counter, "Do you have a teacher discount?" Surprisingly, most of my already favorite stores do! So I thought I would compile a list of the stores/promotions for all my teacher friends out there. These are only the ones that I have discovered, so please, comment and let me know if you have any discoveries of your own:

(Most are 15% off your entire purchase)
Joann Fabrics
BestBuy (educational software only)
Borders (20% off!)
Barnes & Noble
The Limited
New York & Company
J. Crew
The Apple Store
Ann Taylor Loft

OfficeMax also has special promotional days (I unfortunately missed out on it this year) where you receive 30% off all you can pile into a recyclable shopping bag.

I also visited a warehouse in Bloomington called Companies to Classrooms which offers FREE donated teacher supplies to teachers in the Bloomington and Richfield school district. Luckily my roommate ( mother) is the new Technology Integrationist for Richfield Public schools, so I dragged her and her coveted Richfield Teacher ID to the huge warehouse chalk-full (no pun intended...or was it?) of teacher goodies. I snagged 6 plastic assignment sorting trays, a handful of post-its, a slightly used laminated Shakespeare poster, and some other miscellaneous supplies. All free.

It's nice to know that people do appreciate teachers and that companies support our positions in society.

So what is the lesson of the day? Never be afraid to ask for the teacher discount.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Power of Words

Have you ever seen those movies and TV shows with a scene where a woman is taking a bubble bath, drinking a glass of wine?
I've always wanted to do this. So tonight, on my night off, with the house to myself, I made a bubble bath (sans bubbles, unfortunately) poured a glass of boxed wine, and turned on the most recent episode of This American Life.

This American Life is a public radio program based in Chicago. As host Ira Glass would say himself, there is no easy way to describe it, other than that the program takes a theme and tells stories based on that theme. I've been an addict to this show since I was introduced to it by my roommate last fall. I subscribe to the podcast, and every week I upload a new show (or a rerun, which is usually still new to me).

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So anyway, a partner of This American Life is a program called Radiolab. It's similar in that they use a theme to tell one or a number of stories, though these stories are usually more experimental or scientifically based.

After listening to the latest TAL episode (and at this point, I've dried off and am on to glass #2), I saw that Radiolab had posted a video.

I've been brainstorming about how to use either of these radio programs in class. They both speak about such relevant, probing themes, and demonstrate the art of storytelling brilliantly, a lesson topical for any English class.

After watching this Radiolab video titled "Words" tonight, I know there is a lesson there. But what? Watch for yourself and tell me, what do you think is the lesson?

Lesson or none, it is still a beautiful video that captures the real power of our english language.

P.S. I know this has nothing to do with my bubble bath/wine fantasy that began this blog, but I was just practicing my art of storytelling! :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Original Mr. T

I got my teaching job on June 29th. Needless to say, I've been pretty obsessed with furnishing my classroom ever since. I think most teachers-in-training have all dreamed about how they are going to decorate their classrooms. I am no exception.

But now that I have a room, I'm finding myself to be overly picky with just what I slap on those classroom walls. I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade, so the cutesy Back-to-School bulletin board crap just won't fly there. I'm not a fan of motivational "Be Yourself" or "Attitude Makes a Difference!" posters because I find them condescending. Besides, attitude might make a difference, but does a little 11x16 poster proclaiming that make a difference? To a student, it all just blurs into the walls.

So I've had my eye out for the perfect pieces. I want posters and wall art that invoke conversation, ones where students ask "What the heck is that?" or "Where is that from?" But that's more difficult than one would think. First of all, a nice poster can run anywhere from 20 to 30 bucks. A pretty penny for a teacher on a budget.

So I turned to my faithful Thrift Stores. I have relied on stores like Savers, Value Village and TurnStyle to furnish my new teacher wardrobe of skirts and cardigans (trust me, I will be blogging about my great teacher clothing duds soon!) so of course these frugal little markets were the perfect place to turn in a time of teacher poster budget crisis.

It was after work one day when my mom mentioned to me her discovery. "Value Village had a Mark Twain statue for 3 bucks. I woulda bought him for you but I wasn't sure if you'd want him."

Wasn't sure if I'd want him?

It wasn't long before my little 15 inch tall Mr. T was cradled in my arms in the checkout line at Value Village (that and a burberry pencil skirt for only 6 bucks!).

I would like to introduce you to my first classroom addition. Say hello to Mr. Mark Twain.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Confessions of a First Year Teacher

As I waste my summer away in the thick Minnesotan humidity at the Richfield pool, my mind has been focused on only one thing: a date.

No, not a date with some handsome young buck. A different kind of date.

September 7th.

My first day of school. The day that 90 7th graders and 90 8th graders are introduced to Ms. B, their new Language Arts teacher. It will be the first day I officially transfer from student to teacher, and one that I have been preparing for for the last 5 years of college...and possibly my entire life.

Okay, so maybe I am being a bit melodramatic, but this is a major turning point in life. I don't remember feeling this nervous/anxious/excited/scared-shitless since I left my comfy suburban life in Richfield for the rolling acres of River Falls University--a whole (gasp!) 40 minute drive away!

Now I am leaving the familiar college life of 11am classes, papers written the day before due, and 2 hour naps at noon for the world of real education. The world where I am at the front of the classroom. No longer am I the bored student in the second row, or the eagerly nervous student- teacher attempting to follow the footsteps of some pre-established teaching excellence. Now it is my turn to make a classroom my own.

This year has a lot in store for me. I am planning to cut the umbilical cord and make my first adult move into an apartment near my school (though my summer days with my "roommate"..., were nothing but mostly blissful). I will be taking over 2 grade levels of Language Arts in a fairly new, but fairly established Prep school, and filling the place of a teacher who did not quit, nor was fired, but was promoted to a higher position in the building (In other words, I have some intimidatingly large shoes to fill). I will, hopefully, be directing and choreographing a middle school musical. AND, I still plan on coaching the JV dance team in Hudson, Wisconsin.

I thought keeping a blog would help keep myself in check, and would also be a great opportunity for me to stay in touch with all the other budding teachers out there.

People say I'm crazy for going into education, especially middle school, and perhaps after reading this blog, then they can decide whether I truly am.