5 tips to survive the first week of school


Is this kindergarten or The Hunger Games?  I’ve asked that question a few times, especially near the beginning of the year.  The first week of school is great, but between meetings, putting the final touches on your classroom, observations, oh yea, and teaching your students, it can be a bit overwhelming.  So to my fellow Careers (a person who volunteers for the games after training his/her entire life), here are a few tips to help you survive the first week of the games, I mean school.


1. Make a plan

I like to have lesson plans on deck to guide me through the week.  You can find my go-to plans here.  I don’t read from my plans word for word, but I’d rather be over-prepared than under.  So, make a plan but…


2. Don’t feel married to the plan

Like many teachers, I know that plans don’t always work out.  You have to be flexible (figuratively, and sometimes literally, depending on the grade you teach).   You might not get to everything on your lesson plan, that’s okay; in fact, it’s great!! You know the idea of rollover minutes? Well, welcome to rollover plans.  Save those plans for the next day.  My first year teaching, I was initially disappointed when we did not get through the entire plan.  But I quickly realized it takes time for students to master concepts, so I had to rollover bits and pieces of my plan into the next day.  Learning how to transition from the table to the carpet in one day? Nope, now it’s two days (and that’s being generous).


3. Check out library books early

Omg, I cannot stress this point enough. Every year I say I’ll check out library books in July, then August rolls around and they’re all checked out. Back to school books are popular and apparently we all want the same ones. Go figure. This year, I checked out my books the first week in August.  Too little, too late.  I planned to read First Day Jitters but all of the copies in the city were checked out. So I ordered it on Amazon, only to find out that it would arrive on Tuesday; it’s not called Second Day Jitters. After calling around, I lucked out and found one at a bookstore, about 30 minutes from me. I got the LAST copy of the book the day before school started, but all that to say…check out your books early!


4. Reassure yourself

Sometimes, you have to give yourself a pat on the back.  You are a Career after all.  You’ve been training for this, you’re an expert, you know what you’re doing, you’re ready!  So relax, enjoy your students, enjoy the journey; you’ve got this!


5. Make a plan (again)

I’m not talking about a lesson plan this time.  Make a plan to do something on the weekend.  Think of something you enjoy – a drink with friends, a massage, working out (oh how I wish that was at the top of my list) – and do that.  Anticipating something makes it easier to handle the hustle and bustle that is the first week of school.


What about you? Any tips you live by to survive the first week of school? Please leave any and all tips in the comment section.


Happy teaching and may the odds be ever in your favor,

Marissa’s Teachable Moments

Back to School Without Breaking the Bank

Back to school – the most wonderful time of the year (just not for my wallet).  It’s the time of the year when we’re thinking about lesson plans, our new students, and all the things we need to buy to set up our classrooms…all while sitting in meetings.

To help me spend my time laughing instead of crying as I mourn the end of summer, I look to @bored_teachers.  Seriously, if you’re not doing so already, please go to Instagram and follow @bored_teachers or click here to follow their blog; they’re like my spirit animal.  Case and point, this meme…

Bored Teachers

My initial response was “yass,” followed by the realization that I’m not alone when it comes to this dilemma.  By the time August rolls around, I really start counting my coins – I’ll pass on an appetizer, opt for water instead of juice aka wine…those dollars can be used to buy supplies for my students.

Going back to school doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank, and it definitely shouldn’t mean skipping out on a meal or an experience (been there, done that).  It’s only taken me eight years to come to terms with this fact, smh.

Here are a few tips I follow to avoid breaking the bank when going back to school:

1. Make a list, and check it twice!

It’s so easy to get caught up in the dollar section of stores (ahem, Target).  Too many times I’ve gone in looking for pencils and I walk out with my cart filled to the brim.  So step one, make a list and stick to it.

2. Don’t feel pressure to make your class the most pin-worthy room in the school.

I know, this is very hard.  But trust me, your kids will learn just as easily in a class where you spend $50 on decorations as they will in a class where you spend $300.  Plus, your bank account will thank you later.  In recent years, I’ve decided to purchase the bare minimum (pencils, cutouts, jumbo letters after hastily ripping them off the word wall or bulletin board at the end of the previous year, border when it was too tattered) to complement what I already have, which brings me to the third tip…

3. Recycle!

Maybe it’s the California in me that makes me such a huge proponent of recycling, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m frugal…the jury’s still out on that one.  Anyway, recycle your decorations, borders, themes…at one point I considered recycling name tags with the use of duct tape (to date, I’ve only done that once –when I got a new student in the middle of the year).  I like to change my theme every other year, though I admit my scholars have been the Kindergarten Bees for two years running…they say the third time’s a charm. Anyway, recycling saves money and it’s good for the environment.

4. Use durable material.

I can’t take credit for this one. Years ago, one of my friends suggested I use cotton sheets as the background for my bulletin boards.  He suggested this because when it comes to putting up butcher paper, my struggle is far too real; seriously, I have a hate-hate relationship with the stuff.  I’ve continued to use sheets for my boards because I can use them year after year and they pretty much fit with any theme, especially when I buy with a color-scheme in mind.

5. Finally, like everything else, we know there’s an app for that.

I recently downloaded Flipp. In a nutshell, it’s an app that allows you to put in your location and it locates coupons near you.  I found a coupon for, wait for it…dry erase markers.  So, I will be purchasing dry erase markers AND eating, too.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

What about you? Any tips to help you save money when going back to school? Please leave any and all tips in the comment section.

Happy (What’s Left of) Summer,

Marissa’s Teachable Moments

A Method to My Moments

I’m a teacher (insert a range of reactions here…I usually get “Why?” or an endearing “Aww, how cute.”)

While I’m a teacher, charged with educating the next generation, I still have a lot to learn.  A lot to learn about myself, my profession, navigating this thing called life…

Luckily, I think learning is fun…though I’ve had some not-so-fun moments where I’ve asked, “Did I really need that lesson?”

Between being a teacher by day, and Marissa outside of school hours, I’ve learned quite a bit; hence, Marissa’s Teachable Moments.  Join me as I figure out how to strike a healthy work-life balance, see the world, and ball on a (teacher’s) budget. Safe to say that last one has been the most challenging, more on that later…

I hope you can learn from, and sometimes laugh at, Marissa’s Teachable Moments.