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Sunday, July 31, 2016

What's In Your Cart? Linky Party!

Are you ready for great deals? TPT is having their BIG 2016 back-to-school sale August 1st and 2nd! (Monday and Tuesday). Hopefully, your cart is loaded with great things and your wishlist is empty! Be sure to use PROMO CODE: BestYear

Here are some resources you may be able to use from my store... 

A letter to welcome your intern, student-teacher or practicum student. Simple, not too lengthy and doesn't repeat all the rules they already get from their University. And it's editable! 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
Start the year out right with a Morning Work Binder for your students that need lots of repetition of certain skills. This binder will get you started with everything you need and you can add to it throughout the year with skills you've covered. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
Want Sight-Word work for the whole year? Use this as homework or seat-work. Great for reinforcement of basic sight words. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
And what's in MY cart? Just a few adorable things I need for my classroom: 
All About Me Pennants from Pink Cat Studio... 
Pink Cat Studio

This Emotions Clipart Set from Graphics from the Pond...
and sooo much more! 

Be sure to head back to the Linky Party here to see what else is in everyone's cart!  

6 Ways to Get Your Sped Classroom Ready... plus a freebie and a giveaway!

As you already know, there are a TON of things to do to get your special ed classroom ready for the new year. Sometimes, though, we overlook some of the little things that, when forgotten, can be really, really stressful. The last thing you want to do is scramble for something in front of parents on the first day or while your class is staring at you, wondering what you're looking for. (We've all experienced that one!)

So, in addition to the obvious decorating and labeling, be ready with some of these things so you look like you know what you're doing.

1. If you have assistants, meet with them before school starts! Sometimes we don't see them until the first day of school, but it would be great if you were able to meet before the students and their parents are walking in the door. If you don't have time to meet, at least write it down for them. Let them know...
  • what you want them to do as parents are bringing students in the door 
  • how to handle students that are already acting out in the first five minutes
  • where they are expected to be, who they are scheduled to work with and what their duties will be
Not only will this give you peace of mind to know that someone's got your back, but your assistants will feel much better knowing what is expected of them. 

2. Get your VISUALS ready. This is still hard for me. It is so time consuming. The easiest way to tackle this is to dedicate one day to work on just your visuals for your classroom. You'll feel so prepared if you do this. 

  • Have your visual schedules ready for every student. Even students who don't need individual schedules need at least a larger, whole-group visual schedule. I have both up in my room.
  • Have visual procedures posted for arrival, dismissal, bathroom use, hand-washing, clean-up, small-group behavior, designated areas, etc... 
You'd be surprised at how many students will refer to these. It helps even the students you think don't need this. Sometimes we don't know what will be needed for our students, so have a good supply of visuals at your fingertips. Visuals help students know what to expect and feel calm. They can't always read class rules or fancy schedules but they can understand pictures. Search for "visual schedule" on TPT for lots of choices.  

3. Schedule every minute! In a special ed classroom, nothing good comes from down-time, repeat 3x! There are students, of course, that may be able to handle down-time at some point in the year, but NOT the first week.
  • Have a plan for those that arrive too early. 
  • Do real work (easy is ok) even on the first day.
  • Have a plan for early finishers. You may have a 30-minute lesson planned, but there's always that student that finishes a worksheet in 2 minutes.
  • Arm your assistants with back-up activities for those early finishers.
4. Post important information in an easy to find spot. 
  • Schedules for everyone in the room 
  • Allergies and medication times 
  • Behavior plans
  • Emergency procedures
  • special needs/bathroom plans: some students have quirky needs ("doesn't like Cheerios" or "Is afraid of flushing toilets" can prevent lots of headaches!)
5. Collect information from parents, asap. At my school we have a Back-to-School (meet the teacher) a few days before school starts. This gives me a chance to collect up-to-date information that I can have ready on the first day of class. If I don't see them on this day, I hand them a clipboard with this sheet as soon as they walk in. It is short and sweet and has vital information for me. This is what I use and it's free in my store here. At the very least, you need to know...
  • how to contact the parent for questions
  • allergies
  • how they get home
6. Be ready with Incentives! Be sure you have a plan for your behavior system. While we tend to think of consequences first, try the opposite. 
  • Many sped classrooms use a "First-Then" chart. Look it up if you haven't heard of this, it works wonders. Basically it shows students that they "work first, then reward of choice". This can be computer time, playdough, listening center, etc... 
  • For students who can work in small groups, I use a simple sticker chart that provides for immediate positive reinforcement. In the beginning, every "desired" behavior gets a sticker and students think their teacher must have gone crazy! I give out stickers for every little thing! Little by little, I wean them off of sticker-overload and still get the same results. You can find my sticker book in my TPT store here

 Student Motivator Sticker Book
No matter what the behavior needs are, children are always motivated by something they want. Find out what it is. 

There are great resources on Teachers Pay Teachers to get your special ed classroom ready. In fact, here's a little giveaway to help out! Enter to win a $10 gift card to my store! You have a real good chance of winning since my blog is fairly new! :) Don't forget to follow my blog for more fun giveaways and freebies! 

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TpT Back To School Sale!

The Teacher's Toolbox
Have you heard??? Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual back-to-school sale on Monday and Tuesday, August 1st and 2nd. It's time to grab all those things you need (and maybe some things you just can't resist) at 28% off! Use Promo Code: BestYear for the full discount. 

Click on the picture above and start filling up your cart! Happy Shopping! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How about a Giveaway!?

Erin Condren Planner

It's almost time for back-to-school and time to get organized! How about a new planner? Someone is about to win this gorgeous Erin Condren planner and it could be YOU!

Just enter on the Rafflecopter below! It's easy! 


Prize: Erin Condren Teacher Planner

Co-hosts:  Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Giveaway ends 7/25/16 and is open worldwide.
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Monday, July 18, 2016

TpT Orlando 2016: Five Things I Learned at My First Conference

Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
I just got back from a week in Orlando attending my first TPT conference. Oh my goodness! If you ever have the opportunity to attend a TPT conference, don't second-guess it, just GO! 
I could easily make a list of 100 things I got out of this experience, really! When I got home, I couldn't stop chattering about it - my poor husband! It took me a whole day and night to come down from the "TPT-high" I was on! I wanted to run to my computer and start sharing, but I intentionally stayed away from writing a blog post because I probably would've sounded like a crazy person, and I certainly would NOT have made any sense. 

So, now that I've recovered and organized my thoughts, here's my list of 5 things I learned at the TPT conference: 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
5. TEACHER-SELLERS ARE AWESOME! Being with hundreds of other Teacher-Sellers is invigorating! I knew it would be a little intimidating at first, but that lasted about 10 minutes. The rest of the week was jam-packed with talking to some of the nicest and inspirational people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. From TPT newbies to veterans like Deanna Jump, everyone had something valuable to share. We've all seen the top sellers in videos and blog posts, but meeting them in person confirmed that they are just as sweet and funny up-close as they are online. I felt at-home with everyone there. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
4. THE TPT STAFF IS AMAZING! At our opening session, we heard from Amy, our "Director of Seller Happiness" (love her title), and Adam, TPT's CEO. Not only are they the most approachable people you could ever meet, they are chock-full of valuable information that they want to share with everyone. They are encouraging and empowering and confirmed for me that I was at the right place at the right time. 
Mrs. Irvin's toolbox
My traveling buddy and roommate at the TPT conference! 
3. COLLABORATION IS KEY! We hear it all the time, teamwork, connecting... all the buzzwords. But there really is nothing like being with other like-minded people and feeling that energy! It truly is contagious. I attended so many great sessions (I'd have to begin my list of 100 to even start explaining) but one of the things I came away most excited about was a class I took about "Meet-Ups" and how to host them (presented by Brain Waves Instruction and Literary Sherri). I immediately started working on planning a local meet-up and am so excited about the response I'm already getting! Can't wait to share more about that later! 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox

2. I AM NOT ALONE! Did you know that the struggle is real for everyone?? Haha! I mean, we hear everyone joke about it, but to hear people like Deanna Jump, Laura Candler, Miss DeCarbo, Jen Bengel, Rachel Lynette, Erica Bohrer, Deedee Wills... all mentioning the same issues that I am having? What?? Well, then maybe I am on the right track. We are all struggling with schedules, time management issues, learning curves and juggling just too many balls in the air at times. It's great to hear that they were NOT overnight successes (as it seems) and that they really did have to work hard for YEARS to meet some of their goals and that they are still working hard. Clearly, I am not the only one wondering if all of this hard work will ever come to fruition. 
1. I LOVE MY PROFESSION! Teaching is hard. There are times when I feel like I can't do it anymore and I'd rather go serve popcorn at the movie theater (no offense to popcorn servers reading this). But teachers are some of the hardiest people out there! We do what needs to be done and if we don't know how, we figure it out. We never stop learning. We support one another and lift each other up. We work hard because we love what we do. In the end, it is all for the children and young adults we serve. We hope to change the world and make it a better place, each of us in our own corner of the world. 

This conference confirmed for me that there are so many ways for us to make a difference. We just have to stick together and keep moving forward. 

See you at the next conference! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alphabet Train Strips Just Arrived

Something fun just rolled into the station! Alphabet Train Strips are fun and easy to use. Attach Velcro to these to make the pieces stick, paper clips if you just want to clip them, or just lay the pieces right on top. 
The Teacher's Toolbox

Great for early finishers, centers, special-ed classrooms, one-one review... so many uses! In my store now. Thanks for visiting! 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's a sale! Take 20% off!

Click the picture above to see my sale!
Don't forget to follow me to be notified 
of sales and freebies!  

Could you use a $25 TPT Gift Card?

This would be a great time to win some extra TPT bucks! As we prepare for heading back to school in the next month, we'll probably be dipping into our pockets a bit for some wonderful resources. Enter below to win a $25 TPT gift card. It's easy! 


Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by:  An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 7/9/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

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