Getting To Know You Blog Hop

Welcome to my blog! 

I am so honored to be the 2nd hop and also participating with this 
FANTASTIC group of music bloggers! 

I haven't been blogging as much as I would like, but I really enjoy it,and am looking forward to doing this more often throughout this next school year! I'm hoping that during this blog hop, you will be able to learn some things about us, and we will get a chance to learn about you. There is also a giveaway, so make sure to read to the end to find out what to do next.

1.  What state/region are you in?
I was born and raised in North Carolina but married a South Carolina boy! He won out, and we now live in South Carolina. We lived in the Upstate when we were first married but now live in the Pee Dee region. It's definitely different than where I grew up, but I'm adjusting well - the beach sure does help!

2.  What is your background education/experience?
I received my bachelor's degrees from East Carolina University in Music Therapy and (another) in Flute Performance. I was an overachiever. Ha! After being married for several years to a high school band director and also the birth of our daughter, I decided to go back to school to get a degree that would allow me to teach. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received my Masters in the Art of Teaching (MAT). While I was in a cohort of Music majors, there were also English, History, Math, and ESOL majors in the program.

3.  Why did you become a teacher?
Both of my parents were music teachers.  In fact, my dad was my middle school band director.  I was always playing my flute anywhere and everywhere growing up.  But, my dad always discouraged my brothers and me from being a teacher.  "There's no money teaching.  The students are horrible."  And on, and on.  So, I didn't want to teach.  I started college thinking I wanted to be a Physical Therapist but then realized how much Biology I was going to have to take.  I HATE Biology.  By the end of my first semester, I was torn between going to school for Accounting or Music Therapy.  During winter break, I observed both an Accountant and a Music Therapist.  I absolutely loved my time with the music therapist.  I went back to college after break, and enrolled in as many general education classes as I could to get them out of the way before getting into the music program for the fall.  I spent 4 years finishing classes for Music Therapy, but I still LOVED to play my flute.  And, I was very good at it.  I decided to stay an extra year and get a second degree in Flute Performance.  My dad considers this a "useless" degree.  "What can you do with that degree?"

And, honestly, while my dad was always quite negative about teaching and my performance degree, he does have a point, right?  Teaching is not an easy job, and it's not always fun!  Having a performance degree does nothing for you.  You have to continue on in school to get your Master's and Doctorate to be able to do anything with that.  And often when you get that far, you still struggle to make ends meet each month because you are teaching private lessons and traveling all over the place playing in 5 different orchestras in 5 different states.

As I said earlier, my husband is a high school band director.  I know all too well the struggles that he has.  Student retention, tiny budgets, small paychecks, school politics, LONG days (he still hasn't made it home from his first band camp day-it's 9:56 p.m. as I write this).  But, I also see the joy that teaching brings him.  When he can "get through" to those few students.  When students are so excited to come into the band room and tell him about their day.  When those same students make region band or state band.  And, who can complain about those summers off?  No teacher ever!  

We moved while I was pregnant, and I was not able to keep my job after having our daughter.  And, that was ok.  Because I was working way much harder than I wanted to, and I didn't really enjoy it.  I did not want to spend more time at work than with my family.  I chose to go back to college to get my Master's degree so that I could get my teaching license.  It was one year of school, and a huge sacrifice.  But, I now get to work with children and see the smiles on their faces every day.  I get to share my love of music every day.  I get to spend time with our daughter in the afternoons.  I get to spend time with my family during the summers.  I don't have to work on the holidays.  I get more time off from work (and do not have to ask for it).  I basically have the same yearly schedule as my husband and daughter.  No, I do not get paid enough.  Sure, sometimes teaching makes me crazy.  But, 


Whew!  That was long!  Now that I'm done, let me tell you about the giveaway!

After you're finished with the hop, you can enter a giveaway for your chance to win tons of teacher goodies that are sure to make you smile! Simply leave a comment on this post with an answer to the highlighted question at the bottom of this post. Then, do the same at each blog hop stop. When you reach the end of the blog hop, you'll be able to enter the giveaway for your chance to win!

The winner will receive some paper goodies to stay organized, an inspirational quote block for your desk, a book to make you laugh when you need it, hand sanitizer, a glass jar to store your pencils, magnetic clips, paper clips, binder clips, and push pins.

Here's the question you need to answer!

Why did you become a teacher?

Click on the image below to go to the next stop!  Happy hopping!

Planning: A Beginner's Guide

I ran across a post a few weeks ago on Facebook about an invite to participate in PlanWithMeSundays with Meghan from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris.  I looked at a few of the previous blogs, and was completely amazed at some of the planners I saw.  I thought "There is NOOOOO WAY I can participate in that!"  I haven't used a planner in over 6 years.  But, after looking at the blogs and thinking about it, I decided I NEED to get a planner, and I wanted to join in the fun!  And, this one has a giveaway, too!  Keep reading!

My planner is no where near as exciting as some of the others that have linked up, but I thought since I will consider myself a "beginner," maybe you can get some basic ideas to get yourself started, too!  I will give you some history about myself and then explain what I am planning to do with my planner for the rest of summer and beginning of the school year.

When I was in college (ages ago!) and in my first few jobs (not teaching), I lived by my planner and  desk calendar.  I LOVED being able to look at my calendar and know exactly what I needed to do.  I also LOVED being able to mark off each day as it passed, especially on my desk calendar.  My desk calendar was so pretty (cue the harp strings).....

I would write mostly work things on there since it was in my office.  There were a few personal things on there like doctors appointments and vacations.  But, my favorite part of the entire calendar was being able to color code marking off the days.  It was a rainbow of colors by the end of the month.  And, I never threw the month away after I tore it off.  I would fold that beautifully colored calendar into half and then half again and file it away in my desk drawer.  Those used months came in handy sometimes when trying to remember something!  I was also a Nazi (sorry) about my calendar!  If someone came into my office and wrote on my calendar or spilled coffee (gasp!) on it...........?!  Don't.Even.Think.About.It!

For several years, I had no need for a calendar (I thought).  I took a few years off from work when we had our daughter, and then I went back to school.  By then, Blackberries and iPhones came along with a calendar.  Fast forward to now.  I'm teaching, and I've tried to use that handy iPhone calendar for everything because, let's face it, my phone is ALWAYS with me, and my calendar isn't (especially since it was nonexistent).

But, in the past six years, I have found that I am more disorganized than I used to be.  This is not a trait I am proud of.  I used to pride myself on my organization and Type A personality.   I have blamed my disorganization on "mommy brain."  But, I can't do that forever.  No more!

I have been reading a lot recently about Erin Condren calendars.  Believe me, one of those is on my wish list.  Someday.  When I can afford it.  Maybe.  Quite frankly, it frustrates me that I can't see the Teacher Planner on their website right now.  I KNOW you're sold out, but I just want to LOOK at it!  However, I'm thinking it won't be useful for me anyway since I teach Music and not General Ed classes.  But, I don't know since I can't LOOK at it!

Enter my new planner! EEEEEK!

Since I couldn't afford the Erin Condren, and I really didn't want to pay that much for something I might not use, I decided to go to my local Office Depot and look around.  I found several calendars that would fit what I needed.  But, I decided to go with this one for several reasons.  As you can see below, it has both monthly and weekly pages.  It starts in July.  It's colorful, but not too colorful.  It's pretty, yet sophisticated.  And, most importantly, it's PURPLE!!!!!  

This will be my LIFE planner!  How will I use it?  Keep reading, and discover my tips for starting your very own planner.  And, here are a few pictures of my planner in action.

I have seen some AMAZING calendars lately with stickers, labels, and doodles all over them.  They are beautiful!  But, for me, that can be distracting.  And, again, I'm starting out.  I need simple.  So, I bought some erasable pens in several different colors.  I'll talk more about them at the end.  But, this leads me to my first planning tip.

Tip #1:  Color code everything!  I am a visual person, so I chose to use a different color for each member of my family.  I love that I found these pens because I can erase without any concern.  There is nothing worse (for me, at least), than writing something in ink and not being able to erase it if I misspell something or write the wrong time or date.

Tip #2:  Use every bit of space!  I used the notes section on the monthly calendar to write my to do list for the month.  It's not something that must be done right away, but if I look at it long enough, these items will get taken care of.  

Here is a before and after of the monthly view.

Tip #3:  Take it one week at a time!  I plan to write everything in the monthly section.  Each Friday or Saturday, I will take some time to write out the week ahead in the weekly section.  This will save me some time (since plans do change), and will also give me a chance to really look at the week ahead and change or discuss things with my husband before the hectic week begins.  

Tip #4:  Add to the weekly calendar anything you still need!  For me, I added some check off boxes to hold me accountable for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  I do think that this would be a great place to use some stickers as I can see this getting annoying to have to write in each week.  I also used the notes section on the bottom right to write some goals for product creation for TeachersPayTeachers.  

Tip #5:  Start small.  Know that this is a work in progress!  Plans change.  Months and weeks get busy.  Do your best.  Take it one step at a time.  Soon you will be planning with the best of them!

Now, about these erasable pens.  Yes, they really erase!  I'm not getting paid to promote them at all, but they are wonderful, and I thought I would share.  Actually, Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road blogged about them first.  She got hers from Amazon (probably cheaper, but I wanted them instantly, so Office Depot worked for me).  I would recommend to get the retractable pens that don't have a top to take off (which she linked to in her blog).

Here is my extremely basic video about the erasable pens.  I don't think I will ever use a standard ink pen again!  In fact, I let my husband borrow one the other night, and I have a feeling all of them will go missing very soon....  Thank goodness the store is only a few minutes away from us!

(I'm hoping this video works, and I apologize if it doesn't!  I'm still new at this.)

I'm sorry this was such a long post, but I hope you have gotten a few tips along the way!  I'd love to know what your top tips are for planning as well!

Now, that you are at the end of the blog, make sure to stop back over at Meghan's blog for more link ups and two giveaways!