12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

I can't believe it's THAT time of year again!! I feel like I just cleaned up  huge stacks of freshly torn wrapping paper, and presents that Santa was so gracious enough to bring to our humble abode.  

Well, if the tinsel is being hung, and the mistletoes are waiting for their yearly smooches beneath them, then I guess it's time for our annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!! AND that's nothing to be upset about!

Enter to win some tremendous prizes during a 12 day sweep brought together by the very talented Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs! See the links below to enter in each of our Day 4 giveaways!

This contest will run for 24 hours, so be sure to get your entries in! This is the PERFECT time of year to have something given to you, so why not give it a shot?! This may just be your winning ticket!

Please visit each of our TpT shop links to browse our classroom goodies!

Tips on Alleviating Stress Throughout the School Year

If I had a dollar for every time I came home from work stressed out and irritable, I would be a rich woman.  I wish I could have a show of hands to see just how many of you are with me on this one.  There were a couple of years that were especially challenging, for one reason or another, but with the new year approaching, it has opened up a door of thought in my mind.

Two questions come to mind.
Now, I'm not perfect, and I'm not a counselor of any sort.  However, I think that we'll agree that the following tips that I'm about to share are things that WOULD, in fact, create a more harmonious energy within ourselves, both in and out of school.  

The truth is, life is busy.  We are busy.  And with all of the chaos that buzzes around us from day to day, it's really hard at times to take a moment for ourselves, to reflect on what needs to change, and then figure out ways to create a change to promote inner peace.  We almost need a "playbook" of sorts to help us in every situation.  If only that existed.  Or does it?  I think it does.  I think that we have the power to create that change.  Our own "inner playbook" if you will.

Let's look at some reasons why we get irritated at work.  (I'm guessing here...and also reflecting on some of my own reasons for reaching my personal boiling point throughout the years.)

Unfortunately, friends, these things typically don't go away.  I'm aware of that, however, my goal today is to shift your thinking.   I believe that with a little planning, a couple of strategic and intentional moves, and some positive thinking, we can overcome a GREAT deal of stress this school year.  Let's give it a shot.  Why not!?

I remember days even in high school, I would wake up upset, annoyed, tired, unmotivated, or just downright cranky.  Don't we all?  We're entitled to those days!  But, do we REALLY like ourselves when we act like that?  Well, I sure don't.  

There's something so simple, yet so powerful in something that my mother told me as I grew into an adult.  Remember, she was there on those mornings...my behavior...my attitude rippled into her day, as well.  So, when I think back to the simplicity and truth of her words, they resonate inside of me to this day.  

She said...
So, with my mom's words of wisdom, and some good-old-fashioned life lessons in hand, I am happy to walk you through SOME of the ways that I'm certain we'll find some inner peace this school year.  

So, grab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat, and perhaps a little peace and quiet, and let's begin. :)
Oooooommmmmmmmmmmmm....................................he he! (I couldn't resist.)

It's true.  There is a definite power in words.  How simple would it be to surround yourself with positive quotes and insights, so that you can have a quick "pick me up" when you need it?  Everything from motivation to get healthy, to helping you through hard times in your life, there's a quote for every situation!  With Pinterest and Google at our fingertips, our quote library is there for the taking, and on demand!  
Here are a few that I just found...it took me ONE minute.

Our world is filled with noise, and when the world is quiet, our minds are filled with the noise of our thoughts.  We need to escape it all...even for a few minutes at a time.  If you are a morning person, you may want to do it then.  If you know that you are going to have a few minutes with your kiddos in the evening, allow yourself time to escape.  During school, close your door when you arrive in the morning or during your prep time.

As a mother, I feel the guilt of not giving my kids every waking second of my attention, but the truth is, I need to recharge.  I'm not at my best if I don't take to escape the noise.  Now, this doesn't mean that I leave the kids at the house by themselves while I go sit in the woods by myself!  This could mean...taking a bath, taking a walk, going for a bike ride, sitting on my porch to watch the sun set, or waking up early to watch the sun rise with a cup of hot tea.  It's AMAZING how much clarity you get from just a few minutes of peace and quiet, not to mention that these are the times that I get the most inspiration!

According to Psychology Today, a lack of organization is DIRECTLY related to stress.  
Here's what they had to say about it.

So, how do we de-clutter?  For me, my mind breaks that word into two categories.  

The first category being...
I joined TpT in 2013.  At that time, I KNEW that I had to make something to help me clear the clutter of my desk, and a place to put important documents so that I always knew where to find them.  It took me no time at all to come up with my editable teaching binders.  

Since that time, I have created 9 themes, along with 1 HUGE variety cover binder, that have helped thousands of teachers worldwide do the same exact thing! 

Here's a quick overview at what I came up with:

450+ pages in both a crisp PDF FILE, as well as an EDITABLE FILE, allowing teachers to customize to their heart's content. :)

2 Excel documents containing:
*100% editable lesson plan template
*100% editable grade book template that calculates both individual and class averages

Common Core checklists that allow for notes and assessment dates for grades K-5 
(both ELA and Math!)  

Here's a look at two of my most popular themes... "Navy Rainbow" and "Bright Colors and Buttons." This is just how I set it up for my classroom.  

To get a closer look at how I assemble my binders, as well as what's included, click here!
To see my binders in my shop, click HERE!

If you want variety, my Variety Binder is the one for you!!

To learn more about this binder, click HERE! To see it in my shop, click HERE!

This brings me to the second category in the organizational bin in my brain...
We have to leave home before we go to work.  If we leave in an unsettled way, at least for me, the rest of my day is rocky.  So, to avoid this, I would recommend a few different things.
I know that I have much more clarity at work when things at home are on track.

This is a BIG one for me.  Do you remember when I said that I had a couple of years that were less than perfect?  Well, I would say that negativity was the reason why.  Negativity, as you know, can happen at any time and in any situation by any individual.  It takes ONE negative person to bring an ENTIRE room's energy down.  I know, simply because I have seen it.  You know it's bad when you avoid one particular hallway because you may catch a glimpse of that ONE person.  That's bad.  

So, to avoid the negativity trap, I would encourage you to keep positive. 
This all goes back to my mother's words of wisdom...YOU CHOOSE how you want to feel!  DO NOT let others steal your joy!  Remain positive, and smile at the person that you're trying to avoid when you see them.  Who knows...maybe they'll smile back!  Maybe not, but let their negativity stay with them.  Go back to you classroom and smile.  That's YOUR space.  
I am lucky enough to say that I have found WONDERFUL people to be around at work, and that the energy in our hallway is one that brings joy to both the students and the staff that pass through.  It's actually fun to go to work now.

There are some really wonderful daily devotionals to read that would be a GREAT way to start your day.  Amazon has some great books on this topic.

Working out & eating right, whether we want to do it or not, are sure fire ways to alleviate stress. Sometimes, they are the hardest things to do, but I can't stress how much this CHANGES your entire being.  Making the simple decision to move, or to pick up an apple versus a donut...it is nothing short of empowering.  

When you begin, it's truly a meal by meal and move by move success story.  It soon turns into a day by day, then a week by week, and then a month by month success!  It takes 21 days to start a routine.
Let's just say it...those 21 days will NOT be easy, but you may just find that your day to day successes make you both a stronger person, and a stronger teacher.  The negative thoughts that you had about your body and yourself will dissipate, which will only make you a stronger person all around.

After I had my daughters, I had to lose 60 pounds!  YEP...I gained that much with each pregnancy...
I did Weight Watchers and worked out like crazy!  I ended up losing more than I even needed to, and felt better than ever.  It's still a struggle, but the days that I decide to move and to watch what I put in my mouth, I'm a nicer person.  Give it a shot!
For more great tips, please click on the icons below to see what some of my friends have to offer!  

How do you organize YOUR teaching binder? Binder Organization: 101

I started making teaching binders in 2013, when I finally said that enough was enough, and that I wouldn't spend yet another year in disorganized chaos.  So, after some time (two years, as a matter of fact), I have created nine teaching binders, all with different themes to help not only myself...but teachers everywhere to be a little bit more organized.  I have to say...I kinda like 'em!  From the feedback that I've gotten from teachers such as yourself, I think you do (will) too!  

The one resounding question that I have been asked over the last two years is...

Although I have offered suggestions to many teachers on that particular question, today's the day that I SHOW you what I put where! :)  

It really is a personal decision.  I'm simply going to talk to you about where I place the content, and then make some suggestions, as well.

So, without further delay...let's break this down, shall we?!

From the computer, to my printer, to my lovely dining table...let me introduce my Navy Rainbow binder, as it sets the stage for Binder Organization: 101.


{but with lots of pictures:)}

To begin, we're going to dig right in with my MEGA binder, which is
I'll begin with the pictures, and I'll end with the breakdown. Here comes my OCD... My pictures aren't as crisp and bright as I would have liked them to be, but that's because farmhouse chandeliers just don't do the trick in the photo shoot department.
{And, yes...that is a dog bowl and a Bath and Body Wallflower you see there...absolutely necessary

**See my extras below.  I think that I am going to keep all of my parent communication forms in a binder on their own this year.

You could add your calendars to this binder, as well.  You could even print them, so that they are front and back and then get them bound into a yearly calendar planner.  

Let's move on, shall we?  The good news is that the rest of my binders aren't quite as large.  I can't stress enough that you can manage your binders to your liking.  I am in no way saying that my way has to be YOUR way...do whatever works for you! 



Some of the forms I created for AR are meant for individual student tracking, so you can create AR folders for each of your students.  I also keep this information in a folder at my desk.

I think that I may keep all of my parent communication in a binder all on its own this year, simply because documentation and conference notes can build up throughout the year.  

I will talk to you about my assembly, but again, it's really up to you and what YOU prefer.  Some people really like to get their binders BOUND, while I prefer to use PAGE PROTECTORS, TABS, and a THREE-HOLE PUNCH.

What's the benefit of using page protectors and a binder, versus getting it bound?

I always encourage my buyers to get their binders printed through a professional printing company, such as Staples, Office Depot, Best Value Copy, or a local printer.  I do this, simply because the quality is unmatched, and the look of your binder will be at its ultimate potential.  This will cost you a little bit more in printing, so to make the most of your purchase, I always recommend putting your COVERS in page protectors, that way you can have the same pages for years to come!  You do NOT have to print the forms using those companies if you don't want to.  But the pages with a great deal of ink...yes...I would send those to the printers. Do you have to? Nope...not at all, but it is a lot nicer.

You can find page protectors pretty much anywhere...Wal Mart, Target, office supply stores..
Here's a link to one on Amazon.

The same goes for the tabs that I use to separate the section.  Here's a link to some that I really like!

I would also like to note that I think it would be a really great idea to get some of the binder bound. I have never done it, but as I am writing this post, a few ideas come to mind, such as creating a grade book and lesson plan book.  I am trying to find a cost-effective way to make these available to buyers, as well.  I would love to create a hard good for my buyers.  Until then, this may be something that you want to consider doing with the pages that I provide.

Final thoughts:
Classroom organization is a very personal thing.  I am super happy with my binders and they have helped thousands of teachers world wide!

Here's what a couple fellow teachers are saying about them:

If you decide to purchase one of my binders and have any questions, feel free to email me at mjudovich@gmail.com!  I take great pride in my customer service, so please know that your happiness is my #1 priority!

Follow the links to the right to visit my TpT Shop, Facebook, and Pinterest pages!  I would love to have you along for my educational journey!

I'm wishing each of you a WONDERFUL school year and blissful organization!