Cart 0

Blog — "school"

That Blog Post That I've Been Waiting to Write

Heidi Shenk "business" "etsy shop" "school"

Ever have one of those blog posts that you dream of writing, but you have to wait until that right moment? Well, people, that post is happening today. And what is that post about? It's about how I quit my day job. Yup! You read that right. After over a year of contemplating, I finally did it!!! Woot woot!!

I have always known that I wasn't meant to be a teacher my entire life, that I'd eventually want to move on to something new. Over the past two years I started really feeling burned out and found myself much happier with my handmade business. Then there was that pivotal moment when Andrew and I went out to dinner on a Friday night in January and we just sat there talking about school and how much I hated it and how stressed out I was about it and how stifled I was feeling. We were also talking about how happy I was when I was working with my hands in my card business, how much creative energy I was able to use in my designs. Ultimately, Andrew said, "You remember when we were in college and we were dirt poor? Those were some of the most fun moments of our lives. Wouldn't you rather be poor and happy than rich and unhappy?"

It was a moment of reality-- one that made me understand just how unhappy I was with my teaching job, and a moment in which I realized Andrew's happiness was at risk because of my own unhappiness.

I decided in that instant that I would be moving on. It had been in the works for a while. I had planned on coming back for one more year of teaching, long enough for me to totally pay off my student loans to provide a little more financial stability. I couldn't imagine having to give up another year of my happiness just to pay off some loans that will be manageable anyway.

If you're unhappy, you are the only one that can change that. I was unhappy, so I decided to change that.
via NeueGraphic
I am turning 30 in September. I am not afraid of getting older. I am afraid of not living my life to its fullest potential. There are so many things that I want to do in my lifetime that I know change needs to happen now.

Before my Spring Break, I spoke with both my Principal and Assistant Principal and let them know I would be leaving at the end of the year. A couple weeks ago, I handed in my letter of resignation, and this past week I told my students that I would be leaving. While a huge weight had lifted off of me, I also had a very rough week dealing with the emotions of breaking the news to my students. Some of them wanted to know why I was leaving them, which was the toughest part of all. One of my closest students sat in the classroom with tears in his eyes. One of my basketball players made me promise her I would still come to see her games. They did not make it easy for me and I hadn't expected they would.

After sharing the news with one of my former students, I felt better. He said, "Ms. Shenk, all I want is for you to be happy. If you're happy, then I'm happy. Life isn't fun if you're not happy." Here I had spent a good three years dishing out advice to this kid and here he was dishing it back at me. Being happy. That's what life is about.

So where does life lead me next? My card business! At the end of the school year, I'll be taking a quick break and then return to work being self-employed working from home. I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot of you to thank because I know my business wouldn't be what it is today without all of you! Aside from working full time with my business, there will also be a few other crazy things to look forward to in my future! Let's just say that 30 is going to be an amazing year!

And to celebrate and thank YOU ALL, for the next few days you can use the code WOOTWOOT25 to get 25% off everything in my shop and 25% off all blog ads. I'm looking forward starting this new adventure in the coming year!

P.S. 24 school days til I peace out from Baltimore City Schools! And yes, I've been counting down. You know that's how I do! ;)

Read more →

The Perks of Being a Teacher

Heidi Shenk "school" "Washington DC"

Part of being a teacher means that you get to go on really awesome field trips. And our school just so happens to know how to plan a good field trip. A week ago, we spent the day in DC with all of our middle school kids. I've been to DC more times than I can count, but despite the fact that DC is only a short 45 minute drive away, most of my kids have not been to DC. They had no idea that all of the Smithsonian museums were free, that the National Mall was not a shopping mall, and that snipers like to hang out on the roof of the White House (yes, that was bit of fun and trivia for them that they were most excited about). We were dropped off along the National Mall and headed to White House first. On our way walking to the White House, the Presidential helicopter flew in, Barack Obama on board returning from Afghanistan, and landed on the White House lawn. Unfortunately, my group was not quick enough to make it there in time to President Obama get off the helicopter, but many of the other groups of students were-- truly an amazing experience for them that they will not forget.

After a stop at the White House, we headed to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. I wanted to take my students here because we had read several short stories in class that dealt with the Vietnam War. We actually ended up spending the most time here as my students searched for people that shared their last name and got etchings of the name as a keepsake. They were amazed with the number of names on the wall and how huge the monument was.

Next, we headed to the Lincoln Monument, counting each step as we made our way up to Abe.

Then, down to the Korean War Memorial.

Next, the World War II Memorial.
A quick rest at the Washington Monument.

And finally a stop at the Natural History Museum to end the day. 

It was a lot of walking (I certainly didn't mind) and the kids got tired quickly, but I kept pushing them to continue on so they could soak in as much as possible. Wouldn't it be awesome if every day in the classroom was like this? ;)

Have you been to our nation's capitol? What is or was your favorite thing to visit in Washington, DC?

Read more →

How to Make Tests Less Boring to Grade

Heidi Shenk "school" "teaching"

I'm sick of grading tests. I had a grand total of about 140 tests to grade this week. One of the Language Arts skills I was testing was how to make an inference about what happened in a text. So I stuck a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in the test and the kids had to make an inference about it.

Contrary to popular belief, Calvin and Hobbes in no longer funny. Maybe that's what happens when you've read the same comic strip a gazillion times.

Read more →

The Classroom

Heidi Shenk "school" "teaching"

Where have I been? In my classroom. I spent the last two days getting relatively nothing done, or so I thought. However, these photos seem to make me think otherwise. This is how things looked on Thursday morning after spending a little bit of time on the room on Wednesday afternoon.

And this is how it looked when I left on Friday afternoon.

Sorry about the crappy phone photos. So I've gotten a lot more done than I had imagined, but still have a lot of decorating to do. Not to mention, I need to set up those desks. I'm sure there will be more photos to come.

The biggest struggle is finding enough storage space. Our middle school team has moved from the main building to our modular building. The plus side-- much more operable windows that actually allow full sunlight to come through, walls that you can staple things to instead of concrete block walls, and our own thermostats so you can control the heat and cooling in your room. The down side-- no cabinets and a downgrade in the size of my room. I spent yesterday afternoon running to Target to buy two more book shelves and then putting them together. I'll probably have to buy another one yet when all is said and done.

I'm slowly getting into the school frame of mind. Our week of professional development starts on Monday, but I'll be enjoying these last two summer days. Today we head to the Hot August Blue & Roots Festival. A perfect way to end the summer!

Read more →

Back to School... I Guess

Heidi Shenk "school"

Reality has hit me. Teachers have to be back this coming Monday in Baltimore City which basically means lots of professional development. With that in mind, as usual, I must find the self-discipline to get back to school early (without being paid at that... ugh) and start setting up my classroom. Today will be less of the set up, but more of the purchasing variety. I'll be making stops at my local teacher resource stores to pick up a few things before heading to school.

This year, our entire middle school wing is moving to a different location of the building so unpacking will also involve some serious box moving. In addition, my new classroom is a serious downgrade in size from the room I've had for the past three years. This makes me quite sad as I have one of those, get up and move around, hands on kind of teaching styles.

While these are big changes to deal with, I am excited about one change-- I'll be teaching Social Studies again! By far my favorite subject to teach and what I'm best at as well, I'm looking forward to all of the crazy simulation lessons I previously taught for U.S History and all of the cultural aspects of World Geography. When I found out I would get to teach Social Studies again, I literally "woohoo-ed" with my hands in the air and then did a little dance in the school hallway. In addition, I'll still be teaching Language Arts, making my classes a combined Humanities class which I think will be super interesting.

Needless to say, as I've started getting myself in the right frame of mind to set up my classroom, here are a few things I've stumbled upon that are perfect for the upcoming school year.

via 'i do' it yourself

via Clean & Scentsible

via Modern Parents Messy Kids

via ReForm School Rules

via Flickr
Any creative school year ideas? Let me know! I'm always up for something new to add to my room to make it fresh!

Read more →