Burning Down the House! Or Donating Stuff. Whatever.

I am 3 days away from moving from Pennsylvania to Florida.  I’m not quite packed, but I’m almost there.  Turns out packing a 3 bedroom house is much more work than packing an apartment.  Anyway, as I sit here surrounded by moving boxes and packing tape, I am faced with the fact that there is a lot of stuff in my house that I reaalllllyyyy don’t need.  When I moved to Philadelphia to start teaching, I fit all my belongings in the back of Zelda, my Mercury Sable.  Once I started teaching I acquired books, stuffed animals, workbooks, bulletin board sets, pocket charts, and all manner of other things.  And that’s just for work.

So here I am, 3 days from moving to Florida, and I have bags and bags of garbage, bins to move, and boxes of things to donate.  And one thing keeps coming to mind.  How did this happen? 

Honestly, I always thought of myself as a bit of a minimalist.  I blame teaching.  Teaching has turned me into a pinteresting, crafting, oh-but-I-might-use-that-later crazy lady.  I just packed 12 cans of spray paint.  Seriously?  I don’t have a garage or a basement where I’m moving, so I’m not sure where I’m planning on spray painting, or what, but at least I’ll have color choices.

Anyway.  I asked my boyfriend if we could just pack what we wanted and burn the rest down.  He politely and patiently informed me that, no, arson was not a viable solution.  I should probably find another way to deal with the decrapification process.  So.  Keep, toss, or donate?  Tough questions.  Here, inspired by this blog post, I have listed the questions I  asked myself when paring down the boxes and boxes of teaching materials retrieved from the basement.

  • – Did you inherit it?  With the room or from another teacher?
  • – Have you used in the last year?
  • – Is it part of the curriculum?
  • – Does it belong to a curriculum you will teach again?
  • – Can it easily or cheaply be replaced?
  • – Does it make your room a better learning environment?
  • – Does it make your room more attractive?
  • – Does it have all the pieces?
  • – What condition is it in?

Take the giant Constitution print I have.  I have not used it in 3 years.  It’s in pretty good shape.  It is not part of my curriculum, but I know a Social Studies teacher who might like it.  Solved.  Give it away.  The bulletin boards and units leftover from my stint in Elementary School – give it away.  The board games with all their pieces?  Keep.  The 5 coffee tins that I was absolutely going to spray paint (!!!!) and use as storage?  Yeah!! No.  They’re in the recycling bin.

So I am hoping for an uncluttered move, an uncluttered apartment, and an uncluttered classroom.  We’ll see how it works out.

Update: I moved into my Florida apartment 17 months ago. The box of spray paint cans is still at the top of my front closet, untouched. Something is very wrong with me. Can I blame Pinterest for this one?

First Day Activities – Nightmare Classroom

I’m 21 years old.  I have just graduated college with my degree in Elementary Education.  It is the evening before school starts.  My very first classroom.  Squee!  Was I making cute bulletin boards?  Or writing names on adorable nametags?  No.  I am sitting on the floor of my classroom with a set of Allen wrenches, putting my student desks together.  I don’t have a chalkboard.  I don’t have desks.  I think I have textbooks in boxes somewhere, but I haven’t seen them yet.  School starts in less than 24 hours.

Still worried about your first day?

Relax.  It won’t be as bad you think.  Middle school and high school classes will be over before you’ve had a chance to go over homework and test procedures.  Elementary, well they are much easier to entertain.  Get yourself an awesome picture book, a getting to know you activity, a game or two, and you’re golden.

If I only get one thing done on my first day of classes, it’s the perfect classroom vs. the nightmare classroom activity.  I use this to develop the classroom procedures and to start behavior expectations with my students.  I have found that my students are often more strict than I am.  It also just makes sense to involve my students in the development of the behavior expectations to which they will be held.  Also, it’s kinda hilarious to see a kid’s idea of a nightmare classroom.

This is a super simple activity.  Tell the students not to write their name on their paper.  Tell them to describe their idea of a nightmare classroom and a ideal classroom.  What does it look like?  Sound like?  Smell like?  What kinds of behaviors will you see?  Tell them to be honest and realistic.  There will not be donuts handed out at the end of class instead of homework, (yes, I really got that as a response once).  No, they can’t have recess or lunch all day.

Give the class ample time to work on both classroom scenarios, and then collect them.  Explain that you will go over them and see what the kids all have in common, and from there you will develop classroom procedures and behavior expectations.  I think you’ll be surprised at the responses you get.

Education World had a great article about developing classroom rules.  Give it a peek here.

Have you tried this approach?  Had success with something else?  Leave a comment!

Just an intro…. No Pressure…


I am staring at a simple question.  And I am terrified.

Let’s create your first post.  What would you like to post?

This is it.  The first entry of my first blog.  The blog that is going to chronicle my new beginning, with a new job, in a new state.  The first entry of the blog I will (hopefully) collect and share some awesome teaching and learning tips.  The first entry sets the tone for your readers, so make it a good one!

What would you like to post?

Is this a heart attack?  Am I having a heart attack?  I am definitely having a heart attack.  Or panicking.  Most likely panicking.  I think I need a paper bag to breathe into.

What would you like to post?

Inches and Miles, right?  Ok go with that.  Think, Steph, think!

What would you like to post?

In inches and miles, we learn.  In inches and miles, we grow.  Inches become miles, and we find ourselves somewhere we never thought we would be.

What would you like to post?

I would like to post…. a purpose.

This blog was started because the lovely ladies over at NEPA BlogCon encouraged others to tell their tail.

I wanted a space to write about my new beginning, as well as a place to share ideas with other teachers, whether they are starting out or seasoned veterans.

I am beginning a new chapter in my life, quite literally 1,000 miles from where I started.  I am starting over.  And I want every inch, every mile I travel to have a home.


Did you bring me a paper bag to breathe into?

Leave a comment or tweet @inchesandmiles