This week's post marks our first ever BubbleUp Classroom Take10. We are super excited to bring this new feature to our BubbleUp Classroom readers. As you know, we believe to our core that when teachers share great ideas bubbleup. In that spirit, we'll be doing a
Q and A every month with one educator. We'll ask each educator the same TEN questions and see what amazing things we learn on along the way.
We're beginning our Take10 journey with educator Jes McCutchen. She's also the creator of Planner Flotsam (Instragram: @PlannerFlotsam). At the end of this post, she's offering a fantastic free give-away for teachers. Here's sneak peak of the charming planner stickers she's designed just for our BubbleUp readers.
So fun, right?!?
So let's all Take10 with Jes McCutchen.
Job: High School Special Education Teacher (Science; Life Skills)
Number of Years in Education: 7
Where: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Jes (center) with students at the
Special Olympics State Games in 2017.
1. Why Education?
Education runs in my family, so it was only a matter of time before I joined the ranks. The big difference for me was finding my niche. I just love teaching students with intellectual disabilities, and I feel like I can really make a difference with them. Once I started teaching, I quickly realized it was the right place for me to be.
2. What is your education mantra?
“Be the Wind." It is so easy to get overwhelmed by everything that is demanded of us. “Be the Wind” is about letting things roll past you that may otherwise derail your day. Upsetting things like angry parents, or additional paperwork can bog you down, so instead “be the wind” and be flexible, let it brush by. Plus plans change constantly and teachers have to be flexible to survive. I would rather laugh it off and do a silly wind blowing movement with my hands, than let all the things get to me.
3. What is your daily routine?
My routine actually starts in the evening. I always set aside a few minutes to check my planner and look at my past day and the day coming up. I make sure I am aware of any meetings and that any paperwork I need to have ready is good to go.
4. What is your favorite lesson of all time?
I was teaching middle school geography and I put out a request on a board gaming website for people to send my class postcards. We got them from not only dozens of states, but also many countries from all over the world. We covered a bulletin board with the postcards and marked their origins on the map. Each time we got a new one we would study that place for a day and the students loved it.
5. If you could change one thing about school's what would it be and why?
Schools have come a really long way as far as including students with disabilities goes, but we can do even better. I’m lucky to be at a large school with many resources and opportunities for my students, but what makes the biggest difference is when other teachers go out of their way to include them. I’ve had a creative writing teacher invite my students to participate in a poetry reading and help them write their poems. Leadership teachers invite them to participate in assemblies, and science teachers invite my class to participate in experiments. Special Education can be so isolating for the students and SPED teachers; it’s remarkable when the school world opens up to them.
6. What three words would you use to describe your day as an educator?
Before and after I started using my planner these words are very different. Before would be “rampant overwhelming chaos." Now it’s “organized flexible chaos."
7. What's one education related hack that you can offer to our readers?
I use my planner constantly. It keeps me on track both daily and lets me see the big picture framework of the entire semester. As a special education teacher I make stickers for my file kiddos at the beginning of the semester with just their initials and a box to check. Then when I have file-wide paperwork (quarterly progress reports, ESY paperwork, testing, etc.) I can use it as a checklist and put it right into my planner. I also use my specific planner because it has areas for both personal and work tasks. Helps to keep me well-rounded.
8. What's one piece of advice you would give to new educators?
Ask for help! It is hard to admit when we need it, but if you can get out ahead of being overwhelmed that’s the best. Every educator has been where you are and the first year can have many challenges. But teachers love to teach, and that goes for teaching new teachers too. If you’re a special education teacher, set up your calendar way in advance. Look at when all your IEPs will be coming due, and start scheduling them 4 weeks before they’re due. Giving yourself that cushion makes your job much less stressful.
9. What do you hope students and colleagues will say about you one day at your retirement party?
It is my biggest hope that my students and their families will say that I helped them live a more full and successful life after high school. As a SPED teacher it’s so important for me to help families look into the future for their students, and I hope that they will come back and tell me about all the success they’ve found and the interesting things they have done.
10. What are you reading, watching, listening to, or following these days?
Reading The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, watching a lot of Netflix stand-up comedy specials, and listening to the podcasts “Reply All” and “The Odd Coyote.”
As promised, Jes has used to her planner talent to design Back to School stickers (perfect for a planner) especially for BubbleUp Classroom readers. To be entered in the giveaway, share this post on Facebook or Twitter, or leave us a comment below. So enter the giveaway, and get inspired and energized for the upcoming school year. And don't forget to follow Jes on Instagram @PlannerFlotsam for planner inspiration and know how.
-Corey and Gretchen
P.S. If you are an educator who would like to be featured in an upcoming Take10, or if you know of someone else who should be, let us know. We'd love to hear from you!
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