Great Advice that Led to Great Planning

When I found out I was able to write for this blog, I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions. First, excitement! I finally have a window back into the education world, one where I could stay updated on the latest trends and write while I’m researching and learning. Once the excitement faded, I quickly became overwhelmed. How in the world would I come up with enough content to write about? Writer’s block was bound to happen. 

I was gifted the best advice on how to combat this. I needed to come up with a weekly schedule on the topics I would write about, giving me a starting point with each post. Brilliant! Answer me this- What teacher doesn’t love themselves a great outline? I spent a few days brainstorming the three topics I wanted to cover, fine-tuned them, and came to a decision. The three categories I landed on are easy for me because I’m still new to this. My hope is to let these topics be fluid and change based on my comfort levels as I continue. I have plenty of other topics I would love to write about in the future, but confidence needs to build before I am willing to jump in and write about them. So without further ado, here is my less than perfect outline. 

Monday- Play is a Child’s Work: Writing in my Realm 

My current students are a two-year-old and one month old. I am choosing not to teach in a classroom setting right now because I have the wonderful opportunity to be home with my kids to raise and teach them instead. We learn every day through play, whether it’s them doing the learning, or myself doing the learning through their actions, we’re all growing. 

Wednesday- Research Shows 

I have often read articles or participated in conversations that state “Research shows…..” followed by a fairly bold statement. What is this research? Where was it done? How was it conducted? And how can we best apply it in our teaching? These are the questions I would like to explore and analyze in my writing, with the hope of using my findings to have a more solid idea of what research shows, how to find the real research, and what exactly the research means in the classroom setting. 

Friday- Using Books in Teaching 

Confession: I may have graduated with a degree in Elementary Education with every intention of using it to teach K-6 someday. (More on this in my introduction post) However, if you were to ask me what my dream job is, like what I really, really would love to spend my days doing, it would be a librarian in an elementary setting. I love reading and I love using books to teach, just like *almost* every other teacher out there. Fridays are my day to choose a book, or books, that have helped me in my teaching profession and share them with you on how to use and apply it in the classroom. 

I am eager to work on each of these topics and share it with you. My hope is that they will direct but not limit me. I am going in with complete fluidity, changing where needed, and expanding when possible, and my hope is that you will come along on this journey with me. 

What are some ways you have overcome writer’s block? Has a writing schedule benefited you in your writing, or limited you? 

Photo Credit:

An Introduction to Me- McKenzie Ross

My name is McKenzie Ross and I graduated from Utah State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Language Arts. 

Hi. I’ve just been waiting three years for the opportunity to say that. I spent a good chunk of my life going to school to study education and how to become the best teacher possible, only to quickly become a stay at home mom soon after. It’s not exactly how I planned my life to go, but alas, it’s how it happened and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. 

Here I am now, with the opportunity to finally say those words in a meaningful space. My name is McKenzie Ross and I graduated from Utah State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Language Arts. 

Gosh, that feels so good. 

Let me give you some background on me. My teaching experience started in my parents’ basement out in the sticks in Idaho at just six years old. I would sit at our little white desk making worksheets and coloring pages for my sister to do. I would sit her down at the desk and say, “this is the letter A. It says a like a-a-apple. Now draw A’s on your paper and color this apple.” 

Thank goodness my teaching has improved since then. 

I knew early on that teaching was my calling in life. In fact, I don’t remember a single time that I didn’t want to be a teacher. In high school I took an Early Childhood Development class that helped me obtain my CDA- Child Development Associates. Basically I could run a daycare if I wanted to. Not much of an accomplishment, but it was one step closer to where I wanted to be, and that was exciting! 

Later on in high school I did a volunteer project teaching a second grade class music twice a week, because at the time in Idaho, music classes had been cut. Although I spent countless afternoons making my sister color pages and learn from me, I truly do attribute teaching music as my first real ”teaching” experience. While I do feel like it was a great start, I am still so glad I went on to continue my learning to become an educator and improve my skills.  

I attended school at quite possibly the best university in the nation (okay, maybe I’m biased). Utah State University will always be near and dear to my heart and I will forever teach my kids to say “Go Aggies!” because I believe in teaching them important values in life, like which school is the best. While attending school there, I volunteered in a 4th grade classroom grading papers and reading with kids for a semester because I longed to be back in the school system and working in a classroom while I was still in my general studies. 

Later on, I found a job working in an after school club tutoring elementary aged kids. A year into this job, I was bumped up to supervisor of the after school club, which was an incredible opportunity for me to run an entire kids program at the age of 19. Once my school work started interfering with this position, I went back to nannying two kids that I had been working with on and off since I had initially moved to Logan for school. 

The way the education department is set up at USU, by the time I was graduating I had already worked in five different classrooms, all in different grades, each in a different school. Along with two seperate P.E. classes at, yet again, another school. Just from my schooling, I was exposed to six different elementary schools in Cache Valley, with different principals, teachers, and styles at each of them. Not to mention the after school program I ran and the volunteer work I did. 

I graduated from school in December of 2016, and in an area so saturated with teachers, that finding a teaching job mid school year was not an option. I signed up to become a substitute teacher, then exposing myself to the secondary education world. While I did enjoy being in these classrooms for a day, it reassured me that as far as long term goes, elementary is where I needed to be. 

During my time subbing, I was given an incredible, life changing opportunity to become a long term sub in a first grade classroom. I spent the last nine weeks of school (which we all know are the hardest weeks of school!) with these 27 kids. Yes, you read that right. My first grade class had TWENTY-SEVEN kids. This was the bulk of my teaching exposure, and something I will write about later on. 

Shortly after that school year ended, my daughter, Emersyn, was born. I made the decision to stay home with her instead of working, however, I couldn’t COMPLETELY rid myself of the school system. So I found a job as a crossing guard, stuck my tiny baby in a backpack carrier every morning and afternoon, and became best friends with the 50 or so kids that would cross my cross walk every day. Also during this time I attended conferences and seminars to keep up my teaching licence and continue my networking in the education system. Later when she was older I started substitute teaching again.  

She is now two years old, and I just had my second baby one month ago, so no more subbing for awhile. My son Easton was born at the beginning of August, and now I teach the two cutest students I’ve ever taught. Staying home with them has been the biggest blessing (challenge?) for me, and I am so lucky to do so. 

When I heard that Mary had a job option that allowed me to still stay home, but also still be connected to teaching, I knew I had to look into it. It all happened so fast, and I’m still a little blown away that they would choose me to do this. 

I have only known Mary for about a year now, but she is still one of the most inspiring people I know. The more I’ve learned about her, the more I’ve realized we have a lot in common. Often times I’ve read her #teachermom posts and thought to myself, “Okay, how did Mary read my mind, and who gave her permission to write about it and claim it as her own?!” 

She’s an incredible woman, and the reason I have this incredible opportunity. I cannot promise to write as amazing of content as she did, but by golly I am going to try! I am so excited for this little platform to give me a window back into the educator world while I am stepped away for now. My goal is to raise my family and go back to teaching once they are in school themselves. 

I dream of the day I have my own classroom that my kiddos run to once school is over. I long to be back in the trenches of grading papers and writing notes home to parents about field trips and movie days. I so badly look forward to the fresh smell of crayons and pencils at the beginning of the school year. Weirdly enough, I long for those frustrating days with students that misbehave and make the day plain hard, because I know deep down it’ll be rewarding somehow. But until then, I’ll just be right here, happily teaching my two little students and writing blog posts.