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  • Writer's pictureKatie Powell

An Incomplete List of Things That Currently Make Me Happy

My book sales are down. Like, a lot. My last royalty report was discouraging. I felt like I'm failing, that I MUST be letting my publisher down.

I wondered, what I should do about it? Host a contest? Give away a few copies? Do some kind of promo?

And then I realized--I don't want to.

I'm a classroom teacher. And this year is hard. It's been hard for a long time now. And it's going to still be hard for quite some time to come. I fight discouragement and fatigue in--dare I say, unprecedented--proportions. Even at the end of good days, I come home so tired and mentally worn out, I just don't have the capacity for more.

It's that mental fatigue that's the worst. I just can't do one more thing.

Sometimes not even one more GOOD thing.

I've even canceled outings, in person or virtual, with friends, just because I don't want one. more. thing.

How about you?

I have a stack of unread teacher books collecting dust on my dresser and dining room buffet. They're great books. But I just can't. Not right now. So why would I push mine on anyone else? We just can't right now.

And that's OK.

So, here's what I decided. I decided I want to open the floor to the educator community to share what IS working these days. Let's share tools, services, strategies, podcasts, webinars, social media accounts, articles, blogs, and yes, books, that are keeping us going. Share what's working. Share what's bringing you joy. Heck, share a favorite snack or brand of sweat pants! Maybe something that's bringing you joy will bless someone else.

If you're reading this on social media, share it out with your own list. If you're reading this from my email listserve, comment here or share out on your own accounts. Y'all, it's really not about trying to get "views" up or anything.

I don't care about that.

What I care about is the community of educators. We're having a hard year. But we are good together. We are strong together. Heck, even if we aren't, at least we're TOGETHER. So let's take care of each other today by sharing out something helpful, hopeful, healthy, and happy.


Here's an Incomplete List of Things That Currently Make Me Happy

*Disclaimer: NONE of this is sponsored. I just genuinely love everything on this list.

  • These fleece-lined sweat pants. I LOVE anything soft and fuzzy. And these are THE BEST. Because they're so thick, I suggest ordering up a size if you're waffling between two. The really plush lining definitely takes up some space. I've had these since the original shut-down, and I wear them pretty much full-time when I'm home. And they've held up great. I sometimes fantasize about them when I'm at work. Or, maybe I don't. Because that might be weird. Even for me.

  • Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter. I have always been a Jiff girl. But the Peanut Butter Shortage of 2020 forced me to try other brands. And then I discovered Skippy. Y'all, I love this so much, I literally eat it every day.

  • These Sour Surge Jolly Ranchers. I love them. Well, not all of them. I love the cherry and the blue, whatever flavor that is. My only complaint is that they should label the flavor on each wrapper because the cherry and watermelon look so similar. And watermelon candy is an abomination.

  • #mschat and #waledchat on Twitter. These two teacher chats have been my lifeline to real conversations about staying afloat as a teacher. I find some of the BEST ideas and strategies on both, and I have developed real friendships with people, even if I've never met them in real life. If you're feeling a bit isolated, I encourage you to join, whether it's one of these chats or one of the other many awesome teacher chats on Twitter. #mschat is Thursday nights at 8 Eastern, and #waledchat follows at 9. Find out more about teacher chats on Twitter here.

  • The Six Minutes Podcast. We listen to an episode a day (and have double-features on Fridays), and my students are obsessed, so much so that they blew up my Google Classroom asking for an episode on our first snow elearning day.

  • Webinars. The ability to learn what I want, when I want, is definitely a good thing. I can control the tap. I can shut it off when I just don't have the mental capacity for something new and join all the webinars when I'm feeling adventurous. I like that so many are free or low-cost, live or on-demand. If you're a middle grades teacher, you can check out an awesome library of webinars here.

  • My favorite current fave ed-tech tools: Class Kick, Pear Deck, Class Dojo, Gimkit, Quizizz, Edulastic, and more. I've shared quite a bit about most of these before, so I'll just include the links. Feel free to ask questions!

  • Our current favorite brain break, the Greedy Game. Everyone stands up. I roll a die. The goal is to stay standing as long as you can but to sit before I roll a 2. Your score is the sum of all #s rolled before you sat. If I roll a 2 & you're standing, you get 0! Simple, easy, fast, and a moment of COVID-safe brain and body engagement.

  • Choice boards. There are some super-fancy templates out there, but I don't know how to do that (or don't take the time to do that), so mine are just hyperdocs. But giving students choice about what to do during a lesson has been awesome. I don't want to trigger myself or others by talking too much about what we've learned from COVID teaching yet, but choice is definitely something I've learned to love. I carefully select a variety of activities that support what we're working on in ELA, and students can pick what to work on. I give point values tied to our gamification system to some to encourage students to spend time on some of the more rigorous options but don't require it. Some activities are linear, some more creative. Some highly digital. Others analog. Choice is powerful.

  • These rocking chairs! I received a grant last school year to purchase some, and we LOVE them!

  • Individual whiteboards. Our brains and hearts are tired of the screens. The simple act of doing work on whiteboards is magical these days.

  • My fireplace. OK, so my house doesn't really have one. I have one of those plug-in heater things, but it's really nice. I love it.

  • This desk. I really got it for me, but my husband has been largely working from home since the Event started. This desk was affordable, it looks great, and it's VERY sturdy. Assembly wasn't too terrible either! Here it is in action while we were all working/learning from home on a recent snow day. You can see my husband at his (constantly insanity-inducingly messy) desk while I used the over-the-couch laptop table.

  • This digital picture frame. I ordered it for my mother-in-law for Christmas. She moved several states away a couple years ago and hasn't seen her grandkids in person in a long time. This frame uses an app that lets me easily send pictures directly to her. They go automatically to her frame, nothing for her to do to make it happen. I had the frame mailed to me first, I set it all up, and then mailed it on to her.

  • My colleagues. Our text chains, random walk-throughs of each other's rooms, and lunches together keep me going. I don't know how I could do these hard years without them.

  • My family. One great consequence of all the changes to life over the last year is more time home with my family. Yeah, I've been teaching in-person since Sept. 28, but something has shifted in my mind and heart--family time is king. Build a fort in the living room? Sure. Cat wants to snuggle? Looks like I'm not getting up yet. Wanda Vision and dinner on the couch? Sounds perfect.


There you go, an Incomplete List of Things That Currently Make Me Happy.

Please share yours!

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