Saturday, May 24, 2014

10 Things I want to do This Summer

A lot of my teachers friends are looking forward to their summers right now. They are all talking about their big plans, and enjoying time. It doesn't quite work that way for tutors though. But I decided to jump in on the conversation anyway. I mean, even though I'll still be working, there's a lot to look forward to! So, inspired by Deanna Jump from Mrs.Jumpsclass, here are the 10 things I want to do, or rather, I'm looking forward to, this summer. 

1. Last summer was CRAZY with all the extra tutoring hours I picked up, so I neglected my fam....I definitely HAVE to carve out the necessary time to spend QUALITY time with them this year!

2. My hubby bought me a beautiful red bike a couple years ago, and I rode it like crazy the first, last year I slacked off (what with all those extra tutoring hours I picked up), so this year, I want to get out on the trails a lot more often. I have great friends to ride with, and they've built some lovely new trails around my area to explore!

3. A few of my TPT buddies live sort of close, so we are planning a meet up this summer. Really excited to meet these wonderful ladies in person!

4. Hopefully I have a few kids sign up for my summer enrichment classes, because I'm looking forward to establishing my face and name with tutoring around here!

5. Hubs got a new job working at a camp ground. It's been too long since my family has gone camping. (Partially since mom doesn't really like to camp) But the kiddos love it so much, and with Dad working right there, he doesn't even need to take time off! 

6. We did not spend enough time in the water last year, and we live SURROUNDED by water, there's no excuse! This year, I'm looking forward to falling asleep on the beach while my kiddos and their gma play in the sun!

7. My 15 year old just bought herself a Bamboo Tablet. She's a fantastic artists and is going to create custom clip art for my teaching projects over the summer. I'm looking forward to setting up an Etsy shop for her and helping her market her talent!

8. It has been a long cold winter. I'm looking forward to shorts and t-shirts. 

9. There is a slight possibility my family will be relocating, so I'm looking forward to going through everyone's closets, the basement, the entire house and downsizing. I say looking forward to this, but I really mean dreading it! I hate purging...I always have, even though I know its necessary, its just SO MUCH WORK!! 

10. With that last one there, I'm looking forward to finding all the lost treasures under beds, behind bookshelves and buried deep in the closets..Maybe I'll finally find the missing shoe to my favorite pair!?

What about you? What are you most looking forward to this summer?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Tutor's Got to Eat What a Tutor's Got to Eat

You know the feeling. It's 6:30 in the evening and you are on the road to your 2nd or 3rd student for the day. Everyone's homes smell like delicious food. But you have 3 hours until you return home for your evening meal.

What do you do?

I tell ya, I have a stock of my go-to super foods that I keep in my car. I also have an emergency baggie in my tutoring bag. At any given moment, there will be a bag or can of nuts, any variety, I especially like honey roasted peanuts or salted cashews, but I also grab a bag of mixed nuts, or toasted almonds. I also usually have one or two protein or energy bars. I like Special K, but also will grab other brands when they are on sale. I often have some sort of chocolate back up, like mini Hershey's or a bag of M&Ms, maybe a Snickers. The emergency bag in my tutoring bag are hard candies, mints or cinnamon, that will give me that quick "stop growing stomach" I need after 35 minutes of smelling Mrs. Thompson's meat loaf! They also help if I get a little tickle in my throat and my water bottle is getting low.

Are these healthy choices? Maybe, maybe not. Some weeks I do better than others. But it got me thinking. What about other tutors? Is this a problem we all face? Wouldn't it be nice to have a list of go-to-foods that are quick and easy (able to be eaten on the road in between students), non-bad-breath-causing, and healthy TOO!?

So here's a list of foods I've found, through various sources, along with their benefits/disadvantages.

Photo Courtesy of Tony the Tiger at

  • Nuts and Seeds. These are great for you in just about every variety. (Although, some people may have allergies.) Here's what the experts over at WebMD have to say about adding seeds and nuts to your daily diet: "Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, says Pratt, explaining that higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn't matter, although if you're on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts." I buy my seeds and nuts in bulk, then I mix them and season if I'm feeling like it, and separate into Ziploc baggies. I keep a bag in my van because the cold and heat don't bother the nuts! I always have an easy brain boost if I need it between students :) 
    Photo Courtesy of
  • Whole Grain Cereals. You might be thinking, "What, I'm no 2 year old!" But listen up, if the stuff is good for their growing minds, wouldn't you think it's good for yours as well? Read what the WebMDs have to say about. "Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice can reduce the risk for heart disease. "Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow," says Pratt. "If you promote cardiovascular health, you're promoting good flow to the organ system, which includes the brain." While wheat germ is not technically a whole grain, it also goes on Kulze's "superfoods" list because in addition to fiber, it has vitamin E and some omega-3s. Kulze suggests 1/2 cup of whole-grain cereal, 1 slice of bread two-thee times day, or 2 tablespoons of wheat germ a day." This is another great snack to prepare ahead of time. Keep a few baggies already prepare. But I wouldn't store these in your car, I've done that before, and the heat in the summertime definitely ruins a nice bag of multigrain Cheerios! They get sticky and soft. YUCK! SO, you need to keep these in a cool dry place in the house, but grab them when you don't have time to eat before your first lesson.  

    Photo Courtesy of
  • Chocolate, or more accurately Dark Chocolate. In a bar, a drop, a name it! The folks over at FitDay say this little snack has TONS of health benefits, from helping control blood sugar to improving cognitive functions. I don't know about you, but 3 students in for the evening with 2 to go, I can use a little balance and clarity! They also said that dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants.   "Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging." I already mentioned i keep a few mini candy bars on hand in my car...not so much in the summer though. I guess I need to be making sure these are DARK chocolate from now on!
Do you have a favorite on the go snack? Share it with the rest of us!

Sources used in this post include FitDay @ and WebMd @

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Student Routine

You Got it! Yay! That new parent you have been talking to over the last couple days has decided to hire you as their child's new tutor.

pic courtesy of

Now what?

How do you go about setting up your new student? Do you create a file for each student? Do you have an assessment system for getting the student on track? Do you have a system in place to keep track of each student's goals and progress? How about the financial side of things?

What works for one doesn't always work for another. But here's what I do.

1.Set up a new folder. I always use regular office folders (used to be the manilla ones, but I kept getting them confused so I went to the dollar store and picked up the bright colored ones. SO much easier!)
    • I staple an index card to the top inside cover with pertinent information about the student. Including phone number, address, and email. The student's grade level and area of difficulty, and the school they attend. I also include brief notes from the parent on what skills need to be our focus; such as are we just completing homework, are we trying to get ahead, are we stepping back to gain more understanding, etc..).  

    • I staple a small stack of lined filler paper to the inside of the front cover. Three staples along the left side make a nice little notebook for session notes that all stay in place and in order!  

    • I also include some essentials: A print out of the student's school standards for their grade level (sometimes the grade before and after as well), my goal tracking sheets (see this post for more info on these), a learning style questionnaire for the parent to complete with the student,  and some math jokes or something to break the ice with the student.

2. Gather manipulatives. Most of my students are math students, and they typically range from 3rd to 5th grade. But once in a while I get a reading student, or a high school math students. In this case, I need to make sure I have what I need at my fingertips to help each student. What are some that I always have on hand?
    • Place value manipulatives are a must! I use the old fashioned ones that don't break apart.

    • I have a little jar with change in it. The real stuff, not plastic or paper. Tactile learners love to see these and I think it helps to have a blend of older coins and neer ones so the student can see the different faces, backs, and what-not. 
    • My cards! I have several set I keep on hand. UNO cards are an absolute must for me (see a post about ways I use them). I also made a set so I could have numbers 10 and higher, gave them a quite Rock Star theme special for one of my students. And then an integer pack a friend of mine made (a post is coming soon about these). 
    • Dice! I have several dice, the regular dot type, ones with number, and I'm working on locating some ten sided and fraction dice too (have any great buys you'd like to share? Please leave a comment!).
    • My wipe off boards (dry erase boards). These are an ABSOLUTE must for me, and sometimes I make an extra one for each student to keep at their home. I will grab some re-usable worksheets/printables that I think will work nicely for the new student, and then adjust a our time continues together. 

3. Add the student's information to my database. I just set up an excel workbook, and I keep important info in there. If I don't set this up BEFORE I start the first session, it might take me a week or more to get it in there, so I have to get it done right away. I include extra phone numbers, and special needs information, anything that helps me keep track of the student, their needs, and our lessons together. Sometimes my new students come from a referral service (check out the WyzAnt System). In this case, all that goes into the database is contact info, since WyzAnt keeps track of lesson details, financials, and even mileage!).

4. Add the student to my calendar. I just put the info into my smart phone and set the reminder that will give me time to get there on time. I always like to arrive at least 5 minutes early for the first session, so we can get the introductions out of the way without charging for that time. When putting a session into my calendar, I always extend the time at least 15 minutes in each direction (depending on drive time to the next session). That way if the student isn't ready when I get there we can wait a couple minutes, or if we are right in the middle of a thought when the hour is up we don't have to rush past it. Sometimes this works out well, and I end up with 20 minutes in between a long stretch of students. Nice so I can stop and use the restroom or fill up the gas tank, swing through Arby's for a Jamocha Shake (mmm).
pic courtesy of

And that's about it. How about you? I'd love to read about your routine!

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