Ron Clark Academy

It's been a week, and I'm still soaring from my trip to Atlanta. I find myself trying to figure out how I can get back, simply to soak in the greatness even more.

The energy was unlike anything I've ever experienced. 

The students were the most respectful children I have ever met. 

The teachers' passion was contagious. 

I want to go back. 

Not only did I get to learn from some of the best, but I was able to share this experience with some of my dear blogging friends. We shared laughs, ideas about what we had learned, and I know I walked away with strong friendships from this experience.

That first morning, we didn't really know what to expect. When we walked into the academy, we were greeted by kind students, loud music, trampoline jumping, and dancing. (lots of dancing- I'm in heaven any time I can shake it.) My friend Stephanie, from Falling into First, even got to go on the trampoline! The energy was out. of. this. world. It was interesting to me because I start my day with calm music, where the students enter silently. This was different for me, but was thinking, "Wow! This could be really fun!"

Kim Bearden and Ron Clark are simply genius. 

Have you ever gone to a PD where you are so engaged that you can't take your eyes off the speaker, can't take notes fast enough, and are in awe of what you are hearing? Well, that's exactly how I felt about both of these individuals. I seriously couldn't write things down fast enough. Their stories were inspiring. Their passion for education, their students, and their mission was beyond admirable. I'm forever grateful for their encouragement and support of education. 

The environment of the Ron Clark Academy blew me away as well. (Let's get real... what didn't blow me away here?) They have done an incredible job making the building so welcoming, engaging, and putting a personal touch on it with student pictures. The pictures of the staff and students were probably my favorite part of the hallways. I loved seeing pictures of them on their trips, events, or inspirational quotes that they created.

Y'all (no, I'm not southern)... I was slide certified. 

I'm not gonna lie... I was a little scared of this slide because I get really claustrophobic. 

Well, I FLEW down this slide, and was greeted by dancing students and thumping music. 

The best part: what this slide represents...

When Ron Clark explained the significance of this slide, I got goose bumps, and like you, could relate so much to his analogy. The slide represents our lives. It winds around and around, just like our own journey. We could take the stairs, the straight and narrow path. But the truth is, that's not what life is like. If you all know me well, you know my life over the last year has been nothing short of twists and turns, ups, and downs. However, those bumps and turns have made me a stronger person, stronger than I've ever been before. So, with courage, I went down that slide and did it. The significance was huge for me. I really hope all of you can go to the Ron Clark Academy to do this!! 

Hope introduced us to Mr. Clark and then he signed our books. When I got to him, he asked me what my blog was called. I told him, "The Balanced Teacher." He looked at me and said, "I am still trying to find balance. Something we all need." I told him how this little blog of mine was a work in progress and that I simply want to inspire people to take time for them. He looked me in the eyes and just smiled. This is a moment I'll never forget.

These girls. I love each of them. If you're not following them, go do it now!

I have only been back for a week and I can already tell a HUGE difference in my teaching. I am in my 11th year and this by far was the greatest experience of my teaching career. I came back to Chicago energized, alive, and even more passionate about my job. Not to mention, I have started dancing on my guided reading table. (Just sayin'...) I have had so many parents come to me and tell me about how their children came home and told them about my trip. One parent even told me how their daughter told them the analogy of the slide. I was so incredibly happy to hear this! I have been reading the Essential 55 aloud to my students and they love it!

I thought to myself, "Crystal, this passion and energy was always there, why did it take this trip to rejuvenate that?" 

The answer is simple: I got tired. I got overwhelmed. Life happened. 

If you're still reading, I challenge you to tap into that energy. As Wade King said, "What's your why?" 

Find your why, friends. 

Mine was easy to figure out: my kids need me. They need me to be energetic and alive while teaching them. So, I put my tiredness and issues aside. I walked into my room on Monday of this week and have been teaching like my hair is on fire for the last week. It. Feels. GOOD. I challenge you to try it. Turn the music up, dance on your tables, let them celebrate one another, let them have FUN while learning. It is possible, but it's up to YOU. 

Now, because I was so inspired, I want to give you the opportunity to win something. I'm going to be sending two lucky winners a copy of Ron Clark's books. Enter to win either, "The Essential 55," or "Move Your Bus." Please share this out with your friends! Good luck, everyone!
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SNAP School Pictures

I hate, hate, hate school pictures. They never turn out the way I want them. I hate the way my hair looks, or my cheesy smile. Any one else feel like this? I think I have had ONE good school picture in my 11 years of teaching. Well, thanks to my lovely friend, Stephanie, I'm sharing my current one...
Head over to Stephanie's blog to link up!


Native American Unit

Hello, blog friends!

I don't think the beginning of the school year craziness has stopped for me quite yet. I feel as though I have a ton of things going on at all times. Anyone else feel like this?

One of the things I have been loving though is focusing simply on literacy and social studies. I had a student come to me the other day and tell me how much he loved social studies now! This made my day. When I was growing up, social studies wasn't my thing. With that in mind, I'm happy to make it engaging now, to ensure my students find a passion for history.

At the TPT conference this summer, I was able to meet Danielle Knight from Study All Knight. She was kind enough to share one of her products that goes along with my Native American unit. It worked perfectly with a unit that I am in the middle of creating. (stand by for that one...) I have set up my unit as a passport around the US discovering all the regions of Native Americans. I am using the 5E set up for my lesson plans. Danielle's product worked perfectly for the engage part of the beginning of this unit. It allowed the students to become engaged about the topic, and who doesn't love a craft? Check it out!


Fall Blog Hop

Hello, everyone! Happy Fall!

I don't know about you, but Fall is by FAR my favorite season. Growing up in Florida, I never really experienced seasons, and felt quite envious of people who did. When I moved to Chicago four years ago, I knew that this would be the best season yet.

Thank you to Stephanie for hosting this amazing hop!

Why do I like Fall so much? Well, the main reason is the cooler temps, football, scarves, and leggings! I can't think of a better idea than putting on a pair of leggings, big top, and a scarf! Love, love, love! However, there are a few more reasons why I love Fall:

What's going on in your classroom this Fall? We are busy reading novels and covering standards through interactive notebooks. During workshop, the students are completing monthly writing prompts. In my store, I have a full year of these prompts for 5th-7th grade! Check them out here. However, to thank you for stopping by, I want to offer you a freebie! Click on the image below to grab the month of October prompts!

Head over to Carrie's blog: Adventures in Kinder and Beyond to continue learning about why we love Fall, and maybe grab some more freebies!


Classroom Reveal

Well, hello, sweet blog.

Y'all (no I'm not southern, but it felt right), I have been so absent from this blog since school started! I have been so busy, as many of you know and understand. This summer, I was blogging at least once a week! Wow, how things change when the school year starts.

Anyway, I'm back and ready to reveal most parts of my classroom. I'm LOVING my change to upper grades, not to mention just teaching literacy. It's absolutely incredible. I can't wait to share with you some of the things my kids are doing as the year continues.

So, without further ado, here is my room:


30 Amazing Teachers

Want to learn more about some really great teachers? My dear friend, Cassandra at Mrs. 3rd Grade is celebrating her 30th birthday by showcasing 30 teachers over 30 weeks. How cool, right?

Well, guess who is first to go... ME!

Head over to her blog to check out the post that I wrote about a new product, and maybe grab a freebie!


Thirty Minute Meals

Can't believe this is our final post for the meal link up! I hope you have enjoyed this series and printed out recipes that you loved. I would like to do this again with a different theme. Does anyone have any suggestions? What kinds of recipes would you like next? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Please share and feel free to link up! If you decide to join, grab these images (banner, ingredient card, recipe card, IG button) and promote on IG, Facebook, Twitter, etc! Don't forget to comment on others' posts with meaningful feedback!

Here is my last meal that I LOVE! I usually make this and put them in small containers for lunch. It's the perfect meal that will last for awhile if stored correctly. It tastes wonderful and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 


BTS - Staying Refreshed

This last topic is one of my favorites. Yes, the organization, lesson planning, and get to know you things are so exciting. However, we need to find time for us and staying refreshed throughout the year.

Thank you to Stephanie for a wonderful series! She is such an inspiration to me, and a wonderful bloggy friend. I hope you go check out her blog!

Try, try, try to leave your work at school! This has been something that I have been doing and it really helps. I know it's hard, but your home time should be for you and your families. One tip that I have is this: I grade during my lunch. It is a daily routine that I get ALL my grading done during lunch time while I eat. I know you may not like this, as it takes away from down time during the day or time to talk with colleagues, but in return, it's an awesome feeling when you don't have to take it home!

Exercise! Some people like to head to the gym before school, but I'm an after school kind of gal. My hour at the gym after school, or a walk by the lake is MY time to decompress. I know this takes time out of your afternoon, and may be hard with your own kids, but I promise you... it's a great way to relieve stress. If you aren't familiar with the 21 Day Fix, it has 30 minute videos that are super easy to sneak in if you can't get a full workout in at the gym. (email me if you want more details about this!)

Devotion. Faith. Readings. Reflection. Whatever you believe in, take time to study it and apply it to your everyday life! I'm going to be starting a book study via Periscope with the book, "The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You." I'd love for you all to join!

Set up a schedule for your day. What time will you get to school? What time will you leave? I REFUSE to arrive or stay past a certain time. I am a morning person, so I get to school early and leave right away. Think about a schedule that you could stick to throughout the year to help you stay refreshed and not overworked. It will be different for everyone.

Think the end in mind: Have a plan. The night before school, it's helpful for me to have my lunches made, clothes out, gym bag packed, etc. Again, creating a nightly routine that works into your schedule. I know on the mornings when I haven't done this the night before, I feel SO much more stressed. 

Remember: It all gets done. It will be there tomorrow. Take time for you. BREATHE. You are doing the best job you can!