So I was a teacher, 5th grade;4 years. I say that as a prison sentence, and at times it felt like it was. That’s not to say that there weren’t times that I didn’t love it cause there was. Over time it turned in to only being happy a couple weeks here and there to finally, only a few days a year. That’s when I knew I wasn’t doing good for myself, or the kids so I left. Two semesters before graduating with my bachelors in Psychology I started to think that maybe teaching would be a better route for me. Thanks to alternative certification programs I was able to graduate in Psyc & then begin teaching. I was pretty sure I wanted to go for my Masters in Counseling but I figured I could try teaching, work for a few years then go back to school. I do still truly love teaching, what it is at its core; but all the muck involved that comes along with it was just too much for me. In Louisiana, the average classroom teacher stays in the field for 4-5 years. So I did my 4 years & took my son entering 4th grade with me, I put him in a school so vastly unlike a school (a micro school see here and here ) that the thought of going into a “normal” school much like the one I taught in gives me the willies. But this post isn’t for me, it’s for all those out there for whom teaching lights their souls on 🔥 this is for y’all!
I learned about the world of cutting machines from my fellow teachers. They’d whip out that machine the day after Thanksgiving. Class gifts always personalized, matching grade level team vinyled shirts for the first day of school. The whole she bang. Even those teachers that kept their machine in their classroom. Right next to that personal laminator machine so many teachers love. But what always surprised me was the ways that these teachers didn’t utilize the silhouette or circut / cutting machine in practical use for their classroom not just for the extra cutesy but for necessity! So here I am putting my teacher hat back on, entering the doors of a school so I can help in taking your classroom to the next level this year.
** Please make sure to adequately clean all surfaces before applying vinyl, schools are crazy dusty and depending on where you live the climate may not help your situation. Clean all surfaces and wipe with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils if possible (if you’re not sure if alcohol will ruin the finish do a small tester spot somewhere unnoticeable).
** Don’t get all excited & cut a ton of stuff out, just to find that vinyl doesn’t stick to the surface you had planned it for. Cut some sample dots to just try about the size of a quarter and try it on all the surfaces your planning to adhere vinyl to.
** I have done all these personally in my own classroom, I had no problem pulling off permanent vinyl at the end of the year with the finishes that my school had.
- Do your student’s desks just seem to magically float towards the front of the room till one day you walk in & you realize you only have about a foot of movement walking space between the board and the front row or group of students desks? Yeah, I hear ya, I’ve tried tapes of all brands and sizes. Doesn’t work. But permanent vinyl (Oracle 651) will! If you doubt how it will hold up over a years worth of wear and tear by kids, lay contact paper* over it.
*Contact Paper: Buy the clear & lay sticky side down directly over the vinyl. The contact paper will act as a plastic-layer- like a shield over the vinyl. It can be found at Walmart & home depot (typically used as shelf liner).
2. Number your computer area, what else are you using that space for? If your answer is storage, I’m saying there’s gotta be a better storage place in your classroom and if not, then that means its time you hold a teacher garage sale because there are things your not using anymore in the place where those things that you actually do need & are using should be going. Teacher hoarding is a real problem. Now, you can use that little area in the top right-hand corner where your laminated number used to attach at to assign students to each computer, type their name on a little list, or a reminder for password and login or whatever your creative minds need it for!
click the image below to purchase
3. My students would always want to line up directly behind the door, which was always shut. So once all 25ish of my 5th graders composed themselves adequately enough that we could walk down the hallway we wouldn’t be able to even be able to open the door of the classroom. This went on ALL YEAR LONG. So the year I started implementing boundaries by use of vinyl in my classroom this one was an obvious one. Again, contact paper over this one would help it last longer too.
4. Yep. Just about any glossy vinyl will work as a dry erase board, perfect for your small group centers or for the walls if your need extra board space, or a place for students to jot down their “exit ticket” thoughts instead of the post its!
FONTS used as bulletin board text, is it more work than buying the precut letters from the teacher store? Yes. But its totally worth it.
Tip: You want to use thicker fonts & you want to cut on card stock and laminate before using to make them reusable for several years. I’ve done this before with glitter card stock & it turned out beautifully, but the laminator hid the “glitter” finish. So maybe put glitter words out of kids reach.
6. Book bin’s need ranging these days, cause it’s not enough to have books in the classroom, a school library that the students visit at least once a week, but also you need a classroom library that you have to pay for. You can purchase the cut file for all ARP levels up to 12th grade here.
7. Where my students at? Between nurse visits, bathroom, forgetting something in another classroom, late check in’s & early
checkouts all happening during a lesson there were times I had to jot it down on a sticky note to remember. So I made this, each student was already assigned to a number in my classroom that served me for multiple systems I had going, including this one. When a student would leave they were responsible for moving their magnet & moving back upon entering the classroom. Since making this one I’ve seen even cuter versions, especially the painted cookie sheet check out this blog post here on how to paint cookie sheets so that the paint stays.
Tip: Use thick fonts, not like what I did. Also don’t let your students slide their magnet across.
8. To label and organize your board. All the cutesy stuff with signs and bright colors etc are great, but I’m ADD & I don’t function well in those environments, it can be overwhelming & distracting for me and I find the same is true for my son. Vinyl helps you make it cute, but with simplicity & more importantly can help you organize your board, so your students always know where to look.
9. I always made line marks away from the wall so when my kids lined up outside my classroom they stood away from my bulletin board. Even though I used a twin size sheet as the backing because the bulletin paper would only make it about till the first week. Also, I used burlap as my border but the kids would still pull and tug at the strings, so by making standing markers on the floor I no longer had the bunching in the back of my line or the ripping up of my board etc.
I also had one of these by my desk. I’m a person that needs my space, and students get all up in it! So, I had a stop sign on the floor by my desk. This kept them from touching things on my desk when they were there to ask me a question, as well as nosy nosers eyeing another students grade, etc.
This one is an obvious one I’m sure, but it was a chance to show off one of my new designs, Please Sharpen. But use that vinyl to label, the drawers to your file cabinet, those plastic storage drawers & tubs, label it! Even though you may think your gonna remember where everything is you won’t also this is a big help for Subs and if you teacher older grades, getting those students to help you pack up at the end of the year.