Relationships Matter

This is a tag line/title that I imagine you are going to see frequently. 

The staff I teach with knows all too well (as do many teachers) that the relationships you build and foster with your students can make all the difference. When our students know we love them and care about them there is nothing they won’t try. Their motivation might be internal, but often times they just want to make their supporters — at home and at school proud.

Not having children of my own (yet– hopefully someday!), the majority of my knowledge of adolescents and child development comes from the classroom and my experiences with my students. Tonight, I began a 4 day babysitting “assignment” for a family from church. The parents of these 3 kiddos ( ages 6, 4 and 2) are out of town for a conference, so I have been able to experience the highs and lows of a typical Monday.

While today was “uneventful” I can’t seem to forget how instantly sad the two older kiddos got when they thought I would be upset with them, how the 2 year old just wanted to be held the entire hour and a half between dinner and bed time and how the only way I could get the 6 year old to sleep was to let her snuggle with me in her mom and dad’s bed until she fell asleep. She was almost in tears not understanding why she couldn’t fall asleep and kept apologizing. It took an hour and a half to get her to be sound asleep– but it did not upset me (perhaps it’s because it’s only night one of “mom life”).

Reflecting on each of these moments, I come back to the same conclusion. Relationships matter. In just 4 hours, I built a relationship with some kiddos I only “kind of knew” before today that has been incredibly meaningful. Knowing there will be 3 smiling faces ready to play (they already told me they can’t wait to do my hair and go to the park) gives me a sense of clam and peace as I get ready to fall asleep. This is the same feeling I get at the end of a school day, week or month where so many stressful moments get washed away by the one comment or kiddo that makes me  remember why I do what I do.

Get some rest y’all! 



Organization-The calm before the storm

Changing grade levels/configurations this year meant switching classrooms as well. And oh goodness was that a larger task than I anticipated!

Step 1: Clean out old room — get rid of what I don’t need and attempt to re-organize everything I do need!

Step 2: Move everything to new room! This step was a tricky yet important step. There were 3 of us moving rooms this year, Teacher A moved to Teacher B’s room, Teacher B moved to Teacher C’s room and Teacher C moved to Teacher A’s room. I did not want to bombard the room I was moving into, but needed to get out of my old room to make way for the new person coming in. Here was the aftermath of Step 2.

classroom m8

Step 3: Begin to organize and clear the tables! This step was a therapeutic step. I love to re-organize and make sure everything has a logical place to live! The longer I stared at this mess of “stuff” I became more overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, I had my pseudo little sister (a former student who was the third child in her family I had the honor and pleasure of teaching, and whose mother works in the building) who is an organizing and purging queen there to help me! We made quick work (6 hours worth) of those piles of supplies!

Everything has a home!! My room had not been officially cleaned when we finished this process, so I had to keep some items in my closet until they could be “set up”. (My desk items, turn in baskets, absent and missing work station).

Step 4: Most teachers dream of having perfect bulletin boards, and then quickly begin to HATE putting them up. Especially if your room is set up in a way where you have to create you own boards, because they don’t technically exist. I had been in my first classroom for 5 years. First year teachers always have so much more patience for the aesthetics of a classroom, and I forgot how much patience I had then. I spent so many hours hanging my felt and borders my first year and they stayed in wonderful shape for all 5 years I was in room W2. I was able to re-use all my boarders and felt (SO WORTH THE INITIAL EXPENSE– going on year 6– I did turn it around so the side that was against the wall the first 5 years is now facing out) to make my new boards in W3, but I did not spend nearly as much time making them “perfectly level and straight”.


Classroom 2
This board will theoretically be science focused — we will have a Scientist of the week/month (depending on how many I find before August!). The Science Fusion program we use has a database of scientists and their bios. Majority of them are scientists of color and I am thrilled to be able share their lives and accomplishments with my kiddos!


Classroom 1
This board will theoretically be a math focused board — student work, unit of focus and important vocabulary. I am sure I will change my mind 10 more times before school starts though!





















As I mentioned in the yellow caption, I am sure I will change my mind on what these boards turn out to be, so you will have to check back in mid to late August to see what I decided on!

I don’t decorate my room TOO MUCH before the year starts. I like it to be a blank canvas for our learning to take place. The walls will soon be covered with anchor charts, examples of teamwork and collaboration and displays of academic growth and achievement. This also fulfills my husbands reminder to me that come October, half my supplies will be gone and another quarter of them will be in the wrong place, because that is what kids do!

Step 5: MAINTENANCE !!  One of my personal goals this year to NOT let that tornado of kids get the best of my half way through the fall! I am really hoping to keep everything organized ESPECIALLY MY DESK all year. I do REALLY good job of giving my desk a deep clean the day before a guest teacher comes, but I am making it a priority to do this daily to avoid the piles and organized chaos my desk can become! What organizing ideas and tips do you love to utilize to keep your classroom and desk organized when the year is in full swing?




Meet the Teacher.

Hi and Welcome! Thank you for starting this wonderful and hopefully insightful journey with me!

As a wife (married for just over a year), teacher, sister (oldest of 4 girls), daughter, Christ follower (If you live in the Hilliard, OH area and need a church home, come check out MovementColumbus) and friend, I am blessed with many thoughts and ambitions that feel I have a duty to share. In hopes of continuing my own personal and professional growth as well as facilitating the growth of others, I decided to start my journey of writing with the Rhodes to Teaching Blog. Thank goodness my husband has a last name that can be easily added into a title, “Giardina to Teaching” just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

In 24 days, I will begin my 6th year of teaching! I graduated from The Ohio State University in the summer of 2016 with my Masters in School Administration and from Capital University in 2012 with a middle childhood (grades 4-9) teaching license. My content areas of focus were math and science, but I also obtained my generalist certificate for 4th, 5th and 6th grade in language arts and social studies. This allowed me to be hired at the Elementary school I currently teach at as a 6th grade self contained teacher. After my first year of teaching, our team departmentalized and I taught 6th grade math for the next 4 years. For the 2017-2018 school year, our building is re-structuring the middle grade teams, and I will be teaching math and science this year on a 5th and 6th grade team.

This change in content and modification of grade level comes with both nerves and excitement. After obtaining my masters and principal license, I was in search and need of a different teaching experience before making the switch to the administration side of the teaching world, and this 5/6 team was a perfect solution for that need.