Setting Goals for the New Year: Better You Edition

Happy New Years Eve! We've made it to the end of 2017 and are about to ring in 2018! There is still time to come up with some goals for the upcoming year. Read on for 10 more resolutions you can make for a better you!

10 New Years Resolutions for a Better You

1. Create a budget. The new year is the perfect time for goals like this. Sit down, take a good look at your finances, and start creating your budget. This is a big task, so make sure you break down the steps needed to make it manageable by using SMART goals!

Setting Goals for the New Year: Teacher Edition

Can you believe 2017 is already coming to an end? Personally, I can't wait until this year is over. In preparation for all the good that can only come from a new year, let's talk about goal setting for your classroom!

Image Credit: MyCuteGraphics, Canva

1. Take more consistent data


Setting Goals for the New Year: Fitness Edition

So it's no secret that I take fitness and health very seriously. I play soccer competitively all year round, weight lift regularly, and write fitness plans for my friends and family. I find so much value in keeping my body and mind healthy and love re-evaluating and making new fitness goals. Want some inspiration? Read on to develop your own for the New Year.

1. Get a gym membership and go


Awesome Gift Idea: Photowall Review!

I was approached by Jennifer a few weeks ago regarding the awesome company, Photowall. She wanted to provide me with a complimentary wall mural or canvas print in exchange for an honest review and to get the name out there. I have to say, this may be my favorite collaboration ever! I am so excited at the chance to share my experience with all of you! Read on to learn about how you can save using a special discount code to get your very own design! 

The catalog of images available to be turned into a wall mural or canvas print is vast to say the least! I wanted to use an image they already had in their library (to get the full experience) so I really took my time to look through their images to find the perfect one. I found a few different images I loved, but my husband and I ultimately agreed on an image that really reflected our lives.

Setting Goals for the New Year: Nutrition Edition

In preparation for the upcoming New Year, I've written a few different posts devoted to different types of New Year's goals. This one is all about nutrition and healthy eating!

1. Drink more water


Work and Ethics: How to Decline Gifts Without Being a Jerk

This time of year can be an ethical challenge for many professionals. It's fairly typical to exchange gifts with co-workers around the holidays, and even so with students in your classrooms. It's not uncommon to be gifted a nice hand-made frame, or a gift card to the local coffee shop from a devoted and caring family. However, that is not an option for behavioral professionals, whether you do home services, work in a school, or run your own clinic.

As a BCBA, I have to deal with the ethical dilemma of holiday gifts. Per our BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code, "Behavior analysts do not accept any gifts from or give any gifts to clients because this constitutes a multiple relationship" (1.06). This guideline is meant to prevent dual relationships. Because of our job in human services, and the very nature of our "helping" profession, many families want to show their appreciation of you by providing a token of gratitude. Often, these gifts are just that, tokens of appreciation and respect, and may not cause any issues. However, sometimes the exchanging of gifts can complicate the boundaries of the professional relationship you've established, thus the Board takes a hard stance on gifts in general. 

So, that's all well and good. But how do you deal with the inevitable situation when a parent, or worse, a child, hands you a gift. Are you supposed to shout "NO! ETHICS!", smash the gift on the ground, and run out of the house screaming? No. But here are some real things you can do to help with this very real issue, especially during the holiday season:

1. Employ some antecedent strategies


Tips and Tricks: Stick to Your Routines!

Holiday break is coming for many of us, and while the anticipation may be exciting and the end cannot not come soon enough, this is the time that we really need to stick to our guns! As educators, we know the importance of clear expectations and routines for smooth classroom management. But with the holidays approaching and our inner tanks running on empty, it can be hard to stick with these routines. We are run down, spread thin, and just trying to make it to that glorious day before vacation. This makes routines and consistency even more imperative!

What are routines?

Routines are repeated, predictable events that provide a foundation for the daily tasks in a child's life.

Why are routines important?


Enhancing Parent-Teacher Relationships

One of the toughest things any educator has to deal with on a day-to-day basis are the parents. Oftentimes, parents may be difficult to work with, or worse, not present at all. Coming from a special education background, I have found that a lot of my parents have had such negative experiences with their child's education. Between fighting to get their kid services, or desperation to steer their child away from the dreaded "label", it takes a toll on the relationship between teacher and parent. Today, I want to talk about parent-teacher relationships, communication, and parent involvement. This post will focus on gaining parents' trust, getting them involved in their child's education as much as possible, and building a strong ally in your classroom's parents. 

Building Trusting Relationships

I've dealt with my fair share of irate parents in the past. More often than not, the parent is angry at the system, the district, or their situation, not at you. Regardless of the reason, there are some things you must keep in mind when you are dealing with a frustrated, overwhelmed, and/or emotional parent:

Easy Like Sunday Morning #27

Check out this awesome tune from Shakey Graves. It's intoxicating and catchy. A song I've had on repeat for the past few months...


Quickie Post: TPT Sale 2017!

You read that right! It's that time of year again - the Cyber Monday TPT Sale! Now's the time to fill your cart and stock up on all your favorites you've been saving on your wishlist this year. You can save up to 25% off your favorite teachers' products. What a nice holiday treat!

Starting tomorrow through Tuesday at midnight, you can take advantage of this sale! All of my products are 20% off, and when you enter the code #TpTCyber17 you can save 25%! Want to save at my store? Check them out my best sellers and seasonal products below (Bundles included!)

Best Sellers


Thanks for You! A Giveaway

I hope you all had a wonderful, thankful Thanksgiving for those of you in the U.S. As a special thank you for all my readers, I have a special treat for you! Who wants to win a $10 TPT gift card?! Check out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. The more entries you have, the better chance of winning, but completing all ways is not necessary to enter. This giveaway is live now and will end at midnight (12 am EST) on Monday, November 27th. Winners will be announced noon (12 pm EST) on Monday, November 27th.

Psst- For THREE bonus entries, check out my Instagram post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!


Activities for Your Kiddos During Thanksgiving Week!

Even though it may be a short week for you, doesn't mean it makes the work any easier! Need some inspiration for things to do with your kiddos to get you through the week? Check out some resources below!

Thankful Turkeys Craftivity

This quick, fun, and adorable little craft is perfect for that chaotic week before Thanksgiving!

Easy Like Sunday Morning: A Very Thankful Playlist

Happy Thanksgiving week! Here is a playlist for you to play to prepare for all the Thanksgiving festivities and remind you to be thankful. Enjoy!


Easy Like Sunday Morning #26

What a perfect November morning here in New England. How about a perfect song to enhance your morning? 


Review: My New Fave Shampoo from Maple Holistics!

So you all know about my love for essential oils. My fave and the one I use the most is tea tree oil. I use it for skin issues, with cleaning supplies, and for purifying the air.  But have you ever used it in your beauty routine? I have been using tea tree oil in my shampoo for years. I also am on the look out for different tea tree treatments to treat my oily scalp. 

Well guys... I found a new one! I was contacted by Lauren at Maple Holistics to review one of their many products- the tea tree oil shampoo. Maple Holistics is a company that specializes in all-natural and cruelty-free personal care products. I was so on board with this mission, so I jumped at the chance. They sent me a bottle of their Tea Tree Shampoo to try out and I started using it immediately. 

Throwback Thursday: Safe Trick or Treating

Halloween is right around the corner! Whether you are trick or treating on Halloween night (Tuesday this year) or sometime during the weekend, take a look at these safety tips for trick or treating for the whole family.

Original post: October 2015

I'm sure many of you have already started think about Halloween: what your children will be dressed as, what you will be dressed as, how you will (or already have) decorate for the holiday, how to up your pumpkin-carving game, etc. Here's yet another thing to think about: Safety Tips for Trick or Treating.

Trick AND Treat: 3 Non-Halloween Ways to Party

October is such a glorious time of year, especially in school. The leaves are turning (at least in the North East), you are getting into the swing of things after heading back to school, and there's nothing like fluffy teacher sweaters to make you feel cozy. Another plus about October in the classroom? The treats! And I'm not just talking about Halloween candy. Think pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, and cider! Also, who doesn't love the autumn decor, like the scarecrows, corn stalks, and more pumpkins?!

So, if you are like many other classrooms or schools who do not allow Halloween-themed parties in your classroom, here are 3 tricks for non-Halloween parties to celebrate this awesome month with your kiddos!

1. Pumpkin Party!


Trick AND Treat: 5 Tricks to Have in Your Therapy Bag

It's October, so how about a trick and a treat? Let's talk today about 5 things you need in your therapy bag if you do in-home services. This also applies to any teachers or parents who work to support a learner on skill building and decreasing problem behaviors. You can't go wrong with these tricks in your bag!

Obviously, we know to pack certain things, like pens, data sheets, therapy binder, etc. (check out this post for some fun, therapy-specific ideas to bring) But here are some additional tools you may not have considered using/needing during your in-home sessions!

5 "tricks" to pack in your therapy bag...

1. Sheet protectors

Sheet protectors are key! I use them as a folder for new worksheets or data sheets I need to add to the treatment binder. I use them to protect master copies of said worksheets and data sheets. I also use them in a pinch as a dry erase board or lamination -> this is my favorite way to use them!


How to Reinforce Your Staff

We are all familiar with reinforcement. We use it daily with our students, our kids, our pets. We also use it with our spouses, neighbors, mail carrier, and selves (though you may not realize it). So, why not use it with our staff?


How to Hack BTS When You Don't Work in the Classroom

I remember the feeling of back to school and how exciting it was. Sure, it was the end of freedom and summer, but it was also the start of new beginnings and hopeful journeys. Each year I would think about how amazing that school year would be: all the friends I would make, all the classes I would master, and all the memories that I would cherish.

You can use that same mentality no matter where you are. Whether you are in the classroom, office, hospital, or field. It's a second chance at change (kinda like your New Year's promises). Make the most of it!

Organize, Organize, Organize

I'm sure you've noticed all the Instagram and Facebook images of the pristine, organized classrooms teachers are designing for back to school. Now it's your turn. This is the perfect time to employ some of those organization strategies you've been meaning to try out. Be it color-coding schedules, setting up a new filing system, or creating a family command center for your home, this is your time to shine. Check out some inspiration below:

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Ever feel like you haven't reached your full potential yet? You're not alone! If you are not where you want to be right now, and have no idea how to get there, read on for some simple ideas to help you reach your goals!

Quickie Post: BTS Sale 2017!

Act fast! Head over to Teachers Pay Teachers to fill up your cart now. Make sure you enter the promo code BTS2017 at check out to get the most savings!

Here's what's in my cart (so far):


The Wonders of Preference Assessments

Preference assessments are fabulous tools for anyone looking to change someone's behavior. I've used them in the classroom, in adult services, and even with my dog! (more on that below). Keep reading for the what, why, and how for preference assessments.

What are preference assessments?


Random DIY That You Don't Need but Totally Want

Leave it to the world's worst procrastinator to decide to make a pillow for my cats with a piece of foam I found while attempting to clean my house. I had JUST walked into my office to clean it up, when I found a large piece of packing foam that I received in a package to keep some fragile vases safe. I decided this was perfect for a cat bed, and that this was the best time to do it. If I wait, I rationalized, then it would just be adding to the clutter. But if I made it right away, I wouldn't be hoarding garbage and would be making my cats happy. #ADHDJustification

Ready to see this odd-ball, last minute craft I decided to make for no reason? Great! I present to you, the DIY Cat Bed (with foam and pajamas)...


5 Ways to Enhance Your Teaching Over the Summer

As teachers, you never stop working. Even on your "summer off" you will be toiling away, strategizing new classroom management techniques, shopping for new classroom manipulatives, and outlining new lessons to enhance your students' learning. Here are 5 ways you may have not considered spending your summer that will improve your teaching for the upcoming school year (now if we could only use these to earn CEs)


Operational Definitions in the Classroom

So we all know what an operational definition is, right? Well, if not, here's a quick review: 

Operational Definition: A way to define a behavior in simple, observable, and measurable terms. You want it to be specific, like a SMART goal.

So, now that we've jogged our memory on what they are, why are they so important? Here's another quick review:

Writing an operational definition is crucial, as it defines the behavior so specifically, that it can be accurately measured, assessed, and treated by any person working with the individual. The point is that, no matter who reads the definition, they know exactly what the behavior looks like.

Okay great. But now how do you use them in the classroom? Keep reading for 6 different ways to use operational definitions in your classroom.


Teacher Appreciation 2017!

It's that time of year again, where we appreciate all the amazing teachers out there supporting our learner's of all ages and abilities. As a way to show our love and appreciation for these teachers, Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a Teacher's Appreciation Sale!


Procrastination: How to Stay on Track

Procrastination. We know this word all too well (some of us more than others). Procrastination can be useful, to an extent. People argue that they do better under pressure, and while that may be true for some, sometimes you just have to get started on something immediately. Other times, your procrastination (or avoidance behavior) takes over and all of a sudden something is due, but you still can't get started. If any of this sounds like you, this post is for you. 

seriously struggle with procrastination and initiating tasks (did I mention I have executive functioning difficulties?). Over the years I've read lots of articles and tried out a variety of ways to help manage my procrastination. Here are some things that work for me:


Autism 101: Support Strategies {Part 4}

Welcome to Part 4 of the Autism 101 series. Today we are diving deeper into specific support techniques for working with people with ASD. If you want an overview of different interventions used with people with ASD, check out Part 3. For more information on what autism is, and how to identify it, check out Part 1 and Part 2 respectively.

Today we will be talking about different support strategies for those with an ASD diagnosis. Keep in mind, that we've previously discussed how each person with ASD is different, thus these supports and ideas are not a one-size-fits-all approach. You will need to take these approaches and individualize them to your students or adults you're working with.

Executive Functioning: What is It?

I'm sure we've all heard this term before. If you are a teacher, especially a special educator, you know this term well.  You might even be someone who struggles with this yourself (*raises hand*). This is such an important term that encompasses so much! But what does this all mean..?

What is executive functioning?

Executive functioning is the command center of the brain. Executive functions are the skills of the brain used for planning, organizing, and managing our thoughts. To say executive functioning is important is an understatement.

What are some executive functioning skills?


10 Things Tuesday: Every Day is Earth Day

Earth Day is right around the corner, so you might be thinking about ways you can help the earth (or teach your kids how to help the earth). But just because Earth Day is April 22nd, doesn't mean you stop caring about and celebrating the earth the other 364+ days of the year!


Autism 101: Supports and Interventions Overview {Part 3}

Welcome back to my Autism 101 series. Today is Part 3 of the series where we will focus on supports and treatments for individuals with autism, or ASD. If you want to know more about what autism is, or the warning signs and causes of autism, check Part 1 and Part 2 respectively.

Today we will be talking about different support strategies for those with an ASD diagnosis. Keep in mind, that we've previously discussed how each person with ASD is different, thus these supports and ideas are not a one-size-fits-all approach. You will need to take these approaches and individualize them to your students or adults you're working with.

Notice how I didn't say "cure". It's important to differentiate between supports and cures in this case, as there is no cure for autism, and many autism advocates push to have those with autism be viewed as an individual with strengths and weakness, just like anyone else, rather than someone who needs to be fixed. We all have our deficits (such as my organizational challenges), and wouldn't identify ourselves as someone who needs to be treated. Instead, we look for ways to help manage our deficits and supports our selves in being as independent as possible. This should be the drive when working with people with autism as well. Even still, with a word like "treatment" it's important to note that we are treating the symptoms and challenges that can come with autism, not the actual disorder itself.

Autism 101: What to Look for? {Part 2}

Welcome to Part 2 of the Autism 101 series. Check out Part 1 of the series, which begins with an introduction to autism spectrum disorder. For Part 2 today, we will be learning about red flags and potential causes according to current autism research.

There are lots of misconceptions out there about autism, which is why it's important to read up on current (and valid) research. Not everything on the internet is true (the majority of what's out there is probably false!) so make sure to do your homework! Make sure you are backing up what you are reading with other sources of information - this is just good practice!

So, we've gained a basic understanding of autism, and the common characteristics of ASD. Now, let's take a look at some of the warning signs of autism, or the indicators that you may consider an evaluation...

Warning Signs


SPEDtacular Freebie!

Today, I've linked up with Bender's Bunch to share on SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies! Check out Bender's Bunch for an archive of awesome freebies

My freebie for the link up is a set of comprehension posters for the classroom! Head over to Bender's Bunch to check out mine and all the other great freebies!


Operational Definition: What?!

Maybe you've seen this term before. Maybe not. Either way, it's important for you to know what the heck it is, especially as a special educator. It's a useful term and helpful to think about whenever we are defining anything.

What is an operational definition?

An operational definition is a way to define a behavior in simple, observable, and measurable terms. You want it specific, like a SMART goal.

Autism 101: What is Autism? {Part 1}

April is Autism Awareness Month, so this month, we're going to learn about autism! Today's post is devoted to spreading awareness on what autism actually is...

Come back throughout the month where we will focus on supports, employment, and independence living skills with autism.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurobiological disorder that affects brain development and lasts throughout one's lifetime. You may see the term autism spectrum disorder or ASD used to refer to the disorder. ASD according to the DSM-5, consists of persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.

Review: Natural Calm Magnesium Powder

This post has been sponsored by Natural Vitality, the company who makes and distributes Natural Calm magnesium supplement. All content and opinions are my own.

When Natural Vitality contacted me about doing an unbiased product review for Natural Calm, I jumped on the opportunity! I have been seeing this product pinned all over Pinterest, on co-worker's shelves, and being showcased on blogs I follow. As someone who devotes their time and energy in alternative health practices, I've been intrigued by this product for some time, but had not gotten around to purchasing it. (blame my lack of energy...)

Why is Magnesium Important?

Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for our bodies. We are able to get magnesium through our diet, but for a variety of reasons (including lack of nutrient-dense soil and stressful lifestyle), many of us struggle to get a sufficient amount of magnesium through diet alone. When this happens, supplementing with the nutrient is key. Natural Calm is a powdered magnesium supplement that easily dissolves in water and helps to restore magnesium to optimal levels.

SpEd After Graduation: Supports in Adult Services

When we think of "special education" we think of children. And rightfully so. Children with special needs generally (hopefully) attend special education classes and/or schools so they can access the general education curriculum and continue to grow as learners. Even those who don't attend special schools or are enrolled in sub-separate classrooms benefit from additional supports in the general education classroom. such as visual supports or environmental accommodations, to help them access their education. But what happens after graduation?

Transitioning from school to the real world is already challenging for most of us! Without getting into all the bureaucracy and funding difficulties within adult services, leaving special education services in the child world and entering the adult world is a beast. Limited resources and staffing, paired with challenges in maintaining an adequate budget and exemplary clinical supports, makes the on-going supports in adult services all that more difficult for the staff and administrators of the programs. The highly-structured, highly-funded, highly-ratioed dynamic of the kid-world is not easily replicated in the adult world, and if a transition plan is not given the necessary forethought and preparation, a child can easily slip through the cracks in adult services.

Photo: Pixabay

While we cannot control the budget or bureaucratic issues that arise in adult services, we can make these programs more clinically effective and supportive for our individuals. Read on to learn more about providing supports in adult services.


Easy Like Sunday Morning: A 90s Love Playlist

Happy Sunday! Hope your weekend has been treating you well so far. To help keep you going, I've created a playlist for the 90s kids (like me) out there. This playlist is a mix of heart wrenching ballads for unrequited lovers as well as passionate lyrics for the love birds. This carefully curated mix gives me all the feels (usually the angsty middle school feels), either connecting with the singer's rejection of their outpouring of love, or my longing for the deeply amorous love songs meant to incite love and passion in the listener.


Tips and Tricks: Target Dollar Spot Finds

Have you checked out Target recently? Well, duh, I'm sure you have. In my neck of the woods (Massachusetts) I've found some excellent finds at the Target Dollar Spot. I've snapped some pics below to show you some of the finds and include some ways you could tulize these in your classrooms, during 1:1 ABA sessions, at play at home with the kids, etc.

Jar of Super Heroes/Jar of {Insert Small Object Here}

These are as low-tech as it gets. These figures can be used for a variety of games, activities, skill concepts, etc.
  • Sorting (by color, type, size, etc.)
  • Counting/Math activities
  • As game pieces (for either homemade game boards, or board games in which you've lost the pieces!)
  • As tokens for earning reinforcement (earn one super hero for x behavior, or x time period without engaging in x behavior)
  • Sensory bottles (having a few small toys in a bottle of beans, rice, etc. to search for. This is a great coping strategy
  • Parts of speech (prepositions, adjectives, verbs)
  • Hide the Super Hero (skills you can target include: listening to directions to find the object, asking questions/20 questions to find it, following multi-step directions, written or verbally)
  • Receptive sorting (for use when you have a variety of different themed figures, such as sorting by ability to fly, sorting by living/nonliving, sorting by real/make-believe, etc.)
  • Patterns and sequencing
  • Receptive identification
  • An adapted version of this really simple, cool idea!


Celebrate Women: Reading Comprehension Pack

Rabbit Rabbit! Happy March!

In preparation for Women's History Month, I've created a resource for middle school students - a reading comprehension packet celebrating inspiring women in our history!


Valentine's Outfits No Matter Your Status

Celebrating Valentine's Day? Celebrating Galentine's Day? No matter - I've got you covered. I've created three different outfits for you, however you celebrate the holiday!

For a night out with the girls:

Galentine's Day Date

For a romantic evening with your loved one:

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