Saturday, September 17, 2016

Taco Casserole

Photo credit
This is a recipe that my mom made for us when I was in high school. I remember when she returned to work after being home for many years, she bought a few casserole and crockpot cookbooks. The recipe came from this cookbook:
Photo credit
My family enjoys this recipe so I thought I'd share it with you. 

Taco Casserole

You'll need 



  • 1 pound ground beef {or turkey}
  •  1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  •  2 tbs. taco sauce
  •  2-4 tsp. chili powder
  •  1 tsp. garlic salt
  •  2 cups tortilla chips {we use doritos, too}
  •  1 cup sour cream
  •  1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 1 tomato chopped
  •   1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 - 15 oz. can kidney beans {we prefer black beans}



1. Cook and drain beef.

2.  Stir in beans, tomato sauce, taco sauce, chili powder and garlic salt. Heat to boiling.

3.  Crumble/ crush up chips and place in an un-greased 2 qt. casserole baking dish.

4.  Top with the beef mixture.

5. Spread with sour cream

6. Sprinkle with onions, chopped tomato and the shredded cheese.

7.  Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Important Questions to Ask Your Child's New Teacher

It's that time of year...back to school. My first day with students is Tuesday!
So, as a mom and a teacher, I do my best to anticipate the types of questions that parents may have when they enter my classroom at the beginning of the school year and I try to touch on those things at our open house or parent-teacher conference.

Here are some questions that you might want to ask your child's new teacher at the beginning of the year:

How can we support at home what you are doing in the classroom?

This sets the tone for the year and let's the teacher know that you view your child's education as a joint effort. The best education for your child comes from a partnership between the parent and teacher. Teachers appreciate parents who do their part, and parents appreciate teachers who view them as a member of their learning team. It helps if a parent knows the language, procedures, routines and expected responsibilities so that they can encourage and reinforce them at home. 

What are your goals for your students for this year?

Teachers set all kinds of academic goals for their students but we also set non-academic goals, as well. Sometimes we set goals to make children better problem solvers or critical thinkers.
Sometimes we want children to learn how to collaborate on class projects and assignments and sometimes, we want children to learn how to build a community within the confines of our classroom.  As a teacher, I spend much of the day on teaching the whole child. Social skills, friendship, treating others with respect and kindness...all of these are just as, if not more important than the academics I teach.
By asking the question, you have a pretty good insight into the teacher's philosophy and style.

What is the best way to contact you?

This is an important question because today's parents can contact teachers via notes, email, texts, phone calls or in person. Your child's teacher will probably have a preferred method. Many teachers check emails frequently throughout the day, while some only check in once a day. Some teachers prefer phone calls after school, and some allow you to call them at home, later in the evening. Finding out the preferred method will open up the lines of communication between home and school. 

Along those same lines...

How should I expect us to communicate about what the students are learning in school? How often should I expect communication?

Some teachers utilize a website to communicate about what the students are studying in class and any upcoming events, while others send out weekly or monthly newsletters. 

What would you like to know about my child that would help you as his/her teacher?

Let's face it, you know your child better than anyone. The more you can tell a teacher about your child, the better a teacher can help meet your child's needs. 
Share with the teacher about your child's personality traits, interests, how they learn best, strengths or areas of concern. 

Think about their work habits, seating preferences- do they get distracted sitting by a window? Do they check out when they are sitting at the back of the room? 

All of these things can help a teacher meet your child's needs. 

Also, don't forget to share with the teacher about any family situations that may affect your child's learning, such as a divorce or the illness of a family member. 

What is your homework policy? How can I support my child with their homework?

You probably have seen this letter written by a teacher in Texas regarding her new homework policy. 

I actually agree with this teacher's policy and I seldom give homework other than a "let's talk about it" {have conversations about certain assigned topics} or  daily reading for 20 minutes. I'm a firm believer that evenings should be for friends and family but...if you talk to parents with children in other classrooms, you will find that homework is not created equal. Some teachers give large amounts of assignments, while others rarely give any. Some give homework nightly which is due the next day, while others like to give out the whole weeks worth on Mondays so that students can work on it throughout the week and then is handed in at the end of the week.
When you find out your teacher's homework policy, be sure to understand the role you will play. Does the teacher want the parent to check the homework, identify the wrong answers and help them correct it? Or does the teacher just want you to check to make sure the work is completed and leave the incorrect answers so that they can be addressed in the classroom? You might want to ask about which strategies you could use at home to assist your child with his/ her homework.

What should I know about how you manage the classroom?

It's important to know about the teachers expectations of student behaviors in the classroom. Will there be incentives or any special behavior systems in place? Most elementary teachers have some type of behavior management in place. It is helpful for you to know what it is so that you could support the teacher and reinforce the positive behaviors at home. You might even want to utilize a similar behavior management system at home for consistency. 

On a side note, please realize that a teacher really wants to answer all of your questions but sometimes open house is overwhelming for them and they may not get to every question. If you have a burning question that is not answered by the teacher, a simple phone call or email is all you may need. Good luck and welcome back to school!