Monday, September 12, 2011

All You Savvy On-top-of-it (AYSO) Moms...we're comin' for you!

Four years ago, school districts all across California (and across the nation) put a freeze on hiring teachers, especially elementary school teachers. What was a newly-credentialed teacher, like myself, supposed to do? My dreams of putting up matching bulletin boards, picking out perfect homework stickers, and planning reading comprehension lessons for small groups was over as far as I was concerned. Several teachers told me to wait it out because districts would be hiring again in a few years. Their advice? Work as a substitute teacher until jobs open up. The thought of waiting and not having a plan gave me terrible anxiety, so I came up with a plan of my own.

During my student teaching, I was working with a few kids after school. It was fun for me to sit with them one-on-one because there was so much I could do with them that I could not do with a whole classroom of students. I also enjoyed the extra pocket change since student teaching is not paid. When I realized that I was not going to find a job that year, I asked a few of the parents that I was working for for their ideas. I wanted to know where I could find more kids just like theirs. One mom asked, "What kind of parents are you looking for?" 

"Well," I replied, "I'd like to find parents just like the ones I work with now." Together, we came up with a list. I wanted parents that thought school was important (obviously), that were in a routine at home (getting kids into routines is half the battle), that had kids that were involved in extracurricular activities (kids need to feel like they're good at something other than school), and that were willing and able to invest ($) in their children's future. Additionally, I wanted to break into the "Mommy Mafia" because when one Mommy finds something that they LOOOOOVE for their children, the news spreads like wildfire. It's like free marketing. What do you get then you mix these all together?

Let me introduce you to the soccer moms (and dads) of the world:

Soccer moms (and dads) are awesome, friendly, and they're easy to find. I decided that the soccer mom (and dad) Mecca of the world was AYSO. And a week after this conversation took place four years ago, a local AYSO league was having their opening day carnival. At this carnival, every player in the league was required to attend because the teams all took their pictures for the season. They had a banner judging contest, blow up slides and bounce houses, face painting, food, and lots of games. Fortunately foe me, they also let a few select vendors come and set up booths to advertise their services. You usually have to have a child in the league to do this, but because I came as a referral from a league family, and because my services were PERFECT for all of the kids in the league, they invited to come set up a booth.

I rushed to get my business cards in time, photocopied hundreds of flyers, and put together a portfolio showing some of the work I had done. A week later, I attended the event, and signed up 18 kids! I still work with many of those kids, and it's because of their loyalty that I am where I am today. 

I went back for my fourth year last Saturday with a new-and-improved set-up, and was happy to see so many of the kids again this year. I also sponsored a team in the league, so it was fun to meet all of them as well. Here are a few pictures from this year's event:

The shirt I wore:
 Arts and crafts the night before:
 Some of the girls I can't wait to see every year when I go back:
 Our booth:
 Business cards hung from an old picture frame:
 Business card caddy (old milk bottle caddy):
 My great uncle's diploma:

 Arts and crafts:
 An old Tonka truck:
 An Encyclopedia box used to display books and manipulatives:
 The team we sponsored this year:

We are hoping to attend another event like this one in 2 weeks. Let us know if there is a local event that you think we should attend!

Good luck to all of our kids playing this year!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's the most, wonderful tiiiiiiiiiime, of the yeeeeeeear!

Yes, folks. That's right. It's the most wonderful time of the year. Backpacks are full, pencils are sharp, lunches are ready, pens have matching caps, glue bottles aren't dried open, paint isn't mixed, and bells will be ringing.

Kids are excited about seeing friends and meeting teachers, parents are excited to hear no more "I'm bored" whines, and teachers are excited to have at least one day or order and organization before classrooms are torn apart.

We couldn't think of a more appropriate first blog for our new Blueprint! We hope that this is a place where you can pop in for a few minutes over a latte, scroll through to find new ideas, and participate in discussions about whatever you want. We don't want to be the only ones here, so please invite friends to come join us!

Feel free to look around, leave a review, or start a discussion.

I'm Kristen, and it's a PLEASURE to meet you. Welcome aboard!