Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Meet Amber Thomas

Last but not least, I'm Amber; you might have seen my TPT store, "Amber Thomas's Classroom Favorites" or my blog: Shut the Door and Teach.

I've taught in a few different contexts, including third grade for 3 years out in Western MA, and I've been teaching fourth grade for the past 7 years at my current school in a coastal city north of Boston. I feel so lucky to be there, almost every day (*wink*).  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Hey, the job market is tough out there.  For everyone.
  2. There's been a LOT of turnover in the room next door to mine, and a bit in the building in general, yet I've kept my "corner office" all these years. 
  3. I actually applied for the second grade position there, but they hired someone else!  Thank goodness I got a call 2 weeks into the school year about another position.
  4. The day I walked into that school, I felt like I was home.  I felt a wave of peace wash over me, I pushed my nerves aside and said, "hi" to staff who were passing by despite my shy personality, and I answered my interview questions with, "When I work here..."
  5. Ten year olds crack me up.
  6. Although I was not the parents' first choice during the interview, (yes, there was an interview committee including parents) I WAS my principal's first choice.  So the other candidate and I were called back for a "teach off."  Okay, it wasn't called that, but you get the idea.  I was given a topic (place value) and had to teach a lesson the day after the other person.  Well, I made sure that I was learning and integrating those kids' names throughout.  I was getting to know them by asking, "Who here likes to be the center of attention?  Okay, you come on up and hold this digit, and when you say your name, we'll all shout, MILLION."  I planned to get as many different learning styles covered as possible between the introduction, modeling, practice and follow-up informal assessment.  Fortunately the other candidate just did a read aloud that went off on a tangential discussion so I won the parents over too, phew.
  7. ALL of my colleagues make me feel valued.  Not one has ever disrespected me or made me feel "lesser," not when I was starting out and not now that we all know each other very well.
  8. I got into a car accident my first day of "work," but I made it through.  See, even though I had just been offered the position and had just given my other school notice that I was leaving, Parent's Evening was that week and the principal wanted me there.  I had to leave my other school, drive 3 hours, sign some paperwork, and then go talk to the parents about what their child would be learning this year...before I really knew myself.  I knew then, "If I can make it through this, the rest of the year will be a breeze."  And it was. 
I had such a fun class that year, bonded with my colleagues, and that was even the year I even met the man I married last February (although we met online and he lived in England, who knows how things might have played out differently if I wasn't where I was during the time).

If you're interested in my Parent's Night Packet, (which has evolved over the years, but seems so much easier now that I know the curriculum and I'm not driving a damaged car through strange new city) I'm offering it 20% off today only as a thank you for giving our new blog a read.  I'm really excited to be a part of this new endeavor; I guess that's why this introduction took me back to a time I was excited about another new beginning. 

P.S.  I couldn't leave you without a freebie!  If you're teaching coordinate points, here's a fun game:  Coordinate Points and Ordered Pairs Warship.
If you want to have a peek around my classroom/blog, this is my first post of the school year.  Now that we're in the middle of January it's nice to look back to those hot August days when the prospect of a new year was exciting.
Finally, I pin my teaching finds here on Pinterest about once per week.  Along with my own original ideas, expect to see lots and lots of my anchor chart finds! 


  1. Hi, Amber! I loved learning all about you. You seem like you are a fun person to be around!

    I just have to ask some England questions. I know you said your husband was living in England. Is he English or had he moved there from someplace else? Have you had a chance to go there?

    I ask because England is my favorite place in the world. I am not sure why, but I have loved it ever since I was a child (years and years before I visited). We have been there many times now, and I hope to go back this summer again. It is my dream to live there when I retire.

    Your current school sounds like such a fabulous place to work. :)

    Thanks for sharing. It will be wonderful to collaborate with you on the blog.

  2. Happy to answer England questions! My husband was born and raised in England. Never even left Great Britain until he came to visit me the Christmas after I first went to visit him. :) I've gone over every summer since 2008, except for this past one since he was living here (and on a conditional visa for the first year of marriage). I miss it; the summers are a lot milder than here, and the countryside where he's from is so charming. He's from the Northamptonshire area; what part of England did you visit?

    Thanks for commenting, Mrs. S :) I'm honored to work with you and everyone else here. I feel like somehow I fell in with a bunch of TPT celebrities; I feel a little bit starstruck, haha. :)

    1. That is quite romantic! In my opinion, Englishmen are the most charming on the planet, but don't tell my hubby (who is mostly Irish)that I said that! Haha!)

      We have always used London as our home base, but we have visited so many places including the Cotswolds (several times- different places each time), Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare's birthplace, Oxford, Canterbury, Dover (to see the White Cliffs), Stonehenge, Salisbury, Warwick Castle, Leeds Castle, Windsor, Brighton, Bath...Hmmm, I am sure I am forgetting many spots! I really want to get to the Lake District next time and see Beatrix Potter's home as well as the new Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour. I could go every year!

      I am honored to work with you as well! I know what you mean about TpT celebrities in our midst. I am in awe of all the people here on our blog!

    2. Sorry about the extra parentheses. I think it's time for bed!

  3. Great post, Amber! Great to meet and collaborate with you! :)

    1. Thanks, Meg :) I'm glad fourth grade is well represented here! Looking forward to your ideas too.

  4. Amber, I still love your blog name :). I am also loving the freebie! My kids will love it when we get to coordinates! Thanks!

    Teaching to Inspire in 5th

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I still love my blog name too, haha :D
      It's a simple game, but some of the best games are! Great to leave for a sub for extra practice, too.

    2. BTW, it still makes me smile to log on to my Blogger dashboard and see the first two blogs on my list:

      Shut the Door and Teach
      All Things Upper Elementary


  5. Amber, I enjoyed reading your intro post! I, too, feel like I landed in the middle of TpT celebrities. :) All of this England talk makes me want to go. It is on my list of places to visit!


    1. Thanks, Andrea! When you're ready to head to England just say the word and I'll send you the contact info for our favorite Bed and Breakfast in the countryside or hotel in London, whichever one you "would quite fancy." ;)

  6. Hey Amber,
    What a great post. So fun to learn about you. I look forward to working with you in this amazing adventure. WAHOO!

    An Educator's Life

  7. Thanks, John :)
    It really is exciting to be part of a brand new blog that's already so rich in content! I'm sure it's only going to get better as we go.


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-All Things Upper Elementary

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