Yes, your consistency matters, but great classroom management is more than that. It's more than cute tricks like lights with the volume level on them or a bell or chime to get students attention. Classroom management might start with your boundaries, rules and consequences, but it also includes your systems and how you train (or don’t train) your students.
No matter what classroom management systems you use, you MUST take time to train your students or it will fail. Why? Well, it will always be you managing your student's behavior. What we really want, even when we don't know it, is for our students to learn how to manage themselves. We owe it to our students to teach them self-management. It's a life skill.
Sometimes we forget that students don’t just "know" how to “follow the rules” or even how to reasonably move about the room.
As a new teacher, I set up...
Do you ever come to school with nothing left? Seriously. There are times I get up in the morning and think, I have nothing left to give. I’m not being lazy or selfish, just out of gas.
Well, our students have those days too. Actually, some students have a lot of those days. Here’s what to do about that.
Become a bucket filler. Figure out what helps each student feel cared about. It's actually pretty simple. Ask students in your class what they would like best out of a few options. Make a graph and give each student 2 post-its to put their name on. Have them place the notes on their 2 favorite ways to know they're cared about.
For some kids it’s a random high five or a class handshake. An acknowledgment of their hard work can really make some students days. Perhaps it’s taking time to talk with them, ask a question or share a joke for minute. They just want a little snippet of your time. Other students...
I get asked by teachers for book suggestions, so I decided to periodically offer a few by category. The first set is below. It's a bit longer than I intended. Yes, I got carried away. :D
Here's a list of Mentor Texts for STEM topics. It is by no means a comprehensive list. That would be overwhelming for all of us. Think of it as a place to start.
Not sold on the power of read alouds? Listen to this sound bite on the power of reading aloud from Kate DiCamillo.
Want it as a printable list? I've got you covered! You can grab the full list here.
Books by Andrea Beaty
· Rosie Revere, Engineer
· Ada Twist, Scientist
· Iggy Peck, Architect
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Papas Mechanical Fish by Fleming
Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Kamkwamba and Mealer
Successful Language Arts instruction with minimal worksheets is not just possible, it really works! However, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's easy. In order to help students be successful, we need to be directed, knowledgeable and able to embed learning into every moment. It's not easy to get started, but it's quite simple to maintain once we get the hang of it. Like anything worth doing, it takes practice and reflection (rinse and repeat).
There are 5 essential steps to setting up successful Language Arts instruction.
You could use a 4 Blocks format as well. I've seen lots of variations of these. What each classroom looks like depends on the teacher. Know this, there's more than one way to success. Whatever you choose, give your program structure and flexibility.
I keep my phonemic awareness separate from my Language Arts block. I start my day with Phonemic Awareness at the end of our morning meeting. We...
If you struggle to get some of your students interested in books, here’s a few fun strategies. They work beautifully with both picture books and chapter books.
Book tasting have become a mini-fad in schools around the country. It’s a brilliant idea! Decorate your classroom like a restaurant, create place settings and a menu of books (with a short synopsis), have a set of books for each table and let students “try out” several books.
It’s fun, creative and very effective. Student LOVE doing this. It makes reading not only fun but desirable. I’d call that a win.
This is another way to get your students to try something new in their reading. I especially love this when a bunch of new books are coming into the classroom library or school library. Books are wrapped up in wrapped up in plain, brown paper. You can get some at Michaels or use butcher paper, if you have it.
Now you have...
Class parties are an important and fun part of school. Why do I say important? Well, they build community, help us connect with each other, give us (hopefully) fun, shared memories and create opportunities to take a short break and celebrate. You and your students work hard. Sometimes we need a bit of a break to reenergize us and give us perspective.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I’d share a few tips for managing not only the party details, but the parents (and their) expectations that come with class parties. Let’s face it. Running your classroom is one thing, but add a roomful of parents into the mix and it’s a whole other ballgame. An organized, well-run party is not only more fun, but it’s a chance for parents to see and feel confident in your ability to manage the class. Don’t pass up this opportunity to build some good will and to shine.
Now, if you have fabulous room parent planning and running your class parties, this post is ...
I know it’s often easier to just do many of the tasks around your classroom yourself, at least in the short run. In the long run, training students to take on these tasks is a boon not only for you but for your students as well.
Here’s some of what students learn from a well-managed routine for classroom jobs.
responsibility (getting it done without being asked)
follow-through (doing the job “all the way”)
honesty (letting the teacher know if something goes wrong or there’s a problem)
self-mastery (doing the job even on days they don’t “feel” like doing it)
kindness (helping the class as a whole, treating others kindly as they go about the work)
generosity (giving of their time, going the extra mile to do things right, doing extra if needed)
organization (keeping track of the steps or tasks and getting them all accomplished)
teamwork (working with others to accomplish a task, working as a...
At this point in the year, it’s often time to spice up reading and writing. I like to try a bit of Metafiction with kids. If you think that younger students aren’t ready for this, you are so wrong! Not only do they “get it”, they LOVE it.
Let’s start with a definition. Metafiction: fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to what they are doing in the story. Authors are parodying or departing from writing conventions and traditional narrative techniques.
Metafiction forces readers to be aware they are reading a fictional book. It breaks what the theater calls “the fourth wall”, the divide between what’s happening on the stage and the audience.
The easiest way to teach this is by example and imitation.
Copying other stories while playing around with parody or irony.
Who’s Afraid of...
Sometimes the day to day in the classroom can get frustrating when we feel like we can’t get ahead or are repeating directions constantly. You know me, I’m all about organization and systems. So…here’s 3 tricks to make your teacher life a little bit easier.
Have highlighters (and pencils) next to you turn in bin. Train your students to highlight their name before they put their paper in the bin. this will eliminate 95% of no name papers. Sure a few will get through the cracks, but it will be the rare exception.
Strategy: Allow student 1 free bathroom trip in the morning and one in the afternoon. In addition, students can go at recess and lunch as usual. Emergencies will happen, but there needs to be time made up for more trips unless there is a medical reason.
Tracking: Draw a line down horizontally across the middle of a sheet of paper. Write AM on the top...
Got a crazy schedule? You’re NOT alone! I can count on one hand the years I have had a class schedule that was the same each day of the week.
If your crazy schedule is getting you down, don’t despair. It’s really possible to have a calm, well-run classroom when your schedule is constantly changing.
A couple of years ago I was working with a teacher who was stressed out about her crazy schedule. In an effort to start each subject at the same time each day, she had managed to cut her subject blocks into multiple pieces two days a week. By the time her students got in the groove for Language Arts on those days, they had to pick up and go to to specials. Then, they came back and finished up. It was hard for her to get solid time to teach small groups and difficult to get students back into the flow. Talk about stressed out! Once we made a solid Language Arts block non-negotiable, life got a lot calmer.