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Create a School Project

Back to School
Blog Header for Create a School Project. Picture of book - If I Built a School with Project.

I’m so excited to share with you all one of my student’s favorite back to school activities. Each year we always spend the first few weeks of school talking about rules and expectations. Well a few years ago I decided to turn this in to more of a PBL and make it more engaging. No one wants to hear the teacher go on and on about rules and their importance. Kids tune that out and just hear blah, blah, blah. So Create a School was born – a fun and engaging way to go over rules and understand why rules are important.

Create a School Project Introduction:

Going over rules is an important part of any classroom. And, it’s something that has to be done in every class at the beginning of the year. The first few standards we typically tackle in Social Studies had to do with community, rules, etc.  So, instead of the same old boring here are the rules, here is why we follow them…Johnson Elementary was born.The kids are introduced to this project by finding out that they will be teachers at Johnson (or whatever the teacher’s last name is) Elementary.  I am the principal – Principal Johnson and they quickly become Miss ____, Mr. ____, etc.  The excitement that builds just from this announcement is amazing! Buy in happens instantly!

Last year I found this amazing book – If I Built a School that fits in perfectly for this project! This book written by Chris Van Dusen is about a boy named Jack who gets to design and create his own school. He uses his imagination and comes up with some pretty cool things – trampoline basketball courts and hover desks. This book is perfect to read to your class as your introducing the project. You can find that book on Amazon>>> HERE.

Picture of book If I Built a School - cover has a boy and a teacher on it with a school he has designed. Cover page of Create a School project.

Next, we talk about the school we’re opening and what classes our school will have. The teachers (students) get to pick what class they are teaching. We’ve had math, kindergarten, roller blading, ballet, science, cooking, Legos, Minecraft, etc.  I’m pretty flexible on what they can teach. I want them to have fun and pick something they like.  Here’s the cover page of our PBL Packet.  The Essential Question we focus on is – How do rules help people function in a community and school?

Picture of Create a School front cover with drawing of a school.

Teacher Info:

On the next page, “teachers” give more information on the class they teaching. They tell me what they picked and why. They also create a list of a few things they will be teaching in their class. Below you will see one of the Teacher Info pages for the digital version that can be used with Google Classroom™.

Picture of Digital Create a School Teacher Info page with things the teacher will teach.

Class Set-Up and Map:

Before starting this we look at a few pictures/maps of classroom online. We talk about making sure you have things you need to teach and things your students will need to learn.  “Teachers” start by brainstorming a list of things they will need to have in their classroom. Once they have finished brainstorming, they draw their classroom map on the next page.

Picture of classroom map page from Create a School Activity

Classroom Rules:

Before the “teachers” write their rules for their classroom, we research class rules. We read Officer Buckle and Gloria, read an article from ReadWorks on rules, and look at multiple examples online from many different types of classrooms. We even brainstormed a ton of rules on our circle map below. We talked too about a good number of rules. We thought 40 would be too many for kids to remember and 1 rule was not enough. So, we decided to keep the rules between 4-10.

Picture of circle map used to brainstorm classroom rules.

Group or Individual Project – School Expectations:

In addition to rules in the classroom, we talked about other places that needed rules and expectations. We decided to focus on the bathroom, hallway, playground, and lunch room. The students broke into groups of 4-5 and worked with their group on expectations for their area. They first brainstormed some ideas. Then, they came up with again 4-10 and explained why they picked them.  The last piece was presenting. Each group presented their expectations to the class. They did awesome! Great first presentation to the class.

Picture of expectations for Playground area from Back to School Activity.

Essential Question Reflection/Response:

After completing the project, students then went back to the Essential Question and explained why rules are necessary in schools and communities.

Picture of digital version of Essential Question response page.


I created the rubric below as a way to score this project.  This is our first PBL so it includes less pieces than some of our later ones, but I wanted to be able to identify how they did on each area – especially the Essential Question. Most kiddos did great! They really understood why we had rules – safety, keep things fair, etc and really enjoyed this project. I’ve also recently created a digital rubric that can be used with Google Slides™. Great for distance learning!

Digital and Printable Resource

If this sounds like a project you would like to do your kiddos, I have the resources already put together for you! There are three options…

Option #1 – Create a School – BUNDLE – Printable and Digital

Picture of cover for TPT Resource - Create a School Digital and Printable BUNDLE.

This option is great for having both a digital and printable version. With distance learning I know many people might need digital this year, but want print next year. You can find the BUNDLE >>> HERE.

Option #2 – Create a School – Digital

Picture of cover for TPT Resource - Create a School Digital.

The digital versions uses Google Slides™ and can be assigned using Google Classroom™. This is great for distance learning, virtual learning, or if you have one-to-one technology in the classroom. You can find the digital version >>> HERE.

Option #3 – Create a School – Printable

Picture of cover for TPT Resource - Create a School Printable.

The printable version is great for using in the classroom! Includes plenty of space for written response. You can find the printable version >>> HERE.

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Substitute Teacher Binder

Back to School, Classroom Set-Up
Blog Header for Substitute Teacher Binder. Picture of teacher with class behind her working at their seats.

I have a teacher hack/tip to share with you today. Before the school year begins, create a substitute teacher binder for your subs. This binder will be the subs one stop shop for all info needed. Once you create this binder you’ll just need to update it each year with new student info. This is a great way to be organized and ready for a sub at a moment’s notice!

Benefits of Having a Substitute Teacher Binder

  • You will be prepared for any time you need a sub. All of your basic and important information is in the binder.
  • With COVID, unfortunately there might be more of a need for subs so you’ll have this ready to go.
  • When you’re not feeling well the last thing you want to do is get ready for the substitute teacher.  While you’ll still need to write your actual plans for the day, the rest of the information will be ready to go in your binder.

Items in Substitute Teacher Binder

Picture of Substitute Teacher Binder with cover that says "Guest Teacher Binder"

At the beginning of the binder, I include a table of contents so the sub can quickly identify where to find different pieces of information.

Student Info 

  • Class Roster
  • Seating Chart
  • Dismissal Plan (students have different plans each day so I leave a chart so the sub can identify how each student goes home at the end of the day)
  • Health and Allergy Info (While this is confidential information, a substitute teacher does need to know if students have allergies or major health issues. I always write – “Keep Confidential” at the top as a polite reminder.)
  • Behavior/Work Needs – It is helpful for a substitute teacher to know ahead of time some of the needs in your classroom. On this page, I share with the sub if certain students will need assistance completing work or reminders for specific behaviors (staying on-task, etc.).

School Info 

  • School Phone Numbers – Make sure to highlight important phone numbers (administration, secretary, team members).
  • School Map – Make sure fire drill routes are easy to see on this.
  • School Emergency Plans – If your school has written out directions for lockdowns, fire drills, tornado drills, etc make sure your sub is aware in case their is a drill on the day you are gone.
  • School-Wide Behavior Expectations – If your school has a school-wide plan, place it in the binder so the substiutte teacher is aware of the expectations and can keep things consisten for the kids.


  • Daily Schedule – Although I include a detailed version of the specific schedule in my plans, it’s always nice to have your weekly schedule in the binder for the sub to reference.
  • Special’s Schedule – Make sure the sub has the schedule of what special classes you have when.

Behavior Plans

  • Classroom Behavior Plan/Expectations – Share your class rules or expectations with the substitute teacher. While all class rules are similar, make sure he or she knows the specifics for your class.
  • Info on Class Reward System – Share with the substitute teacher how you reward positive behavior. Currently I use brag tags so I let the sub know and leave out “Good for the Sub” brag tags for the sub to hand out at their discretion.
  • Individual Behavior Plans – If you have students on individual behavior plans make sure the substitute has that info so they can be aware and help keep things consistent.

Lesson Plans

The last tab is where I leave my specific lesson plans for the day or days I will be absent. These are specific to the current curriculum and by leaving them in the binder – everything is in one place and easy for the sub to find!

I then leave the substitute teacher binder along with whatever items the teacher will need for that specific day out on my desk.  I also label games, worksheets, books with post-it notes explaining what subject they are for. The nice about thing about this substitute teacher binder is it’s always ready to go. Once I’ve updated it in August/September with my new class info – then I’m ready for a sub!

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Ways to Promote Social Emotional Learning

Back to School, Classroom Management
Blog Header for Blog Post Ways to Promote Social Emotional Learning. Photo of 2 boys and 2 girls at school.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is an important part of every school day. Now more than ever with distance learning and COVID, SEL will need to be a big focus when we go back into school in person and/or digitally. SEL is important for every day classroom interactions and beyond. These life skills that students can learn will help set them up to be successful in future life situations.

Importance of SEL

SEL is important for so many reasons, but below I’ve picked some of the top ones I see in the classroom.

  • Teaches life skills
  • Promotes positive self-esteem
  • Teaches teamwork
  • Helps kids express feelings and needs
  • Helps students understand others
  • Gives students the opportunity to learn about self-control

As teachers it’s important that SEL is not just a passing thought, but something that we integrate into our classroom everyday. I’ve come up with 6 easy ways to incorporate SEL into your classroom.

Social Emotional Books

Picture of the book - What Should Danny Do? School Days

Books are always a great way to teach life skills. Students can identify with characters and things they are going through. Reading SEL stories can also open up an opportunity for great classroom discussions about friendship, self-control, emotions, etc. If you are looking for some SEL books, check out my list of 10 Must-Have SEL Books for the Classroom>>> HERE.

Building Classroom Community

Picture of the paper ring challenge

Classroom community is another way to promote social emotional learning in your classroom. The first few weeks of school teachers work tirelessly to help the students get to know one another and to build up that classroom community. Your class is like a family and it takes time and effort to make that happen.

Getting to know you activities at the beginning of the year is one way to build community. One activity I love doing is having the kids interview each other. This is a great way for them to get to know a classmate they didn’t know before. If you are interested in an interview page already created and more get to know you activities, check out my Getting to Know You Back to School Writing Activities.

Team building activities are another great way to build classroom community. I know this year things will look different with COVID, but I love doing table team competitions. In the past, we’ve done who can build the tallest tower, who can make the largest paper chain, and who can balance the most dice on a popsicle stick. These competitions are silly and meant to be fun. They are also a great way for the kids to feel more comfortable.

Morning Meeting

Picture of a sorting activity during Morning Meeting

I could talk about Morning Meeting all day long! If you know me, you know Morning Meeting is one of my favorite parts of the school day. While it incorporates academics, Morning Meeting is also a great chance to promote Social Emotional Learning skills. This is a great time to read SEL books, have discussions during share, and work on activities where students can get to know each other better. If you are interested in learning more about Morning Meeting, click HERE.


Picture of scenario card with a clipart of a boy

Kids do not come out of the womb knowing how to deal with social and emotional situations. They often learn through experiences. Through these experiences, they sometimes make a great choice when handling a situation, but they also sometimes don’t know what to do and might not make the best choice.

While reading SEL stories, we tend to discuss the scenarios of what has happened. This gives us a chance to talk about the situation and how the character handled it. Questions I often ask include: Did they make a good choice?, Could they have handled it differently?, What could they do next time? These questions and discussions expose kids to every day situations that they might face some day. They also provide them with background knowledge, which might help them know how to handle these situations.

I just created a brand new resource to help with these discussions. In this resource, you will find 24 different every day child scenarios that you can project on the board. As you read through the scenarios and questions, you and your class can discuss the situation and how to handle it. You can find this SEL Discussion Cards >>> HERE.

Helping Kids Process Situations

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, kids often do not know how to handle social and emotional sitituations when they happen. Part of our jobs as teachers is to help them. As situations arise in the classroom, I always try to take time to talk with the individuals involved and help them work through the situation. Now I know it’s not always possible to do it right there in the moment, but try to find some time that day to help the kid/s with how to handle what happened.

Calm Down Area

Picture of Safe Place Cards for ideas to help when students are angry.

So a Calm Down Area is a safe space in your classroom for students to go and take a minute for themselves. It’s almost like the child is putting themselves in time out. However, it is not meant to be a punishment. It’s meant to be a space for the child to take a break, calm down, and reflect. Your calm down area can be called many things- safe space, Zen Zone, Reflection Pod, etc.

At the beginning of the year, make sure you introduce it to your class and explain what it is for. You can also model how to use it. I’ve seen calm down areas really help students who are working on self-control. It can honestly be helpful for anyone – we all need a break sometimes!

Helpful Links

I hope you found these SEL ideas helpful! Please click on the links below for more information on what I posted above.

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10 SEL Must-Have Books for the Classroom

Back to School, Books

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Blog Header for 10 SEL Must-Have Books for the Classroom with pictures of Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, My Mouth is a Volcano, and What Should Danny Do?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is such an important skill to be focusing on in the classroom. SEL helps build students up, provides them lifeskills they need to learn, helps them deal with emotions, learn coping skills, learn to work with others, and more! Books are a great way to bring SEL into the classroom! Below you will see my 10 Must-Have Social Emotional Learning Books for the Classroom!

Book #1 – What Should Danny Do? Series

Picture of the cover for the book What Should Danny Do? School Day

I absolutely love the What Should Do Danny series and the authors Adir and Ganit Levy. Their three books – What Should Danny Do?, What Should Danny Do? School Day, and What Should Darla Do? were favorites in my classroom this past year. Their books are set up like a choose your own adventure, but it’s all about your choices. Every day we have the power to choose – we can make a good choice or a bad choice. In their books, the characters Danny and Darla go through every day kid situations and come to problems where they then have to choose – are they going to make the positive or negative choice. Students/kids can pick which choice they think the character should make and that sends you off to the next page! This book promotes such a powerful message that we have the power to choose the choices we make. Such an important message to discuss in the classroom.

Book #2 – The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions

Picture of the cover for the book The Color Monster

The Color Monster by Anna Llenas is a great book to use when talking about emotions and feelings. In this story, the Color Monster wakes up feeling confused and is a mix of colors. The little girl in the story tries to help him separate out his emotions so he can process how he’s feeling. They go through each color and discuss how he’s feeling (red – angry, yellow- happy, blue-sad). As they go through each one, it discusses what the emotion feels like and how the Color Monster can handle it. Kids have big emotions like the Color Monster and it can often be hard for them to identify them and know how to process them. This book is great for opening up that conversation!

Book #3 – Even Superheroes Have Bad Days

Picture of the cover for the book Even Superheroes Have Bad Days

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker is a story that my students loved this year. First of all, it has superheroes – and most kids love superheroes! What I loved about it was that it tackled a common problem – having a bad day – and showed positive ways to handle it. While it does also show the silly negative ways superheroes can handle a bad day, it also discusses that it’s ok to feel your emotions. The book talks about acknowledging how they feel and then waiting for those emotions to pass. They say it’s ok to frown or be sad. All kids struggle with handling emotions and this story is a great way to discuss that in a positive, meaningful way.

Book #4 – What If Everybody Did That?

Picture of the cover for the book What If Everybody Did That?

Consequences can be hard thing for kids to understand. What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick shows what consequences can happen if people break the rules. The question – what if everybody did that? – is a question that we’d ask in my classroom when we’d run into problems. What if everybody ran to the front of the line? What if everybody shouted out? This can cover multiple SEL situations in the classroom.

Book #5 – My Mouth is a Volcano!

Picture of the cover for the book My Mouth is a Volcano!

Oh, blurting out! This happens in every classroom, every year, with every age group! While this won’t fully solve your blurting out issues it does bring it to light in a fun way. In My Mouth is a Volcano!, written by Julia Cook, Louis is constantly interrupting people, shouting out, and unable to control his impulses. His mouth is like a volcano because it always erupts. As the story continues he learns techniques to help him control himself. I highly recommend Julia Cook books for your SEL learning. In addition to a great story that kids relate to, she also always offers strategies to help kids cope with the habit or behavior.

Book #6 – Our Class is a Family

Picture of the cover for the book Our Class is a Family

Our Class is a Family is a brand new book by my teacher friend Shannon Olsen. This story talks about how our classroom is also like a family. It shares many of the things that we do – being there for one another, celebrating differences, helping each other when we have a tough day. It’s a great story for the beginning of the year to help build classroom community.

Book #7 – The Invisible Boy

Picture of the cover for the book The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig is a touching story. It’s about a boy named Brian who feels invisible. He’s always left out of things, never invited to birthday parties, etc. Unfortunately we do have kids in our classes who feel this way. It breaks my heart, but it’s important for us to be aware and read books that can help them and help others make sure they do not feel invisible. This book can bring about powerful classroom discussions.

Book #8 – Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Picture of the cover for the book Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Marie Dismondy is a sweet story about a girl named Lucy. Lucy is dealing with a bully named Ralphie who is always making fun of her. Her grandpa tells her that she should always be proud of herself and stand up for herself. This story is a great story about teaching kids courage and how to stand up for themselves in a positive way.

Book #9 – It’s Hard to Be a Verb

Picture of the cover for the book It's Hard to Be a Verb

It’s Hard to Be a Verb by Julia Cook is great for students who have difficulty staying focused and with self-control. This book is about a boy named Louis who wants to move all…of…the…time. I’m sure we’ve all had students who remind us of Louis. In the story, his mom ends up teaching him some techniques and strategies to help himself stay calm and still. Strategies that are great for all kids to learn!

Book #10 – The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

Picture of the cover for the book - The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett is a great book for your overachievers and perfectionists. I might have been (and still am) one of these as a kid. In this book, Beatrice has never made a mistake in her life and she is known around town as the girl who never makes mistakes. She is perfect at school, at home, and everywhere she goes, but she starts to worry – what if she makes a mistake? Well then comes the talent show which leads to the first mistake of her life. She comes to realize that it’s ok to make mistakes and that you don’t have to be perfect. I can think of many students who also feel this way and would benefit from hearing this book.

Thank you for checking out my favorite books to support SEL in the classroom! I hope you’ll find these helpful to add to your classroom library!

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ABCs – K to 3 Facebook Group

Back to School

If you are a primary teacher (kinder, first, second, or third) and you like collaborating and sharing ideas with other teachers then I have the Facebook group for you!  Ashley from The Blessed OCDiva and I have a Primary Teachers group on Facebook that we’d love for you to join.  It’s called ABCs – K to 3.  This group is FREE to join and is a place to share ideas and learn from one another! We also do giveaways and Facebook LIVES in the group too!  There will be a special summer giveaway next week – so join us today so you don’t miss it!

Ways to Build Positive Relationships with Students

Back to School

Back to School is an exciting and important time. You have your new list of students and families and a new chance to build relationships with both! Here are a few ideas to set the beginning of the year off on a positive note!

Building Relationships with Students

  • All About Me Bags – One of the activities I like to do the first week of school is an All About Me Bag. Students take a paper lunch bag and put 3 to 5 items from home about themselves. They then bring it back to school and share the bag with the class so we can get to know them. This is a great way to get to know your students and their interests.
  • Include Interests and Likes – Once you get to know your students and their interests include those things in your teaching. I like to do this with our weekly math word problems. In these word problems I use student names and include things they like. For example, we might solve an addition problem about Ben and his Pokemon card collection. Or we might solve a subtraction problem about Josie’s unicorn collection that she shares with her little sister. When you include your students’ interests in your lessons it’s a way to build relationships and also get students more engaged in what you’re teaching because it relates to them.
  • Morning Meeting – I know I talk about Morning Meeting all…of…the….time. But, honestly it’s that amazing and it’s another tool I use to build relationships with my students. For information and Morning Meeting Ideas click >>> HERE. The greeting component of Morning Meeting is a wonderful way to engage and personally greet each student in your class. I love using the share component as a way to get to know my students. Through various questions and prompts you’ll learn so much about things your students are interested in and things they like to do!

What are you favorite ways to build relationships with your students? Leave your ideas in the comment section below…

Advice for New Teachers

Back to School
Blog header - Advice for New Teachers with picture of books, apple, chalkboard, scissors, and chalk.

Back to school season is upon us and I always take a little time to reflect back on my first year teaching during this time. I remember being a brand new teacher, fresh out of college, about to teach in my first classroom by myself. It was an exciting time, but also a nerve-wracking and stressful time. To help ease that stress for new or newer teachers I decided to write down a few words of advice….

Always Put Your Students First

There’s a lot coming at you your first year teaching and when teaching in general. One of the biggest things I can recommend (and this will stand for every year that you’re a teacher) is that your ultimate goal every year is to put your students first. You will have people telling you what to do and offering all kinds of advice about how to handle kids, ways to teach lessons, dealing with parents, etc. But, at the end of the day you are the teacher in YOUR classroom. YOU know your students best. Remember that and keep your students at the forefront of everything.

Now with that, I’m not saying don’t listen to administration, your school district, and your colleagues, but you know your students. You know them better than anyone else and that is what matters. Your goal teaching needs to be engaging your students and making school a fun place for them to learn and grow.

Your To Do List Will Never Be Done

As a new teacher, my first year, I was literally staying at school until 7 or 8 o’clock every night for the first few weeks. I left every night exhausted and I left every night with that to do list not done. It was driving me crazy! I thought to be a successful teacher that I had to cross everything off on my list. But in all reality that to do list is never going to be done. And I don’t mean to make that sound negative.

Teachers will always have a billion things to do and that to do list will always be growing. It’s ok to not stay until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. Don’t even stay until 6 o’clock at night. That to do list will still be there tomorrow. Prioritize and get done what needs to be done, but then go home and take care of yourself.

Picture of a checklist.

Learn from Your Colleagues

I’ve recently seen the Memes (like the one below) about the best PD being down the hall and that is so true. When I was a new teacher I was really lucky to be working at a school with veteran teachers who knew how to engage students and also how to mentor a new teacher. I’m so grateful for that amazing start to my teaching career.

One of the best things I can recommend for new teachers is to not be afraid to ask for help and to learn from those around you. Ask to go in and observe your colleague’s classrooms. Ask them for advice on how to teach a specific skill or a lesson. Ask them to help you out with managing paperwork and parent/teacher conferences. You will find a wealth of knowledge in your school building and it’s important for you to tap into that.

On that note as well, invite people in to your classroom and speak up with your ideas too. New teachers have valuable ideas to share and can bring a spark of energy to a school and a team. Don’t be shy!

Meme from We Are Teachers - "Sometimes the greatest PD is the teacher down the hall."

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

One of the biggest things as a new teacher is to try not to compare yourself to other teachers. What we see on Pinterest and what we see on Instagram and on blogs is everyone’s highlight reel. As Rachel Hollis says, “Comparison is the death of all joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.”

Her quote stands true in life and with teaching. Teachers – new and older do not need to be comparing themselves to anything they see on social media or even the teacher down the hall. We all have different strengths to celebrate and bring to the table and it’s important that the only comparison you’re making is with yourself. Don’t feel like you need to buy all the decor or try all of the teacher hacks. You be you and just try to be a better teacher than you were the day before.

Take Care of Yourself

Now the last one is a big hot topic right now. This goes for teachers who are new to teaching and teachers who have been teaching 30+ years – self care is important.

I am someone who tends to put other people first as do most teachers, which then means I’m last. I’m not saying abandon your duties or not do what you’re supposed to be doing, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Do things for you outside of school that will provide you with the rest and relaxation that you need. Teaching is a tough job and requires a lot of time and effort. It’s important not to lose yourself in that.

So for you that might look like working out, painting, going out with your friends for lunch, reading a book, working out, or going to the pool. Whatever your self-care is make sure you continue doing it even when you’re super busy teaching. You will be a better teacher if you are rested, relaxed, and have taken care of yourself.

Final Thoughts…

So those are a few pieces of advice I have for new/newer teachers. I have been teaching now 13 years and am still working on following some of this same advice! It’s easier said than done! If you are a new/er teacher and have any comments, questions, or just need to chat – feel free to email me. We’re all in this crazy world of education together!

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10 Amazon Must-Haves for Teachers

Back to School

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Blog Header for 10 Amazon Must-Haves for Teachers. Pictures of wireless doorbell, pencil sharpener, and laminator.

Who loves Amazon? Raise your hand! I’m sure many of you if not all of you reading this right now are raising your hand. Let’s be real – Amazon has made all of our lives easier! You can just point and click and have many wonderful items shipped right to your front door!

With the new school year upon us I thought it would be a good idea to share my top 10 Amazon items that every teacher should have. I also have a storefront on Amazon that you can shop for supplies, books, and more!

Amazon Item #1 – Wireless Doorbell

The wireless doorbell has been a classroom management lifesaver for me. I use the doorbell to signal transitions, get the classes attention, and more. It comes with many different tones so you can change it up!

Picture of a white wireless doorbell from Amazon.

Amazon Item #2 – Flair Pens

I know teachers are either Team Flair Pen or Team Ink Joy and I am Team Flair Pen all the way! They are my coveted pens that I love using for grading, planning, and more. They come in so many different colors and even different sizes.

Picture of Paper Mate Flair Pens.

Amazon Item #3 – Crayola Markers

I love using Crayola Markers to create my anchor charts. They have so many different colors to choose from and this large pack from Amazon is great for color coordinating your charts.

Picture of 40 Crayola Markers pack.

Amazon Item #4 – PaperPro Stapler

This is the absolute best stapler I have ever had. This stapler is so smooth and works wonderfully on bulletin boards. This is the type of stapler that I put my name on so that people don’t steal it!

Picture of Black PaperPro Stapler

Amazon Item #5 – Magnetic Staple Remover

I had been searching for a good staple remover for a long time. The cheap ones and pincher ones never quite removed things in a safe manner. This staple remover though is amazing! It can remove things from the walls easily and keeps the papers safe!

Picture of 4 blue staple removers.

Amazon Item #6 – Scotch Laminator

I know most schools have a laminator, but having one at home makes things easier. It’s nice to be able to laminate things whenever I want and I don’t have to wait in line or wait for the lamination to be refilled. I’ve had one of these for a few years and it is awesome for laminating games, task cards, bulletin board letters, and more.

Picture of a Scotch Laminator.

Amazon Item #7 – Sterilite Bins

I love bins. Tall bins, small bins, clear bins, colored bins – I just love bins! These bins here are ones I bought two years ago to house my mentor texts. I love that they have a latch so that the lid really does stay on! These are great for mentor texts, organizing stations, storing games and activities, and more.

Picture of clear Sterilite bin.

Amazon Item #8 – Sit Spots

Sit Spots are another one of my favorite teacher items. I had used a classroom rug for many years, but Sit Spots make it so easy to create specific spots in your classroom wherever you want! See more about why I love Sit Spots – HERE.

Picture of colorful Sit Spots.

Amazon Item #9 – X-ACTO Pencil Sharpener

This is THE pencil sharpener! I’ve had this sharpener at every school and it lasts! Some pencil sharpeners can’t hold up to the heavy duty needs of a classroom, but this one can.

Picture of blue pencil sharpener.

Amazon Item #10 – BONAOK Wireless Microphone

I know these are all the rage right now and I totally see why! The microphone is a fun addition to your classroom and can make any lesson engaging. I love having students use it during Morning Meeting share and presentations.

Picture of black and gold microphone.

Thank you for checking out my Amazon Teacher Must-Haves. Comment below and let me know about your favorite Amazon goodies for the classroom.

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Keeping Parents Looped In to the Classroom

Back to School, Conferences
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As we know education has changed a lot since we were kids and it continues to change every day. It can be hard as educators to keep up with all of the changes, but it can be even more difficult for parents. Parents want to be involved and help their child with school, but sometimes it can be tough for them. The way we teach has changed and they’re not always sure what to do or how to help without reverting back to how they learned.

As teachers there are ways that we can help educate parents so that they are able to help their children. We are all a team in this – teacher, parents, and students. It’s important for parents to feel informed and valued so that they can be more engaged in their child’s education. Below are three ideas for keeping parents engaged and helping them help their kids.

Idea #1 – Keep Parents Updated

One way teachers can help educate parents is by keeping them updated on what is happening in the classroom. The more informed parents are the better prepared they’ll feel to help their child. One way I do this is by sending out weekly newsletters. In my weekly newsletter I include important announcements and I also include what content we are covering the following week. By doing this parents are in the loop and know what specific topics their kids will be learning about. This gives them a chance to ask their kids specific questions and have an idea of what might be coming up with homework and tests.

Picture example of a class newsletter
Example of a Class Newsletter

Idea #2 – Provide Resources

As I mentioned at the top of this post, education has changed a lot. Students right now in 2019 are not learning how their parents did and this will always be changing. I especially find this to be true in math. Math strategies have changed greatly over the years. Gone are the days of using the one standard algorithm and everyone doing it the same way. Now students are able to try and are exposed to multiple strategies. Most parents have never seen these strategies and it can make it difficult for them to help their child with homework and math practice.

I provide my parents with resources to help make this easier. I will often take pictures of the anchor charts we create in class for different math skills and post them on our class website under Homework Resources. This way parents can see the way we are covering the material in class so that they are able to continue with those strategies at home. Most parents have found this very helpful and it’s super easy for me to do! I’m already creating the charts with the class so making it accessible to parents is easy!

Picture of addition anchor chart strategies
Addition Anchor Chart that I would share with parents.

Idea #3 – Provide Informational Sessions

One of the schools that I was at had monthly parent information sessions. These sessions took place at night and covered many different topics including: homework help, math strategies, research ideas, AR, writing workshop, and more. The goal of these sessions was to provide parents with information on what and how their child is learning so they can support them at home. In Gerry Brooks’ new book Go See the Principal, he also suggests having informational nights to help teach parents. He also recommends telling parents – “Please understand that your child may learn differently than you did.” I love this! It’s a great way to simply explain that while all parents are very intelligent – learning has changed and it’s ok.

Even if your school does not have informational nights like above you can still squeeze them in to other opportunities. Back to School Night is a great time to share ways and strategies that you are teaching in the classroom. Parent/Teacher Conferences is another opportunity to share with parents on a one-on-one basis ways they can help their child.

Picture of a slide from slideshow about Homework Help for a parent's information session.
Part of my slideshow for Homework Help a parent information session.

I hope you find these tips helpful with keeping your parents plugged in to what is happening at school and how they can help their child!

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5 Tips to Promote Growth Mindset

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Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Growth Mindset is a valuable skill for our students to learn. It is important for kids and adults to know that it’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to not do everything perfectly the first time you do it. Below are 5 tips for promoting growth mindset in the classroom.

5 Tips for Growth Mindset

Picture of Growth Mindset books
  • Tip #2 – Class Dojo VideosClass Dojo is great for many things, but one of my favorite parts is their videos. They have a section of SEL videos that are perfect for the classroom. The Growth Mindset videos follow Mojo through a situation where he ends up learning about growth mindset and the power of yet. I love using these in the classroom. It is a great way to introduce and spring board your growth mindset discussion.
Picture of Class Dojo Growth Mindset Video options
  • Tip #3 – Show Kids Your Mistakes – No one is perfect. Teachers and adults are also not perfect. It’s important for kids to see that. We all make mistakes and that is ok. One I way I promote growth mindset in the classroom is by sharing my mistakes with the kids. For example, maybe I spell a word wrong on the board. Once I realize it (lol) or a student tells me, I then point out that I made a mistake and that it’s ok. We can all learn from mistakes. Kids need to see this. They need to see that it is ok and see positive ways to handle mistakes.
  • Tip #4 – Power of Yet – I love the word “yet.” This word is a word that I try to repeat over and over again to the point where the kids know when it’s coming. We’re learning something new – we might not be good at it…yet. This problem is hard – we’re just not there…yet. No one knows how to do everything perfectly the first time, first few times, first million times they try it. It doesn’t mean they will never get it – it just means they don’t get it yet. Teach your students this word and use it with them in the classroom. You’ll see that they’ll pick it up and apply it to their own situations.
  • Tip #5 – Provide Growth Mindset Opportunities – I know this might sound a little out there – but it’s important to give kids challenges where they might struggle and they might even fail. Now do not get me wrong, my goal is for my students to succeed and do well at school, but kids need to have challenges. We don’t want everything to come easy for them because that’s not real life. We want kids to struggle and have to work through things. They need to learn how to handle and work through failing and struggling because both of these situations are real life. It’s important for them to have these challenges with adults around who can help guide them and show them how to handle these situations. I often provide challenges or tricky STEAM type projects. It’s a great way for kids to practice perseverance and that word yet! It’s a great learning experience and tool to help them grow and use growth mindset.
Picture of kids working on a STEM project building a 3D house.

Those are my five favorite ways to promote growth mindset in the classroom. What are some of your favorites? Leave them in the comments below.

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