Browsing Category

Back to School

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!

Pin image for Advice for New Teachers Blog post - picture of apples, scissors, books, chalk, chalkboard

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.

Long Pin for 10 Amazon Must-Haves for Teachers - includes picture of a wireless doorbell and a pencil sharpener.

ABCs – K to 3 Facebook Group

Back to School

I am so excited to announce that Ashley from The Blessed OCDiva and I are starting a Facebook group for primary teachers! So if you teach kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade come join our group! We want this to be a place where educators can gather and collaborate with one another! Search ABCs – K to 3 on Facebook Groups or Click HERE to join!

Keeping Parents Looped In to the Classroom

Back to School, Conferences
Blog header for Keeping Parents Looped In to the Classroom blog post.

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!

Pin image for Keeping Parents Looped In to the Classroom blog post.

5 Tips to Promote Growth Mindset

Back to School
Header image for 5 Tips to Promote Growth Mindset Blog Post

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.

Pin image for 5 Tips to Promote Growth Mindset Blog Post

Classroom Reveal 2018

Back to School, Classroom Set-Up

The time has finally come for me to show you my classroom!  This is my first year back in first grade and I have tables again which I love for first graders.  This classroom is definitely smaller than my past one so I had to be creative with the space and try to open it up to make it feel larger.

Without further ado….my classroom for 2018!

Here is the view when you walk in the classroom door.  I have 5 tables and 16 students (yes I know I am very lucky and grateful!).  So there are 3-4 kids at each table.

This is the bulletin area on my back wall. I will have each child’s brag tag necklace hanging on a pin.  I also have our classroom jobs board and will be displaying Writing work and Anchor Charts.  In the bookshelf, I am storing math tools and other tools for the classroom – white boards, clip boards, etc. On top of the bookshelf we have our class iPads and Chrome Books. The black bins on the ground are from Target. I got them many years ago during their college sales and they still sell them now. I use these to collect library books, one is for planners, and one is to hold their take-home folders.

Here is my classroom library. I have a post explaining how I organize that…here… The bulletin board will house our reading and math anchor charts. Since the bulletin boards in the classroom were very large I decided to split them so I could use them for more things!

Here you can see one of the tables for students.  I got these caddies at Lakeshore Learning and I love the bright colors.  Each table also has one of those Target crates.  The table crate will hold their book bags, white boards, privacy folders, workbooks, etc – since we don’t have desks.

Here is the front of my room. I am so excited to have a Smart Board again!

Here is the view from the front corner. You can see I moved all of the large furniture against the walls to open up the space as much as possible.

I am very lucky to have another white board kidney table for small groups. This also serves as my desk. I am working on ways to keep it more organized so I can use it as both easily!

Here are the cubbies for students. Each child has their own cubby and then the share the backpack part. I also store classroom supplies over here and have our turn-in bins.

This area is behind my desk. Again I’m trying to make it as functional as possible since I don’t really have a desk – more of a small group table.  I’m storing my teacher books back here, supplies for small group, curriculum resources, and more.

So that is my new first grade classroom! It has been a lot of work, but so worth it! I am so happy with how it turned out. I think my students have a bright, fun, safe space to learn in!

Classroom Management Tips

Back to School

As we all know, classroom management is such an important part of teaching. Today I’m sharing 5 classroom management tips with you to help start your school year off on the right foot!

  • High Expectations – It’s important for you to set high expectations for your students.  You need a classroom where students are able to learn and for that to happen expectations need to be set in place.
  • Be Consistent – This is huge!  If you say something, you need to follow through with it.  And, more importantly you need to be consistent with each student.
  • Model and Practice – When setting these high expectations it’s important that you model and show the kids what they look like. Kids also need time to practice expectations.  For example, if you want students walking with their hands by their sides and facing forward in the hall – you need to model it and practice it and practice it some more.
  • Build Relationships – Relationships are another important key to classroom management.  Get to know your students and let them get to know you.  When you have strong relationships with your students, you will see less behavior problems.
  • Plan Ahead – This is probably weird to put last, but you want to plan your procedures and expectations before the school year starts.  Think about how you want to handle getting a drink, sharpening pencils, turning work in, walking in the hall, etc.  If you have clear procedures in place, it will be easier to communicate that to your students.

What are you favorite classroom management tips??? Leave a comment…

Meet the Teacher Stations

Back to School

Hey everyone! I’m excited to share with you something new I’m doing this year.  Every school I’ve been at has had Meet the Teacher and as I know I have mentioned on here before it is a great event, but also chaotic. You have many families you are trying to meet and greet and lots of info to get out to them.  So, this year in addition to the PowerPoint I blogged about a few weeks ago I’m using stations during this event. This way parents and students have a few different things to work on which will hopefully make it easier for me to give one-on-one time to each family.

So…here are my stations…

Station #1 -Class Schedule

Parents will pick up our class schedule at this station. I like to provide the schedule right away so parents know when PE, lunch, etc are during our day.

Station #2 – Student Name Tags

Students will be creating their own name tag here. I will laminate them and then put them down where they will be sitting.

Station #3 – Parent Sign-ups

At this station parents can sign up to be a Room Parent or help with the different holiday parties.

Station #4 – All About Me Bag

I haven’t done an All About Me Bag in a few years, but decided to bring it back.  I like this activity because it’s a great way to get to know students. This will be due in a few days and we will have different students share their items throughout the day/week.

Station #5 – Charts

I saw a variation of this on Pinterest, but don’t remember where.  Here I have two charts – one for parents and one for students.  On both they will write things they are hoping to learn or that they hope their child will learn in first grade.

Station #6 – Treat

Who doesn’t love a little treat?  These “smart cookie” tags are a FREEBIE in my TPT store.  I have them for kinder through 5th grade.  Just a little treat for them to enjoy or take with them!

Of course I will be around to meet and greet each family too, but this way they have a few different activities to work on so I can hopefully get to everyone easier!

Team Back to School Gift

Back to School

This year I decided to get my teaching team a little gift for Back to School. I am starting at a new school and am on a team with 4 other first grade teachers.  Target Dollar Spot has so many fun goodies I decided to make them a little treat bag with a few of those items.

The Dollar Spot has cute to-do list paper and binder clips. I love the ones that say – to grade, to file, to send home – so fun!  I also got the bright yellow bags and tissue paper from this area! I picked up some Ink Joy pens (not from the dollar section unfortunately) to share with them too!

So here is the final product! It’s just a little something, but a fun way to start of the school year with your team!

Do you do team gifts? If so, comment below and let me know what you do.