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Back to School

Maximizing Learning Time: How These 4 Classroom Management Ideas Can Help

Classroom Management
Blog header for Maximizing Learning Time: How These 4 Classroom Management Ideas Can Help - photo of students in line

Every teacher’s goal is to maximize learning time as much as possible! Classroom management plays a huge role in being able to do that. Today I’m going to share with you 4 easy ideas to make classroom management a breeze!

Quiet Game

Photo of students in line

This first management tool is a game-changer for hallway behavior and waiting for a special’s class!  To play the quiet game, the students need to be quiet, facing forward, and have their hands to themselves. I then walk up and down the line and find the student who is being the best example of a student standing in line. I tap them on the shoulder and then they get to pick the next student who is standing perfectly in line.  This continues on and on until the special’s teacher is ready for them.

Wireless Doorbell

Photo of wireless doorbell

This may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

I know I’m not the only person to discuss and recommend the wireless doorbell, but this thing is amazing!

In the past I’ve always used the clapping patterns or 1-2-3 eyes on me as a way to get student’s attention. And, while yes that will work it sometimes has to be repeated many times. The wireless doorbell has changed all of that!  My doorbell has multiple songs and chimes and I chose a simple chime that sounded like the end of intermission at a play. This thing works like a charm! My students hadn’t seen it before so it was a novelty item at first, but it gets their attention! The nice thing is that I can change the sound or song so that it’s always fresh and always a bit of a novelty. 

I use the doorbell as a way to get them to freeze and give me their attention. I sound the doorbell when they need to rotate during math rotations. I use the doorbell as a sign to clean up. This thing works and it’s saved my voice and frustration level. Now there are times when they are a little crazy and I have to ring it a second time, but I do not have to raise my voice! The doorbell does it for me! Click HERE to grab your own doorbell from Amazon.

Reward System

Photo of tally chart reward system

I love using brag tags as an individual reward system, but also like to implement a whole class system too.  One of my favorites and easiest to implements is the Tally Chart.

Tally charts or place value (with tens and ones) is a great way to manage whole class behavior. For the tally chart, I pick a number and students have to work to earn that many tallies.  I typically start with 25 and then once they earn that we go for 50, 75, 100, etc.  

I also have a few other behavior option that you can find in my blog post >>> HERE.

Class Contract

Photo of class contract

Instead of the teacher created rules, in my class we create a class contract. I saw this idea at a training a few years ago and loved it!  

Our class contract is an agreement of how we want to treat each other and how we want to act in our classroom.  It is completely student driven and helps with buy in! After creating it together, everyone in the class signs it agreeing to follow the expectations. I then hang it on the wall and refer back to it often throughout the year.  

For more classroom management tips, click HERE.

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Back to School Classroom Ideas

Back to School
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Back to School is coming and today I’m excited to share some back to school classroom ideas with you! I know some of us go back to school as early as July so I wanted to make sure this post got out to you early.

Back to School Book Suggestions:

Back to School Book Ideas - picture of covers

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

Here are five fun books that you can share with your class during the Back to School season..

Back to School Classroom Ideas – Boot Camp

Photo of teacher testing boats at Boot Camp

Boot Camp is a fun way to get your class school-year ready! I love to do a Boot Camp Room Transformation the first or second week of school.  During our boot camp, students review their math skills, practice writing detailed sentences, build boats that can float, and more! To learn more about this transformation, click HERE.

Back to School Classroom Idea – Create a School

Photo of book If I Built a School and Create a School Project

One of my favorite beginning of the year projects is my Create a School Project. This activity is a great way to build classroom community and help students learn the rules of the classroom.  During Create a School, students are working together (as pretend teachers) to create Johnson (or your last name) Elementary.  The “teachers” pick their classes, design their classrooms, learn about class rules, and create rules for the classroom and common area.  To learn more about this fun project, click HERE.

Back to School Resources

Photos of back to school resources - Back to School Word Problems, Get to Know You Activities, SEL Discussion Cards
  • Back to School Word Problems – These back to school themed word problems are a great formative assessment for the beginning of the year.  Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of addition and subtraction skills, their ability to solve problems, and use their math strategies. Click HERE to get these for your class.
  • SEL Discussion Cards – These Social Emotional Learning discussion cards are great for the first few weeks of school! I use these in Morning Meeting as a way to discuss situations that could come in the classroom and go through ways we could handle them. Click HERE for the discussion cards.
  • Getting to Know You – Back to School Activities – Back to school is always a fun time for students to get to know one another. This packet of writing activities is perfect for the first week! Includes student interviews, goal setting for the year, and more! Click HERE to grab these for your first week!
  • Back to School Morning Meeting Activities – Part 1 – Morning Meeting is my favorite way to start any school day and the beginning of the school year is no exception.  These school themed activities are great for the first few weeks of school. Includes activity slides for Noggle, Story Starter, Finish the Doodle, Which One Does Not Belong, and more. Click HERE to grab these activities!
  • Back to School Writing Prompts – These fun themed writing prompts are a great way for students to share information about themselves and for you to learn about them as writers! They work great for independent writing, formative assessment, writing warm-up, writing center, and more! Click HERE for the prompts.  (Check out a FREEBIE of these below…)

Back to School FREEBIE:

Photo of Free Back to School Writing Prompts

These back-to-school themed FREE Writing Prompts are perfect to use during the first few weeks of school! These writing prompts are a great writing warm-up, writing center, and more. Click HERE to get your FREEBIE.

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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…

5 Tips to Promote Growth Mindset

Back to School
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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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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.

Books for the First Week of School

Back to School, Books

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

So, I love picture books and I especially love picture books that serve multiple purposes. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite books to use during the first few weeks of school.  These books can also be found on my Amazon List – Back to School Books.

First Day of School Books:

I always start the first day of school every year with the book First Day Jitters.  It’s a cute book that gets some of those nerves and jitters out of the way.  I also like that it shows that teachers are nervous too.

PIctures of Back to School Books - FIrst Day Jitters, The Night Before First Grade, First Grade Jitters, Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum

Be Kind Books:

Teaching social skills and life lessons are extremely important during the first week. These books are great for talking about being kind and respectful to one another.

Picture of books - Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Peanut Butter & Cupcake, Have You Filled a Bucket Today, Thelma the Unicorn, Hooway for Wodney Wat

Classroom Management:

The first few weeks of school are full of learning about classroom expectations and procedures. I love using the books below to discuss some of those topics.  These books are also good to bring up throughout the school year if an issue arises.

Picture of books - I've Won, Ruthie and the Not So Teeny Tiny Lie, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, The Boy Who Wouldn't Share, Tattle Tongue

Growth Mindset:

Growth Mindset is such a valuable skill for kids to learn. I love using these books to talk about it in kid friendly ways.  It’s important for kids to know that it’s ok to make mistakes and that they won’t be perfect at everything on the first go – and these books do a great job of explaining that.

Picture books - The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, The Most Magnificent Thing, ish

Those are some of my favorites. What are your favorite back to school books? Comment below…