July 23, 2016

Classroom Expectations - Back to School Teacher Tips #3

Back to School Tip #3:
Classroom Expectations

Another very important part of classroom management at the beginning of the year is making sure your students know and understand your classroom expectations. When classroom expectations are clearly communicated from the start, it helps create a positive environment where all students can learn and grow.  When students know exactly what is expected of them with regards to behavior and academics, they can more easily meet these expectations. 

Behavioral Expectations: A positive classroom environment must have clear behavior expectations from the first day that students walk in.  Students need to be taught these expectations with specific targeted lessons that show what the expected behavior looks like and what it doesn't look like. It is important to teach, model, and practice. Then, reteach, model and practice again. This needs to continue to happen until students are demonstrating a clear understanding of  the expectation and what they need to do.  A good behavior management system is also key.  Teachers use a variety of systems in their classrooms: PBIS, Class Dojo, Color Coded Charts, Behavior Logs, etc. Most systems can work effectively, the key is consistency and reinforcement.  I found that a clip chart system with rewards and consequences worked well in my classroom.  The Discipline Management Packet below has a 5 poster chart, incentive punch cards, certificates for great behavior and much more. I believe it is important to provide students with incentives and rewards for meeting behavioral expectations.  Click on the picture to see the details.


Academic Expectations: Research shows that having high academic expectations will result in higher student achievement. If your students know you expect them to turn in their work and will accept nothing less, they will turn in their work.  If students know you expect every paper to have a heading, you will have less papers with no name on them.  If students know you expect them to participate in the class discussion, they will be more likely to contribute their thoughts and ideas.  The key to successful high expectations is the consistency and reinforcement in making sure students meet them. For example, if all students are expected to participate in classroom discussions, sometimes a student may not want to answer and says, "I don't know" when called upon to answer a question.  Instead of letting that student off the hook by going on to the next student to answer, make sure the student knows you will come back to him for the answer. "OK, Tom, let's see if someone else can help you out." Call on another student for the answer. Then go back to Tom.  Ask the question again so he can repeat what the other student said.  Be consistent with this strategy.  Once students know they cannot get away without answering, they will be more likely to pay attention, participate and meet your expectations. They also know they will get the support of help with an answer when they truly do not know.

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Visit again next week for Back To School Teacher Tip #4!

Until Next Time...

July 16, 2016

Classroom Organization - Back to School Teacher Tips #2

Back to School Tip #2
Classroom Organization

Classroom organization is one of the most important things to consider as we head back to school.  Teachers with effective classroom management will have an organized classroom set-up, with routines and procedures in place that keep the environment conducive to learning. During the first  weeks of school it is important to teach students those routines and procedures that will help your class run smoothly.  A lot of time will be spent in explaining, modeling and practicing your expectations.

Classroom organization starts with the physical arrangement of the classroom.  How will you arrange the student desks? Where will you do small group instruction?  Do you have a large area or carpet to bring your students together?  Where are your stations, centers and classroom library?  You want to arrange your physical space so your procedures and routines are easy to carry out. 

Classroom procedures and routines need to also be in place.  Procedures and routines are how things are done in the classroom.  Students must know from the very first day of class what they are expected to do and how to do it. I use a checklist to help me remember which routines and procedures are important for me to directly teach when we start back to school.  Here is a sample of the items I have on my checklist.

One important procedure I make sure to have in place is the use of Hand Signals to do things like use the restroom, sharpen pencils, drink water and get a tissue.  These are quick easy signals students give me that I can respond with a nod yes or no and it doesn't interrupt the lesson.  The general rule when in a lesson is that unless it is an emergency they need to wait until the next transition for these types of requests.  However if that emergency does happen, this allows them to quietly let me know without disturbing the flow of the lesson.  It is also helpful during other times in class like stations, seatwork, small group instruction, etc.  The hand signals I use are listed below.  Each number 1-5 represents something students show me to let me know their request. The fist up is my signal to them that I need complete silence.  These signals work great with the students.

All of these classroom procedure items can be found in my Classroom Procedures and Routines Packet.  This contains the checklist for beginning the year, the Hand Signal Posters, a Student Booklet for students to use as they learn your procedures and routines and Task Card for a Scoot Game to practice what they learned.

Click here to download the product.

Classroom Procedures Booklet has pages for students
to write notes on the routines and procedures you teach.

Task cards to practice the routines and procedures.
Use them in a center/station or as a SCOOT Game with the
answer sheet that is included. 

For other Back to School Teacher Tips click the link below:

Until Next Time...

July 7, 2016

Building Relationships - Back to School Teacher Tips #1

Where has the summer gone?  Time is passing by so quickly and now Back to School is just around the corner.  I am really looking forward to a brand new year. I plan to have a five week series of Back to School Teacher Tips. This is great for new teachers but could benfit veteran teachers as small reminders of what is important at the beginning of each year.  Stop back by each week to see the newest tip!

Back to School Tip #1:
Building Relationships

A classroom culture is created with the positive relationships that a teacher builds with his/her students. It is clearly one of the most important things a teacher should do at the beginning of the year.  You want to get to know your students on a variety of levels: academically, personally, and socially.  The more you know about your students, the better you are able to understand and motivate them. So, how do you start to build that relationship on the first day?

Try an activity like the Mystery Bag.  In a paper sack, have three or four items that represent who you are.  On that first morning, take each item out of the bag one at a time and share what that item means in your life.  That afternoon, send home a small paper lunch bag and ask students to fill it with three or four small items that represent who they are.  At the end of each day, have students sit together on the carpet.  Choose a few students to open their bags and share something about themselves.  This activity is a lot of fun for students and you get to learn a lot about their lives and what is important to them.

Another activity you could do on the first day of school is the First Day Letter.  As a writing lesson, have students write a friendly letter to themselves.  Have them write things like:  their feelings about the new school year, what they will miss about the previous year, what they expect to achieve this year, etc. Collect the letters.  You can read each of them to find out more about your new students. Place each letter in an envelope and seal it.  At the end of the year, pass out their letters.  The students read their own letter. It is interesting to have them share their letters to see if their ideas, opinions and feelings have changed since the first day.

These types of activities help you to learn about your students, help your students learn about each other, and help you begin to build strong relationships in your classroom.

These activities and more can be found in this Back to School Activities, Games and Puzzle Packet.  Click the picture below.


          Activities to get to know your students and begin to build relationships with them.

Fun games and activities for students to interact together and begin to form friendships and connections.

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