Category Archives: Classroom Community

Silly National Holidays {and how to use them in the classroom}

chocolate covered bacon!

Anyone want to celebrate Chocolate Covered Anything Day?

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S

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Thanksgiving and Christmas may be over, but that’s just fine by me because I recently discovered a new favorite holiday. And although I’ve been celebrating the spirit of this day for many (many) years, I didn’t know there was an “official” holiday for it until recently. It can be summed up in one glorious word: CHOCOLATE.

That’s right, December 16 is “National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.” So of course I celebrated it with gusto this past month. And it got me thinking: what other lesser-known holidays are out there languishing without celebration?

A little digging led me to discover the answer: quite a few! Many of these holidays are silly, most are funny, and almost all are downright perfect for a teachable moment. Here are a few lesson ideas, based on January’s wacky holidays:

January 10: “Peculiar People Day”

Look up the word “peculiar” in the dictionary. Have students copy the definition and then write their own definition in their own words below it. Younger students can then draw a peculiar person, and older students can create a description of a peculiar person.

Since peculiar people aren’t boring in the least, be sure to brainstorm a list of colorful synonyms and adjectives to describe peculiar people. For example, you could ask children to consider what would make a basketball player peculiar from his teammates (height, or lack thereof), or what might make a ballerina peculiar (clumsiness, huge feet, a mohawk, etc.). They can write a “peculiar person paragraph” and illustrate it. Or, better yet: have them trade paragraphs with a classmate and illustrate each other’s based on the descriptions! 

January 15: “Hat Day”

Provide magazines and have students search for hat pictures, cut them out, and make a “wacky hat” collage. Older students could research styles and fashions of different eras and see what types of hats were popular in each era. What was the purpose of each type of hat? For example, why are cowboy hats so different from baseball caps? Why did women used to wear hats to church? Why are Kentucky Derby attendees famous for wearing hats? Or add in a little math: What’s the average hat size in your classroom?

January 23: “National Handwriting Day”Girl writing with colored pencil

Practice using your best handwriting to write thank-you notes to people in the school. Brainstorm a list of seldom-thanked staff members (media specialist, janitor, cafeteria workers, front desk receptionist, etc.) who might appreciate a well-penned note.

January 25: “Opposite Day” 

Have fun with this one! Students can practice talking in opposites, or you can give instructions in opposites (“Stand up,” “Put your books away,” “Don’t write this down”). Give a sticker or small prize to the student who most successfully figures out and follows the correct instructions all day.

Here are some other wacky January holidays to get your creative juices flowing!

January 1: First Foot Day and Z Day

January 2: Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day

January 3: Festival of Sleep Day

January 4: Trivia Day

January 5: Bird Day

January 6: Bean Day

January 7: Old Rock Day

January 8: National JoyGerm Day and Man Watcher’s Day

January 9: Play God Day

January 10: Peculiar People Day

January 11: National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day

January 12: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day (couldn’t find a good explanation of this one…but it sounds fascinating)

January 13: Make Your Dream Come True Day (love this!)

January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day

January 15: Hat Day

January 16: Hot and Spicy Food International Day

January 17: Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day

January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day

January 19: National Popcorn Day

January 20: National Buttercrunch Day

January 21: National Hugging Day (awww)

January 22: National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (bizarre-o!) and National Blonde Brownie Day

January 23: National Handwriting Day, National Pie Day, and Measure Your Feet Day

January 24: Eskimo Pie Patent Day

January 25: Opposite Day

January 26: Australia Day

January 27: Punch the Clock Day

January 28: Rattle Snake Round-Up Day

January 29: National Cornchip Day

January 30: Escape Day

January 31: National Popcorn Day (just in case you missed it on the 19th! :)

Whichever holiday you choose to celebrate and integrate into the classroom, we’ll be excited to hear about it! Leave a comment about what you’ve already celebrated, or the holiday you plan on bringing into your classroom in the new year.

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Filed under Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, Crafts, History, Holidays, Multicultural Community, Uncategorized

Identifying Bullying: National Bullying Prevention Month

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by Diane E. Burdick, Ed.S.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. First, let’s just lay it out: bullying and relational aggression (either through passive measures or overt intimidation) is not normal and is not okay. No matter the circumstances, meanness and bullying are never warranted.

Words hurt, too.

It’s also important to note that bullying isn’t just physical– especially in our world of text and social-media bullying. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is simply dead wrong. When a peer treats another child cruelly, it can have long-lasting impacts. Bruises can heal, but the emotional scars of bullying can last a lifetime.

And, bullying is unfortunately very common. A NCES study from the U.S. Department of Education reported that more than 31% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 were bullied at school.

But, most parents and teachers aren’t even aware of when it happens. Why? Unless your child confesses to being bullied (which is rare), the signs can be difficult to see. So, just what should parents and teachers look for?

Top signs that something’s wrong at school:

• Social anxiety

• Peer rejection

• Lowering grades

• Loneliness or depression

• Absenteeism

• Complaints of poor health

• Decreased use of electronic media

What should you do next? 

Inform: Once bullying has been identified, teachers and parents should report it to the proper authorities; this includes school administration and other teachers, coaches, or bus drivers who supervise both the bully and the victim during the day.

Document: If possible, parents should document when and where the bullying reportedly occurred. Include dates, times and locations of the incidents, as well as names of witnesses. In cases of bullying over the Internet, print transcripts of e-mails or chat sessions that can serve as proof of the incidents.

Address: Then, address the issue with both children. There is a lot of shame involved in being bullied, so reinforce to the victim that they did nothing to cause or deserve the treatment. This is a hard truth to believe, so keep reinforcing it. As for the bully, ensure that consequences are carried out by the administration, parents, or–hopefully–both. If everyone commits to working together, the cycle of abuse can be stopped.

For tips to share with kids who are being bullied on how to stand up for themselves, see this article from kidshealth.org

Source: nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011316.pdf

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Filed under Behavior Management, Bullying, Classroom Community, Uncategorized

Student Appreciation Certificates (a warm fuzzy)

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by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.

Believe it or not, one of the fondest memories of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Krause, was forged the last day of school.

Once the school desks where pushed to the side of the room, all the supplies were put up, and the room cleaned from top to bottom, Mrs. Krause called us to the center of the room where we sat down in a large circle. She told us how much she had enjoyed the year getting to know each one of us in her classroom, then presented us each with our own individual award certificate.

Instead of a generic certificate that said something like “great job this year,” Mrs. Krause awarded each student a personalized certificate that showed specifically why that student was special to her. For example, the shyest kid in the class, who gave her a hug every morning when he walked into the classroom, received the “Best Hugger” award. She passed out a “Sleepiest” award to the child who showed up late to school most mornings because she had overslept, and she awarded the “Where Is It?” award to the child who forgot her homework and permission slips most often.

Although it didn’t take much time for Mrs. Krause to physically create each award—she used a certificate from the local teacher supply store—she did take the time to think of why each child was special, which is a great way to leave a lasting impression from the school year.

How to Create Your Own

This year, consider forming a short list of the things that make each student in your class unique, and then create a special award for each student. Four easy places to start:

1. Purchase a pack of customizable paper certificates like these achievement certificates or this “awesome” award (shown right) from The School Box.

2. Or open up the “certificate” setting in your Word software. Download the free printable/savable pdf of the four award stamps featured below right, to add to your awards. Click here for download: Award Stamps. 

3. Or download an award from www.123certificates.com/formal.php.

4. Or use one of these great printable certificates from www.familyshoppingbag.com.

Consider adding your school mascot or logo to further personalize the awards.

The Award I Earned

When I got home that day from school, I proudly showed my mother the certificate Mrs. Krause had given me. While my mom wasn’t thrilled that I received the “Where Is It?” award, I was touched that my teacher would turn something that could have been a frustration into something that became an endearment.

As teachers, we’re all eager to end the year with a bang, and we’re all excited (let’s admit) about the prospects of summer. But, let’s also remember that we can make a lasting impact on our students with a gesture as simple as a hand-written certificate. Decades later, I still remember fifth grade–and, yes, Mrs. Krause–fondly. 

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Filed under Academic Success, Activities, Classroom Community, Motivation, Teaching

Let’s Get Together: Promoting class unity

by Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed. 

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Do your kiddos have spring fever? If behavior problems seem a bit more rampant these days, take a step back and focus on your classroom community. A little student bonding can go a long way toward squelching disputes and disruptions. Try this all-time favorite to get your kiddos showin’ a little love.

Make a Connecting Web

  1. Have the group sit in a large circle.
  2. With a ball of yarn in your hand, pick a student to praise (maybe an unlikely candidate), and toss the ball while holding onto the end of the yarn.
  3. That student then praises someone, and tosses the ball (while also still holding onto their end of the yarn).
  4. Continue until every person has heard something nice about him/herself and has had the opportunity to throw the yarn and say something nice to another student.
  5. Once the web is complete, go backwards to unwind the web: Now, the person who received a compliment will throw the yarn back to their compliment-giver, giving them a compliment in return. This time, don’t hold onto the yarn while you throw, and wind up the loose piece as you go. By the end, everyone will have given and received much-needed praise, and your ball of yarn will be a ball once more.
  6. To conclude, give each student a piece of the web to wear on his/her wrist to symbolize the friendship of the class. (Or make simple yarn bracelets with this adorable art yarn.)

Connection is essential to the success of the students in any classroom. Fostering those relationships, even during your final days together, will make for happy memories and a peaceful classroom.

Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed., teaches fifth grade at a private school in Atlanta.

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Filed under Bullying, Classroom Community, Discipline

Creating a “Where Are You?” Board

by Rachel Stepp, M. Ed. 

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Do you ever have multiple students leave your classroom at once for various reasons (clinic, library, restroom, pull-out programs, etc.), and you have trouble remembering who went where? Has the fire drill ever buzzed, and you were missing children once you were outside because they were in the library? It’s time to set up an area (or wall) in your classroom where your students can display their location. This area might look different depending on the age of your students and the places they can go on their own in your school.

Magnet Board

In grades pre-k through second, it would be appropriate to have an area that displayed each child’s picture and name on a magnet. This could be a place on the magnetic white board or on a magnetic cookie sheet hung on the wall. On this area, you will create a place for each student’s picture to be displayed under the home section. At the end of the day, every student’s picture should be moved to the home area to show that they are no longer at school. In the morning, when a child first walks in the door, he or she should move their picture from “Home” to “Classroom” to show that they are present at school on the current day. When a child’s picture is shown as in the classroom, they are to be participating in classroom activities and within sight of the teacher. This is also a visual way to take attendance, without wasting time calling roll.

Other sections that you might want to include on your board are: boys’ restroom, girls’ restroom, office, clinic, library, other. Each section besides home and classroom should only have enough room for several students at a time, depending on your classroom guidelines. For example, you might only want to allow two boys to go to the restroom at the same time. If those two positions are in use on the board, then no one else should leave the classroom to use the restroom.

Students will need to learn the routine of automatically checking the board when they walk into the classroom to make sure their magnets are in the correct location. It’s important to make sure that students know that they do not need to move their picture every time the class goes somewhere as a whole group. You can also use the same picture magnets for other activities, such as to show which center students are in during center time.

Popsicle Jars

In third through fifth grades, students might find that moving their picture around feels “elementary” to them.  When students are transitioning grades and learning a new routine for leaving the classroom, you can write each child’s name on a popsicle stick and place them in different cans/jars to show their location. The jars can sit beside the classroom door so that students can access them easily when they enter or exit the room. You can also create a simple sign-in and sign-out sheet for your students. On this sheet, they would have to record their name, the time they leave, their desired location, and the time they return. This will help you keep track of your students when they are out of the classroom and in the case of an emergency.

Hopefully these ideas will give your students some responsibility when it comes to keeping track of where they are. You are one teacher in charge of many students, and anything to make the process run smoothly is worth considering!

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Filed under Behavior Management, Centers, Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, Organization

Learning to Give: A Hands-On Way to Teach Generosity

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

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Don’t you just love this time of year? Cider brewing on the stove’s back burner, pies bubbling in the oven, stores festooned with twinkle lights, the Salvation Army volunteer merrily ringing at the store’s front door…it’s all just so cheery. And it’s also the perfect time of year–as we all know–to teach children about the blessing of giving to others. Here is a hands-on way to do just that, as gleaned from Primrose Schools, whose award-winning character education curriculum is all about encouraging little ones to help others.

Beyond the Canned Food Drive

Stashing some cans in the bin at the gym is all well and good. It meets a need. It fills a soup kitchen. It’s a good thing to do. But–what if you took a different approach and got your children (and yourself) more directly involved in giving?

To really drive home the impact of giving to others, Primrose Schools nationwide encourage their private pre-k and kindergarten students to earn money through doing chores at home throughout the month of November, during their Caring and Giving event. The money is brought in to school each day, counted, charted and saved for a class-wide field trip to a local grocery store. There, the children use their own hard-earned stash of cash to select nonperishables off the shelves themselves, which are then loaded into the schools’ buses and taken to local community food banks.

What an ingenious way to make giving relevant to children! And, how easy to adapt with children at home, as well. Here’s how:

Set it up. 

First, designate a special spot in your home to save the money that’s just for giving. A mason jar labeled “Giving” and decorated with a cute ribbon (or decorated by your child) will do nicely. Put the jar in an important place, like on the kitchen counter or your child’s bedside table. Here’s a cute pre-made jar set from Lil Light O’ Mine, pictured right, that could be used year-round: www.lillightomine.com/shop.

Earn it.

Then, brainstorm ideas with your child on how he or she could earn money to fill their jar. Explain that the money won’t be for them this time; it will be used to help families and children who don’t have as much food or as many nice toys as your child has.

Ideas might include unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, picking up toys, clearing the table after dinner, setting the table for dinner, helping cook, raking leaves, taking out the trash, dusting their room, feeding the pets, making your bed or a sibling’s bed as a good deed…and whatever other helpful ideas your child mentions. List the ideas, and then post the list so your child can refer to it if they get “stuck” and need a prod or two.

Set parameters. 

Designate an amount of time (like two weeks), and an amount of money a chore will earn (like $0.25 or $1). You may also want to point out to your child that they won’t get paid for doing the things they’re already expected to do, like brushing their teeth or being nice to their siblings. Together, set parameters for earning that make sense for your family.

Then, sit down together and count the money your child has earned regularly. Not only will this reinforce math skills, but it will also build excitement and a positive sense of pride in your child at the good they’re going to do.

Spend It.

At the end of the set time period, take your child to the store and help them select nonperishable food items with their money. Talk about what they’d like to eat at Christmas or Thanksgiving, and help them make their choices. But, don’t control their choices. As an adult, you may want specific items to be purchased, but let your child do a little leading, as well. Teach them the joy of giving by making the process fun! When I did this with my 4-year-old son, for example, he insisted on adding in a couple cans of Sponge Bob chicken noodle soup. More power to him!

Donate It.

Then, either have your child put the goods in a collection box at the front of the store (if there is one), or find a shelter or food bank in your community and donate the goods there, with your child in tow. If you’re not sure where one is, do a quick Internet search. Key words to try: “food bank + (your city)” or “canned food drive + (your city).”

Some nonprofit resources for the Atlanta area: 

Hope for Christmas: collects new gifts, toys and nonperishable food. Volunteers also needed.

Atlanta Community Food Bank

MUST Ministries

It’s important for children to see the whole process– from earning, to saving, to spending, to giving. Thanks for the inspiration, Primrose Schools! We agree that thankfulness is best learned through giving, and giving is most enjoyed when experienced hands-on, from the heart. 

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

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Filed under Activities, Classroom Community, Extracurricular, Field Trips, Holidays, Service Learning

On Schedule: Teaching Kindergartners!

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

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Are you moving down to kindergarten this year, or perhaps starting your very first year teaching and have just found out you have kindergarteners? Whatever the situation, all of us kindergarten teachers know that being on a schedule–and having students learn this schedule–is key.

Here’s a creative, hands-on way to make sure your students will have their schedule down in no time!

First, decide the different parts of your daily schedule. You may also want to include events that could occur weekly, monthly, or throughout the year: morning work, morning meeting, lunch, library, recess, literacy centers, math time, bathroom break, assembly, specials (music, art, P.E., computer lab), etc.

Next, create some type of visual pieces for each of these events. This can consist of small index cards (something around 4×4), or you could get creative and make puzzle-looking pieces. These pieces should include the name of the scheduled event and a picture.

For example, if you’re making a lunch piece, write or type “lunch” at the top and put a picture of a sack lunch or a lunch tray with food, so that students know what the piece indicates without having to know how to read the word. This is also a great way for students to learn letter sounds and words that are used daily in the classroom.

Finally, once all of your scheduled pieces are made, laminate them so that they hold up. Decide how you want students to be able to work with them. My suggestion is to have students put each of the pieces in the order of your schedule. Use a magnetic cookie sheet, dry erase board, corkboard, felt board, or some way for students to pick up, place, and move the pieces around as they figure it out. If you choose one of these options, you’ll need to place a magnet or Velcro piece on the back of each laminated piece. If you’re using a corkboard, of course, you’ll need large pushpins for attaching the pieces.

Do you have classroom jobs? If so, this scheduling activity can be one of the jobs for the students to alternate doing every morning, in order to give them all a chance to participate–as well as giving them a part in creating the visual schedule for everyone to view throughout the way. Of course, as the teacher, you should double check their order and perhaps even review the schedule as part of your daily morning routine or morning meeting.

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom!

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Filed under Centers, Classroom Community, Morning Work

First Day of School

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

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It’s that time of the year again…the time when you begin to think about how you’re going to start off the school year with your new set of students. Possibly you’ve been doing this for several years and have everything pretty much decided, but you’d like a fresh idea or two. Perhaps you’re starting your first year as a brand new teacher and don’t have much of a clue as to where to start. Whatever your experiences and reasoning for needing some worry-free tips, there is no need in worrying any longer. Here are some suggestions that are sure to be the perfect prescription to relieve those first-day-of-school worries.

1. Be sure to greet each and every one of your students at the door when they come in.

2. Have a fun activity on their desks for them to do.

3. Make nametags for students to wear for first week or so, until you feel that you’ve got their names down pat (and to help them learn each others’ names, too).

4. Have a meeting on the reading rug to hold some “get to know me” discussions, so that the students know who their teacher is. Be sure to include pictures of you, your family, pets, etc.

5. Read The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

This charming book is about a young raccoon who is reluctant to go to school…until he gets some wisdom from his mother.

6. Take students on a school tour and hunt for “Chester.” You can use any name for any stuffed animal of some type. Have clues along the way so that students get acquainted with their school while having fun searching for the little critter you hid ahead of time!

7. Discuss expectations, behavior, and create class rules/norms together as a class family. Allow students to work together with you to create the rules, allowing them a say-so in how their classroom will run.

8. Allow students to make something for their parents. “What did you think/learn on your first day of ___ grade?”

9. Send students home with labels that indicate their transportation, bus #, etc.

10. Send home a letter to parents…welcoming them, and letting them know what a wonderful first day you had meeting their student. Be sure to share with them what you did on their first day and their agreement to the classroom rules/norms, as well as your expectations of their student and of them.

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom!

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Filed under Behavior Management, Classroom Community, Discipline

Classroom Makeover Part III: Behavior Management Procedures

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

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Summer is the perfect time (read: only time) for teachers to think about giving their classrooms and procedures a spiffy little makeover. This three-part series shares a few ideas for polishing up your reading corner (Part I), procedures (Part II), and discipline (Part III). It’s makeover time!

Tackling Tattling: Refreshing Discipline Tactics

Complaint Box

Do you want a new way to handle complaining issues in your classroom? This idea will help students get over their complaints, clear their minds, and move on!

Students tattling or nagging about little things can use this as a way to vent, without bogging you down with non-essentials.

Create a Safe Spot: First, designate a special box (or trash can, so students know they are literally “throwing away” their complaint). Then, put strips of paper next to it, where students can write down their complaint before depositing it into the box/can.

The Power of Writing: By writing it down and giving it up, students learn an effective strategy to get rid of a complaint and move on with their day.

To Read or Not to Read: These can either be private (no one–not even you–will read them), or if you would like to read them, just tell your students they’ll remain between them and you. Some situations may warrant further action on your part, but mostly, you’ll find that the complaints in this box resolve themselves.

“Help Me Find a Resolution” Box

Sometimes student issues are a little bigger and do need an intervention on your part. Here’s where students can go when it’s not an appropriate time to vent to you, but they do need your help.

Create a Safe Spot: Designate a box or mailbox where students can write down issues they’re having with someone (even another student). They drop their paper in the box and “put it on hold” for now. They need not let it bother them for the rest of the day because they know it will be discussed later.

Resolve Every Morning: This box is opened every morning, during Morning Meeting, and the teacher reads them one by one. (Obviously, you need to read through them beforehand, to make sure they’re appropriate to read aloud. Some may best be dealt with privately, and some may need to be tossed–or given back to the student to transfer to the “Complaint Box,” above.)

The student who wrote the issue then states whether they still need to discuss it or if it has been resolved since they wrote it. If it has been resolved, it is tossed. If it is still an issue, students work together to determine ways to deal with it. Maybe there needs to be an apology. Maybe the people involved need to discuss their reasoning for doing what they did, as well as how they were feeling.

Peer Feedback: If need be, the other students can give suggestions to their peers on how they could have handled the issue differently.

Students need to be aware that this isn’t a place to put little bitty tattlings that they can resolve on their own (that’s the “Complaint Box”). This is where they come when they’ve tried to resolve it, but still need help.

If done correctly and with sensitivity, this Resolutions Box builds a sense of a classroom “family” where the students care about each other…and are held accountable for how they treat each other.

Talk to the Ear

This idea reminds me of that good ‘ol saying from a few years back: “Talk to the hand.”

This idea works best with younger elementary students–and is a good option for pre-writers who can’t use the two ideas above.

Post an Ear: Post a laminated picture of an ear in a corner of the room. Or–if you have access to one–put a plastic ear on an inconspicuous student-accessible shelf or table.

Redirect to the Ear: When a student comes to you with a trivial issue, tell them to “go tell the ear.” They can then go over to the ear and whisper their complaint or issue.

Of course, this only works with younger students–and should only be used when the issue really is trivial. But, surprisingly, it makes young students feel like they have been “heard” and helps them get on with their day…now that they’ve voiced their concern to a “listening ear.”

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom!

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Filed under Behavior Management, Bullying, Classroom Community, Discipline

Classroom Makeover Part II: Procedures

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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Summer is the perfect time (read: only time) for teachers to think about giving their classrooms and procedures a spiffy little makeover. This three-part series will share a few ideas for polishing up your reading corner (Part I), procedures (Part II), and discipline (Part III). It’s makeover time!

Procedures that Make Sense

Establishing procedures for your students helps a classroom run much more smoothly…and keeps interruptions at bay. (“Can I sharpen my pencil? Can I go to the bathroom now? Is it time for lunch?”) Here are some tried-and-true tips for sharing your expectations and procedures with your students– from the get-go!

Label Your Drawers

So that your students know where the glue sticks, extra pencils, notebook paper and other supplies are located: type, print and laminate labels for all of the cupboards and drawers in your classroom. Attach them with rectangles of clear contact paper, cut a half-inch larger than the labels on all sides. Include a picture if you teach pre-readers. The labels will greatly help substitute teachers and parent volunteers, as well!

Post Your Schedule

Type or write each element of your schedule on cardstock, then laminate them (morning work, science, reading, lunch, recess, etc.). Post the components on your white board, and rearrange each day to show the day’s routine.

Communicate Your Expectations

At the beginning of the year, when you go over your expectations for procedures, print a list that includes when/how to leave the classroom (is there a pass to take?), go to the restroom (are their certain times that are appropriate?), sharpen your pencil, enter in the morning, order lunch, etc. Give each student a list of your expectations to keep in a binder, and post a copy in your classroom, as well. For an extensive list of procedures and ideas, see this article from Scholastic.

If you have older students (~2nd grade and up), ask for their input on classroom procedures: When do you think it would be smart for us to all sharpen our pencils? How should we ask for help so we don’t interrupt each other when we’re working? What might be a good way to walk in the hallway/enter our classroom/store our book bags? Engaging them in this conversation makes them aware of the reason behind the procedures: to ensure a smooth-running, courteous and safe classroom.

What To Do When You’re “Done”

To avoid the dreaded “I’m done…what do I do now?” question, try this fun idea from this previous post. Have your students create a list of classroom-appropriate ideas to fill your “When I’m Done” jar.

Giving a little thought to your procedures now, during the summer, will ensure a smooth-running classroom come August!

For more tools to help streamline your classroom, check out http://www.schoolbox.com/Teacher-Essentials.aspx.

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

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