All Posts By

Andrea Pierce

Classroom Management

Another Day, Another Slay – End the School Year like a Pro

May 3, 2017

You can feel it… the end of the school year buzz is already upon us! Despite this overwhelming excitement, you know that craziness can also ensue. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to help you end the school year like a pro!

1.) I’m all about keeping the control in my classroom but I’m also not an unrealistic meanie either. Summer is right around the corner and you and your students can’t deny it. One of the things I like to do starting in May is to have a daily activity that’s fun, EASY (on my part), and will keep my students wanting to work hard for me to earn it! Here are some of my favorite daily activities…

  • Bubble Party:  My students get to take a 10-15 minute brain break to blow and chase bubbles outdoors!
  • Paint Party:  My students get to end the day by painting a picture for someone special – in my experience (at this point in the year) it isn’t uncommon for classroom romances to blossom and it to be for one another! This is a hoot to see! 😉
  • Lunch in the Classroom:  This is super easy and the pay off is huge! Who doesn’t want to do this right?!? **CLEAN-UP TIP – give each table group a trash bag and make them responsible for their own messes.**

2.) PURGE, PURGE, PURGE!  This one is simple. If you made it the whole school year without it, chances are it’s good to go. You’ll feel accomplished, your filing cabinet and storage bins will thank you, and your August teacher self will do a happy dance knowing that you have less items to sort through.

3.) Start your end of the year student gifts early! This one can be HUGE because, last year, I put this task off until the very last minute. I hated myself for it too because I was mentally and physically exhausted at the end of every day (not to mention 9 months pregnant)! Whatever Pinterest inspired idea you choose – start early!

That’s all for now. Until next time, keep influencing the world and stay positive!

Classroom Community Classroom Management

Dealing with Difficulty: 5 Ways to Handle Challenging Students

March 21, 2017

We all have been there and it seems to happen every school year despite our best efforts and repeated prayers. Students are placed in our classroom who become or already are habitual troublemakers. Taking into consideration the fit throwers, the eye rollers, and the no sayers, this post is for all you teachers who struggle to reach and ultimately teach those children.

Here are 5 tips on how I cope with these difficult students –

1.) Clearly Defined Expectations & Consequences

This is the most important thing that you can give your challenging students and the rest of your class. Classroom expectations should be visible, easily understood by your students and reinforced whenever necessary. Consequences should be established but not necessarily always shared with your students (it’s sometimes wise to have a few unexpected tricks up your sleeve).

2.) Consistent Contact with Parents:

Keeping parents in the loop is a must. It is important for not only the parents to realize that you are taking a vested interest in their child but also letting the student know that you and their parents are on the same team. An email, a phone call or even a quick note home on both good AND bad days will move mountains in the long run.

3.) Sympathize with the Student

Validating a student’s feelings does not mean that you agree with them or their actions. It does help however confirm to them that you know that their feelings are real, honest, and normal. More times than not, students just want to be heard and understood. 

4.) Stop Bargaining & Arguing

Challenging students are often times well versed in the art of manipulation and banter. Indulging this will only increase the likelihood that said students will repeat the offense and later try and argue their way out of a consequence. Be firm and always follow through. 

5.) Never Give Up

Bottom line… no child is ever worth giving up on. Hang in there. Be consistent and lean on your family, colleagues and loved ones on those tough days. 

Until next time teacher friends, keep changing the world and stay positive!

Classroom Community Classroom Management Uncategorized

Mid-Year Management Woes

March 10, 2017

The second half of the school year is already well under way and if you’re anything like me, it’s time to think about the three R’s.  Reflecting, revamping, and reining in all that could use a little attention in your classroom.

The middle of the year is the perfect time to think about what has worked so far and what has not. With some planning and preparation, you can make the remaining months of the school year successful. Here are three kid-tested, teacher-approved classroom management tips to get you by.

1.) Revisit Your Expectations and Procedures

I can’t stress this enough and it is so easy to take this idea for granted! Sure, your students have heard your expectations and procedures since the start of the school year BUT children can often get complacent with these. Set aside the time to have a review during your morning meeting, write a friendly reminder note to your students’ parents so they can be talking about these things at home, and of course MODEL, MODEL, MODEL! When we model expectations and act out the desired behaviors, we are painting a clear picture of exactly what we want to see from our students. 

2.) Reorganize Your Classroom Seating 

If you haven’t changed your students’ seats since the beginning of the school year, then now is probably the time. The great thing to remember is that you can be flexible with this. Take time to consider if you want to group your students by ability, by gender, or maybe just by personality? What if this doesn’t work you ask? Let the changes ride the rest of the week and then start fresh again on Monday with a new arrangement. I recently did this with my Kinders and it was so neat to see new working relationships forming amongst my students.

3.) Reevaluate Your Current Management System

Mid-year is also a great time to make minor adjustments to your management system. Consider adding some new and fun incentives – sticker charts, punch cards, or even a treat box are great and fairly easy things to implement! Another thing that might need some refreshing are the consequences that you have in place for your students. If you’ve read my other posts, you already know that I am a big supporter of alternatives to classroom clip charts. With that said, I have recently gone over our five classroom expectations once again with my students and revisited the consequences that could follow if a expectation was not honored. It is and has been important to me that my students understand the idea of owning their actions.

I hope these tips have helped give you some ideas of things you might wish to implement in your own classroom and I would love to hear from you if you choose to try anything.

Until next time, keep influencing the world and stay positive!

Classroom Community Classroom Management Uncategorized

Positive Behavior Management

February 26, 2017

Effective management is one of the most vital components of your classroom. Mastering, or consistently working towards mastery, of this is an absolute must in order to ensure an optimal learning environment. As you learned in my previous post, I am an anti-clip chart teacher (no eye rolls please). Instead, my approach is much more student-centered and POSITIVE! Here are three tips, tricks, and/or tools that I use or have used in my classroom to encourage good behavior on the individual level:

1.) Punch Cards:

My students are so into these right now and their quest to earn “punches” for their cards is insane! Here’s how I got started …

I downloaded these FREE behavior punch cards from TPT and printed them onto colored paper. I then let my students choose one card and explained how a “punch” could be earned. You helped a friend without being asked? PUNCH! You were respectful to a teacher or an adult? PUNCH! You used good self-control on the carpet? PUNCH! My two biggest rules when doing this is that students cannot ask for punches for their card and once a punch was given, it could not be taken away – positive remember? Once a punch card is full, the possibilities are endless! You could reward your children with… a trip to the treat box, free time on the iPads, or my students’ personal favorite, lunch with me in the classroom!

2.) SKITTLES:

I keep a jar full of Skittles on my desk at all times and when I see a student making a responsible choice, I give them a Skittle! These little tokens of encouragement have helped me at even my most desperate moments as a teacher. A good example of this in use would be in the afternoons when my Kinders are exhausted from a busy day. During this time, I need them to hang on a little longer and get through our intervention block. Often times I’ll say, “Mrs. Pierce is looking for friends that are focused, so they can earn a participation Skittle.” I make sure not to abuse this though. Most of the time, my students will receive only 1 or 2 Skittles throughout the school day. I’m all about intrinsic motivation, but, sometimes, a little sugar goes a long way!

3.) Smiles, Hugs, and Words of Affirmation: 

This one is super easy and doesn’t require any real work on your part! Students often spend more of their time with you than they do with their own families! Why not make this time special and happy? A little wink, a gentle smile, some kinds words or even a hug just to let them know you care and are proud of them. These acts can go a long way with a child and, many times, they will work harder for you because it’s in them to want to please you!

I hope these suggestions have given you something to think about or maybe a little inspiration for your own classroom.

Until next time, keep influencing the world and stay positive!

Classroom Management

A Leap of Faith: Canning the Classroom Clip Chart

February 10, 2017

The Clip chart. A traditional classroom staple brightly hung for all to see. I love to call these “the charts of good intentions” because, in reality, they are. Teachers are driven individuals who crave a room full of well-behaved, on task students, but let’s face it, they don’t exactly prepare you in college on how to run a classroom.

I’m here to challenge your thinking and tell you that there are other options. Easier? No. Differentiated and perhaps a bit more developmentally appropriate? Yes. Here are three thoughts to consider about clip charts…

Could clipping down promote class-wide humiliation?

One of the quickest ways to convince a child that they are “the bad kid” is by telling them in front of their friends. Take a quick walk in your students’ shoes. How would it make you feel to be embarrassed in front of your peers by a superior? Does doing this truly accomplish anything? The best analogy I can compare this to is getting written up by your school’s administrators in the middle of a faculty meeting. Feelings of disgrace, shame, and pure mortification would most likely follow an incident like this, right?

I clipped down… now what?

You know the routine, an undesired behavior occurs and you force your student to clip down. They may lose their recess time or receive a note home but what happens when the student’s behavior still doesn’t change? If the chain of consequences are already laid out for them to see and said consequence poses no hesitancy in the child, who has the upper hand now? Would it not be more logical to return to our tried and true method of differentiation and have a system in place that supports and encourages the student on an individual level?

What constitutes a clip down?

Think about those select few children. You know, the best of the best when it comes to behavior. The ones you can always depend on to do the right thing. How often are they on top of the clip chart? What would it take for you to move them down? Would it be for the same infraction as another child or would you go easy on them because it’s not their norm. This is when the issue of inconsistency starts to arise and let’s think about it, is classroom management really the area you want to be inconsistent in?

All in all, clip charts don’t teach behavior expectations. You do. You are the most important behavior management tool in your classroom. So, if you are currently using a clip chart in your room, reflect on its intent and consider what you are hoping to gain from its use. I realize that this idea may seem quite foreign and maybe even a bit unrealistic but I still challenge you to take that chart off the wall. Make that leap of faith and feel free to email me with questions or even success stories! I’m living and teaching proof that you can do it!

Until next time friends, keep influencing the world and stay positive!