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Classroom Management

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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 Management

Whole Brain Teaching: What It Is and How I Use It In My Classroom

March 7, 2017

As a student teacher, I worked in a district that used the “Whole Brain Teaching” instructional system. Fundamentally, “Whole Brain Teaching” (WBT) is a set of behavior management techniques and engagement strategies designed to teach in a way the brain understands best. It combines call and response with physical movement to teach the curriculum and get the students’ attention. To someone passing by my room, it can be quite noisy! I am not the only one talking, the kiddos are chanting, standing on their chairs, and using hand motions to practice vocabulary words. Whole Brain Teaching can seem intimidating, especially when you watch YouTube videos of teachers who have fully implemented all of the techniques; however, my favorite part of WBT is that you can pick and choose what works for you and use the strategies to add to the amazing things you already do.  I choose to implement some aspects of the Whole Brain Teaching philosophy and simply don’t use others. I have had success using the following techniques with my third graders.

  1. Classroom Rules- The Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) system uses a set of rules that can be used with any age group, in any classroom. The rules are very general and can be applied to so many situations. Every day my class starts their morning by reciting the classroom rules. Each rule has a hand signal to accompany it. For example, when they recite rule number four, make smart choices, they use their finger to point to their brain. I display my colorful rule posters on my bulletin board and the children reference them throughout the day. The posters can be downloaded (for free!) from Teachers Pay Teachers
  2. “Class? Yes!” – Class? Yes! is by far the best way to get my class’s attention. I taught this on the first day of school and they know whenever I say “class” they say “yes” and stop what they are doing and look at me. For example: if I say “class, class, class” they say “yes, yes, yes”. If I say “howdy class” they say “howdy yes” and so on. I keep them on their toes by switching it up and adding snaps, claps, and goofy combinations, ensuring their attention is on me.
  3. “Hands and Eyes” – When I say give me hands and eyes they know to stop what they are doing and look at me with their hands still, and that it is my turn to talk and their turn to look at me and listen.
  4. “Mirror with Words” – Mirror with Words is how we learn new vocabulary in my classroom. Students simply “mirror” my movements and repeat what I say. To introduce mirror and words we started with the “mirror” aspect. I told my students they had to mirror exactly what I did after I did it. I would touch my head, then they would touch theirs. I would draw a circle in front of my face; they would follow. Next, we added in the “words.” They would watch me say a word like perimeter as I drew a shape with my finger. Then they did the same. We use “mirror with words” for all subjects! Sometimes my motions are goofy but it helps them remember the words for months!

Whole Brain Teaching can be daunting to implement, but by picking and choosing my favorite aspects of the program I am able to teach content and manage behavior effectively. If you aren’t ready to uproot your entire classroom management system yet, consider adding in “class yes”…it is a great place to begin! If you want to learn more about the system, check out the book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle.

Classroom Management Organization

Turning a New Classroom Into Your Classroom

February 28, 2017

The day I got the keys to my classroom stands out as one of the most exciting moments of my career to this day. But as I turned the key and opened the door to my new home away from home I had no idea what to expect. I had nightmares of what I would find when I opened the door. Would I find an empty room? One where I was missing desks and had no books? Or would I open the door to a room that was so full of junk I wouldn’t know where to begin?

I was fortunate to end up somewhere in the middle. The previous teacher took a lot of things with her, but I was left with a closet full of copies, old binders, and a library bursting at the seams. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of work ahead of me but I managed to create a clean and inviting classroom in just five days. By the time school began, I was ready to welcome my first class of third graders.


Clean & Purge

In order to make this classroom my own, I started by cleaning and purging. Before I started bringing in my own things I needed to get rid of the stuff I didn’t want. The previous teacher left behind posters and had her bulletin boards covered. I could have taken the easy route and left these things hanging. But in order to make the space my own, I took everything off the walls! I also stored all of the paperwork and curriculum in my closet until I was ready to organize it all.

Define the Zones

In efforts to truly own my new space, I defined the zones of my room. With clear walls and a clear floor, my next step was to define each individual learning zone within my classroom. I knew I wanted a meeting space, a teacher space, a computer space, and a library. I also needed to make room for 26 desks! Because I had cleaned out my cabinets and shelves it was easy to move the furniture around the room and try things out until I got the perfect fit.

Decorate & Make it Feel Like Home

With a clearly defined room, it was time to decorate!  Even though I didn’t need to decorate my room before the first day of school, it was important for me to have a colorful room to welcome my students into. Covering my bulletin boards with colorful fabric sheets gave me a blank canvas to fill with anchor charts and posters. My colorful alphabet (from Teachers Pay Teachers) made a big impact on a budget. Hanging some large art pieces like this tapestry and inspirational posters helped the room feel homier.

When walking into a new space it would have been easy to become completely overwhelmed…especially considering I had hopes of creating an “Instagram-Worthy” room right from the start. By following these steps I was able to create a space that was ready for my students. It was comfortable, inviting, and, most importantly, a representation of who I wanted to be as a teacher. My room has changed a lot since these pictures, but I am so happy with where it began!

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!


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!