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Classroom Management

To “Scoot”, or Not to “Scoot”?

September 15, 2017

One of my absolute favorite types of activities to do with my 4th and 1st graders was “Scoot”! During a “Scoot” activity, students travel around the room viewing questions/prompts/problems on cards placed by you. They travel with a recording sheet for their answers, and work in pairs, groups, or independently. “Scoot” activities can take some extra preparation and require some more behavior management, so sometimes teachers shy away from them. But don’t let them intimidate you! Your students and YOU will love them!

“Scoot” On!

While “Scooting” with my 4th graders was relatively easy to manage, I was so nervous about attempting these activities with my little firsties. If you teach K-2, you know that managing little bodies in a small classroom can be a big ordeal to take on. They have so much energy and get so excited about the freedom to move around. But that’s exactly why they NEED to “Scoot”!

Our little ones are given the heavy responsibility of sitting still in class all day to learn rigorous (and sometimes not developmentally appropriate) skills. They so badly need the opportunity to move about and just be kids. Although many studies are now showing the positive effects of additional recess time, not every teacher is able to provide that. Giving your kiddos the time to move around the room and discuss their work not only gives them the exercise and safe energy outlet, it encourages positive social skills and problem solving with their peers. It seems like a win-win to me!

Managing the Movement

Even with my most energetic groups, “Scoot” activities were a huge hit! Half of the time, my wild ones were wild because they needed to move! Allowing them to move was sometimes more easy to manage than expecting them to sit still. However, I still had some tricks to help manage behavior during “Scoots”.

  1. Set a Timer – Every time we did a “Scoot” activity, I displayed this timer. It was perfect for my kiddos to keep an eye on how much time they had without me having to shout a reminder every 5 minutes. I usually set the timer to 20 minutes to give everyone an adequate amount of time. Students who finished early could help others or move on to an activity at their desk.
  2. Use Props – Sometimes teachers shy away from props because they can be seen as a distraction. And honestly, sometimes they are. Only you can decide if this will work best for your specific students. However, using props was often a very useful tool. It gave me something to take away if their behavior was inappropriate, and was usually a pretty discrete way of managing. For example, when using my Sneaky E “Scoot” I gave students each a popsicle stick with the letter “e” at the end. They would hold up the stick to the end of the word and decide if the word was “real/nonense”. If their behavior was out of control, this stick was something I could take away without other kids really noticing AND the student could still complete the activity without it.
  3. Use as Review – One of the worst mistakes I made was using a “Scoot” activity as an introduction activity. My lower students were extremely frustrated and worried because they had no idea what to do, and my “behavior” students used their frustration as a reason to blow off the activity and mess around. I found that the best time for me to use these activities were Wednesdays-Fridays when my students were more familiar with the skills and could use this as a time to collaborate and practice with their peers.

For me, it didn’t really seem like a good idea to take anything done as a “Scoot” activity for a grade. I couldn’t guarantee that the answers I got actually came from each student. Instead, we would spend about 5-10 minutes after the activity to go over the answers together. This also gave me time to answer any questions or clarify any misunderstandings, which was time I greatly valued.

What about you? Do you use “Scoot” activities in your classroom? What has worked best for you? I’d love to hear!

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7 Tips for Successful Classroom Management

September 12, 2017

The day had finally arrived. I had just graduated from college with my teaching credential a few months earlier. My classroom was organized, decorated, and prepared for the year. I anxiously awaited the arrival of my new 34 students! I was only 22 years old, and while my carefully laid out lesson plans, strategies for differentiation, and sheer excitement for teaching gave me confidence, one area that I realized I was not prepared was classroom management – specifically, how do I get 34 completely different students to cooperate, listen, and “buy-in” for the year. Thankfully, I had a wonderful grade-level team and an incredible principal and mentor who helped me establish classroom routines, procedures, rules, and expectations that made that first year a success. I could not have done it without them!
So, for all of you first year teachers, and even those who may have been in the classroom for a long time, here are my top seven tips for successful classroom management:

1. Articulate Your Expectations

If you fail to clearly communicate what you expect from your students, they will inevitably fail to live up to your standards. Now, this requires that you actually decide what your expectations are. Begin by selecting what behaviors you want to teach. What expectations do you have for transitions? Turning in work? Needing to use the restroom? Getting books from the classroom library? Noise level? Sharpening pencils? Asking for help? Dismissal? The list goes on and on. However, choose which procedures you have specific expectations for and go from there. Remember, you can’t teach the behavior unless you have determined your expectations for it. So, spend some time mapping it out – it is time well spent!

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

I always spend the first few weeks of school practicing the different procedures in the classroom over and over again – making sure the students know exactly what it looks like and sounds like to carry out the procedure correctly. Yes, we literally spend time walking from the playground to the classroom, passing in blank papers, pretending it is the end of the day – multiple times! Although it can be incredibly tempting to fly through the teaching of classroom procedures and expectations to get to all of the academic stuff, don’t do it! If you want to have an effective learning environment, you are going to have to spend time teaching and practicing procedures. If you do it the beginning of the year, you can establish clear expectations with a receptive audience in a positive light. Otherwise, you will inevitably spend time during the year battling for control of your classroom or trying to get your students to “un-learn” what they have been doing for their procedures all year. Trust me, taking time in the beginning is SOOOO worth it!

3. Look for Every Opportunity to Catch Kids Doing the Right Thing

Everyone appreciates praise for doing something well. So, especially in those first few weeks of school, help your students learn and apply the classroom rules, procedures, and expectations, by highlighting the students who are doing these things well. Be specific in your compliments so that others can learn from their example. Rather than say, “Great job, Leah!” you might say, “I really appreciate how Leah quietly came in from recess, took her seat, and now has her eyes on me.” Or “Thank you, James, for raising your hand before you speak.” The kids usually catch on pretty quickly. When students are receiving specific feedback and attention from you (and even the rest of the class), it gives them less reason to act out in hopes of receiving negative attention.

4. Establish Classroom Rules

This might be a “no-brainer,” but having classroom rules in place is an essential component of a successful classroom management plan. Now, the debate goes on as to whether to create rules as a class or to have your own rules established when you begin the first day. I have used both and both have been effective – the choice is yours (or perhaps your schools). However, when establishing rules make sure that they are fairly global in scope – otherwise you will end up with way too many. So, rather than “Don’t lean back in your chairs” or “Only walking feet in the classroom,” use a rule such as “Be safe.” Both of the previous rules are encompassed in that general rule without having to create a list of 25 different rules addressing safety. On that note, however, spend some time discussing what that general rule might look like in the classroom. In my classroom, we always brainstorm at least 10-12 examples of what following that rule looks like and what following that rule does not look like. for the younger kiddos, having picture cards also really helps! Again, just like procedures, spend some time on this one. If your students truly understand the rules, you will have far fewer struggles enforcing them.

5. Be Consistent with Consequences

This perhaps is the hardest one for me – especially in those first few days and weeks of school. I so desperately want the students to know how much I care about them, that it can be incredibly difficult to “reprimand” those cuties for what might seem like small offenses. The reality, however, is that those adorable little kiddos are smart. And if they know they can smile, sniffle, or plea their way out of a consequence, they will! So, be consistent! If your students come in the classroom unacceptably, make them do it again, and again, until it is right. If you use a behavior clip chart, colored cards, or some other method to hold students accountable, start using it right away. I don’t usually send home a weekly report for behavior that first week of school, so this is a perfect opportunity to teach your students that you have expectations and that you will be consistent in holding them accountable. Believe it or not, students actually find comfort in knowing boundaries, and being consistent assists in making those boundaries clear.

6. Establish Positive Teacher-Parent Relationships Early

While building relationships with parents may seem out of place in a discussion about classroom management, I have found that building positive relationships with parents makes a huge impact on what happens in the classroom. When parents understand that you want the best for their child and that you want to partner with them in helping their student grow, they are much more receptive to a phone call or meeting in which you have to address a challenge that has arisen. Begin by making a positive phone call in the first 2 weeks of school. Most parents dread the “phone call from the teacher,” so make the first call purely positive and be specific. As a parent myself, nothing warms my heart quite like hearing a specific compliment about my child. Communicate with parents early and regularly. Ask them questions. Let them know that you are on their team and you are invested in each student. Building these relationships is a tremendous asset in understanding student behavior in the classroom. Parents are able to share insights from home and you are able to share insights from school. Together, you can partner to make the school year successful for each student, which aids greatly in classroom management.

7. Make Sure Your Students Understand that You Are On Their Team

While I have alluded to this in other tips, building relationships with your students and reminding them that you support them, believe in them, and want the best for them is the essential component that binds all of these strategies together. Look for the best in each of your students, and as your relationships grow, I have found that issues with classroom management dwindle. All of the rules and procedures will not be nearly as effective unless the students first believe the teacher is in their corner.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my tips. I hope they give you some strategies to implement as you begin this school year. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on successful classroom management strategies! Comment below with your favorite classroom management strategies!

Classroom Management Organization

Behavior Charts

September 3, 2017

While the topic of “color charts” is controversial, one thing that isn’t, is the need for consistent parent communication about behavior. One of the worst things that can happen when it comes time to have a serious conversation about the behavior of someone’s child is hearing them say, “This is news to me. I didn’t know he/she was having any trouble.” Parents deserve to know how they’re children are doing in class, and students need the consistent accountability.

Color Charts

I cannot offer you studies about the effects of using color charts, and I can’t tell you what will work best for your particular students. But what I can offer you is personal observation from my experience with them in my classroom. After several years of using color charts, I learned to make tweaks with each class. Here are two important things I learned:

  1. Keep It Personal – I’ve seen teachers use small, personal sized color charts on each student’s desk so that they can have a quiet reminder of their choices each day. I think this is a great idea! However, I preferred to keep one larger one so that I could be more involved with it the way I wanted.

I ended up keeping my color chart fairly low behind my desk. While it wasn’t completely hidden, it was not in clear view so that I could avoid embarrassment as much as possible. Having it behind my desk made it a much more intentional tool for me. When a child was struggling, I could invite them to my desk for a conversation in private. We could discuss their current behavior and take care of any color changes without making a scene. Having my color chart in a personal, “teacher” space made me more intentional about addressing behavior.

  1. Keep It Positive – Keeping it “positive” may sound strange. But there are certainly ways to do this. First off, I tried to avoid condemning or super negative wording on each color. I wouldn’t label the red chart as “bad day” or something hurtful. I tried to stick to terms like, “Pause and Think” or “Try Again”. That way when a student moved their clip to a color, they didn’t see this huge reminder of how “bad” they were being.

The biggest way I kept my color chart positive was by using it as a tool that could go back and forth. I always had plenty of colors above green to reward students for going above and beyond. I also made sure my students knew that moving their clip down didn’t mean it would stay that way all day. I had many students make their way down a few colors in the morning, go to lunch/recess, and come back ready to make better choices. Those students always had the opportunity to move their clips back up a few colors to show them that you can turn your day around. Sometimes we all have rough starts to our day, that’s just life. Our students are no different.

Behavior Charts – What’s Included?

While these are all ways that color charts were useful in the classroom, there were also ways that they were useful for parent communication. Every day I took just a few minutes to color in students’ behavior charts to let their parents know how their day went. Often times, my green, blue and purple students would color their own and I would color anything below. This gave me another chance to discuss student behavior and to brainstorm ways they can have a better day the following day. Students would get to move their clips back to green, giving them the reassurance that the next day would be a brand NEW day.

In my monthly behavior charts set, there is a pre-dated calendar for each month of the 2017-2018 school year. All you have to do is print and put names on them! In addition to a picture to color, I included the code I used to give a super short summary of why a student came home on a particular color. It helped me keep a record of consistent behaviors we needed to work on, and was very handy for parent-teacher conferences.

If you use color charts in your classroom, I hope these ideas and charts help you use them with more intention and help keep your parent communication streamlined!

Classroom Management Organization

Summer To-Dos

June 14, 2017

Generally speaking, there are usually 2 types of “summer teachers”. First, you have the teachers who want absolutely nothing to do with anything educational or school planning related. Second, you have the teachers who are already pinning activities for the next school year from their beach towel the second week of summer. Which teacher are you??

While I always knew that turning my teacher brain off for a long vacation was best for me, there was something so inspiring about having a clean slate in August and the entire summer to prepare for it. (#nerdpartyof1)

So, to help balance myself out and keep from working through the whole summer, I had 5 parts of my classroom I wanted to reevaluate or prep each summer.

Summer “To-Dos”

1) Stations Organization – K-2 teachers know the value of engaging stations, but we also know how time-consuming they can be to set up. Use your summer break to shop all the great sales on efficient storage, and use this time to do all of your cutting/laminating at a leisurely pace instead of blasting through it during your cherished weekends!

2) Library Set-Up – The school I taught at was all about Accelerated Reader and our kiddos absolutely loved it! In order to help them take ownership of their reading, I labeled all of the books in my class library with AR levels and quiz numbers. This made it so easy for my students to grab a new book when it was time instead of having to wait until our next library day. Since it takes forever to set this up, summer time is perfect so you can space out your work time!

3) Substitute Prep – It may sound crazy to think about sick days when you’re relaxing by the pool, but we all know those days will come. Instead of prepping at the last minute, get all of your sub materials prepped and stored over the summer! (If you’re a K-2 teacher, my sub-bundles make this a breeze!)

4) Organize Worksheets – Another time-consuming task is going through your worksheets and getting them organized in a way that is most meaningful to you. I chose to organize everything in hanging files according to TEKS (Texas’s standards). This made lesson planning and getting copies made so easy. While it may take a lot of time to set up, it saves sooooo much during the school year and is so worth it!

5) Classroom Management – Whether you like to keep your same classroom management system each year or change things up, summer is always a great time to reevaluate and tweak. Again, check summer sales or slowly purchase Dollar Spot and Dollar Tree goodies throughout the summer to avoid making large emergency purchases throughout the school year!

Put a Summer spin on it!

These may or may not be applicable tasks for the grade level you teach, but chances are every teacher has things they scramble to get done during Back-to-School or the rest of the school year. Find a few things you think would help make the upcoming year less stressful for you and plan to do them this summer at your leisure. Take your laptop outside for some sun and unit planning! Or spend a couple of days in your favorite pajamas with a good movie and drink while you take your time putting together activities you might otherwise skip for lack of time. Getting to take my time always makes me happier about what I want to accomplish, and more likely to actually get it done! What can YOU get out of the way this summer?

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Practical Ways to Incorporate Whole Brain Learning

May 21, 2017

Why Whole Brain Learning?

I recently completed my doctorate.  As a student as well as a full-time teacher, I gained a new perspective and empathy for my students.  My classes met each Friday night from 6-10 and from 8-5 on Saturdays.  After teaching all week, I was exhausted on Friday night classes.  Lecture after lecture usually lulled me to sleep by 8:30.  One particular Friday class, we received a text from our professor that asked us to wear a coat and comfortable shoes.  She went on to inform us that we were going on a scavenger hunt around the campus.  I remember dancing for joy that I would not have to sit the whole night.  Then it hit me, if I felt this way as an adult learner, how much more must my students feel?

What is Whole Brain Learning?

The human brain and its ability for retrieval have been a new frontier in education over the last few decades. Whole Brain Learning is the engagement of strategies based on principles derived from an understanding of the brain (Jensen, 2008). It encompasses multiple learning modalities that produce higher retention and engagement of students. In order for learning to occur, the brain must fire thousands of neurons.  These neurons require activation to fire, or it will remain dormant and activation of memory will not take place.  Whole brain teaching fires more neutrons in the brain for learning.  Plainly put, the more ways you introduce new learning, the additional pathways a student has in the retrieval process. When learning encompasses multiple learning styles, the information will hold a better chance for retention.

How Do I Incorporate Whole Brain Teaching into my Classroom?  

 For additional information, see Teaching the Unteachable Blog.

  1. Experience the Standards-More experts and research than I care to list, maintain that when students have authentic, tangible, and meaningful experiences, student retention is 65% compared to 10% through lecture or didactic learning (Bannerman, 2009 & Garner, 2007). For example, rather than instruct measurement through a worksheet, give students real world practice by taking them outside to find the area or perimeter of the playground or flowerbed or teaching about D-Day by playing a structured capture the flag game.
  2. Move to Learn: One of the best pathways for memory is to learn by doing. Anytime you can get students up and moving, they are more apt to engage and therefore retain information taught.  A simple way to add movement into a lesson is by adding hand motions to an otherwise boring topic.  For example, when teaching the aspects of narrative writing, teach students S.T.O.R.Y.  S-Starring duh da duh da…my characters (dramatic with jazz hands)

T-Talking or Dialogue (hands talking to each other)

O-Opening and Closing (using hands opening and closing a door)

R-Rising Action (start at the bottom and rise up)

Y-Yummy Details (rub belly and use Sumo Wrestler voice).

  1. Proximity Learning: Location, Location, Location….Each time you teach a particular skill or standard, try standing in the same location each time.  After a while, students will remember the information simply by the location.  I had a student that had difficulty with memory.  When I asked him to retrieve information, he first said he did not know, but knew it was in the right corner of the room.  He shut his eyes, visualized me standing there, and was able to remember the information.
  2. Trick Kids into Processing: How many times have your students blurt out the answers without thinking through it?  What typically happens is the higher achieving students shout out the answer while other student’s thinking is effectively shut down.

Try this instead.  Have the students think about the answer.  You may drop hints such as it is a long word…or the synonym is …Then have students close their eyes, visualize it, open their eyes, blow the answer into their hands, and when the teacher says 1-2-3-they throw the answer.  This gives all students an opportunity to think through their answer as well as giving all students an opportunity to learn.  For example, the teacher may ask what is the process in which all plants receive their food through the sun.  The teacher may ask what letter it starts with…or describe this as a long word…have them close their eyes and picture the word very bright….and have the students make camera clicking noises….by the time you have them blow the answer in their hands, most students have visualized it, made movements with the word, and verbalized it.

Still Want More:

 There are so many more whole brain-teaching techniques; I couldn’t possibly list them all in this blog post.  Start with a few activities and reflect what worked.  There are thousands of YouTube videos on the subject including my own.

For a list of great books and resources, feel free to email me.

Classroom Management Featured New Teacher

Behavior Management Boosters

May 19, 2017

As the weather gets warmer and the sun begins to shine the only thing on my students’ mind is summer vacation. Except the only problem is… summer vacation is still weeks away! Summer has been on my students’ mind since the first day of March and behavior management hasn’t been as easy as it once was back in the fall. While I still rely on my old tricks, I have added a few new fun things to keep my kids motivated to make good choices every day.

Score Board 

In my past posts, I shared how I use Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom (check out the post here) and one of the easiest behavior management techniques in the book “Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids” is called the Scoreboard. The Scoreboard is SO simple and effective. Each day I draw a T-Chart on my white board, one side is the happy side the other is the sad side. The goal is to end the day with more happy points than sad points…that’s it!

Throughout the day I award happy points and sad points depending on what I see. Are students talking out of turn? They earn a sad point! Are students following directions the first time asked? They earn a positive Point! The trick is to keep the score close to keep them on edge 🙂 In addition to tallying points, I always have a small incentive on the line like extra recces or Go-Noodle time. This small reward doesn’t take a lot of time or money, but is an extra way to reward good behavior.

VIP Bucket

All over Instagram I saw teachers using a “VIP Table” to award students for good behavior and thought this would be perfect for my classroom….if only I had the space. While I don’t have room to create a separate VIP table I was able to modify the idea to fit the needs of my classroom. Instead of a VIP table I filled a shower caddy with Mr. Sketch markers, stickers, mechanical pencils, and all of those extra Target Dollar Spot erasers we all hoard.

The VIP bin is awarded to a student each afternoon and is taken to the student’s desk to be used the next day. Instead of choosing a student at the end of the day, I draw a student’s name and it is a secret that is revealed at dismissal. If the student made good choices, they earn the VIP award, but f they don’t I do not reveal the name and their name is put back in the drawing. My student’s love to guess who is going to be VIP and the privilege of using my fancy supplies is enough to keep even my toughest kids motivated to stay on track.

What are some ways that you boost your behavior management system at the end of the year?

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 Management

Editable Monthly Newsletters

April 10, 2017

What works for one doesn’t always work for the other

As a first-year teacher, there’s a lot of trial-and-error involved. Thanks to sites like TeachersPayTeachers, Pinterest, and hopefully now Tenspire, there are so many great ideas to try out! But often times we forget that what works for one classroom/teacher doesn’t always work for the rest of us. I learned this the hard way during my first year teaching first grade.

Emails and Texts

I read about a teacher who communicated with her students’ parents via e-mail and a text app only. No paper was involved, and many people liked that idea. So I decided to try it out with kids’ parents by sending my weekly newsletter via e-mail. Holy. Smokes. Maybe my group was an exception, but this created so much stress for me.

I would send out the newsletter Monday morning, and by Tuesday morning I could have up to 15 e-mails waiting for me! It seemed to be viewed as a text message that needed to be responded to and the e-mails would just pile up. In addition, it must have made me appear too available because I began to receive tons of time-sensitive e-mails in the evening and on weekends. It just became too much.


That’s when I decided that for me, a very detailed printed newsletter would still work the best. To make sure they included everything I wanted, I created my own! {Click on the picture below to find them in my TPT store!}

What’s Included?

In this GROWING bundle of newsletters, you’ll find 2 monthly newsletters and 5 weekly newsletters for each month of the school year. Each newsletter comes in color AND in black/white. The bundle currently includes newsletters for November, December, January, February and March. You will receive it as a PowerPoint product and have the ability to edit all of the categories!

How Can I Use Them?

Once you download the bundle, you will see examples of how I used my newsletters in my classroom. They were SO handy for letting parents know what skills we would be working on in each subject, homework for the whole week, and any special dates or projects that were coming up. All of this information fits perfectly on the page! To help keep things extra simple, I would print each week’s newsletter on the front of a page and include their spelling words, Sight Words, and Reading Log on the back. This kept all of their important information for that week in one place!

I loved how much these newsletters simplified my communication with parents, and I hope that they do the same for you! If you’ve used something similar or would like to see something different on the newsletters, I’d love to hear from you!

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Teamwork is Dreamwork

March 27, 2017

Working as a team can be hard. There are always the students who do the right thing. On the other hand, there are always those students who seem to know exactly what to do to push your buttons and do the opposite of what you’ve asked. Teamwork can be a tricky concept for students to grasp. At a young age, children are learning to cooperate and share with their friends. Creating a whole class reward system can really invest those students in “getting on the team” and helping to work together towards a common goal. Here are a few ideas:

Brownie Points

Place a real cookie sheet on the board or somewhere visible in the classroom. Create fake brownies using brown construction paper, etc. Laminate and place magnets on the back. Show the students what it looks like and sounds like to earn a brownie. Give examples so students have clear expectations of how they can show teamwork. Each time the entire class works together and follows directions, place a brownie on the tray! Celebrate! Make it a huge deal! Let them know how proud you are to see them working together! Once you fill the tray, think of a fun reward the students can earn. To make it more personal, have the students come up with their own appropriate rewards to go in the bank of possibilities.

100% Jar

In our class, we have a 100% jar. We bought tiny basketballs and a miniature hoop. Each time the students are displaying teamwork, the class earns a “slam dunk.” Once the hoop is full, we earn a playground party! We let the students choose what their reward will be. We have clear expectations of what it looks like to show teamwork and how they can earn basketballs!

Mr. Potato Head

Just like the “Brownie Points,” you can build a Mr. Potato Head, earning pieces along the way. Tell the students what it takes to earn a piece. Once you have added every piece to Mr. Potato Head, your students earn a reward! It’s up to you if you want the system to be both positive and negative. You can take pieces away for students who display un-sportsman like conduct in the classroom. Those friends who did the right thing will be motivated to help those students step it up and show some teamwork.

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!