Precept 1: “Kids may remember nothing we tried to teach them but they will always remember how they and their ideas were treated in our classrooms. Kids who come back…..remember climate, relationships, and how they felt. They are just like us actually. We loved the teachers who made us feel lovable, intelligent, important.”
(Kohn, 2006, pp. 150-51).
Precept 2: Welcome and Accept ALL students.
“Subtle and overt forms of racism and prejudice hinder relationships between students and teachers and impede learning. The more obvious one’s cultural difference is, the greater are the chances one may experience prejudice or discrimination.”
(Lindsey, R., Graham, S., Westphal, R., & Jew, C., 2008, p. 12)
Precept 3: “The relationships you foster with your students and their parents are extremely important. Children appreciate teachers who treat them like human beings. Parents appreciate a teacher who cares enough to include them in their child’s education.”
(Working with Students and Parents, 2006, LDOnline: http://www.ldonline.org/article/10511/)
Precept 4: “The nature of relationships among the adults within a school has a greater influence on the character and quality of that school and on student accomplishment than anything else.”
Precept 5: “The campaign against bigotry involves all of us. Each of our voices matters, and each is vital to creating inclusive schools—schools that embrace the great diversity of our nation.
So speak up. Don’t let hate have the last word.”
Precept 6: “Time is priceless. You have it, but you don’t own it. You spend it, but you can’t keep it. And once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back. Use it wisely!”
Precept 7: “Master teachers use the classroom space to support educational goals. They see the physical space as a component of teaching that can motivate and engage students, reduce behavioral problems, and heighten learning.”
(Carpenter, Fontanini, & Neiman, 2010, p. 72)
Precept 8: “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship of mutual respect.”
Dr. James Comer
Precept 10: The most effective way to deal with difficult behavior is to prevent it.
“I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that will create the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a student’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a student humanized or de-humanized.”
Have a great school year!
Our interactive notebooks for recording and reflecting were an overwhelming success!
Precept of the Day
I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that will create the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a student’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a student humanized or de-humanized.
This has guided my professional practice for years. The responsibilities I have as a teacher are overwhelming. It is my responsibility to provide a safe classroom for all learners, to know my students’ learning and emotional needs, to plan engaging and differentiated instruction, to nurture professional relationships, parent relationships, and student relationships, AND to commit to lifelong learning. As one of my pre-service teachers remarked some time ago, “This is hard work!” This is so true. It is not easy, but it affords the most rewarding joys you can ever imagine.
Never forget the awesome responsibility you have to your students! What will you do in your classroom?
Precept of the Day
Back to School Series
The most effective approach to classroom management is a framework that is rooted in preventing problems from happening. It sounds simple, but is anything but. Everything that has been mentioned in this series of Back to School Blog Posts is focused on prevention.
- Preventive Strategies: Those systems and/or procedures created by the classroom teacher AND students to provide for an orderly classroom environment.
- Supportive Strategies: Those systems and procedures created by the classroom teacher and students to support desired behaviors.
- Corrective Strategies: Systems and procedures to change negative behaviors into desired behaviors.
This framework is very similar to the PBIS approach recently adopted by many schools.
We spend most of our time on preventing problems, and this is successful with most of our students. But we need to be ready to support students who are struggling with behavior and have interventions ready to correct more challenging student behaviors.
- Get to know students names, interests, hobbies, and learning styles.
- Get to know parents and caregivers and communicate often.
- Use activities for students to get to know each other.
- Facilitate student created classroom norms. Have clear expectations for the classroom.
- Teach and practice routines and procedures to provide clear expectations.
- Morning meetings and class meetings
- Team building activities.
- Plan engaging lessons!!!
- Teach the problem-solving process.
- Teach conflict resolution strategies.
- Provide fidget toys or other strategies for students who have trouble sitting still.
- Provide a “cool down corner” or “think tank” a quiet place where students can go to think or cool down.
- Talk to parents as partners.
- Use non-verbals and proximity for struggling students.
- Walk and Talk – Spend time talking with students about things other than school.
- Celebrate small successes.
During two minutes each day for 10 consecutive days, find a way to develop a relationship. Stay away from expressing anything critical during this time. It is time to share information about yourself or ask questions to get to know the other person better. If the other person is reluctant to talk or rejecting, do not get discouraged. Make a commitment to keep at it every day for two weeks.
Mendler, A. (2012). When teaching gets tough: smart ways to reclaim your game. Alexandria VA: ASCD.
Corrective Strategies – It is time for differentiation. What works for one student may not work for another.
- Talk with parents.
- Ask advice of other teachers.
- Talk with principal and student support team.
- Have a plan to provide a safe classroom for all students.
- Consider behavior contracts, point sheets, or setting goals.
- Plan a conference and make a plan.
- Conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and implement a behavioral intervention plan (BIP).
Don’t give up. Find the help you and your students need. Students are depending on you to support them throughout the year. It’s a journey.
Precept of the Day
(Part of a Series of Back to School Posts)
You are back to school and have spent the first days building relationships with colleagues, parents, AND students. You know their names and are getting to know their interests, hobbies, and personalities. During the first week you introduced the importance of classroom community by facilitating student-created classroom norms, giving students voice and choice and making sure students know you are invested in their success. You taught and practiced classroom procedures, routines, and transitions so that students have clear expectations for behavior and learning in your classroom.
But even the best laid plans will not reach all students immediately. You will have students who come from challenging home situations, have a history of challenging school situations, and do not trust you …..yet. You have to earn their trust and it may not be easy.
The most important thing to remember is to keep trying. Keep trying to connect with students. Keep showing that you care and that you are trustworthy. So even when it is hard. Keep calm. Be patient. And always treat students with respect.
- Build a relationship first.
- Be prepared.
- Be fair. Be consistent. Be firm.
- Do not become angry.
- What are the consequences? (Be ready.)
- Support students in corrective actions.
Early in the school year, introduce the Problem Solving Process to students so that they can self-regulate and learn to make better choices.
- Identify the problem–What did I do?
- Analysis – Why did I do that? What was I feeling?
- Brainstorm – What are other choices I could have made? What could I have done differently? Think of at three alternatives
- Analyzing the possibilities. What would have been the results of these actions?
- Selecting the best Solution. Which solution is the best?
- Planning a course of action. Next Steps: What will I do next time?
To support students in making better choices as they work with other students, introduce strategies for Conflict Resolution. This is especially important in elementary school on the playground and riding the bus. Conflict Resolution is also important for middle school and high school students who have not mastered the skill. See Previous Post.
It takes time to build trust, relationships, and community. Along the way remain patient and make sure they remember you as a kind and caring person, a teacher who really makes a difference.
Precept of the Day
No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship of mutual respect.
Dr. James Comer
The master teacher is deliberate in establishing a functioning learning community by devoting time and energy to building relationships. The relationship between the teacher and the student is perhaps the most significant piece of the learning equation, followed closely by the relationships among students. Master teachers use activities on the first day of school that initiate this process and persist throughout the school year to continue to develop and maintain positive individual and group dynamics. While getting-to-know-you activities begin the process of forming positive relationships, team-builders continue the process and are used throughout the school year. (Carpenter, Fontanini, & Neiman, p. 80, 2010)
I have trouble convincing my pre-service teachers of this. They are so overwhelmed by the body of curricular content that they are responsible for teaching that they feel an immediate need to start teaching math on the first day. The truth is the time spent on building relationships during the first days and then revisited throughout the school year will provide a huge payout in the time saved on behavioral issues. You have to take the time now to save time later.
Five Ways to Build Relationships During the First Days of School
- Meet/Greet students at the door and get to know students’ names
- Get your class lists and rehearse
- Check last year’s yearbook for pictures
- Use name tags, name tents, or desk plates. Have students decorate these with three of their favorite things.
- Use a photo seating chart. (Great to have for substitutes too.)
- Use activities to learn student names. Circle of Names: Direct students to sit or stand in a circle. Ask them to think of an adjective that describes them and starts with the first letter of their name. Provide a word bank of adjectives for each letter of the alphabet. Start by modeling. For example, if your name starts with an L, you could pick the word lucky, Lucky Linda. Have the first student share his or her first name and adjective. Move around the circle. Ask each student to share and repeat those before him/her. You will go last and repeat all the students’ names.
- Let students get to know you.
- Have an engaging and creative way to introduce yourself to students as a real person. Create a PowerPoint, Prezi, or a movie trailer with pictures of you and your family enjoying your interests and hobbies.
- Provide opportunities for students to get to know each other.
- Let students share their information like you did. They could create a PowerPoint, Prezi, movie trailer or a collage. There are a variety of get-to-know activities where students interview, interact, and share information. I have collected a variety of resources on my Get to Know Teacher and Student Pinterest Board. A great resource is Scholastic.
- Find out students’ interests. It’s easy. Ask them.
- Have students complete a survey. You could easily do it in the classroom or online with Survey Monkey or Google Forms. More Scholastic Printables.
- Have clear plans and procedures.
- Procedures are the daily routines of the classroom and they being on the first day.
- Have something for students to do as soon as they walk in on the first day and every day. Post it on the overhead or Smart board. Actively engaging students in their classroom is a powerful way to prevent problems and build community. Have students decorate name tents or name tags and be ready to share with a classmate.
Have a good school year with your students!
Precept of the Day – Plan the Classroom Environment to Support Learning
Master teachers use the classroom space to support educational goals. They see the physical space as a component of teaching that can motivate and engage students, reduce behavioral problems, and heighten learning. (Carpenter, Fontanini, & Neiman, 2010, p. 72)
For this important precept on planning your classroom environment, I am re-blogging a previous post. As many of your are going back to school, don’t overlook the importance of the classroom environment.
Originally posted on From Surviving to Thriving:
Many of you will soon be in your classrooms cleaning, sorting, and getting ready for your students. One of the first steps to creating positive classroom management is intentional planning and preparation of your space. The feeling your students get when they step into your classroom for the first time will have an influence on how they behave and react to you.
Even my adult learners notice and appreciate small flourishes I bring to the often sterile university classroom as I make it my own space. Soft music is playing as my students arrive. A small bottle of daisies or other flower is on each table. A pleasant candle or air freshener masks the stuffy institutional smell. Each table has needed supplies ready to use, and a variety of stress balls and squeeze toys to calm anxiety and help focus attention. It has been fun and interesting to see how popular and useful the stress balls have…
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Precept of the Day
Time is priceless. You have it, but you don’t own it. You spend it, but you can’t keep it. And once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back. Use it wisely!
In our class this week we talked about the importance of time and organization in planning for and implementing a successful classroom. So much of what happens in our classrooms and during our instruction depends on careful planning and organization. Being able to start each day calmly, with everything prepared and ready for the entire day, makes us more confident teachers, and that has a profound impact on how we interact with our students and how we deliver our lessons. A big part of classroom management depends on preventing problems and engaging student interest. Being well-organized is foundational to this goal.
For master teachers,organizational skills are a must. Fundamentally, organization is a result of choices made on a minute-by-minute basis. A balance must be struck between over-organizing — in which everything has to be done a certain way — and under-organizing — in which everything is delegated to later. Finding an organizational style that works for you is the key. Figuring out what makes you feel successful regarding organization is a good place to start.
(Carpenter, Fontanini, & Neiman 2010)
Five Tips for Your To Do List:
- Review your To Do List at the end of the week and determine if this week’s planning worked for you. Continue with what worked. React to what did not work.
- Don’t expect to get every task completed on your weekly list—life happens and sometimes things do not get done. Don’t allow frustration with uncompleted tasks overwhelm you.
- Accept the reality that you cannot always expect to cross off all the tasks at the end of the week. If you are always left with a long list of unfinished tasks, do a reality check on yourself and your use of time. Prioritize.
- Do enjoy what you do well and reflect on what you can do better.
- Remember to put your needs on the list too. Plan time to stop for coffee, to talk to a friend, or to read a book.