Monday, August 1, 2011

My BEST EVER Classroom Management Tool (and it's not the clip chart!)

Today was the official first day back for teachers in my district.  Students come Monday of next week. 

I.  am.  so.  TIRED.  Please forgive any typos that may occur in this following post.  Read it any way.  It's a good one.


When we go back to school many of us like to involve students in the "Classroom Rules" making process.  Many popular rules end up being along the lines of "Keep your hands and feet to yourself", "Raise your hand before you speak", "Do your personal best".

Duh.  They go on a poster board and end up being wall paper for the rest of the year.

I don't do that.

I have automatically have 3 rules when the kids come in to my classroom on day 1.

These 3 rules are:

Red time.  Blue time.  Green time.

I also have posters that go with these rules.


Each color and it's accompanying poster signifies my expecatations of EXACTLY what the little pumpkins should be doing whle the arrow is pointed at one of the posters.

Red time is direct instruction.  If the teacher is talking/teaching the whole group this is what is expected of students:

1. eyes on the speaker
2. mouth quiet
3. be still (no wiggling, tipping in chairs, swaying back and forth)
4. hands  free
5. listen

I have the kids recite the following 5 expectations many, many, MANY times the first two weeks and whenever a pumpkin "forgets" and is caught not following directions we review these rules as a class.

I also emphasize that during red time students are not permited to get up to get a drink, sharpen their pencil, or go to the bathroom (unless it is an emergency).

Here is a closer look at my Red time poster.  I found that hand in a google image search.  It is a Marzano tool called "take 5".  I'm sure if you google search, you can find it too and design your own poster.



Next is Blue time. 

Blue time is independant work time.  Students are allowed to get a drink, sharpen their pencil, and (unless they abuse it) use the restroom without having to ask (or bug me).  My only condition is there is only to be one student at a time doing each.  If a student is already at the drinking fountain, a friend will have to wait until that kid sits down before they get up to get a drink.  Same with the restroom.  One at a time.

Here is my Blue time poster.

Last is Green time.  Green time is only used at the beginning and end of the day in my classroom.  It is unpacking and packing up time. 

I have a laminated arrow that is constantly moved from poster to poster to signal what is expected at that time.  I usually include this on my classroom job chart and have a kid in charge of moving it.

I also made the posters on microsoft word.  Like I stated earlier, I found the hand on google image search and just typed out the rest on word.  I then ran larger paper through our copy machine to copy it onto a small poster size.  Last, I used marker to color in the letters.

Hope you enjoy this and I highly recommend it.  It is cheap, easy, and you will nagg much less often if you use this tool consistantly.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to Kiss Butt the Correct Way--Tip Thursday (posted on Friday)

Sorry I missed tip Thursday yesterday.  I went into my classroom to start setting up and just didn't have time.  I did work on two new projects as well.  I will be sure to post pictures soon.

Today's blog is going to discuss the art of kissing butt. 

"Why would I ever want to be a 'butt kisser'"  you ask? 

Because it will get you what you want.  We all know that we love getting what we want.  Also, there are often people we cross paths with in our lives who can do something for us. 

Now, I am not saying that you should only be nice to people because there is something they can do for you.  You should always be a kind hearted person no matter what that person's status is.

However, it is often a good thing if your principal or boss likes you. 

Discipline is easier when Joey's mom already knows and likes you.

If you are trying to sell tutoring services over summer break to make extra money you will certainly be more successful if you build a rapport with your future customers. 

By doing a little bit of Butt Kissing you can get what you want. 

There is a wrong way of doing it though.  If you do it this way, it will backfire on you.

Here are some examples of the wrong way:

When I was in college I worked in the coffee shop inside of Borders Books.  At the time it was called Seattle's Best Coffee.  Every Saturday morning I saw the usual rush of frequent customers.  One set was a father and his son.  Dad was probably in his late forties or early fifties.  Son was a teenager.  To this day I can still remember their usual orders.  They were that regular of customers.

They weren't super friendly, but not rude either.  Just treated me like someone they didn't know.  They didn't know my name.  They didn't speak to me as if they recognized me each week.  They didn't make small talk.  They acted as an anonymous customer for about a year. 

Then one morning out of the blue the Dad seemed to be super friendly.  He actually made eye contact with me.  He looked at my name tag and called me by name.  He also smiled and made small talk.  I was enjoying the brief and friendly conversation and felt very comfortable.  He was being nice.

Then it came out like vomit.

He explained that he had just been laid off from his job as an engineer and what starting is own business.  He was teaching self defense classes.  He then invited me to his first class (for a high price) that would be happening within the week. 

He was only being nice to me because there was something I could do for him.  His sincerity did not feel genuine.  He was trying to sell me something.

I politely no thanks.  That my parents had put me in karate for years and years as a teenager and I wasn't interested.

He then retorted with raised eyebrows and made a comment about him hoping I know what to do if a certain scary and sexual situation happened to me.  He then gave me his business card, asked me to share it with my coworkers and left with his coffee. 

Do you think I passed along that business card?  Or even advertised to anyone about his brand new business?

No way!  I tore up his card and put it in the trash.

Do I think self defense lessons for women are important?  Absolutely.

Do I think I would benefit from them?  Yep.

It was his approach at Butt Kissing that ruined it for him. 

Pay attention, because this part is very important.

When you Butt Kiss, do not ask for your favor right afterward. 

It is okay to kiss someones butt if you there is something they can do for you.  It is okay to build a rapport with them to get what you want. 

However, the way to do it is to build a positive rapport with them for a period of time without any strings attached. 

Then, when you need a favor they will be 100 times more likely to help you out.

Have a micro manager boss/principal? 

Get them off your back and build a good rapport with them by emailing your grade level collaboration notes or lesson plans before he/she asks for them.

Be a little bit early for work and make sure she sees you.  You don't have to make over friendly, sickly sweet and fake conversation with her about your weekend.  Just make sure she sees you there early.

This is butt kissing without an obvious agenda.  That way, when you apply for another job you can rely on this person for a reference letter.

Plus, I have learned from experience that these few extra steps will keep a micro manager principal off your back and out of your classroom.

Other ways to kiss butt:

When somone does something nice for you, thank them with a brief hand written note.  This might be a parent who sent in an extra box of kleenex, or volunteered as a helper at the annual Turkey Trot.

Invite parents to volunteer in your classroom.  At the end of the year give them a thank you card with $5 gift card to Starbucks.  Many of them will offer to volunteer or make copies for your when their kids move up to different grades.  Or, they will request you when their younger children move to your grade and you will already have a parent volunteer who knows how to use the laminater or copy machine.

Smile and say "good morning" to all of your co workers.  Even the ones you are not too fond of.  This includes front office staff, parents, custodian, the para you don't even know the name of, lunch room staff, kids.

People you should give a small gift to around Christmas and end of the year (I usually give one of those huge Hershey chocolate bars you can get for $1 at Walgreen's):

your principal,
anyone who works in the front office,
 custodian,
 lunchroom staff,
curriculum coach,
team members,
parent volunteers and/or parents who donate supplies
specials teachers

Include a short note wishing them a happy holiday or stating what a wonderful year it was and hope they have a great summer. 

I should also note that you should become friends with the team of teachers the grade right below you.  Even if you don't like them very much.  They choose who goes into your class the next year.  Don't bribe them. I also don't recommend giving them end of the year gifts.  This is too obvious of what your agenda is.  However, if you can coordinate reading buddy time with them, pick up a duty for them, include them on your email list when you share cool websites you come across, they will be nicer to you when placing their students.

Also, if you borrow materials from someone..... when you return it, toss in a little pack of m&m's to say thank you.  Not something big, but the gesture goes a long way.

If you've been paying attention thus far you should know that when you give them that gift, that is not the time to ask for your favor.

However, when your printer runs out of toner, the secretary will be more likely to help you out.  The custodian will give you new trash bags or paper towels with a smile. 

Specials teachers may be more forgiving when you are a little bit late to pick up your class (as long as you are not always late).

I hope this helps.  Happy butt kissing to all.  :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Worn Out Wednesday, new uses for old things-make your own pore strips

Okay.  This is not really education related, however, if you are a woman with ANY level of vanity you are going to love this.  It will also save you money and we all know teachers LOVE to save money!

I am going to teach you how to make your own pore strips.

You know, like those Biore ones that you can purchase at Walgreen's or CVS?  It's a sticky material you put across your nose, let it sit for 10 minutes and then rip it off to yank out all the gunk in your pores?   

We all love playing with those but they are certainly pricey! 

Well, my friends, you can make these with 2 ingredients that can be found in your cupboard.  Therefore, this still counts as new uses for old things.

Here is what you need:

1 tbs milk (any type, 2%, whole, skim-doesn't matter)
1 tbs of unflavored gelatin (the brand I use is called Knox, but any type will do)
A few drops of vanilla extract (or imitation) This 3rd ingredient is optional, but I recommend using it to make the solution smell better.

Now, I must stress that when I say unflavored gelatin I don't mean a pack of powdered strawberry jello.  I mean unflavored gelatin that you use for cooking various things (including homemade jello).

Here is what the Knox brand looks like:



Directions:

In a microwave safe cup mix 1 tbs milk and 1tbs unflavored gelatin.  Stir until chunky.

Microwave for 10 seconds.  It should come out gooey and liquidy.  If you are going to add a few drops of vanilla extract (or vanilla flavoring) do it now. Again, this is to make it smell better.  Give it about 30 seconds to cool off so it doesn't burn your skin.  You do want to spread it on while it is warm, but not burning your skin.

Using a Q-tip spread it over your nose in a medium to thick layer.  If you have left over you could also spread it over your chin or forehead-anywhere you would stick a pore strip.

Let it sit and dry on your face for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes peel it off and be amused at all the junk you pulled out of your pores.

**This idea was not originally my own.  I learned this from Michelle Phan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time Saving Tuesday-Copies

I have seen educator fist fights in front of the copy machine.  Seriously.

During student teaching I rarely did any copying.  However my first year of teaching I seemed to spend hours in front of the machine.  I would arrive very early in the morning so I wouldn't have to wait in line.  It is the worst when you are waiting in a long line and the copier runs out of paper too..

Sometimes I would also stay late so I wouldn't have to wait in line (or have a long impatient line of people staring holes into my back behind me!)

Other times I just drove to school on the weekend, used my key and alarm code and did my copies on a Sunday morning.

Then I started comparing the amount of work I was doing on my own compared to when I was a student teacher.  I remember arriving at normal hours and leaving pretty much at the scheduled contract time!  What was different?

Then it hit me.  My mentor teacher had parent volunteers do her copying during the school day.  Whenever she sat down to plan she also had her master copies near by.  Each time she wrote a worksheet page, assignment, or whatever needed to be copied in her plan book, she would also slip the master copy into a file folder.

However....

She didn't stop there.  Before she would slip the master copy into the file folder she would write brief instructions on a post-it.  She wrote the total number copies she needed as well as any special instructions such as "back to back, stapled, cut in 1/2".

You can rely on parent volunteers (assuming your school allows them) to do your copies as long as you do two things.  1) You have to plan ahead.  I usually plan and have copies made 1 week ahead.  2) You provide specific instructions on your master copies.

Also, don't forget to provide your parent volunteer with a box of paper clips so they can sort and paper clip your class sets of copies.

I also discovered something, just like kids in your class, there are some parents that LOVE to help.  They like to feel like they are involved and also like an open opportunity to spy on you a little bit at the beginning of the year.  Be on your best behavior and be super friendly to them and you could make a friend who will still offer to help out even when their kid progresses to the next grades.

Oh!  One more thing.  How to recruit parent volunteers!

My coworkers around me always complain that I always get the "good parents" who are "willing to volunteer and help out". 

At the meet the teacher night I always send home an information packet.  It has schedules, homework policies, supply list, dress code, and a few pages to filled out such as emergency contact information as well as a survey on the child.  In this packet I also include a page to fill out if a parent wishes to be a classroom volunteer. 

The page is on my computer at school at the moment, so if there is demand for it, I will post it on here.  The page includes areas to check off if a parent is willing to donate supplies, help prepare materials (copies), work with students, available for field trips, and also what days and time frames they are available. 

Once you get all of these papers back with parents willing to volunteer you can pick and choose who you want for various tasks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Classroom Management Monday- mini dry erase boards during direct instruction

It is still Monday in the west!  10:06 pm to be exact.  I spent most of the evening at my mother's house visiting a 3rd cousin who just happened to be in town.  I sat at the kitchen table for about 2 hours while they talked about people I have never met. 

Anyhow.  I have a classroom management tip for you that I learned from another teacher about a year ago. 

Do you use mini chalk or dry erase boards in your classroom? 

They can be wonderful.  You can easily do a test review by writing a question on the board and then having kids hold the answer up on a dry erase board under their chin.  You can see at a glance who "gets it" right away and who is looking around for answers. 

Easy peasy.

However, I HATE how kids will draw all over their dry erase board with things other than the correct answer to the question or math problem.  They like to scribble and cover the entire board with marker and waste the ink. 

They write messages to each other.

They play tic tac toe.

They scribble and then use their finger to write their name. 

All while I am trying to teach subtraction with regrouping!  Anyone who is easily distracted misses my lesson because they are so busy drawing.

Then..........I was given an idea.

At the beginning of each lesson give the kids 5 minutes of free draw time.  Set a timer for 5 minutes and let them have at it. 

I usually use this time to turn on the projector and write the objective up on the board anyway. 

Once the timer goes off all pictures are banished. 

There is no drawing, writing your name, scribbling, decorating your answer or any of that nonsense. 

The kids have already been given a chance to draw and play with the dry erase boards.  They are warned that if I catch them doing any of that, they will have to use pencil and paper for the rest of the lesson.  No warnings.

It works like a charm. 

And what works even better?  Tell them that if they are attentive, participate, and don't interrupt you throughout the lesson they can have a bonus 5 minutes of draw time at the end (if time allows).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tip Thursday- Desk top name tags

At the beginning of every school year I select the best nameplates for my students.  I make sure they have a mulitiplication chart, number line, cursive alphabet, fractions, place value..... the works.

The first week of school I use packaging tape to secure them to the desks. 

However, over time I discovered the kids tend to ruin the kids tend to ruin them!

They color on them.

They write on them.

The tape is picked at.

Others will completely rip off their name tag and ask for a new one.

A few years ago I stole an idea from another teacher.

At the beginning of each school year host a name tag contest. 

Once the name tags are all plastered to the desks announce that the child with the neatest, cleanest, less picked at name tag at the end of the year will be getting a reward.

I make it clear that when I "judge" the name tags at the end of the year I will be looking for the follow:

*no picking
*no coloring on it
*no stickers on it
*the name not purposely rubbed off
*all of it still there

The kids were SO competitive that they did not touch their name tags!  My entire class (28 kids!) had beautiful looking name tags.

We had a 28 way tie. 

So now you are probably thinking........... the joke's on her!  She has to buy 28 gifts!

Nope.

I didn't spend anything.

The prize was a homework pass.  I printed them off my computer and wrote the kids' names on them.

And the best part?  I judged the name tags just before the last two weeks of school.  My grade book was already closed and I was no longer grading homework. 

However, the kids did not know this and they were over the moon to be able to get out of a week's worth of homework.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Worn Out Wednesday. New Uses For Old Things. Tissue boxes.

My first themed post!  *silly happy dance*

Okay.  I first read about this in a Real Simple magazine a few years ago.

At the beginning of every school year the kiddos bring in boxes and boxes of Kleenex.  What to do with the empty box when all the tissues have been eaten up?  (yes. doesn't it seem like the kids eat them considering how quickly they are used up?)

Use an empty tissue box to house plastic grocery bags. 

Everyone holds on to their plastic grocery bags from the super market and sticks them usually in a drawer or under the sink.  These things can be a menace when you collect them in large quantities.

However, how many times have you needed plastic bags for something in your classroom and you didn't have them?

Maybe you are out of garbage bags and the only way to get them is to threaten your custodian?
A child's lunch box got HI-C fruit punch spilled all over the inside of it?
You need to send home those messy graham cracker gingerbread houses you let your 1st graders make?
A child is moving schools last minute and needs to empty out their desk?

As you collect plastic grocery bags over time from your shopping trips just stuff them into an empty tissue box.  It takes up less space.  You won't have tons of bags inside one another.  All you have to do is pull one out like a Kleenex when you need it.

What are your new uses for old things?  I would love to know!

*Toast

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I get summers off...

Hello!  Welcome to my new blog.  I am a 3rd grade teacher in the sunny state of Arizona.  I have wanted to created my own little corner of the web for a while now, but just never have time between the months of August and May.

However, lucky for me... I have summers off!

I will be using this blog for discussing work, teaching tips/practices, my current state of pregnancy (I'm due in December 2011), and all other randomness that comes to me.