Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Autism Awareness

In honor of Austism Awareness Month, I wanted to share a video I watched today about a woman who tells what it is like to live with autism.  Currently I don't have any ASD students in my room, but have in the past, and will in the future.  Let's remember to put ourselves in our students' shoes no matter what they are working through.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Class Dojo

One of my leadership goals when I began the year was to lead a professional development session as part of our Q-Comp program.  Next week I will be able to reach that goal as I lead a session after school on the "Class Dojo" classroom management program.

I thought it would be appropriate to share this program here as well.  Spring is a great time to use a new classroom management idea like Class Dojo because it is fresh and different at a time in the year when kids can feel completely the opposite.  My kids always get a bit of spring fever and behavior issues tend to pop up at this time, but Class Dojo is a great visual goal for kids.  It is a website in which you set up a page for your class that shows an "avatar" for each student on your SMARTBoard.  That avatar can earn points by working hard, being on task, helping others, etc.  It can also lose points for being disrespectful or not following directions.  This is a great motivator for my kids because they can see how many points they earn, and every time I give a point, the computer makes a sound, which reminds the rest of the class to remain on task.  If you would like to try Class Dojo I would definitely recommend it.  It is so easy to use and only takes a few minutes to set up.  The link is found below.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Impressive Little Community

I just want to say thanks to those of you who gave suggestions and helped me find some inspiration with my community building.  I ended up having no choice but to rejuvenate my morning meeting because of the addition of a student who really needed to feel welcome in a new class.  I have to say that I am so happy with the way my students have received this new friend and taken her in.  Other students around the school have already labeled her and excluded her and she has reciprocated many of those feelings.  Her new classmates are eager to play with her, sit by her, and they have been so patient with her when she begins to feel upset.  I think they protective of her and it's almost as though they feel a sense of responsibility for her.  Their actions have impressed me immensely since this change in our classroom dynamic.

I will continue to spend time on group activities during morning meeting to ensure that my students are feeling a sense of community each day.    I know the benefits are sometimes hard to see immediately, but I am confident that the time will be well spent for each and every one of my students.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do You have the Stomach for it?

Does this picture look familiar?  This image may be seen in any school at any given point in the day, but one thing is for is usually caused by a student with a behavior problem.  We've all had these days and I am afraid I may have more of them in my future.  This week I was informed of a new challenge I will face with a particular student, and I have to ask myself, "Do I have the stomach to do what is right for this child?"  Michael Linsin suggests asking yourself that question when it comes to difficult students, and then putting a stop to making excuses for kids.  I've been there before.  I've had kids with behavior issues and made excuses for them based on their home life or a disability.  However, now it's time for a gut check.  I need to remind myself to have high expectations for this particular student and to be consistent, no matter what setbacks she has had.

I know I'm being cryptic about this student, but regardless, this is a great time of the year for some good reminders about classroom management.  Here are the top three things I will remember as I begin this new challenge in my own classroom:

1. Be PROACTIVE! Try to predict the most possible outcomes of any situation and be honest about limits before giving consequences.
2. Be CONSISTENT! Once limits/consequences have been set, stick to them no matter how hard it is.
3. Have high EXPECTATIONS! This goes for all students.  Respect them by expecting the most out of them, no matter what.

For more from Michael Linsin:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Informal Teacher Leaders

I recently read an article about how teaching is a naturally "flat profession" because a new teacher and a teacher who has taught for twenty years have essentially the same responsibilities.  This is true, and the sad part is that sometimes teachers may feel a sense of frustration eventually if they don't have a way to fulfill a desire for greater responsibility.  Life is so busy for me right now, but sometimes I wonder if I will always be happy teaching the same grade and doing similar activities from year to year.  I don't think I would be the right type of person to be a principal, but I wonder if there will be ways to stretch myself into more of a leader in the future.  I think as I was growing up I was always looking at the next goal, so I feel like I would need to find a new goal at some point.  Does any one else ever feel like that?  Maybe life will get so busy and it won't feel like that at all...who knows?

Luckily, until I begin feeling like that, I will have some small ways to be a leader if I wish.  My school is a Q-Comp school, which means that we have professional development meetings after school every other week.  These PD sessions are on a variety of topics and put on by different teachers, administrators, and people from outside of the building.  If I feel confident in something that I do or that I have recently learned about, I can decide to share it in a session with my colleagues.  It is totally optional, which takes the pressure off.  I haven't led a PD session yet, but have no doubt that I will in the future.  If you would like to read the article I read, click on the link below.   

Monday, February 2, 2015

Needing Inspiration!

I haven't blogged about community building in a long time, and the reason for that is because I am not feeling very passionate about it at this time.  I think there are a few reasons for this.  First of all, it takes time.  Second of all, it can take a lot of preparation and it is something I don't prep with the enthusiasm I do for academic subjects.    I realize the importance of community builders and I truly know they are important.  I just need to spice them up so I can be more excited about trying some new ones.  That being said, I'm reaching out for some quick, easy community builders that can work for kindergarten kids.  Any ideas?

Monday, January 26, 2015

January-The Month of Urgency

So there I was, finishing 2nd quarter report cards and entering the last of my DIBELS assessments when I felt this sudden sense of urgency to put the assessment grind to rest and get back to guided reading.  I suddenly remembered what a former principal of mine believed very strongly in.  She said that January is her favorite month to teach in because it is the longest teaching month with no major holidays and interruptions.  She is absolutely right.  January is a month when kids can start again and make big gains, especially in reading and writing. Although I've had setbacks in small group time because of assessments that needed to be done, I am still dedicated to intensely teaching guided reading and pushing my kids to make great gains in the next few months.  The school year is over halfway complete.  What goals can you make for the rest of the winter?  How can you push your kids?

If you would like to read more about the power of January, visit the blog of my former principal, Kari Yates: