Showing posts with label Classroom Management Strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classroom Management Strategy. Show all posts


Teacher Tip: How to Make Award Tags Work

For the past few years, I have been using award tags in my classroom with a huge amount of success. In my room, we call them Bulldog Tags because students wear them around their neck like a dog tag and our school mascot is the bulldog. The first year was rough and there were a lot of flops. Through trial and error, I have found the 3 key points that have made using award tags a hit! I'm going to share those with you as well as the materials I use and how I prep the tags.

 1. Prepare them ahead of time

If I had to say there was ONE secret to success, I would say it was this one. Having your tags printed, laminated and hole punched BEFORE the year starts, makes the process smooth. When they are all ready to go, it is simple to grab it and hand it out.

 I keep my tags behind my desk. I have a hardware and craft storage container that I keep academic tags in and a small basket that I keep behavior tags. When I need one, I take it from behind my desk and hand it out. During the summer, I spend some time printing, laminating, cutting and hole punching the tags. It's something that is pretty easy to do while your binging Netflix shows.

 2. Be picky about what you give them out for

I don't hand out a bulldog tag just for existing. I use them mostly to encourage academic skills and growth.

Here are some examples:
-mastering math facts
-passing reading levels
-scoring 100% on a test
-mastering a concept they have been struggling with

 I do have a few non-academic ones.
 -at different stages on Class Dojo
-maxing out a character on Go Noodle
-special days like the 2nd day of Second Grade

 3. Make a big deal out of it with a celebration

When I give students a bulldog tag, I do it one of 2 ways. If it is an academic tag, I hand it out during morning meeting. This allows me to share their success with the whole class and allows others to be proud of them.

 If it is a Class Dojo tag, I make a big deal by making all kinds of fanfare trumpet noises. Dun dun duh duh! It may seem like a bit much, but it helps the kids get excited.

Resources I Use 
(The links that follow are Amazon affiliate links.  This means, I may receive a small commission, from Amazon-not you, if you purchase any of these materials. I cross my teacher heart that I ONLY recommend products I know, love and use!)

I use a 64 drawer hardware and craft storage unit.

For student wear, I buy lanyards and three inch rings.  I have tried smaller rings and other lanyards, but these have worked best.

Need some Award Tags?  Check these out from my TPT store!

How I Prepare
First, I print and laminate sheets of tags.

Second, I cut and hole punch

I have found 2 different ways to cut and hold punch.

One way is to cut around the edge and then cut into long strips of 5 tags.  Use a hand held hole punch to punch down the strip of 5 tags.  After the holes are punched, cut the individual tags apart.

I have found that I can line up 2 rows of tags and cut them at the same time, but any more than that and they start slipping.  This causes the cuts to be uneven.

The other way is to cut the tags apart and place a small stack in a large hole punch.  

That's it!  A few hours over the summer and my bulldog tags are ready to go for the year!

Want to Pin It for later?

Do you use award tags? I would love to hear how you prep and store.  Drop me a line in the comments or shoot me an email!


5 Things You Can Do When Parent Communication is Difficult

Parent communication can be difficult.  In my heart, I know that all parents WANT to be considered a team member in their child's education, I think they just struggle to know how. I work in a Title 1 school and their are so many aspects of poverty that put and keep parents in survival mode that they struggle to balance it all.  However, this makes our job as teachers a little more difficult so I have brainstormed some ways to make it happen.

First, lets talk about different methods of contact-

Personal communication, in my opinion, is the most important and includes face to face meetings and phone calls.  It can also be one of the most challenging though.  Parents may not show up to scheduled meetings, return phone calls, or even provide you with a current phone number.  It is still important to keep trying to make those contacts.

Digital communication, in my opinion, is the easiest and includes emails, texts and apps.  Apps like Class Dojo and Remind make it really easy to spread information to multiple people at a time.  They also make it easy to handle quick communication tasks such as "Little Johnny isn't feeling well.  I took his temperature, but he doesn't have a fever so he is taking a short nap in the Book Nook. I'll let you know how he is doing!"  Be careful here though and don't engage in serious conversations here.  It's difficult to imply tone in a digital communication.

Written communication is my least favorite way of communication and includes handwritten notes and newsletters.  Yes, it's easier to write a note home but I often wonder how many of those notes actually make it home.  This may work better if you have a planner or folder that has to be signed everyday.  I do think that students will make sure they take something home and hand it directly to their parents if you make it meaningful for them.  Announcements about performances or good notes home usually get handed over. 

Tip 1- Send everything home multiple ways.  If I send a newsletter home, I send a dojo/remind message AND tell the kids to make sure their family sees it so they know about XYZ.

Tip 2- Focus on positive communication at first, especially with the most difficult parents.  Everyone likes to hear good things about their child.  When I have parents sign up for Dojo, I right away send them a message about how excited I am to work with their child.  I continue sending positive messages home no matter how small.

Tip 3- Play up the easy 2 way communication of digital apps.  I tell my parents that if they sign up for Class Dojo that they will get access to pictures of their students, good notes home and occasionally notes from their child!  (I let students use the desktop version of Dojo to send notes- it works really well as a reward on behavior contracts!) I also make sure parents know that its an easy way to reach me and share information!

Tip 4- Invite parents in for a performance or event.  We had the BEST parent involvement when our students completed a wax museum.  Parents were engaged with their kids, they helped complete displays, made costumes, etc.  Then they SHOWED UP to see their kids.  I've also been known to hold impromptu meetings at these events- getting important paperwork signed, etc.

Tip 5- Use the children to your advantage! I'm talking pure bribery here.  "If you bring this back signed, you get XYZ!"  For me, it's usually PawBucks (they use them at the school store).  You can also use candy, points or small trinkets.

I keep track of notes that go home, phones calls that are made, etc. When I send a newsletter home, I put the date on it and put it in my communication notebook.  With this documentation, I can say things like "I'm so sorry you didn't know!  I sent a newsletter on Thursday and wrote a note in the planner on Friday.  I also sent out a Dojo reminder to check the planners on Friday.  I tried to call on Wednesday but no one returned my call.  Is there a better way to reach you?"  Documentation helps cover yourself too.  I had a parent complain to the principal one time that all I ever said was negative things about her child-- but I had documentation of her behavior notes- positive and negative- and attempted phone calls home.

I keep a Parent Communication Notebook with copies of each students information sheet and communication log.  In the back, I keep a copy of all newsletters that go home as well.  If you need a communication log, you can download this free one by signing up for my newsletter!
What do you find difficult about parent communication? Drop me a note below!


BTS Blog Hop, Freebie and Give Away

Hello!  Welcome to another stop on the BTS Blog Hop and Giveaway!  I hope you have been collecting lots of great classroom management and organizational tips.

I'm going to share TWO of my favorite classroom management strategies that helps keep my lines of communication open at ALL times but without interruptions.

Non-verbal hand signals have saved my sanity!  It is the first tip I offer to teachers who are struggling with interruptions.

I use nonverbal hand signals for several reasons.  First, constant interruptions drive me mad!  Second, I feel that impulse control is something that most young children need to work on.  Third, I want to keep the lines of communication open so children know they can always come to me.  Fourth, part of my job is meeting student's needs and I can't do that unless I know what they are!  However, reason #1 is what started it for me a few years ago.  Click here or on the picture to 
find it in my TpT store!

My other tip for you today helps minimize interruptions during small group or guided reading time.

My No Talk Tiara is a tiara I originally got in a children's princess set for Book Character Day.  The very next day, it became my No Talk Tiara.  I wear it while I am in small group, guided reading or working one on one with a student.

Students know that while I am wearing the No Talk Tiara, they can not interrupt me (unless someone is bleeding, vomiting, being kidnapped or caught on fire!).  They stand on an X that I taped on the floor beside my small group table and wait for me to give them my attention.

I frequently forget to take it off when I am done with small group so I made that a students responsibility!  I kept wearing it around school and wondering why people were telling me happy birthday when my birthday is in the summer!

Thanks so much for visiting!  Remember to enter the giveaway below and click the apple to head to the next hop!  Don't forget to hit the arrow to enter BOTH contests!


5 Tips for using an Open Seating Plan

A year and a half ago, I made a grade level jump.  The move was bitter-sweet, exciting and scary.  I was excited about 2nd grade and wanted to use the opportunity to make some changes in my teaching.  One of the things I wanted to do was give students more choice.  When students have choices, they become responsible and engaged.  
The summer before I started teaching 2nd grade, a Scholastic article about open seating plans crossed my facebook feed.  The article talked about giving students choices about where they chose to sit.  It was geared towards older students who change classes during the day as opposed to being 'glued' to one seat all day.  

"I can do that!"  I thought with excitement!

At Open House, I handed students a name plate and said "Here!  You get to pick your seat!"  Most of them looked at me like I had a third eyeball.  Looking back, I probably added some anxiety to an already nervous day but they did what I asked.  

For 2 weeks, we kept those seats.  Then one Friday afternoon, I called a family meeting and talked to them about how being in 2nd grade meant you were ready to be responsible for things that happened in the classroom.  We talked about good choices.  I did think alouds about who I would chose to sit with and why.  ("I really like Alicea, but I like to talk and she likes to talk so I probably should not sit with her.  Felicia is nice and she helps me when I need help.  She talks a little bit, but I probably won't get in trouble for talking if I sit with her.")  I turned the students lose with instructions to clean out their desk, pile their things on their chair and pick out a new seat.  

Standing in the corner of the room, my self-satisfied grin turned into a panicked grimace as the minutes ticked by.

Finally, I started shoving pushing chairs up to desks and screaming saying "Just move in here!  It's time to go!"  

I had neglected to think about just how long of a process this would be.  As I rushed students to the buses with half-zipped bookbags, I couldn't believe I had promised students we would do this.  Every.  Week.

But we did.  Every week.  And it got better.  Much better.  By the end of the year, it was a well-oiled machine and the kids loved it! Students were able to pick seats responsibly and make good choices about who they sat with.  

Here are my tips for you--
1.  Guide students through emptying their desk.  Have students stack all the things you want them to take to their new seat on their chair.

2.  Have a plan for all the other stuff.  For example, I have a basket for students to put unchecked papers in.  

3.  Circulate, with eyes wide open.  Be on the lookout for missing assignments.

4.  Have everyone pull their chairs, with belongings stacks, away from their desks so everyone has room to move.

5.  Every couple of moves, give students a "rule".  One of my favorites is to have students sit beside someone new.

Have you had any experiences with open seating? 

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