Giveaway: 5 copies of The Cornerstone!

The Cornerstone BookI’ve got lots of amazing book give-aways scheduled for the coming months, but since everyone’s thinking about classroom management right now, I thought August’s feature should be The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable. And since it’s my own book, I can give away multiple copies!

This book was born out of the need for PRACTICAL information for teachers.  So many educators are drowning in paperwork and overwhelmed 
by student behaviors, but don’t have a sufficient support system within their school district. These teachers spend their ‘spare time’ scouring 
for resources on the Internet and in bookstores, hoping for solutions from someone who can relate to their struggles and offer guidance. And 
unfortunately, most of the resources they find focus on WHAT to do and not HOW to do it.

The good news is that these dilemmas are very normal for teachers–every single one of us can relate at one time or another in our careers! And the even better news? There are solutions which get results quickly. You can easily gain, regain, or maintain control of your classroom once you understand the keys to strong classroom management. Once you’ve 
developed the right mindset and created a realistic vision for your classroom, you can teach for it! The Cornerstone uses actual 
classroom photographs, forms, and dialogue examples to show you how to create procedures and routines that facilitate learning. It will guide 
you through every step of reinforcing your expectations.

The Cornerstone is an expansion of the ideas presented on my website, and provides a more comprehensive resource for teachers to 
keep and reference in the classroom. In The Cornerstone, you’ll learn how a positive teaching philosophy plays out practically in the 
classroom to create a calm, supportive environment that balances predictable routines with unpredictable teaching strategies and lessons. It is 
a comprehensive guide to making this school year the very best possible, whether it’s your first or your thirty-first.

This book will guide you to 
reflect on why you teach, what type of students you want to produce, and ways to run your classroom that fit well with your personal teaching 
style…all within the context of planning for specific procedures and routines. From the first minute you spend with your students in August to 
the final hectic week in June, The Cornerstone will show you how to stay focused on what’s really important, maintain your enthusiasm, and 
utilize all the resources you have available:

* Turn needy, disorganized children into self-reliant, responsible students
* Develop and teach ANY classroom procedure
* Train the class to follow along, stay on-task, and work together
* Use fun teaching techniques that help you assess student learning
* Eliminate homework hassles and parent miscommunications
* Prevent burnout by enjoying and growing with students
* Construct a self-running classroom that frees you to teach

To get this book in the hands of more teachers, I’m giving away eBook copies of The Cornerstone to FIVE readers! The book is available in Kindle, ePUB, and PDF formats (so even if you don’t have an eReader, you can still win a PDF version to read on your computer.)

Just leave a comment on this post telling us one tip you’ve learned that makes your teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable. The contest will close on Thursday, August 23, at midnight EST. I’ll choose 5 winners randomly and post their names at the bottom of this blog post.

You can also use the discount code SUMMER2012 to buy The Cornerstone eBook at 20% off–that’s just $11.99! If you order multiple eBooks, the 20% discount applies for your entire purchase. And if you buy the eBook now and then win a copy through this give-away, I’ll refund your money.

I hope that The Cornerstone gives you practical suggestions that leave you feeling inspired, rejuvenated, and full of 
confidence that you can handle every task that’s set before you. And be sure to read through the comments below, because I know the teachers who read this blog, and they have some AMAZING ideas! Enjoy the start to your school year!

UPDATE: CONTEST CLOSED!

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your great suggestions! I’m sorry for the delay in selecting the winners. I subtracted the “reply” comments (when one commenter is replying to another commenter) from the total comment count so there were a total of 134 entries. Here are winners:

#15 Shanna D: “The best advice is to get to know your students. What do they like to do, what music or other media do they enjoy, what sports do they play, etc? Getting to know them on a personal level helps prevent behaviour problems!”

#33 Diane Bode: “I have learned to take it slow the first few weeks. I’m looking forward to having the kiddos visit the classroom (preschool) before the first day. Hopefully, they will feel more better on the first day!”

#41 Tammy Skiles: “Teaching procedures at the beginning of the year…making kids actually do them with you”

#55 Tammi Pittaro: “My best tip, in a nutshell, is say what you mean and mean what you say. Set the bar hhigh and practice, practice, practice!” 

#59 Megan: “Do what is best for your students, which may not always be what is easiest for you, but it will feel good in your heart!!”

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Angela Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years and has turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has published 3 books, launched a blog and webinar series, designs curriculum resources, and conducts seminars in schools around the world. Subscribe via email for blog updates, exclusive tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 140 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rurik Nackerud August 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

My favorite intervention of all time has to be the “bounce”, errand, or whatever else you want to call it. When a situation or a child is becoming frustrated or you know the potential for high levels of frustration are likely – send the kid on an errand. Get them out of the situation. A clear purpose and some time away can give them back the control they need and lead to a higher level of productivity.

I live doing this as it allows me to differentiate the level of concern for my more easily triggered students. A little stress and discomfort can be a great learning situation but too much and they just shut down. Usually I work something out with a school secretary or librarian ahead of time so they know to pretend the errand was important and then the kids never feels targeted either. In fact a couple kids became regulars for my errands which allowed me to develop some interesting year-long jokes and I never ran short of pencils or needed to collect specific library books myself.

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2 Elisa Waingort August 18, 2012 at 8:55 am

Just a comment on the “bounce”: if you are going to do this make sure the errand is legitimate. In other, words, rather than “pretending” that it’s important make it important. And if you don’t have an “important errad” that needs to be done at the moment your student needs it, then simply allow your student to take a cool down walk or to go to a place where they feel safe (a place in another classroom or in the office that you’ve worked out beforehand) so that they can shift their attention enough to be able to come back when they’re ready to rejoin the classroom. I believe it’s important that we maintain respectful relationships with our students and I respectfully submit that this idea seems dishonest (and disrespectful) for the sake of expediency.

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3 Corinne August 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Rituals and routines! My students have a defined set of tasks that they must do when they come in. They may be high schoolers, but they still depend on that routine.

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4 Heather August 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm

As simple as it is, hand signals have made a huge difference. :) They show me three fingers for water, they cross their fingers if they need to go to the bathroom, and a hand on their chest if they want to answer the question. (It’s less distracting than putting their hand straight up.) It just makes life so much easier! :)

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5 Mrs P August 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I do this as well. It really does cut down on unnecessary distractions. Except I use actual American Sign Language signs.

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6 MidwestTeacher August 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I have directions for tasks/tests/etc. in multiple formats – written on their exams, posted on the LCD screen, and I read the directions orally as well. I’ve found that presenting directions in this fashion REALLY cuts down on such questions as “Miss, what are we doing?”.

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7 Lauren August 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Keeping calm at all costs…the children will see you sweat and then they know your weakness.

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8 Casey August 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Get to know you kids!!

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9 Karen August 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Teachers that find joy in the learning process helps the students find joy in their learning process, as well. Teachers should never stop seeing themselves as learning, because teaching is the highest form of learning. When the teacher can get in front of their class and enjoy what they are doing and enjoy the information they are presenting to the class, the students will be more excited and more willing to participate in learning the material. When the teacher enjoys the experience of being in the classroom, everyone wins.

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10 Patty Ferrell August 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I create a Parent Contact Folder at the beginning of the year. I send home a basic questionaire to get addresses, health concerns, and contact numbers. I keep them in a paper folder along with a class list, and postcards that I ordered cheaply from VistaPrint. Before school begins I send each student a postcard with a simple message saying that I look forward to meeting them on the first day of school. Then each week I send a postcard to the parents of 3-5 students telling them something positive. I mark by each student’s name until all have been sent a card. Parents appreciate a positive note as much as the kids.

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11 Jill August 17, 2012 at 1:04 am

The best tip I learned was not to be “married” to my plans! It took a while, but I learned that if students needed extra practice with a skill, or if we didn’t finish something, it was okay to push aside my next day’s plans and adapt to my students’ needs!

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12 Sarah August 17, 2012 at 1:34 am

Treat each student as if they are my own kids. This frame of mind helps me when I have a middle school student who may act out or struggle to do any work. I remind myself that I love thses kids and will do anything to help them succeed.

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13 Jocelyn August 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

I learned that you need to teach your procedures over and over the first few weeks of school, but then your classroom runs so much more smoothly the rest of the year. They don’t teach this is college and should!!

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14 Mrs P August 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Amen to that!

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15 CJ August 17, 2012 at 8:38 am

Two of my math students began drawing “Stanley” early on in our year. It started became a distraction as they gave Stanley earrings and nose rings and whatever else they could come up with. One day they left one of their Stanley drawings behind so I clipped it to the board and made him class mascot. If there was a step by step process, I’d write “Stanley says: ” and then list the steps to remind them of the process. Sometimes I’d just write “Stanley loves 4th grade math.” The students loved that I used the character and gave positive feedback. Often they came in desiring to check the board to see what Stanley had to say. The distracting drawing ended without any confrontation when Stanley became part of the class.

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16 Nicole August 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

Set and maintain high standards and expectations! It will hold you and your students accountable. It allows for the classroom to run to run fair and smooth.

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17 Holly Crawford August 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I have found that really going all out to decorate my room and make it feel more like a home environment cuts down on many behavior issues. Students are more relaxed and really enjoy the space and want to learn in this calming environment. It takes extra time at the beginning of the year to accomplish this, however it is worth every minute saved during the school year.

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18 Shanna D August 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

The best advice is to get to know your students. What do they like to do, what music or other media do they enjoy, what sports do they play, etc? Getting to know them on a personal level helps prevent behaviour problems!

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19 Jodi August 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

The importance of making kids reach for high expectations.

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20 Marcy August 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I teach middle school and have learned to color-code everything to keep materials (folders, journals, etc.) easier to distribute to each class without having to check names on materials. I work in an inclusion class so my co-teacher and I have two or three different versions of every formal assessment. This makes it easier to meet the needs of students.

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21 Lindsay August 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Routine, routine, routine. I have found that if you start a routine with your students then they know what to expect even when you are not there.

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22 Yvonnee August 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Consistency and routines are critical.
Thanks for the opportunity.
Yvonnee

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23 Linda August 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

One thing I’ve found to deal with papers is a classroom mailbox system. Any loose papers that need to be returned get mailed. The student’s number coincides with the mailbox number. After I’m done with a packet of papers, I set them on top of the mailbox, and the helper of the day can mail them. (Class list with numbers is posted beside it.) If papers need to be reviewed before going home, we do so, then the student can mail their own. Mail also includes office newsletters, order forms, birthday invitations, etc.. At each day’s end each student empties their mailbox into their mail folder (9×12 plastic pouch from a dollar store) which goes back and forth each day. Any mail arriving from home comes in these folders as well. The teacher also has her own mailbox where the students can deposit mail, such as a note requesting a specific PE game. Students are allowed to write nice/positive letters to each other (or their teacher!) and mail them.

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24 Marla August 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years is you have to be flexible. Things change, schedules are ever changing and things always seem to pop up, so flexibility, it’s an important one.

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25 Tara Espinoza August 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

A tip I’ve found to be essential is that your behavior incentive system–whether it be tickets, punches, stickers, clip charts, pocket charts, stop lights, etc–doesn’t really matter much. What affects student behavior more than the type of behavior system you use is how consistently you use it! Do what you say you’re going to do, the first time you say it. That, more than any sticker, will show kids you mean business.

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26 Kim Fenske August 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Discussing routines and procedures and being consistent with it. My second year of teaching went so much more smoothly when routines were consistently followed. Thanks, Angela!

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27 Erica Wyman August 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I use a lot of structured routines but tie in fun things – yoga, poems, movement activities, lights out/call with flashlight, songs, spinners on SMARTboard, etc. Transitions and routines are hard for 5 – 6 year olds and can become boring, so I have a lot of engaging activities that I use throughout the day! They love it and remind me if I forget something!

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28 Carrie W August 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Set boundaries, and be assertive, but enjoy your students and get to know them.

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29 Crystal F. August 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Routines are important. The more the routine is learned at the beginning of the year, the smoother the year seems to go.

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30 Becky August 18, 2012 at 6:21 am

We have been doing brain breaks in the classroom this year and I believe it is helping the students stay focused.

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31 Elisa Waingort August 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

This may sound odd or too simplistic, depending on your perspective, but I think one of the most important things we can do to make teaching effective and enjoyable is to make sure each child in the classroom is listened to by the teacher and by the students. By this I mean that it’s important for each child to feel that when they speak up about something their ideas will be listened to and not just brushed aside. This is especially critical for those children with low agency in the classroom. Something else I do is to make sure that I touch bases with each child every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. A quick, how did your game go yesterday? helps a child feel connected and it develops relationships in the classroom. The results, both tangible and intangible, are noticeable over time.

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32 Jackie R August 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

I think that getting to know your students is huge in helping the flow if the classroom. I teach middle school and use surveys at the beginning of the year to help me learn all the dislikes and likes of my kids. They want to know that they are listened to and cared about before they will learn from you. If you respect the child, they will respect the teacher.

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33 Cara August 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

I know that I need to take the time in the first few weeks to build a strong community of learners. In years that I haven’t done that, I find there are far more behavior issues.

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34 Shibahn Landry August 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I’ve always been a huge cheerleader for consistency, consistency, consistency. I apply this to my routines. Once I figure out how certain things should flow (i.e. station time or independent work time) I make sure to follow the same format every time. When I first start doing it I’m explaining it each and every time. As the students start to anticipate what I’m going to say next, I encourage them to finish the directions. This leads to them giving the directions and I help remind them. Bottom line, the directions are repeated just about everyday of the school year to ensure no confusion. Most of the time, I can get them down to a few key words and phrases and if studnets start to stray from their tasks, saying those phrases again gets them back on track. Occasionally I’ve had to revamp routines mid-year (especially if class dynamics change) and I start the process over. It really does work. I’m not afraid to do individual discipline plans as needed and I work to stay consistent for each student. But if I can have ALL my students on the same plan, it just lessens my work load and makes things flow that much easier. But I’m in this for each student. Not the group. I will do what is needed as much as possible.

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35 Mrs B August 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

As the library teacher my best lessons are ones where I greet students at my door and connect with the classroom teacher in some manner to get the temperature of the group before they enter. Could be a simple wave or nod tells me everything I need to know. Thanks for this chance to win.

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36 Diane Bode August 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I have learned to take it slow the first few weeks. I’m looking forward to having the kiddos visit the classroom (preschool) before the first day. Hopefully, they will feel more better on the first day!

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37 Jennifer Vise August 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I have learned that using social stories are important when things might be different in a routine. They are also helpful to teach something in a non threatening way.

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38 Stephanie Volkland August 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Morning meetings for positive social interactions. I got away from it last year but I’m bringing them back. I think it is very necessary.

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39 Amanda Gardner August 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Routines! My students appreciate having a routine and struggle with a change in routine.

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40 Stacy Hall August 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Just ONE tip that has made my teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable?! :-)
Proven time and time again, BE PREPARED (lesson, supplies, accommodations in place, etc. with the freedom to be flexible to take advantage of those teachable moments)!

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41 Cathy King August 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

One thing that has saved me time is coming up with action plans with my students when behaviours need to be addressed. We come up with a plan for when they are in situations where they may consistently struggle or make poor choices. I have done this with individuals and as a whole class and the students have buy in as they are part of the solution not just getting a consequence. It is my own version of things found in Ross Greens Lost in School book

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42 Lorri Jimenez August 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm

As I see many others have mentioned, I have found routines and being consistent to be critical. Once the students understand what is expected of them, you can get to know them and find ways to help them LOVE to learn!

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43 joyce jamerson August 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm

The best tip I learned is to make my classroom an extension of my home. I spend so much time in the classroom that by making it homelike I don’t always feel like I’m ‘at work’ and away from home so much. The kids and parents love the ‘home’ environment and so do colleagues that want to stop in for a peaceful moment ‘away from work.’ Ways my room feels like home: a room decor theme (country traditional/burgundy, tan, black; OR contemporary/black, grey, white, silver, favorite Air Wick fragrance plug ins, lamps on covered tables with decorative figurines, etc., chests and/or dressers for drawer storage and home decor on top, shelving covered with wallpaper to match the decor, binders all the same color w/same font labeling to create consistency, couch or futons, ottoman seats, etc. My desk area has pictures of my family, a seat cushion, flowers, a, iRadio that plays either my iPod or nature sounds/ocean, forest, wind, etc.

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44 Tammy skiles August 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Teaching procedures at the beginning of the year…making kids actually do them with you

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45 Karen August 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I immediately knew the ONE thing that made my teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable and that was implementing the use of individual white boards in my classroom about 8 years ago. I know they are used often now, but this simple tool gave me a way to have each child become more responsible for their learning, it allowed me to give them immediate feedback, and enabled me to see their thinking. I used them with my kinders and now with my 2nd graders during calendar time, our Language Arts and Math block and they are such a powerful teaching and learning tool.

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46 Lara Anderson August 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm

As a recent student teaching graduate the best thing I learned was to be flexible with every situation. You can plan all you want but that doesn’t mean the day or lesson will follow those plans; if you’re flexible the situation will go as smooth as possible and the students will learn a good life lesson-to adapt to the situation. Most of the most of the time you’re the only one who knows something didn’t go as planned. Not stressing helps to be more effective with your teaching.

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47 Nikki August 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Hi! I’m going to be a first year teacher in NYC come September, but while teaching summer school to 2nd graders, I used a Mr. Potato Head to help manage the behavior of the whole class. Every time the class as a whole had a good day, they would get to add a piece to him, and when they had a day that wasn’t great, I took a piece off. Students were very into it and wanted to see him all put together, so they wanted to behave, and they did not like when the pieces came off. When he was completed, we had a class party. It worked great!

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48 Mrs P August 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I find it is very important to create community in the classroom. I start the first morning with “The name song.” We go around the circle singing “Hello _____, what’s your neighbor’s name.” This teaches the children the names of their classmates. The child you sing to, just beams. We sing this everyday for the first few weeks and then less often. At the end of the day the children go around and tell about one thing they did during the day that they learned, liked or want to comment on. When circle is completed we sing “The more we get together”. I want my students to enjoy school and feel welcome and respected by each other as well as the adults.

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49 cathy August 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

There are many excellent suggestions here, so far. I am adding 3 which are not yet posted:
1.) keep rules and consequences simple. Many use Love and Logic philosophy. I have 2 rules: treat everyone in the room, self, co-students, teachers, other adults.. with respect. 2.) Treat everything in the room with care. If something happens which breaks these rules I make decisions about what to do from simply walking calmly by a student’s desk an dtapping quietly, to talking to someone to more extreme and noticeable consequences. I do not buy into elaborate check systems because so many little things are not equally the same and I dont want kids keeping score of who got checks or who go ta red or orange card.

2.) I took ‘Disrupting the Disruptor” 2 day workshop. I use techniqes from this philosophy at times. The philosophy is based on sociological principles of social need for connection. There are many wyas a teacher can nicely and with humor identify with a student’s need and by filling this need turn around his/her distracting behaviors.

3.) I just read a recently published successful high school discipline intervention plan. All teachers attended workshops to be abl eto use the technique of instead of reacting to a distraction from a student bu tinstead to stop and ask ‘what is going on for you today?” ( Lincoln High School in Walla Walla)

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50 Alesia August 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Have a sense of humor and not to have a cluttered classroom.

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51 Diana Moberly August 18, 2012 at 6:33 pm

start the year firm, you can always back off.

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52 Julie Mattocks August 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I am a sub (for the time being) and the one thing I’ve found that helps is being up front with my students. We talk about expectations and mutual respect. It takes time out of an already busy day, but I’ve found if I don’t do this, then it really affects our day.

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53 Amelia Whitaker August 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Something that seems to work for me a lot is allowing students choices and trying to keep my lessons interesting and fun. It can’t be fun and games all the time, but when the students look forward to coming to my class, I find we have a lot less behavior problems.

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54 Tammi Pittaro August 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm

My best tip, in a nutshell, is say what you mean and mean what you say. Set the bar hhigh and practice, practice, practice!

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55 Susan Horn August 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm

The best tip I can give is to have a HUGE baggie that holds things for New Students…pencil, name tag, folders, crayons, etc. Then when you get a new student you just pull out the baggie and you are ready to go instead of scrambling for things.

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56 kelley August 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Have a more successful yearw.

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57 Lauren R. August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I’ve learned to true to myself and have my teaching style reflect my personality. Students can sense when I’m trying to be something I’m not. When I’m comfortable and feel safe to be myself, my students are as well.

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58 Megan August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Do what is best for your students, which may not always be what is easiest for you, but it will feel good in your heart!!

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59 Marilyn S August 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Remember that the parents know their child best of all….

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60 Josh Green August 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm

The best tip I can give is if you expect high standards you get high results!

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61 Tiffany Green August 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm

One thing I learned during my first year (this will be my 2nd) is to be consistent. Don’t post rules/consequences and not stick to them. You have to keep consistent with students. It’s so important. That’s just one thing I learned. I need to learn so much more!

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62 Elise Bradford August 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I think the best tip I learned after this Friday ( major emergengy) is to have a bag hanging with an EXTRA copy of class list, phone numbers, addresses, bus numbers/letters students ride, stick -on name tags with bus letters, etc. So next time I hear on the intercom ” pack up your students and go to XXXX ‘, all I need to do is grab my emergency bag and I have everything I need. I do not have to look for anything.

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63 Lori Silveira August 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I’ve learned not to panic when the copy machine is broken. Some of your best days come from unexpected roadblocks.

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64 Dana Smith August 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm

One thing I have learned in my 11 years of teaching is you have to treat your students the way you want to be treated. Modeling for them when we teach is how they learn so why not model respect and positive behavior?

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65 Susan Mescall August 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I have tables and this year each table will have a tub with supplies that students often forget as they move from class to class. Each table has a table manager who is in charge of handing out needed supplies and then collecting them at the end of class. No more “I need a pencil!”, in the middle of a lesson.

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66 Juan August 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Clear and high expectations, usually created by the whole class

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67 Laura G August 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm

My best tip is to work with a partner – last year I worked with another teacher who also taught 7th grade science and we worked so well together – took turns making tests and handouts and split the responsibility for lesson planning so it was not so ovewhelming. In the past I have always been “on my own” and though I can do it alone, it was so nice to have that support.

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68 alicia sanchez August 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Well, I’m a FIRST year teacher and just trying to get all the help I can get. Hopefully you pick me and make my first year run smoothly. Thanks

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69 Cheryl August 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Consistency, consistency, consistency – Children need to know what is expected from day one.

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70 Teresa Bird August 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Thanks for sharing all your knowledge!!
I would love your book!!!

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71 Karen Kerns August 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

My biggest tip- in the beginning of the year, focus on rules, procedures, routines, expected behavior. Model, model, model. If you don’t get this down in the beginning, you’ll be fighting it all year.

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72 Betty August 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm

During the first weeks of school call every parent to see if they have any additional questions or comments (after Back to School Night.) A positive phone call in the beginning makes things much easier should you need to call with a concern or problem later. I always communicate with the parents of my students the way I would want my own childrens’ teachers to communicate with me!

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73 Shelli G August 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm

The best thing I know as a teacher to manage the classroom is to respect them first.

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74 Claudia P. August 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm

I teach second grade and the best tip I can share is to learn to see your students through the same eyes you’d like your own children’s teachers to see them. Treat them with kindness and respect. Be fair and keep your expectations high.

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75 Claudia P. August 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I would love to be able to get your book!!!!!!!! It is full of wonderful advice and ideas that will help me be a better teacher.

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76 Jacqlyn Rand August 18, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I’ve learned to stay consistent, be caring, and to remember that the “more I correct the less I connect.” Building a relationship with the students can open up new ways for them to let you know either verbally or through the way they interact, new ways to teach effectively.

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77 Michelle stephens August 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Pinterest!!!!

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78 Jean August 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I once had a student who was a huge behavior problem. I learned some non-confrontational techniques to get him to comply with my requests instead of arguing with me. Soon he was not giving me any problems at all. I said to the school psychologist one day, “I think he’s decided that he likes me, because he doesn’t give me any problems.” She responded, “No he’s decided that YOU like HIM!” Students are much more likely to cooperate when they feel that you like them.

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79 Heather Soucy August 18, 2012 at 7:50 pm

My tip concerns the arrival of new students in the classroom. As I make folders for Message/Homework, Reading, Writing, Math, etc, I set aside a few extras that are pre-labeled. The extra Message/Homework folders contain my classroom expectations and management information, PTA information, and a reading log. The extra Reading folders contain a reading log and two blank 3×5 index cards. The first index card is for the new student to write his or her name and birthday. I then use the index card to write the student’s information during our quick talk like his or her previous school, interests, etc. I use the child’s writing to get a quick informal take on my new student’s current abilities. For example, penmanship, time taken to write information, and accuracy of the information can be used to take a “snapshot” of the student. As I make notes on my dismissal list and other daily and emergency classroom forms and write his or her name on the nameplate, the new student is drawing on the second bookmark which I will laminate later that day for continued use.
I try to keep three or four of these sets on hand to help a new student transition easily and quickly. I have saved a lot of time gathering these items on the spot then worrying if I forgot anything.

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80 Michael Wheeler August 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Sometimes we have to make sure that our expectations are clear so that they know what they should do. I really like Awakening and Cornerstone books. Angela Watson has truly helped me as a classroom teacher!

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81 Krisine August 18, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Try to find something good about each kiddo in those first days of school. Kids need to know you care about them and like them. Do this while establishing clear and consistent expectations and procedures during those first several weeks. It won’t make you year perfect, but it will make the rest of the year run much more smoothly.

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82 Jessica Johnson August 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

“Kids don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.” That quote (not my own) is what I base my classroom management on for the year. It really holds true! Caring means showing a genuine interest, communicating boundaries and expetations, and helping your students as much as you can. You know the teachers that communicate their care because they seem to have a magical touch with students.

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83 Susan Watson August 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Consistency is the key to all things.

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84 Hannah August 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

My biggest tip would be always put children first; not the curriculum, but the children. Put them first in the way you teach, what you teach, the way you handle conflict, the way you communicate with parents, etc… Just put them first. :)

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85 Lesley August 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Sometimes, I remind myself that parents always send their very best to me each day. Another mothers very best may not be what I consider my very best. And as a mother first and then a teacher, I treat her child, and my student how I would want my own child to be treated in school, regardless of how poor or dirty he or she may be. I look into the hearts and find brilliant minds just waiting! It is beyond rewarding!

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86 Heather Bazinet August 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Yelling is not an option. I hear teachers screeching at kids all day. Kids get immune to it quickly.

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87 Mo August 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I’ve learned that being consistent is critical.

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88 Kristen Whitaker August 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Staying consistent with discipline – ALL the time!

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89 Annie August 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Choose your battles, especially with teens.

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90 Samantha August 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Being flexible is a tip I have learned that makes my teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable. There are days the class is wound up and things aren’t going as I planned. I’ve learned instead of being set on getting what I had planned for the day accomplished, sometimes I just need to go with the flow. I’ve found being to rigid (set on my lesson plan) sometimes causes unnecessary stress. Being flexible makes for a more peaceful day.

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91 Megan August 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Build relationships, know your students and let them know you, be consistent, follow through, use cooperative learning, more student talk than teacher talk, brain breaks and let your students know you care about them.

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92 Dina Wise August 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Positive attitude and procedures for EVERYTHING!!!!!

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93 Kim August 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm

The most important thing I’ve learned about being a teacher is to have confidence and believe in yourself and the students will learn as much as you have to give.

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94 Alicia August 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm

One of the best things I learned this year was to be consistent and follow through with the consequences you give your students. Establish a postive behavior system which rewards students for excellent behavior.

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95 Jennifer August 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm

This year I got rid of my teacher desk. It has only been a week, but I haven’t missed it. I replaced it with the inexpensive roll carts. It gives me a lot more room and I never have to clean my desk! Ah, freedom!!

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96 Rebekah August 18, 2012 at 9:29 pm

To remember that kids need love the most when they are the most unloveable. It helps me put bad days in perspective!

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97 Katherine Braun August 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Consistency is very important with everything the students do!! Also being able to throw things out (lessons) and try something else in a moment time!!

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98 Katelyn August 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm

He who does the work, does the learning! I always ask myself “could the kids do this?” before starting a project. I also make sure the kids are hands on in the management process so they have ownership.

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99 Dan August 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Figure out your routines and procedures before school even starts and teach them right off the bat. Develop and maintain positive relationships with students AND parents.

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100 cindy montana August 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hello Angela. I would love a copy of ur book. I am a follower of urs on Facebook and Pinterest. Ur pins gave me some great ideas this summer. This us my second year of teaching, and I can’t say enough good things about it. I love my job. I know ur book would make my kids even more successful bc of ur tips and ideas. I’m crossing my fingers!!!

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101 Stacy Taylor August 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I always take my kindergarten classes to the cafeteria and practice lunch time procedures. I usually practice this for the first two weeks of school.

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102 Shawna Finstad August 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm

My tip for making teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable is to build relationships with your co-workers (fellow teachers). They know what you’re going through, and have your same goals in mind. Share ideas on centers, assessments, projects, classroom management, etc. You will always have new ideas. Collaboration with other teachers is key!

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103 Penny Murray August 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Sometimes simply being quiet is the best way to get students’ attention!

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104 Kathleen Benedick August 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Teach routines in first days, interspersed with curriculum. I use math activities that let me see each child’s thinking, “play” Tap the Map to assess geography knowledge, and start my favorite read-alouds in the first days. Students get a gradual entry back into the academics, I get a handle on math thinking, and everyone goes home happy.

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105 Amber Stasio August 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Always have a hands on backup activity – you never know when the power may go out and your Smartboard is out of commission!

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106 Mary Martin August 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I give each child a whiteboard and I use them everyday in teaching Math. I can see right away who gets it and who I need to help.

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107 Dorothy Powell August 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I start the year with rituals and routines until they get the way they are supposed to do things. I usually do not have many issues after that.

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108 Nadine Pearson August 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Overplan!

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109 Kara Brownsworth August 18, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Routines and clear expectations. My classes begin each day with a starter activity, followed by discussion of the starter, and the lesson/activity of the day. I think students respond to behavior guidelines and a regular routine because they know what to expect.

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110 Charlie Danella August 19, 2012 at 1:02 am

I begin the year trying to connect with the parents and build partnerships with them. I let the children know what to is expected and spend time modeling and practicing routines. I always have extra activities up my sleeve in case they finish early

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111 helga marije hoogendoorn August 19, 2012 at 1:58 am

My teaching became more effective efficient and enjoyable when I started with cooperating learning. The classroom is divided in groups every group has his own place where all the books and maps and pencil boxes are laying. Every week one person is responsible for getting and cleaning up there stuff. Also before every lesson I’ll tell the students what we will learn in this lesson. Thru this I’m more able to evaluate with them if they have reached the goal of the lesson. They do this in the group. After six Weeks every group also evaluate how they have worked on their group. They write down about each groupmember what was strong or what they have to learn. More enjoyable is that the children have more responsibility and I can see them grow. They like to have a task in the group. It’s been mine fourth year teaching and I know that I can learn so much more. Especially about classmanagement. So I would be very happy to win this book, and to be able to make my class even more efficient.

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112 Chrisna van Mieghem August 19, 2012 at 4:38 am

Getting routines and procedures in place at the beginning of the year and making your expectations clear is the essence of enjoyable and effective teaching. Although I have more than 20 years of teaching experience, I am always open for new ideas and never hesitate to try them out if they make sense to me. Therefore, I would love to get copy of the Conerstone book. I have already applied many of the ideas of the Conerstone web site with success.

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113 Rachel Amorin August 19, 2012 at 7:36 am

Plan ahead!! Be well prepared with backup plans so when something goes wrong, you can still keep students busy. They start trouble when they don’t have anything to do!

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114 Megan C August 19, 2012 at 8:01 am

I always to suggest to teachers to be flexible and open. Anything could derail your carefully made plans. The biggest one: the kids aren’t getting it so modify. But don’t forget the others: unannounced assembly, throw up, fire alarm, the list is endless. Being flexible means that you can modify your lesson to work for the kids without undo stress and wasted time.

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115 Bill Deasy August 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

Relate and involve! I teach high school social studies… the more I can
relate the material to the students’ lives the better. The more involved
the students are in class activities the more success I seem to have.

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116 Vicki Graves August 19, 2012 at 8:41 am

Consistency, relevancy, and making learning fun are key. That includes making it fun for me!

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117 Riinika August 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

Do your paperwork right away. If I put things on “wait” i’ll end up ton of todo things and get frustrated.

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118 Christyn King August 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

I think one of the most important thing that has helped me is teaching procedures the first day.

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119 Elise J August 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I want to start each day for the students positively! I always greet them at the door as they enter my classroom with a BIG smile! I utilize a classroom management program with “How-to”posters around the room. This helps ensure a smooth classroom with easy transitions from subject to subject as well as classroom to other school destinations.

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120 Marya August 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Being prepared is key!This includes emotionally, professionally, and those unexpected moments that could arise. Taking the time prep your classroom to make sure student rooster is near the door in case of a fire drill to extra work if students get done early.

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121 Tori August 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Procedures the first day…and positive rewards. I am trying the token system this year.

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122 Yvonne August 20, 2012 at 12:47 am

Routines! It gives me the structure I need for planning and it benefits the students when they know what I expect.

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123 Cheryl Luckie August 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Always have more than one strategy for teaching any skill. Always have a Plan B…in case of power outage or other problems. Hands-on lessons that require the active involvement of students is definitely the way to go!

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124 Sue Gladd August 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I love using poetry as a platform for starting literature class each day. This establishes a cheerful and thought provoking routine, one that involves student interaction or recitation that can be followed up with discussion of all kinds of musical and literary skills even with younger children. From Christina Rossetti’s “Who Has Seen the Wind?” to Alfred Noyes’s ” The Highwayman” they can be taught rhyme and rhythm (prosody), tone, mood, theme, and narrative elements. Besides that, the class enjoys and learns from the beginning of class!

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125 Stephanie August 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I don’t have a full time teaching position yet, but in all my experiences, I have learned to always have a backup plan in case something doesn’t work the way you want to the first time. On a spiritual aspect, to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pray before, throughout, and after each day.

I am really encouraged by your blog! Thank you for being a blessing!

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126 Karin Paulus August 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Routines and procedures to start, definitely. Once the kids are clear about the teacher’s expectations, then real learning can occur.

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127 Brenda Quintana August 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Establish routines the first week, have a bell or chime that cues the students to give them your attention (GREAT tool to keep from “fading” your voice), and last but not least stay excited! I know it’s sometimes hard around testing time and the end of the year, but if you remain excited about learning so will they!

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128 Tudose Andreea August 21, 2012 at 5:39 am

After a thorough research for my diploma paper, I’ve discovered that in order to make teaching more effective and enjoyable one must resort to strategies that prevent the occurence of disruptive behaviour and I found and put together 8 preventative strategies: 1. curiosity (If one can get the students with curiosity s/he does not have to force them to be engaged in the lesson), 2. relevance (‘Lessons should have relevance to a pupil’s life. If they can’t see the point in learning a topic, or are totally uninterested in it, they won’t sit quietly and attentively.’(Plevin, 2008/9:25)), 3. humour (Humour helps students be more relaxed, for stress and fear are significantly reduced, and receptivity increased), 4. mini-tests – many short announced or unannounced written/oral tests (Students learn better bit by bit, as the information imprints better and for a longer period of time than when they learn everything at once for a final exam. The more information a student accumulates at once, the faster s/he forgets it. Mini-tests might determine students to pay more attention during the instruction time, instead of playing foolishly about. To a certain extent, mini-tests discourage disruptive behaviour and determine students to become more responsible.),
5. short activities (When a certain activity lasts too long, their attention scatters towards things they consider to be more interesting, thus perturbing the lesson. I believe that many short activities will visibly enhance the learners’ engagement in the learning process and decrease misconduct to some extent. The more a certain activity prolongs, the more their enthusiasm subsides.), 6. clear instructions, 7. clear procedures and routines, 8. praise (which has to be specific). Probably there are even more useful preventative strategies, but I thought these were the most important. If anyone has in mind other preventative strategies, feel free to reply. I would appreciate that because I am a novice in the teaching field. That is why I entered this contest, because as a newcomer I really, reallyyyyy need this book! It would help me a lot!

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129 Alyssa August 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

Taking the time to teach my kinders how to do everything from using a glue stick to the class bathroom during the first 4-6 weeks of school saves us SO much time later in the year. My students know my expectations and why I have those expectations. Subs really appreciate these well learned routines!

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130 Elissa August 21, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Everyone has something special that makes you “you”! This goes for teachers AND students.

For me, I try to look for the good – & I admit that some days I have to try really hard! – to have some systems in place to encourage students…we can get locked into discipline but we forget the flip side which is ENCOURAGEMENT. I’ve got stickers with a positive phrase on them + my name from VistaPrint that can go straight into student diaries, a treasure box, time in a special lounge chair, posting positive notes home to parents to let them know something great their child has achieved, etc etc etc. There are all kinds of things that students appreciate – you have to find what their ‘currency’ might be? I think this is really important…

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131 Carol Witter August 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Sing! Do lots of chants, choral reading of poems and of course try to fit in dancing too! The kids love it.

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132 Nancy Thill August 22, 2012 at 8:03 am

Plan with and support your teammates. If possible get materials copied and planned
for the first couple of weeks. Organize the classroom to be an efficient yet welcoming place. A great resource tha Imbreak out each year is a book by Harry Wong, The First Days of School. It has a wealth of great ideas!

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133 Sarah Harrier August 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I have learned that consistency, preparation, and routines are the key. I love using the individual whiteboards for all subjects. It is a great way to quickly check for understanding and keeps my students engaged, which leads itself to a love of learning. I have the traditional size individual whiteboards and I also use the small sentence strip ones, which fit in my table caddies and are great for short answers.

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134 Becky Gasiorowski August 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I have written and saved a 1st days of school script. It really helps me remember those little procedures to teach and find the perfect spot to complete those fun getting to know you activities. This helps me focus on procedures and routines without leaving it to chance. And, since I save it, I can just update and tweak instead of trying to remember what I did last year.

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135 Yvette Garcia August 23, 2012 at 2:24 am

I do this for the first week of school. Each day I reflect on the script for the day and make notes so I can make adjustments when I am prepping for the next year.

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136 Yvette Garcia August 23, 2012 at 2:22 am

As I get to know my students the first week of school, I always find areas in my classroom where routines are needed. I can tell by the behavior needs during the first days. If I have to prompt more on the rug, then I know that my rug routines need to be better developed or clarified. I have found that this sort of daily reflection and reaction helps nip classroom management issues early.

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137 Rebecca B. August 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

At the begining of the year, usually within the first week, I call all my students parents just to say Hi, welcome to my class and school and make sure their quetions were answered at open house. (We have ours before school starts) I want them to know that communication is always open and that just because they see my number on their caller id, doesn’t mean that I am calling for something bad. It is a partnership to get their child to succeed. I found that this makes it easier to communicate with parents when it is something more serious.

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138 Janet August 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

One of the best things is to keep it consistent. No matter what I do I do things the same way everyday. We line up in the same way, hand in papers the same way, dismiss for the day in the same way. Students like that they know exactly what is expected and there are fewer disagreements between students about what or who does what. Then, for a special treat I can decide to change things up once in a while.

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139 Tudose Andreea August 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Who are the winners after all???

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140 Angela Watson August 29, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I’m sorry, Tudose, this completely slipped off my radar! Just announced them!

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