classroom management

the person doing the talking is the person doing the learning

On Twitter, I recently shared an excellent article by Justin Tarte called 5 Questions Every Teacher Should Ask Him/Herself. The first reflection question Justin recommends is: Who is doing a majority of the talking in your classroom? It’s the person who is doing the majority of the talking that tends to do the most learning, so what […]


(Blog post) The best parts of teaching are yet to come! Don’t judge the entire school year by your first few weeks

If you absolutely hate the first few days (or even weeks) of school, you’re in good company. I was discussing this with some friends yesterday and we all agreed that the start of a new school year is the least rewarding time to be a teacher. You don’t know your kids yet, and they don’t […]


the one trait rubric system for teaching and grading writing

I used to spend hours grading students essays and felt extremely frustrated by the subjectiveness of my system. It was very difficult to think about all six traits of effective writing–ideas/content, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions–at one time while grading. I’d often get sidetracked by mistakes in one area, such as spelling or […]


dealing with parents who want to transfer their child to another teacher's room

Having a parent ask to move a child to a different classroom can be a huge blow to a teacher’s confidence. And it’s an issue that nearly every educator will face at some point–if not at multiple points–in their career. Sometime parents don’t like the fact that you are forcing them to address issues they’ve tried to […]


5 things I regret saying to students

I was recently chatting online with a teacher who was sharing how embarrassed she was at a recent interaction with a student. He was frustrated with something in class and she told him, “Stop crying and get back to work.” As we reflected on that together, she wrote: Imagine how I would feel if I were crying […]



School doesn’t start back until after Labor Day for us here in New York (sorry to make you jealous!), but of course I’ve already started planning ahead. I’ve teamed up with a fantastic group of teacher bloggers to share ideas for making the start of the school year easier. One major challenge during the first […]


questions to ask when reflecting on your teaching practices

Hey, it keeps the kids busy and quiet, so it works for me! I don’t care what the “research” says, it works in my classroom. So what if that’s a better way, this is working for me! Yeah, using technology would probably improve it, but what I’m doing is working, so I’ll pass. How can […]


how to tell people no

On my way home from the TpT conference last Saturday, I overheard a random conversation between a JetBlue flight attendant and a passenger. It’s now the topic of a blog post here, so I suppose that’s a lesson to all of us that even our most off-handed words can have a tremendous impact and reach. We […]


group work

Do your students hate group work? If so, they’re not alone. Personality conflicts and a wide range of abilities within the group often create results like this: Here’s a strategy to make it easier for you to form effective groups for a project or activity and differentiate the work that students do within their groups: 1) Pre-assess students […]


highly decorated classrooms study

You’ve probably read some version of the study that has gone absolutely viral on social media in the last few days: Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children. But have you seen the classroom used for the study? The bottom image shows the researchers’ idea of “highly decorated,” which looks like a pretty typical […]


alternatives to reading logs: authentic ways to manage students

Let’s face it: reading logs are boring, and most kids hate writing down the titles and authors of books they’ve read in order to “prove” they’ve done their required 20 minutes of reading time at home. Here are some more authentic ways to hold students accountable for their reading time and foster a love of books. Please […]


Wibki home page bookmarked favorites learning games

I’m always on the lookout for great free tech tools for teachers, so I was excited when Wibki reached out to me about reviewing their site. Wibki is a completely free tool for saving and sharing your favorite websites, and it’s especially nice for teachers because it’s an easy and highly visual way to bookmark […]


10 smart ways to end the school day

I was recently a guest on the Teacher Aid program of BAM! Radio talking about the dismissal strategies I shared on the Tips and Tricks for Arrival and Dismissal Routines page. I was joined by Jen Carey, Melanie Taylor and Kristen Vincent, who had some wonderful tips for making the dismissal process go more smoothly. Click here to listen to […]


tips and tricks for student engagement

Yesterday was the spring EdCampNYC, a free unconference where educators get together informally and talk about problems and solutions in education. You can read this post to learn more about how edcamps work and how to find one in your area, and check out the #edcampnyc hashtag on Twitter or this Google Doc to see other […]


responding when students say I don

Sometimes an “I don’t know” comes from a child waving his or hand wildly, desperate to be called on, only to be at a loss for words once acknowledged. Sometimes you hear “I don’t know” because the child is shy, embarrassed to talk, or unsure of the answer. And sometimes “I don’t know” is said […]


fun ideas for getting kids to WANT to read

This guest post is sponsored by SNAP Learning. With mobile devices and video games competing for students’ free time, getting your students excited about reading can be a daunting task for even the most determined teacher. Here are some ideas to inspire your students to get back to books: 1) Become a Book Character: Get […]


breaking the cycle of nagging

Every teacher has fallen into the trap of repeating directions we’ve given a million times. Kids already know what they should be doing, so they tune us out. We say it again, they ignore it again. And we go home at the end of the day exhausted because we’ve spent our time trying to control […]


magazine holders to store student materials

I’m always amazed at all the different systems teachers create to help their students organize materials. I see so many great ideas passed around in the Encouraging Teachers Facebook group that I asked to share a few of them here. Katie T uses magazine storage containers as kids’ work buckets. Students store iPads, head phones, and […]


understanding introverts

I’ve insisted on having some quiet time built into my day for as long as I can remember. I’d drop the class off at P.E. and retreat to my classroom, breathing a deep sigh and reveling in the silence. I always built down-time into our daily schedule, following up an intense period of direct instruction […]


Want to have your ideas featured on The Cornerstone for Teachers? Submit your idea for the "real teachers, real tips" post series! This month

Class Dojo is a popular and somewhat controversial free tech tool for behavior management. I frequently hear it recommended by teachers at all grade levels, but am not familiar with it personally. So, I’ve invited a teacher who has used Class Dojo with her students to explain what’s worked for her.  Amanda Killough, who has been […]