What are some of the best ways to create an awesome teaching team? Here are seven tips to help you and your team collaborate and thrive. Don't forget number 4!

Teaching teams are wonderful.  They offer an opportunity for teachers to collaborate, share, problem-solve, and create friendships that extend beyond the school building. That’s the theory, anyway.  They can also be dysfunctional, negative, ineffective, and destructive.  The truth is that great teaching teams just don’t happen — they must be intentionally created and nurtured. Whether you are returning to your old team, joining a new one, or welcoming a new member, keep in mind the following tips that will help… Read more »

An easy way to organize writing projects.

There are a few things you can count on for January:  resolutions (made and broken!), the flu season, and ads promising ways to (finally) get you organized. The organizational promises are the ones that are always so tempting.  Who wouldn’t like their closet/garage/pantry to look like something worthy of Pinterest?! Classroom organization is no different.  Keeping track of handouts, extra copies, lessons, books, student work… Today I want to share just one, simple organizational technique I’ve used with great success.  It involves… Read more »

How to help students self-assess their growth.

Each January, my husband and I measure our kids and mark their growth on the doorframe.  The kids huddle around the door to see who has grown the most — such a gratifying experience!  My son told me one year, “I didn’t think I’d grown at all this year.  But I did!” The joy of looking back and assessing our growth never grows old!  As teachers, we may look back on our first year in the classroom (or first month)… Read more »

Practices to put in place that will help your classroom run like clockwork

The time period between Halloween and the end of the year is probably the most challenging teaching time in the classroom.  Classroom management strategies that worked at the start of the year may not be as effective.  Your students’ minds quickly move away from content material to the bulletin board that counts down the days until Christmas (whose idea was that?!) or the Elf on the Shelf  or the gathering snow clouds out the window (“I saw a snowflake!” Class… Read more »

How to use homework scorecards.

Welcome to the monthly Teacher Talk blog hop! This month I thought I’d address a topic that everyone has an opinion about:  homework. If you have Parent/Teacher conferences after the first grading period, homework is usually a hot discussion topic… too much, too little, too easy, too hard, not done, never done, graded, completion grade…the list is endless. As a teacher, I work hard to make homework meaningful and effective.  Homework can help me speed up the pace of a class,… Read more »

Six easy ways to make "Meet the Teacher" night painless.

“Meet the Teacher,”  “Curriculum Night,”  “Parent’s Night”  whatever you call it, it can be stressful.  Parents you might not see for the rest of the year are going to visit with you for maybe just a few minutes…yet they’ll be judging what kind of teacher you are! No pressure, right?! Here are a few hints to make the event a bit easier:  Parents are curious about you!  They want to know that their child is in good hands.  Be sure… Read more »

Organize and manage time better by using checklists in your classroom!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed even though school is just beginning, read the  “Checklist Manifesto” post I wrote for the Middle School Mob Blog. Get your Checklist On! I just love a good checklist (or two…or three…).  And using them will help you stay organized.  Plus, they help ensure you won’t miss a step in a process — like a writing assignment, long-term project, or a series of formative assessments. Pop over to the blog to there to learn the whys… Read more »

Need help with classroom management? Check out these 5 simple tips.

When you’re studying to be a teacher, you dream of a classroom filled with eager, well-behaved children enraptured by your carefully-crafted lessons.  Then you step into your first classroom…and quickly realize you need behavioral strategies — ASAP! A “perfect” class doesn’t just happen.  It is created through consistent, compassionate, and well-planned classroom management strategies. Here are five tips to get you started on creating and maintaining your own “perfect” class. 1. Get your hands on a copy of The First Days… Read more »

Organization tips for teachers. 7 ways to organize paper and clutter in your classroom. #5 is my favorite!

  It seems like some people are born organized (take my sister!) and some people, not so much (ummm, that would be me). But that might be a slight exaggeration…because while I have no idea where my running shoes are or what I did with that recipe for tofu surprise, I DO know where my copy of Pride and Prejudice  is and where my secret chocolate stash is hidden (and I’m not telling!). I suspect that many people are like… Read more »

    The first day of school is full of organizing, paper passing, and expectations.  While kids are happy to reconnect with friends, the business of the first day can be draining.  That’s why playing a game on the first day is a great way to engage students. I play Scattergories throughout the year with my class as a review game, but it’s also a great way to start the school year.  If your students will  work often in cooperative groups… Read more »