Monday, January 2, 2017

Win a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Hey Teacher Friends! You have the chance to win a $25 TPT gift card. Check out the Rafflecopter to be entered. You have until 1/9/17 to enter. I can't wait to see who wins. What better way to ring in the New Year than loading your cart with goodies!

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Co-hosts:   An Apple for the Teacher
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 1/9/17 and is open worldwide.

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3 Easy Ways to Have a Happy Classroom TODAY!

Having a happy classroom is easier than you think. Here are some things you can do to promote positivity, connection, gratitude, and smiles in your classroom...tomorrow!

Having a happy classroom is easier than you think. Here are some things you can do to promote positivity, connection, gratitude, and smiles in your!
1. Greeting at the Door
I greet my students at the classroom door every single day. It gives me a chance to start our morning with a smile. They can choose to give me a hug, handshake, or high five. Some students come up with their own handshake to do with me, which is always fun.

My favorite part of greeting is that I get to check "the weather" of each of my students. I can tell if they are having a tough morning. While everyone else is unpacking, I can touch base with them and make any adjustments first thing.

This year I have taken it one step further by adding a student greeter with me each day. The student stands next to me and greets each person entering the room.

Tips for Success:

  • I often find that our Watch DOGS, parent volunteers, non-classroom teachers, or other visitors to the building comment about our greeting as they pass. Invite them to high five you and spread the good vibes. 
  • Find a way to add your student greeter that will be easy for you to keep track of. I send home a snack calendar. Each day, the snack helper is the student who stands with me to greet. They also begin the share and the game at morning meeting. One less thing for me to schedule is always a positive.  

2. Sunshine and Cloud
My classroom would not be the same without Morning Meeting. I attended a Responsive Classroom workshop at the beginning of my teaching career and was in love with the concepts. I teach upper elementary. My big kids ask for morning meeting every single day. If you are new to meeting, try this. Circle up. Choose a toy or some other "talking token" to pass around the circle. Each student takes turns sharing their Sunshine and Cloud.

A sunshine is something good. A cloud is something not so good. I use this share EVERY DAY we have meeting. Sometimes I add another component, like "share something you are grateful for" or another topic, but canceling sunshine and cloud would cue a chorus of groans. Students love to share and hear the shares of others. I get tons of valuable information about what is going on with my kiddos. Win-win.

Tips for Success:

  • My students are allowed two shares total. One sunshine, one cloud. Two sunshines. Two clouds. I allow students to pass if they prefer not to share. If someone wants to share but can't when it gets to be their turn we allow a "pass, come back to me." 
  • Try to find a way for students to show connection to the share without interrupting the sharer. I like to use hand signals. We make hearts with our fingers when we "LOVE" what they are saying. Linking your fingers in a chain symbolizes connection to the sharer. 
  • Keep each share to one breath. Students like the challenge and it makes them think about exactly what they would like to share. Keep the shares movin!  

3. Laugh together
I am more corny than funny. I love that about myself. This year, I am blessed to teach on a team with The Queen of Bad Jokes. She tells awful jokes so often that her students take pride in bringing her bad jokes. This has morphed in Joke of the Day. She also is completely obsessed with her banana phone routine. Every single time she sees a banana, which is more often that you realize, she talks into it. It is BANANAS (I know, I know). The banana phone is now "the thing" to do for every student who knows her shtick. Her love of laughter is contagious.

Tips for Success:

  • When in doubt, laugh it out. I cannot tell you how many times a little laughter has saved me from a possibly MAJOR behavior incident. Jokes are a great buffer for stress. 
  • Start with Joke of the Day. There are several awesome products on Teachers Pay Teachers or you can make your own.