My friend is teaching a bilingual class this year. I made her these homework coupons or homework passes (or whatever you want to call them). They’re blank so that you as the teacher can write in the value of the coupon before you copy them. Read my post about classroom reward ideas if you need some inspiration.
Teaching is a big job. It can get overwhelming to plan for, remember and execute everything you’re supposed to. In an effort to help a good friend who’s starting teaching this year, I recently read a great article by Karen Zauber and it got me thinking about questions teachers should ask. I’ve put together a list of some questions all teachers should ask at the start of the school year and periodically throughout the school year. Some questions are for you to ask yourself, and others are for you to ask someone else. Please comment below if there are any important questions I missed!
Establishing the Climate of My Classroom (To Ask Myself)
How do I expect students to turn things in? (This is definitely something to tell students on the first day!)
How much noise can I tolerate? “It’s easier to start out more controlled and gradually open up to activity and noise than the other way around.” – Karen Zauber
How neat and organized does my room have to be? Can I handle some clutter?
What do I want my desk and classroom to say about me and what I value?
How will I make myself inviting and approachable, while continuing to be the authority figure in the classroom?
Do I teach using a variety of strategies, or do I stick to only the strategies that are easy for me?
Do I give students enough time to think after I ask a question? (You should wait at least 3 seconds after you ask a content question.)
Do I have the right balance of working one-on-one with students, small groups and monitoring the whole class?
Do I make sure students understand the content as I teach?
Do I praise students appropriately? Am I specific in the praise I give? “If you praise them all the time — especially when they’re only doing what’s expected and no more, they won’t strive to do more. Remember, intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful way to reinforce positive behavior. Be selective in your praise. Be honest. Tell them when they’ve excelled and how they can improve. “ –Karen Zauber
Establishing Discipline (To Ask Myself)
Am I consistent in what I say and what I do?
Is my attention signal working? If it’s not, try something new!
Do I control the class by using threats to control the class? “If you do use a threat, be prepared to carry it out.” –Karen Zauber
Do I nip behavior problems in the bud? It’s easier to correct behavior problems when they first start than after it’s become a habit.
Do I reprimand a student one-on-one or in front of the whole class? How does a public reprimand affect the student and the whole class?
Miscellaneous Questions (To Ask Myself)
How will I get parents involved in my classroom?
How will my class celebrate birthdays and special occasions? (Find out the school policy on this.)
What school committees am I interested in being a part of?
Miscellaneous Questions (To Ask My Principal or Fellow Teachers)
When can I get into my classroom to start preparing for the school year?
What should I do if I have to be late to school unexpectedly?
What programs are required by your school/district/state and which are optional or just a school tradition? (If you’re a new teacher focus on the required programs. Then once you’ve got a handle on those, add the optional programs into your classroom one at a time. I learned this the hard way during my first year.)
What textbooks are available to me? Which ones am I required to use?
If I need to step out of my classroom for a few minutes (emergency trip to the bathroom for example), what should I do?
What is my budget? What things are covered in a grade/school budget? (Again, I learned the hard way. My first year, I paid for things from my budget that I could have gotten with my grade level budget. Also, Keep your receipts for taxes or if the PTA/PTO decides to reimburse some of them.)
Does our school give out student supply lists? Am I allowed to distribute a supply list? (I once worked in a district that prohibited distributing supply lists.)
Can I ask for donations from parents? Some schools allow a “wishlist” to go home, so parents can donate if they so desire.
How can I obtain a copy of the parent/student handbook?
What time commitments are there outside a traditional day (meetings, school events, conferences, etc.)?
Exactly how will I be evaluated? Will I have advanced notice of classroom observations?
How should I report attendance?
What should I do if I feel like a situation is getting out of hand with a student or parent?
I’m a firm believer in teaching kids to thank others and give compliments. This printable is intended to give kids a space to write a short friendship note to 3 classmates. You can do this activity for Valentine’s Day, the end of the year, or whenever your class needs some bonding. I recommend printing one page for each kid so they can write 3. You may even consider assigning one or all of the recipients to ensure everyone gets one. In addition, It may be a good idea to read them before they’re distributed just in case…
I like how this door includes a picture of each kid dancing, since dance is the theme of the door. That could make for a really cute bulletin board also. Choose a verb and take a picture of each kid doing the verb. Use the photos as the decoration on your bulletin board.
This also reminds me of how important it is for teachers and their students to show gratitude to others. I used to allow my kids to make thank-you cards for staff and teachers as fast-finisher activities sometimes. It’s so important to teach upcoming generations about gratitude. Hopefully we are each doing our part to show thanks ourselves and teaching younger people to be thankful.
I absolutely loved this idea! It might work better with upper grades, since I don’t think younger kids have had enough exposure to memes to get as much out of this activity. This post from Mrs. Orman’s classroom talks about five ways to use memes in the classroom. Here are the five ideas:
Teach about class rules, expectations and or procedures using memes
Have kids create memes as ice-breaker activities
Promote and reinforce your curriculum (such as a meme of George Washington)
Open house or new student orientation
Even if you don’t think using memes in your classroom will work well, her examples are HILARIOUS and totally worth the read!
The Arizona social studies core has a standard all about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Here’s my graphic organizer all about it. Kids should draw an example of each idea listed and then describe it.
The children’s book, Rainbow Fish, has been the subject of a few posts recently (click here and here for the previous posts). Rainbow Fish has so many good applications to character development. In the book, Rainbow Fish learns that he has more friends when he shares. Here’s one more activity you can use to develop this theme of what real friendship looks like. To complete the activity, students are directed to only color in the fish that have characteristics of real friendship.