Show enthusiasm for what you teach. Kids pick up on your enthusiasm, or lack thereof, and it can be reflected in their approach to the subject matter.
Try using a squeeze ball for students who have difficulty sitting still. They can transfer their energy into this instead of a distracting behavior. Establish with the student what is acceptable use so it does not become a toy and a distraction.
Instead of giving your students a page number, give it to them in a challenge. Use money units such as 1Q +2D= 45. This strengthens the use of unknown variables with something concrete, money. It also helps them practice money counting skills.
Limit how much new content you try to teach in week leading up to the break, their minds will not absorb much of it. Develop activities to do that coincide with a holiday. Use the activities sparingly so when a holiday comes along it is fresh and new for the students. For Thanksgiving I have a set of plans that I pull out each year that keeps my planning at a minimum and keeps my students engaged as they have not seen it before.
Kids want to feel safe. When mandated safety drills take place, reassure them that this is for practice and that a real event is very rare. If you know the history of your school you may be able to share that it has never happened at your school.
Instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, teach the Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic songs. Then mix it up from day to day. You can also teach the history behind the song. In the end students will have a better grasp of our country’s history as well as knowing some of the songs.
Walk your classroom line down the hallway. I prefer to lead from the front and keep my ears open behind me, occasionally glancing back. Stop if there is talking or goofing around. Tell them we can always go back (this is really effective at lunch).
Use text boxes in Microsoft Word, or a similar application, to create a seating chart. You can move the boxes around easily which helps you process the different personality combinations before you physically move the desks. Depending on the age of your students, you may choose to have them move their desk.
Use reflections on glass doors to your advantage, you can see around corners when you are not seen. If your classroom has glass on its door you can monitor the classroom when you have to step in the hallway to talk with someone. I once proved my point to a class by standing behind a screen at the front of the room. They knew I could not see through it, however using the reflection on the door I was able to tell them what individuals were doing. They were convinced I could see anything they did which helped improve behaviors in class. (Just don't let them know about your secret tool)
Keep your good dry erase markers out of little hands. They tend to crush the ends or leave the caps off and your markers have a short life. I rotate new markers in when the old start to wear out and leave those at the whiteboard for students to use.
When students give an incorrect answer, follow up with questions that guide them to come up with the correct answer on their own.
A fun way to walk your class down the hall quietly is to “sneak” down the hall. Tell your students you are going to sneak without getting caught by [principal, or whoever]. Exaggerate your sneaking by tiptoeing. If you have corners, stop short and peak around the corner. The kids will often mimic your actions and it is very quiet walking the hallway, not to mention..... fun.
Parent Teacher Conferences can be insightful. Allow parents an opportunity to share about their child. Sometimes you find your student is completely different at home. Show that you are willing to listen to ideas that work from a parent perspective. Sometimes you can learn more about your child that you will never learn by observing them in the classroom. In most cases, I find conferences to be a beneficial time even if it can be taxing on your time in preparation.
When you have parent teacher conferences begin by focusing on a positive, even when you might be dealing with a difficult child or a difficult parent. Avoid using words that paint a strong negative perception such as lazy or trouble maker. By beginning with a positive and carefully choosing words you can show a parent you still care for their child despite the challenges you face with them.
Set up an explore area for your students. Leave small hand tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches. Leave items, or small appliances (popcorn poppers, old VCR’s), that don’t work anymore there for them to disassemble. Establish some guidelines so they don’t break things just to get it open.
When you need to investigate a sensitive issue that as happened in your class, but you don’t want give out too much information, try this. Give each child a blank piece of paper and ask them to write what they know about the scenario and do not allow them to discuss it. This allows you to gather information without preloading too much information. i.e. You come back after having a substitute teacher in your classroom to find the globe was broken. Tell students to write what they know about who was playing with the globe and why it might be broken. If you do not know anything then write “I know nothing”, this way everyone writes something and it keeps those who know something from feeling singled out. Collect the papers and look for common answers to solve your mystery.
Keep a hard copy of your gradebook. Electronic gradebooks are great tools and have their place, but sometimes unintended events may change data such as a laptop touchpad that is extra sensitive and jumps to a different column while you are entering data. It may take a little extra time, but keeping a hard copy can potentially save a lot of frustration if something goes wrong with your electronic gradebook.
When grading work; on some material you may need to think through the students eyes and grade accordingly. Sometimes they have ideas that make a lot of sense but are not considered a correct answer. Example: In a lesson that contains measurement, some answers make sense in both feet and yards (unless it is measuring the specific unit).
Practice math facts at the classroom door. You have to get a fact correct to enter the classroom. It adds a fun dimension to learning and motivates students to practice math skills. Use good judgement with those who struggle.
ARTHUR BROOD TEACHER