Monday, May 4, 2015

What works! Essentials for a successful primary classroom

You're amazing! You give your time, love, creativity and energy to serve others. You don't just serve students, you reach entire families.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by and celebrate your hard work with us.  My goal is to share some tips that have helped me through my nine years of teaching. This post is for's not a pay raise or a special dessert, but hopefully a few ideas you can take with you into the end of the year and into the rest of your teaching career. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax...

Stay in Touch
People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. ~John Maxwell

When you first meet and greet students:
  • Shake hands with them and introduce yourself. 
  • Get down on their level. 
  • Put their mind at ease and ask them some questions about themselves.
When parents see you really care about their child, they are more likely to extend grace throughout the year.  They let their guard down and begin to see the good you can do.  When I have parents that are challenging and require a lot of my attention and energy, I constantly keep in touch through e-mail, phone calls or notes to make sure they understand what is going on.  I try to stay one step ahead of them before they have a chance to begin pointing fingers. Of course you cannot please everyone all the time, but this approach has dramatically reduced parent conflict throughout the year.  It also helps me plan ahead better.  Some of you may think this sounds like a lot of work, but it is easier to put a little more work in throughout the year and spend less time cleaning up messes.


To Tattle or Not To Tattle?
" him how to catch fish and he will eat for a lifetime." ~Unknown
One of the most important skills that I attempt to teach students is problem solving.  On one end, I have Bobby who can't feed himself without mommy and the other I have Susie trying to solve her problem with her fists.  As teachers working alongside parents, we are helping to raise children that will be adults one day. That thought never leaves my mind. More than academic, they need to have common sense and problem solving skills. Many parents don't understand this and just want them to "be kids" and want me to solve the problems for them.  I'm not trying to make them grow up too fast, but they need to know basic survival skills like what to do when someone takes their pencil.
I begin by asking questions like, "Did you tell them how you feel?" (usually they say "No.") or "What can you do about it?" (shrug their shoulders).  Once they know how to respond to these types of questions, I take things a step further and bring out Toby the Tattle Dog. He loves to listen to tattles! The best part is he tells me at the end of the day.  Kids have things in their brain just dying to get out. They have to tell someone.  Mostly they do not care who is listening.  Some students run up to me, barely get the tattle out before they turn and run away.  When deciding if it is a tattle or not, students will ask themselves the questions:
  • Is someone hurt?
  • Are you trying to get them into or out of trouble?
                  and either come to an adult or go tell Toby. 

When I first get Toby out, I let them all come tell him a tattle because I know they've been dying to share something.  This approach really cuts down on the constant tattling and in turn teaches students how to solve some of their own problems. 

Click here to download my 

Tattle Pack {FREEBIE}

 Get Things at No Cost

Find whatever you can for free or little cost.  The website is an excellent place to start.  I have received many books, an iPod docking station and wireless headphones all from Donors Choose.  Set up an account and choose what you want/need for your class and wait for donors from around the country to donate to your wish list.  When it is fully funded, they ship you the items.  Make sure to promptly send thank you notes from students and you will earn points to make another request! This is an essential for classrooms as all teachers spend more than they make to create better learning environments.

Scholastic Book Clubs- I am consistent with sending home book orders every month.  Only two or three families buy something each month, but from those orders, I have received countless free books and teacher resources from Scholastic. I encourage parents to order online and it saves me from having to send in a check and order forms. 

Last, when I have a need or want (like treasure box items), ASK THE PARENTS! They want to be involved where they can be and if they have resources that will help you; they want to share it with you. If you don't tell them, they don't know what your needs are. Don't limit it to a certain time of year, just add it to your newsletter or e-mail when you need something.  Many times their kids are outgrowing books or toys that might be helpful to you.

*Bonus tip: ask for teacher discounts wherever you go, you'd be surprised what you can get for being a teacher!


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You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.

Thank you to the following for their clip art:


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