Should You Make Kids Apologize?

Do you ever “make” your students apologize to each other? As a teenager, I decided that forced apologies were stupid and I would never make anyone apologize. (My teenage self  decided that a lot of things were stupid. Stupid was one of my favorite words.) But as a teacher, I have made students apologize, and … Continue reading Should You Make Kids Apologize?

Would You Like a New Class?

My first year of teaching, I had what I thought was a horrible class. Every day I would dream those awful kids were gone, and a brand-new set of kids was in their place. Nice kids who would listen and not taunt me all day long.  I wanted a new class. Then one day the … Continue reading Would You Like a New Class?

An Unbelievably Simple Back-to-School Transition Strategy

It’s back-to-school time. Not the one at the beginning of the school year – the one that happens after a long weekend or break. This back-to-school transition is just as important, but you may not have as much time to spend on getting-to-know-you activities, expectations, and classroom routines. You need something quick and easy to … Continue reading An Unbelievably Simple Back-to-School Transition Strategy

New Teacher Student Engagement Tips

New teacher student engagement tips are everywhere. Sadly, most of them are (in my humble opinion) wrong. It’s always about some new gimmick or gadget. And although I love gimmicks and gadgets as much as the next teacher, they do not guarantee student engagement. In this excerpt from All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year … Continue reading New Teacher Student Engagement Tips

Why a Successful Student Teacher Can Fail as a First-Year Teacher

I was a very successful student teacher, but a complete failure as a first-year teacher.  How could a great student teacher become a horrible first-year teacher? Part of the problem was the success itself, which my mentor teacher created for me. In this excerpt from my first book, All the Ways I Screwed Up My … Continue reading Why a Successful Student Teacher Can Fail as a First-Year Teacher

Are Class Meetings a Waste of Time?

Class meetings are becoming more and more common, especially at the elementary level. Are they worth the time? Class meetings, like any other classroom management tool, can be abused. When I was a full-time elementary teacher my class had Morning Meeting every morning. As I remember it, we would do a greeting, have announcements, sing … Continue reading Are Class Meetings a Waste of Time?

Classroom Rewards Systems That Work

Classroom rewards systems can be super effective at motivating students. They can also consume a huge amount of time and money, keep students from developing intrinsic motivation, and lose their effectiveness over time. I couldn’t believe how well-behaved my students were the first week. They focused on their work. They raised their hands. Transitions took … Continue reading Classroom Rewards Systems That Work

How to Respond When You’re Angry

Maybe you’re a very patient person who can respond calmly in almost every situation. You don’t get upset no matter what your students say or do. If that’s you, you probably don’t need to read any more. Just go on with your peaceful day, smiling beatifically at me as I stomp down the hallway, fuming … Continue reading How to Respond When You’re Angry

The Humiliating Day I Forgot to Show Up For My Sub Job

At the end of the school year, after the books are boxed up, the walls are stripped, and the furniture is stacked, it’s natural to reflect back over the year and think about what went well and what didn’t. Sometimes these memories are invited, and sometimes they sneak up and pounce on you when you … Continue reading The Humiliating Day I Forgot to Show Up For My Sub Job