Thursday, March 31, 2016

Teacher Self-Care Challenge Check In & A GIVEAWAY!



Hi, Teachers!

I am STILL loving my spring break right now, and this challenge is certainly helping me. :) I completely BEASTED two chores that were stressing me out (sold my grandma's car and finished my lesson plans YESTERDAY and now don't have to do any school work until Monday when I return). I'm starting to shift my focus onto meal planning because I'm going grocery shopping today! I shared some of my tips for making meals easy in my scope here:




Meal planning doesn't have to be a crazy, time-consuming thing. I have leftovers during the week, or I cook big batches of things and freeze them, or I use part of one meal for another meal. For example, I might cook a big batch of chicken on Monday and use them in soup on Wednesday, and pasta on Friday. Check out the scope and JOIN IN ON MY SELF-CARE CHALLENGE! It's not too late, even if you are not on spring break!

Today I also wanted to tell you about a GIVEAWAY I'm hosting!! Everyone who subscribes to my blog posts can get my bingo mix for free!



I will be checking my mail list and sending a big email to all of the subscribers on Monday the 4th. In my bingo mix, I have tons of holiday-themed, subject-themed, and general community-building brain breaks. Some can definitely be re-used during the course of a school year. Students fill in each square with a classmate’s name who fits the rule in the square. These are perfect to use as quick brain breaks or as supplemental materials in a Morning Meeting. They can last 3-10 minutes. For best results, use these all year long to encourage students to continue to get to know each other. These will also help your students to build assertion, communication skills, and more! Simply print, copy, and play. My kids love these.

So how do you get it? It's easy! All you have to do is enter your email address where it says, "Don't miss a post!"and click subscribe. I think there's a screen that asks you to confirm. That's it!


Want more brain breaks in the pack? Let me know, and I'll update it! :) Anyway, I'm off to go non-school things because it's my spring break and I have to do that! One thing I've been doing is reading this book:


I'm about a third of the way through. I wanted to read this because Mr. Word On Third and I are moving into A HOUSE!!! In one month! AHHHHH!!! I want to get rid of all of our crap before we move. I'm hoping this book will help. I couldn't help but think of all of the ways this book would be useful for cleaning out my classroom, though. We teachers are hoarders! We see something and think, "Oh, I bet I could use this one day for something!" ...and into the closet it goes. I am pretty good about throwing stuff out most of the time, but I am definitely an offender of this. Just a little idea... throw out 5 things each day and your end-of-year pack-up will be SO. MUCH. EASIER!! Better yet, host a little "yard sale" for the teachers in your school. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Maybe they can use what you want to get rid of! I think new teachers would especially like that.

Anyway, what are you doing on your spring break? If you're following the challenge, which of the 7 things are you most excited about? Comment below!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Are You Remembering To Take Care Of Yourself?


Hi, Teachers!!

I know I have some friends participating in the self-care challenge, whether they are posting on Instagram or not. I want to hear how it's going! What's working well for you? What isn't? I want to hear about it! If you want more details about this challenge and are only hearing about it now, click on the image above to be taken to my previous post explaining the challenge.

I am surprisingly really proud of #5 on my self-care list. I took care of a HUGE chore which has really been stressing me out, and I feel SO GOOD now that it's off my plate! I sold my grandmother's car since she's too old to drive it now. What a weight off my shoulders! We are in the process of buying a house and planning a wedding, so every little bit off my plate really helps right now. I'm really good at procrastinating with stuff like that, so I feel fabulous.

I'm also really proud of some of the things I have done for myself for spring break. I enrolled in Teacher Entrepreneur School! AHHHH SO CRAZY! I am hoping that this really helps me both with my summer camp and my Teachers Pay Teachers store

I've also been exercising, of course! I've shared in previous posts about how important exercise is to me. I'm proud because I've been doing an INSANELY EFFECTIVE but also SUPER QUICK workout called "PIIT 28." It's Pilates and High Intensity Interval Training moves combined. If you're into exercise, try it! I really thought I couldn't do it, but it was structured really well! I am shocked at how quickly I can do jumping lunges or how many burpees I can do now. If you want to check it out, click the picture below to learn more. You can follow the moves in the e-book or workout along with videos, which I found to be more fun.


Next up is my meal-plan. I haven't planned meals for my week back yet. I will do that at the end of the week when I am ready to go grocery shopping. I am starting to crave summer foods, which is making me so excited!! My grocery store had CORN ON THE COB this week. YUMMMM. I might even whip up a batch of ratatouille.

Alright. I know this post was personal, but I AM STICKING TO MY SPRING BREAK CHALLENGE. This is my break! It's yours too! What are you doing to take care of yourself? Join up in my challenge and use the hashtag #teacherselfcarechallenge on Instagram. Snap some pictures of you doing awesome things to take care of yourself! :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

I CHALLENGE YOU To Do These 7 Amazing Things!

I CHALLENGE YOU To Do These 7 Amazing Things! - Self Care Challenge By A Word On Third

Spring break comes and goes, and on the first day back to school, you feel exhausted. You wish you could have had just one more day off to get everything done. You don't feel ready for the whole week and there are a lot of things you hoped to get done over break that you didn't get done.

Sound familiar?

I thought it might. As teachers, we have so many things on our plate all day when we are at work. So many of us are also moms or dads, home owners, pet owners... the list of responsibilities go on. And we all LOVE to care for the important people in our lives, including, but not limited to, our students. The problem is that I think we are the type of people who can run through life without remembering to take care of ourselves. Let me repeat that for you. 


We forget to take care of ourselves.


WHAT!? It's sad, but it's true. And it's OK to put others first... but only sometimes. We have to think about prioritizing. Think about yourself going through life as if you're a car. We have a full tank of gas, but we haven't had an oil change in who knows how long. We need to put some air in our tires too. Before you know it, you have an engine problem and a flat tire. If we took the time to just get our oil changed or put a little air in our tires a few months back, maybe this wouldn't have happened. Sure, we got gas when we needed it, and maybe we even got someone to squeegee our windshield... but it's not enough. STOP WALKING THROUGH LIFE FORGETTING TO CHANGE YOUR OIL AND THEN WONDERING WHY YOU'RE SO TIRED.

This spring break, I'm really determined to fill myself up, and after listening to countless comments on blogs, periscope, blabs... it's undeniable that I am not the only one with this on my mind. I just think it's criminal that we do this to ourselves, Teachers, and it has GOT. TO. STOP! Not only are you not happy when you are feeling like this...

I CHALLENGE YOU To Do These 7 Amazing Things! - Self Care Challenge By A Word On Third
...but you're NOT able to be your best teacher/parent/home owner/pet owner etc. Isn't that the opposite of what you'd expect? If you're that tired, shouldn't that mean that your productivity just went through the roof? But it doesn't! Think about how much you can get done over the summer when you really focus on setting up your classroom. It's because you're well-rested. I got into teaching because I love it. I am guessing you got into it for that reason too. SO PUT THE JOY BACK INTO IT, TEACHERS!!! Start taking back your life. As soon as I started experimenting with getting this balance back into my life (and BELIEVE ME when I say I am NOWHERE close to perfect with this), I became a better partner, my apartment got cuter and cleaner, my dogs behaved better... AND MY STUDENTS LEARNED MORE.

Ok, that's enough capital letters and feistiness for now. So what am I going to do about it? What are YOU going to do about it? Well, I CHALLENGE you to take part in my spring break Teacher Self-Care Challenge!!! This is a really easy and simple challenge. It's as easy as you want it to be. And the best part is? I want you to do as much or as little of it as you want. This is not about stressing you out... this is about filling you up. These are just some things that make a difference in my life that I think you could benefit from too.

A Teacher Self-Care Challenge By A Word On Third


Let me break down each of these 7 items on my challenge list for you. You can also watch my Periscope below to get my tips for making these 7 things really count!

1. Plan/prepare meals for your return to school in advance.

When I started doing this, my life got SO much easier. It takes a little work at the beginning, but you get used to it. I plan out my grocery lists (and I even plan them to minimize my time there, all the produce is in one section, the dry goods are in another section... HEY! Don't judge! I wanna get out of there ASAP!), I plan out my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, and I think about what's going on each night when Mr. Word On Third or I will be cooking. It's all about MAKING THINGS EASY on yourself. I LOVE not wondering what to cook, and I LOVE when breakfasts/lunches are just put into my lunch box each morning with no effort.

2. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
You know how people get "hangry?" (Hungry + angry = hangry... and it happens because you haven't eaten) I think people get... thirstry? When you don't drink enough, you get grupy, lethargic, and feel like doo. Nobody likes that! Drink your water!! Don't like water? Put some fruit in it! Still don't like it? Have some tea. Make it happen! If you have a headache, you are PROBABLY dehydrated. If you're not, you're probably stressed. So do the other things in this challenge and all potential headaches will go away. :)

I've written about this before here and here. Some of the information is repeated in both links.

3. Do at least one special thing for yourself each day.
I don't care if this is sitting down for 5 minutes and doing nothing, spending time doing a favorite hobby... it can be anything. It can be wearing your coziest pair of warm, fuzzy socks. It can be putting a youtube video of ocean sounds on in the background. It should make you happy!

4. Rest without feeling guilt.
Stop. Just stop. You know your students need a break. You know your loved ones need breaks. Give yourself one! No need to feel guilty for being human.

5. Take care of one chore that's stressing you out.
I have a few things on my to-do list right now that are REALLY upsetting me. I wish they were done. Well, if I get them done, they can't stress me out! Half of the battle most of the time is just getting started. And even if you don't finish it in one swoop, you'll feel glad you made progress.

6. Do something fun with someone you love.
Anything! Just make it fun, and with someone you love. Watch a movie! Play a game! Snuggle! 

7. Move at least two times over break.
This one people get all upset about sometimes and then they say, "AHHH I HATE EXERCISE ROAR AHHH," but I'm going to challenge you on this one. Nobody hates exercise. If you think you hate exercise, you're doing the wrong one. Maybe you should dance instead of run around on a boring old treadmill. Maybe you like the treadmill! Maybe you should try p90x or maybe you should try yoga. Maybe you like going for a relaxing walk. Whatever you do, just move. I've written more about ways to get moving here. I shared some of my favorite ways to move. Don't feel like you have to sweat 29384023 gallons... you just have to get your body moving! This is coming from an ex CERTIFIED COUCH POTATO. Now I exercise 6 or 7 days a week! That was a huge change for me that I never would have believed would happen.

You can even make this COOLER by trying to get fit with your class like my friend Amy Harris does. Check her really welcoming and fun fitness group here. It's so great to be a part of a community that understands what's hard for you.

If you want all my juicy tips, check them out by watching my scope below.


SO TEACHERS. NOW IT'S GO TIME. I CHALLENGE you to do these 7 things during break. You will find yourself being a happier, more relaxed teacher. You will find yourself more productive and more energized. Take care of yourself, because if you don't do it, nobody will.

Snap pictures of yourself completing the challenge and post them on instagram with the hashtag #teacherselfcarechallenge or #awordonthird. Also, post the challenge rules on your instagram and invite your beautiful teacher friends to join up! This is all about making you HAPPY. Spread the happiness around! Remember, if you miss a day, no sweat. Just hop back on the self-care bandwagon the next day. Which one of these 7 things are you most excited about? Comment below!

Monday, March 21, 2016

How To Push Students To Be Self-Directed

How To Push Students To Be Self-Directed - FREEBIE by A Word On Third

Hi, Teachers!

With spring break about to start, I have to admit... some of my kiddos are acting a bit goofy. I know it's time to teach into what it means to be a self-directed learner again. Are you experiencing the same thing? I always seem to notice that my classes go through phases. I usually feel a bit of this in November, in March, and of course in June when school is about to end too!

In my room, I let it get pretty loud during math time. It's productive noise (usually), but it's harder for students to self-monitor because there are so many more distractions in the room. There's manipulatives, partner work, choices... the list goes on. I've been reflecting on how to push my students to be self directed, and I've come up with something I'm pretty proud of after discussing some issues my class is having with a really talented colleague who knows my class. Let me share what I'm going to be doing with my class to push them to the next level in math! This will be my first math lesson when we return from spring break. I'm treating it like a "first day of school" kind of lesson.

1. Start off with compliments.

I think it's important to recognize all of the amazing growth students have made when introducing something like this. It's easy for teachers to be negative in situations that are frustrating, but that doesn't set anyone up for success!

2. Set the stage for your new expectations.

What are the new expectations that you will have in class? Make sure to be REALLY explicit during this portion of the discussion. Your students should know exactly what class will look like, sound like, feel like, what to do when they have a problem or something doesn't go as planned, etc. This is something you really can't rush if you want this to work.

3. Introduce a tool to keep students accountable.

In my case, I will be using a rubric. Here's the rubric I'm using in math if you'd like to grab it! Click the picture below. (Hint: YOU SHOULD GRAB IT. IT'S FREE!)


If you decide to make your own rubric, decide what needs to be pushed to the next level for your students to be more self-directed. My rubric is focusing on these skills during math:

  • Staying on task. 
  • Using math manipulatives when needed. 
  • Attempting to solve problems independently. 
  • Being honest when reflecting without teacher prompting. (This will prevent students from saying they are "always on task" when they aren't when it's combined with step #4!)
How To Push Students To Be Self-Directed - FREEBIE by A Word On Third

If you want to make this more exciting for your students, add some flair. My rubric is superhero themed. Just be mindful that you want your rubric to be positive. My "excellent" category on the rubric is named "superhero." It would be easy for me to name the "needs more work" category something like "villian" because it's fun and it fits with the theme, but is that the message you want to send to your kids? Think about how to put a positive spin on things. It's OK to admit we have a goal because we are all growing, so make sure you let kids express that in a way that feels safe.
 
4. Help students stay accountable at first.

Gradually release the responsibility. I'll be collecting all rubrics every day for at least a week. I'm sure some students will need daily check-ins more than that. Some will need less, but everyone will get at LEAST a week of daily supervision. Afterwards, maybe collect the rubric 2 or 3 times a week. Every class and every student will be different. Of course, you could use this in small groups too! 

Consistently make sure to use reinforcing, reminding, and redirecting language so students get some feedback in the moment. Are they making the best choices for their learning? They need your input!

5. Gradually eliminate the use of the tool.

I feel like this is the piece we often neglect as teachers. If we truly want kids to be more self-directed, they can't lean on tools as crutches forever! They need to gradually phase them out and revisit them only when needed. If you try this rubric, feel your students out. When are they mostly following your expectations? That's when you have a class discussion about doing these things without the rubric and phase it out.


So, that's what I'll be up to after I return from break! I'm really pumped. I might tell my students a few secrets about this rubric. I've got a few die-hard superhero fans, and I know they'll be dying to know what this is all about! Go download my rubric for free and leave some feedback! I actually read it and make adjustments if they are requested. What do you do to keep students on task?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How To Build Strong Relationships With Families

How To Build Strong Relationships With Families: A Word On Third


Hi, Teachers!

The above picture shows what my reaction USED to be when I spoke with parents. I dreaded speaking with my student's parents. I wanted so badly for them to like me, and I was nervous that I would do something wrong. If I had to call home or email home because something bad happened... my stomach would be in knots all day until I made contact! Does this sound like you? I hope not, but if you can relate, I want you to watch my short scope. You can catch the replay right below!



There were a few tips that I talked about that I swear by! Here they are...


1. Run your Back To School Night like a Morning Meeting! 

It builds a community among parents and it helps them to see how fun you are as a teacher! I ran my last Back To School Night like a Morning Meeting, and several parents told me it was the most engaging Back To School Night they ever attended! I can assure you I never got that kind of compliment in the past.

You can read more about how I've done that here. I planned out my entire Back To School Night, and you can steal my template for doing this by reading the post I linked to. You can also get a super cheap Back To School Night powerpoint presentation in my store if you're lazy and don't want to make one from scratch.

2. Email or call home for positive news regularly.

This is a big one. What parent doesn't dread a call or opening an email from a teacher? Only a parent who has been conditioned to expect GOOD news. I wish all parents felt that way! I make sure to contact every student's family every month at the very least. It's actually extremely manageable, and it doesn't take me much time. Read about my system for this here.


3. Have students fill out a weekly exit ticket.
This builds great communication between students and their families. When families know what their student is learning and knows what goes on in an average day or week, they feel more connected to you. BOOM. Better relationship! You can read about my free weekly exit ticket here. It's meaningful morning work every Friday in my classroom, and it helps students to be more self-directed since they are goal-setting and reflecting. Grab it for free by clicking the picture below!

Bow To Build Strong Relationships With Families - A Word On Third


4. Send home a classroom newsletter regularly.

I've mentioned recently that using a newsletter makes a big difference to my student's families, and it seriously helps to maintain my great relationships with families. I told you how to use this strategy for free here. The best part about this? IT'S SUPER QUICK AND EASY TO USE. This is what a sample newsletter looks like in my room:

Bow To Build Strong Relationships With Families - A Word On Third

Those are my best tips for you! Seriously, catch the replay on Periscope or by watching the video above. You will see how easy this actually is. It's not as time-consuming as you might think! What do you do to connect with families and build stronger relationships with them?

Monday, March 14, 2016

How To Best Fit Math Into Morning Meetings

How To Best Fit Math Into Morning Meetings - A Word On Third

Hi, Teachers!

Are you struggling to fit in some academic content during Morning Meeting? If you have felt this way before, start by reading this post and this post, which focus a lot on using math during the morning message portion of Morning Meeting. If you're trying to squeeze in every last drop of academics into your meeting, start with your morning message. I think that's the easiest place to start adding it in!

How To Best Fit Math Into Morning Meetings - A Word On Third

Here's my message for tomorrow morning. I'm starting to teach fractions, so we are going to do two things tomorrow.
  1. We'll collect data. This is a great way to review previously taught concepts. Sometimes I even tape graph paper to my morning messages to collect data and the kids need to figure out how to create a graph. At meeting we'll fill out the title/labels.
  2. We'll analyze the data and talk about the class in terms of fractions. Notice how my first question had two answers and my second had three answers? Having students answer more than one question can help you do more with your message. We can use the denominator 2 for the first question, 3 for the last question, or 23 for all questions because we have 23 students. It all depends on how you ask your questions!
Once you use your data from your morning message, have students agree or disagree with you. I might say, "I read the data and decided 2/23 students are not making a leprechaun trap, but 21/21 are. Do you agree or disagree?" Have the kids build their speaking and listening skills while constructing viable math arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others! This is so powerful, because they can hear each other share their thoughts. Don't tell them if they are right or wrong! Let them prove it and figure it out. Sometimes you should share a true statement and other times share an incorrect statement. Make sure to vary it up!

The best part of all of this is that it takes FIVE minutes maximum! If you put a little math or a little word study into every morning message, it adds up over time. The repetition makes a big deal!

What are you going to try putting in your morning message? Comment below! And make sure to tune in to Periscope on Thursday evening at 6:45 PM. I'll be scoping about something interesting. Follow me @AWordOnThird. What do you want me to scope about? Share what you want to learn below!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How To Rid Your Class of Fake Apologies - Part 2!

How To Rid Your Class of Fake Apologies - Part 2!

Hi, Teachers!

I just scoped about my favorite strategy to build an inclusive, joyful classroom environment and solve conflicts: the apology of action. If you teach your kids how to give an apology of action, you will teach them how to solve conflicts in an empathetic yet assertive way. You will also be saving yourself tons of headaches! I am estimating that I deal with about 90% less issues now that I use this trick. My kids are much happier too. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty big deal for third grade. During this stage of development, kids are very aware of what's going on outside of them and cliques can start forming. That is a recipe for conflict!!

You can re-watch my scope below. I reviewed some concepts I talked about in this post, but I also shared some new information to make this really meaningful in your classroom. You can tie this into reading, writing... you name it!!



Have you tried this before? If not... I CHALLENGE YOU TO TRY IT!! Try it tomorrow. Try it Monday. Or if you must, try it the first day back after spring break. But TRY IT!! And if you are already doing this, refresh your class by connecting to the curriculum like I talked about in the video. What do you commit to doing to better your community? Comment below!

And make sure you subscribe to my blog to get your emails delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email on the right where it says, "Don't miss a post!"


Monday, March 7, 2016

My 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly

A Word On Third's 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly


Hi, Teachers!

It's that dreaded time of year again... it's report card season! AHHHHH NOOOO!!! But don't worry. I am going to SAVE YOU LOTS OF TIME by sharing some awesome systems I've figured out for myself!


1. Complete grades before comments.
This one sounds simple, but hear me out. If a student is having trouble with something, you will remember to comment on it when you peruse the grades you left for that student. Whatever a student doesn't have a perfect score in is what should be in your comments (along with strengths of course!). This consistency will help you to know what to write in your comments each year.


2. Create a basic template and use it for every single student's comment.
This is by far my favorite tip. I like to give specific, thoughtful feedback on report cards. I don't have time to agonize over how to write certain things and edit for grammar. Each marking period, I use a new template. I re-use them every year, and I tweak them as necessary for each student. Here's a sample template which I use to write my comments:

(Name) makes friends quickly and is well-liked by his/her classmates. In reading, (Name) has demonstrated strength (insert skill[s] here). He/she is encouraged to (insert area[s] of growth needed here). In writing, (Name) has (insert skill[s] here). His/her next step(s) is/are to (insert area[s] of growth needed here). In math, (insert skill[s] here). He/she is working on (insert area[s] of growth needed here). (Name) is (insert impressive social skill here, and add an area of growth needed if necessary). (Name) is a joy to teach!

Now, I tend to think all of my students are a joy to teach, but if you don't, tweak that line. Or, if that student isn't good at making friends quickly, highlight another social-emotional characteristic of that student. You get my point--make a template that works for you. Make a few more of them. BOOM. You're done each year. Now you just need to add the content and stop worrying about the writing. This isn't a writing assignment--this is about communicating with parents effectively and sharing progress.


3. Use documents to help you use precise language wisely.
Now, I don't know about you, but I often struggle with how to say things effectively on a report card. If a kid struggles in an area of reading, how can I convey that to parents? Even harder, how do I convey that a child needs to work on building empathy skills in a way that is... well, empathetic!? Let me show you how to stop wasting time with that!
  • Use the Common Core Standards.
    This one is really useful. Have you been working on the Math Practices standards? Great! So use their language. Don't re-invent the wheel! YOU DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT. So write, "Johnny is working to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them." BOOM. DONE. Working on building speaking and listening skills? Okay, find your grade's standards and write something like, "Sally asks questions to check understanding of information presented, stays on topic, and links her comments to the remarks of others." Great. Now parents know what their child is working on or doing already.
  • Use your curriculum documents.
    Again, what objectives/essential questions/enduring understandings are written on your curriculum documents? Use them the same way I suggested you use the standards above. Do you use a Responsive Classroom framework? Okay, pull some of their language on your report card comments. Whole Brain Teaching fanatic? Great, use their words! IT'S ALREADY WRITTEN CLEARLY AND EFFECTIVELY FOR YOU. Don't go cray-cray!!
  • Use some comments available online.
    Other teachers struggle with this too, so other teachers made resource documents already. You can find a ton on Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers. Click the picture below to see The Teacher Next Door's ideas! I found this freebie in about 5 seconds on Pinterest. There are some specific pieces of feedback you might use and some general pieces you might use as well. Remember, both are valuable types of comments to use if you're creating a template like I do.


And just because I like you, I'll even share a fourth secret if you got this far. This might sound obvious, but if you are going to be doing report cards over the weekend, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT FORGET YOUR CONFERRING BINDER/ANECDOTAL NOTES AT SCHOOL. Yeah... I've never done that before... It really helps if it's all in one binder too, but that's a post for another day! 

A Word On Third's 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly

So now that I've read my post, you may not be jumping for joy that it's time to complete report cards, but you won't need to be so overwhelmed either. If I'm being honest with you, I really feel like I can get report cards done in 2 or 3 week nights (definitely 2 if I stay off of my phone!) because I use my tips and I already know my students. In the grand scheme of things, it's not so bad. What are your report card hacks? Are you working on report cards right now too? Comment below!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How To Use The Mystery Walker Strategy - A Guest Post By Cascade Into Second Grade

Hi, Teachers!

I've asked my old student teacher Nicole to write a guest post on my blog. She is a wildly, fabulously talented first-year teacher, and you can check out her TPT store here. She has a tip about walking in the hallway for you!

Enjoy. :)

Hi! I’m Nicole Ruggiero and I am a first year teacher. Being a first year teacher is HARD! (as I am sure you all can attest to…) But I’ve discovered some strategies that have helped me thus far and I would like to share one of them with you! I teach second grade and I have a challenging group who loves to talk! They love to socialize with each other, which is great, however it’s not so great while we are transitioning to a special or lunch and we have to walk in the hallway…
 During the first few months of teaching, I found myself struggling to keep my students quiet in the hallway. I would quiet the front of the line and turn around to quiet the back of the line and then find the students at the front talking again! So frustrating! That is, until one of my colleagues introduced me to the wonders of the Mystery Walker! Here’s how it works: First, you need to choose one of your students at random—but don’t tell them who it is! Sometimes I pick two to keep them on their toes! (I usually just pick them myself, but another teacher I know uses a name cup to pick the student(s).) The first few times you do it, you should announce to the class that you are looking for a mystery walker so that they will remember the expectations that you have for them (line up quietly, walk silently in the hallway, walk facing forward with hands not touching the walls, etc.). But after that, just giving the students a meaningful look, signaling that you are looking for one of them who could be a mystery walker, will be enough for them to start exhibiting the desired behaviors. Then, start walking in the hallway! When you reach your destination and if the student(s) you chose followed all of the rules you have laid out for walking in the hallway, they will receive recognition or a reward of your choosing.
 Now it may seem like it might be hard to keep track of the students that you choose, and as a teacher, you really don’t need one more thing to keep track of, but I came up with a way to record it that works for me. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I have a piece of paper lying around somewhere, it is inevitably going to get lost. So what I have done is I printed out a small checklist (around 1.5 in. x 2.5 in.) with my students' names on it, laminated, punched a hole at the top and now I wear it on my lanyard around my neck with my ID. Since it’s around my neck, it's never lost! I use a wet erase marker to check off the students who I have chosen and once everyone is chosen, I start again! I use a wet erase marker since it is harder to wipe off than a dry erase but still easy enough to get off so I can reuse the checklist over and over again.
Something else that I do that reinforces the expectation that they should be silent in the hallway is for my students to put up a “silent coyote.” A silent coyote is when students put one finger to their lips and make a “coyote” with their other hand and raise it in the air. The way to make a coyote is by leaving your pointer finger and pinky up and having your middle and ring finger touch your thumb (it looks almost like the rock and roll hand gesture). My students really like doing this and it’s great because it’s both a physical and visual reminder that they are expected to be silent.
 So if you have students who love to talk in the hallway like I do, try this strategy! This has really worked with my class and we get compliments for walking in the hallway on a daily basis! Happy teaching! How do you get your students to walk quietly in line? Comment below! Also, don't forget to check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store for some resources to teach math and literacy.