3 Easy Ways To Strengthen Your Classroom Community

3 Easy Ways To Strengthen Your Classroom Community by A Word On Third

It's another Happy Teacher Tip Tuesday! Link up (even if it's not Tuesday) by writing your blog post and adding it below. Make sure to visit this page for the rules of the linkup. 

This week's tips are wellness tips that have to do with our emotional health and our students' emotional health! That means you get a double-dose of Teacher Happy today!

Building your community in your classroom does so many things for us. It reduces behavior problems and student stress. It makes the students happier and more willing to take academic (or social) risks. And, my personal favorite... is that it's just darn FUN! I love this part of teaching, and you probably do too. So check out these posts with quick and easy ways to build your community!

1. Play Rare Bird.

The rare bird activity is super fun. It helps your students to find out how they are different and unique. You might also find that your students discover some similarities too! 

You can read more about this community-building activity by clicking on the picture to the left or clicking here.

2. Get rid of fake apologies.

This one really speaks to me. Have you ever heard someone say, "Sorry," with an eye-roll and sarcastic tone? Doesn't that drive you crazy??

Have you ever been forced to make an apology, which in turn makes you want to gouge your eyeballs out, scream, stamp, and give a sarcastic sorry!? Realistically, we've probably been in both positions!

This is something you can teach your students ahead of time that will help out when conflicts arise. It prevents a lot of hurt feelings when used appropriately. Read the details by clicking on the picture to the left or by clicking here.

3. Share each day.

When students regularly have a forum for sharing, their sense of belonging and significance is greatly strengthened. Those two basic needs are a MUST in order for learning to take place. Not only will your students feel heard, but you'll get a chance to get to know your students better too! Whether you are sharing at Morning Meeting, snack time, or at the end of the day during closing circle, make sure to fit it in every day. Partner sharing works well for those days when you feel like you don't have time to have too many kids share with the whole class.

This strategy can help your kids to say more about the topic they are sharing while simultaneously building that child's understanding of main ideas and supporting details. I use this all of the time and love it! If you don't feel like using math tools, substitute them for fingers/palms the way you might teach oral rehearsing during Writer's Workshop. Click on the picture or click here to read more.

What are the little ways you like to build community in your classroom? Make sure to link up (or comment below if you don't have a blog) and spread the happy!

Make Sure You Don't Miss My 2017 Classroom Reveal

I'm so beyond thrilled to share my new classroom with you guys! I put so much work into re-working this space over the summer. After I started the school year, we lived in our space for a few days, and then we made tweaks to the layout as a class. I am pretty sure this is how our room will be for the rest of the year, at least for the most part!

Make Sure You Don't Miss My 2017 Classroom Reveal

I was super, extra lucky this year because Oriental Trading Company reached out to share some of their amazing classroom products with me for review in exchange for my honest opinion. LET ME TELL YOU... I already knew I loved Oriental Trading, but I REALLY love a few of the things they shared with our class this year. I feel like there are a few things that really made the room pull together. I'll show you everything!

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

Above is the view from one of the corners of my room. You can see a good shot of most tables here. A few people asked me where I got the rug on Instagram. It came from Walmart! I ordered it online and looked at rugs that were on clearance. So far, I'm really pleased with it.

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

Above you'll see some of my yoga balls, some math manipulatives, our word wall, our class hermit crabs, and our mailboxes. The math manipulative containers used to come in some kind of ugly pastel colors, so I spray painted them to fit with the room. I have some green, teal, and gray containers now. I much prefer those to the awkward pink, purple, yellow and green containers they used to be! I just used Rustoleum. If you have plastic containers you hate... don't buy new ones! Just get some spray paint!!! It's cheap and easy.

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

Oriental Trading Company totally saved my mailboxes with some plain, black duct tape and some awesome washi tape. I used some contact paper on the sides of my mailboxes, covered up the sides with the black duct tape, and covered the edges of the mailboxes with washi tape. Instead of attaching labels with names to the plastic things that I put the washi tape on, I attached them to binder clips. That will make next year so much easier! I cannot tell you how darn ugly this mailbox system was, but it was so sturdy! I couldn't throw it out. This turned out better than I could have imagined. Never underestimate what a little tape or contact paper can do! The contact paper I got was from Amazon. There's tons of it on there!

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

Move a little to the left, and you'll see the rest of the word wall. I have another yoga ball table (those two gray ones were $20 on Amazon!) You can find cheaper yoga balls sometimes, but I find these to be a sturdy brand. I don't need to spend $10 on a yoga ball just to replace them in a month. My Gaiam yoga balls lasted all year last year and they are still going strong. The cheaper ones I got from Walmart popped within 1 to 2 months. 

I also have an awesome drawer system, and the top of it serves as a work surface. That drawer system came from the Jane app, which is also a website. It's super sturdy and I could not love it more. It was $40 if I remember correctly... not too shabby for such high quality drawers! Every other comparable item I saw was at least twice the price.

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

And here's a shot of my classroom library! One of the library boxes is missing, but I am really proud of how many books are available to my students. I (Well, it's not missing. It's just sitting in my teaching area because I'll be using it for a lesson tomorrow morning.) I have about 60 boxes of books for the students to pick from. Half are leveled, and half are sorted by genre or topic. I just don't think one shelf of books cuts it. However, it takes a LONG time to gather that many books. I cannot recommend Scholastic Reading Club more; it will get you TONS of free books... for very little effort. Make sure to check out this post I wrote describing how I use them! 

Students love sitting in the teepee, but I have a rule that it can only fit 1-2 students at a time. Inside of the teepee, I keep a lap desk students can sit on (one side is a cushion) or write on. I've also got tons of clipboards the students can use whenever they want. The wooden shelf on top of the book case is our writing station. It's filled with editing checklists, writing paper, etc. Finally, the black chair is our "chill chair," which students use for taking a break.

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

On the other side of the library, I have this little bench. I covered up a teacher area with that curtain. There are a few book boxes in there that I use for mentor texts, so I found it was important to cover them up. I didn't want students getting confused when book shopping! I store a bunch of my files in the corner because I don't have a desk. It's a bit over-flowing right now... but in a few weeks hopefully I will get some of that put away!! (YEAH RIGHT! HA!)

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

Here's another view of that little corner. I put my old teacher's desk on bed risers for a cheap standing table. The kids love using it! I also put two stools underneath incase they decide to sit. The two small rocking chairs came from Home Goods a few years back, and the big rocking chair was my grandpa's. One day I'll get around to painting it.

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

I used more of Oriental Trading Company's washi tape on my board to separate things. I love their lime green tape! You can also see my butterfly set up on the table by the smartboard. I put them in a tomato planter covered with tulle. Read more about how to raise Monarchs here. Next to that is my cart from Michael's. I love it! The caddies in my room also come from Michael's. They might still be there if you go soon! I also saw some nice lap desks made of plastic when I went, but I didn't grab any.

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

Here's another shot of a table I grabbed for $10 at a yard sale this summer. I painted it with more Rustoleum. Spray paint makes lazy people very happy!! 

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

This spot in my classroom totally surprised me. This is our closet, where we hang backpacks. I thought I'd put our pillows in buckets under here and that the top would just keep backpacks from falling in. Even though I have a huge class and not nearly as many hooks as I'd like, the kids keep the closet really neat this year. This is actually a space the kids like to use! They turn the tubs over and put one pillow on top. Again, the pillows in the pink bin came from Oriental Trading Company. I love that the pillow cases come off. They are machine washable. Let's be real... these look great now, but they won't in a few months. SO GLAD I can wash them so they will continue to look nice!

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

This is probably my favorite decorative touch in the classroom. The string lights on the ceiling make the room feel SO cozy and homey. In the morning, I often leave the fluorescent lights off and only keep my string lights, salt lamp, and floor lamp on while playing calming music or nature sounds. It makes for a peaceful morning of unpacking before Morning Meeting starts! I got these from Oriental Trading Company also. I love that the bulbs are PLASTIC. I got some bulbs for my back deck once from Target, and WOW did those things break left and right. NEVER AGAIN. I'm not bitter....

Anyway, these lights are LED, and they made me VERY happy while I was setting them up. You can buy them here. If you've broken a bunch of bulbs like me, you can relate to this!

A Word On Third's 2017-2018 Classroom Reveal

FINALLY... big news! I got two new class pets! Our class now has "skinny pigs," which are hairless guinea pigs. They are sisters, and they are about 7 months old. This is their epic cage set-up by the sink. I am turning my classroom into a zoo. Guinea pigs, hermit crabs, and caterpillars... and in the spring we'll have chicks! Here's a better picture of Nibble and Nugget, who come home with me on weekends and days off...

Anyway, that's my room! If you have questions about anything you see, comment below and I'll make sure to get back to you!