Welcome back to our Fundamental Four series!
Today, Courtney from Create Inspire Teach and I will be talking all about Building Classroom Community.

What is a Classroom Community?

 Cultivating relationships with our students is ESSENTIAL. Students should feel valued and connected to not only the teacher, but other students as well. A classroom community consists of positive relationships, collaboration and discussions, responsibilities, and overall acceptance. When students feel like they belong, they are more than likely to become instantly engaged and active participants of their learning. Think about it this way, do you feel more inclined to go to work if you have a boss that constantly encourages you, lifts you up with positive words, and is always there to help? Yup.
 Now, a classroom community is something that's created and nurtured throughout the school year. It definitely does not happen over night. But when it does, it's truly magical. 

Set Classroom Expectations

Instead of setting classroom rules, I set classroom expectations. Last year I only had THREE expectations.
1) Show respect to everyone.
2) Make smart choices.
3) Solve your problems.
These three expectations pretty much encompassed every rule I could think of. Students understood the importance of following these rules in order to maintain a successful classroom environment. We focused on discussing and breaking down the expectations by thinking about what specific behaviors would fall under each one. While brainstorming expectations together, we created an anchor chart filled with expected behaviors. The students all signed the chart and it was displayed in the classroom all year.
I don't have a picture of the chart, but some of the behaviors included:
-Listen to others before speaking
-Ask for help when needed
-Use kind words
- Try to solve a problem with words before bringing it up to the teacher's attention.
 (We discussed what kinds of problems would fall under this category. We reinacted out minor problems such as "He doesn't let me go first!" "She skipped me in line!", "I don't have a pencil!" and what would be some of the possible solutions.)

Create Class Goals

Another great way to get everyone to collaborate is to work together to set class goals. I like meeting with the class at least once a month to discuss our progress as a whole. Have we been slacking on completing our iReady minutes? Have we been checking out books from the library? How are our assessment scores doing? We reflect on different areas as a whole and set quarterly goals. Here are some examples of the goals we've set:

By the end of the quarter, our class will:
-Read 60 books
-Complete the required 45 minutes of iReady every single week
-Complete our homework 4 out of 5 days a week
-Complete one act of kindness a day

I've been guilty of having a "Data Wall" just because our administration requires it. I fill in the data, but the kiddos have no idea what any of it stands for. Last year I made sure to explain the process to them and we worked together to set the goals. This year I created these large Data Tracking and Goal Setting posters that will be displayed on our wall. 

Host Classroom Discussions

Finding the time to do anything outside of 'instruction' during the school day can be extremely hard.  You have two math lessons to catch up on, an assessment to debrief, and guided reading groups scheduled for the day. How in the world are you going to fit a classroom discussion in there? We've all been there.
I display a prompt on the board twice a week. I saw this idea floating around Instagram for a while and knew I had to start implementing it in my class. When students walk in, they have a post it already on their desk. They read the prompt on the board and walk up to the board to place their post-it next to it. Once all students have completed morning work and we are ready to get started for the day, we spend about 3-5 minutes discussing the prompt as a whole. This is a great time to bond as a class. We share stories, laugh, and BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. 

Morning Meeting Starters

Grab these FREE discussion prompts below!
Free Classroom Discussion Starters

I hope you grabbed some new ideas to help build student relationships! 

Hi there! Courtney and I are back with topic #2 of our Fundamental Four series. Today we're chatting all about Classroom Organization.

If you're a first year teacher, you'll soon discover the massive amount of paper work you'll have to sort through on a daily basis. Maintaining some kind of organizational system is KEY to a healthy school year. 

I'm sharing some organizational hacks that have worked for me throughout my teaching career. If you're not an organized person, that's totally fine! One tiny change in the way you collect papers or where you 'store' papers can go a long way. 

Assign Student Numbers

Want to make your life 100 times easier? Assign student numbers. Print out a class roster in alphabetical order and assign each student a number based on their order. 

When collecting assignments, I call students up in numerical order. The assignments are automatically in alphabetical order which means I can easily grade, input, and file without having to reorganize them.

Use an Organizational Cart to Sort Assignments

Once I collect the assignments, I place them in the 'to be graded' drawer of my organizational cart. This cart has been an absolute LIFE SAVER. It helps me keep all of my papers in one place. If i'm done grading, the papers move to the "input in gradebook" and then to the "to file" drawer. This system helps me visualize just how much needs to get done, while also keeping all the clutter off my desk. 

This post contains affiliated links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may make a commission. This is at no additional cost to you.
Click HERE to shop the cart on Amazon
Classroom Organization Cart
Drawer & Bin Labels can be found in my TPT store

Here are some of my favorite organizational products:
(Many Lakeshore organizational products and storage are 20% off online and in store for the Back to School Sale going on now until 9/1/2019)

Debrief & File with Students

I truly believe in the power of letting students reflect on their work after its been graded. They should be able to see what they did well on and what their areas for growth are.

 I pass out student work on a bi-weekly basis. Students spend about five minutes looking over their work, plugging percentages into their data chart, and reflecting on areas for growth. I call students up in number order and have them place all of their papers inside of their filing folder. This whole process only takes about 10-15 minutes at the end of the day, while saving me tons of filing time. #winwin

Keep Your Copies Organized

We have a copy assistant at our school who makes copies for us on a weekly basis. It's truly a blessing. I have my lesson plans and activities planned before my copy day so that i'm able to get everything done on time. 

I used to place a post-it note on every piece of paper that needed copying. I quickly realized that my directions were pretty much the same every week."23 copies front and back, 23 copies single sided, 23 copies stapled..." So, I grabbed a couple of cloth pins and wrote down the different copy procedures on them. Now, I spend less time writing on sticky notes and can actually use my sticky notes for student note-taking. 
Once the copies are done, I organize them inside my 'days of the week' folders. I take out the folder from the rolling cart every morning and keep it on my desk. All of my copies are organized and ready for the day!

You can grab the Days of the Week Folder templates below. 

FREE Folder Covers
I hope these tips were helpful.

Click below to read more:

+ Classroom Management Ideas
+ 10 Ways to Engage Learners

It's back to school season! Courtney from Create, Inspire, Teach and I have decided to team up and share two weeks of fun with ya'll!
We sat down to brainstorm how we could help out new teachers and/or anyone looking to spice up their teaching this upcoming school year. Every idea that popped into our heads revolved around FOUR fundamental components of teaching. We quickly realized that we needed to create something that would help teachers enrich these four components.

We will be sharing tips, ideas, and FREE resources with you all during the next two weeks focusing on the following topics:
-Classroom Management
-Classroom Organization
-Classroom Community
-Engaging Learners 

With that being said, today i'm going to be sharing a little insight on classroom management.
Classroom management is one of the key components of effective teaching. With a proper classroom management system in place, you’re able to spend less time redirecting and more time focusing on instruction. Being able to focus on a lesson can be difficult when you have students engaged in side conversations, other kiddos out of their seats, and kiddos rummaging through their backpacks searching for materials.

Three Tips for an Effective Classroom Management System: 

1)   BE CONSISTENT.—Whatever classroom management system it is that you decide to implement, stick to it! If you will use Class Dojo and explain to your students that they will earn a point for specific behaviors, then MAKE SURE you are really giving those points every time the behaviors are exhibited. No one likes empty promises—especially kids. If you explain the rewards and consequences of a system to them, then you must follow through with it. Trust me, kiddos catch on when they see you’re not consistent. “Eh, she never really gives us Dojo points when we’re on task. What’s the point?” 

2)    INDIVIDUAL STUDENT & CLASS-WIDE INCENTIVES ARE NECESSARY- Not only should students be able to work to achieve their personal behavior goals, but they should feel responsible for some type of class-wide goal. Class-wide goals teach kiddos the importance of working as a team and how to motivate one another. I like to use the ‘Unlock the Prize” in my classroom. We set a class-wide behavior goal and the class earns a key every time they exhibit a behavior that matches the goal.

How to Use: Simply laminate the chart and the matching keys. Place a magnet behind each colored key. Stick the magnetized key above the B&W key every time the class demonstrated a desired behavior.
3)   FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE- Now, I’m not saying you shouldn't have consequences for inappropriate student behaviors. There most definitely should be and your students should know what the consequences are. However, make sure to always try to focus on the positive. Something as simple as the way you say things to your students can make a huge impact. Remember, our goal isn't  to embarrass our students. 

Using Dojo to Track Behaviors

My go-to classroom management tool is Class Dojo. Class Dojo is a website which allows teachers to reward students with points for positive behaviors. Each student has an avatar which projects on the promethean board along with all of the other students' avatars. Students are able to see and hear when they receive or lose a point. (I don't like taking away points. I usually just focus on the positive behaviors and it automatically motivates those 'off-task' students to get it together. LOL) 
Parents can also access the app on their phones and monitor how their child is behaving throughout the school day.
Class Dojo has been a serious game changer!

Classroom Economy System

There is more than just intristic motivation behind these points. Yes, kiddos want to impress their parents when they get home and show off how many points they've earned that day.
However, our Classroom Economy System is what motivates them even more. 😉
I do not reset student points until the new week has started. On Friday, if students have 10 or more points, they are able to cash out their points for "Class Cash".

Reward Coupons in the Classroom 

Students use this cash to purchase coupons from our Coupon Catalog. I usually allow them to purchase coupons every Friday during the last 5 minutes of class. They decide whether they want to purchase a coupon or if they want continue saving their cash for an even better coupon.
All Dojo points are reset on Monday morning. This way students have a fresh start and are able to work towards those 10+ points every week! 
The best part about having a classroom economy and reward coupons is that I no longer have to spend money every week restocking our treasure box. Coupons reward students with privileges that make them feel special. What kid would't love sitting at the teacher's desk and using the VIP supplies?!

Boost up your classroom management with these 8 FREE reward coupons!


Head over to Courtney's blog to read all about her Classroom Management system! She's also sharing some exclusive freebies with you! ;)

Click below to read more:

+ Classroom Organization Hacks
+ 10 Ways to Engage Learners
+ Building Classroom Community

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