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Friday, August 22, 2014

Five Back to School Classroom Management Tips

 If only I could sit and wait for my students to get their behavior back on track.  Imagine how nice it would be.  I could just sit back, prop my feet up on the desk, and get lost in a book.  Even more perfect, but just as unrealistic, is the thought of having a perfect class with no troubles whatsoever. 

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The reality is your class’ behavior will range from year to year and so it is best to have a classroom management plan in place for even the toughest of classes. 

I remember all the advice I was given during my college experiences.  While some of it was beneficial, all of my real learning came from being in the classroom itself.   So what tips do I have for excellent classroom management so you do not turn into the skeleton above while waiting?  

Rule #1- Don’t Make Assumptions.  Every school has a method of notifying the next year’s teacher of each individual student’s behavior and academics.  Avoid looking at each individual’s file until well after school has begun.  You don’t want to make a judgment and label any student right away.  A child may mature over the summer.  Further, we all have different teaching styles.  Ours just might be the one style that specific student needed to have a great year!   Instead, watch.  Observe student’s behaviors and see what you notice.  (Just remember, the first few days back they tend to respond a bit more appropriately.  I always believed it was the shock element of actually having to be at school again!)  

Rule #2- Devise a Behavioral System Children Can Follow.  There are many effective behavioral plans out there.  You could easily have a student move their clip up or down for choices made or have a classroom economy.  While the method is important, the actual rules are what counts.  I have seen classrooms with many, many rules listed.  The poor kids wouldn’t be able to keep up!  Keep the rules simple- but make sure they are also clear.  The rule, Be Respectful, is a fabulous rule, but do children fully comprehend it?  I can tell you from my experience as a mother, I’m still always teaching my 16 year old daughter what respectful means.  Each day she presents new challenges and each day I have to reteach.  I’m not saying do not use the rule, be respectful, just make sure students understand it.  Take time out at the beginning of the year (and revisit them often) to explain explicitly what each means and looks like.  Model, Model, Model.  

Rule #3- Be Consistent with Consequences.  Out of all the rules listed here, this is the most important!  One of the biggest mistakes teachers make is being inconsistent.  Students in grades kindergarten on up will watch for any little wiggle room you will allow.  And by being inconsistent, guess what?!?  You are allowing it!  Not only does it send mixed signals for the students, but it’s also unfair.  

Rule #4- Communicate!  I have a binder that contains a section for each student. This is where I record important information that I have observed throughout the day, including behavior.  I record everything, no matter how minor, just because you never know when you are going to need to refer to it again in the future.  In addition to recording it in my student binder, I also make sure I have a method of keeping parents informed of student behavior throughout the day.  Parents do NOT like to be “blindsided” at conferences with anything.  Further, something we may think is minor, may actually be something very big to a parent and she or he would like to nip it immediately.  

Rule #5- Focus on the Positive.   I know this is much easier said than done, but it is important.  There is not a single human being that enjoys negativity.  Who doesn’t smile inside when they hear something great about themselves?  Reward students for excellent behavior.  Rewards doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing.  It can be something simple like spending a lunch with you or pun tickets (see below- click on the picture to download it free!).  Students need to hear that they are on the right track and doing great!  Not only do students need to hear it, but so do parents.  I have sent emails, notes, postcards, and made phone calls to parents letting them know the great accomplishments their child has made.  I can tell you as a parent, I LOVE hearing positive things from my children’s teachers!  It’s encouraging!  Just make sure it’s genuine.

With these few simple rules, you will be able to focus on the things that matter mostHelping each child grow!  

Wishing you the best year ever,


The Owl Teacher is a new blogger from  She has a total of 9 years of experience ranging from third to fifth grade.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New Product, FREEBIE Highlighted, and Upcoming Sale!

Can teachers ever be shown too much appreciation? I.don'! That's why I created this simple little gift to show my appreciation for the teachers and staff at our school.
You can click here or on the picture above to purchase your template for these. There are five different tag options to choose from, AND I've included an additional free tag that won't be released here on the blog until next fall. So that's really two great products for one low price!

Also, I am incredibly lucky to be featured in this Sunday's TpT newsletter! Each Friday TpT posts the freebies that are going to be highlighted directly on Pinterest, and my sweet friend Michelle let me know that one of my freebies is featured! YEA!

If you want to go grab the freebie for yourself, you can do that by clicking the picture below or right here

And finally, TpT is throwing a SECOND huge site-wide sale to celebrate the back-to-school season! WHAT?!? You heard that correctly! On Wednesday, August 20, TpT will be hosting their second site-wide sale of the month. Many sellers will discount their stores 20% off AND TpT will throw in an additional 10% off when you use the discount code BOOST.

(Thank you to Room 213 for the Sale Banner!)

Go get your carts full! That's what I'm doing! (And make sure to grab your freebie too!)

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Teacher Orientation Checklist {FREE}

If your school is like our small school, you begin as a new teacher and are left somewhat on your own. And I don't mean this in a negative way! People are welcoming, but you are left to do your own thing a bit of the time. On one hand, this can be GREAT! But, on the other hand, sometimes it's nice to know what's going on and what the expectations are - particularly when you're the "newbie" in the school.

I recently ran across this "New Teacher Orientation Checklist" when browsing for ideas to show our new staff members. It is truly a resource I wish I would have had each time I've been new in a district. It reminds me of the items I need to have addressed or know about early on. PHEW! What a time saver! I hope it is beneficial for you as well. :)

Click on the graphic to go get your copy!

I hope this is beneficial to you!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Interview with the "Trashy Crafter" {plus a giveaway!}

Recently I was approached by Kim the "Trashy Crafter". She told me she creates jewelry out of old books. In all honesty, I was skeptical. Old books into jewelry?!? But then I checked out her webpage, and WOW! Seriously?! The things this woman can do with previously loved books is simply amazing! I wanted to learn more, and Kim was gracious enough to offer me an interview! 

Read on...

1.     Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Kim Franklin, I'm better know as the Trashy Crafter, I take damaged and outdated library and thrift store books and repurpose them into unique and beautiful book bead jewelry.  My Mom and I find the books, roll the beads and create the finished pieces together. Aside from recycling books I enjoy dumpster diving and finding furniture that was thrown out, such as book shelves, I take that and make it into art as well and also take old encyclopedia pages and turn them into art as well since they get thrown away so much, but have beautiful images in them. I live in Sunny San Diego, and when I'm not working on my jewelry, selling at a craft show or working on my blog I like to garden, go the thrift store, hang out with my boyfriend or go camping. 

2.     How did you get started creating jewelry from books?

It all started about 4 years ago, My Mom and I were at a thrift store and noticed them throwing hundreds of books away.  What happens is when books are damaged or outdated the thrift store auctions them off in bins, if the people who purchase the book bins has not use for a certain book because its ripped, falling apart or outdated they thrown it away.  My Mom and I were really sad that all these beauty was thrown away, so we took them home and I remembered my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Bryant, she had taught me how to roll magazine beads, so I thought why not do that with books... and that's how it all got started.... We label each piece of jewelry with what book it is made out of, which is the funnest part! 

3.     What is your favorite children’s book of all time?

My favorite is Hop On Pop, My Grandma got me a Dr. Seuss book club when I was a kid, each month I got a new book in the mail, and I loved Hop on Pop so much so that I continue to read it to this day, I love the silly little stories and rhyming.  What makes me even closer to Dr. Seuss, Mr. Geisel is that I attended the University of California San Diego, he and his wife funded all the money for our library to be built, it is the largest libary on the west coast, and has lots of vaults for highly sensitive old books... best part is it contains pretty much the whole Dr. Sesuss collection of original artwork and books, they display these things often in the Library gallery area, I loved looking at his stuff on the way to study :)

4.     Tell us a funny story that has happened while you were working on your “trashy crafts”.
 This is hard, I have way too many seeing as I trash and dumpster dive so much haha.  Well one time I was downtown at a book auction, the buyers of the bins go through the books very fast and just throw them into the reject bins super fast.  My Mom and I were trying to keep up with their speed and make quick decisions on what books we could rescue (I have very limited space because I have a one bedroom apartment)  I saw a great book that I really wanted and it fell way down to the bottom of the bin, so I tried to reach down and just about fell in and kept getting hit in the head with books... now that I look back it was pretty hilarious haha. 

5.     Who was your most inspiring teacher? Why?

I have been very lucky to have lots of wonderful teachers, obviously my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Bryant is one of many on my list from elementary to college, but the one that really hit me was a french film teacher I had in college his name is Jean-Pierre Gorin, he taught one of the hardest film theory (I double majored in video production and communications) classes, and it was very hard to pass his class.  Anywho he really pushed me to think outside of the box, but the one thing that sticks with me to this day is a speech he made.  On the last day of school he didn't show a movie, didn't teach the typical lesson plan, he just sat on his desk in the front of the class and said if you didn't listen to me all quarter, didn't learn one thing, listen now, this is the one thing I want you to take with you as you graduate from college... "I want you to have passion, it is the most important thing in life, it's a fuel, have passion for what you do, do what you have passion for and your life will be a beautiful ride."  This hit me like a ton of bricks, it has shaped me in unimaginable ways and time and again reminded me to follow my dreams and never ever give up! 

6.     Anything else we should know? 

 My number one goal in life is to inspire people and give them hope, if I can do this for a few people in my lifetime, I have been a raving success! I want people to regain hope, life can knock you down pretty hard and believe me I too have been knocked down, but you much remember that "The tough times make the sweet times even sweeter"!  

If you are at all interested in having a custom order bracelet done with a certain book you love, I really enjoy doing that, just send me an email with what you are looking for we get all our used books from Amazon, I try to pick the most beat up ones and use them.  Thanks for allowing me to share my story Heather!

Now for the best part - the giveaway! Kim has graciously offered to give one lucky winner a FREE set of earrings. You can enter using the Rafflecopter below. Just make sure you are willing to provide us with your mailing address. Oh, and you must be a US or Canadian citizen to enter. {Sorry other friends!} We need to hear back from the winner with their mailing address within 48 hours of us e-mailing; otherwise we will choose a new winner. 

But wait, there's more! Kim is also giving all of my readers a coupon code for 15% off to use in her Etsy shop! Simpy use code tc2014 at checkout. This is great for those of us who want to place a "back to school" jewelry order! {And I plan on purchasing a few items as Christmas gifts because I just love these so much!!}

Here's how you can enter for a pair of FREE earrings. Follow Kim via Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram (search for user TrashyCrafter).

{And even though I wish I didn't have to say this part, if you win we WILL check to make sure you followed us in the way you stated. Dishonest people are not nice!}

That's it! Now please feel free to enter! =)