I am a curriculum developer and teacher blogger who designs lessons & activities to teach common core standards in language arts, math & classroom management. I love using and creating interactive notebook lessons and task cards in my classroom and share my tips and techniques with my readers.
It seems like any normal day in my classroom. My students walk in. They are chatting, turning in their homework, getting settled and starting to work on their morning warm up. I say good morning to each of them, as they walk in the door, and greet them with a smile.
I go to my desk to take attendance and notice Caleb isn't in his seat. He is wandering through the classroom chatting with different classmates. His things aren't put away. He goes to get a drink of water. Then he needs to use the restroom. I redirect him and get him settled in his seat.
Next thing I know, 30 minutes have passed. Most students are engaged in their morning work. Caleb, though, hasn't even started. He has 4 highlighters on his desk, a pencil sharpener, 3 pencils, 5 emoji erasers and his jacket is on backwards with the hood over his face.
And all I can think is, "Lord, help me. This is going to be a L.O.N.G day!"
I know I am not alone. We all have AT LEAST one of these students in our classes. What do your instincts tell you to do? Punish Caleb? Send him to the office? Send a scathing message to his parents? Pull your hair out (always a viable option...I'm joking!). There are a few strategies you can use the help those students get back on track and improve classroom behavior.
1. SET THE TONE FROM THE BEGINNING: BUILD TRUST
Building trust with students can be accomplished in a variety of ways. After the weekend, many students come to school with "baggage" from home and need a safe way to discuss and release their emotions. Each Monday, I have a discussion circle. It's very informal. Participation is not required. It is a way to check in with each student. They can discuss something good that happened, something that is bothering them, or nothing at all. There are students that give a thumbs up, thumbs down or neutral signal and don't talk at all. I check in with those students one on one later in the day. The most important thing is that there is NO JUDGEMENT from anyone. This helps students be honest about their feelings and trust begins to be built. This process takes about 20 minutes once a week.
2. CHECK IN ALL DAY
It is extremely important to continuously check in emotionally with your students all week (not just on Mondays). These EMOJI EMOTIONAL CUE CARDS are a key tool in my classroom to help with emotional regulation. Many students have difficulty expressing their emotions in words. These cards are kept on their desks and students can point to an emoji that describes how they are feeling that day.
Students use the numbers to determine "the weight" of the issue which is bothering them. For example, Caleb may point to the angry emoji on the top right side of the card. He is fuming! However, after speaking with Caleb, you find out someone took his favorite pencil. This problem can easily be solved with some help and would only be a 1 or 2 on the number scale.
This visual helps students see how emotionally upset they are compared to the ability to solve the issue.
3. CREATE A "SAFE SPOT" IN YOUR CLASSROOM
As teachers, it is important to create a classroom where students feel emotionally safe. All feelings are OK and will be respected. From day one in my classroom, students know they can go to the safe spot with no questions asked. I have an area in the back of my room students may use. They can rest, do deep breathing, mindfulness exercises and just take some time for themselves to reset.
4. MINDFULNESS ACTIVITIES WITH GONOODLE
GoNoodle is a great resource for teaching students mindfulness strategies. Students learn ways to manage stress, build their confidence and self control, as well as, build compassion for others. The students absolutely LOVE the activities!
5. BE VULNERABLE: SHARE YOUR FEELINGS
Teachers are the best role models for emotional regulation. Model for your students how to properly handle stress and emotions. Talk to them about how your are feeling when you are trying to teach them this incredible lesson and get interrupted 100 times with calls from the office, people walking in and out of the classroom and the same question being asked 20 different ways.
Explain what you are feeling to your students. Talk about how you handle it. Also, make sure they know you are not perfect and make mistakes. This will help them realize managing emotions is a life long learning lesson!
How do you teach emotional regulation in your classroom? I'd love to hear your ideas!
Summer...summer time! Yes, that is correct! It is summer time, my friends. And you know what that means? Alarm clocks are set to off. PJs all day. AND....extra free time to read at my leisure! Sign me up!
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I love a good mindless read in the summer time or anytime for that matter! I am not into thrillers or scary suspense books. I do love a little historical fiction AND I love any book that makes me fall in love with the characters and escape reality as much as possible.
One of my summer reading struggles is whether to get my hands on an actual book (my preferred way to read) or reading on my Kindle. Here is how it usually goes down.... I start off by purchasing an actual book. I read it and love it. Then I find out it is part of a series or I love the author and want to read more. This is where my Kindle comes in. I love instant gratification. I don't have to wait for Amazon Prime to deliver my book. If I am on vacay, I can continue reading instantly without skipping a beat or carrying bulky books with me on my carry on.
BOOKS I'VE READ AND LOVE!
Lost and Found Sisters:In this story, Quinn Weller seems to have the perfect life as an up and coming chef in one of LA's hottest restaurants. Her life gets flipped upside down when she finds out that most of her life has been a lie and she is now the recipient of a strange inheritance. This is a fast read which will suck you in and have you quickly turning the pages.
Friday Night Lights: I am not a huge football fan at all BUT this book peaked my interest after a friend of mine told me about growing up in Texas during the time this story took place. I had to find out more. It's a true story about high school football heroes in Texas and how racial and social issues divided a community, the pressure these young high school boys had to achieve victory while inspiring and shaping their community. No pressure, right?
Party Girl: This is the first book in Rachel Hollis's Girl Book Series. After I read it, I was hooked! It's light reading and made me giggle like a school girl. Being from Los Angeles, I found it hilarious to read about the typical stereotypes of people's impression of the "rich and famous" that live here. There is a sweet and innocent love story attached to it that makes it that much better to read!
Sweet Girl: This is the second book in the series and highlights one of the BFFs of the main character in the first book, Party Girl.
Smart Girl: This is the third and final book in the series, highlighting the last girlfriend in the group. It is a fast and fun read, with different perspectives and interests of the characters I fell in love with.
BOOKS IN MY QUEUE TO READ:
Girl, Wash Your Face: Can you tell, I am a Rachel Hollis fan? When this book hit the shelves, it went on my must read list immediately. Being successful in all the different roles we play in our lives as women can be overwhelming and at times lonely. This book brings light to all negative self talk that can destroy our self confidence and squashes it like a bug!
Green Ninja: Jim Larsen is an inspiring speaker who has written his first book about pursuing your life dreams and lifting the limitations you set on yourself. He discusses 7 steps to take to awake the fire inside your belly and become a warrior in your life. I can't wait to be inspired and motivated to make the changes.
The Good Luck Sister: I want to read this book because it is a continuation of the characters' stories in Lost and Found Sisters. It will be an easy read and I can get lost in a good book once again.