First Week Positives

I've been doing a little bit of reading this week on my vacation. It's called Kids Deserve It! by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome. They have talked a lot in the book about making that connection to students and building a positive relationship with students and parents. This is not anything new to me as an educator, but sometimes we all need a little reminding of how important the little things are in building successful relationships with students and parents.

Those tough students can be the hardest ones to reach and sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in them and find the positive in them.

My first year teaching someone shared with me the importance of reaching out to parents during the first week to share how their week has gone. So I made myself a little first week notes checklist so that as the week went on, I could jot down the positive things I saw in each child so that I wouldn't forget. Then, at the end of the week, I could sit down and call every parent to share those positive things.

It was so powerful for starting our year off on a positive note, especially for those challenging kids. It was hard to find something positive for some of those little gems, but you have to get creative and find something that every students shines at.

I have to be honest and say that I have been sort of awful these last few years at my first week positive phone calls, but reading this book has inspired me to create a little checklist to help motivate me this year to make this happen and start my year on the right note!

Just click on the image below to download your free copy of the checklist! I hope this helps you start your year off on a positive note as well and see the good in each and every one of your sweet kids!

And I would recommend reading the book Kids Deserve It! It is very inspiring!

You can head over to my blog and check out more of my ideas for back to school as well! Click my blog button below!



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Leaving Your Desk Always Ready for a Substitute Teacher

Fern Smith's Leaving Your Desk Always Ready for a Substitute Teacher 

Organization is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher! It is the difference between a great teacher and an excellent teacher because you are not wasting your time & energy looking for things!

I leave my desk each day ready for a sub. My husband works midnights and is home during the day, if my 15 y/o son or my 82 y/o Dad is sick, my hubby can be home with them, However, I remember what it was like when one of my children got sick unexpectedly in the middle of the night. I was divorced, and I was teaching BEFORE SCHOOLS USED COMPUTERS & HAD EMAIL, gasp, I know, that World really existed at one time! 
SO....
I would be up at 4:00 am writing out sub plans, calling a friend at 6:00 am, driving sick kids to meet my friend halfway, give her the plans and hope for the best! 
Nothing better than learning the hard way! 
Now it takes about 5 minutes at the end of everyday to make sure my desk looks like this....I'm not saying it looks this way EVERY, SINGLE DAY, but I try.

Here is a description of the numbers on the picture.

1. Here is my daily lesson plan, always on my desk so any administrator or county visitor can see it without interrupting my lesson. I keep a second copy on the clipboard while I teach to refer to it, a copy of this template is at the bottom of this post.

2. This is our school's weekly calendar, it lists meetings, fire drills, the resource schedule, etc. This way I don't have to waste time rewriting the dates into my plans!

3. This is my Sub Plans, a terrific notebook for the sub. I've had it for four years now. 

4. This is all the work that is needed for Tuesday! See my blog post Organizing Your Student's Work for the Week! to see how I organize my folder system.

5. Three hole-punch ready when I print my plans or get the weekly calendar. No wasting time looking for it! Right by it is the pen/pencil/paperclip/stickie note holder my daughter made in 1st grade! Everything a sub needs! 

6. Lovely 1980s tape dispenser and stapler right within reach! The stapler says McAllister, my maiden name from before 1991....am I thrifty or what?!?! Every year I look at all those fancy sets of office supplies at Office Max and think, "Nope, I'm good!"

7. My personal reminder, handwritten, no chevron background, no fancy clip art, JOY! {Jesus, Others, Yourself}    


~*~ BEST PART ~*~
When you don't need a sub, you are organized and your next day is so much easier! 
Click on the picture to download an editable Word document of my lesson plans.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas ~ Helping Teachers One Resource At A Time!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Fern-Smiths-Classroom-Ideas

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How Google Classroom Has Changed My Teaching

Hey everyone!

This year I'm fortunate enough to have 1:1 Chromebooks in my classroom. The second week of school they were all ready to go and I jumped into Google Classroom, something I dabbled with last year. It has completely changed my teaching and my classroom.

I set up a main Google Classroom (I'll call it GC from here on out) for my class. I post assignments in there for writing, science, and social studies. I've also posted announcements or links I want students to go to. I used to make a KWL chart, but now they do that on GC.

Then I realized I could change my reading time by also setting up a GC for each of my reading groups. Game changer! I post questions there and we discuss questions. Sometimes they answer them in my guided reading groups. If they don't finish, they can do this at their desk. Oh and let me say, my students chose the names for their reading groups! I just added the graphic at the top lol.


I'm spending less time at copy machines now. In fact, I'm only there for copying homework and for a few other things. I don't have stacks of papers in my class now, just their math tests and some writing. Everything else goes in GC.

I love the fact that I can create one document and with one click of a button, my students all have copies. I love that I can see in live time what they are working on and add comments to their work. That their classmates can add comments. I can quickly see who is done or not done. I can post video links, images, docs, etc.



My students are getting much better at typing. I love that they are becoming so independent and GC is helping with that.

To my amazement, one of my students was home sick, but still did the assignment because it was up in GC. Also the one day I was out sick, I posted almost the whole day's work in GC and the kids were able to run the day smoothly. I could even pop in and see what they were doing.

My plan is to do some blog posts here about some tech tips. Let me know if you have any tips you want to see.


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