How I Create A Positive Classroom Culture

We all know that a positive classroom culture is a must in the classroom. Find out how I achieve this!  #backtoschool #classroomcommunity #middleschool

Have you ever seen/heard this TED Talk before?

In this very powerful message, Ms. Pierson says (in part) "Every child deserves a champion.  An adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connections and insists they become the best they can be."

To me, this is the epitome of teaching.  Yes, there are standards to teach and tests to take, but without the relationships in a positive classroom culture, the standards and tests just won't matter to the students.  This is because as Ms. Pierson also says in the video above, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like".  Now that doesn't mean to be the students' best buddy or to let them rule the roost.  That means "seeking to understand before being understood".

I do this in several ways:

1.  Learning Students' Names

I try to learn everyone's name (all 125 of them!) by the end of the first week.  This communicates interest in knowing my students and helps us make that first connection.  Then I use their names to greet them as they enter the classroom.  They love that I know their names!

2.  Opportunities to Share

I incorporate many ways for students to share about themselves by doing ice breaker activities and surveys.

One of the best ways I have been able to illustrate this sharing is by making a classroom quilt and then sharing information in a discussion circle.  I make a square and share too!

Use the picture book "The Patchwork Quilt" to inspire your middle school students to share about themselves to help create a classroom community!  #backtoschool #ideas

I use the picture book The Patchwork Quilt  by Valerie Flournoy to explain the concept of the quilt in this way:  Separately all the fabric pieces are lovely, but together they make something much bigger, stronger and more beautiful.  Likewise, when we all bring all of our likes, dislikes, strengths, skills and talents together, we can make one bigger, stronger and more beautiful community of learners.

3.  How we create our "Rules"

Our rules aren't called rules - they're agreements.  We all brainstorm what we need to be successful and then we modify the ideas until we all are in agreement.  Then, I summarize our thoughts into 4 categories:  Prompt, Prepared, Responsible and Respectful.  

What's great about this is that we created the "rules" together so when a student is tardy, for example, I can say "I thought we all agreed that we need to be prompt in order to be successful?"  This puts the onus for the behavior right back where it belongs - on the student.

If you want to create agreements, I have a much more detailed post of this subject here.

What if your classroom rules were agreements on what the class needs to be successful instead?  #backtoschool #classroommanagementMy classroom "rules" are agreements instead.  It's a great way to build positive classroom culture! #backtoschool #classroommanagement     

Now this is a good start, but honestly building a positive classroom culture is an ongoing task.  It's about really knowing your students and staying tuned in.  It's about giving the benefit of the doubt, having fun with the students, being fair, having boundaries and being human.

Like Ms. Pierson said, it's all about leaving a legacy of relationships.

Thanks for stopping by!

I create a positive classroom culture by building relationships with my middle school students using these 3 strategies.  #backtoschool

Summer Show and Tell

I'm very happy to link up with Forever in 5th grade to show and tell about one big thing I was a part of this summer - hosting a Welcome Social that was held at the TpT conference in Orlando this past July!

The Florida bloggers welcomed over 600 teacher-authors to Florida to kick off the 2016 TpT Conference with swag bags, prizes a photo booth and more! 

We want to thank everyone for coming out and joining us as well as thanking our generous sponsors and donors!!

Mary, from Full of Smiles Photography, did a fantastic job of capturing the event!

First, we must thank Adam, Amy, and Paul for coming to our event!! Don't they look great?!

A huge thank you goes out to Sarah from Educlips for making this amazing clip art!

Seriously though, a big "Thank You" goes to Team TpT for coming out to the event!! It was amazing to have them come and join us in welcoming everyone to Florida!

Another BIG thanks to Tabitha Carro from Smartphone Marketing for all her support and fun giveaways throughout the event!

Another huge thanks goes out to A+ Images for sponsoring our event and giving away a class set of shirts!

We hope everyone enjoyed all the great stuff they found in their swag bags! These were packed with goodies from the Florida bloggers and specific donors!

Thank you to the amazing sponsors above as well as these great sponsors and donors for helping to make our giveaways and prizes the best!
A Modern Teacher
Safari, Ltd
Seat Sacks
Simple Soap
The Fit Teacher
Denise Boehm: Sunny Days in Second Grade
Amy Labrasciano
Cara Gingras: Kindergarten Boom Boom
Kimberly Solis: Elementary Antics
Your Thrifty Co-Teacher
Ta-Doodles Illustrations
Alexis Sanchez: Laugh Eat Learn Designs
Meg Anderson: The Teaching Studio
Teaching in the Tongass
Lyndsey Zurawski: Speech to the Core
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas
Lovely Leaders
Kristin Bowers - Kiwi Speech
Meg's Crayons
Learning Harbor
Hallie Sherman - Teacher Blogging School

It was terrific being able to host this social with all the Florida bloggers and we hope y'all come back real soon!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Top 3 Pins for Back to MIDDLE School!

Teachers in my district go back in just 5 days and so you can imagine I am having to shift my summer brain back into gear!

I'll be teaching 6th grade ELA exclusively at a new school this year, so my pins are focused on Middle School!


This is one thing with which I am definitely going to use to decorate my room!  I think they're great discussion starters and are very decorative without being too cutesy.

This syllabus looks so cool, students might actually read it!



I am really excited about my newest invention.  As a middle school teacher, I have to make 130 copies any time I need all of my students to have something.  So if my syllabus is a couple of pages, that really adds up and I only get 2 cases of paper per year!

This mini-book is just ONE sheet of paper for each student!  And it gives the students something to do with the syllabus instead of just pretend to read it.  ;)  Not to mention it's creative and gives off a warm, fuzzy feel.  :)

It's also completely editable so you can pre-print all the information from your syllabus on it or have students record the important on it.  Finally, it comes with a video to show you and your students how to assemble it.

Check out my Pinterest board for more Back to School Ideas!

An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!

Best Year Ever!

Can you believe that it's time for another school year to start? No matter if this is your first year or your twentieth year teaching, the Back to School rush can be chaotic and overwhelming. Let the TPT Secondary ELA Sellers help you have the #BEST.YEAR.EVER! 

Save some time and take some of the pressure off with engaging week-long plans that focus on community building, going over class agreements (rules & procedures) and more!  Copy and go!

Click here to see all my back to school resources!

Join us in celebrating the TPT Back to School Sale. Visit the stores below during the #BEST.YEAR.EVER! TPT Sitewide Sale to save up to 28% off of products on August 1st-2nd:

Remember to use the code BestYear to get the full savings!  You can also leave feedback for previous purchases to earn TpT credits that you can apply to your purchase price.  

I hope this helps you get your new school year off to a great start!
Thanks for stopping by!

Hop Back to School!

Hop Back to School with Classroom Management Tips and Freebies!

I have exactly one week left before teachers in my district return to school.  It's been a very relaxing summer, and I'm excited to be teaching 6th grade ELA exclusively this year!

I'll be entering into my 23rd year of teaching and have spent all of those years in middle school except for one.  (I taught special needs at the high school level and then they changed the certification requirements so I went back to middle school - presumably where I belong.  :)  )

As we head back, I am running a checklist through my mind to ensure I have all my ducks in a row.  I think one of the biggest decisions that need to be made are those concerning classroom management.  As you can imagine, I have tried several different ideas out over the years.  The one thing that worked best for me is TICKETS.

I give a ticket to students who follow our beginning of the class routine and have their planner filled out and bell work ready before our daily song ends.  I give 2 tickets for every 100 on a test or assignment and 1 ticket for every 90.  I give tickets for answering questions when I call on a student as I pick their name out of my cup.  I give out tickets for someone caught being kind.  I give out tickets for...well you get the idea.  Then the students write their name on the back of their tickets and place them in the correct bucket.

I pass out tickets to students for all kinds of positive behaviors.  Then students put their names on the back and place them into buckets for a weekly drawing.

I use my system right away in the first week of school to help students to remember to bring back all their important papers (or to fill them out online).

On Fridays, I draw tickets for prizes.  Students can choose the "sure thing" - a piece of candy from my jar...

Students can choose to be rewarded with the "sure thing" with a treat from the Reward Jar or take their chances with my boxes!


what's in box #1, box#2, or box #3.

If a student's ticket is drawn they can try their luck at choosing an unknown prize from the 3 boxes of mystery!
At the beginning of the year, I make sure that 2 out of 3 boxes have really good prizes like full-size candy bars and bags of chips.  As the year goes on, I will put seasonal goodies in the boxes.

No matter what you do, be sure to have a plan.  And then follow through on that plan so that students know that you are on top of things and mean what you say.

To kick off your year, I have a great freebie for you!

There are a million things to do during pre-planning to get ready for that first week back! Use this checklist to make sure that you get it all done!

There are a million things to do during pre-planning to get ready for that first week back! Use this checklist to make sure that you get it all done!

This handy freebie should help you make sure that your first week of school is off to a good start!

Thanks for stopping by!