Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Teacher Tips-Summer Linky Party #2

I would like to start this out by apologizing to the first class I taught. College DOES NOT teach you how to run a classroom, not even close. I think of different occurrences that happened my first several years...oh.my.word. 

After teaching for ten years, I myself am still learning & still changing things up from year to year. EVERY class you will have is a different...lets say "bird". As you start teaching you will know what I am talking about. You will have years like this last one I had, that you never want to end. The kids are near perfect, most of the parents are fabulous! You are just in la la land over in your room and then....it ends. The class that is coming up I am truly frightened....frightened to the point that I am shopping for prosthetic bumps to fake a baby...not kidding. They scare me. I couldn't even walk through the cafeteria while they were eating...well rolling, skipping, jumping, standing on tables...if there was chandeliers in the cafeteria they would've been hanging on them. I truly felt like I developed tourettes while walking passed them..."sit down", "really?, you better hope you don't get me next year", "what did you just say to me?", "did you just flip me off?".  It's one of those classes that will go down in history & I am petrified. I have never encountered a child or class that I have not reached or couldn't handle. Let us bow our heads & pray that this coming up year won't put me in the looney bin... the hair on my arms is currently standing as I type. 

I am reworking my classroom management plan already. The class I had several years ago was the reason I created my reward coupons. They just about put me over the edge. I didn't have enough room in my classroom to spread them out enough. I had little "islands" all over the place. After I implemented my coupons, the atmosphere completely changed. I stood back, patted myself on the back, & smiled. Genius. Besides my warm fuzzies, this was close to perfection for my teaching style. Be on the lookout for the revised version. If you already purchased it, all you will have to do is redownload.

When I got my first job I was the first one to use the classroom in a BRAND NEW school, loved it! I was in one of the best districts in our area. The principal was fabulous & there whenever I needed him. I felt isolated. I thought everyone hated me because no one would come in my room & basically wave when they walked passed me. Well, duh they are busy too. Don't hide in your room & think you are a big ole know it all, just ask. If you need help, YOU need to go to other teachers, they are very busy & you are on the bottom of their priority list...sorry but it's true. Don't tell them to stop by if they have a chance, it won't happen & you will be sitting there all lonely because they forgot about you...it happens..it's reality.

I am going to give you some advice before you start your first year so you can be prepared as possible: 

1. Become a blog stalker. You are so fortunate to have all these education bloggers out there to get tips from. We did not have that :o( BEG, BORROW, & STEAL. Some seasoned teachers will be there to help you. Take a walk around your new school and look in their classrooms, you will be able to tell if they are into teaching or not & make them your best friend.

2. Pinterest needs to be your new best friend. Don't reinvent the wheel. I remember when I was in field experiences I would ask to see other classrooms & if I liked something I always, always had my camera on me. Take a picture, the teacher will be flattered. I would take pictures at every school I was in, printed the pictures out & put my own spin on things. If you don't follow me on Pinterest, you need to. I am a pinning maniac!

3. Ask for help. Don't hide in your room & feel isolated. If there is not a mentoring or induction program at your school, ask for help. College just does not prepare you for what you need to know to run a classroom. Teaching is a unique profession filled with rewards, but it is A LOT of work to be an effective teacher.

4. Organization is a biggie my friends. My first several years, papers were EVERYWHERE...EVERYWHERE! There is excessive paperwork involved and you need to be prepared. Here are a few of my favorite organization tips. 

I made this investment last summer & it was one of the best investments I ever made. These labels are from Tammy over at Live, Love, Laugh in Kindergarten. You can grab her labels here. I keep all my monthly centers in these drawers. I also keep some Daily 5 word work & writing materials here. These do go on sale at Target quite a bit. I am purchasing some additional ones this summer for my math stations. 

The magazine organizers were purchased at Ikea years ago. I keep all my old school file folder games in these. Very inexpensive & cute! I also have primary colored ones I received for free through Highlights magazine.

I was extremely lucky & found this at an estate sale. This is absolutely wonderful! I store most of my Daily 5 materials here & the kids just read the labels & take the drawer they need & return it when they are finished. It can be purchased here as well.

You will definitely need to make your own teacher toolbox. This is incredible! I am planning on making one for my home office that I picked up at a garage sale. This is not so great but I made it very quick. I used Avery shipping & mailing labels. There are a ton of ides on Pinterest (my bff) if you click here.  I purchased this specific one at The Container Store. You can find a ton of different ones by clicking HERE.

This is one of my favorite things that I created last summer. I purchased $1 clipboards at Walmart & then modge-podged scrapbook paper onto each one. They are attached using industrial velcro. I use these to display their weekly writing. It is so easy to take down & put back up. I simply put them up in number order & then that helps me figure out who is not finished. How many times have you asked "Ok, I don't have 24 papers, who hasn't handed it in?" & you look & there is NO hands. Ugh. Big fuzzy! 
The primary colored folders have been up there for 9 years...9! They are the poly folders & they are attached with duct tape...apparently really STRONG duct tape. I will always use this system, even in our new school. The kids hand their homework in their folders so I can tell at a glance if they do not have it in by the bell. If they don't have it in by the bell, fuzzy. 

This monster is called "The Apprentice" & can be purchased only at Staples.
The paperwork chaos is a bit more manageable with this organizer. It is BIG. You can see the labels I use here to give you an idea of what paperwork goes in this monster.

Finally the all purpose teacher organization station. This is so worth the money. This is from LAKESHORE LEARNING, my absolute favorite teacher store. I really wish this came in neon colors..hint..hint. I store all my daily materials in each bin. They do come with poly folders for each bin. If I am absent, the kids direct the sub to these bins. You can find these bins HERE.

5. I saved the most important topic for last. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT.
I remember in college handing in this massive binder that was supposed to be my management plan. I can honestly say I have not used one thing in any of those big ole binders from college that were supposed to prepare me. Again, I will say if you are just starting out or just need some fresh ideas, teacher blogs are the way to go. You can put your own spin on any idea that appeals to you.

****UPDATED 7/17/14*****

Ebook can be purchased HERE!


I'm going to give you a few sneak peeks on my revamped reward coupon system. I have blogged a ton about classroom management...click HERE to read up on how I use warm fuzzies & my reward coupons.  You can click on the picture below to view my best selling reward coupon (set 1). The 2nd set will also be updated can be viewed here. 

This is a snippet of my first set of reward coupons. I updated the graphics using Melonheadz graphics & changed the fonts to my new favorite fonts from Cara Carroll & Kimberly Geswein. I am so in love with this new set & can't wait to update the entire system....I'm working furiously on it, I promise. 
As many of you know I use these containers to store my coupons. Well, I need to change things up a bit for next year. I leveled both sets of coupons & put them in 5 separate containers. When I am complete, all you have to do is redownload. 

I am also going to give in to many requests & make each coupon full page options as well. I really didn't see the need to have both but as I am trying to revamp this system, it is making more sense to me. Once I unveil the new updated coupons all of these pics will come together. This is just how I am organizing & implementing it in my own classroom. I will include all these labels along with a very clear explanation. I will store my full pages in separate binders so that different students with different amounts of fuzzies can view their choices. You can always put all of them in one binder using dividers. I have another work in progress to display the choices that will be unveiled in the product itself. 

Here is a view inside one of the binders.
This idea & labels will be included. There will be an editable option as well..if you want to change the number system. I created this by using different colored chevron card stock & placing each label inside of each drawer. The one I am actually going to use will look a bit different. I prefer the colors to pop a little more so stay tuned.
I hope I gave you some tips for new or even seasoned teachers. I am working hard behind the scenes & can't wait to unveil my new system...I'm literally losing sleep! Who else gets on a vampire schedule in the summer??? 
Please join the Freebie-licious authors in our series of Summer linky parties. To view week one click here. Make sure to pin & grab the button that started out this post. You won't want to forget where you saw these ideas :o) Link up & help new teachers!

get the InLinkz code



  1. Very informational! I have one of those classes that I'm fretting about coming up next year. Eek! Your organization ideas really appealed to me. I'll be keeping an eye on Target for those plastic 3-drawer containers. Can you talk more about the poly folders for turning in homework? I like that idea much better than a basket that I don't always have time to check. I think I need to make space for this!

    You Might Be a First Grader….

  2. I wish I had this post last year! I just finished my first year teaching and all I thought each day was... I hope my kids learned something. College does not teach you to run a classroom... set up a schedule.. create a great routine...ahh!! I had a lot of trial and error and literally blogs are the reason I made it through my first year and why my kids left my room reading & writing! My next step is getting organized... it is just so darn expensive!


    Teacher Talk

  3. Your reward coupons were such a draw in my class this year . . . I was so thankful to have them at my fingertips. The furry friend, no shoes, and the all-mighty sweet tooth were the favorites! Thanks for saving me time and $$$ my friend.

    Kelley Dolling
    Teacher Idea Factory

  4. What a fabulous post! Wow. Thanks for all the tips. I am not a new teacher, but I enjoyed reading it.

    Simply 2nd Resources

  5. Vampire schedule for sure ;) Can't wait to see more and am excited for the new packets. I think the full page option works well for creating a backdrop to organize the coupons in a binder. That's how I use them right now - works great.

  6. Hey Mel!

    I love all of your ideas! I can't wait to purchase your reward coupons to go along with a management system I am making!!! The funniest advice, that is sooo true, is that college DOES NOT teach you how to run a classroom. I mean we were all trying to float after being thrown into the ocean right?!!! Well, I am your newest follower, so HI!

    K-3 Kathleen

  7. Not from lakeshore, but comes in neon :) http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/store-more-durable-book-and-binder-holders-with-stabilizer-wing-with-storage-rack-5-pack-neon/p/161146/

  8. This is a great post with lots of great tips. I would add to it that when you buy organizational or storage containers, get things that have LIDS. I spent so much time each year DUSTING supplies off that it was truly ridiculous! Maybe it is just my classroom, or the something about my room. Most classrooms in CA open up to the "outside world," rather than to hallways, etc. There is tons of dust that blows in through windows and doors every day. So all kinds of critters and creepy crawlies enter my classroom along with the dust. I have even found a black widow spider in my unifix cubes! That was the last straw. After that, I started replacing EVERYTHING with plastic boxes with lids.

  9. This is a great idea for a linky! YOu have so many great ideas! I linked up (at #14) but the post won't go live until Sunday. I was afraind I would forget to link it if I didn't go ahead and do it now!
    Thanks for the opportunity!
    :) Dana
    Common to the Core
    (formerly Fun in 1st Grade)

  10. Seeing so many great reviews of this blog, I thought I would also make a comment and let you know that I really enjoyed reading this blog. There are some strange comments, but for the most part I agree with what the other rewiewers are saying.
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  11. Can't thank you enough for the informative post! I recently came across your IG and blog and I can't get enough! I am a second year substitute this year. Full time jobs are hard to come by here in western KY. I have been looking around for ideas, tips, advice for first year teachers, and advice on building up a classroom before you even have one. :) I will absolutely be implementing tons of your ideas and strategies when I get my own classroom one day. Thanks again!

  12. Where did you get your organizers that you store your reward coupons in?

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