Six Strategies for Success in School!

6 Strategies for Success in School: after a difficult year, I developed these strategies to share with my students to help build a classroom community.

I had a very challenging class a year ago. I admit, I loved each and every one of them, but the combination of kiddos really was exhausting. I had behavior challenges, learning challenges, and a whole lot of kiddos who needed to talk and who needed to move a whole lot!

I've had all these challenges before, but I never had so many challenges all in one group!

After that year, I made sure I enjoyed these luxuries during the summer:

-extra cups of coffee - while they're still warm
-relaxed conversations with grown ups
-reading books written for adults
-eating breakfast in my jammies
-going to the gym, with energy to work out
and most of all... 
-peeing when I need to!

But I also spent a lot of time thinking about that group, and trying to come up with ideas that I could start at the beginning of the year that could prevent some of the issues I had.

My dad always taught me: 
When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

and that's just what I plan to do!

After much thought, I decided on the most important strategies I wanted to focus on in my classroom.

Strategies for Success: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be a Team Player, Be Mindful, and Be an Active Learner

I decided to spend a whole lot of time at the beginning of the school year teaching these strategies for success!

I made posters with an explanation for each strategy.
6 Strategies for Success Posters

I also made these in black and white/ line art for easy printing and opportunities for the kids to color and think about them.

black and white posters for Strategies for Success

Plus, I made mini-posters of each!

Strategies for Success - mini posters

Plus, I made some student response booklets.
Strategies for Success Student Response Booklets

These pages could also be used in interactive notebooks.

My plan was to take a day or two discussing the meaning of each strategy, listing the children's ideas, giving examples and non examples, and making sure the children really understood what each strategy meant before they completed that page in their strategy response booklets. 

The Mindfulness strategy took a little longer, especially those who came from classes that didn't do any mindfulness activities in the past.

I did manage to find a few websites with some awesome explanations and activities for helping children understand and practice Mindfulness.






I also made some bookmarks for the children to use and remember their strategies.

And I made some self assessments that they were given at a few points through the school year. 


After much discussion, we decided on a gesture for each strategy. Every morning, after the Pledge of Allegiance and the school chant, my students would recite the 6 Strategies for Success, complete with the gestures we created together.  My plan definitely had a strong influence on the classroom community!

Feel free to explore this resource more HERE.





Pick a Profile Picture!

Elementary Matters

I tend to be very animated when I teach.
Come to think of it, I tend to be very animated whenever I talk.

I guess that's why I chose this to be my profile picture.
Elementary Matters

People tend to remember this picture, 
which has worked out pretty well for me.
They often ask me about it.

Here's the story:

As a single mom of an only child, my daughter and I would always take each other's pictures on the first day of school.  

We often took one "serious" picture, and one silly pose.

This was the "serious" picture.
Elementary Matters
I do look a little cross eyed in this one. 
As you can see, even when I'm trying to be "serious", I'm a bit animated.

I have no idea what happened to the original photos. 
These were taken 6 years ago, long before I had a smart phone. 
(I think I was still using a Tracfone at the time.)

So, the profile picture I've been using is a copy of a copy of a copy... and so on. It's not a great quality. 

I've also changed a bit. 
My hair is somewhat different now, and I've aged a bit, although that hardly shows! (In my dreams, anyway!)

So... this weekend, my daughter came by with her nice camera. 
I put on that old dress, and tried to re-create the original picture. 

I know what you're thinking... why not come up with a newer, better picture?

Because people remember this one!

But I just can't decide which picture to use. 
That's why I'm asking you, my readers to help me decide!
Elementary Matters

I guess you could say I have a good time making fun of myself.

Elementary Matters

Yep, that's the look the children see in my classroom!

Elementary Matters

"Welcome to my classroom!"

Elementary Matters

"Wouldn't you like to learn in my classroom?"

Elementary Matters

"And here's where we'll have reading group!"


Elementary Matters

"Aren't you glad to be part of our team?"


Elementary Matters

"Guess what we're doing after lunch!"


Elementary Matters

I probably won't use # 9 and #10, since this isn't even my dog. It's my grand-furbaby.

Isn't she the sweetest?

Elementary Matters

This picture shows how she got her name: Smiley Face!

If you have a picture you like, please mention it in the comments below.

If you'd prefer, you can let me know on my facebook page HERE:

Thanks for your help!




What Can We Do About the Hate?

What can we do about the hate? There seems to be a whole lot of hate in our world these days. Here are some suggestions.


I'm sure you're as concerned as I am. We all are. 

It seems to be getting worse. It's all over the news.  

Dallas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon, Columbine...

Black lives matter, Cop lives matter, Gay lives matter...

 It's about lack of trust. It's about mental health. It's about guns...

Really, it's all about hate.  And it's eating away at me.

So, what can we do about it?
What can we do about the hate? There seems to be a whole lot of hate in our world these days. Here are some suggestions.

That's what I do. Every time I hear of another horror, I pray. 
It's frustrating because I want to do more!

As a teacher, I've been searching the corners of my brain, trying to think of what we can do to turn this around. 

One thing to think about
It's important to teach children to respect police officers. 
How do we do this?

Let them interact with police officers! 

I'm lucky I teach in a small town.
Most of the police officers in my town are former students, or parents of former students.

We take our second graders to the police station every year. 
The whole police staff is amazing to the kids! 
They let the kids climb into the police vehicles.
They let the kids have lunch in their lunch room. 
They give the kids pencils and water bottles with the police logo on them,
and they even take pretend "mug shots" of the kiddos! (and the teachers)
What can we do about the hate? There seems to be a whole lot of hate in our world these days. Here are some suggestions.
I'm such a ham, aren't I?
An interesting point... when the children asked about the "bad guys" having their pictures taken, this is what they heard:

"They're not bad people. 
They're good people who made bad choices."

I try to believe this. There are a lot of good people who have made bad choices: perhaps by how they are brought up, or perhaps because of things they have experienced, or perhaps because of a chemical imbalance in their brain. We need to help these people. Help them learn to make good choices.

I hope there are a whole lot more people out there that insist that people are good, but sometimes make bad choices. 

That's what gains respect... or loses it. The way we see people. 
Are they good, or bad? I believe they are good.

Another thing to think about:
What can we do about the hate? There seems to be a whole lot of hate in our world these days. Here are some suggestions.

Only love will conquer the hate. 
Let the kids see you being kind to others.
Let them see you let that car in that's been waiting.
Let them see you hold the door for the person behind you.
Smile at strangers.
Give up your seat on the bus.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Visit a nursing home.
Offer to babysit for a friend, for free.
Donate blood.
Apologize.
Give money to the poor and needy.
Find opportunities to be kind to others.

And let the children see it. 

What can we do about the hate? There seems to be a whole lot of hate in our world these days. Here are some suggestions.

Here are some nice visuals of people doing good deeds.

I, for one, refuse to let hate have the last word. 
I believe that love will conquer hate.
I believe things will get better.

What are your ideas? 
What can we do?

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