Week of Respect

Our school and many schools around the nation are celebrating the week of respect. To raise awareness, our school has special dress up days such as asking students to wear a hat, mismatched clothes and to wear the color orange. Weeks like this promote community awareness and discussions about important topics. My classroom brainstormed specific ways respect looks like in different settings familiar to students.

activities, respect week, classroom community, anchor charts, ideas

Since respect is an abstract concept that can be hard to understand and explain, specific examples help students visualize how they can be respectful. My students were responsible for giving examples and drawing pictures of the different scenarios shown below. Students who are older can be responsible for writing examples on a sentence strip to help in the process of creating the anchor chart. Interactive anchor charts can help students feel more ownership and responsibility.

This chart will now hang in my classroom so we can refer back to it as needed throughout the year. Other activities regarding respect can be found online on sites such as Pinterest (where I got the idea for this poster) and Discovery Education (where I found videos). To aid in the presentation and discussion, I showcased different examples of respect through videos and class modeling.

Back-to-School Highlights

I find the first week of school to be one of the most exciting parts of the year. Teachers are fresh, students are ready to learn, and the upcoming year is filled with endless possibilities. I wanted to highlight some of my favorite activities my classroom participated in during the first week of school.

This year, I decided to start each day with a morning meeting. I am following the responsive classroom approach, which outlines the morning meeting time with a greeting, sharing time, an activity, and a morning message. My kids and I have loved this time to connect! I am using Roxann Kriete’s Morning Meeting book to guide my practice.

responsive classroom, classroom community, teaching, early ed

My first homework assignment was for students to create a “Me Bag”. This gave them something to share during our morning meeting the second day of school. Students generally feel comfortable talking about things they like and activities they are good at. Students brought in gymnastic medals, dance shoes, toy cars, pictures, and special monuments bought while traveling.

homework, new teachers, back to school, first day

Next, we talked about how we wanted our classroom to run for the year. Together, we created “the great classmate is” chart shown below. Students in higher grades can write their ideas and children in lower grades can draw pictures of the words written on the chart. We had students drawing people being responsible, helping others, and saying kind words to others. After we completed the chart, we acted out different scenarios in which students could practice being a great classmate. The next day, a student in our class had the opportunity to do one of the scenarios we acted out the day before. It was a great moment for all!

back to school activities, community building, kind classroom ideas

During our professional days before starting the official school year, our administration emphasized the importance of goal-setting. My classroom used BrainPop’s “setting goals” video to introduce what a goal was and how to set a goal. I had to break down each SMART step for my students, but felt it was a good video to help my students set their own goals for the year.

brain pop, videos about goal setting, SMART goals, back to school activities

One of the goals for our classroom this year is to think before we speak. Our classroom talked about the importance of good communication and speech. I posted this acronym on a bulletin board close to my desk to help guide all of our talking for the year. This “think before you speak” practice is helpful when doing partner or group work, and creates a safe and friendly classroom environment for all.

think before you speak, classroom, kind, back to school activities

Another importance aspect of a great classroom is putting up functional posters and schedules that guide student learning. The “I love reading” bulletin board in my classroom outlines what great readers do, highlights our small group schedule which will eventually showcase our different stations and has a poster that records how many books each student will, in time, read throughout the month. During our goal-setting activity, my students’ individual goals are to read between 8-12 books by September 30th. To help achieve this goal, we are using our “We love reading” chart to record the number of books each student reads in class and at home.

bulletin board ideas, back to school, classroom decoration

We have had a great first week and I am looking forward to learning with my students throughout this school year. I am thankful for all the ideas I was able to pull from the internet and hope this post can guide your second week of teaching! Thanks as always for reading. 🙂

Behavioral Contracts: Tips for motivating students

Overview of Research: 

Research states that a behavior contract is one of the easiest and most effective practices that caregivers and teachers can use when helping students reach their goals (George, 2001). Since it is common practice in our society to write goals on paper, writing a behavior contract is something that students and caregivers can create and easily refer back to. According to Miller and Kelly (1994), goal setting produces significant improvements for children and often increases parent satisfaction (Miller and Kelly, 1994). In addition, writing contracts have been found to improve social and academic behavior in children and teens (Howard, Sweeney, McLaughlin 1993). Since each contract should be individualized to the child’s needs, specified behaviors are clearly stated and monitored. Children work on improving the listed behavior for a reward agreed upon both teacher/caregiver and student. The reward motivates the child to work toward their goal. The behavior contract can be used in both the home or school setting (Miller and Kelly (1994).

Who it is appropriate for:

The behavior contract is appropriated for any students who are working towards a goal. For example, students who do not like to write in complete sentences or students who have a resistance toward writing. Also appropriate for students who do not naturally edit their work or use periods/capitals when writing sentences. The behavior contract can be used to increase academic or social performance at home, in school, or with friends during unstructured times.

Steps for Implementation:

  1. Determine developmental and age-appropriate goal for student
  2. Sit down with student and explain what you would like the child to start doing
  3. Ask student what they want to work for
  4. Discuss and negotiate agreement (ex. number of responses needed, prize, system for collecting points)
  5. Write up agreement/contract
  6. Have student and teacher sign and agree on terms
  7. Hang contract in an accessible place to both the teacher and student
  8. Monitor progress daily or weekly, provide encouragement
  9. Give prize when earned or re-adjust goal as needed

Sample Contract:

I _______________________ agree to write five or more sentences when answering an open ended question. I will use a period at the end of a sentence and use a capital when writing the first letter in a sentence. I will check my work to make sure I add a capital and a period. When I write ____________ responses, I will earn _________________. I will be responsible to write a check at the bottom of this page each time my teacher agrees I met my responsibilities listed above.

__________________ ___________

student name     date

__________________                              ____________

teacher name       date

Plans to Judge Success: 

  • Does student meet requirements listed? (For example, does student write five or more sentences on open-ended questions? Does student use capitals when writing a sentence? Does student use proper punctuation (periods, question marks) when writing a sentence?
  • Does student express interest in earning the reward? (Ex. I cannot wait to get my stuffed animal once I write 10 responses.)
  • Is the contracted being monitored? (Does student put check mark or sticker after every successful writing time?)
  • If goal is time sensitive, review progress at the midway point, and every day or week depending on goal.


Allen, L. (1993). Use of Contingency Contracting To Increase On-Task Behavior With Primary Students. Psychology Reports, 72, 905-906.

George, R. (2001). The Behavior Contract: A Tool For Teachers. St. Louis, Missouri: Project Innovation.

Miller, D., Kelley, M. (1994). The Use of Goal Setting and Contingency Contracting For Improving Children’s Homework Performance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 73-84.

First Day of School Plans

The start of a new year is here. I will be teaching 1st grade resource room ELA and math pull-out. I am excited to be working in the position and hope to share my stories and lesson plans along the way.

1st Grade Resource: ELA and Math

Day 1:

(My first day is Monday 9/8; students are staying in their homeroom on Thursday 9/4 and Friday 9/5 to help with the transition)

At the beginning of the day, I will stand at the door and greet each of my students. I will introduce myself and have the students share their names. I will help students find their seats. Each seat will have a nametag.

1. Introduction with Flipchart

  • My name, where I am from, why I love teaching, why I am excited to teach first grade
  • Will include pictures of me from 1st grade
  • Will share what we will learn together/books we will read

2. Ice Breaker Activity

  • Why are you excited to be in first grade?
  • About Me Poster Tee

3. Classroom Tour/Scavenger Hunt

  • Materials
  • Different centers
  • Books
  • Example: “Find an item in the classroom that starts with /p/. (informal pre-assessment) 🙂
  • Students will work together

4. Creation of Classroom Rules/Expectations

  • Do together as a class
  • Keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself
  • Respect yourself and others (give specific examples of what respect looks like)
  • Show/Explain Sticker Chart (rewards/consequences)
  • Star Student (5 qualities-active listening)
  • “Look, listen, work hard” show hand movements
  • Effort and Attitude: the importance of a “I can” approach to learning
  • Shew
  • Slant
  • King and Queen Behavior

5. Review/Practice of Procedures:

Entering the classroom: At the beginning of the day, I will stand at the door and greet each of my students. I will introduce myself and have the students share their names. I will help students find their seats. Each seat will have a nametag

Bathroom: Two fingers crosses, teacher responds with two fingers crossed. Student signs out. One student (boy and girl) allowed out at a time.

Tissues: Can take when needed; will show where I keep extra tissues to replace when empty

Nurse: Student raises hand and explains what is wrong. I encourage students to try to wait until the end of a lesson.

Absent Folder: Students are expected to make up work when absent. All papers will have the student’s name on it and be in a specific folder waiting for them when they return.

Where to put homework: When students walk in, they will put homework on desk before they start their Do Now.

Materials: Sharpening pencils (pencils will be pre-sharpened. No sharpening during a lesson)

Emergency Expectations: Firedrill, lockdown

Entering/leaving the classroom: Do Now and Exit Ticket

Ways of getting attention: “Class class” “Yes Yes”, claps, Hands on your heart if you know…, “Rejoice” -Say when someone says what you were thinking

Transitions: Magic Word (changes every month, thought of together as a class) students do not move to the next activity/pack up/line up until they hear the magic word

6. Read book and discuss “First Grade Jitters”

Management Policies:

Work Time: Students are expected to be thinking and working when given independent work. Students should always be working on the given assignment of the teacher and always try their best.

Questions: Students are expected to ask other students what to do before coming to the teacher. Instructions will always be explained and will most likely be on the board or on the sheet students are working on. Procedure: 1. Look up on board 2. Ask people on each side of you 3. Raise your hand for teacher help

Homework Policy: Homework is expected to be completed on time. Homework is graded on content and effort.

Small Group Time: When a teacher is working with a small group, other students are not allowed to interrupt the teacher unless there is an emergency. An emergency consists of someone feeling very sick or if a dangerous situation needs to be reported to the teacher. When the teacher is wearing a Hawaiian Lei, students cannot interrupt.

Respect: Respect teacher, peers, and classroom material. Put materials back where you found them. Make sure all covers are on glue sticks and markers.

Nonverbal Cues:

1. Crossing of 2 fingers—indicates the need to go to the bathroom

2. Hand on your heart—indicates you know the answer

3. Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

4. Clapping of hands-classroom attention (clap, clap clap, clap clap clap)

Student Expectations:

  • Come to class ready to learn
  • Come to class with an open mind
  • Respect teacher and students
  • Respect classroom materials and furniture
  • Follow instructions
  • Listen to directions

Teacher Expectations:

  • Work hard and be prepared
  • Come to class ready to learn
  • Come to class with an open mind
  • Be respectful and kind to all students
  • Be willing to listen to students
  • Set a good example for students in actions, speech, and attitude!

Transition Time:

Any time there is a transition; students will need to wait for the teacher to dismiss them. To do this, students must wait for the teacher’s magic word that will change each month. Students will be able to pick the magic word as a class from the beginning. This will help students feel important about policy-making and will reflect the interest of the class since students will have a say. Students will learn this at the beginning of the year (the first day of school). Reminding the students to wait until they hear the magic word will reinforce what I am trying to do. Eventually, students will be reminding other students if they forget to wait. The magic word is important since students in my class can be impulsive. To avoid students getting up before a lesson is officially over, students need to wait until the teacher formally dismisses them. The magic word also helps the students listen and stay engaged until the end of the lesson.

To get students attention before the magic word is said, one thing I will do is to do a special clap (clap, clap clap, clap clap clap). For example, when I clap once, the students clap once. Then when I clap twice, the students clap twice. When I clap three times, all students should clap 3 times back. At this point, all students’ eyes should be on me. Then I can tell the class our next transition and use the magic word to dismiss the class as a whole.

If some students are already looking at me, I can use a non-verbal cue such as pinching my fingers together to indicate that I want complete quiet. Students will do the cue back. My hope is that other students who are talking will realize that I have stopped talking and am doing my cue. Other students doing the cue indicate that they have seen my cue and have stopped talking. This will help the class regain attention and hear my instructions before the magic word is said for them to be dismissed.