Clothed with Grace: My Classroom: Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Classroom: Tips and Tricks

Today I thought I'd share some things I'm doing in my classroom this year to make it better than last year. One thing that really stuck with me from last year was how apathetic my 7th graders had become. A lot were ok with just getting by and not thinking about goals at all. This year I really wanted to try to do something about it, so this was my plan of attack.

We started the year by making goal setting metaphor posters.  We talked about things that make us successful and what it takes to reach a goal. We came up with long-term goals, like "going to college" and the brain-stormed ideas for how to get there. Some were:
  • Don't give up
  • Ask questions
  • Get involved in an activity you love
  • Work hard
  • Try your best
Then, the kids brain-stormed metaphors that would work for their posters. Here are some ideas the kids had:
  • mountain
  • stairs
  • rollercoaster
  • treasure map
  • game board
  • garden
  • sports field (football, soccer, etc.)
  • race
  • maze
The posters turned out great and it planted the seed about hard work being needed for success.

The next day we talked about short-term goals, and I introduced sticky note goal setting.  Check out the image below for details on how this works:

We just finished out first month, and I had about 65% of kids in each class reach their goal. I plan to keep track of the data and see if we can get this number to rise as the year goes on.  I saw a lot of excitement in the kids when they met their goals. We created new goals for September and we talked about how a goal shouldn't be something you can already do easily, it should be something you want to improve. I was excited to see the thought kids put into this months goals!

I also found this infographic somewhere and shared it with the kids too. We had to get rid of those behaviors that kids us from being successful and focus on the behaviors that make us successful.

I also stared doing The 100's Board, an idea I got from another teacher and it's pure genius!  Check out the image below to see how it works:

The kids are really loving this and it's an easy way to reward them too!

Another thing I did was reorganize my book shelves to group my books by genre. Our library make this switch last year, so I jumped on board too. Half my books and genres are shown here, I have one more book shelf like this with the other genres grouped. I also added little color labels to each book, so it's easy to put books away. Realistic Fiction has white labels, Mystery has purple labels, etc.

The kids are loving it, and it's making it so much easier for kids to find books they are interested in! 

I also wanted to make jobs in class easier to complete to and try to steer clear of the same kid at each table always taking charge, while others do nothing. I labeled each seat and got these dice from Dollar Tree. When papers need to be picked up, passed out, etc. I roll the dice and the kid with the corresponding numbered seat does the task. It's working really well!

Kids who pick up their tables homework, check to make sure every one at their table has their name on the paper and they report to me any student who isn't done, so I can set up a homework appointment with them.

Staying organized with so many students can be tough too!  I few years ago I started keeping track of absent kids and late homework appointments with these charts.  I have them on my back counter, then I can simply make a note of who was gone, so I can get them homework, as well as keep track of kids who are coming in to complete late or missing homework. I used to have about fifty sticky notes on my desk to keep track of everything and that "system" was a complete failure.  This is really quick and easy.

So far the year is off to a great start! Hopefully some of these tricks will help you out in your classroom if you're a teacher, as I know a lot of my readers are. I'd love to hear your tips too, comment with them below!


  1. I love all the things you are doing in the classroom. I can see how spending time focusing on goal-setting and tracking would help keep the kids more engaged in their education. I also LOVE the 100 board, I bet that is fun for the kids.

  2. These are all such great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love that successful people vs unsuccessful people image! So true!

  4. What great ideas! I may use some of these for home too!

  5. So many great tips! I'll be using that infographic in my Leadership class for sure!

  6. I'm teaching 7th and 8th graders for the first time this year at my new school and I have to admit to being nervous. I know they need me to help them stay organized a lot more than my high school kids do. I just hope I remember to help with these things instead of assuming they've got it under control. I really like these tips and am going to save this post for future ideas. If you kept these kind of posts going, I wouldn't mind :)

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