October 11, 2017

Showing Grace in the Classroom

Being a mom has completely made me look back at my teaching career, before kids, and question my classroom management decisions. Homework policies, losing recess, reactions to kids forgetting materials, and so much more. I was a forgiving teacher and I know my students loved being in my class but I definitely had students forget homework and did what most of the teachers were doing in my grade, made them lose some of their recess and complete it. Some may still think that is the best way to teach responsibility; however, there are so many other ways. I think teaching and showing our students grace may be equally as important.

Some of you probably are saying right now that they need consequences...I totally get that but step back for a second and let me share with you a story about my first grade son. Well, my son came home today and said, "Mom, I forgot to do my math." Immediately my heart sank and I said, "Oh no, did you lose your recess?" He told me he didn't and that his teacher just said to do it tonight. His teacher wrote me a nice little reminder note in his daily notebook. What his teacher did not know is that my kids were out way past bedtime, at a football game until 9, watching their cousin play football. They also have their cousins over for the rest of the week while their mom is out of town. Our household is a bit hectic/full of love right now. I almost cried when I read the note (basically because I was exhausted) and quickly responded to her the situation and thanked her for showing Jaxon grace. What would you do in this situation?

What is grace and how do we use it in our classrooms? Grace is the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful. Isn't this what we want our students to show on a daily basis? Students are going to be able to show grace more so when we are leading by example. Does this mean let everything go in the classroom and just show grace to all, every day, all the time? Absolutely not, of course we have situations that need addressed with a stern consequence. However, in those moments we can show grace by our actions and how we handle each situation.




Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about showing grace through your consequences. Oh I really like the sound of that...grace through your consequences.

1. What is best for your students? This is by far the first question we always ask ourselves daily. Maybe we have had a student that has been bullying most of the year and we have shown grace until we are blue in the face and nothing is working. By all means the best for this student may be a more strict consequence. What is best for one student is not always going to be best for another. You may have a student that has forgotten their homework for weeks. Have you called home? Maybe doing homework at school is the best for that student. Do what is best for the students.

2. Does the student understand the rules? At the beginning of the year you are establishing the rules of the classroom. Of course you are showing grace while they are learning. We don't want our students to think they can get away with everything and run the classroom. There is a fine line of showing grace and enforcing the rules. We have our rules in our classroom to keep everyone safe and learning. If a rule is broken you are showing grace by choosing a consequence in the best interest of the student.

3. What is your goal or motivation? Are you choosing a consequence that is best for you or the student? What is your goal or motivation behind the consequence. Is it the end of the day and you have had one of those days where things just aren't falling into place? You see out of the corner of your eye a student pushes in line and you get angry and tell them to go to the back of the line. These are the moments I challenge you to step back and check your goal and motivation.

4. What do I want them to gain from this learning? We have all been there. A student is not understanding and we have taught the skill five times. Count to ten and show grace. It might just take one more time before the light bulb comes on and they get it. You are not only teaching your students about grace you are showing that making mistakes is okay.

This is hard and I am challenged with it daily. It is a work in progress. Showing grace can be hard in the midst of chaos.
I'll leave you with this question: How are you showing grace in your classroom?


August 1, 2017

Helpful Tips for Back-To-School


The summer is winding down and it is time to start thinking about classroom setup and the start to a new school year.  You walk into your classroom and often think "Where do I even start?" If you are like me, your entire room has to be packed up and put back together every year. I know...it is not fun! The great thing about it, is that every year you can pick a new theme for decoration! My favorite themes are camping, tropical, and superheros. What are yours? It was also a time to figure out how to arrange flexible seating.  Fast forward and your classroom is all set up and students are coming soon. What next? Here are some engaging, hands-on activities that will get your year started off just right!


Communication with parents is key to starting off the school year in a great way. You will love using newsletters and a back-to-school brochure. Sending a monthly newsletter home with parents to let them know what we are planning is very beneficial and parents love it. They are editable so you can easily get on your computer and change what you need to meet your needs.



Now let's talk about what we are going to do the first few days. It is important to start with an All About Me activity! They know the most about themselves so this is a great ice breaker activity. You will love seeing what your students write about themselves. You will always want to have one of these activities on their table when they come in the classroom. 



You will end up using all of these awesome BTS activities throughout the first week of school. It is important to show each student how important they are to the classroom community. The locker "Opening Up New Adventures" is an all time favorite! They make a great back to school or parent night display and most importantly the kids love creating their lockers.
You will want to have first day of school activities ready and available. The reading list activity is always a fun one and it is great to get an idea of what they enjoy reading.  As always the kids love talking about what they did over the summer. You may have a few that say they did nothing and for those kids you can have another prompt they are interested in. This is a great way to see their writing and start a fun journal entry. 

The first days of school would not be complete without having a pop-up book. I am warning you in advance your students are going to want to do these all the time. Luckily, I have created many of them for engaging writing activities. They can choose which back-to-school pop-up book and prompt they want to create and publish their first writing piece. 


Moving on to classroom rules. We all know that classroom rules are a must. Having your students create them can be such a great classroom community activity. 


This is an example of a slip I use for our classroom rules. After we discuss what a rule is and rules we think we should have in our classroom, they write down their own rule for our classroom. We develop our classroom rules as a classroom community. We write our rules on a large paper and display in our classroom. Having your students be a part of the rule making is an important part of your classroom management. 


There are so many awesome back to school activities you can do in the first few days. Here are a few more activities that will make your first days run smoothly: Pencils to decorate, Alphabetical Order Word Work, Math Color Sheet, Poem to Welcome Students, and Making Words. 

Make sure to head on over to Coffman's Creative Classroom facebook page to keep in touch! I love collaborating and hearing how you are doing throughout the school year!


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Now you are set and ready to get out there and change the world! Have an awesome first week of school! 

Here is the link to all of these engaging Back to School Activities Click here for Back to School Activity Pack

April 20, 2017

Interactive Poetry Ideas

It was such a pleasure to guest blog for Heather over at Hojo's Teaching Adventures. April is National Poetry month and I shared many ideas for a great Interactive Poetry Unit in your classroom. Make sure to check out the freebie! Head on over by clicking here:  Interactive Poetry Ideas


January 8, 2017

New Year New Goals


Do you have a hard time saying goodbye to Christmas and saying hello to the New Year? I do! My son was almost in tears as I took down the Christmas tree. We may have had a pity party for ourselves. It is hard to let go of what is familiar, fun, and cozy to an uncertainty of a New Year. So here you are treeless and ready to take this year by storm. Wait...maybe you aren't. Maybe you are scared to see what this year is going to bring, not ready to set new goals yet, not ready to wake up so early and teach, wishing your Winter Break could last forever. Okay, now we all know we can't just hibernate at home and watch Netflix and eat popcorn. (That sounds so nice though doesn't it.) Here is to a new year a new 2017 made of goal setting and marking our check-list off! 

Your students are coming back from Winter Break and we all know how that can go. You need to be on your game. You have made a resolution to stay more organized, make check-list... and actually check them off, keep up with homework, keep your desk clean, keep up with the newsletter, and the list goes on and on! Now, you are probably thinking how in the world am I going to do this and stay accountable? Here is where I come in to save the day! My goal is to make your life easier by creating resources that are low prep and engaging for your students. I want you to have more time do to the things you want and most importantly love to do! So here is to another New Year full of hopes and dreams and more time to spend on what we love to do! 

Just like you set goals for yourself, you want your students to set goals. Use this freebie to help them set their 2017 goals! 
                            

 Click the Link Below to get your New Year Freebie! 


I would love to help you lighten your load this year and help start checking off your To-Do List! What do you say? Here's to a year full of time spent doing the things you love! 

Here are some more New Year's Activities that will engage your students and save you time!


Happy New Year!

November 21, 2016

Top 5 Books to Teach About Gratitude and Compassion



#1 Too Many Turkeys by Linda White

This is a fun book about a turkey wandering onto a farm and making the garden the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood. Another turkey shows up on the farm...and then another...and another...and another. It is a great story that just keeps building and building as the turkeys multiply. 

#2 Twas the Night before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

My students always love this one! The children take a trip to the turkey farm. They are shocked to find out the farmer is going to have all the turkeys for dinner. They decide they are going to smuggle all of the turkeys to their homes. 

#3 A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
This is such a great book! Mr. and Mrs. Moose are having Thanksgiving dinner. They are missing turkey for their dinner. They set out to find turkey and find out he is scared they want to eat him for dinner. They want them to be at their table to celebrate, not on it. 

#4 Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

This book is a great book for the younger students. It is all about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and giving thanks. This is a great way to teach about gratitude through a read aloud. 

#5 The Great Thanksgiving Race by Steve Metzger


This book will make your students smile. There are three turkeys and they all want to be the Thanksgiving Turkey. They have a contest to see which of them the farmer will pick. This is a fun book to read aloud! 

There are so many great ways you can use these books in your classroom! Here are a few interactive activities that will help you create a fun way to show gratitude. Here is a freebie that you can use with any book! Have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I appreciate you and all of the amazing work you do daily! 


Top 5 Books to teach about gratitude and compassion during Thanksgiving.


#1 Too Many Turkeys by Linda White

This is a fun book about a turkey wandering onto a farm and making the garden the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood. Another turkey shows up on the farm...and then another...and another...and another. It is a great story that just keeps building and building as the turkeys multiply. 

#2 Twas the Night before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

My students always love this one! The children take a trip to the turkey farm. They are shocked to find out the farmer is going to have all the turkeys for dinner. They decide they are going to smuggle all of the turkeys to their homes. 

#3 A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
This is such a great book! Mr. and Mrs. Moose are having Thanksgiving dinner. They are missing turkey for their dinner. They set out to find turkey and find out he is scared they want to eat him for dinner. They want them to be at their table to celebrate, not on it. 

#4 Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

This book is a great book for the younger students. It is all about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and giving thanks. This is a great way to teach about gratitude through a read aloud. 

#5 The Great Thanksgiving Race by Steve Metzger


This book will make your students smile. There are three turkeys and they all want to be the Thanksgiving Turkey. They have a contest to see which of them the farmer will pick. This is a fun book to read aloud! 

There are so many great ways you can use these books in your classroom! Here are a few interactive activities that will help you create a fun way to show gratitude. Here is a freebie that you can use with any book! Have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I appreciate you and all of the amazing work you do daily! 


September 19, 2016

5 Steps to a Growth Mindset

Are you striving for that perfect score on your observation from your principal? Wanting to have the highest scores in the school? Upset when a lesson goes wrong? Disappointed when you have a lot of behavior issues and you can't get control over them? Stack full of papers to grade and you don't know where to start? All of these things are felt by teachers every where. It is how we deal with these things that can change our growth mindset. It starts with us as teachers changing our fixed mindset to a growth mindset before we can help our students have a growth mindset.


1. Accept yourself for who you are.

Whoa! This is a tough one! As teachers we are always striving to be the best and coming up with the best lessons to help our students learn. Failure is not accepted well seeing we are observed by administrators and placed under a microscope for every little move we make. Learning to accept yourself for who you are and accepting our imperfections is important. If we hide behind our weaknesses, we will never overcome them and be the best we can be! 

2. Replace the word "failing" with "learning"

We need to replace a lot of sentences in our vocabulary to have a growth mindset. It can be hard. Here a few:


Teaching our students these will help them understand ways to help them have a growth mindset. 

3. See challenges as your opportunities.

When we are faced with a challenge it can be easy to say we aren't going to try. Embrace the challenge as an opportunity to learn. Teaching our students that it is okay to try new things and try new strategies will help promote a growth mindset.  



4. Someone else's approval is not needed.

We all have witnessed many of our students holding their paper up asking "is this okay?". They are seeking approval. Try to get your students to be happy with their work and confident in themselves. We tend to need the approval of fellow teachers or administrators. We have an educational system that promotes this behavior. We really need to try to be happy with what we are doing and try to not ask approval of our work. Asking for help or advice is one thing, but seeking out approval can hinder our growth mindset. 

5. Reflect...reflect...and reflect.

Do you have a time for your students to reflect during the day? Every day our students should reflect on their learning. I know as teachers we are not given any time to reflect. We have meetings, class, students often eating with us, recess duty, running around checking on this and that during prep, we have NO time. We need to make time. Yes, I know it is hard. A colleague of mine would always say during lunch how she wished she just had time to reflect. It is so true, it is vital we reflect on what happened throughout the day and what strategies worked and did not. Try using this reflection sheet with your students! 



I hope this was helpful to you and your classroom! Here are some great ways to help implement a growth mindset into your classroom.