Time-Out: Early, Often, and for Everyone

At least once a year, one colleague or another comes to me and says, “Gina, something is not right. Can you observe my class and see if you can figure out what’s going on?” When I observe the class, I might see the teacher tell the same student three times to listen during read-aloud time. Or maybe, students keep talking during Morning Meeting even after being reminded to pay attention, and the teacher has to stop the activity to go over Morning Meeting rules. The answer becomes clear to me—and when I tell the teacher she is not using time-out consistently enough when students need a break, it becomes clear to her, too. She knows time-out is important, but as the year goes on, it becomes harder to maintain the habit of using it.
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Academic Engagement in the Home Stretch

You’ve made it to the last few months of the academic year! From spring fever to state testing, there are lots of reasons why students might need a nudge to stay engaged…
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Spring Rejuvenation

No matter what the weather is like where you are, it can be challenging for both students and teachers to maintain enthusiasm at this point in the school year. The beginning-of-school energy…
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Helping Students Give Effective Compliments

Telling students what they’re doing right is one of the most powerful tools we have for helping them solidify and build on their positive behaviors and skills—and teachers aren’t the only ones…
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Revisiting Classroom Rules

How often do you revisit classroom rules? Most teachers establish rules at the beginning of the year, and many devote time to modeling and practicing rules with students in the first weeks…
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Engaging Middle Schoolers During the Holiday Season

With interrupted classroom schedules, school vacations, and increased disruptive student behaviors, managing the classroom can feel like a daunting task during the winter holiday season. With a little strategizing, you can help…
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Responding to Defiance in the Moment

Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own…
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Self-Assessment and Goal Setting Go Hand in Hand

When built into daily schoolwork, goal-focused self-assessment fosters academic achievement by helping students develop lifelong skills.
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Peanut Butter, Grape Jelly

As seen in The First Six Weeks of School, 2nd Edition! Students get a kick out of this song.
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Time for a Brain Break!

Middle schoolers are at an age when they need frequent opportunities to pause, move, and interact with each other to recharge themselves and refocus their energies for more productive learning. Teachers can…
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Setting a Positive Tone in Special Area Classrooms

What happens in the first few minutes of each class period can have a huge impact on students’ focus and productivity throughout the rest of the period. A calm and orderly opening…
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Naming Students in Positive Ways

From your “Good morning” greeting to your “Good-bye” at the last bell, every school day gives you many opportunities to address students with words that give them an image of themselves as…
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Is Your Classroom Organized for Learning?

School’s over! As you clean table tops, take down anchor charts, and sort supplies, pause and take a look around your classroom. Will you be leaving a space that worked well for…
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Reinforcing Language: Giving Middle Schoolers Supportive Feedback

Teacher language—the words, tone, and pace we use when we talk to students—may be the most powerful of all our teaching tools. After all, language permeates nearly every interaction we have with…
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Middle School Motivators

As middle schoolers begin the transition into young adulthood, they have a strong developmental need for learning that’s both active (hands-on, experiential) and interactive (social, collaborative). When we meet that need, students…
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Breathe Life into Learning with Engaging Academics

Building the characteristics of engaging academics into lessons helps students do rigorous learning in a dynamic way. Students not only engage with and enjoy their learning, but are more willing to tackle…
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Teaching Perseverance? Try Interactive Modeling

We all know students who seem to give up quickly and appeal for our help, even when the task is appropriately challenging, or students who are reluctant to even start a task…
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Making Learning Meaningful: It’s All About the Why

A few years ago, as I looked around the fourth/fifth grade combination class I taught, I saw a student staring at her math notebook and slowly shaking her head. I wandered over…
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Teaching Children to Check Their Own Behavior

“One of my jobs here at school is to help make sure that every single one of you can do your best learning every day.” As a school counselor, that’s how I…
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Our Classroom Walls

During the school day we spend most of our time in our classroom and so do twenty to thirty students (give or take a few!). Many of us feel that our classroom…
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Taking Positive Language Schoolwide

Positive language is a powerful tool for building a calm, safe school climate. The words we use when we talk to students, the intention behind these words, and how we deliver them…
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Adapting Morning Meeting: Speech and Anxiety Needs

Morning Meeting is a powerful way to start the day. It meets students’ needs for belonging, significance, and fun; provides students with an opportunity to practice social and emotional skills; and prepares…
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Building Bridges

Taking time to get to know parents sends an important message: We’re a team with a shared goal of helping students have a successful school year. Plus, parents have invaluable insight that…
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Strong Communities Build Strong Schools

Ask Dr. Nicole Evans Jones the key to creating a positive climate for children and she’ll tell you it’s all about the people and their relationships. Sure, the curriculum matters. Sure, funding…
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Our Hopes and Dreams for School

Inviting students to name learning goals (hopes and dreams) right away shows them that school is a safe place, that they’re important members of the classroom, and that they can look forward…
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