Teachers, Specializing in… Everything!

You’re a master of flexibility, an expert gear-switcher, and you know and teach every student at your school. You’re a Special Area Teacher. And you’re amazing! Being a Special Area Teacher means that, on any given day, your lesson plans are meeting the needs of students in vastly different physical, social-emotional, and cognitive phases of Read More »
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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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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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Music Class Rules

I’d been teaching for over 30 years and felt pretty comfortable with the way I managed my music classes. But a few years ago, I took a Responsive Classroom workshop, and it…
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Special Area Rules

Special area teachers may come up with their area rules on their own, use or adapt classroom rules, or use schoolwide rules. No matter where your special area rules come from, the…
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The First 12 Weeks of PE

Starting on the first day of school, students wait excitedly at the door for PE to begin. And as soon as they see me, they always pepper me with questions: "What are we…
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Revisiting Rules

I have such great memories of my third grade students' enthusiasm during the gymnastics unit in physical education. After this special, they'd come back to our classroom full of excitement about what…
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Fish Gobbler

“Little fish, little fish, swim out to sea,” I shout from the center of the field to the mass of students poised at one end line. From the center line, I watch…
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The Art of Rules

As an art teacher, I'm always looking for ways to adapt Responsive Classroom practices to specialist areas. Here's an idea I came up with for having students do the Hopes and Dreams…
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Using the Responsive Classroom Approach in Special Area Classrooms

Music teachers, art teachers, physical education teachers, librarians, and other specialists are an integral part of school and play a role, as all staff members do, in teaching children to be responsible,…
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Technology in the Classroom

With new technologies arriving on the scene constantly, it can be hard for teachers to keep up. Which devices will improve the learning environment in your classroom? Which will gather dust? Here…
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PE Kudos! Forging connections with families

At University School of Nashville, where I was an administrator and teacher for 23 years, the physical education teachers have recently been trying a new way of engaging students' parents in the…
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Cooperative Games for Younger Students

When I was a physical education teacher, I was always on the lookout for fun, cooperative games for my youngest students.
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Hopes Make Goals Come Alive in a Speech & Language Classroom

Setting and working toward goals with students is a key element of my work as a speech/language pathologist. Each student I work with has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which names goals…
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Working with “Specials” Teachers

Q: "Specials" teachers often see each child for only one hour a week. What's one way that you and a special area teacher have worked together to help him/her get to know…
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Lunch Staff Learn Communication Techniques to Help Children Improve Behavior

“They’re fine when they’re with me. But when they step outside the walls of my classroom, their behavior falls apart,” says a fifth grade teacher. It’s a common lament. Many teachers have…
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Lively Learning

When I was in elementary school more than fifty years ago, I struggled with geography. I found it very hard to keep all those place names and locations straight. The only thing…
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Traveling Rules

Q: The classroom environment is calmer and friendlier when I work with the children to create classroom rules. But I still get reports from lunch, recess, and special area teachers about problematic…
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Using Computers to Build Community

Imagine this: It’s academic choice time in your classroom and groups of three and four students are clustered around computer workstations. Two groups are planning an Internet-based inquiry project. Another group is…
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Keeping Music Alive

When I was a child, music found its way into the daily life of most elementary classrooms. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Monahan, started each day with the pledge and the piano.…
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