Creating a Positive Classroom Environment: It Starts with You!

Often, we are so concerned with positive ways to manage student behavior that we forget about the importance of our positive attitude each and every day. As the school year dips into the middle of autumn, already we start to question if we are meeting all our students’ needs and doing the best job we possibly can do. Good classroom management that creates a positive environment starts with the teacher. What can you do at school and away from school to use and enhance positive energy?

At School:

  • At recess or lunch period, take some time to read a chapter in a novel or read some poetry, take a walk on the school grounds or neighborhood, or write a personal note to a colleague to thank or praise him for something he did for you or the staff.
  • Stay (when you can) after school to comment and grade papers or start a little earlier to do the same before school starts. Find a quiet spot away from the door so your colleagues will be less inclined to drop in to chat with you during this time. The work will be completed much faster in school than at home!
  • If someone on the staff is a constant source of negative energy, steer clear!
  • Teach students how to do things for themselves as soon as possible. They need to feel capable, and their greater independence will free up some precious time for you to manage all that is required of you.
  • Find a friend you can have lunch with regularly and decide to pack a lunch once or twice a week and have a quiet, relaxing lunch with each other in a location other than the teachers’ lunchroom.
  • Do what you can to build a positive attitude about being at school. Be sure to say “hello” to your colleagues when you pass them in the hallway. Share your ideas freely, and be willing to problem solve as a cooperative team whenever the occasions arise.
  • Set high expectations for your students and be their biggest cheer leader.
  • On the weekends or on Mondays before school begins for the week, reflect on things that went especially well during the previous week. Select one experience and record it in your writer’s notebook. Savor the moment!

Continue reading

What are you reading today?

Two Book Reviews

Books are missing from Mr. Lemoncello’s library, and it appears that someone is trying to censor what the kids can read! Will Luigi Lemoncello find the real defenders of books and champions of libraries?

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein is an easy, enjoyable read for upper elementary school readers (grades 4 – 8). The sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a rematch, so to speak. The competition involves puzzles, book references, and pop culture shout-outs. Teamwork, cooperation, and recognizing each other’s strengths are all clear messages for the reader. In this story, some of the adults are the villains who want to ban some books they don’t like. A delightful, fun, action-packed book for readers who love to solve puzzles and mysteries! Continue reading

A Book for Today

I know I said I would review on the 15th and 30th of every month, but this one could not wait…

            Different languages, different food, different customs. That’s our neighborhood: wild and tangled and colorful. Like the best kind of garden. (p. 54)

 Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is an amazing book told from the viewpoint of a red oak tree. Red is a city tree that has lived for 216 years (she has 216 rings). She’s also wishtreeknown as the wishtree, and on the first of May, people of all ages come to tie rags, tags, and even the occasional gym sock to her limbs with wishes scribbled on them. Red is an optimist and has strong opinions about things. Bongo, a pessimistic crow and a loyal friend, are two of the main characters along with Samar, a ten year old Muslim girl.  Red is home to owlets, possums, raccoons and skunks. They talk with one another, but nature has one rule: Don’t talk to people.

Continue reading