Digital Open House Night

Whether you are preparing for a full virtual Open House or an in-person Meet the Teacher, using a digital open house pack will help make your event run smoothly, contactless (i.e. safer), and successfully.

My school is currently planning an Open House Night with scheduled appointments for families. So to make my Meet the Teacher meetings quick, effective, full of information, and safe (SAFER, I mean!) I created an Open House Meet the Teacher Pack for Distance Learning and In-Person events. This pack has everything!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Open-House-Meet-the-Teacher-Pack-Distance-Learning-and-In-Person-5811935

Class Information Presentation

The presentation Google Slides include a teacher introduction, teacher contact information, your schedule, class expectations, virtual learning information, lunch info, recess info, your procedures for snack and items from home, and so much more! These can be presented in the classroom on your whiteboard, inserted into a website, or generate a QR code (video tutorial in the product) for families to scan and view from the QR Poster Station signs included in the pack. Once parents have accessed the file, they can save to their personal drive or to their device for future reference.

Student Information Survey

Use this Google Form to collect important information, like birthdays, dismissal routines, addresses, parent contact info, and more. Send the responses to a Google Spreadsheet to have it all in one place and ready for quick access anytime you need it. I’ve included Key Ring Tags with a place for you to insert a QR code on the Student Information Tag so that you always have this information available (with use of your smartphone’s camera) when you need it! Again, families can access this via a QR Poster Station sign if you’re in-person, a link to the form can be inserted on a Google Site or on your Google Classroom, or you could even add a QR code linked to this form on your Student Postcards/Letters you send home before school begins.

Teacher Contact Cards

I’ll be handing these out to parents by request only, but these could also be mailed to families if you are virtual teaching. Included on the card is a place for email, phone, your website, Zoom link (or any digital link), and your Office Hours. These are completely editable for any of your needs and will help your parents stay in contact with you whenever needed.

QR Poster Station Signs

I’ve included these for in-person open house events to help create a contactless process. Poster options included are your Class Information Presentation, the Student Information Survey, a Class Website, and one Editable sign. All posters include directions for parents and a spot to insert a QR code linked to each of your Open House materials.

Open House and Blank Newsletter Templates

If you prefer using a Newsletter to convey your information, I’ve included an Open House template and a blank template to use whenever and however you wish. These files are in Google Slides, so it is easy to use these as handouts, to insert on a Google Site or your Google Classroom for families to view, or to send digitally.

Key Ring Tags

These are for you. I’ve found that having these tags on my teacher badge key ring is extremely useful and helps me save time. At the beginning of the year when you’re still trying to remember your schedule, student names, and ALL. THE. THINGS. these tags are a life saver! I’ve included tags for your class list, your schedule, student information (insert a QR code for quick access), dismissal info, pull-out service schedules, and one for common phone extensions like your nurse, admin, office, and collab teacher. These are all editable, so you can create a tag for whatever needs you have. These are also great for substitute badges, just not including the student information tag!

Website Banner Images

And for those of you creating a Google Site or other website for your virtual teaching, I’ve even included website banner images with the same theme. These come in six different colors, with text and without. The text on the images states, “Welcome to Our Class”.

I hope you’ll love using this Open House Meet the Teacher for Digital or In-Person resource for your Open House Meet the Teacher Day/Night whether you are hosting a virtual or in-person event. If you have any questions about the resource or how I’m using it for my own event, please let me know!

Grab this resource here!

Happy Teaching!

The Most Important Thing Teachers Must Do to Have the Best Year Ever

What’s your Classroom and Behavior Management Plan?

No matter who you are or what you use, your classroom and behavior management plan is the key to your classroom’s success! You can plan amazing lessons, room transformations, and activities. None of that will be as meaningful without a solid classroom management plan. In my fifteen years of teaching, I’ve found five key rules for any management plan to work.

Relationships

Your students need to know that you respect them and care about them. They need to feel valued; that their thoughts, feelings, and actions are important to you.

Building positive relationships doesn’t mean that you are their friend. Being their friend puts you on their level. This is not where you want to be if you want to hold the authority in your classroom. This means that you need to make sure they see you as an ally and mentor; someone who will treat them with value and lead them in a positive direction.

I begin building these relationships on day one. I join in on their conversations. I ask about them and take time to listen to their stories. I tell them they are important to me and I speak to them with respect and honesty. I’m straightforward. I tell my students that our relationships matter towards having a successful year. I tell them that I may make mistakes sometimes (I’m human) but that I will try my best to be honest and fair. We have a realistic discussion about what they expect from me as their teacher and I tell them that they can hold me to these expectations. We are ALL in this together.

Throughout the year, I join in on their conversations and games at recess. Sometimes I eat lunch with them. Sometimes I join in on resource/specials classes with them. I make sure we have time to smile together. And when it’s necessary, I make sure we have time to be serious and talk about more difficult things together. I share my emotions with my students. To me, it’s important that the students know emotions are okay, and that we all have them. To me, it’s important to show that I am a real human (a professional human, of course).

Clear Expectations and Consequences

Whether you have printed Bitmoji rules posters already made or you make the rules together as a class (or school), it is extremely important to make sure your students understand your expectations and the consequences for meeting or not meeting them.

Your expectations should be high, yet fair! Students need to be motivated intrinsically to meet the classroom expectations. They are only going to feel this intrinsic motivation if they feel like they are capable of meeting the classroom expectations or following the rules. Your consequences must also be fair and clear. Your students need to know what will happen if they don’t meet your expectations and what will happen if they do.

You also need to make it clear that you are here to help them. I let my students know that they can always talk to me if they are having a bad day and may need a little extra help from me to be successful.

Your language needs to be clear. You may feel like you’re on repeat, but if you tell your students exactly what you want them to do, give clear directions, etc. they are more likely to do those things. Even when what you’re telling them is a direction you give every day, it’s important that you give those directions – “push in your chairs and line up quietly”. Many teachers use music, door bells, call and responses for these daily routines and expected behaviors. Those only work if you have given very clear directions, many times, about what you expect them to do before you use those techniques.

Consistency

No matter what, you must consistently reinforce the expectations and consequences. I think this is the hardest part of it all. Especially at the beginning of the year, it’s easy to fall into the misconception that if you get on them or punish them for not meeting your expectations, they won’t like you or they’ll think that you’re mean. That’s not true! Remember, you are trying to earn their respect and you can’t do that if you’re a pushover. You’ve established the expectations and consequences. You’re working hard to meet the expectations they’ve set for you. You MUST consistently hold them to your expectations. This doesn’t just mean that they get in trouble for every misbehavior. Consistency must also go towards reinforcing the positive behaviors. And, just because a student is getting a consequence for a negative behavior, it doesn’t mean that you have to enforce that consequence with anger. It won’t be important to your students if they don’t think it’s important to you, and that’s where consistency comes into play!

Be Fair

I mean several things when I say to “be fair”. I mentioned above that your expectations need to be fair. What I mean is that they need to be reachable. Your consequences must be fair. They must make sense with the level of misbehavior or the level of positive behavior. You must hold ALL of your students to the same level of expectations and consequences. I promise you, your students will notice if they think one student is getting away with misbehaviors for ANY reason. They’ll also notice if one student is being reinforced for positive behaviors way more often than others. For inclusion classrooms like mine, this may mean that you have preventative measures like social skills lessons, behavior tools, verbal prompts, whatever else, in order to help some students meet your expectations and have the same chance as everyone else in the room. This may also mean that you have to work harder to keep a more positive outlook and mindset. It can be really easy to get sucked into the negative mindset and only notice misbehaviors. Again, your job is to help your students meet the classroom expectations, and that means you have to work as hard to help them as you expect them to work towards their positive behaviors.

With fairness, I also mean that you need to be fair in how you treat the students when they don’t meet your expectations. If being yelled at in front of everyone is not something that you would like done to you when you make a mistake, you should not be doing that when your students make mistakes. Also, if you do happen to have that student who consistently makes those mistakes, be fair in how you watch and manage his/her behavior. You can’t allow yourself to only focus on the misbehaviors. Your students will never make positive changes if you don’t also reinforce the positive behaviors they exhibit.

Listen

Your students WILL want to talk to you. They’ll want to tell you stories. They’ll want to explain themselves when they make mistakes. You HAVE TO take time to listen to them. It’s a huge part in the positive, respectful relationships you’re building with them. I think many of us believe that we don’t have time to listen to our students. I feel this way too, sometimes. But, there are definitely times throughout your day that you can make time to listen – pull that student a few minutes during resource/specials, lunch, recess, or arrival. I’m sure when you really think about it, you do have a few minutes somewhere in your day that you can use to make that student feel listened to. I promise you, it’s worth your time!

It doesn’t matter if you use a behavior chart, Class Dojo, an economy system, etc. Without these five elements, none of those will be successful. These five elements come into play when collaborating with your students’ families also. It’s important that you work with and build positive relationships with them, and it’s important that you all are setting clear classroom expectations, being consistent, fair, and listening to each other.

So … now that you know the five key elements to any successful classroom management plan, it’s time to prepare what works for you. What are your expectations? What are your consequences? How will you keep track of the behaviors? How will you manage the daily routines? If you haven’t thought about this, now is a great time to start! It’s the most important thing you can do to prepare for having your best school year ever!

Have a great school year! And if you’d like to know more about how I implement these things in my classroom, please leave a comment/question or get in touch!

My Most Successful Parent Communication Tips

Staying in touch to keep open communication with parents at school used to be one of the hardest parts of this job for me.  I am NOT good about picking up the phone and making calls during my planning or after school and no matter how many reminders I set for myself or how many times I make this a goal to improve each year, phone calls just don’t happen often enough for me.  I’ll bet there are plenty of teachers out there that would say the exact same thing!  Yet, working with and communicating progress with our school parents is extremely important!  Here’s what I’ve found that has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE:

  1.  ClassDojoWatch this video on youtube for an intro to ClassDojo and some of the resources available in this AMAZING (FREE) app!  My team and I share our classes with the resource teachers, the lunch team, our parents, favorite substitutes, etc. to keep our behavior management strategies uniform for our students throughout the school day.  Those of you who know what it’s like to share your class with other teachers, know how important this is.  My parents are also connected and can see their student’s behavior points, whether they are growth or grow points, and why their student is earning that point at any time of the day.  I can message my parents one-to-one or send out whole group reminders.  I can send pictures, videos, or text messages.  This allows me to send updates or just some “yay” moments that allow my parents to help celebrate those moments with the class.   Parents can message with questions or concerns, they don’t have to wait for you to initiate communication.  Students can keep digital work portfolios for parents to see what they are working on in class.  It really is an all-in-one resource for the classroom.  Best of all, the parents that have connected with my classroom have given nothing but RAVE reviews about my communication throughout the year.  Go to classdojo.com to learn more and set up your own class!
  2. Seesaw – Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio.  Teachers can enable students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate; showing what they know through drawings, text, videos, photos, links, PDFs, and by uploading files from Google apps.  It is FREE and easy to use, allows for parent connection, including the ability to comment on posts (if enabled by the teacher), offers a free “class blog” site to give your students more of a world-wide audience (again this must be enabled by the teacher), and no posts are uploaded without teacher approval.  In my experience, parents LOVE being able to see their child’s work and send encouraging comments or suggestions to stay connected to their child at school!  My students LOVE this site too. It has been a highly engaging addition to my classroom.  I suggest browsing the resources section of this site for great ideas and PD opportunities to get the most out of your use of this AWESOME resource for your classroom!
  3. Google Classroom – This one is only available to teachers who have access to Google Apps for Education.  It is a classroom website that enables the teacher to send assignments, announcements, questions, files, videos, and links to students and connected parents.  Students can turn in their assignments directly on the Classroom assignment page and teachers can grade, comment, and send the assignments back for revision if necessary.  The teacher has full control over what is added to the Classroom page, including frequent links or files used in the classroom.  It can even be shared among teachers for team collaboration.  Assignments can be differentiated and viewed while the students are working, allowing the teacher to check in and make suggestions before the work is turned in.  Connected parents are able to track their child’s work and progress, making for more informed communication.  I use this one DAILY in my classroom.  This is truly a resource that has transformed my teaching!

I know there are other great apps and communication sites out there, but in my experience (and I’ve tried quite a few), these are the best!  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like any more information about any of these classroom tools.

thanks for reading!