Teacher Conferences & New Passions

Every year, our fabulous administration invites us to an amazing teaching conference that is local.  This year, it was focused on instructional leadership in the classroom.

We heard from some fabulous individuals, both those in the education and in the business field.  Two of the people that really inspired me were Daniel Pink and Ron Clark.  Daniel Pink is a business analyst that studies corporations and analyzes their level of success compared to the motives that the company uses to achieve such success (or the lack thereof).  It was fascinating to learn that as teachers we often bride our students constantly with IF-THEN statements: If you do this, then you'll get this.  While there is a place for such motivators, we are actually doing our children a disservice.  We are taking away intrinsic motivation, and, therefore, ruining their love of learning in some cases.  If you want to read more, check out one of his books!  

Now, the other presenter that was hands down phenomenal was Ron Clark.  If you've heard anything about the Ron Clark Academy, South Texas's IDEA Academies, or the KIPP Charter schools, you probably know a thing or two about this high energy, passionate educator from North Carolina.  The man has transformed education with his kids.  He makes it fun, and instills serious manners into his students.  His ability to make school fun isn't filled with class points, rewards, stickers, etc.  He follows through to a T with every single one of his policies, even if it means that not every student ends up getting the cookie for their hard work.  He also addressed that we need to be very cautious that we are not raising a generation of soft students by giving them the reward regardless of their effort/performance.  Amen my friend.  I've only read a snippet of his books, but I'm already addicted.  I have secured copies at the local library and I. Am. STOKED!  He is at the top of my professional learning idols, up there with Kelly Gallagher.  I'm so excited to sell the idea to some other teachers who weren't at the conference.  It's going to make next year exciting and wonderful, just like this year was.  Here are his three books!  If you've read them, leave a comment with your thoughts/ideas!  I'd LOVE to hear from you!  Happy teaching and reading!

Citizenship Board

I try to keep my kids accountable as much as possible, and sometimes that can be a hard task to keep up with!  We track citizenship scores with our Magnet Board, shown below:

Everyone starts the day at "Making Great Choices" which means that  I expect them to begin the day making the choice to be prepared and follow directions.  Students can go either up or down throughout the day.  I really like this model because sometimes a student might have a really rough morning, but they know that it doesn't have to ruin their citizenship score for the entire day.  If they pull it together, they can get move up as well.  It's encouraging for kids.  Depending on the day, students might get to move their magnet up for participating, doing service, sharing a cool way of thinking, turning in a project on time, being prepared, etc.  Basically whatever we are struggling with as a class (or with an individual) I use the magnet board as a way of positively reinforcing good behavior, and occasionally having to step in to correct unacceptable behavior.  I find that the prospect of moving the magnet up is pretty motivating for most of my students.  It also is a visual reminder to me that I need to make sure I'm positively rewarding kids who are on task constantly.

For the magnets, our grade level laminated brightly colored paper, and then punched out circles using a scrapbook paper circle cutter.  They probably have a 1.5-2 inch diameter.  Then I slapped on a self-adhesive magnet on the back.  The first week of school the kids chose their own magnet and wrote their names on it.  It makes the board really colorful!  (Sorry for the blurry spots - had to blot out names!)

So what do I do with this?  Well, the kids have planners that we fill out together at the end of each day. We write upcoming homework assignments, projects, etc.  Each level on the board correlates to a number.  Uh-Oh = 1 and Coolest = 7, and everywhere in between.  :)  Each day, they write their score in their planner which must then be signed by a parent each night, regardless of the score.  

If students unfortunately end the day below "making great choices," they owe me some time during recess doing class service.  That way it's not a study hall reward or anything like that.  
Careful = 5 minutes of service
Yikes = All 15 minutes of recess (they also had a note sent home)
Uh-Oh = Recess for a week, and they must call their parents while I'm in the room so they are accountable for their choices, and so I can ensure that the correct information gets home.  

If a student makes it up to a 7, I give them a homework pass (which are like Charlie's Golden Ticket in our class!)

Want to make your own board?  Save yourself a little bit of time and grab the labels for FREE at my TPT store here!  The board is a magnet board from Ikea, separated with blue painter tape.  

PS - I wish I could take the ultimate credit for this, but I found a picture of one on a random blog last year, so if you made it, let me know so I can give you credit!!!