Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 strategies for success with strong-willed children

Have you seen the video below? In the video, Aaliyah (the daughter of Nailah Ellis-Brown, the CEO of Ellis Island Tea) has her mind made up! 


I love the video because Aaliyah reminds me of my own daughters. I have two strong-willed girls that, when their minds are made up, won't change their minds easily. (I think I know exactly where they get that!)

As you watched the video, what words came to mind about the toddler? The dad? The mom? How does this relate to us as educators?

The mom and dad had different strategies when faced with the strong-willed child. Dad told Aaliyah the correct information over and over. Still, she wouldn't give in to what he was telling her. 

The mom (Nailah) had a different tactic. Instead of trying to convince her daughter that she should accept what Dad was saying, Mom asked the daughter to count to four. 

This is a great tactic when trying to change our beliefs about something. Sometimes we have to experience cognitive dissonance in order to change what we believe. 

Have you ever worked with a student who had certain beliefs that were hard to change? How about a strong-willed student? I've known educators who have reacted on opposite ends of a spectrum when working with strong-willed students. I've known some to  get frustrated and quit on students, and I've known some use patience and consistency as they work with students.

While there are some differences in dealing with toddlers and dealing with teenagers, I wanted to share 5 strategies for success from Cynthia Tobias:

Five Strategies for Success
1. Choose your battles.Don't make everything non-negotiable. Is this a battle worth fighting? Choose the things you want to go to the wall for and leave the rest alone.
2. Lighten up, but don't let up.Ask them, "Are you annoying me on purpose? If you are, you are so good at it." Smile more often. When you are a strong-willed child, nobody is all that happy to see you when you walk in the room.
3. Ask more questions and issue fewer orders."Are you about done with your homework? Are you going to mow the lawn before dinner? Are you about ready to go or do you want to be late?"
4. Hand out more tickets and give fewer warnings.Take more action and show less anger.
5. Make sure your strong-willed child always knows your love is unconditional.They have to know no matter how they act that you are still going to be there for them.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A new teacher group we're starting at our school

I've shared before on this blog that the teachers at our school have 2 off periods during their school day. One period is for planning, and one is a PD/PLC period. This allows teachers of a content area to share a period with others who teach the same content. This is a huge help with pacing, curriculum planning, and using results to drive instruction for teachers in a small group. 

This year, in addition to weekly PLC meetings, our teachers have met as a PLC during Collaborative Hour, where they have learned a literacy strategy each nine weeks to implement as part of our school-wide literacy plan

Next year, we're trying something new. It's called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC (or ITLPLC for short). 

I recently sent out a school-wide email, asking teachers if they would like to be a part of the new PLC. You can see the email below:

Are you a teacher with creative ideas that you implement in the classroom? Do you know your content standards well? Are you looking for a support network of other innovative teachers at HHS who will brainstorm, encourage, challenge, and uplift you? 
Next year, we will pilot a new PLC, and if you answered yes to the questions above, this PLC may be for you! 
For those who would like to be a part of the PLC, there will be a book study this summer on George Couros' book Innovator's Mindset. The PLC will be for any teacher in any content area. *This means that you would be in the "Innovative Teaching and Learning" PLC and not a PLC with your content-area teachers.  
If you would like to be a part of a new PLC called "Innovative Teaching and Learning," please let me know by Friday at noon, as Carrie and I are working on the master schedule for next year. 

 I had 18 teachers respond that they would like to be a part of it, so I immediately ordered George's book for them. 

I also asked each teacher to sign up for Voxer and send me a Vox so that I can create a book study group for our ITLPLC.

On the master schedule, I broke the large group into 3 smaller groups spread out across 3 periods (so that it would work in each group member's schedule). This way, there are three small groups that will be able to support each other throughout the year during a designated PLC period, and the entire group will be connected on Voxer, too. (We have over 200 teachers at our school. Teachers can go weeks without seeing certain other teachers in the school.)

We're "building the ship as we sail it," and we'll see where this idea takes us. Our school is known for it's willingness to try new things and take risks. I'm excited for teachers to have this intentional time in their schedule!

How could you create an opportunity like this in your school? 
What other ideas do you have about this ITLPLC?

Friday, May 19, 2017

What teachers can learn from coaches

Yesterday I wrote a post titled What PLCs can learn from coaches. I think there's a lot of great coaching practices that are really effective teaching strategies that could and should be used in the classroom. Today I'm going to share one coaching strategy that is important for a successful classroom. 

I recently attended my daughter's basketball banquet for her college basketball team. At the banquet, Mike Ricks, the head coach who just finished his second season with the team, shared a little with the attendees about the basketball program.

The first thing Coach Ricks talked about was culture. When Coach Ricks took over the program two years ago, the program was not a successful one. Coach "inherited" players who were invested in the school and program who had to adjust to a new way of doing things. He needed buy in from the returning players, even more so than from the new players coming in.

Coach Ricks and his staff wanted the program to feel completely new. They set out to do a complete overhaul on expectations, the definition of TEAM, as well as style of play. 

Now, we need to remember, these are college players. Those who love the sport. Those who want to play at the next level. These are the self-motivated, self-disciplined players, right? Coach Ricks and his staff can take the motivation piece for granted... right?

Coach Ricks and his staff have done A LOT of things to motivate the players. 

Just check out their locker room...

Do we agree that classrooms can impact students' motivation, interest, and behavior?  Coach Ricks was very intentional about the physical space he has created for the women's basketball team. He sends a clear and consistent message about team unity, hard work, and "The Panther Way." The players also go through Camp Five as part of their pre-season where they have mental breakthroughs and learn to depend on each other physically and emotionally.

It would be easy to say that the players are motivated and decorating the locker room or having a theme or motto aren't necessary. Do you believe that Coach Ricks sees himself as a motivator as much as a teacher of the game of basketball? Do classroom teachers see themselves as motivators as much as they see themselves as teachers of a content area?

What can teachers learn from coaches? We need to MOTIVATE our students, from the least motivated to the most motivated. We have an impact on their motivation, positively or negatively, by what we DO or DON'T DO.

Let's create opportunities for students to team-build together, let's create inviting and motivating spaces, let's encourage and uplift, let's protect each other, and let's wrap up our "season" with a celebration (not just semester exams). Let's see ourselves as motivators.

Motivating others is not easy, but it's possible. Start talking to the successful coaches you know. I bet they all know ways to motivate others!

Do you know any successful coaches and how they motivate their players? I would love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What PLCs can learn from coaches

I first heard of the concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) over 12 years ago. I was fortunate to go to several conferences to hear from experts such as Rick and Becky DuFour, Robert Marzano, Bob Eaker, and Eric Twadell. It was in these conferences that I was first introduced to the four essential questions for PLCs:
  • What do we expect students to learn?
  • How will we know when they have learned it?
  • How will we respond when some students haven't learned it?
  • How will we respond when some students already know it?
It was Becky DuFour who said (and I summarize) that we should examine every practice and procedure and their impact on student learning. The focus was to be on teaching and school practices, but ONLY in regard to the focus on student learning. 

There was a SHIFT of focus from teaching to learning. 

It was refreshing. It was "results focused," and it was team oriented. Under the PLC concept, teachers were collaborating with others, comparing results, sharing ideas, and working to improve the learning that was taking place in classrooms. It was the opposite of the "close your classroom door and teach" philosophy.

The PLC concepts were all concepts that I had experienced as an athletic player and coach. At the end of each game or match, the score is on the board for all to see. It's posted online, it's in the newspaper... in other words, it's a public display of your impact as a coach. Because of the public results and the competitive nature of coaches and athletes, successful coaches are always looking for ways to get better. Each year, there is a different group of athletes to reach and motivate in different ways. There are new drills, workouts, and strategies that are developed. 

The successful coaches I know talk about the game, pick other coaches' brains for ideas, attend workshops to keep learning, and more. Coaches ask, "What do I need to do as a coach to win?" It's asked because coaches understand that what they do impacts the outcome. The focus is on the players and their results.

Let's not just ask, "What do I need to do as an educator?" 

Let's finish the question and ask, "What do I need to do as an educator that will have the greatest impact on student learning?"

Let's also not hold our student results hostage. Let's put kids up to the same challenges, see how they do, talk about how we prepared them, and then figure out what works best. 

One game doesn't define a player or a coach, and one test score doesn't define a student or a teacher. 

Tomorrow's post... What classroom teachers can learn from coaches.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why #lastbell is about our beliefs

It has been extremely rewarding to see the #lastbell posts across social media - Photos and captions of teachers and students across the country making the most of the time they have together. There are so many great ideas to capture and steal from others to put into action in our own schools. 

At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Ashley McBride for her "A+ Edtech Podcast." 

In the podcast, we talked about how the #lastbell movement got started and lessons learned through participation in #lastbell.

The message I hoped to relay in the podcast is that #lastbell is a reflection of what an educator believes. If one of our beliefs is that we are better together, then participation in #lastbell is a no-brainer. Those who participate believe that they have neat things to share about kids' learning, and that others will benefit by knowing what's happening. Also, when we believe that we're better together, we believe it's a give and take relationship. Those who participate aren't just lurkers. They don't just take, but they also give back and share ideas. 

Another belief of those who participate in #lastbell is respect for students and their time. When must believe it's important to take full advantage of the time we have with students to build positive, impactful relationships and help them to learn more than what they thought they could learn.

When we believe in the students and believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive impact on their lives, #lastbell becomes a year-round philosophy. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

4 Motivational Free Printables

I had someone recently ask me to create some graphics for them. I love creating new images for others, especially when I'm affirmed by someone hiring me to do it for them! :-) 

While I was on a roll, I thought I would create some printables for you, for your classroom or office. They would look great framed, but you can also get them laminated or enlarged at a local copy shop (or maybe your school library.)

I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed creating them for you! (Just right-click and choose "save image as.")

If you prefer to download all 4 in a .pdf file, click HERE

Want to hire me to create graphics for you? Send me your project request via email. Just click "Contact" at the top of my blog.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

5 ideas for finishing the year strong - #lastbell

End of year by

For many of us, we're about one week away from starting the last month of the school year. If you're like me, you're still wondering why time seems to go faster and faster every year. With the last month of school approaching, it's the time of the year when teachers know their students best, students know classroom routines and their teachers, and it's a great time to finish the school year strong!

Last year around this time, I was part of leading a movement on social media called #lastbell. It's a reminder that time in classrooms in May is just as important as the first few weeks of school. Our voxer group for female leaders in education saw a need to motivate, encourage, and support educators as we enter the month where teachers, students, and parents are tired and want to pass on learning. You can read about how #lastbell inspired a district last spring, and we hope that you will join us in May as we lift up students and educators everywhere!

Here are some resources and ideas for #lastbell as we head into May:

Literacy buddies  
If you teach older elementary students, partner with a younger class for literacy buddies. Let the older students read to and with the younger students. End the year with a literacy party to celebrate number of pages and/or books read.

Take it outside! 
Take a box of sidewalk chalk and the lesson outside. Let students capture their ideas in writing on the sidewalk. 

Practice gratitude. 
Supply your students with colored paper, markers, stickers, and anything else they might need to create Thank You cards for another teacher in the building. Have them to sign their name to the card, then place the card in the teachers' mailboxes. Don't tell the other teachers what you are doing.

Class Awards from

Celebrate your students!
Everyone likes to be recognized. Feel free to download and use certificates I created, or create your own. If your school allows, also share pictures of students with their certificates on social media. 

Practice Random Acts of Kindness
For a week or a month, have a RAK of the day. Listen to the stories your students share about the joy they get out of performing these acts of kindness. 
Here are some ideas:

  • Make a thank-you card for a custodian
  • Help pick up trash in the hallway or lunchroom
  • Say hi to a new student
  • Smile at everyone you see
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Write a thank you note to a lunchroom worker, secretary, or nurse
  • Tell someone they're doing a great job
  • Give someone a high five

We hope you will join in the #lastbell fun starting next week! Be sure to share on social media using the hashtag!

Official button for #lastbell. (Right-click to download)
Share in your email signature, on your blog, & social media.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Student Choice as an instructional strategy - three ways to encourage it

When my daughters were young, they usually didn’t want to go to bed at their bedtime. To give them choice, I wouldn’t ask them if they wanted to go or ask them what time they wanted to go to bed. I would ask them, “Do you want to walk to bed or do you want to be carried to bed?”

The simple analogy relates to the opportunity for choice that we need to give to students in the classroom. It’s no longer enough to simply say, “Do as I say.” While students can’t make a choice of IF they want to learn certain content as it relates to standards, they can make choices on the HOW. For example, one of the Alabama state standards for Chemistry states, “Use the periodic table as a systematic representation to predict properties of elements based on their valence electron arrangement.” We can’t let students choose if they want to learn the content, but we can partner with them and allow them to choose how they want to demonstrate their learning as it relates to the standard.

Here are three ways we can create opportunities for more student choice:
Ask students It’s that simple. When deciding on lessons, projects, videos, examples, starting points, assessments, experiences, etc, teachers need to ask themselves, How could I get student input about this? (Then do it.) Using a rating scale is an easy way to find out what students like and dislike, what concepts they are having trouble with, and where they perceive their knowledge level to be.
Allow for collaboration
Give students the opportunity to work together in small groups or with partners to brainstorm ideas, give feedback, and research together. Learning how to develop criteria alongside the teacher creates more ownership and leads to an opportunity for self-check and reflection. Student choice that is a result of collaboration can lead to greater accountability with self and others.
Explicitly teach skills By explicitly teaching skills, it doesn’t mean to avoid teaching content. It means that in addition to teaching content, teach students the skills they need to problem-solve: how to evaluate evidence, ask questions, find information, create hypotheses, and develop, defend, and analyze arguments. Equipped with these skills, students can make better and more informed choices.
By allowing students to have more choice, it can increase productivity and motivation. Choice, like all other teaching strategies, is just that - a strategy. We don’t need to use one strategy for all situations. Choice should be implemented with purpose and as a means to help students learn more than what they ever thought they could or wanted to.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

20 motivational quotes by inspiring women

Inspiring women by

It’s the week of the ASCD Empower conference, and my excitement is growing for several reasons. I’ve never been to California, and I'm thrilled to be spending the day at Disneyland with my friend Debbie Campbell. Many of my Twitter friends I’ve never met in person, and I can’t wait to hang out with them while we learn at the ASCD Conference! 

Another reason I’m excited about attending the conference is that I will be presenting Leadership is a Team Sport with several ladies from our Women in Education Leadership Voxer group. Who would have thought that when I started this group almost three years ago that we would have grown into the close-knit group that we have become today. We are a group of committed leaders who support, encourage, challenge, and inspire each other on a daily basis.

Leadership is a Team Sport

In honor of the upcoming ASCD presentation and our Women in Ed Leadership Voxer group, I’m sharing 20 motivational quotes with you today. Whatever your role -- leader, innovator, trailblazer, disruptor -- I hope you find inspiration!

1. “My best successes came on the heels of failures.” -- Barbara Corcoran

2. “You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.” - Leymah Gbowee

3. “’Restore connection’ is not just for devices, it is for people too. If we cannot disconnect, we cannot lead. Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity. This is something that needs to be taught in business schools. This mentality needs to be introduced as a leadership and performance-enhancing tool.” -- Arianna Huffington

4. “I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life.” - Louise Hay

5. “My father had a simple test that helps me measure my own leadership quotient: When you are out of the office, he once asked me, does your staff carry on remarkable well without you?” -- Martha Peak

Motivational Quote by

6. "Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you." – Caroline Myss.

7. “I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” -- Ginni Rometty

8. “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” -- Dolly Parton

9. “You can’t give up! If you give up, you’re like everybody else.” - Chris Evert

10. “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Motivational Quote by

11. "True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed... Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection." -- Sheryl Sandberg

12. “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” - Audre Lorde

13. “We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”  – Marie Curie

14. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” -- Sara Blakely

15. "I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." – Diane Ackerman

Motivational Quote by

16. "Getting past those labels, for me, pretty much really easy because I define myself." -- Serena Williams

17. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” - Maya Angelou

18. "The most effective way to do it, is to do it." – Amelia Earhart

19. “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” - Brene Brown

20. “Do not wait on a leader...look in the mirror, its you!” -- Katherine Miracle

If you're going to be at ASCD Empower, I hope you will join us for our session! If not, you can follow the conference on twitter at #Empower17.

ASCD Empower by

Thursday, March 16, 2017

An effective vocab teaching strategy for any grade level

I’m on a mission to get rid of assignments that consist of writing down vocabulary words and copying definitions from the text. In a digitized world, this is the equivalent of creating digital flashcards to “learn vocabulary.” 

Today’s post is about a strategy that can be used to help students learn vocabulary. 

Synectics is a problem-solving technique that promotes creative thinking by making a comparison between two seemingly unrelated terms/objects. The strategy of synectics forces students to make connections about vocabulary words in creative and uncommon ways. Because of this, students are more likely to remember vocabulary definitions. 

How to use this technique with students

1.Provide vocabulary words along with words that are not related to the content. 

For example, if the word is meiosis, you may provide the words:
clover             bracelet                  octopus               pinata

2. Demonstrate to students how to use the synectic:

Meiosis is like a _____________ because __________________.

Meiosis is like clover because meiosis is the division of a cell into four daughter cells, and clover has 4 leaves. 

3. Allow students to create their own comparisons, either individually or in pairs. Students can use the comparison words you’ve provided or create their own. 

4. Have students to create an image to represent their synectics.

5. Ask students to share their synectics with the class. 

Click the picture below for a pdf

What we need to spend less time doing:

Asking kids to list vocabulary words and copy definitions.

Asking, "Who knows what _________ means?"

Giving students complex definitions to words.

Having kids look up definitions in the dictionary. (The teacher can use the dictionary to create student-friendly definitions that can be explicitly taught.)

What do you think we need to spend less time doing? 
Will you join me as I aspire to be a vocab ninja?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Free Twitter Quick Start Guide

Twitter Quick Start Guide |
I've been answering a lot of questions about Twitter lately... questions about how to get started on Twitter, how to join Twitter chats, how to host Twitter chats, how to build a PLN, how to increase followers, and more! 

I really enjoy teaching others about how to use twitter for professional learning, connecting with others, and branding their school/district. While I love doing this in person, I also saw a need for a "no frills" Quick Start Guide. 

This workbook is for anyone just starting out on Twitter or for someone who is looking for a "reboot." Feel free to share this blog post link with your teachers, colleagues, staff, and/or friends so that they can get a copy of the guide.

Also, feel free to share the guide at your first (or next) Twitter Party. I only ask that you share the workbook it in its entirety with no modifications to the content. 

To get your copy, all you have to do is click the button below.

If you are interested in having me work with your staff on how to use Twitter to grow professionally or brand their school/classroom (or other topic), I will work with you to create a custom day of hands-on training. Shoot me an email at 

Want to find this later? Pin the image below.

Twitter Quick Start Guide |

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

74 practical ways to build relationships with students

It all goes back to relationships!

Relationships are the essential element in our schools. The old adage, “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is true especially in today’s society when kids are used to so much choice in their world. Also, in today’s busy world, it’s important for teachers and school staff to make positive connections with students. We must be intentional, and taking time with these relationships must be purposeful.

Members of the Compelled Tribe have teamed up to share practical ways for educators to build relationships with students. As connected educators we also embrace the notion that it is the power of the team that drives much of what we do. How do you build relationships with those that you serve? See the list below for ideas to add to what you may be already doing in the buildings and districts in which you work.

1. Greet students at the door. Smile and call them by name. Tell them you are glad to see them.
2. Ask your students to share three things about themselves. Let them choose what they share. Keep them on index cards to help make connections throughout the year.
3. Know your students families. As important as it is to know the students, make the connection to home. Great relationships with your kids starts where they kick off their day. As the year continues and both the good and bad arise, having that connection will be crucial to getting the results you are seeking.
4. Journal writing is an activity to get to know your students well and give students a voice in the classroom.
5. Make positive phone calls home especially within the first two weeks of the school year.
6. Genius Hour/Passion Projects really give teachers an opportunity to learn about student passions.

7. Have kids make something that represents them out of Play-dough and share.
8. In the first couple of days of school, learn the first name of every student in your first class of the day, and something personal and unique about them that has nothing to do with your first class of the day.
9. Be vulnerable!  Let your guard down and show your students that you are a learner, you make mistakes, and persevere.  They will see you as a person, opening the door for a relationship built on trust. Share stories about yourself as a learner or challenges you’ve faced when you were there age and help them see what it took to overcome it. It’s easy to forget how much a simple connection can make the difference.
10. Eat together.  Have breakfast with a small group of kids or join them at the lunch table.  Gathering around meal time provides an informal way to have conversations and get to know your students.
11. Hold Monday morning meetings (We call them “Weekend News Updates”). Ask each student to share about their weekend - good or bad.  Ask questions. Be sure to share about your weekend too!  Occasionally bring in breakfast or make hot chocolate.

12. Laugh with them. Frequently. Show them that school, and your class, is just not about learning stuff. It is about sharing an experience. Tell them you missed them if they were out.
13. Keep in touch with past students.  Show past students that you do not have a 1 year contract with them.  The ongoing relationship will also model to your current students the value of a positive classroom community.
14. At the elementary level -- hold morning meeting everyday as a class and stick to the routine of greeting, sharing, team building activity, and morning message.  This is a sacred time to build and maintain a culture of risk tasking and building relationships.
15. Send positive postcards home to every child. Have them address it on the first day of the quarter, keep them and challenge yourself to find at least one thing each quarter to celebrate about your students, let them and their parents know.

16. Find their interests and what motivates them! Sometimes it may take a bit to break down barriers and build trust, but through being genuine and authentic with them this will happen in no time.
17. Make personal phone calls to parents. Find one good thing to say about the children in your class.  It can be how they contributed to a class discussion or how well mannered they are in class or in the halls. For older students it can be how diligent a student is at learning challenging content.
18. Share something about yourself that they will find relevant or interesting to extend your relationships with students.
19. Tell a story from a time you were their age. This approach allows students to see teachers as they once were and make connections easier to establish and maintain.
20. Create a unique handshake or symbol for each of your students.  Use it when you greet them at the door or say goodbye.

21. Eat lunch with a group of kids throughout the week. They will enjoy a time dedicated just to them. (And you will enjoy a peaceful lunch!)
22. As a school, hold monthly celebrations to recognize students and educators their accomplishments.
23. Take pictures with students. Print. Write a special note on the back to the student.

24. At the end of a term or year, write a thank you to students telling them what you have learned from them. Be specific and honest - authenticity goes a long way. Try to make the note handwritten if possible, but email works well too.
25. Each day write two students a personal  note about something that you have noticed about them.  Go into some detail and be specific. Keep track of who you reach out to over the year and try and reach as many students as you can. The time you spend doing this will deepen connections and pay off 10 fold.
26. Have dance parties! It is so fun to let loose and get down with students. Students love seeing you have fun with them, and the saying goes, “The class that dances together, stays together”.
27. Play with students at recess or during a free time. Climb the monkey bars, play kickball, or tag. Students will never forget you connecting with them on the playground.
28. Hang out in the hall to give high fives or to have quick conversations with students. Relationship-building can be squeezed into any time of the day.
29. Notice students having a bad day. Ask questions without prying. Show that you care. Follow up the next day, week, etc.

30. When a student is having a rough day, ask if he/she has eaten. We are all more unreasonable when we are hungry. Keep a supply of snacks on hand (ex: breakfast bars, crackers, etc).
31. Go see students at their events: sports, theater, dance, volunteering. Meet parents and families.
32. When a student stops to say “Hello” and has a friend in tow, introduce yourself and be sure that the guest feels important.
33. Stop class from time to time with a comment such as, “Hey, everyone, Katie just asked me a great question. I think you’ll all benefit from this. Katie, could you repeat that for everyone?”
34. Sing “Happy Birthday” to students; send birthday emails (I use “Boomerang” to schedule my birthday emails each month).
35. Say “I missed you yesterday” when a student has been absent. Be sincere.

36. We have to make time to grow relationships with our students. This time can not always be in a planner or a calendar. Sometimes, this simply means just being there for your students.
37. Mail them a postcard for their birthday. They are always amazed to receive personal mail!
38. In a leadership position, learn as many names as you can. Greet students by their name as often as you are able.
39. Music! Bond with your students over music. Play soft classical music while they are working. Incorporate music/songs into special events or lessons.
40. Classroom: Start a compliment jar. Share comments at the end of class or randomly throughout the day. School: Do shout-outs during morning (or afternoon) announcements/news show.
41. Smile and make eye contact.  “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”. Something as simple as a greeting in the hall with smile and eye contact conveys both warmth & safety.  Try it tomorrow.  
42. First day of math class have them choose 10 numbers that are significant to them (3 for number of cats, 1 for brothers, 20 for number of hours they work, etc.).  Everyone shares out.  You will learn lots about all your students in one day.  

43. Cut them some slack every now and then.  “What were you doing?  What should you have been doing?  Can you do that for me next time?”  We all make mistakes.  
44. Hold class celebrations and have students develop unique cheers for various accomplishments...these can be anything from a sports team victory, to being selected for something, to earning a grade, and they need not be school related.
45. Allen Mendler’s 2x10 strategy for challenging students. Spend 2 minutes per day for 10 consecutive days talking to a student about something not academic.
46. Share your own goals, successes/failures. Don’t be a mystery to your students.
47. After morning announcements have students participate in a daily discussion question.  Have a student read the question and set a timer for two and a half minutes.  Each person turns to a partner and answers the question then volunteers share with the whole class.  Each question, in some way, will help you get to know your students.

48. Halfway through the year, have your parents and students fill out a feedback form.  In my classroom, these forms look different.  Allow them to evaluate you so you can keep what works and change things that aren’t working.
49. In your summer introduction letter, include a letter asking parents to write about their children in 1,000,000 words or less.  Keep the assignment voluntary and open so they tell you what is most important to them.
50. Don’t be too busy to truly listen.  Listen to understand, not to respond.  Are you starting a lesson when a student interrupts and tells you they are moving?Take the minute to hear them out.  That time will mean more to the student than the first minute of the lesson ever will.

51. When students get stuck in class, teach the other students to cheer them on.  We do a simple, “Come on, [Name], you can do it,” followed by three seconds of clapping.
52. Teach students call and responses to uplift each other.  When a student responds with something profound and someone loves it, that student gets to start the cheer.

53. When you check in with groups to give them feedback or see how it’s going, make sure you are seeing them eye-to-eye.  If they’re sitting, don’t stand.  Pull up a chair next to them.  If they’re sitting on the floor, sit down on the floor next to them to avoid standing over them.
54. Give honest feedback even when it may not be positive.  Your students will appreciate that you expect more out of them than they’re showing.
55. Create a “You Matter” wall.  Take fun pictures of each of your students. Print each photo and put each student’s photo in an 8x10 frame.  Hang them all on your wall under a “You Matter” heading.  At the end of the year, send the photos home with students.
56. Tell them what was hard for you when you went through school and how you worked to overcome the challenges.  It shows they aren’t the only ones who struggle.
57. Defend your students in front of other people.
58. Take risks so students feel comfortable doing the same.  Don’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t do.
59. Create something that is unique to your class.  For us, it’s a house competition.  It’s something that connects my past students and current students.  It’s also a family bond that only the students who have been in my class understand.

60. Apologize when you make a mistake.
61. Cook together and then you can eat family style in the classroom. Some fun and easy crockpot meals: applesauce, vegetable soup, chicken and dumplings. Then, make cupcakes for dessert!
62. Every so often, take the pulse of your building according to students. Convene a volunteer roundtable with student reps from various groups (athletes, scholars, quiet, loud) and ask them for critical feedback about topics you are working on. Some ideas I’ve seen discussed in this format include schoolwide incentives (assemblies, sledding event, etc.), dress code, and discussing recess options for winter.
63. During your informal walk throughs, saddle up right next to students and ask them the purpose of the lesson they are involved in. Why do you think the teacher is asking you to work on this? You’ll be more than surprised with the honest feedback.
64. Bring board games back! Add a few games like Checkers, Uno or Chess to your lunch table options. See if any students are willing to play a game or two with you and others.
65. Use sidewalk chalk to decorate the entry of your building with positive messages to students. Have teachers help you write and draw the notes!
66. Leave nice notes on post-its for students on the outside of their lockers. Recruit other students to help spread the kindness throughout many lockers!

67. Forgive them when they make mistakes. Remind them that mistakes are opportunities for learning. Don’t hold grudges against misbehavior and don’t allow other adults to hold them either.
68. Make time for dismissal. Tell them you can’t wait to see them tomorrow and share high fives on the way out!
69. Notice which students still don’t have money to pay for lunch. Help them out when you can. Treat them to a snack they don’t usually get to purchase at lunch time.
70. Find special projects that need to be done around school and recruit the most unlikely helpers.
71. Remind your students you and your staff were all kids once too. Have your team bring in pictures of themselves as children (at the ages you have in your school). Post them and have a contest allowing students to guess which teacher is which. Those 80s pictures are the most popular!
72. My favorite question to ask my students or any student I come in contact with is what are you into lately? This opens communication with your students and let's them know you are interested.
73. Allow students to do a job shadow. Give them a peek into what you do and how you make daily decisions.
74. Host an ice cream social for students that meet certain goals.

The list will grow as our experiences and our connections grow. Feel free to reach out to any of the tribe members listed below to learn more about the power of our team and how our tribe constantly supports each other in our teaching, leading and learning.

Compelled Tribe Contributors:

Jennifer Hogan, The Compelled Educator  @Jennifer_Hogan
Jonathon Wennstrom, Spark of Learning  @jon_wennstrom
Craig Vroom, Fueling Education, @Vroom6
Allyson Apsey, Serendipity in Education, @allysonapsey
Sandy King Inspiring The Light @sandeeteach
Jacie Maslyk    @DrJacieMaslyk
Jodie Pierpoint  Journey In Learning @jodiepierpoint  
Jim Cordery   Mr. Cordery’s Blog  @jcordery
Allie Bond   The Positive Teacher @Abond013
Angie Murphy ConnectED to Learning @RoyalMurph_RRMS
Karen Wood @karenwoodedu
Lindsey Bohler @Lindsey_Bohler
Debbie Campbell The Curious Educator @DebraLCamp
Michael McDonough M Squared at the Microphone @m_squaredBHS
Barbara Kurtz @BJKURTZ
Stephanie Jacobs @MsClassNSession
Michael Todd Clinton Motivated teacher blog  @MotivatedThe
Cathy Jacobs @cathyjacobs5
Reed Gillespie Mr. Gillespie’s Office @rggillespie
Molly Babcock Sweet Tea and a Live Oak Tree @MollyBabcock
Lisa Meade Reflections @LisaMeade23


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