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Building a Classroom Community from Day 1

I am very passionate about building a classroom community, or classroom family, that is tight-knit, supportive, respectful, honest, collaborative, and loving. Not only does it help when it comes to classroom management, but it also makes our classroom feel safe. Building a community of learners in the classroom gives students a home away from home where they can be their true selves, learn from others, and take ownership of their learning

It can prove difficult to get to that point of a strong classroom community though. Our students come to us as strangers...some may be friends, others may not. We get a smorgasbord of cultures and personalities, and it is our task to bring our learners together. The important thing, even though it may be difficult, is to start building a community in the classroom from day 1. And, I have several ways you can do that.

Building a Classroom Community with Morning Meeting

I LOVE Morning Meeting!! It makes me so happy to start each day together in a circle getting to know each other better and growing together. We collaborate, laugh, learn manners, and have discussions about important topics. I love including social-emotional learning into my Morning Meeting too- talking about character traits and strategies to help us through tough situations. This is one of my favorite ways for building classroom community in elementary school and middle school.

The Impact of Morning Meeting

You may be thinking, “Why do I need to take time out of our already limited schedule for a classroom meeting?” Not only does a classroom meeting (it doesn’t have to be in the morning!) build a sense of community in the classroom, but it also:
  • Teaches students to use manners when speaking and listening to one another.
  • Gives a safe space for students to share what’s on their hearts, no matter if it is big or small.
  • Encourages collaboration, teamwork, and more as they learn to work together and communicate.
  • Leaves room for social-emotional learning

Morning Meeting Key Components

The Responsive Classroom model of Morning Meeting has four components: Greeting, Share, Activity, and Message. I believe that they are all very important, and I try to include all four in my classroom meetings every day. They don’t have to be very long- my Morning Meeting structure usually looks like this:

  • Greeting: 5 minutes (teaches manners, respect, and speaking & listening skills)
  • Share: 5 minutes (works on speaking/listening skills, storytelling, and empathy towards others)
  • Activity: 10 minutes (encourages collaboration, team work, problem-solving, and having fun!)
  • Message: 10 minutes (can incorporate character education, academic concepts, and a preview of the day)

If you struggle coming up with fresh Morning Meeting ideas, or just need help jump-starting your Morning Meetings, check out my Pinterest board that I’ve curated just for you!! It’s broken up into grade levels, so you can find what works for you! Click on the picture or HERE to browse the board!

Building a Classroom Community with Mentor Texts

Mentor texts can be so helpful when teaching students how to respect, accept, appreciate, care for, and love one another. No matter the age of your students, you can find mentor texts for what you need. I use them throughout the year to help me mentor my students and help the all-important Social-Emotional Learning “click”.

Mentor texts are usually picture books that carry a certain theme and provide a jumping off point for fantastic discussions. They can be used to teach an academic standard, but I personally use them most for social-emotional learning and character education. There are character traits mentor texts on everything from friendship and kindness to self-control and responsibility. Here are a few of my favorites! (You can click the titles or pictures to get them on Amazon. I use affiliate links but it doesn’t cost you any extra and it helps me out a bit!)

What if Everybody Did That? is a great book to discuss the importance of rules in life, and in the classroom. During and after reading, you can discuss what would happen if everybody did different actions or didn’t follow the rules. It’s important to discuss that we have consequences for our actions, no matter what they are, and how we should think before we do something. I definitely recommend reading this one during the first weeks of school!

The Invisible Boy is one of my favorite picture books of all time. It makes me tear up each time I read it. It’s a story of friendship and accepting each other no matter how we look or act, and how important that is. I love the message through the illustrations too. It’s a must-read!

A Flicker of Hope is a hopeful story that gives several ways to ask for help when someone needs it. It’s an important story to share for the times when students may feel down, depressed, or need help in any way. It also builds our hope and shares how you can be a hope builder too!

Jabari Jumps is an awesome book about perseverance, determination, and courage. It would be great for testing season or any time students need a boost of confidence!! I love the beautiful story of Jabari!

Building a Classroom Community with Student Ownership

At the beginning of the school year, it is so important to guide your students in setting goals. There are many ways to do this- with journals, setting one single goal at a time, etc. But the important thing is to teach them how to set a goal that is (1) achievable and (2) measurable. That way they can reach their goals and set bigger ones!!

Goal-setting with your students helps them take ownership of their learning. If they know the goal they have, and are reminded of it, they are motivated to reach it themselves, and you can be there to encourage them as well. Checking in with students throughout the year, individually or in small groups, is a key factor for success too!

I love using Levels of Understanding to also help students take ownership of their learning. They can be used as a self check-in, after a small or whole group lesson, or they could even write their level on the top of their work after they finish! The Levels help you as a teacher see where your students are at, and who may need some reteaching. But they also help your students think about their learning and how well they understand concepts. This teaches them how to self-regulate and when to ask for help.

My friend Danielle shares all about how she gives her students ownership by creating a student-centered classroom. I love this idea, and I agree that it's so important that your students feel a part of your classroom community!

Classroom Jobs also help build a positive classroom community and ownership, as we all have a job to do to help our classroom. I prefer to use Team Jobs, as they tend to make things simpler for all of us. Students in teams can help each other remember to do their jobs, and after a couple of months, you just have to switch six teams versus 20+ jobs!

Building a Classroom Community with Consistency

Something that I have learned in my five years of teaching is how important consistency is to our students and classroom atmosphere. My first year teaching I was NOT consistent, and I could tell, because my classroom community was a MESS all year! My students did not respect me or each other very well. I struggled managing my classroom. We had fun, but it definitely could have been so much better!

Megan has so many awesome Classroom Management techniques that would have saved me much heartache and stress my first year of teaching. She simplifies it for you and helps you start your school year on the right foot!

I love this Classroom Management idea from Jessica! I used it when I taught Kindergarten and Fourth Grade, and it works so well!!

Leslie has all kinds of tips and helpful information for you in this Behavior Management post! She has great ideas on how to start the school year off right and become a behavior management PRO!

Building a caring classroom community from Day 1 is crucial for a close-knit classroom that respects, loves, and encourages one another! I hope these ideas and tips help you make this year the best yet!! Please pin this image to save it for later and share it with your friends!

7 Awesome Tools to Teach Equivalent Fractions

Equivalent Fractions can be a difficult concept for your third grade and fourth grade students to grasp. I have all of the equivalent fractions manipulatives and materials you need to make teaching equivalent fractions a piece of cake! Your students are going to be equivalent fractions experts at the end of your lessons, if you stick with me.

Equivalent Fractions Tool #1: Building Bricks

Building Bricks are useful for your equivalent fractions lesson because you can model equivalent fractions using one brick. For example, if it’s a rectangular brick with six circles on it, we can say one circle equals ⅙. But if we want to represent two circles, the equivalent fraction can be 2/6 or ⅓ of the brick. Students can make equivalent fractions problems for their classmates based on these building bricks, and can use smaller pieces to represent the fractions too.

You can also show equivalent fractions by saying an eight-circle brick is 1 whole, and a six-circle brick is 6/8 or ¾, etc. Using building bricks to practice equivalent fractions is helpful because they can stack the blocks on top of each other to visually see how they are equivalent.

Equivalent Fractions Tool #2: Fraction Circles

Fraction Circles are another set of manipulatives that give a great visual and tactile approach to equivalent fractions for third grade and fourth grade. Students can stack pieces of the circles to see what is equivalent, or match them to equal halves, quarters, thirds, etc.

You can make your own fraction circles, for an added art/craft extension! I have a freebie in my TpT Store where your students can make mini pizza fraction circles. I’d love for you to download it and leave feedback on how it helped you teach equivalent fractions!

Equivalent Fractions Tool #3: Dominoes

Dominoes are great for (one) naming fractions and (two) finding equivalent fractions. Students must first determine which side is the numerator and which side is the denominator (bigger). Then, they can find other dominoes that are equivalent fractions to the first, with bigger and smaller numbers!

Equivalent Fractions Tool #4: Play Dough

All kids love play dough! They love to create, mold, and make with their imagination running wild. But, especially for students who thrive with tactile learning, play dough can help them practice equivalent fractions.

Lead your students in making circles or rectangles that are the same size, and then cutting them into different sized pieces that make equivalent fractions. Flatten the shapes out, and start again! Show them what makes the fractions equivalent, and which aren’t equivalent (pieces aren’t cut equally).

You can also put play dough in your equivalent fractions math centers with task cards! They have to make the equivalent fractions to solve the problems.


Equivalent Fractions Tool #5: Whiteboards

Whiteboards are another must-have in my classroom. We use them almost every day in math small groups, with sight word/spelling word practice, and so much more. You can get a class set for instant engagement with practice problems. They are so much more versatile than an equivalent fractions worksheet!

I love that students get to show their work on their boards, so I can easily walk around and see how they solve problems, and chat with them if needed. They can draw equivalent fraction models on their boards, you can ask them to make equivalent fractions by multiplying or dividing the numerator and denominator by the same number, the practice ideas are endless.

And, once again, they are a great addition to a center with task cards! Students don’t always need to turn something in to you - so if you want to save paper and make practicing equivalent fractions more interesting, try out whiteboards instead of worksheets!

Equivalent Fractions Tool #6: Fraction Bars

Fraction Bars are an essential when teaching equivalent fractions. Students can easily line up fraction pieces that are equivalent to each other. These equivalent fractions bars make small group instruction and practicing in groups and centers so easy. They are color-coded and easy for 3rd graders and 4th graders to understand.

You can also make your own equivalent fractions bars with sentence strips or cardstock! Making a larger-than-life set is a great way to teach equivalent fractions to your whole class- and they can follow along with their manipulatives!

Equivalent Fractions Tool #7: Number Lines

Number lines are an important visual tool for teaching equivalent fractions, because students can see the correlation between the fractions. I love dry erase number lines that are blank and can be written on, because you can have your students write the fractions you want them to on them. As seen below, it gives an easy way to see how fractions are equivalent to one another.

If you're looking for hands-on and fresh ways to teach equivalent fractions on a number line, you have to check out this post. Melissa is an equivalent fractions GENIUS!

I hope these tools have been helpful for you and given you some fresh ideas on how to best teach equivalent fractions. Please pin the images on this post so you can come back to it during your equivalent fractions unit! Which tools did I miss? Comment below!!

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. I make a small amount if you click and purchase through my link with no extra cost to you!

A Letter to the Valuable Burned Out Teacher

Dear Burned Out Teacher,

I see you. I know you. I sometimes am you. Teacher life is hard – the long hours, the emotional wear and tear, the lack of funds, the large class sizes, the list goes on and on. Maybe you’re ready to search for other career options for burned out teachers or just need some advice for burned out teachers. Whether you are a burned out teacher yourself, or you have a sweet friend who is showing the signs of teacher burn out, I am SO glad you are here.

You are so valuable to the teacher community. You have creative ideas to share. You have a passion for teaching that may be just smoldering at the moment, but I assure you that the flame can be revived. Whether you’re a burned out preschool teacher, a burned out special education teacher, or a burned out elementary teacher, among others, I have good news for you. But first, I want to ask you some questions. Stick with me; because there's teacher GOLD waiting for you at the bottom of this post! Make sure you share it with your teacher friends so they can change their lives too!

Why did you become a teacher? What do you love about teaching? If you could have your dream teacher job, what would it look like? While you think about why you decided on this teacher career, let me share my answers with you.

Before the Burned-Out Teacher Life

I became a teacher because I couldn’t dream of a better job. I love kids – building relationships with them, caring for them, being a part of those lightbulb moments. Putting a smile on their face, knowing them more than just as students, and helping them grow as a whole person. Those are my favorite moments.

I’m also a planner TO MY CORE. I was homeschooled as a kid, and by age eight I was using my mom’s old teacher edition textbooks to write lesson plans for my class of stuffed animals and dolls. I loved keeping my agenda in order as a middle and high school student. And once Pinterest came out, my love for planning lessons continued to grow as I pinned all of the teacher things to use later in my career!

My favorite thing about being a teacher (besides the kids) is using my creativity. I love coming up with unique and creative lessons where I use everyday objects to create learning experiences and deepen my students’ thinking. I love connecting our Science concepts to what we’re reading, and even into our math practice. I love transforming my classroom into the ocean or a poetry cafĂ© to peak my students’ interest and get them involved in every aspect of learning. I love creating resources where they stay engaged throughout the entire lesson and think critically about what they’ve learned.

My Dream Teacher Job where I am Never Burned Out

My dream teacher job is to teach abroad and build my online teacher business while I do it. My goal is to make enough money in my business to fund my travels and my life overseas. And when the time comes to start my family, I’ll be able to work from home full-time and be a CEO Teacher.

I can’t believe that I’m saying this…but I am beginning to live my dream teacher life!! Sure, not every day is a dream. Even as I’m writing this, I’m recovering from a week of pure teacher burn out. To be honest, I was on the brink of a breakdown. But I get to put the school life aside on the weekends and split my time between resting and building my online empire! And, come Monday, I’m ready to love my sweet students even harder and make every moment in the classroom count! I make my resources for them, and then put them up in my online store. I not only get to impact their lives, but the lives of students across the globe!!

I have BIG GOALS, and they keep me motivated even when I may feel burnt out at school. I love that selling my teaching resources online is SO different from the day-to-day classroom life. I get to make my own schedule, work on my ideas, and use my creativity in blog posts and resources and marketing. I truly believe it is the best burned out teacher career change!

The Perfect Job for the Burned Out Teacher

Did you reflect on those questions above? I have a feeling that you came into this field to help kids, to use your creativity, and to change the world. Well, if you’re a burnt out teacher looking for a new career, or just need help fueling your flame again, I believe that I have one of your best options:

Start selling your teaching resources online!

And here is the good news:
You will still be helping kids, even more than you currently are, as teachers around the world use your quality resources in their classrooms. AND you will change the world through those resources. And guess what? You get to use your creativity to make and sell those resources. This is my Team Jobs resource that I created for my classroom, and now other teachers have this same system in their classes!

Now, you may be asking yourself some questions, just as I did. But let me quiet those voices of doubt in your head…
“Why would someone want my resources?” – Because if they work for your students and you put in quality work, they will have so much value for teachers. I have two product lines in my store that exist because they worked wonders for me in the classroom!

“What if no one buys what I sell?” – If you put in the time and energy to create awesome resources and market them the right way, you’ll have no problem selling them! I have learned so much on my journey, and I’m starting to see AWESOME results!

“Where will I find the time?” – You find time for the things you value. Maybe you’re not ready to quit your teaching job yet (or maybe you are! You GO, CEO Teacher!!). But you can put in early mornings or late nights and see how it goes. Who knows? You may just decide to build your online teacher empire full-time!!

“It seems so overwhelming. Where do I even begin?” – If you take ANYTHING out of what I write to you today, PLEASE take this: start with Kayse Morris and take the Transform Your Resources course.

I started my business on my own in 2012. And I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I did a lot of trial and error and learned through podcasts and blog posts. But, when Kayse, who I had been die-hard following on Instagram (I LOVE her authentic, funny, encouraging IG Stories!!), announced that she was launching a course that would teach me all about how to sell my teaching resources online, I was ALL-IN. I watched her free training videos, filled out her workbook, and set my alarm for when the course cart opened. I was READY to learn from the BEST, get all of my ducks in a row, and cultivate this side-hustle into a big-time business!

I dove into her course, watched all of her video lessons, and put them into practice in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, blog, and social media. And guess what?! Her AMAZING secrets really work!! I’ve almost TRIPLED my earnings this year compared to what I made January-May 2018. I also found my passion sharing what I love with teachers on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Kayse gives actionable steps in bite-sized pieces that you can apply every step of the way. She and her team are always there to answer questions, motivate, and further my learning. I have more passion and fire for this online teacher empire than I’ve ever had, and I get to do this alongside hundreds of other teacherpreneurs who are also growing their businesses!! As Kayse says, there’s room for EVERYONE on the playground!!!

Don’t be the Burned-Out Teacher who didn’t Go for her Dreams

Now, there’s one more doubt you may have. And I had it too. Right before I paid for Transform Your Resources, I hesitated because of the amount of money I was about to pay. I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of money for me. I don’t know if this is worth it. What if I end up wasting this money?” But you have to spend money to make money. Investing in YOU is always worth it. It also helps destroy the teacher burn out, because you're pouring into and valuing yourself. If you have the passion and the drive to make this happen, your investment will not return void. And, can I tell you, since that day, I never had ONE DOUBT that I wasted my money. Transform Your Resources is worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY. I have recouped that money and made more since I purchased the course.

So, my burned-out teacher friend, are you ready to fuel your fire with a new passion? It’s time for a new season of life, growth, and joy. Let Kayse breathe a breath of fresh inspiration into your tired mind and heart. Let Transform Your Resources transform your LIFE, as it did mine. I am no longer burnt out, because my passion and creativity are funneled into this online teacher world. And, six months in, I love it even more. I’ve even gone to the next level of being in The CEO Teacher Membership that you can be a part of once you’ve taken Transform Your Resources! I believe in Kayse and her courses 100%, and I know you will too!

Don’t hesitate in taking the leap of faith to live your best life. You were not created to be ordinary and to be a burned out teacher. You were made for MORE. Join me in the Transform Your Resources community! Let’s escape the teacher burn out and grow our teacher empires together!

Kayse's FREE video series is currently OPEN for you to join for a limited time only! Click the picture below to start your journey for FREE!

Please pin this post so your teacher friends can transform their lives with us!

Want more teacher burnout-blasting tips? Check this video out!