Sunday, August 6, 2017

Classroom Organization #SpedChatSaturday

Yesterday a dear friend of mine and a fabulous teacher shared her AMAZING organization skills. Check out her blog post HERE. :)

Since my classroom is still in the works, I don't have too many fun organization pictures. I'm a strange mix of a Type A/B teacher. I am organized where it matters, but I also survive off sticky notes and throwing papers in a random file drawer. Everything is organized in my head but not-so-much to someone looking from the outside. Here's my big advice:

It's easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. If you're not a super organized teacher, then that's cool if that works for you! Pick and choose what you need to do to make your classroom practical for your teaching style.

Moving on to some tips and tricks I really want to share a few strategies that have worked for me and might work for your as well.

Behavior Tracking with Post-it Notes: Since I am focused mostly on behaviors all day, I like to assign each student a color and then document or tally specific behaviors I am monitoring. I can then input the observations into my spreadsheet/log online and shred the sticky notes at the end of the day. It only takes about 5-10 minutes since I'm a fast typer. ;) The form itself is laminated, so I just replace the Post-it's every day. I provide one for my support staff as well. Mine is on a mini clipboard from Wal-mart, but this can work with a larger one as well with larger Post-its. I am still modifying the behavior tracking forms, so I don't have these ready to share, but once I do I will let you know. It is still an idea you can run with though.

The plan, copy, prep, paperwork form is pretty self-explanatory. It can be downloaded HERE, if you are interested in using it. There are a couple options as well for those who need a space for grading over paperwork. It's an easy way to keep track of what you need to do. This form is also laminated, so I just replace the stickies as needed.


Something that took me awhile to figure out was how I wanted to keep an outline of what I was teaching for the day. These pages are lifesavers when it comes to organization AND simplicity. These are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store (also editable and there are a couple options for colors). You can write on them with a pen OR laminate and write on with a sharpie. It's easy to wipe off with a cleaning wipe (Clorox, Lysol etc.)


This works so well because of my small class size. I'm able to place notebooks and folders in them as well as copies and activities for each subject area. Also self-explanatory but it keeps piles of worksheets off my desk which is what I basically did the last few years. 

What tips do you have for classroom organization?! Don't forget to share on your blog or Instagram using this template! & hashtag #SpedChatSaturday 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Proactive Classroom Management Plan [FREEBIE]

As we approach the new school year, it's important to remember that there are aspects to classroom management that go beyond rules, procedures, and reward systems (although you will want ALL of that as well!). Use this guide to help you plan for how you will create and maintain classroom community, relationships, a culturally responsive classroom, foster growth mindset, and what classroom management models you really want to focus on (Positive Discipline, Assertive Discipline, Conscious Discipline, Character Education). There are many to look at and determine which might work best for you and your students. On the second page, outline your expectations, procedures and social skills you will need to teach at the beginning of the year, your reinforcement system (whole class and/or individual), how you will communicate with parents consistently, and what your redirection to problem behavior plan will be and what consequences you will need to utilize. This, of course, is after you have taught expectations and skills the student may not have and while implementing a reinforcement plan. Consider what privileges a student might need to lose or what unfavorable consequences you might need to implement. Use the last page to reflect on what has worked and what may need to be changed or implemented differently.

[Click HERE to access this FREE file for printing] 

Happy Planning! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beyond Rules & Procedures - #SpedChatSaturday

I've been thinking about what exactly I would type in this post for about a couple weeks now. As teachers, we have to remember that the most important role we have is to be an advocate for change. To fight for the educational experience our students deserve and should receive. But... there are some serious problems.

Well, what exactly are the issues, you ask?

Let's look at some data from the Office of Civil Rights | U.S. Department of Education
(based on 2013-2014 public school data)

"Black K-12 students are 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white students."

"Students with disabilities served by IDEA (12%) are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as students without disabilities (5%)."

"Black students are 16% of high school students but 30% of high school students retained, while white students are 53% of high school students but 31% of high school students retained."

"Elementary school students with disabilities served by IDEA are 1.5 times as likely to be chronically absent as elementary school students without disabilities."

"Black students are 2.2 times as likely to receive a referral to law enforcement or be subject to a school-related arrest as white students."

"Students with disabilities served by IDEA represent 12% of all students, but 67% of students subject to restraint or seclusion."

We also know that children in poverty have more academic and behavioral challenges in school, are more likely to repeat a grade in school, have low test scores, and even drop out of high school.

There are issues in the system. In special education. In education in general. Don't be ignorant towards the reality that exists in our classrooms.

This week's #SpedChatSaturday is meant to challenge us to take a deeper look at the management of our classrooms because I believe when students have solid relationships with their teacher(s) and peers they will respond better to instruction and be more open to learning. When a teacher has cultural competence he/she is aware of the challenges and circumstances that hold SO many of our students back from success - regardless of how "hard" they work. They must fight against a system that was not set up for their success. The truth is, our students have to learn resilience and have to be shown what it means to have a growth mindset. The good news, is that there are things you can do to promote change in the system and in your classroom and school.

Make a commitment to yourself and your students to improve in these areas and consider which of these strategies you can use in your classroom:

Relationship building is one of the most underused classroom management strategies I can possibly think of. Consciously plan for how you can develop AND maintain relationships with your students, especially your most challenging kiddo.
  • What I can tell you from my experience working with youth that are emotionally and/or behaviorally challenged (and clinically identified as so) is that you cannot hold grudges toward your students. Every single day is a new day for every single kid. For my students, every minute is a new minute (literally). Let. it. go. 
  • There is almost nothing more comforting than a teacher who remembers your stories and important moments in your life. Ask students about something they shared with you two weeks ago. It shows that you were listening and care enough to remember and follow up with them about it. 
  • NEVER EMBARRASS A STUDENT IN A MOMENT OF FRUSTRATION. Avoid -- "calling students out" disrespectfully, using sarcasm (remember: this is different than humor) that belittles them, and threatening a punishment in front of others. It's always better to bring a student aside and discuss behavior concerns appropriately and respectful. It shows that you respect the student and their dignity. 

What does culture have to do with classroom management? EVERYTHING! Your students MAKE your classroom and their background and experiences MAKE them. Not every student in your classroom eats the same thing, listens to the same music, learns the same way you do, or acts the way you do. When students share something that is different than what you experience, avoid acting surprised and saying things like, "What? That's so weird." or "Why would you do that/talk like that?" Be aware of how your own reactions might make your students feel and how that could impact the management and structure of your classroom. On the same note, be honest with your students when you don't know something that's important about them or you don't understand their background (SO important for secondary teachers). Similarly, find time in your curriculum to literally teach concepts of social justice: race v. ethnicity v. nationality, what it means to be prejudice and biased, equality v. equity. Let your students share with you what THEY see is wrong in society, in school, in their neighborhood. Make your classroom an anti-bully, anti-racist space that is academically challenging for ALL students - special education, ELL, minority students. Take some time to think about how you might respond to racism and stereotyping and how your read aloud should showcase students who look like and sound like the students in YOUR classroom. 

Growth mindset seems like the newest buzzword in education. We have beautiful bulletin boards and nice coloring pages that tell kids "they can do hard things" (which, by the way, was a joke of the week to my middle school students -- #teacherfail) and that "their mindset is everything." And while I know these resources are useful, I think kids need more to fully grasp these ideas and put them to use in situations where they might not have a nice bulletin board to look at or a teacher to remind them to "keep going." When we try to sell things to kids, we have to be able to genuinely model it. It's like when we tell kids to be respectful, yet we don't model that same behavior under challenging circumstances. I believe sharing our journey from a fixed to growth mindset will be a powerful shift for our students. It's as simple as:
"Oh, art is cancelled again. That's unfortunate, we can work on ____ instead in the classroom." 
"I guess the Smart Board isn't going to work today. That's okay, we do this instead." 
It's as simple talking to a frustrated student about a time when you were frustrated and what you did in the moment to elivate the pressure. THESE are the growth mindset lessons our students need. 

Believe that kids will remember what you've shown them more than what you have told them. 

We are role models in our classrooms. Our students are always watching and seeing how we treat other staff members, how we demonstrate resilience when lose a prep time or have to report for a last minute meeting, the literature we read, and the community we create in our classroom. 

What strategies would you share in these areas? Don't forget to link-up with me & read what other educators have to say! :) 

Friday, July 28, 2017

#SpedChatSaturday - Link-Up Templates!

Eeek! I am so excited for this weekend. Link-ups are my favorite! I learn so much from you all and cannot wait to share ideas and wisdom with one another. This week's topic impacts ALL teachers, so participating in the link-up is not exclusive to just special educators -- it's for ALL educators.

Although I will be sharing some generic classroom management tips that are ESSENTIAL to running a smooth classroom (as much as possible), I want to focus more on the meat and potatoes of what I believe (and what research would say) truely impacts the success of a classroom:

>> Relationship Building 

>> Being Culturally Responsive

>> Fostering Growth Mindset

Participating in this link-up is SO easy. Here are the templates we will be using ---

~Here's How It's Done~

Step 1: You'll save these templates to your desktop or your phone and use a photo editing app or PowerPoint to add texts or pictures to the templates

Step 2: You'll save the new image and insert them in a blog post. After your blog post is published you are ready to link-up!

Step 3: Visit my link-up blog post by clicking here. At the button of the post you will see a blue button: "Add your link." After clicking on it you will be prompted to add the URL to your #SpedChatSaturday blog post (make sure it's to the actual blog post and not just your blog). Then, you will add your name or blog name and your email. Finally, pick a picture from your blog (preferably your blog button) and hit "accept." 

You're done! After a few minutes your blog button should be visible on my link-up blog post. As more people link-up, their blog posts will also show up in the same spot. 

This link-up will be open for entire week -- 

July 29th-August 4th until midnight (MST). 

Make sure you are also following Allie from Miss Behavior on her Instagram to chat with her about
this week's topic. I will also be posting throughout the week on Twitter and Instagram.

Still have questions? Email @

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#SpedChatSaturday - July 29th

Get ready to DIG DEEP into Classroom Management with a FUN blog link-up! Opens July 29th and closes August 4th!

[Won't open until the link-up start date]

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I can't believe I only have three weeks left of summer break before I return to school for staff training and development. It's crazy how fast it's gone by, but also how productive I've been (for the most part). This summer, I really wanted to put together an easy-to-use [behavior] resource that any teacher (or parent) could read and use right away. FINALLY, I am able to share with you this amazing resource -- at no cost to you! Here's a look at what's inside:

You can find this resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

If you found this resource useful, please leave feedback! I appreciate ALL the support and to hear your success stories! If you have any questions about this product please feel free to email me at <3

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

As a person who is in the business of 'keepin' it real' I'm not going to tell you right away that the answer to this question is...YES. As a teachers pay teachers author for two years and while being a little fish in a big pond, I wanted to share with you [my] realities of being a 'newbie' TPT seller through my experience. <3

My first BIG idea is that...

Teachers Pay Teachers takes a lot of time. It's a lot to learn and a lot to "get good at." So, my first question would be, are you ready to spend hours on the weekends to draft ideas, plan products, design them, modify them as needed, learn the ins and outs of PowerPoint? Are you interested in joining social media sites and promoting your products through a blog, Pinterest, Instagram etc.? Getting your store prepped takes a lot of dedication as you must come up with a name that is clever, yet aligns with what you will be selling, to attract an audience that will want to purchase from your store. The time committment is pretty significant. But it's fun.

My second BIG idea is that...

the start-up cost at first is hefty and the reward won't come until later (unless you're like the next Deanna Jump). To earn a good portion of what you'll sale, you want to buy a premium membership for $60. You'll also want to find a techie friend (or do it yourself) to design a store logo and banner. Sellers are also attracted to products that are visually appealing -- so you'll need to purchase backgrounds, clipart etc. The great thing is that you can also find FREEBIES of these on the TPT site as well. 

To be honest, I didn't make more than like $5-$10 dollars the first, second, or third month I had about 2-3 paid products -- for literally like $1.00 each. This was my own fault because I didn't really have quality products or those that were worth a good amount of money. I struggled with finding the time and motivation -- which brings me back to my first idea and leads into my third...

My third BIG idea is that...

It's easy to make mistakes on TPT. I had way too many free items my first few months, and after reading from the blog of a very successful TPT author, that you should only have about 10% of your products be free, I was a little shaken. So, I quickly took my free products, adding more to them, and made new covers, and priced them reasonably. My second mistake was only charging a $1.00 for a kickass resource. I don't have a special code for how I price products but a few questions I ask myself are... 
- Are there a lot of similiar products? 
- How generic is it? 
- How much time did I save the buyer? 
- How much time and money did I put into creating the product? 

As resource become popular, and more people purchase them, I will sometimes bump the price up by .25 or .50 cents. People will a good price for a decent resource. So, how responsive are you ready to be as a TPT seller? 

And my final idea is that...

for me, the challenges, the learning experience, the time committment, and the mistakes I've learned from... have been 100% worth it. Why? Because throughout the past two years I've connected with SO many passionate teachers. I've been an active learner and because of that I believe I've been a more effective teacher. I've read more books and have found more practices to bring back to my own classroom. Presently, teachers pay teachers pays for my monthly coffee habit. It's not A LOT of money [yet]... but it makes a difference with my teacher salary by a $60-$250 a month (summer time is the best time for making $$$ on TPT). Am I someone who dreams of being a full-time TPT seller? No. I enjoy what I am able to create for my own classroom and then share it with other teachers. It's a passion for me. Currently, I have about 30 products and my most pricey item is $6.00, but that what I've been able to committ to. I'm pretty basic and still new to the TPT world, so I'm okay with that. 

If this sounds like a journey you're in for... I say the answer to my first question is YES but only you can determine that.

IF you're interested in beginning this adventure, feel free to use my referral link when you sign up. I'd love to support you throughout your journey. 

Have more questions? ---->> 

Don't forget to stay intouch: 


Monday, July 3, 2017

This post has seriously been sitting in my drafts for a year. Like, what was I thinking?! #facepalm 

Something about me that you might have not learned yet is that I am blunt and raw in what I do and say. I think the kids say, "Keepin' it real." These tips might make you feel a little insecure if you have been avoiding doing these things, but that's why you're here. To learn and grow from someone else's mistakes and realizations. So, take these tips like a CHAMP.

1. QTIP - Quit Taking it Personal

If I had a nickle for everytime I told myself "QTIP" this past school year, I would have enough money to pay off my student loans and then go to Hawaii...for like a year. Seriously. From being called racist, fat, and having objects thrown at me -- keeping my composure has taken serious skill and practice. We are human and naturally we feel attacked when the little bit of power we feel we have (as teachers), gets taken away by a student who has no idea how hard we work for them or who we even are. Well, get over it. #1 the student doesn't know you personally, they only know you as their teacher. #2 Thick skin is not optional in teaching. Don't let it wear you down or make you upset. And remember. Behavior is NOT personal. You're not the cause of the behavior, just an outlet to gain a desire, need, or want. It's just what the student knows how to do.  

2. Separate your "Teacher Heart" from your "Real Heart"

This basically goes along with #1, but I felt like it deserved its own number. You are not a miracle worker (well, I'm sure some of you are), but most of us just aren't. Building classroom community and trust within your students takes time, effort, consistency, and a lot of coffee and diet coke (that's probably just me?), but at the end of the day, we all do what we can and sometimes the payoff won't show for awhile. Be patient with yourself but challenge yourself to learn new strategies and try new ideas with different students when something is just not working. But, at the end of the day don't be down on yourself or feel insufficient. Teaching is your career, it's a big part of who you are, but it is not JUST who you are. Separate these the best you can.

3. START TRACKING (Specific Behaviors)

Yeah, I'm talking about data. YOU JUST HAVE TO DO THIS. If you have someone on your campus who specializes in behavior (normally the psychologist if you don't have any special education teachers or a behavior interventionist who does), use them as a resource; however, bring some information with you. Come with check lists, tallies, observation notes, something. You can't effectively manage problem behaviors if you cannot identify what exactly they are, what is triggering them, and what the payoff is for the student.

Here's some examples of specific vs. nonspecific behaviors:

-Specific: Time off task during writing, shouting out in class, hitting self or objects
-Non-specific: Isn't doing anything, talks a lot, angry, aggressive

If you're able to identify the behavior, you can the find ways for students to receive what their behavior is getting them...

in different ways that are more appropriate and socially acceptable.

Sensory: Provide more breaks time or utilize sensory objects for a specific amount of time, allow them to sit on the floor and work, stand up and work, walk around the classroom twice

Escape: Shorten the assignment, have the student circle 5 problems he/she will do, "chunk" the assignment into manageable sections, differeniate assignment if too easy/hard, allow them to work separately

Attention: Provide them with mostly positive attention from you and incorporate cooperative learning structure where they get to collaborate with peers, allow them to tell the class a joke at the end, give them a special job where they are recognized by their peers, utilize a choices > consequence flow map (How my behavior leads others to look at me differently and how a different behavior would lead others to look at my choices more positively - the student sees how although they are receiving attention, yelling at another student and screaming is not going to want them to be your friend). This is especially effective with middle school girls with Opositional Defiance Disorder or ADHD, it also works with boys though too. Most general education students who are a challenge for you, are most likely receiving attention from you or their peers. If it's from you...remove your attention. This is when planned ignorance comes in handy but you have to be careful with this one with special needs students as they will generally escalate.

Tangibles: Offer a "first this, then this" system, preferred activity time for meeting a certain amount of points a day or stickers or stars, classroom economy system, and goodies the child likes. This is often the easiest to plan for, the other take a little more time and patience.
I also consider "control" to be listed under Tangibles. For this student, the most choice is to provide them with...a choice. Put the control back in their hands to some extent and allow them to feel "powerful."

This is not a complete list whatsoever, but I think it will give you a place to start if you're not familiar with Functional Behavior Assessments or Behavior Intervention Plans. I plan on posting about those separtely later down the road.

So like I mentioned, track the data, see what you're working with, determine the "function" of what the student gets with the undesirable behavior, and give them another outlet to receive what they're after.

TIP: You cannot just make behaviors go away, you have to learn to modify them and make them socially appropriate. So, saying that you don't want to do any of these isn't going to work. Whatever behavior you are trying to take away (modify), you have to replace with something else that is socially appropriate, easy to do, and provides the SAME function. There is no just getting rid of challenging behaviors without negotiating the terms. After time the child may grow out of it, but for now, plan on replacing the behavior, not trying to stop it away by yelling at them and taking away recess (not a good idea to do all the time by the way)

3. AVOID a Power Struggle

I've been in so many classroom and I have seen this so often in my short time of teaching.

Quit. Engaging. In. Power. Struggles. With. KIDS.

You will lose every time.

This is one of the top 3 things I tell myself during my morning pep talk in the car.
Sometimes the best thing to say, is actually nothing at all, especially when you feel your skin boiling. It's okay to pause and breath. For example, I had a 7 grade student who would cuss at me quite frequently and when I ignored it, and then addressed it later, I found it to be much more successful. Why? Because addressing the behavior right then and there, gave her that much more attention from peers AND myself. This might sound crazy, but if it isn't physical or dangerous, usually it's okay to ignore it for the time being and move on if you have to, to avoid a power struggle. Or, what I normally do is, simply restate one of your classroom expectations (the one the student is not following) to redirect what the student said/did and right away keep teaching.

Simply put, do not argue with a student. Ever. Especially in the middle of a class. Do not go back and forth with them on how what they were doing is wrong while they're screaming at you. Wait on it, and address it in private when the student and you are much more calm. That doesn't mean it goes away, that just means you've removed the attention the student receives so they are less likely to engage in it. Also use this as the time to say, "I can see you might have some questions about the assignment you're not working on yet. What questions do you have, so you can get started?" They normally feel shocked that you've moved on right away. Keep this phrase in your teacher toolbox.

4. Know the ESCALATION Process


The great thing about behavior is that it is generally very predictable. The best time to teach a replacement behavior or appropriate problem solving is obviously in the calm phase -- that means we must be proactive and use preventative stategies. However, I've been quite successful de-escalating studens in the Trigger - Agitation Phase and even the Acceleration Phase, but this takes time and knowing the child very well. Unfortunately, once a student has reached acceleration, the likelihood of them coming back down is not common; therefore, they are not ready to negotiate a consequence. Wait until a student has reached the recovery phase to reflect and assign a natural consequence.

5. Be Aware of YOUR Behavior.

I can not even begin to describe the many hours I've spent in classroom where teachers have asked, "Will you come observe?" I think I am supposed to be watching the student, but most of the time I'm not. I'm watching the teacher. Instead of focusing so much on what the student did ask yourself: "What did I do before this?" "How could I approach this differently?" A lot of what happens with our students is a reflection of the enviornment they are in and the enviornment they come from. Make adjustment to how you respond. Your verbal language and body language is powerful.

6. If you SAY it, DO it

There's almost nothing worse than being the teacher who says you're going to do something and then doesn't do it. I'm not just talking about "punishments" or remembering the chocolate chip cookies on Friday. Teachers are role models and your students are looking at YOU for how to respond. If you preach to students to "be respectful," we also have to show them respect and others around us. If you tell students "be flexible," remember that when your principal tells you your specials are canceled for the day. Be a teacher of your WORD. Remember the small details and practice what you preach. [I'm working on this --- seriously.]

7. Teach Differently

This a no-brainer. But how often do we actually take the time to reflect on this? We always talk about differentiation and "meeting the needs of students" but let's face it -- tough kids are sometimes hard to want to deal with and plan for. It's true. They frustrate us beyond belief, so we do our best to maintain them and honestly...sometimes ignore them. Use those teaching strategies you learned in college or found on pinterist, make it applicable to their daily lives whenever possible. Search for a way to reach that student with your content. THIS is an awesome resource for different strategies

8. Your most challenging student, MUST BE your Favorite Student

Okay, so really, your most challenging student must at least THINK they're your favorite. Seriously. If someone told me this the first time I ever started working with kids, this would have saved me a lot of pain and suffering. You can't join forces with a student who feels like you are both on opposite playing fields. Whether you are a general education teacher, resource teacher, or self-contained teacher THIS principle will change your teaching life. When a student knows they drive you crazy, THEY WILL continue to drive you crazy, especially if getting you mad at them is a function of their behavior. Find ways to make that student feel as though they are your FAVORITE.
My rule of thumb is that you should be able to ask your most challenging student who they think your favorite student is and they should also say themselves and then you know you've done your job well.

Interested in learning more? This is one of my favorite resources and a MUST HAVE book for all special education teachers and general education teachers who teach challenging students or those with emotional and/or behavior students. It is seriously a game changer!

As always, if you have personal questions, I love to problem solve with teachers and parents, so feel free to submit a Google form, and I'll be in touch with you.