In my first few years of teaching, I didn’t want to use my sick days. If I woke with a fever, I foolishly believed it was more trouble to pull the day’s sub materials together than to just drive to school and face the day. In the spring of my first year, a ruptured ear drum didn’t even keep me from school. It wasn’t until an allergic reaction to the antibiotic launched an angry, blotchy rash all over my body – and, like an idiot, I still came to work – that the principal’s secretary took one look at me, shook her head, and sent me home. Continue reading

Today’s Q&A post comes from an email this week (used with permission) from Sherrie, an English teacher who is thinking about adding Quarter Trios to her spring semester classes. Quarter Trios is a game-based classroom management tool I use to build community and increase student enthusiasm for our work together. You can learn more about the strategy here.

Hi Laura,
I really want to implement the Quarter Trios, but I have so many questions that I don’t even know where to begin. Here are my most basic questions:
1. What if someone refuses to participate? If I randomly chose the group members and they end up with someone not interested in competing, that can give a bad taste at the very beginning.
2. Unfortunately, we have a lot of cheaters or “just-get-byers” who will take advantage – like, “Oh, we found that grammar mistake, too.”
3. Do they get a handout of the options they have to earn points? Or are they just announced randomly throughout the semester?
4. It does sound like a paperwork nightmare as far as points are concerned. Can all groups turn in, say, a grammar mistake for a point? Or just announce if it is a “first group to post something” gets the point? Continue reading

Today’s post comes from an email I recently received from Tanya, one of our newest English teacher colleagues (used with permission):

Hi there! I’m a first-year teacher and I’ve been a fan of your blog since I started my credential program. Your first day stations activity was a life saver! I was hoping you could give me some advice.  Continue reading

You ready? Day 1 starts soon, so let’s talk about some lesson plan ideas for the first five days of school:

Continue reading

Today’s topic comes from an email exchange (used with permission) with one of our colleagues in the art department:

Hi Laura,
I was just watching your video on troublemakers and how to handle them. I really appreciate the refresher. I used that technique at the beginning of my teaching career but in recent years got caught up in students’ non-stop bad behaviors and basically gave up out of exhaustion. I’m an art teacher and will be starting at a new school in a couple of weeks. It’s a dream job. My strength is content knowledge not discipline. But I want this year to be the beginning of a new era for me, so I’ve been doing my own form of professional development this summer. Continue reading

During last week’s video on class participation, I realized I needed to give more info about “Quarter Trios,” a routine that’s added fun, built community, and helped me run the classroom efficiently. Let’s do this thing! Continue reading

Today’s post comes from a recent email from a member of our community (used with permission); also, there’s a video version of my answer at the end of the post if you prefer to listen rather than read.

Laura,
Thanks for your great videos and materials. I implemented your essay codes this year and am very happy with the results! I was wondering if any of your videos cover class participation? I’m constantly running into the issue of trying to motivate all kids to participate rather than just the usual suspects.
Thanks again,
Ryan Continue reading