Categories: Uncategorized

5 Procedures to Use if Students Aren’t Listening to You

You’re eager to start the year off strong, but you’re struggling to get your students to follow directions and your students aren’t listening to you. In this blog post, we’ll delve into five essential procedures you should teach to help your students become active listeners and direction followers.

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#1 Class Call

The first procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is a class call. When you need to regain your students’ attention, it’s essential to have a procedure in place. Some teachers use doorbells, but I prefer a versatile method – the class call. 

It’s not just about what they should say in response; it’s about what they should do afterward. For example, if you say, “Macaroni and cheese,” they should respond with “Everybody freeze” and then stop, look, and listen. Model the procedure, discuss its importance, clarify what it doesn’t look like, and practice it. This procedure is crucial for quickly refocusing your students and transitioning between activities.

#2 Whole Group

The second procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is what they should be doing during whole group instruction. Establish clear expectations for how your students should behave during whole-group instruction. 

I learned this concept from Teaching With Joy. Use the acronym ALTVV: Active Listening, Track the Speaker, Still Hands, Listening Ears, and Voices Off. Provide a visual reminder, model the expected behavior, discuss what it should look and sound like, and refer to other related procedures, such as seating arrangements.

#3 Talk to a Partner

The next procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is how they should talk to a partner. Teaching your students how to effectively interact with a partner is essential. 

Implement the “Peanut Butter and Jelly Partner” concept, specifying how they should behave when talking to their partner. Outline what active listening looks like, what partners should do when they’re speaking, and how to convey that they’re listening. Describe both the visual and auditory aspects of this procedure.

#4 Ready to Share

Another procedure you should teach if your students aren’t listening to you is to show you they are ready. Ensure your students know how to signal that they’re ready to share with you. 

Establish a “ready signal” and explain what it looks and sounds like. I personally use a thumbs-up when students are done with their work or speaking to a partner. Emphasize that this signal is for communication with you, not their peers. Clarify what’s expected when they’re working with friends.

#5 Independent Work

The final procedure to teach your students if they are having a hard time listening to you is what they should be doing while working independently. Define the expected behavior for independent work. 

Cover topics like how to work with materials, working at a “0” noise level, specific voice levels, and where they should work in the classroom. Ensure students understand what it means to be engaged independently and how to ask for assistance when needed.

Wrap Up

Overall, teaching these five essential procedures can significantly improve your student’s ability to pay attention and follow directions. Each procedure serves a unique purpose and contributes to a well-managed classroom. If you found this information helpful, make sure to check out part 4 of this series. For more classroom management strategies, consider joining our 3-day classroom management challenge.

As always remember:


Helena <3


Categories: Uncategorized

How Different Areas in Your Classroom Can Help Getting Students to Follow Directions

Do you find yourself struggling to get your students to follow directions in the classroom? In part 2 of our series on effective classroom management, we’ll explore a powerful strategy to improve student behavior – using associative memory techniques and different classroom areas. Let’s dive in and discover how you can create an environment where following directions becomes second nature.

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What is the Associative Memory Technique?

Before we begin, one of the questions you might be asking yourself is “what is the associative memory technique?” The associative memory technique, according to google, is the ability to “connect new information you want to remember with existing information that you already know.” 

In other words, it’s the ability to pair your surroundings or memories with new information. It’s almost like a mental cue for your brain to remember how to act when you’re in that environment. An example of this would be your brain reminding you to be quiet because you are in the library. Or your brain reminds you that you can cheer loudly for your favorite team while you’re watching them play live at the stadium.

Another example would be to remember a student’s name, “Lacy,” because you have a cousin Lacy. Therefore, you can better remember and learn that student’s name. It’s your ability to pair your surroundings, experiences, or memory to take in new information.

Now you might be wondering “How does the associative memory technique help get students to follow directions?” We’re going to cover that in the next section.

Associative Memory in Action:

One thing you may not have realized is that you can actually use the associative memory technique to be better at getting your students to follow directions. 

For example, when I was growing up my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Lind, would play classical music and give us a piece of gum whenever we would study for a test in class. Later when we took the test, can you guess what he did?

That’s right! He mimicked our environment from when we were studying aka the associative memory strategy by giving us a piece of gum and playing the same playlist when we took the assessment. The crazy part is whenever he would use this technique, the class average performance on the assessment went up significantly. 

Different Classroom Areas:

One way to be better at getting your students to follow directions using the associative memory technique is to use different areas in your classroom. Consider this to be similar to the library versus the stadium example provided earlier.

Essentially try setting up different areas in your classroom where expectations are different. For example having a different area for your students to listen to whole group instruction versus working independently is going to significantly help your students to be more engaged during whole group instruction. 

When students are listening to a lecture or a lesson, they are sitting quietly, with their eyes on the teacher, and their hands are typically clear of all distractions. Whereas while working independently students are likely to be sitting at their seats, quietly using various materials and asking for feedback as they quietly work. Making different areas for both of these areas will increase focus and ensure your students are more likely to follow directions and expectations for whatever task they are doing. 

Consider dividing your classroom into different areas, each with its own set of rules and procedures. For example:

  • Whole Group Area: Where students listen attentively during lectures or discussions.
  • Small Group Area: Where collaborative work takes place.
  • Independent Work Area: Where students work on assignments individually.

How to be better at getting your students to follow directions:

In each area, establish distinct rules and cues. For instance, in the whole group area, students might sit criss-cross with hands in their laps and eyes on the speaker, raising their hands for permission to speak. In the small group area, different rules apply.

Take the time to explicitly teach your students about each classroom area and its associated rules. Use cues and memory techniques to help them remember what’s expected in each space.


By using the associative memory technique and creating distinct classroom areas with specific rules, you can significantly improve your students’ ability to follow directions. This strategy not only enhances behavior but also fosters a more organized and productive learning environment. If you found this helpful, be sure to check out part 3 of our classroom management series. To dive deeper into effective teaching strategies, consider joining our Classroom Management Challenge.

Categories: Uncategorized

Top Mistakes You Might Be Making When Students Aren’t Listening to You

The excitement of starting your teaching career can quickly fade when your students aren’t listening to you. If you’re facing this challenge, know that you’re not alone. Managing a classroom is one of the most demanding aspects of teaching. Today, we’re here to help you avoid the top five mistakes that might be causing your students not to listen and, more importantly, to provide solutions that can turn your class into one of the most well-behaved in the school.

Podcast Episode:


#1 Taking Away Recess

The first mistake teachers make when their students aren’t listening to them is taking away recess. This is a common practice and although it is tempting, taking away a student’s recess can bee seen as a form of punishment. 

Surprisingly, 86% of teachers have used this method, but studies show it’s ineffective. Oftentimes when you take away a student’s recess you are not teaching them a lesson. Instead, the student will simply label themselves as a “bad kid” and will find it difficult to turn their day around in the future.

Instead, find out why this student isn’t listening to you and rely on teaching procedures on what the expectations are in class. Whenever possible, it is highly recommended that you find a “natural consequence” as opposed to taking away recess. An example of this could be if a student isn’t listening to you during whole group, make sure to review the expectations and procedures for whole group instruction. 

#2 Stopping Class to Address Behavior

The second mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is that you are stopping the class to address the behavior. Interrupting your lesson to address a student’s behavior can lead to power struggles and loss of credibility.

Oftentimes instead of teaching the student and class a lesson, you are embarrassing the student in front of their peers and they may be tempted to snap a remark back. Other students might also start to be disruptive because they subconsciously take note that you are paying attention to the “negative” behavior in class.

Instead, it is recommended to learn alternative methods to maintain control while keeping the learning environment positive. Some strategies include proximity, pointing out the students who ARE following expectations and practicing the expectations in class as a whole WITHOUT singling a student out.

#3 Clip Charts

Another mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is relying on clip charts. If you are not familiar with them, clip charts are different levels of where a student stands in regard to their behavior for that day. Typically every student starts at a certain level and they can clip up or down based on the choices they make in class. 

Clip charts can be detrimental if your students aren’t listening to you for several reasons. The first reason is students spend their day comparing each other and how they are doing. Another reason they aren’t effective is sudents see that they are labeled “bad” for a choice they made. The next reason why clip charts aren’t recommended is students are publicly humiliated if they make a mistake. 

According to Teacher clipcharts have even been shown to “Intensify anxious behavior and decrease engagement.” One Fab Teacher has a video has a video about clip charts you can watch that by clicking here.

Instead of relying on clip charts, it is highly recommended that you use a more positive strategy like a super improver wall. You can learn more about them in this book. Or download a free one by clicking here. 

#4 Not Reviewing or Teaching Procedures

The fourth mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is you haven’t taught your procedures thoroughly or you haven’t reviewed them consistently. Procedures are the key to a smoothly running classroom. 

Oftentimes we may FEEL like we explained the expectations thoroughly enough, but often times students need procedures modeled, practiced, and discussed multiple times for it to become a habit.

This is the first place you should be going if your students aren’t listening to you. I highly recommend you check out this post where I talk more about how you can teach procedures in an effective way. 

#5 Not Building a Strong Relationship

The final mistake you may be making if your students aren’t listening to you is that you aren’t focusing enough on building a strong relationship with your students. Strong classroom management starts with building a solid relationship with your students. 

As the saying goes if your students don’t trust you they won’t learn from you. That’s why it’s recommended that you intentionally building a strong relationships with your students over the next couple of weeks. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Get to know your students interests outside of school
  • Share some of your interests outside of school
  • Get to know about your student’s home life
  • Check in and praise them throughout the day.

Wrap Up:

In summary, the five common mistakes you might be making when your students aren’t listening to you are:

  • Taking Away Recess
  • Stopping Class to Address Behavior
  • Using Clip Charts
  • Not Reviewing or Teaching Procedures
  • Not Building a Strong Relationship

If you found these insights valuable and want to learn more, check out our 3-day Classroom Management Challenge. Transform your classroom management in just five days.


See you next time, teacher bestie!


Categories: Uncategorized

The right way to teach your Kindergarteners procedures!

Have you ever wondered how to teach kindergarten procedures and growing a plant have in common? In this blog post, we’ll explore the surprising similarities and discuss the right way to teach Kindergarten procedures. Just as seeds require proper planting, nurturing, and care to grow into healthy plants, young learners need explicit instruction and guidance to develop good habits and behavior in the classroom. By laying the groundwork for routines, rules, and procedures, teachers provide the necessary structure for students to thrive and blossom academically and socially.

Model (Soil)

The first essential on how to teach Kindergarten procedures is modeling. Just like soil provides a nourishing environment for a seed, modeling shows students what the procedure should look like. By demonstrating the desired behavior or action, teachers set clear expectations for their students. For example, when introducing a procedure, such as how to add something to their work, teachers should model the process step-by-step. Without this modeling, like a seed without soil, the desired behavior won’t take root.

Visual (Sun)

In Kindergarten, visuals play a crucial role when it comes to how to teach kindergarten procedures. Similar to how sunlight fuels the growth of a plant, visuals provide the necessary illumination for students to understand and internalize procedures. After modeling, it’s essential to visually represent the procedure, describing what it looks like, sounds like, and even feels like. By engaging multiple senses, students absorb and retain the information more effectively. These visuals act as the “sun” that helps the desired behavior flourish.

Practice (Water)

Practice makes perfect! That’s why another aspect of how to teach kindergarten procedures is to make sure to practice. Once students have seen the procedure modeled and have a visual reference, it’s time to provide ample opportunities for practice. Just as water is essential for a seed to grow, practice is crucial for students to internalize and master the procedure. Teachers should create opportunities for students to practice the procedure repeatedly, ensuring they understand and can perform it independently. The more practice they receive, the more likely the behavior will take root and become second nature.

The Why (Air)

Understanding the “why” behind procedures can greatly enhance student engagement and compliance. Children often ask why things work a certain way, and providing them with explanations satisfies their curiosity. Teachers should have discussions with their students about the purpose and benefits of following procedures. It can be helpful to model the wrong way to do things and then ask students why that approach wouldn’t work. When students understand the rationale, they are more likely to adhere to the procedure. Regularly reviewing the “why” reinforces the importance of the procedure.

Wrapping it Up

Teaching Kindergarten procedures requires a deliberate and systematic approach. By incorporating modeling, visuals, practice, and understanding the “why,” teachers can lay a strong foundation for their student’s success. Thorough teaching procedures is crucial for creating a well-managed classroom where students can focus on their learning and thrive. Remember, just like seeds need the right conditions to grow, students need explicit instruction and guidance to develop good habits and behavior. So, let’s plant the seeds of success in our Kindergarten classrooms and watch them flourish!

Categories: First Year Teacher

5 Kindergarten Procedures All Teachers Should Teach on the First Day of School

As the first day of school approaches, it’s crucial to establish clear procedures to create a structured and successful learning environment. In this blog post, I will share with you the top 5 kindergarten procedures that all teachers should teach on the first day of kindergarten.

Back-to-school season is quickly approaching, and you may be wondering what kindergarten procedures to teach and when. Don’t worry—I’ve got you covered!

Raising Your Hand:

For many kindergartners, this will be their very first time in a school setting. They may be unsure how to interact with you and their peers. Take the time to teach them what it looks and sounds like to raise their hand. Show them proper behavior and explain what it does not look or sound like. For more insights on this procedure, be sure to check out Miss May from One Fab Teacher.

Class Call:

Getting your students’ attention is crucial for smooth transitions and effective instruction. Start with one class call for the day, using fun examples like “Class, class!” or “Hocus Pocus!” Practice what it looks and sounds like, and discuss what it doesn’t look or sound like.

Using the Restroom:

Whether your classroom has a bathroom or not, it’s important to teach students how to use it appropriately. Model the correct behavior, explain what it looks and sounds like, and take them on a tour of the restroom during the classroom introduction. Remember, some students may need to use the restroom before the tour, and that’s okay!

Getting Water:

Hydration is important, but it’s essential to establish procedures for getting water without disruptions. Teach your students what it looks and sounds like to get water, and consider using designated areas or crates to prevent spills. Model the behavior and discuss what doesn’t look or sound like the expected procedure.

Getting in Line:

Getting in line is a common procedure in kindergarten. Teach your students what it looks and sounds like to line up properly. Practice before engaging in activities like a scavenger hunt or transitioning to other parts of the room. Discuss your expectations for behavior in line, whether it’s being loud, quiet, using keywords, or even singing a song. Model the right way and discuss the wrong way, emphasizing the importance of practice.

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    Wrap Up:

    I hope you found these kindergarten procedures helpful as you prepare for the first day of school. Remember, consistency and modeling are key to successfully implementing these kindergarten procedures. Don’t forget to check out the video guide on the first day of school procedures for a more detailed walkthrough. If you found this blog post valuable, please like and subscribe!




    The Present Teacher

    Categories: Classroom Management, First Year Teacher, New Teachers

    How to Build a Positive Classroom Community as a First Year Teacher

    I know that trying to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher can be tough. You’re doing everything the experts say, but your students are still arguing with each other and not getting along for other teachers.

    If this is you, you’re not alone. Building a positive classroom community as a first year teacher can feel overwhelming when you pair it with the other million tasks teachers are required to do. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be! What if building a positive classroom community was so simple that it was built into your day on autopilot without you having to think about it?

    Too good to be true? Well not with these 5 strategies. Today I am going to show you 5 steps you need to take today in order to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. So grab that coffee and let’s start building the strongest community in the school!

    Hey New Teachers!

    Make this your best year yet with the Ultimate First Year Teacher Checklist!

    Download the guide that walks you through everything you get done this year a success. (Oh and it’s completely free!)

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      Listen to the podcast:

      How to Build a Positive Classroom Community as a First Year Teacher
      Helena (00:00): Does it feel like your students are always fighting and they aren’t behaving for other teachers? No matter what you do, they always need you to help solve a problem. What if I told you that your students are always helping each other and taking each other, taking care of each other, and your classroom was just the most positive classroom in the school? But Helena, how do I get there? Is that class a thing? Is that a real thing? Yes, it is. I’m here to show you how. So stick around because I’m going to talk about how you can achieve just that. Hey, teacher bestie. My name’s Helena and I’m the creator, the Present Teacher podcast. I’m a first year teacher coach, and in this podcast you are gonna learn everything from simple actual classroom management, social emotional learning, and teacher wellness strategies. You know that impact you wanna make in the classroom. We’re gonna make it happen here. (00:56) Step number one, establish rules and boundaries early on. Now, without going too deep into this, because I did in a previous episode, but when you do this at the beginning of the year or now, you are going to want to have your students create rules with you. Help them buy in by having them sign or come up with the rules. And this will help create ownership of their learning and help them stay accountable and remind them, Hey, remember we all agree that this would be rule number three, and the expectation is blank. So that is step number one. Step number two, foster those positive relationships. Have you ever walked into a place and you can just tell that the moon and the vibe is just happy and calm? Well, the same goes for your classroom. You can tell the mood in your classroom just based on how you interact with your students. (01:51) So let’s make sure it’s a good vibe. You might be wondering, how do I do that? Well, here’s a couple ways to achieve that. The first one being get to know your students one-on-one, ask or compliment them in the morning. I love to greet my kids at the door because it gives me that visual cue that I can see. Are they having a a good day? Is their morning okay? Are they having a hard morning? Are they going to need some extra love? The second thing is have a meal with them. I love my quiet time as an introverted teacher. However, on Fridays I love to pick four or five depending, you know, the size of your class. But I like to pick a few students and have a meal with them and ask them about their family. Ask them about their dog, learn about their interests. (02:38) Because what happens is, is when you take time to learn about your kids and you remember those things and you bring it up later, they just, oh my gosh, they just explode that you care enough about ’em to know the little things. So trust me and that, and it’ll make you fall in love with them even more. But take some time to have a meal with them and ask those questions, show that you care and take interest in their personal life. This year I really made an attempt to go to the baseball games, to go to the soccer games, to go to the ballet because it’s important for my kids to know that I have their back and I’m there for them. So this is a great way to foster those positive relationships. And I’ve said this before, a student won’t learn from a teacher they don’t like. (03:31) And I’m not saying you’re going to be able to reach every kid and not every kid’s gonna like you, and that’s okay, but your kids are gonna learn to love you if you tell them more about you. I know that’s not what you probably thought I was going to say, but talk about your own interests. I don’t know why, but my first year, I think there was like a veteran told me that, you know, you shouldn’t say anything about your life to your kids. Now, I’m not saying tell ’em about all your problems and everything personal, but I like to share about my doc’s, Kohan Kenai from Brother Bear. My kids love that they love asking me and they call, call them my my sons like, share about your personal life because kids will remember you and learn to like you if you have something in common. (04:20) The same goes for this podcast. If I never told you anything personal about myself or anything of my like or interests, you wouldn’t be listening to me because we would have nothing in common. So there’s that. Step number three, practice active listening. So you’re gonna wanna mono what this looks like and sh show what it looks like and sounds like. And the biggest thing that I have made myself do is to preach what I say and do the same. So I talk about active listening as a respecting another person and showing that you are hearing them and listening to the words they have to say and you are holding space for them and you are actively presently in the moment listening to them. So we talk about what body languages looks like, what our minds doing, what our voices are doing. Um, you can do a visual poster, but this is something I cover at the very beginning of class. (05:21) If you haven’t done this yet, that’s okay, we can practice now, but we come up with a saying like, track the speaker still hands listening, ears, voices off sitting, still do your best caring heart. Obviously I have that memorized, but we go over it almost every single time at carpet time. And then I point out kids that are actively listening. And then I model by doing it when my kids are talking to me now with my kids, because you know I love them. They come up to me and they have something really exciting to say, but I have an adult slash teacher thing to do and I can’t give them my my full attention. I will tell them so and so, I would love to listen to you right now, however I need to finish this task, then I would love to actively listen to you. (06:07) And they, they’ve learned to wait. And then after I’m done, I turn my body, I practice what I preach, I turn my body, I cross my hands and I show them that I’m listening. And your kids will respect you for doing that. It’s that mutual respect. And again, I like to point out other students who are practicing actively listening to their friends when the rest of us need a couple reminders. So if you have a moment where your kids are really chatty at the carpet, I might say, oh, I love how so-and-so is actively listening by sitting crisscross applesauce. I love how so-and-so is actively listening by tracking the speaker still hands, going through the whole poster activity you did earlier and having it up somewhere helps but model what you preach and point out people who are doing a great job. And if you’re using the super improver wall like I am, then this is a great time for a sticker. (07:01) But beside the point, so practice active listening. Step number four, create a safe space for sharing and expressing emotions. I don’t want students, and I’m pretty sure you’re the same way, because we’re, we think a lot alike, but I don’t want students to feel like there are any silly questions. All thoughts, opinions and emotions are valid. And I may not agree with you, but I do respect you enough to listen, hold space and validate. So model what that looks like. How can I express this? You can talk about what does that look like, sound like when you’re list sharing and expressing your emotions. How can I express that I’m mad instead of throwing something across the floor, I can take a calming breath and say, I’m mad right now. How can I listen to others to make them feel validated? Kids wanna help each other, but sometimes they just don’t know how. (08:02) And you have to model that. What does that look like and sound like You can do this during circle time, morning meeting, afternoon meeting. You can talk about a friend who’s upset and what do I do as good friend to show that I see them, I hear them and I wanna validate their feelings. You could, you know, go through the thank you because the last thing I would want you to do is, I’m sorry you’re feeling that way. What can I do to make it better? All those are super important. Your kids wanna help, they wanna thrive, they wanna grow. Modeling that for each other is huge. Step number five, collaborate and teamwork. So I have a fun story about this. So during the first week of school, I noticed that these kids in particular had a hard time with collaborating and teamwork. So what I did is we played the cup game. (09:00) So the cup game isn’t the cup song from my childhood. I got magic from the long way around. I know I’ll let her sing it, but I love that song. Anyways, it’s not that one, it’s cup stacking. So I separated my class two teams and I had them sit, you know, in their groups. And when I said go, they had to stack the highest tower of cups on top of each other. What would happen was whenever my kids accidentally knocked over the Tower of Cups, they would start yelling at each other and getting angry and not regulating their emotions. What would happen was because they were being not the nicest friend to each other, the cops would keep falling down. So after we went through this exercise, once I, you know, there were some tears, it was a little frustrating, but I had everyone sit down and calm down and I just had my kids let my kids talk. (09:57) What did you notice about the cup game? What did you notice about your teammates? How did they make you feel? What did you like? What did you didn’t like? What did you notice about the cups whenever your teammates were doing that and light bulbs, absolute light bulbs, they were like, you know what, I’ll never forget one of my little boys. He’s like, I dropped the tower, or the tower fell because so-and-so was yelling at me and didn’t make me feel good. So I accidentally bumped the other cups and we talked about how we expanded on how how we treat each other is how our cups are and our cups represent our emotions and how our teammates are are working together. When we work well as a team, our shower is super high. We’re steady as a team, we’re praising each other, we’re supporting each other and it’s tall. (10:47) But when we are tearing each other down and getting mad and frustrated and taking it on each other, the cups fall. And this was huge, huge. And so we did it a second time. We talked about strategy and what they could do next time and what they wanted to do better. And so we did it a second time and those towers were so much taller and it was so much more positive in the class. So now I love to go back every once in a while and remind them of the cup game. And we play the cup game whenever we kind of forget what good teamwork and collaboration means because otherwise our cups are falling. So my point is, it’s important to model what good teamwork looks like. What does it sound like? Um, how can we be good supportive team member so our cups are tall and high and not falling? (11:41) How can we make sure that our team is the best cup stacker in the class? Thank you so much for listening. I hope you found this helpful and I’m so excited to hear about you implementing the strategies you learned from this week’s episode. Remember, I am always here from you for you cheering you on. I am your biggest fan. I would love if you could tag me and show me that you are listening to this podcast by taking a screenshot and either sending it to me or adding it to your stories and tagging me at the present teacher on Instagram. I love seeing all the amazing educators around the world listening in. Remember that we are stronger together. Take care, teacher bestie. Until next week, love Helen. (12:28) Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode. I hope that you were able to take away some value that will help you thrive inside and outta the classroom. It would mean the world to me. If you could take five seconds right now and leave a review on this podcast, and if you found this podcast especially helpful, make sure to take a screenshot of this episode right now and tag me on your social school. Let me know you’re listening. As always, remember that we are stronger together with all the love in the world. Helena aka, the present teacher. See you next time. Teacher bestie.

      Establish Rules and Boundaries Early On

      The first step you need to take to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to establish your rules and boundaries early on. As I talked about in a previous episode, in order for students to excel they need to know what’s expected of them. 

      Establishing rules and boundaries from the start is key for setting expectations of behavior. Make sure your rules are clear, concise and easy to follow. Involve your students in the process of creating these rules – they will be more engaged, motivated and responsible if they have a say. You should also explain the consequences for breaking rules so that your students know what will happen if they do not comply with them.

      Some ways to implement this is to have your students create the rules with you, vote on them, and have them sign the rules. This will allow buy in and will allow your students to feel seen and heard. Overall this is a very important step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

      Relevant Links:

      Foster Positive Relationships With Your Students

      The second step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to foster a positive relationship with your students. As I mentioned in this episode of the Present Teacher Podcast, students won’t learn from a teacher they don’t like.

      The same goes for building a positive classroom community, it’s hard to have a positive classroom community when the students don’t get along with the teacher. Getting to know your students beyond the curriculum can help you create a nurturing classroom community. Spend one-on-one time with each student to learn about their interests, goals and home life. 

      When you show your students that you care for their physical, mental and emotional well-being through positive reinforcement they will learn to love not only you but the classroom community as well.

      One way to achieve this is do check-ins, leave positive notes, send positive notes home, and compliment your students. Showing that you are available and receptive to talking positively strengthens trust between yourself and your students. Which makes this step essential if you want to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

      Show Respect by Practicing Active Listening Skills

      The third step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to practice active listening. Now let’s be honest, active listening is a skill that is not only difficult for students to master, but for students as well. That’s why it’s so important to practice what you preach and model active listening when your students are talking to you.

      Whenever you engage with your students it is important to practice your active listening skills. Whether in small group or one-on-one settings, always keep eye contact and be attentive to details and student emotions. Ask open-ended questions and let the student talk without interruption; frequently check for understanding and restate information shared by the student to confirm understanding. Your recognition of their perspectives will help them feel heard, seen, respected and valued.

      You can also have your class practice active listening and redirect them when they are not. Make sure to model what this looks like and sounds like. You can even pause instruction when someone is talking over a friends and say:

      “I’m so sorry to interrupt you (insert name), but I see two students who are not practicing actively listening. Let’s wait until they show us that they are ready to actively listen.”

      This is a great skill for not only adults but students as well and it’s a great next step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

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        Create a Safe Haven for Sharing and Expressing Feelings

        The fourth step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to create a safe space to share feelings and expressing them. Students will not help build a positive classroom environment if they feel like their feelings will not be validated. That’s why it’s so important to make sure all feelings and thoughts are validated in the classroom.

        Allowing students to share and express their feelings in a safe and respectful environment is essential for creating a positive classroom community. As teachers, it’s our job to create an atmosphere that is open and welcoming to all types of perspectives. However, it’s also important to establish ground rules and expectations with your students that emphasize respect at all times, so they feel comfortable speaking openly without feeling judged. 

        It’s important to encourage them to be flexible, creative, tolerant and compassionate with one another. One way to achieve this is to do a bucket filler lesson where you talk about bucket filling and bucket dipping. We also talk about inside versus outside voices and what to say to comfort a friend. If you want more support in teaching these kinds of lessons check out these resources. 

        All in all, creating a safe space for students to feel seen, heard and validated is essential if you want to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher. 

        Create Opportunities for Collaboration and Teamwork

        The final step to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher is to create opportunities to collaborate and teamwork. When you allow students to collaborate you are allowing them to learn important interpersonal skills as well as the ability to talk more in a structured way. So if you have a chatty class you definitely want to be doing this!

        Creating opportunities for students to collaborate and work together is a great way to foster a positive classroom community. Through team-based activities, students will learn how to better communicate and rely on one another, while also getting the chance to get to know each other in an educational setting.

        You can assign tasks and projects that require students to work with others or divide the class into smaller groups and have them come up with creative solutions to different problems. Another great way is to have students “teach” each other important points as you teach. This will encourage responsibility, critical thinking, and problem solving skills all while building relationships between your students. And what better way to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher.

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        In summary, in order to build a positive classroom community as a first year teacher you need the following steps:

        • Establish Rules and Boundaries Early On
        • Foster Positive Relationships With Your Students
        • Show Respect by Practicing Active Listening Skills
        • Create a Safe Haven for Sharing and Expressing Feelings
        • And Finally to Create Opportunities for Collaboration and Teamwork

        All of these are a great way to build a classroom community so that you and your students will enjoy coming to school and have a community so strong it will feel like a family.

        Which strategy are you going to incorporate to build a positive classroom community? I would love to hear your thoughts!