Cultivate Gratitude in the Classroom

“I’m thankful for vultures!” We were making a list of things we were thankful for and “vultures” was one item listed. (Have you ever thanked God for vultures?) When I wondered about this, the child said, “Because, they eat dead things!” Okay, that makes sense. There have been a number of hard things to deal with in the last couple… READ MORE

The Art of Noticing Your Students

I was a very green first-year teacher when I stumbled upon a helpful assumption about human nature. It seemed to me that neither the students nor the teacher could do our best work when we felt lost in the shuffle. I had three grades with sixteen students total, and I had to hustle daily to reach around to the various… READ MORE

Seven Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Walked into the Classroom

After several years of teaching, I compiled a list of basic classroom management survival tips.  They have served me well, helping me to have order and respect in the classroom, and helping me avoid many troublesome problems that could have arisen. Respect your students. I like to answer them with, “Yes, sir,” or “Yes, ma’am.” That may be out of… READ MORE

Setting the Tone: Clarity, Consistency, Composure

Over the years I’ve read various classroom management books. Many of them had excellent tips. I’ve also noticed that some ideas seem to contradict each other. Many of the ideas and methods outlined by various proponents are not silver bullets by themselves. They are only as good as the teacher who implements them. What one teacher finds works for them… READ MORE

Setting the Tone: Routines for the Classroom

Before the students enter on the first day you will want to know what routines and procedures you want to see in your classroom. Routines are the things you do everyday and how you do them. Efficient routines work for the teacher and help keep life in the classroom from chaos. Routines will develop on their own but they may… READ MORE

Setting the Tone:  Classroom Walls

  In this mid-summer moment, my classroom looks like a disorganized storage room. Opening the door is a chore, not an invitation of welcome. The walls are either bare or have bits of last year hanging on them. There are boxes of workbooks sitting there for the next term. I was gifted some “might be of use” items that clutter… READ MORE


Back-to-school supplies are stocked in stores, teacher meetings are beginning, and school cleaning is happening. We are preparing for another school year! As you think of getting ready for school, maybe this is your first year and you’re not sure how to prepare. Perhaps you’ve taught multiple years and have specific things that you always do to prepare for a… READ MORE

Ready for the First Day

“I can’t wait for the first day of school,” commented my ready-for-second-grade niece one day at the end of June. There are others anticipating the first day too. Some of you are looking forward to starting this new occupation called teaching. Beginning teachers fall into varying categories. You may have dreamed about this day since you were an elementary student.… READ MORE

Do All Students Have the Same Advantage in Your Classroom?

Can we predict if students will succeed or struggle before they begin their school journey? Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of screening students before they come into kindergarten or first grade at two local Mennonite schools. I have then followed-up with the teachers as to how the students continue to progress through their school years.… READ MORE

Let’s Pray

“Don’t forget to pray for Monster!” This request was called out just as I was preparing to pray at the end of the school day. I had to think quickly—“Who is Monster?” Then I remembered: Monster is a cow that has a hurt leg. So we prayed for Monster. Prayer is a vital part of our school day. We pray… READ MORE