Posted in Elementary Education Preparation, Miscellaneous

Three Tips That Have Bettered My Teaching Experience

I’m not very experienced as a teacher (as I constantly am reminded), but I have found that there are a few things that have helped me a lot more. Here is a list of three things that I have found to make my teaching experience a better one for all involved:

  1. Don’t forget that YOU still exist outside of being a teacher.

My husband teases me constantly on this one. He always will refer to me as “Mrs. Lyon” and just roll his eyes. I didn’t get what he was saying until a week or so ago. I really had lost myself in teaching; I didn’t do anything but prepare to teach and teach! Being a teacher is exhausting in itself, so make sure you take time for yourself. A few things I’ve done to remember to take care of myself are:

  • Set a time frame to get to school and come home. For example: I’ve decided I would like to be at the school by 7:30 a.m. and leave the school no later than 5:00 p.m.. Obviously there are (many) exceptions, but it helps me to not lose myself.
  • Find a hobby and do it. Mine consist of word searches, Dr. Phil, crossword puzzles, and cooking. I’ve recently tried yoga as well. I feel like I’ve had to get to know myself a lot better in order to have the energy to keep going.
  • Go to bed early. I NEVER went to bed before 11 p.m. before I became a teacher. Now if I’m not in bed before around 10 p.m., I’m exhausted the next day.
  • Eat healthy. Be healthy. Realize that your kids are counting on you to stay healthy so you can be there every day!
  1. Lucky Lunch Friend

This was my genius idea last week and my kids have LOVED it so far. I pick one person each day to eat lunch with me. The kids love the one-on-one time with the teacher, I get to know my students better, and I don’t have to eat alone. It’s a win on all sides!! A lot of my students struggle with some tough home situations, so this is my way of giving them attention that they may not get at home. I’ve also heard that even giving 2 minutes of attention to a child with a behavior issue will increase their positive behavior. I’ve noticed that in my classroom. Kids respond to a teacher they personally know.

*Keep in mind that it is important to be a PROFESSIONAL, not just a friend 😉

  1. The Clean Up Games

The Clean Up Games in my classroom take about 10 minutes, make our classroom neat and tidy for me, and let students have fun by helping! The Clean Up Games currently has four rounds. Every round has a winner who earns tickets (our reward system). I usually give the kids 2-3 minutes for each round. In order to win the round, you have to be sitting quietly in your desk when I count down to zero.

Round 1: Straightest Desks

I have a student in my class to whom I have given the job of desk monitor. He makes sure that all the desks are straight and cleared off at the end of the day. My kids’ desks slide like CRAZY throughout the day, so getting them back into place once a day helps a lot. I’ve also noticed that this game encourages students to self-monitor during the day.

Round 2: Secret Scrap

I choose a piece (or three or ten) of trash and award tickets to the students who pick them up. But let’s be honest, I pick the kids that are working the hardest to clean up and then tell them they found the scrap.

Round 3: What’s Bugging Mrs. Lyon?

I find something in the room that is “bugging me” like how messy the library is, or that some crayons tipped over on the floor, or that there is a lot of trash that didn’t quite make it into the trash can, and then ask the kids to find it and fix it. The winner earns tickets.

Round 4: Magic Number

The students that won Round 3 and 4 go out in the hallway and pick a number between 1-28 (the number of students that I have minus themselves). When they come back in, I randomly number my students off to get ready to go home for the day. Say the number is 16. My two winners get to watch the magic number person (the child who was given number 16) to make sure they get their backpack, coat, lunchbox, stack their chair, and sit quietly on the rug in order to win. Once everyone is on the rug, my two watchers (previous winners) get to award tickets to the person with the magic number. The best part is they don’t know if they are being “watched” or not until the end, so all my kids don’t forget things any more!! Then they are all sitting quietly and I can do a read aloud before it is time to go.

These tips have only come to me after many trials and many more errors. It’s taken me a long time to figure these out, so hopefully these will help you in managing your own classroom!

Posted in Miscellaneous

Let’s Play Possum


The ring leader. Every class has one. A student who seems to come to school just to spite you. With a turn of their head, they can derail any lesson or plan no matter how organized. So how do you deal with such trouble makers? In my own classroom, I have tried a few techniques that have worked beautifully to stop the ring leader and bring the entire class back to focus. One of these strategies is to play opossum. This game consists of a few easy parts. The object being that the student who can be the most silent and still for the longest wins.

  1. I count to ten, giving the students ample time to position themselves on the floor.
  2. Once the students are laying on the floor (giving the teacher some much needed silent time), the teacher walks around looking for movement or speaking, especially giggling.
  3. One by one each student is taken out, because of a twitch here or a snicker there.
  4. They then line up silently by the wall until a winner is chosen.

This game is wonderful. I use it during those times when I have had enough or the ring leader has fought and won. This makes being quiet a game and one where my ears can take a quick break. By the time the students finish playing possum they are ready and willing to sit quietly in their seats. It makes being quiet and still a game. In my own classroom the students beg to play opossum. Let me know what techniques you have used in your classroom!