Stars and Wishes- Building a Community in the Classroom!

As soon as I saw this link-up with Mandy from Mandy's Tips for Teachers I knew I had to participate! I absolutely LOVE {Stars and Wishes} and have been using them in my own classroom for awhile with my students!

As teachers, we are always reflecting on what we do- things that we do well and things we want to do better! The beginning of the year is great because it's a fresh start and a great time to improve on our {wishes}! It's also the more important time of the year for setting the mood in your classroom and creating a positive environment with a sense of community. So, here are my {stars} and {wishes} for building a community in my classroom! 

A fun way to build community in your classroom is to plan fun, engaging activities that allow the students to get to know each other!

On the first day of school, I always begin with an easy community building activity that only requires a ball of yarn! This ball of yarn will become a special part of your classroom and will be used throughout the year! 

To begin, I have all my students sit in a large circle around the carpet- I make sure that I am in the circle as well! I start by holding the ball of yarn and sharing something special about myself (my family, what I did over the summer, hobbies/interests, anything!). Then, I hold onto my piece of yarn and throw the ball to one of my students. It is now their turn to share their name and something about themselves! After they are done, they hold onto their piece and throw the ball to another student. This continues until all of the students have shared and you have a very large (and tangled) spiderweb in the middle of your circle! We discuss how this spiderweb is unique to our class and that it can never be created exactly like that again! You may have to cut off the yarn from the original web because of the tangled mess, but make sure to keep the ball!

Throughout the school year, anytime a student leaves or joins our classroom the ball of yarn comes back! When a student moves we get back into our circle and make a special web just for that student. We share special things about this student and why we will miss them! If a student joins our classroom, we use it as a time to share important facts about our classroom and any rules or routines that the students would like to share!

At the end of the school year, usually on the very last day, we once again get out our special ball of yarn! We use it to make another web and share our favorite memories of the school year! Afterwards, I cut a piece of yarn for each student to make a special bracelet! Such a special sentiment to take with them! 

What fun activities do you use in your classroom at the beginning of the year to build a community?
Building a community does not happen overnight and definitely does not end with the first week of school! In order to continue a strong sense of community throughout the entire year,  I hold {Morning Meetings} each day! These meetings tend to be pretty quick, but they are a great way to start the day on a positive note!

We always begin by greeting each other. I've done this in so many different ways and change it from year to year. I've had students shake hands, I've had them turn and talk to each other, and they've just said good morning! It honestly just depends on the group of kids and how much time we have! 

Next, we go over our daily schedule! I love using Cara Carroll's Schedule Cards to post on my "What Are We Doing?" board! I use this time to introduce my kids to the activities that we will be doing throughout the day. I know that I always like to know what I will be doing, so I try to do the same for them! 

In the past I always did a Morning Message, but when I started teaching 2nd grade I stopped. It was time consuming and I didn't feel like my 2nd graders really needed it every morning. 

My school has school-wide Morning Meetings that we use to discuss important school-wide issues. I {love} that my school does that! Last year we focused on The 7 Habits of Happy Kids! For each of these meetings we would read a book and follow up with discussion questions. We had some great conversations! 

How do you do your Morning Meetings?
Even though I build a strong community within my classroom, I always feel like I can do a better job of extending our community and getting to know my students families. One of my weakest areas as a teacher is parent communication.  I'm not always great at calling them and inviting them to classroom events! One way that I would like to extend our classroom community is by making weekly {Sunshine Calls} to my students' parents to let them know how great their kids are doing! It's always easier to make a positive phone call than a negative one- and as a parent I always want to know the good things that my own kids are doing! I made this simple checklist to keep track of when I make my {Sunshine Calls}! Wish me luck!!! 

Have you made Sunshine Calls in the past?

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For more {STAR} ideas from more than 40 bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you! Thanks for visiting!

An InLinkz Link-up

Happy Teaching, 

The Organized Teacher

I like need to be organized. If I'm not organized, I don't feel like I can really get anything done. Is anyone else like that? The beginning of the year is a great time to get organized!

I splurged last year and got an Erin Condren planner. Best. Decision. Ever. I absolutely {love} my planner and how it keeps everything together. I'm the type of person that needs to write something down to remember it. I can't have a digital calendar, it must be paper and pencil! So, this planner is perfect for me- so much so, that I bought a new one this year!

However, it still doesn't have {everything} that I need as a teacher. So, The Organized Teacher was created!

I tried to create everything that I would need to keep myself organized. But, let's be honest- there is always more to include! So, if you think of anything else that you would like included-please let me know!

The first section of the notebook are Monthly Calendars. I have to keep track of everything going on in my life- meetings, appointments, holidays, everything. I included different formats- one page, two pages, and week at a glance calendars to meet all your needs!

Another important part of The Organized Teacher for me is the Monthly Planning Lists. I constantly have ideas running through my head. Things I want to do better next year, things I really liked (or didn't), or some fun NEW ideas! These Monthly Planning Lists are the {perfect} place to jot down all those notes! They are organized by month to make them easy to add to or look back to! 

I am {always} making lists! Things I need to do, things I need to make, everything! So, it's important for me to have lists to write down everything I need to accomplish! I included various formats to meet your planning needs!

As teachers, it seems like we are {always} in meetings! Staff meetings, team meetings, RTI meetings,  data meetings- meetings, meetings, meetings! These note pages are the perfect addition to The Organized Teacher notebook to help you keep track of all your meeting notes! 

 And, that's not all!! The Organized Teacher also has Student Information Pages to help you keep track of all your students!

And it has a Brilliant Blog and Perfect Product Planner for all you bloggers and creators! 

 And, how can we can't forget about the lesson plans!

Enter the giveaway below to win The Organized Teacher Notebook and keep yourself organized this year! Make sure to check out my TPT Store to grab your own notebook, or any click on any of the pictures to grab a section separately! 

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Happy Teaching,


It's That Time Again! My Back to School Routine!

Is it really already that time again!? I can't believe I am only a couple weeks away from having my alarm clock wake me up and not my sweet babies. This is such a bittersweet time for me. On one hand, I am {so} ready to get back into a routine and be back in my classroom each day, and on the other I am so incredibly sad to be leaving my sweet little girl. I'm soaking up every second with my kids!

Pre-planning for me starts on July 28th (it gets earlier and earlier every year!). I've already had school on the brain for awhile now, so I thought I would share my routine for getting everything ready to head back to the classroom!

Here is what my room looked like before I started moving things around:

The first thing I do each year is make a map of my classroom. It's not anything fancy, just a quick sketch of where I want all my furniture to go.  I try to be as productive as possible, so I have this ready before I head back into my classroom. I also make sure to have my room set up {before} pre-planning starts. Pre-planning is already busy enough, so I don't want to spend time arranging furniture. I've already been back in my room this year- and I have it pretty much set up the way I want it!

I'm not completely finished, but it's a start! 

After getting my room set up, another must do for me is to {clean}! I can't stand starting the year off with things dirty and dusty! I make sure to dust off bookshelves, clean inside tubs, wipe down tables- everything! After I get everything clean, I am ready to {organize}! I try to do as much as I can to organize everything at the end of the year, but I always have new thoughts over the summer! This year, I added a new bookshelf so I need to reorganize my classroom library. I also am going to start a "Brain Bucket" for early finishers, so I need to organize that!

After my room is ready, I begin to get my {Sneak a Peek} resources ready! At my school our Sneak a Peek is a time when the students and parents come to meet the teacher. It is very informal! I usually have parents fill out their information forms, give them some information about me and our classroom, and give my students a special little treat!

This year I am giving my students some Starburst and using these cute little tags. Click here or on the pictures for this fun freebie!

And, last but definitely not least- 

After I have everything ready for Sneak a Peek, I plan out the {First Week of School}. Last year I had this mostly ready during post-planning, but after being on maternity leave this year I didn't have a chance! My Erin Condren planner from the previous year comes in very handy! I look at what I did the year before and go through all my resources and start to map out our week!

How do you get ready for heading {Back to School} each year???

Happy Teaching,