A Few New Ideas for the Upcoming School Year

Every year I look for ways to make things better in my classroom.  Sometimes this means that I'm looking to make my room look and feel the best that it can, or I might look for new ways to teach certain subjects/topics.  I might also look for better ways to run my classroom.  Sometimes, I do all three!

With many of us heading back to school (and, some of you are already back at school), I thought I would share a few new "tricks" I plan on using to run my classroom this year. I've tried to be as specific as I can-in other words, there are more words than pictures in this post.  Brace yourself.  I hope that a few of the ideas appeal to you (maybe you may already do some of these things)!

Ring-a-Ding-Ding-That's what I'm calling this procedure.  At the suggestion of a colleague, I purchased a teacher bell.  Yep, 9 years of teaching and no teacher bell in my possession.  They're ugly and I'm not a fan of the sound; well, I got over that because I loved the idea so much!  When/if the students get off task, I am going to ring the bell.  I will train teach the students that when I ring-a-ding-ding the bell that they are to immediately stop what they are doing, stand up, and fold their arms.  I will then remind them of the expectations.

I really need to do something to spruce up this bell a bit.

Point of Order-This is a procedure for entering the room.  Whenever the students enter the room (in the morning, after lunch or specials, etc), they will walk in quietly, stand behind their desk and wait for directions.  I love this idea, but I also plan to have my students stand with their arms folded and their finger on their lips as they wait (that's how they are expected to walk in our school hallways).

I always stop my class prior to entering and give directions as to what to do once they enter the classroom, but there's still always that sense of slight chaotic commotion once they are inside.  I like the idea of having them standing at the ready.  I think this will help them recognize that they are back in the classroom and it's time to get down to business, and they might follow my directions a bit more quickly. 

Help Me Circle!-One thing that really bugged me last year was when my students would raise their hand for help and I just couldn't get to them fast enough (rest assured, it doesn't bug me when they raise their hand to ask for help, it just bugs me when they have to wait for me).  Enter the red circle.

I will have this year's kiddos put the red circle in the corner of their desk if they need help with something. (To make these, I simply laminated some red cardstock and used my 3 inch paper punch to cut out the circles).  I will teach them that they are to continue working on other parts of their assignment until I get to them.  I know that some people use different colors to denote different needs (green=I'm doing fine, etc), but for me, I just need to know when they need me, that's why I only plan to use the red circle.

Table Points-I use the table point system in my classroom.  Whenever a table group, as a whole, is working quietly or transitions quickly, they earn points.   At the end of the week, I let the winning table group choose a privilege, in addition to other students who earned a privilege (this equates to about 10 privileges a week that require notes and/or some kind of coordinating to get things in place).  Ugh, too much to deal with.

Enter a PD session where I got the greatest tips ever from a few colleagues.  One told me that she rewards her table point winners throughout the day.  For instance, whichever table has the most points at lunchtime gets to go out to the playground first when lunchtime rolls around.  Once they are outside, she dismisses the rest of the class.  So simple!  Genius!  I'm totally stealing borrowing that idea.  Thanks B.D.!

Another colleague shared that when independent writing time rolls around each day, she lets that day's table point winners write on the carpet with a clipboard. Again, so simple and so genius!  Totally using that one too.

I also plan to let the table group with the most points at the end of the day pack up first.  These are all things that 7 year olds will love and for me, will be so much easier than trying to schedule and coordinate 10 different privileges each week.

And finally, since so many of us are heading back in the next few days, I wanted to remind you of a few back to school freebies that I have made available to you in the past few weeks, in case you missed them.  The first is this set of first day of school photo props.  Click the image to download the item for free from TpT.

Last week, I offered a few gift tag freebies.  Click {HERE} to go to that post and grab your freebies, if you missed them the first time around.

What do you plan to do differently this year?

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  1. I'm going to use your idea of giving each student a red circle to signal that they need help. This is so much easier than all the cards with different colors. Thanks for all your ideas.

    Teaching Special Kids

    1. Hi Mary!

      I'm so glad you found the idea useful! I'm with you, it will be much more streamlined than having the kids manage several different colors. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment!!

      Have a great day,


  2. Love the button idea! I'm thinking about having my kids take numbers this year..we will see how that goes:)

    1. That's a great idea too! Whatever you decide, good luck!!


  3. Love your idea about 'using' table points right away...I hate having to keep track of things, too! And each day is a fresh start.

    Thanks for the great idea!

    1. So true! The kids always start each day with their clip on green, regardless of the previous day's events, so why shouldn't table points be handled similarly? Great point! And, I'm definitely with you, the less I have to keep track of, the better!

      I'm glad you liked the idea! Have a great day!


  4. I have a bell just like yours and I use it all the time - love it! Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

  5. I love your idea of the red circle & I'm going to use it in my class. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Deanashay! I'm glad you found a useful idea. Enjoy!!



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