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November's Teacher Success Tips

Classroom Incentives, Positive Behaviors, Veterans Day, and Self-Care


(Psst, teachers! This is ONE MONTH in my popular 12-month series! See the whole series here and have an awesome year!)

Happy November, Teachers!


Whew, we made it. The craziness of September and October finally settles down. Here in the US, temperatures are dropping like crazy and nights are getting longer. Thankfully, students are falling in line with those routines and procedures you’ve been working *so hard* to establish. And both they and us are starting to get into the groove of this school year. November is an important month for so many reasons! Here’s some tried-and-true tips from one educator to another for making the most out of this wonderful month!



Reinforcing the Positives


November is a great time to highlight students’ wonderful behaviors, choices and successes. After all, students love to do well and many flourish when they are celebrated for doing their best. Whether you celebrate students as a whole group or individually, consider: what behaviors need lots of positive reinforcement now, in order to avoid challenges in the future? Do you see little issues bubbling up now, and see a way to positively acknowledge the opposite behavior in students?

I recently interviewed a group of students about how the year has been going for them. One student reflected, “My teachers are so busy with kids’ bad behaviors sometimes, they don’t have time to help those of us who struggle.” Every teacher can relate to this feeling – that we’re outnumbered sometimes, and our time is focused on students who struggle behaviorally or academically.


Are you looking for some things to celebrate and positively reinforce? Who is… making academic gains for working hard? Being organized? Making great use of class time Improving their behavior? Turning in more assignments or scoring higher on assessments? Leading their classmates? Demonstrating amazing character?


Prizes, Certificates and Tokens


Whatever you decide to celebrate, know that it’s an investment in not only the classroom culture, but your student as an individual. Have fun choosing how to celebrate them! Certificates, small tokens of appreciation, choice time — the sky is the limit!


Update Those Bulletin Boards


Out with those “back to school” bulletin boards, and in with the Thanksgiving and Winter ones! I know they take a ton of time to make but no one will judge you for keeping it time-savingly simple.


Consider – are there some easy, fun bulletin board ideas that you can post to celebrate kids, celebrate the seasons, or add festivity to your classroom or hallway.

Short on time? I create die cut shapes and custom letters for teachers! Check out this adorable bulletin board one of my customers posted for her students!


She made this sweet November bulletin board with 3″ custom die cut letters in her choice of colors! Super cute and super easy to do.

Other fun ideas:



"Writing is my cup of tea!"

We're falling for great books!" or "We're all as unique as snow flakes" "We sparkle in 3rd grade" (put student names or photos on each star)


Prepare for Black Friday Deals


Black Friday is not just for holiday shopping – don’t forget about you! It’s an amazing time for us educators to stock up on school supplies, score tech deals for ourselves or our classroom, and splurge on those self-care items!

Have you been thinking about a fitness tracker watch to clock all those steps you earn in the classroom? An Apple iWatch so you don’t miss a single important message? How about a Google Home for your classroom, so you can easily set timers, play music or check the weather?


Remember Our Veterans (in the US)


November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States. This provides us a wonderful opportunity to share with students all the sacrifices and contributions that our veterans have made.


During a recent class, I polled a group of 32 students, “Raise your hand if you have a close family member or friend who served in the military.” Well over half of my class raised their hands. Our town is no more patriotic than the next; I suspect students in your classroom know a veteran, too. Perhaps it’s their parent, sibling or close relative.

So consider – how does your school celebrate Veterans Day? Perhaps you want to celebrate in your own classroom. Might your group make “thank you” cards for the VFW or American Legion members? Host a brunch for veterans? Perhaps your projects for the surrounding days will have a historical or patriotic theme. Spend a few moments considering whether or not you’d like to celebrate Veterans Day with your students, and if so – how so.



Button Up Before Break


There’s no better feeling than walking out the door at the start of Thanksgiving Break and having nothing work-related that has to be done. That’s how I best enjoy my Thanksgiving Break! In my school district, Break is an entire week long. Friday before Break is my personal deadline for getting all grading done, grades posted and updated, and some planning ready for the first day back.

You see, I never forget that “just back from Break” feeling. Even though I’m often well-rested and ready to return, that doesn’t mean my brain is back online!

If possible, set your student assignment deadlines (and tests and quizzes schedule) well before that last day – base it on when you’ll have some time to grade. And if you must take home some work over the Break, pick a time when you will do school work – and don’t stress outside that time. I know we’re all different; some of us are “last minute” people, and some of us pack so much into our Breaks there’s no time to stress or think about school.

My personal style is one I’ve grown into as a busy educator: if I must take home work, I do it ASAP. This is true, too, when I take work home in the summer. Otherwise there’s always this little nagging thought in my mind, “You should be doing work!” That’s the worst thought to have when I’m trying to get into a good pleasure read or binge watch Netflix.

If at all possible, button up those work tasks before walking out the door! I promise it will help you focus more on family, friends and yourself – and less on those nagging tasks that are there the rest of the school year.


Think About Self-Care


By the time November arrives, I’ve often gotten so caught up in the busy-ness of the start of the year – self-care is not always intact! That gym membership I bought, those yoga DVD’s I *swore* I’d do each day…there was just no time (or more accurately, no energy left!) to do those things. November is a great time to think about those healthy habits that recharge our batteries and fuel our body.


Some strategies that my colleagues use to take care of themselves:

  • Find a work walking partner and commit to walking right before or after school.

  • Do healthy meal prep on the weekends and double those batches for the freezer! That way there’s always healthy, quick options for those exhausting weeknights.

  • Sign up for a fitness class that is super fun!

  • Buy a new water bottle or tea mug that inspires you to drink more water. Add fruits, cucumber or mint to your water and never drink boring water again.

  • Eat more vegetables (especially those yummy fall ones like squashes).

  • Get lots of quality rest!

With all this focus on students, please – don’t forget about yourself! You deserve the best so you can give your best. Read more simple ideas here.


Plan for Winter Break


If you haven’t locked down some “R&R” for yourself in the quickly-approaching Winter Break, do so now!

Maybe you can relate – year after year, it’s suddenly December 20th and I made no plans at all. In recent years, I’ve tried something different and been very happy about it! Now – I buy those tickets, I schedule that trip, and make plans for Winter Break early! Because the truth is – I can easily spend my Winter Break doing “staycation”, but after a week, I’m ready for an adventure!

Travel doesn’t have to break the bank either. I love to scour the web for great last-minute deals, and November is a great time to do that!

What have you got planned for Winter Break? A quick thaw-out trip down to sunny Scottsdale? A trip home to see family? How about a skiing trip at Mammoth or (my favorite) the snowy ski town of Bend, Oregon? Perhaps it’s just to take an overnight trip to the nearest city for some school clothes shopping and bomb dinner?


Here’s to an amazing November for each of you! Your kids are so lucky to have an educator like you who cares about them, cares about his/herself, and shows up daily giving 110%. In case no one told you today – thank you for all you do!


Check out next month’s Teacher Survival Tools HERE! Share now with your colleagues and friends, and don’t forget to Pin for later!

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