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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:

Purchase these shapes HERE

"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?

I’ve compiled a stellar list of teacher holiday deals for this season!

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 fam