Tips for Building Strong Schools

Tuesday, November 20

Promote respect by giving your students an excellent role model—you! Start in small ways. Say thank you to students and to other adults in your building, especially support staff. Listen. Apologize when you're wrong. Smile! Teaching is tough, but there is always something to smile about.

Wednesday, November 14

Tired of the same old routine? Switch student groups regularly based on learning preferences, ability and even social skills. Rotating groups periodically reduces bullying and shows students how to collaborate well with others who have a different perspective.

Wednesday, October 31

How do educators know whether or not students are engaged in learning? Dr. Howie Knoff helps educators increase engagement in their schools through the Certificate in Effective Classroom Management at American College of Education. Here is one important report on measuring student engagement that is discussed in the program.

Wednesday, October 24

Do you face bullying, low respect and other behavioral problems in your classroom? Schools today need an all-hands-on-deck approach to create a positive learning environment. ACE now offers a certificate in Effective Classroom Management that gives you a blueprint for initiating campus-wide changes at your school.

Saturday, September 22

Praise students when they make good choices and when they work hard. Have kids keep track of their progress toward specific social and academic goals. Great idea: add leaves to a tree when you catch 'em being good. When the tree is full, it's time for a picnic!

Saturday, September 1

Need to get your class quiet? Don't resort to the bullhorn. Instead, create a signal. Ring a bell, or silently raise your hand. Practice this signal with your students from the first day of school, and time them to see how quickly they can get quiet. Are your students working in small groups? Install a blinking traffic signal that turns red when the volume is too loud. Students will learn to lower their voices immediately, and you won't even have to open your mouth.

Saturday, August 25

Want to prevent most annoying behavior? Give students something to do! Anchor activities give early finishers meaningful reinforcement of concepts. Set up stations or centers. Play charades or other games to reinforce vocabulary words. Ask your librarian for several books related to the unit. Assign an ongoing project that students can return to when they finish their work for the day, such as a journal, a sketchbook, or a series of math problems. Tactile-kinesthetic students can build—kindergarten students can build shapes, while high school students can construct materials for the next day's physics demonstration.

Visit for some great computer-based ideas. Your students won’t have time to perfect their paper airplane technique.

Wednesday, August 15

Be a SMART teacher! Set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals for your classroom. Make your expectations clear, and involve students in the process. Students will feel invested in their own education when they learn to set their own goals and take ownership of their choices. 

Thursday, August 9

Always make your first contact with parents a positive one. Send a quick postcard, make a phone call, or welcome families to your class with a personalized email. Mention a specific positive aspect about your student. Later on, your students and their parents will be more receptive if you have to discuss discipline concerns.

Saturday, August 4

Write your students’ names on brightly colored popsicle sticks, then randomly choose a stick for a student response. Students will pay close attention because they don’t know when they will be called. Calling students randomly also gives quiet kids more floor time and eliminates arguments. No more classroom divas!