Classroom management is something I struggled with during my first student teaching placement in a 3rd grade classroom. I simply did not yet have the confidence needed to discipline the kids, especially with my co-op always in the room (I’m one of those people who works better without other adults watching me…). It was a struggle, but I eventually found my groove. There is simply nothing a college class can do to prepare you for an actual classroom in terms of management!

When I entered my next placement in a 6th grade classroom, I was even more concerned because I wasn’t sure how 6th graders would react to being disciplined, and I didn’t want to be that teacher! But surprisingly, dealing with the older kids was even easier for me. I showed them right away that I would respect them as long as they respected me. This seemed like such a small thing at the time, but it made a world of a difference. I had very few problems with these kiddos and I knew that I was starting to find my stride as a teacher.

Enter my own classroom. I knew I needed some sort of procedure that would be implemented from the start that was fair, easy to handle, and fun for the kids. Pulling together a few ideas from classrooms I had observed over the years, I came up with KICKBACK Time!

Every student has the above sticker on the corner of his/her desk. I simply used easy peel post-it stickers and printed the KICKBACK letters on labels. Each letter in the word KICKBACK stands for two minutes of free time on Friday afternoons, meaning that every Friday afternoon the students receive 16 minutes of free time. However, if a student misbehaves, disobeys, or is other disrespectful, they will be asked to cross off a letter, resulting in the loss of two minutes of free time. For every letter crossed off, they continue to lose two minutes of free time. They are also required to fill out a form that explains why they lost a letter and how they will fix that behavior. This form gets sent home and signed by a parent so that the parents are aware of what happened in school that day:

KICKBACK Behavior Note

Students not only lose letters for misbehaving but also for not being prepared in class. For example, I have had several students forget to bring their homework planners in from their backpack every day. This was unacceptable in 5th grade, so I started to take away KICKBACK letters every time they forgot. And has it happened since?? Not once!

The kids love the free time at the end of a busy week. They are allowed to do anything they’d like to in the classroom – draw on the board, play games (I have a good selection of board games), go on the computer (I draw names every week for this), sit and talk, read a book, etc. Sometimes we take a vote and go to the gym, or the roof if it is a nice day out (the roof is a huge area on top of the building where the kids can run around = don’t worry, it is completely fenced in and 100% safe!), but usually we end up hanging out in the classroom.

If a student has lost a letter (or 2, or 3…), they are asked to sit at their desk quietly until their time is up. I keep meaning to pick up a timer so that they can visually see how much time they have left. After they get up, we quickly talk about their wrong behavior and how it can be fixed.

Now that I am in my 3rd year of the system, I feel like I finally have it down to a T. I am not afraid to take away letters like I sometimes was in my 1st year, and I know the students benefit from the consequence because I have seen a decrease in the negative behaviors when letters are taken away. They love KICKBACK time and don’t want to miss out on the fun!

So that’s how I deal with management issues. What is your management procedure??


Bathroom Woes

So how many times do your students say “I gotta go to the bathroom” every day? For me, it became a pet peeve – I was sick of my kiddos leaving every 5 minutes to go again (and again, and again, and…you get the picture). This year, I decided to do something to alleviate this problem. Enter our “Gotta Go” passes:


Gotta Go Passes (I printed them out on bright green cardstock to make them more fun!)

The students receive 5 passes at the beginning of the week. They keep them in their pencil holder on the side of their desk that I give them at the beginning of the year. Any time they need to use the restroom, they must turn in a pass. I keep a small basket on my desk where they drop their pass. Once they are out of passes for the week, they need to make sure they are using the restroom at other points during the day (when they arrive, snack, recess/lunch). If they choose to go during class when they are out of passes, they lose a KICKBACK letter (this is part of my management procedure, to be saved for another post…).

At the end of the week, any student who still has passes left can put them in a basket for a drawing, and the kiddo whose pass I draw gets to pick a prize from the prize bin! If I ever forget to collect the passes and do the drawing on Friday, I know it will get done because the students never fail to remind me – they love picking prizes 🙂

One more thing that I didn’t mention – when they leave, they must write their name on a “dry erase board” posted by the door (this is really just a piece of colored cardstock inside of a sheet protector – cheap yet durable!). I keep a marker velcroed above the board for easy access. This way, in case of an emergency, I can quickly see who is out of the room, and the kids can easily see if another student is out, which means they must wait.

The kids have caught on quickly and have realized that saving the passes is more beneficial. I’m amazed at the difference it has made! So that is my class’s bathroom procedure. What about yours??

Oreo Phases of the Moon

Every September, we study God’s Great Universe. We learn about stars, meteors, comets, asteroids, satellites, the sun, and so much more. But one of my favorite new activities that we do comes when we study the phases of the moon.

This idea came from Pinterest and I couldn’t wait to try it out with my 14 students a few weeks ago – because, seriously, who doesn’t love Oreos?!

I bought two packages of regular Oreos because I wasn’t sure if I was going to have them work individually or with a partner. I ended up having them work with a partner because I felt like they didn’t each need to eat eight Oreos!

After splitting them into groups, I gave each group a paper plate. They wrote “Phases of the Moon” in the middle of the plate and could decorate the edge however they’d like. I passed out eight Oreos to each group and had them arrange the Oreos in a circle around the edge of the plate.

We began talking about each phase of the moon, starting with new moon, when there is no moon in the sky. For this phase, students left the Oreo alone to show the dark sky. For each phase, the students carefully slid one cookie off of the icing and scraped away part of the icing using their fingers while I drew a picture on the board to represent the phase we were discussing. And they just LOVED it! They loved getting covered in icing, they loved eating the extra cookie halves, they loved seeing the phases come to life as we went around the circle, but most of all, they loved eating the Oreos and globs of icing that had been scraped off!

Because I had put the kids into groups of two, they each got to eat 4 Oreos, which was more than enough 🙂 Some of them took turns scraping the icing and eating the cookies, others decided to do four at a time; either way, everything was split pretty equally.

The one thing I would change if I were to do this again would be to have the kids write the names of the phases along the edge of the plate as we went, but this is a minor thing that can easily be fixed for next year. And there most definitely WILL be a next year for this activity!


Here are two examples of the completed phases – pretty cool, right?!

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