A Thought on Discipline

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1830638/images/o-PARENTS-TALKING-TO-KIDS-facebook.jpgLast week marked the end of the 2nd trimester of school. The last two days of the school week were reserved for parent conferences. I joined a few conferences to support. I was truly surprised when a parent thanked me for handling the discipline of their child at school. I was even more taken aback when it happened again.

It made me think of the times that I’ve had students in my office for breaking the rules or worse. I want to share what I do when a student enters my office because I think what I’m doing is working.

1. I smile at them as they enter.

2. I sit down at a table with them- I do not speak to them from across my desk. I ask them to tell me what’s happening.

3. I write down or type what they say, asking questions along the way.

4. I occasionally read it back to them. When they are done I read them their whole account.

5. I ask them if they are telling the whole truth then do my best to verify the student’s account of what happened.

6. I explain what I am going to do next. For example, if there were other children involved, I tell them that I’m going to talk to the other child.

7. Once everyone involved agrees with the accounts of what happened, I then issue a consequence.

8. I ask, “Do you think this is a fair consequence?”

9. I contact the teacher and the parents to explain what happened.

10. I periodically check in with the student afterwards.

I very rarely veer from this personal protocol. It is what works for me. I have gained the trust of the students, parents and teachers at my school by doing this consistently and fairly.


What’s your favorite color scheme?

Today I was chatting with one of my teacher friends about the way we set up our classrooms.  She asked me if there was a particular color scheme that I liked. Here is my response.



My response made me think about why I choose these colors.  I “decorate” my room with colors I like.  I think it makes my classroom fun and inviting.  I’ve been commended for the my classroom environment and I think the colors I choose adds to it.

So after running through these thoughts today, how funny is  it that I stumble across this article before bed?!

Jan Hoffman wrote the article, Rethinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom. In it she references a study by Fisher, Godwin & Seltman: Visual Environment, Attention Allocation, and Learning in Young Children, When Too Much of a Good Thing May Be Bad. 

This study examined the affects of decorations on classroom walls. Research showed that student in classrooms with many decorations were distracted more often.  Click on the link to read the article. It had a lot of good points. It definitely made me further reflect on the way I set up my classroom.

Earlier in this post I put decorate in quotation marks.  I did this because I really dislike saying that I decorate my room.  It sounds unprofessional to me.  I also don’t think the word speaks to the amount of time and energy I put into the presentation of my classroom.  The items I chose to put up may seem decorate in nature but I assure you that everything on the walls of my classroom serves a purpose.

  • The work on the walls reflect student progress.
  • The charts on the board are reminders of learning objectives.
  • The number line and alphabet above my board is for reference.
  • The word wall is for reading and spelling.

When I see my students looking around while they are working, it makes me happy.  It tells me they are engaged in the room itself.  I tell my kids, “Use the information around you to help you.”  Sometimes it’s a spelling word, reading word, math pattern, a step, or a definition that they are looking for.  I’m glad I know they can find it.



Look behind these cuties to see two charts hanging on the wall. One is for the spelling sound of the week and the other has the reading words for the week.

Click here for my infographic!

First, thank you to everyone that gave me feedback on my first draft.  I took everyone’s advice & made some changes. This assignment was a sneaky one! I had no idea the amount of time it would take me to complete this.  Thankfully there were templates!  I can see how infographics can have a big impact when you are trying to share facts with the world.

On the venngage site there were templates for resumes! I don’t think the world is ready for infographic resumes…unless you’re applying for a tech job 😉

Visual Thinking

Am I a visual thinker? I think maybe I am… a little bit.  I just finished reading chapter one of Dr. Temple Grandin’s, Thinking in Pictures. I have never thought of myself as a visual thinker but I think I fall back on it when I am trying to make sense of something that is abstract to me. For example, a few weeks ago I was working on creating a graphic that explained my PKM. I knew what other’s looked like, but I wanted mine to have a visual image that showed each component. I also wanted each image to be connected to show a process. As I searched for images, the concept of a PKM became clearer and cleared for me.  To be honest, I think I spent more time “capturing” the perfect images that I did anything else. Standing in a flower field, picking the perfect flowers and throwing their petals to the wind is synonymous in brain with each phase of my PKM. In addition to this example, I couldn’t start writing this post until I found a picture that I felt captured what I was going to say. I couldn’t find one, so I made one.

After reading this chapter and recognizing similar thought processes that I go through when I’m trying to understand something, how can I apply this to my teaching and my leadership role at my school and district? Here are my thoughts:


I am clearly a big fan of visuals for deepening understanding.  When creating lessons for my students, I need to make a point of providing as many visuals as possible.  I think it would also be interesting to provide abstract visuals in which the students would need to make the connection from the learning target to the visual.

Drawing is important. With the daily grind and the underlying urgency I feel to get to the next lesson, sometimes I’ll skip letting the children draw (I teach 1st grade). At that moment it feels like a luxury. However, after reading this chapter I think I need to plan for the drawing time. I have a bit a guilt thinking about this next one…To all the kids who I have answered with a, “no” when they said, “Can I draw first, then write my sentences?” I apologize.  I get it. Especially after reflecting on my PKM graphic and this post.  Drawing the pictures help.


When creating powerpoints and presentations, visuals are awesome. Especially if I can find one or two that encompass the message I want to send.


Let’s talk about this image now. Why do you think I chose this to illustrate my process for writing this post? How does it represent visual learning?

Keeping Parents in the Loop

I just finished reading chapter seven of Every Child, Every Day by Mark Edwards. In this chapter Edwards had a small section on the influence of digital conversion on parent communication within the MGSD school district. I really love the idea of giving parents regular access to their child’s progress (notice I did not say grades…I’ll discuss my thoughts on this later in another post) through a variety of means.

This is how I communicate progress:

Edwards mentioned IXL. If you are a teacher of math or a parent of a K-12  student, you need to know about IXL. IXL is a math practice website. Teachers and parents can monitor student progress. Kids love it because they earn virtual badges. Here is the report I received the week of May 3rd. The report also tells me who logged in and for how long.



Have you heard of Class Dojo? Class dojo is a cite and app for behavior management. Parents can see how their child is behaving in class whenever they login. A weekly report is also sent home. Students can accumulate points. The kids love their avatars and I love being able to share this detailed information with parents. They recently added a messaging function. I can quickly text parents through the app. I love it! Here is a sample report I share with students at the end of the day.