Sunday, July 26, 2015

How to Create a Class Handbook that Rocks!

The Teacher's Back to School Survival Guide

Back to School Survival Tip from Laura Candler: Create a Class Handbook That Rocks! Learn helpful tips about what to include in it and download a free class handbook cover!
I'm excited to be joining 21 awesome upper elementary teacher bloggers who have put together a Teacher's Back to School Survival Guide with some of our best tips for getting your year off to a great start! As an added bonus, we are each offering TWO chances to win a $25 TpT gift card which means that over $1,000 worth of gift cards are up for grabs! Check out our back-to-school survival tips and be sure to enter all giveaways.

Create a Class Handbook that Rocks! 
Most schools have a handbook of guidelines and district policies, but have you ever thought of creating a handbook just for YOUR classroom?

My back to school survival tip is to take a little time now to create a class handbook that rocks! It's easier than you think, especially with the tips and samples I'm including in this post. A class handbook is a fantastic way to communicate your classroom policies right from the beginning of the year. It also sends a message to parents that you care enough to keep parent informed. When you make it attractive and thorough, it shows that take pride in your role as an educator.

Why You Need a Class Handbook 
Have you ever had parents tell you during a conference that they didn't know their child would lose credit on late assignments or that they needed to sign their child's daily reading log? If you sent home a handbook during the first week of school with information about that policy, you can politely direct the parent to that handbook.

Creating a handbook also forces you to think through ALL of your classroom policies in a logical way. There's something about explaining your policies in writing that makes you examine them more closely. Finally, a class handbook is a real time-saver when you get a new student. It's a nice way to welcome the child and to help him or her feel more comfortable about your expectations.

What to Include in Your Handbook
You might want to include the items below in your handbook. If the list seems overwhelming, include only the most essential information now and update your handbook next year.
  • Welcome letter
  • Best way to contact you
  • Class website or blog info
  • Homework and grading policies
  • Snack guidelines
  • Birthday party policies
  • List of classmates's names
  • Classroom lunch schedule
  • Supply list or materials requested
  • Brief descriptions of your instructional methods (i.e., cooperative learning, literature circles, reading workshop, etc.)
Click to download a PDF sample of my class handbook pages. You can't edit it, but it will give you some ideas for what to include. You can also download two free printable handbook covers.

Class Handbook Tips
Consider these tips in mind if you're just getting started:
  • Ask a colleague to review it for both clarity and grammatical errors. You don't want your first communication with parents to be confusing and filled with errors!
  • If you're worried about the amount of paper needed to print copies for all students, you can create a digital version and it email it to parents or upload it to your class webpage. 
  • Before you print copies of your handbooks or send it out digitally, ask your principal to review it to be sure all of your policies are approved by your administration. Also, if a parent disagrees with one of your policies and takes your handbook to the principal, you'll be glad that it's not the first time your principal is seeing it! 
  • Print at least 5 extra copies to have on hand for new students, and be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Staple and punch three holes along the left edge of each print copy to make it easy to store in a binder.
  • Give each student a handbook on the first day of school, but DON'T spend the entire first day going over it! Instead, only cover the very most important information on the first day, and space out those discussion with other first day activities. It might take you a week to go through the whole handbook, but at least they will remember the information! 
  • Allow a few days for parents to read your handbook and provide a deadline for it to be signed and returned. Ask that it be stored in their child's binder for future reference. If you email a digital copy or post it on a class website, send home a paper permission form to be signed by students and their parents. 

Create a Class Handbook That Rocks! In this post, learn why you need a class handbook and helpful tips about what to include in it. Find out where to download this editable set of handbook covers and pages from Laura Candler, too!
I hope you found these class handbook tips to be helpful. Creating a handbook that rocks will save you time later in the year and will pave the way for student success in your classroom. What do you plan to include in YOUR handbook?

If you're short on time, check out my newest teaching resource, a collection of editable files that make it easy to create your own class handbook. Click the image on the right or this link to take a closer look at Create Your Own Class Handbook. You'll be able to preview all the handbook pages and cover designs from that page.

By the way, I added it to my Back to School Super Start Combo, so if you've already purchased that item, you can download Create Your Own Class Handbook for free. Go to your My Purchases page on Tpt, locate the Back to School Super Start Combo and download the zip file again.

Check out the Back to School Teacher's Survival Guide, a blog hop of 22 upper elementary bloggers! This post is Laura Candler's tip: Create a Class Handbook That Rocks! Learn helpful tips about what to include in your handbook and download a free class handbook cover!
Back to School Survival Guide
$25  TpT Gift Card Giveaway!
Wouldn't you love to win a $25 TpT gift certificate? That would be the best gift ever for back to school! Each blogger in the Back to School Survival Tips blog hop is giving away TWO gift certificates, so if you visit all the blogs below and enter every contest, you'll have 44 chances to win! The contest ends at midnight on August 2nd PT, and two winners will be selected and notified by email on Monday, August 3rd.

To visit all the blogs participating in this event, click on the logos in the link up at the bottom of this page to visit each blog. By the way, I'd like give a big shout out to Kristen of Ladybug's Teacher Files who designed the awesome logos for our blog hop! She is so talented!




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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to Sow the Seeds of Classroom Success

Learn how to sow the seeds of success during the first week of school! Blog post includes a link to a free webinar recording by five of your favorite upper elementary bloggers!
Watch the Free Webinar Recording!

The first week of school is THE most important week of the year. What happens on those days will set the tone for the rest of the year! But what's the best way to start? Should you start with your students in rows or in cooperative learning teams? Should you be strict and "lay down the law" or relax and have fun with your new class? Should you try to cover any content on the first day or spend the time getting to know your students?

I've had teachers ask me these questions and many others about how I start my school year. They want to know what I do the first few days to create a caring classroom with just the right amount of structure to foster creativity and a love of learning. I created a  page on Teaching Resources called Caring Classroom to share some of those strategies, and I've gradually been adding resources to it.

By following some amazing teacher blogs, I discovered many others who have outstanding ideas for sowing those critical seeds of success at the beginning of the year. There are so many aspects to creating a caring classroom and encouraging lifelong learning, and I'm certainly not the only expert. So I invited some of my favorite teacher bloggers to join me in a webinar to share our strategies for developing a caring classroom community.

Sowing the Seeds of Success Webinar
Five terrific bloggers accepted my invitation and joined me for the webinar, which we called "Sowing the Seeds of Success: Creating a Caring Classroom." Rachel Lynette, Christi Fultz, Mandy Neal, Ari Huddleston and I shared our favorite strategies for getting the year off to a great start. This webinar was actually recorded two summers years ago, but if you missed it you can find the recording on my Caring Classrooms page. The activities and ideas shared during the webinar are all still relevant and will help you get off to a great start this year.

Learn how to sow the seeds of success during the first week of school! Blog post includes a link to a free webinar recording by five of your favorite upper elementary bloggers!

After you watch the webinar recording, be sure to check out some of the resources and activities on my Caring Classrooms page. What are your favorite strategies for getting your year off to a great start? Please share your ideas in a comment below!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Become a Millionaire on a Teacher’s Salary

How to Become a Millionaire on a Teacher’s Salary... it's actually possible! High school teacher Andrew Hallam hit this milestone by age 40 and wrote Millionaire Teacher to share his wealth-building secrets!
New! Enter to win an autographed copy of Millionaire Teacher!

I know what you're thinking... How can someone become a millionaire on a teacher's salary? It sounds impossible, but high school teacher Andrew Hallam accomplished this milestone by age 40 on a regular teacher’s salary! No, he didn't invest it in lottery tickets, either! Instead, he learned to live without incurring debt, and he understood how to invest his savings in safe ways to provide the greatest return.

Andrew wrote Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School to share his knowledge with other teachers so they could take charge of their own financial futures. I read the book a few months ago, and it totally changed the way I think about saving and investing my money. Before I read this book, I never felt confident about managing my own investments. Books about finances tend to be dry and difficult to understand, so the concepts always seemed just out of reach. However, Andrew’s writing style makes Millionaire Teacher an easy read. Not only is the book witty and entertaining, Andrew makes the concepts easy to understand, probably because he's a teacher. He does a terrific job of breaking complex financial concepts down into simple ideas using stories and analogies. For example, he shares his version of entrepreneur Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory, and uses it to explain how the stock market works, elaborating with manufactured details to illustrate the basic concepts of finance and investing.

How to Become a Millionaire on a Teacher’s Salary... it's actually possible! High school teacher Andrew Hallam hit this milestone by age 40 and wrote Millionaire Teacher to share his wealth-building secrets!
Even if you don't think you have a single extra penny to save and invest, you should read this book. After a few chapters you'll be convinced that you CAN save for the future. Andrew explains how you can manage your money yourself, and he describes how to avoid the pitfalls of hiring a financial manager.

Are you worried about losing your savings if you try to manage it yourself? If so, you’ll be glad to know that Andrew doesn't promote risky strategies like picking individual stocks or timing the market so that you try to buy low and sell high. According to Andrew, "It's not timing the market that matters, it's time IN the market." His strategies are based on setting up a portfolio of a few rock-solid index funds and bonds and holding them over time. He explains exactly how to do this and where to invest your money so that you are not paying high fees.

Why You Need to Read It NOW!
If you aren't convinced that you need to read this book now, remember that the sooner you apply these principles, the greater the payoff in the future. That’s why these concepts are especially important for young adults to master because they have time to ride out the ups and downs of the stock market. Small regular investments now will pay off in a big way in the future. For that reason, Millionaire Teacher would make a terrific gift for any new teacher or teacher-to-be, but it’s also a great read for veteran teachers. In fact, it’s an awesome book for just about anyone who wants to take control of their finances and achieve financial freedom by the time they retire.

I wish I had read Millionaire Teacher years ago, because I’ve made a lot of mistakes due to my lack of understanding about how to invest wisely. However, now that I know how easy it is to manage my own money, I'm excited to begin applying these principles to my own finances from this point forward. As they say, better late than never! To check it out for yourself, click one of the title links in this post to find it on Amazon where you can look inside the book and read buyer reviews. I know you'll find it to be a life-changing guide to financial success!

Autographed Book Giveaway Details
After writing this post, I contacted Andrew Hallam to see if he would like to give away an autographed copy of Millionaire Teacher to one of my followers. I was thrilled when he graciously agreed to do so! Due to his upcoming travel plans, the contest will only last two days and will end on Monday evening at 9 pm EST. To enter and earn one point, fill out the first question on the Rafflecopter form below to share your location. Then take any or all of the other actions to earn additional entry points and increase your chances of winning. Not sure which actions to take? I highly recommend watching the book trailer on YouTube or reading the reviews on Amazon because you'll see why I think this book is so life-changing!




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Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to See the Content YOU Want on Facebook

Facebook is such an awesome way for educators to connect and share ideas, but until recently it's had one big, frustrating, drawback. Before this week, there was no way to see ALL the posts from your favorite pages. Who likes to find out about flash freebies, helpful tips, and special sales a day late? Not good! You'd think that clicking the Like button on your favorite pages would mean getting all their posts, but Facebook doesn’t work that way. I guess I can understand why … our Facebook feeds would be swamped if we saw every post from every page we like.

Fortunately, a new feature that Facebook recently rolled out allows you to customize your news feed so you can see your favorite content at the top, marked with a blue star. Yay! As soon as I learned about this feature, I knew I had to share!

How to Customize Your News Feed
To customize your Facebook news feed, find your favorite pages and follow these steps. Why not try it first with my Teaching Resources page?
  1. Click to find Teaching Resources on Facebook, and be sure you have Liked the page. 
  2. Hover over the "Liked" button and click “Follow." 
  3. Choose “See First" to see my new posts appear at the top of the your news feed.  
That’s it! Take those three steps now, and you should start seeing all new posts from Teaching Resources appear at the top of your news feed. To see those posts, click the "Home" link at the top of Facebook or the words "News Feed" on the left side. All new posts from Teaching Resources and your other favorite pages will be identified by a blue star. If you click away from the news feed, those posts will drop down into your regular news feed.

I hope you love this new feature as much as I do! You'll never again miss out on teaching tips or resources from your favorite pages that could have made a difference in your classroom! By the way, over the next few days, I plan to do several giveaways and offer some special discounts. To be sure you see those posts, mark Teaching Resources as a page you want to see first!





Wednesday, June 17, 2015

School Year Calendar 2015 - 2016 Freebie

When I was teaching, I searched and searched to find the perfect calendar to use with my students, but I just couldn't find one that I liked. I needed 8 1/2 x 11 portrait-style pages that would fit in a 3-ring binder, and I also wanted large blocks for writing in the dates and events. Eventually I gave up the search and decided to make my own. To create more space for writing on the weekdays, I made skinny blocks on the weekends. It turned out to be exactly what I needed! When I started my Teaching Resources website, I decided to share it with other teachers and it was a hit with them, too!

The School Year Calendar starts with July of one year and ends with June of the following year. Each year in June I update the calendar with the correct dates as well as new clipart and fonts to give it a fresh look. The calendar pages are in color, but if you prefer black and white copies, just change your printer settings to the B&W mode.

Calendar Use Suggestions
After I began using these calendar pages with my students, I realized that they also make great planning tools for creating a thematic unit or planning with others teachers. Throughout the year, I discovered more and more ways to use this calendar until it became almost indispensable! Here's a list that might help spark some of your own ideas:
  • Instructional Planning 
  • Personal Meeting Planner 
  • Literature Circle Schedules
  • Attendance Graphing
  • Project Planning and Organization
  • Homework Planner 
  • Classroom Event Calendar
Have you used this freebie before? How do you use the calendar pages? Please share some ideas in a comment below.

Where to Get The Free School Year Calendar
Right now this calendar is only available to subscribers of my free newsletter, Candler's Classroom Connections. If you are already signed up, check the most recent issue for a link to the Newsletter Exclusive Freebies page which is where you'll find this calendar. If you are not a subscriber, click the image on the right to learn how to sign up. When you receive the welcome message, click the link to the subscriber freebies page to find the calendar and several other terrific free resources! If you don't get a welcome message, check your email folders to see if it got filtered out. If you still can't find it, the only fix is to try a different email address.
I hope you find the School Year Calendar to be helpful! Visit Teaching Resources for more free materials to help you get organized for the coming school year!




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