Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tried & True Teaching Tips


I'm linking up with the Teaching Tribune today for their summer blogging series.  Today's theme is tried and true teaching tips and strategies.  When I thought about teaching strategies that I can count on to work, the one that came to mind was the way that I reward positive behaviors.

When my students are having a really great day, I like to recognize it.  It lets them know that I see how hard they are working, and how cooperative they are being, and I really appreciate it.  I rarely recognize great days the same way - but my favorite way to show my students that I think they are awesome is by showing up with a spontaneous fun experience.  The last fun little experience that I did with my class was an impromptu walking field trip to a local park right before preschool graduation. It had been a really stressful week and my kiddos had done their absolute best to refrain from adding any more chaos to my plate, so I wanted to treat them to something fun.  This particular park has a fossil dig and they loved it!

Another one of my favorite things to do to reward my class is to bake with them. They love to cook with me because they know they'll end up eating it, and I love to cook with them because I can totally engage them in a science and math lesson and they have no idea. Plus, when we are cooking together, there are no fights because they know that I will put it all away and they won't get to enjoy the end results.



I have a couple of recipes up my sleeve that are easy to do in the classroom, and that I always have the ingredients to at home. My favorite recipe that meets these criteria is no-bake cookies.  I can make these using an electric skillet, so we don't have to worry about using an oven, and since the cookies have to cool and set up before we eat them it offers a great opportunity to practice a little delayed gratification.  The recipe that I use includes peanut butter, but I have made them several times with soy butter and sunflower seed butter because of allergies, so they can be very allergy friendly with a simple substitution.

I know that the idea of too many sweets in the classroom is a bit controversial, and I'm not advocating rewarding kids with food every single day.  These little experiences are special treats that happen once every couple of months.  You can download the recipe that I use for no-bake cookies here, it also lists all of the early learning standards that are met through completing this activity, so you can show parents that your reward is also educational.

Baking is something that I love to do, and my students can sense that.  When I am passionate and excited about an experience, they will be too, especially if they know that it is a reward for really great behavior! If cooking with your class (or cooking in general) isn't really your thing, then try a different kind of recipe - you can make paint, clay, goo, and all kinds of ice concoctions with supplies that you probably have in your classroom or kitchen.  To find some great recipes, check out my classroom recipe book!



Be sure to stop over at Teaching Tribune to check out the other great tried and true tips and startegies that others have blogged about today!

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