Making Morning Meetings a Part of Your School Day

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.

If you’re like me, you’ve never really had a structured morning meeting as part of your school day.  I simply didn’t have the time.  However, over the years, I’ve found that I can squeeze in time during other parts of the day.  After incorporating our “afternoon” meeting into our schedule, I saw amazing, positive changes begin to happen in my students.  Not only did we get a chance to learn more about one another, but we built stronger relationships, practiced empathy skills, and even had some laughs.


What Is A Morning Meeting?

A time, usually 20-30 minutes, set aside each morning for teacher(s) and students to connect.  If you can’t meet in the morning, find another time that works for your classroom schedule.  Most often, students and teacher sit in a circle.


Why Should My Classroom Have Morning Meetings?

Morning meetings are an ideal time to:

  1. Check-In with students
  2. Build classroom community
  3. Allow students to practice academic and social skills


What Does A Classroom Meeting Look Like?

Using the Responsive Classroom model, morning meetings contain four components:

  1. Greeting: students and teacher say hello to one another by name.  You might require pairs of students to shake hands and say “Good Morning __________.”  You could even try it in another language!
  2. Share and Listen: in an organized fashion, students share about themselves or important events happening in their lives while the other students listen, ask questions, or offer advice.  I used this time to read from my “Compliments & Complaints” box.
  3. Activity: prepare a short group activity that requires teamwork and allows students to practice a skill (acting out a skit, playing a game, solving a puzzle, etc.)
  4. Message and Announcements: write a message with daily announcements on the board for the day, have students read it and respond to it.  This is a sneaky way to force students to actually look at the day’s schedule, announcements, and other important information, and ask questions if necessary.

14 Free President’s Day Teaching Resources

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.


Honor and celebrate George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other United States Presidents, this President’s Day.  Use our FREE educator-curated resources to assist you with teaching your students about President’s Day.



Presidents Day is an opportunity for the country to acknowledge the leaders of its government. See how it evolved from a birthday party for George Washington to an observance for all of the Presidents.


Learn what it takes to become president.


How did George Washington turn a rag-tag group of men into a disciplined fighting machine?


A strange story about George Washington’s wishes upon his death.


A humorous take on George Washington’s 101 rules of social behavior.  For upper grades.


Lincoln often utilized his sense of humor when making political statements, and also to silence his critics.


  • The Success of Abraham Lincoln
    Today he is known as one of the greatest American presidents, but at the time of his election no one would have predicted Lincoln’s success.



Lesson Plans and Activities

Celebrate the national holiday with nonfiction reading, research projects, student activities, and more.


Teach your high school students about the constitutional legacy of George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan this Presidents’ Day. These free, ready-to-use lessons will engage your students in learning about these important presidents and how they shaped the history and Constitution of our nation. Each lesson was written and reviewed by scholars and contains questions to test student knowledge. Elementary, middle, and high school students can learn the constitutional powers and limitations of the executive branch with our selection of classroom-proven lessons from our We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution student texts.


In addition to free lesson plans, educational resources and classroom materials on the accomplishments of U.S. presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, you’ll find some unexpected gems to help your students learn about the instrumental work and lasting legacy of some former first ladies, too.


Learning resources, teaching resources, and quizzes.


History, facts, photos, and free worksheets about Presidents Day.


The Presidents Day seasonal pages will provide you with resources to help your students learn about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, as well as the office of President. Ideas within this section include: journal activities, lesson plans and internet resources.


Celebrating President’s Day can be so much fun with these 21 easy presidents day activities and crafts for kids. I’ve got free printables and templates for George Washington wigs, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, cabin crafts, President’s Day crafty food, and so much more!


What are your favorite President’s Day Lessons, Activities, or Videos?

3 Creative Ways To Manage Student Devices In The Classroom

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.


The number of students who possess their own device is growing.  So true is the number of students who bring said devices into the classroom.  Whether you incorporate the use of student devices into your lessons or not, we found 3 creative ways you can manage student cell phones in your classroom.


  1. Using a Stoplight Management Approach (
    The stoplight management approach allows teachers some flexibility to use cell phones when the situation warrants, but also to keep cell phones from becoming a diversion from the learning. This is how it works:

    Post a red button on the classroom door: Students know when they enter that cell phones should be put in their off location. The devices will not be used that day. The teacher should decide on the off location—the upper right-hand corner of the desk and turned face down, or away in backpacks, or in pocket holders on the teacher’s desk—the cell phone parking lot.

    Post a yellow button on the classroom door: Students know their cell phones should be on silent (vibrate) and placed face down in the upper right-hand corner of their desk. They will be using them in class, but not the whole time. Having the phones in plain sight—a bit out of reach and turned over—allows the teacher to easily scan the room to see who doesn’t have their device where it should be. It also makes it difficult for students to quickly peek at their text messages because they’d have to turn the phone over and move it from its correct position—which is more difficult than when cell phones are hidden under desks.

    Post a green button on the classroom door: Students know they should have their phones turned on (either silenced or set on vibrate) and placed face up in ready position to use throughout the



  1. Create A Cell Phone Jail (
    Have you ever tried to have students leave their cell phones in their lockers and a mysterious glow comes from under their desk? I got tired of the cell phone shuffle and created a cell phone jail. My students had to check in their phones when class started. This accountability and equity eventually leads to focused minds in the classroom.



  1. Cell Phone Parking Lot (
    Make an area in your classroom where students can store and/or charge their cell phone.  An idea would be to use a hanging shoe storage bag with individual pockets for each cell phone.  Put a large number or picture on each pocket so that students can easily identify where they have stored their phones   Option:  Provide one or two power strips where students can plug in their phone in the “parking lot” for charging.


Teach students your class cell phone procedure.
Sample cell phone procedure:


  • When entering the classroom you may keep your phone out of sight in your purse or pocket. Or, you may store or charge your phone in the cell phone parking lot.
  • If you choose to use the cell phone parking lot for storage, place your phone in one of the numbered pockets. Remember the number where your phone is “parked” or write it down in your notebook.
  • If you choose to use the cell phone parking lot for charging, use your own charging cord. Plug your phone in to one of the power strips and then place your phone (still connected) into one of the lower pockets in the cell phone parking lot.
  • The cell phone parking lot is only accessible before and after class. If you plan to store or charge your phone, you may not go and get it during class time.
  • If your phone is not in the cell phone parking lot and is causing a distraction from work in class, you will be directed to “park” your phone and you may pick it up after class.
  • Students who do not comply or have repeated requests to park their phones will have their phones “towed.”  A “towed” phone will be stored in the teacher’s desk and will not be returned until parents have been contacted.


Monitor student phone use during class. When students are improperly using their cell phones, direct them to park their phones in the cell phone parking lot.  Encourage proper use of cell phones by regularly thanking students for remembering to use the cell phone parking lot.


In addition to having a classroom strategy for managing student devices, don’t forget to check out your school or district policy regarding cell phones and other devices that are not the property of the school or district.  If your classroom system conflicts with the building policy, you may need to meet with your administrator.


How do you manage student devices in your classroom?



6 Tips To Effectively Communicate With Your Administrator

Communication between teachers and administration is vital.  Being able to communicate respectfully AND get things accomplished (on both sides of the aisle) can be a tricky task.  Keep communication with your administrator professional and effective using these six tips:



Try to avoid contacting your administrator for every little problem.  They are not your personal problem-solver.  Prioritize your issues.  My rule-of-thumb when deciding if I should contact my administrator: if something affects my ability to teach my students or to provide a safe environment for my students and myself.  You are more likely to be taken seriously if you only go to your administrator when you are truly in need.


Be Specific, Polite, and Succinct

If you must address a concern with an administrator, keep a few things in mind so you don’t waste anyone’s time: address a single problem specifically, use respectful language, and get to your point quickly.  When writing to someone about a problem, I use a paragraph model I learned from my local NEA union representative: 1) what the current situation looks like, 2) why it’s a problem, 3) what the situation SHOULD look like.  Don’t try to propose a solution.  Instead, offer to meet in person to help solve the problem.  Always keep documentation of your communications.


Stay Focused On The Goal

Getting caught up in petty, nasty, behind-your-back talk can be devastating to your reputation.  Complaining will only hurt you, and your chances of getting your problem solved.  Keep your end goal in mind at all times and do what you can to help achieve it.


Don’t Forget To Listen

When your administrator responds to you, make sure you listen.  Take notes if you must.  If the response is in writing, read it, and reread it to make sure you understand what is being communicated.  If you have questions, ask!  You don’t want to miss any vital information.


Keep In Mind Why You Are There

If you don’t get the results you were hoping for, remind yourself why you’re a teacher in the first place. We teach because we love the students.  Love the students, and continue to press on.


Join Your Local Education Association

Your local NEA chapter can help you in many ways, and communicating an issue with administration is one of their many specialties.  Take advantage of the assistance and advice your local representative can provide by joining your National Education Association.  My local has helped me become more knowledgeable and confident.



What to Consider Before Getting A Classroom Pet

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.


Thinking about getting a pet for your classroom?  You might be surprised how beneficial having a classroom pet can be!  But before you run out to buy the perfect classroom pet, there a few things to think about.


Why Should I Have Classroom Pet?

There are many benefits to having a classroom pet!  According to Pets in the Classroom, pets provide learning opportunities, enrich the classroom experience, improve attendance, teach responsibility, aid in immune system performance, boost student morale, encourage nurturing behavior, build self-esteem, and strengthen social skills.  Learn more at


Do Your Research  

Find out what kind of care the animal requires, what type of enclosure is preferred, feeding requirements, and other needs.  Have the animal examined at your local veterinarian office (many vets will conduct an exam on classroom pets free of charge, just call to ask!).  Also, research any diseases the animal may transfer to humans.


Keep Parents Informed

Be sure the parents of students in your classroom are aware you have a classroom pet.  Some students may have pet allergies and must be seated away from the pet enclosure.  It may also be wise to send home literature detailing the benefits of having a pet in the classroom.


Have A Plan For When School Isn’t In Session

Make plans for weekends, holiday breaks, and summer break.  Where will the pet go?  Who will care for it?  Will students take turns taking it home on weekends?  What items will need to be sent home with students?  You might consider using an online sign-up system like to make these arrangements.  It is also a good idea to send home care instructions with students who are taking the animal home.


Here are some of the best classroom pets, according to

  1. Bearded Dragon – gentle, can be held occasionally
  2. Guinea Pigs – minimal care, easily handled, social
  3. Rabbits – affectionate, social, some can be skittish and become defensive
  4. Rats – affectionate, intelligent, minimal care
  5. Fish – visually intriguing, stress and anxiety reliever


Top 10 Classroom Pets from The Biology Corner


You Can Apply For A Grant That Will Help Fund Your Classroom Pet is an educational grant program that provides financial support to teachers to purchase and maintain small animals in the classroom. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust to provide children with an opportunity to interact with pets—an experience that can help to shape their lives for years to come. (Pre-K through 9th grade)


**Please remember, just like a family pet, an animal is a lifelong commitment.  Consider adopting rather than purchasing an animal from a pet store.  As the primary classroom educator, you are considered the animal’s guardian and caregiver and are responsible for the well-being of the animal, even when you are not in the animal’s presence.




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