Back To Class!

Well, it’s been a year since “Teacher, teacher!” has been up and running. A lot has happened in that year. I moved and changed jobs! I went back to the classroom, 4th grade more specifically. I decided to take a break from posting and focus on teaching (it has been 16 years since I was in the classroom as a teacher)! backtoclassIt was a successful year and I am eager to get back at it; both school and posting.


I hope you will find my posts both informative and helpful. Feel free to use any of the information or ideas you find here. I will be posting helpful hints, lessons I’ve learned, successes and failures, recipes, and humorous stories.

Stay tuned!



“Please come to the office.”

Please come to the office! These five simple words strike fear in the hearts of students and teachers alike. Even as grown-ups, when we hear our name and that phrase over the intercom we instantly fear the worst.  “Did I do something wrong?” is followed by a mental scroll of all the things we could have done to be at cross purposes with our bosses.  We feel the Principal’s office is a place to avoid at all costs, and even an experienced teacher with nothing to hide can feel “less than” when venturing into the office.


“Please come to the office.”


We all have to go there from time to time, but what can administrators do to lessen fear of the office, especially for faculty and support staff?

  1. Beginning with day one of a new year (and consistently thereafter) invite faculty members into the office for informal, positive, and fun conversations.
  2. Arrange the office environment in such a way that it becomes a “common area” where faculty and staff have positive reasons to stop by — maybe there’s a candy bowl, a copier or shredder, supply closet, or if possible, have all of the faculty’s mailboxes strategically placed in or near the office.  You want your team members to visit frequently, and find themselves engaging in casual conversations with administrators and the office staff as much as possible.
  3. Rather than using intercom announcements to request an office visit for tough conversations or discipline, honor your team members’ privacy by sending an email or placing a note in their inbox, so their visit to the office isn’t a public spectacle.

How can we lessen the fear of the office for students?

  1. Be visible in the building and classroom, so students get to know you as a person, and not an intimidating figurehead.  When they see you frequently in the classroom, cafeteria, hallways, or playground, you are building a positive relationship with the students and they are less likely to view you as a stranger when called to the office.
  2. Encourage teachers to send students to the office to share academic accomplishments, milestones, proud moments, artwork or written work, or good deeds.
  3. Be ready to offer small accolades and positive reinforcement when children stop by the office.  A compliment or high five can go a long way to making the office a positive destination.  For special accomplishments, give a simple treat or academic prize when they visit the office.  Stickers, bookmarks, pencils, erasers, and other school supply items are appropriate.  Try not to make a habit of giving candy, toys, or distracting items during an office visit.
  4. Recognize student birthdays by inviting the child to the office on their special day. Consider giving a birthday card, a restaurant or store coupon/gift certificate, or a chance to reach into the “treasure box” for a trinket, game, or puzzle. (This type of program offers a wonderful excuse to build partnerships with local businesses and restaurants who can supply the treasures, gift cards and coupons.)

If you have other suggestions for removing the fear of the office, please comment.


Visitors Welcome

When I was a teacher, I wanted my Principal and Assistant Principal to come to my room frequently; I didn’t want their first glimpse of my teaching to be on observation day! I hoped they could visit often and see my students in action, to monitor and applaud their progress. I was proud of them and wanted others to share in that pride. I also wanted the leadership team to see my approach to teaching:Welcome-Mat.jpg if I coaxed two sentences out of a reluctant reader, I wanted them there to witness the moment and celebrate with the student.

When I became an administrator, I vowed to visit classrooms regularly.  My goal is to see the full spectrum of what’s going on in the class and look for strengths in my teachers, offer suggestions, or share a simple word of encouragement. In addition, I want students to be comfortable with my presence in the room.

Teachers should also be encouraged to invite fellow faculty members into their rooms.  The administrator should take the lead to build this habit into the school’s culture, either by subbing for an hour or two to allow the teacher to observe in another room or by hiring a substitute to clear the decks.  It takes some time and effort to coordinate, but teachers can gain real insight by watching their peers lead a lesson or engage with their students.