The TCL Blog

Deep Breathing Exercises for the Classroom


Increases focus, alleviates stress, decreases symptoms of anxiety, improves the quality of sleep, and relieves pain…deep breathing exercises provide a myriad of benefits. Breathing exercises are free, relatively easy to learn, do not take much time to complete, and can be done anytime and anywhere – including the classroom.

Deep breathing is a proactive habit that student...

Read Across America 2022


Happy 118th birthday, Dr. Seuss! In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2, people across the country will be celebrating by reading good books. National Read Across America Day was established by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1998 to help promote the joy of reading for children. As it turns out however, establishing reading habits early in life can provide potential lifel...

Stop, Think, and Write: A Behavior & Mind Management Strategy


My 5-year-old son, Abe (who is typically a kind boy), recently started hitting his 3-year-old brother. The physical aggression seemed to stem from impulsivity, frustration, or a combination of both. When my response of a time-out, followed by a verbal apology wasn’t working, I knew I had to figure out a different approach. 

I continued with the time-out (quiet time to...

Classroom Calendar Connections – November 2020


The Presidential Election, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving

It has been quite a year, and November is another eventful month. November 3 is the big day – the 2020 presidential election. Chances are, talk about the election and the candidates has spilled into your classroom. Below are some resources to help provide structure and guidance with engaging your students in electi...

Teacher Appreciation Year


My brother has four kids, they are all between nine and thirteen, and I think he's going crazy having them home every day. He loves them of course, and gratitude for all the extra time together is given often, but he and his wife both manage businesses and balance home life. Staying on top of four pre-teens and their remote learning isn't something they expected. There are six...

Classroom Calendar Connections - July 2020


Happy 244th Birthday, America! Provided below are several resources and activities that can be shared with students throughout the month to celebrate our nation and to learn more about the significance of the Fourth of July.

Independence, Illinois; Independence, Wisconsin; Point Independence, Massachusetts; West Independence, Ohio…In the United States, there are at least 30 cit...

Classroom Calendar Connections – February 2020


100th Day of School – The Actual Date Varies by School Calendars

Congratulations on making it to the 100th day of school (give or take a few days)! Students of all ages enjoy celebrating this special milestone. (Google “100th day of school activities” and you’ll get nearly 9 million hits!) My former elementary and middle school students seemed...

Classroom Calendar Connections – December 2019


December is filled with significant events to be incorporated into the classroom curriculum beyond the traditional holidays that one might typically think of. This article features National Handwashing Awareness Week, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and the Winter Solstice.

National Handwashing Awareness Week - December 1-7
Computer keyboa...

American Education Week


The history of American Education Week (AEW) dates back to the World War I era when it was discovered that 25% of the draftees were illiterate. Alarmed by this staggering statistic, representatives from the National Education Association (NEA) and the American...

Classroom Calendar Connections: November 2019 - Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving


“In November, some birds move away, and some birds stay.
The air is full of good-byes and well-wishes.” – Cynthia Rylant

Happy November, Educators! I have a well-worn/loved copy of In November by Cynthia Rylant sitting on my bookshelf ready for its favorite month. If you don’t have your own copy, you and your students can listen and wat...

Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences - Before, During and After


Parent-teacher conferences can be a great opportunity for meaningful conversations about how students can reach their full potential in school. To help ensure meetings are positive and productive for everyone involved, below are a few tips to consider before, after, and during conferences.

Before the Conferences

When scheduling conferences, try to of...

Classroom Calendar Connections – September 2019


For many educators and students, September is the first full month of the new school year. It’s a busy month as we transition from summer to fall and get acquainted with a new group of students. Provided below are some ideas to bring a few of the significant events of September into the classroom.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month


Tried and True First Day of School Activities in the Classroom


Google the words ‘first day of school activities in the classroom’ and you will discover nearly two BILLION results. Thanks, but no thanks, Google - we don’t have time to weed through all that! Provided below are some tried and true activities your fellow educators have shared for all grade levels.

Play Games

Paul, a high scho...

Featured Teacher Karlee Hunt - July 2019


Karlee Hunt has taught the third graders at Little Elementary in the Denver suburb of Arvada, CO for four years. The school is named for John R. Little, who neither of us know much about, but it’s also actually somewhat little and even shrunk a bit last year. The district opted to move sixth grade students and teachers into middle school. Change is stressful but necessary for evoluti...

Developing and Maintaining a Growth Mindset


Almost 2 years ago, my family and I moved from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota to a rural part of western Wisconsin. After some training, practice, and several mistakes, I learned how to use a snowblower and a lawn tractor (allowing me to do my part of maintaining the acres of land we now owned). Before then, I never thought about learning how to operate those machines - I didn’t think I...

Thank you, Educators – We Appreciate You!


For opening your classroom doors every day and unlocking students’ potential – we thank you.

For sharing your wisdom with students while they share their germs with you - we thank you.

From teaching students how to compute complex math equations to showing them that they count – we thank you.

For awakening hearts and inspiring minds – we tha...

Maintaining Student Engagement in the Spring


The birds are chirping as I type, the grass is turning green, the sunsets are even more spectacular than usual - spring is here! It’s a wonderful time of the year but maintaining students’ attention can be extra challenging for teachers when competing with sunny blue skies, complete with temperatures in the low 70s. We have a few ideas to help you celebrate springtime with students...

Trust, Safety, Challenge, and Joy: Fostering a Classroom Culture Ideal for Collaboration


As teachers we’re encouraged to work together and share expertise, energy, and inspiration with the common goal of increasing student engagement and success in our schools. Research supports benefits associated with teacher collaboration including more creative and meaningful lesson plans, shared responsibility for student achievement, improved staff morale/career satisfaction, and an inc...

Social and Emotional Learning Part 4 of 5: 5 Strategies to Improve Relationship Skills in the Classroom


Maintaining friendships, asking for help, working cooperatively, etc. - interpersonal skills are a critical component of the development of children. When students demonstrate strong relationship skills, instructional time increases while conflicts, arguing, and fighting decreases. Class cohesion increases self-confidence among students as they help one another and interact positively with adul...

Social and Emotional Learning- Part 1 of 5: Self-Management Strategies in the Classroom


Happy 2019! Are you staying on track with your New Year’s resolutions? As I type, I have a large glass of water next to my mouse, and I am resisting the strong temptation of the remaining Christmas cookies and other holiday goodies in my pantry. After all, this blog post is about self-management, so I’m trying to practice what I preach.

As defined by the Collaborative for...

5 Priceless Gifts for Students


Billions of dollars were spent by shoppers in the United States over the Thanksgiving weekend. The packages that arrived on my front porch - practically before the pumpkin pie was served - was evidence that I was one of the millions of online consumers wrapped up in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday frenzy.

Upon reflection, I soon realized all the toys and other gifts that I so badly ...

Bullying or Conflict?


Several years ago, I found myself (a special education teacher) in a meeting involving the principal, the director of special education, the school psychologist, a second-grade teacher, two concerned parents, and even the district superintendent.

A second-grade student on my special education caseload reported to his parents that he was “bullied” by another student in his...

RTI 101: Think Progress


So often I would groan when the topic of Response to Intervention (RTI) was mentioned - mainly because I didn’t fully understand the process. It turns out it’s not so complicated when you think of RTI as working toward and measuring the progress of students.

The RTI Action Network best ex...

Functional Behavior Assessment: The Plan for Positive Behavior


Sarah punched a student on the bus this morning. What’s the plan? Luke is disrupting the whole class. What’s the plan? Raul is refusing to take his algebra test. What’s the plan? As a special education teacher, it seemed every student on my caseload with behavioral concerns had a plan in place. Sometimes the plan was as simple as a phone call home. S...

Functional Behavior Assessment: The Whys of Problem Behaviors


When my son became mobile, we installed a baby gate in our living room at the top of the staircase leading to the basement. Late that same night, our cat – Little Miss – woke my husband and me up with loud, persistent meowing in our faces. (Those were the blurry-eyed days of our baby still not sleeping through the night, making every minute of sleep vital.) I love Little Miss, but m...

Addressing Back-to-School Anxiety: An Interview with a Veteran School Psychologist


As a teacher with summers “off”, August has always felt like a long Sunday. June is the excitement of a Friday with the whole weekend ahead. July is a Saturday with plenty of time to relax, reconnect with old friends, explore new places, and maybe catch up on DIY projects at home. As the calendar flips to August, however, the realization of - and the anxiety associated with - return...

3 Creative Ways for Learning Students’ Names This Fall


“Sorry, I’m terrible with names,” is an apology you might often hear (or say).  Since I started teaching, I’ve gotten better with remembering names by simply being more mindful when introductions are made and repeating names aloud or inside my head a couple of times. I’m still far from perfect, though.

This fall many of you will be facing a whole new...

Four Methods for Rethinking Discipline


“That’s incorrect, Johnny. T-h-e-i-r is a possessive pronoun; T-h-e-r-e refers to a place; and T-h-e-y-’-r-e is a contraction. This is your final warning – if you get it wrong again, you’re going to the principal’s office.”

Okay…now that I have your attention – of course we wouldn’t punish a studen...

Mindfulness: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Classroom


Imagine coming to your neighborhood middle school one morning to find three dead bodies dumped in the schoolyard. This is exactly what students experienced one morning when coming to Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco.

As shocking as this might sound, the children at Visitacion were used to murder. Barry O’Driscoll, the school’s head of physical education (PE...