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Teacher Appreciation: Secrets from the Classroom

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I am so excited to bring to you tips for What Works in the classroom! Plus make sure to read on to enter our amazing giveaways!
It being teacher week and all, we thought it would be fun to share some tried and true success stories or tips on what to do with your students! I don't think my two secrets that I'm going to share are mind blowing but they sure are things I've learned over the years and have made me the teacher that I am today!

Tell your students that you believe in them every day and they will start to believe in themselves too!

This isn't something that I came into teaching knowing. I will be honest. I was a horrible teacher my first few years of teaching. I had it all wrong. I placed importance on teaching and getting what I needed to get done. I didn't consider students' emotional needs. I was ok with my students fearing me. (I am ashamed of that now.) I don't really know what I was thinking but I thought being strict was the way to get things done.  I look back on those years and am so glad that my heart changed, I have one special little boy to thank for that.
One day, I was playing a sight word game with my students and I noticed that the more I praised this one little boy, the more he wanted to try. Even if he'd gotten the word wrong. The next day, he asked if he could play the game again. I kept praising him after every word. By the end of the week, this little boy, who normally only memorized 3 of 10 words, now knew all 10! What had changed? Certainly, it was the same little boy. I realized it was the way I was interacting with him that was changing his beliefs about himself and in turn changing how he performed. I will never forget how much he beamed when I gave him a little certificate at the end of the week for knowing all 10 words. Guess what? I didn't stop with one student. I was on to something. If it worked with him, would it work with others? The sight word game became an experiment for me. And boy, did I learn a lot!
That sight word game taught me a great lesson. A teacher's attitude can make all the difference. What a teacher says can make or break a student.
Now, my first priorities as a teacher are my students! Years from now they will not remember what specific lesson I taught them (or high frequency word), but they will remember how I made them feel. I want my students to always feel loved and cared for. I want them to leave my room knowing they are special, that they are somebody important and that I truly believe they can be successful in school and in life. When I was in the classroom, we had a classroom mission statement that we would say every day after the flag salute.
We are scholars and we are champions.
When we come to school, we're ready to learn and give our best.
Our teacher believes in us and we we believe in ourselves.
We know, we can do anything.
If we make a mistake, it's ok.
Mistakes help us learn too.
We just, try again.
We will be friends with each other.
We will encourage each other and help each other.
We will build each other up!
We are  (school name) scholars and we are champions!
Here's a picture of it hanging over my whiteboard but I apologize for the pour quality.
I realize this isn't a tip and it's not something you can just do. It's something you truly have to believe! But I do have a strong passion for it and it really is the secret to how I've made such an impact with students and why students that come to me are successful.

Students work harder and give more in what they are truly interested in!

One thing I've learned over time, is that students will give more when they are inspired.
Last year, my school started a program called Teaching Garden. It's a free program by the American Heart Association.  The garden responsibilities have been given to the upper grade students but it's the perfect learning environment for the younger kids, as well.
We  used the garden to practice math: measuring and graphing. Each student picked a plant that they would monitor.  Every 3 or 4 days, as a class, we'd go outside and measure and graph the results. Students had so much fun comparing their data to see who's plant was growing the most. Measuring, graphing, comparing and all while having fun… that is teacher heaven!
Their journal writes during this time were amazing too! They wanted to write every day about the garden. Many students wrote narratives of what they wrote. Until one day, a student saw a worm in the soil and decide he wanted to write a story about the worm. That set things off in the room. Suddenly students realized they didn't have to stick to narratives, they could make stuff up and call it a story! Ha!
I think the biggest lesson I have realized over time is that the more students get to be active participants in their learning, the more effort they will give. They become excited about learning and it becomes contagious.

Now for the exciting giveaway! To show our gratitude we want to have 2 giveaways!  The more teachers you follow, the greater your chances to win!
Just take a look at everything you could win…One lucky reader will win this entire prize package!!!
Prize Bundle #1 Includes
PLUS….$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
We aren't finished yet….take a look at everything a second lucky winner will win!!!
Prize Bundle #2 Includes
PLUS….$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
Be sure to enter both rafflecopters for a better chance at winning one of these amazing prize bundles!
Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here
Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here
You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.

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