Back-to-School: Setting the Tone for Your Classroom

During the first days of school, one of the things your students will want to understand is what kind of teacher you are. Structured? Nurturing? Fun? All of these? Read on to learn about great resources to help set the tone in your classroom this year.

Submit a comment to our blog to describe your teaching style in five words or less. One lucky reader will win Doing Math in Morning Meeting: 150 Quick Activities That Connect to Your Curriculum from Responsive Classroom. This book will be featured in the fall 2010 issue of Learning magazine; however, you can win my copy now. Submit your comment by midnight EDT on Monday, August 30, 2010, for a chance to WIN! I’ll throw a few bonus books in the package as well, so prepare to be surprised! (Update: Congratulations to Sitara, who won our prize!)


Teach both character and literacy—plus add some fun to your classroom—with Funny Bone Readers from Red Chair Press. Customers of The Mailbox magazine and Learning magazine qualify for two special offers: Get a free Funny Bone Readers sample by emailing and mentioning The Mailbox. And get 15% off a complete classroom set of Funny Bone Readers by using code Mailbox1 at checkout. Hurry, these special offers expire October 1, 2010. The books are for grades K-2. Click here now!


Books provide a wonderful way to give students a preview of the school year. Click here now to access two free audiobook samples from Recorded Books. The first, for younger students, is Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos. In this story, Paulie has one goal: spreading world peace by the time he reaches age eight. Can he do it? The second free excerpt is from One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, author of several award winners. This story is for ages 9-12. Click here now to listen to the samples or to download them for later.


All the smart cookies in your classroom will appreciate the wisdom in One Smart Cookie. New from HarperCollins Children’s Publishing, this book features advice for students of all ages. Plus at the website you’ll find free treats like a cookie recipe, a matching game, a video of the author, and printable stickers. Click here now to check it all out!


Show students how they can make a difference with free materials from SmileTrain. This charity helps poor children in developing countries by raising money to repair cleft lips and palates. The surgery—which costs as little as $250 and takes 45 minutes—allows children to speak and eat properly, go to school, hold jobs, and escape stigma. Request a free DVD and consider a SmileTrain fundraiser at your school this year. To learn more, visit

Post your comments on our blog for your chance to WIN. And don’t forget to tell your colleagues about our blog as well!


36 thoughts on “Back-to-School: Setting the Tone for Your Classroom

  1. My teaching style is joyous,smiling,way-out-there and nurturing. I love the way First Graders come into the classroom and right away have to share something with you. Could be what they just saw in the hallway,or that their cousin from Ohio came to visit and ate all the cookies. There’s never a dull moment..and most of them are teachable ones!

  2. I set the teaching tome by being friendly, positive, nurturing, but also firm. I try to keep things pretty structured at the beginning in order to establish routines. I teach first grade so this is the first time they have sat in a desk, focused on independent work for a longer period of time, and not taken a nap during the day. I try to give them lots of little breaks, play learning games to make school fun, and teach the routines that are so important at the beginning of the year. We read Officer Buckle and Gloria and make up our own classroom rules which help them to learn clear guidelines and expectations. We also focus on learning about each other and play and do get to know you activities. I

  3. Building a classroom community at the beginning of the year pays off. Getting-to-know you activities can be a fun learning experience for all. This applies to all grade levels!

  4. My teaching style is creative with lots of hands on exciting experiments and projects going on. There is a lot of exploring in my room along with team work.

  5. I am a Waldorf-trained teacher workiing in a Waldorf methods charter school. Part of the Waldorf philosophy includes the teacher staying with the class for a number of years (as much as grade 1 – 8). I started with my class in 1st grade and am now about to enter 3rd grade with them.
    My Waldorf teacher training gave me lots of wonderful insights into the development of the child and how to teach in an artful, imaginative manner that awakens learning. I can tell wonderful stories (not always reading, but by heart) and teach lessons that incorporate hands on and lots of imagination (all my lessons begin with some imaginative story to anchor the learning for the children). I learned how to teach painting and drawing, singing and recorder playing, clay and beeswax modeling, language arts (lots of speech exercises and poetry) and math in active and pictorial ways, non-competitve games. Waldorf teachers typically meet their students at the door at the start of the day and shake hands and greet each one – the children are expected to look me in the eye and return my friendly greeting. We also close the day with a song and a verse and shake hands goodbye as well. I learned to recognize the temperaments of my students and consider that aspect when developing my lessons and seating them in the classroom. I attend ballet, soccer and play performances of my students and have done a home visit for each one. With all that, my training still never really addressed how to teach procedures or develop rules with the class. I am so excited by finding Responsive Classroom because I think this may be the missing piece for creating the classroom environment that I always hoped for. I plan to take the first seminar when it comes to California and hopefully get some help with my “tough kids” that regularly disrupt the classroom. I’ve bought nearly every book that RC has – but if I win, I’ll give the extra copies to my colleagues!

  6. I really love all the Responsive Classroom books. The ideas are great and easy to implement in the classroom. I would love to be able to use math during the rest of the day–not just at math time. I try to introduce new math concepts with great picture books, too.

  7. I am a 5th grade Responsive Teacher through and through. My teaching style is based on the foundation of building a caring community of learners, through teaching the CARES acronym and holding daily Morning Meetings. I’ve learned so many new team building activities at the recent Responsive Classroom Institute that I attended this summer. I cannot wait to incorporate them this year. I use “teacher language” to reinforce, redirect and remind my students. The kids in my class sit in groups so that they can work cooperatively as much as possible since 5th graders are such social beings. Through establishing a safe, trusting, and predictable environment, my students are able to focus much (if not all) of their attention on learning. It’s going to be a great year!

  8. I believe that all children have a natural curiosity and joyfulness that should be nurtured and
    celebrated. My classroom is a place where children feel safe to take risks and learn to
    support and encourage one another in order to explore and extend their own unique talents. I
    encourage my students to be creative problem solvers, risk takers, and independent thinkers. I
    work diligently to ensure that students will be challenged academically through engaging,
    hands-on and highly individualized instruction. Children are encouraged to make choices in
    their learning and are challenged to build on both their successes and mistakes. High
    expectations, infused in a caring and supportive environment, allow each child to excel and
    reach their highest academic and personal potential. In addition, I consider a strong
    partnership between home and school an essential element to success; therefore, I strive to
    maintain a constant and open line of communication and a collaborative relationship with
    parents. My ultimate goal is that every child will come to school each day excited to learn
    something new and knowing that his/her teacher believes in him/her. At the end of the year, I
    want my students to leave first grade with a love of learning, a confidence in their own special
    talents, and a strong academic foundation that can serve as the cornerstone of their future.

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