Unlocking a Coveted Seat

Every week, my students work to earn Student of the Week.  Student of the Week is not easy to earn.  To even be eligible, you must have been given no warnings the entire week (not one!).  You must have had your homework done and binder signed the entire week.  Then you must have gone above and beyond in some way that stood out.  Perhaps you took a risk, helped a classmate, participated more than usual or asked insightful questions.  There is no limit for the number of students who can earn Student of the Week and we do have weeks when there is no Student of the Week.  The honored students get to spin our wheel for house points as their classmates cheer for them.


In the past, I’ve been a bit bothered that the students who had no warnings and all of their homework completed yet did not go above and beyond were not recognized in any way.  In our classroom, it is no small feat to be eligible in these two areas due to very high behavioral expectations and I wanted to make these students feel special.

Over the summer I saw Erin Klein of http://kleinspiration.com/  blog or Periscope about making your room appealing to students with comfortable seating and other items.  About the same time, Hope King of www.elementaryshenanigans.com did a Periscope about a new key system that she was going to use with her students.  I put these two conversations together and had an idea!  So this year, I threw something new into the mix.

I went to Target (gotta love those back-to-college deals) and bought four chairs and a lock.  Now, any student who earns Student of the Week automatically gets one of these coveted chairs to sit in for the entire next week of school.  Well, unless we have more than four scholars earn Student of the Week which did happen once this year!  Students who do all of their jobs but do not do anything that stands out as going above and beyond are in the running for the remaining chairs.

I put lock codes on post-it notes.  Some open the lock and some do not.  I make sure the number of correct codes matches the number of chairs.  Eligible students get to pick a post-it and try the code.  If the code opens the lock, they earn the chair.  If it doesn’t, they try again next week.  The code that opens the lock changes every week.


The students love these chairs.  The anticipation on their faces as they turn each letter on the lock never gets old.  The class cheers for the students when they hear the click and the lock opens.  They are also quick to tell the students whose codes didn’t work that they also did a great job. Last week I had a student, for the first time, earn a chair.  His smile was priceless.  He was so excited because his hard work all year led to him earning the chair.  And to him, it was well worth the wait.


P.S. Here is the only “person” in our school who has ever sat in the chair without earning it.  The class happily shared and got a really good laugh out of the whole thing.


Reading and Reflecting

Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world.

How do I grow as a professional?  I read, among many other things.  I read often yet always wish I read more.  My biggest weakness as a reader is how I take everything I read and connect it to teaching.  Seriously!  I’d like, just once, to read a book without thinking about growing as a professional.  Yet I know my biggest strength as a reader is how I take everything I read and connect it to teaching.  To keep things brief, I’ve chosen five books that have had a major impact on my growth as a professional.

The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn

We all need Freds in our lives but more importantly we all need to be Freds for other people.  From Fred, I learned to be the best person I can be and to go the extra mile no matter what I’m doing.  It really does make a difference in people’s lives.

Leading with the Heart by Donald T. Phillips

Coach K is the man.  Simply put.  What I would do to sit down and have lunch with this man.  His unwavering high expectations paired with his deep concern for and commitment to his players becoming phenomenal people make him a legend.   Not to mention, I still get a good laugh on days when I don’t feel well and I recall what his parents used to tell him.  Drink a cup of Polish tea and sweat it out.  You’re going to school.

Disney U by Doug Lipp

I’ll start this one by saying my parents both worked at Disney and met each other there.  I’ve had Disney in my blood since I was young.  But it wasn’t the princesses that drew my heart to the parks.  Instead, it was the stories of Disney’s impeccable attention to detail.  This book really got me to think about how educators, just like Disney U, can set the stage for their visitors (the students, families and others) to truly make schools The Happiest Places on Earth.

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

Dave Burgess taught me to be creative.  All of the amazing lessons that I watched my educational heroes teach were finally within reach after reading this book.  He taught me how to plan experiences instead of lessons for my students.  This process is a constant work in progress but it’s work I’m so willing to put in because I see it benefit my students every single day in the classroom.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Change starts with a whisper.  That’s it.  Change starts with a whisper.  Building trust, lending a listening ear and whispering is all it takes to give voice to those who are not heard.


To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.

These five books only scratch the surface of my reading and reflecting.  Please comment with the books that have helped you grow as a professional.  I’d love to read them!