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January is a good time to reflect on procedures in the classroom.  This can be an opportunity to reteach procedures to make the class run smoothly.

  1. Developplan to get attention
  2. Develop plan to eliminate distractions
  3. Plan for classroom shakeup--CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY
  4. Find the right demeanor
    • Focus on being a mentor not a friend
    • Focus on being respected not being liked
    • Be kind (personable, nice, understanding)
    • Be firm (high expectations, deal with issues, don’t be a pushover)
  5. Execute classroom procedures
    • Give detailed instructions
    • Practice
    • Correct anything done wrong
    • Redo the practice
    • Deal with problems when small
    • Stay Consistent

If you feel that your classroom would benefit from a shakeup and want help, contact your building instructional coach or your mentor specialist.

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The First Three Years PodcastIn this episode of The First Three Years, we focus in on creating change in our classrooms. We interview Melinda Boyack, a first grade teacher at Silver Crest Elementary, about her experience working with instructional coaches to improve her teaching and benefit her students. We also interview Amy Kinder, JSD Teaching and Learning's Math Consultant, about setting goals with an instructional coach.

If you need help working toward goals for your students and your classroom, reach out to your school instructional coach or your mentor teacher specialist.


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A new year brings changes and new challenges. It is a time to set goals and look to the future.

Jennifer Gonzalez, from the Cult of Pedagogy, shared some ideas for setting goals as a teacher:

  • strengthen your tech skills
  • brush up on pedagogy
  • improve classroom management
  • adjust your mindset
  • get organized

Goal-Setting for Teachers: 8 Paths to Self-Improvement

Sometimes new goals bring about changes in what we do. Some important positive strategies for coping with change and transition in life are that were shared on the blog posted below:

  • stay flexible
  • care for your physical and emotional health
  • maintain your life flow by keeping some kind of ‘routine’
  • stay in touch with friends and social networks
  • use stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises
  • start a wish list of new plans and goals to fit your new circumstances
  • embrace the new changes
  • take it one step at a time
  • keep your sense of humor
  • talk to helpful people, such as a counsellor or someone you can trust
  • do not allow yourself to be vulnerable, but stay safe in whatever way you need

Don't Suffer in Silence - Enough is Enough Blog: Coping with Change and Transition in Life

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You may have heard it said, "Where attention goes, behavior grows."

What does this mean though? The Tough Kid Book, by Rhode, Jensen, and Reavis, says: "If more teacher attention is given for inappropriate student behavior than for appropriate behavior, the inappropriate behavior will increase. With Tough Kids' teachers, this attention very often takes the form of excessive prompting, reminding, threatening, reprimanding, and verbal abuse, because these reactions seem to come naturally when teachers attempt 'pain control' of their own"  (43).

Where is your attention going in your classroom? Are you feeding the negative actions of students and reinforcing the behaviors you don't want to see? What is your attention growing?

If you are feeling that some of these natural management tendencies (excessive prompting, reminding, threatening, reprimanding, and verbal abuse) are emerging in your teaching, maybe it is time to re-evaluate how you look at the Tough Kids' behavior. The Tough Kid Book has various strategies to try. You can access The Tough Kid Book in all JSD schools by checking with your school psychologist.

Strategies from The Tough Kid Book:

  • Positive Reinforcement (45): occurs when something a student desires is presented after appropriate behavior has been exhibited. All students and adults need legitimate and appropriate reinforcement.
    • Example: Calvin can earn up to ten points for completing his reading assignment correctly. The points can be exchanged for dinosaur stickers. Because Calvin enjoys the stickers he can earn, the accuracy of his reading assignments has increased.
  • Motivation and Encouragement (48): motivating and encouraging desired performance is  much the same in the classroom as it is in the business world.
    • Step 1. Tell students what you want them to do (and make sure they understand it).
    • Step 2. Tell them what will happen if they do what you want them to do
    • Step 3. When students do what you want them to do, give them immediate positive feedback in ways that are directed and meaningful to them.
  • Natural Positive Reinforcement (50): Natural (activities or things that students already find rewarding) forms of reinforcement are found in schools if you look for them. Some tips for selecting positive reinforcement:
    • Select age-appropriate reinforcement.
    • Use natural reinforcement whenever it is effective.
    • Use reinforcement appropriate to the student's level of functioning.
    • Make certain you have parental and administrative support for the reinforcement you plan to use.
    • Avoid partial praise statements, such as "I'm glad you finished your work--finally!"
    • Always make the most of opportunities to reinforce appropriate behavior.
    • Be genuinely polite and courteous to Tough Kids at all times and demonstrate concern and interest toward them. Always stay calm.
    • Do not confuse positive reinforcement or privileges with a student's basic rights.

For more tips and ideas, see:
Rhodes, Ginger, William R. Jenson, and H. Kenton Reavis. The Tough Kid Book. Eugene: Pacific Northwest Publishing, 2010.Opens in a new window

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The First Three Years PodcastIn this episode of The First Three Years, join us as we search for joy around Jordan School District. Listen and reflect as we interview several teachers about the joyful moments they have found in their classrooms during a pandemic. We hope you can take a minute to reflect on what has brought you joy this year as well!

Special thanks to Ryan Behmer, Spencer Duncan, Troy Jensen, Suzette Johnson, Jennifer Knowles, Rebecca Lee, Shannon McDonald, Dr. Shelley Nordick, Amber Thomas, and Tanner Wilson for sharing their joyful moments with us!


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An old Chinese Proverb teaches:

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.

Providing service in a pandemic might seem a little crazy, but there are still plenty of ways for us to serve and find that happiness that comes from helping others. The Girl Scouts of San Jacinto have a guide that they created with several ideas of how to help others during the pandemic. Here are some of them:

  • Donate to and/or volunteer at the food bank
  • Donate blood
  • Donate to a homeless shelter
  • Spread kindness and uplifting messages
  • Be tech support 
  • Consider fostering an animal or donate pet food and supplies for owners in need
  • Be a good neighbor
  • Be prepared, but don’t hoard

For more ideas, see their handout:

We hope you are able to find happiness through this holiday season as we finish2020 and move into 2021!

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November is typically a time for high stress due to the approaching holiday season.  The stress of getting ready for family gatherings and purchasing gifts can sometimes be a load. Being a teacher may add to this stress with report cards and Parent/teacher conferences.  Then, add COVID-19 to that mix and you have the perfect storm…unless you prepare.

Erin McClintock discusses some things that will help us come out on top of it all.  In her article “10 Mental Health Tips for Teachers During the COVID-19 Pandemic” she suggests some important steps for teachers to take care of themselves.


  1. Control the Controllable – while you CAN’T control the pandemic and what happens because of it, you can control “how you spend some of your time, what you choose to prioritize, what types of media you consume (and how frequently) and your mindset.”
  2. Carve Out Time For Self-Care To Maintain Your Mental Health- The previous blog addresses this issue. Remember to wash your hands, read, meditate and take time to refresh yourself.
  3. Get your Body Moving- We are spending more time on the computer and in a chair. Make a mental note to move around.  Stand up and take a break.  Get those steps in!
  4. Model Self-compassion- “We teach students this all of the time– the basics of self-compassion, kind self-talk, and growth mindset. Now is the time to also turn it inwards.”
  5. Set Reasonable Expectations (for yourself and others)- This is not a business as usual time! There are so many unknowns and although we need to move forward and grow, we need to set small realistic goals.
  6. Communication is Vital for Maintaining Mental Health for Teachers- Simply, let people know what is going on – parents, colleagues, and administration. Being in the dark only adds to the anxiety in ourselves and others.
  7. Be unapologetic- We live in an “I’m sorry” world.  “Be unapologetic about taking time for yourself, setting realistic goals, setting boundaries, and being clear and transparent about what you are capable of (and what you need).”
  8. A Dedicated Work Space Can Improve Mental Wellness-. “By creating a dedicated workspace: even if it is just one corner of your home that you designate as “work only,” you can do two things: you can send an outward message to those in your life that when you are in that space you are working, and also an internal message to your own brain that signals when it is work mode and when it is time to disconnect.”
  9. Set Office Hours While Remote Teaching-put aside time when students and colleagues can get a hold of you. This will help you separate your work life and personal like.
  10. Reach Out­-If you are feeling overwhelmed, having a tough time, or need help, reach out to others. Reach out to a counselor. Talk with others and find out what they may be doing to overcome some of these feelings.  Don’t isolate yourself!


Read the entire article at


Embedded in the article are podcasts, webinars, and other resources that will be helpful.

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The First Three Years PodcastIn this episode of The First Three Years, we interview Wyatt Bentley about some of the state licensing changes impacting provisional teachers. We also discuss self-care as we approach the holiday season.


Licensing Documents:

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Now, more than ever, there is a need for teachers to practice self-care as an important part of their daily teaching routine.  We must get over the idea that self-care is unnecessary, self-indulgent, or a selfish use of our time.  In fact, self-care promotes long-term health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Illness, there are 6 elements to self-care:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Professional

Ideally, we should be setting time each day to include a small activity from each one of these elements. Some ideas are listed:

  1. Make sure to plan at least 10-20 minutes a day to decompress by yourself.  This could simply mean closing your door and listening to soothing music at the end of the day.
  2. Find ways to work on and improve your self-image. You need to improve your sense of compassion for yourself.
  3. Keep a journal and write in it to work through difficult teaching days when you feel overwhelmed.
  4. Social support is important. Find ways to connect with loved ones at least once a day.  This could be having dinner with your family, calling a friend, or relaxing with your significant other.

For more information on self-care, read the entire article published by, April 10, 2020.

Why Teacher Self-Care Matters and How to Practice Self-Care in Your School


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The First Three Years PodcastIn this inaugural episode of The First Three Years podcast, we will talk about changes made to JPAS for provisional teachers. We also share ideas for meditation and resetting our minds.


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