Classroom management tip: 7 Ways to Slow Down

The unknown is hard. What will happen next? Am I prepared? Did I do my best? Could I do more?
This week we started our two weeks of teacher training for online learning because our school begins after Labor Day.
I learned more than I could imagine about computers—way more than my brain can handle.
I have a lot of work to do, but this weekend I decided to STOP and rest.

Here are 7 ways I rest:

  • Take a walk. I hear this all the time but I don’t always do it! Take a walk. Just take a stroll right outside your home. You’ll feel better – I promise!

This cucumber beetle was hiding as we walked to the beach.
We walked to the horse ranch in Montara. Such a lovely foggy afternoon.
The harbor was stunning at sunset.
  • Read a non-work-related book. If it is left up to me, I will read everything educational I can get my hands on. Read a book for enjoyment! Get lost in the plot. You’ll thank me later.

  • Garden or get a plant to care for. Plant something! Plant anything! Feel the soil fall through your fingers. Watch your plant grow! My plants are my friends because I talk to them.

This pup was born on our windowsill.
  • Stay in bed longer. Give yourself permission to stay in bed and rest a little longer than usual. My mother stares and the wall and recharges her batteries. I like to play on my phone or read a good book!

  • Cook/buy a fun meal and eat it slowly. I can eat my lunch in 10 minutes or less. It’s a bad habit, but I learned to eat quickly during my short lunch breaks. Perhaps spend time enjoying your food and experiencing each bite! Yum!
My teacher friends bought me this for by birthday lunch. We waited over an hour to eat. It was worth it! Yum!

  • Call/text a friend. Everything is better with a friend. I usually call my older sister when I get upset or need to chat. Other times I call my good friend that I’ve know since junior high. Sometimes I text my teacher friend and check in.

  • Breathe!: This is my favorite tip. Sometimes I am so busy that I forget to breathe deeply. Often, I schedule times when I stop for a minute and inhale and exhale deeply. Feeling the air go to the tips of my fingers and toes helps me relax!
My mind was racing as I waited for a meeting at work. I walked around our campus and found this branch with long green fingers. After remembering to breathe I took this photo. Do you know what kind of tree this is?
After a long meeting I found this a dandelion in my yard.

Teachers need to slow down and be people too! Our students deserve a rested teacher who manages his/her class, having had a chance to slow down and be human for a minute or two. Our families do too!


How do you slow down?


How do you relax when your brain doesn’t stop? Let us know in the comments below.

Mr. Goat munched a whole field of weeds with his friends in Half Moon Bay. We found him after a long stressful day traveling.

If you are interested in my store click here.

I can’t wait to use my online learning expectation cards in the next couple of weeks. My students are going to love my stories about each bird! If you’d like to learn more about them click here. You can purchase them here.

See you soon!

Classroom Management tip: what if it’s not perfect?

If you haven’t noticed, I love flowers. I could keep writing about flowers that I’ve found around my coastal home or in my garden (Thanks to my gardening friend for encouraging me to grow them this year!). My computer is full of photographs of them.

This sunflower reminds me of fall.


Flowers from a florist are perfect. They are at the peak of their beauty. Artists draw them, and photographers are quick to capture stunning pictures of them. Many special events are incomplete without them. Sometimes I get tired of the carefully planned images and arrangements. Perfection is overrated and almost impossible to maintain.

Blue vases with yellow flowers are my favorite.


But what about all the other flowers? Are they still beautiful? Do they still have something to offer? Should they be thrown in the garbage because no one would buy them? I don’t think so!

During the late summer the naked ladies bloom in our yard.


The other day I was walking down the street looking at the scabiosas that grow along the road. They are in various stages of their cycle.

What happened to the rest of this?
The bee is hungry.
This one looks sort of like a brain.
The detail of this scabiosa is remarkable.


In May, I went outside for a walk every day because I was sick of sitting at my computer. I started taking pictures of this daisy-like bush. Each stage is a picture of beauty, even though they are not what you’d expect.

It rained the night before. Leaving the petals wet and drippy.
A few months later.

These flowers are fascinating and beautiful in a different way. Even the dead brown ones are worth looking at and studying.
This school year is like these unwanted flowers. I won’t make list of the negative things that have happened so far. We have to pause and find what makes each part worthwhile. What makes each moment unique, and what brings hope?

What is this school year offering you? What beauty can you find in the brokenness of 2020?


Maybe it’s your students…

This Shasta daisy has seen better days but something about it is still eye-catching.


…or your teammates…

My huge sunflower is the first flower that bloomed in our garden.

…or the extra time you’ve gotten to spend with your family…

It’s surprising that this zinnia even bloomed. Almost the entire plant was eaten by a slug.

…or the long walks you’ve taken outside.

A sunflower that never opened. I check every day and it still looks like this.

The list goes on…

A pink zinnia!

And what does this have to do with classroom management? Our perspectives have everything to do with our classrooms and students! We want the next generation to see teachers doing their absolute best, even if given imperfect flowers. Students need teachers to be on the constant lookout for a small rays of hope.

The Lily of the Nile Agapanthus had a super bloom in Montara a few weeks ago.

Next time you encounter something that isn’t perfect, stop and look before you judge. Ponder the positive instead of the negative and pass it on to your students, family, and friends.


What have you found that is beautiful this year? How do you convey it to your students? Tell me about it in the comments below.

If you are interested in my store click here.

I can’t wait to use my online learning expectation cards in the next couple of weeks. My students are going to love my stories about each bird! If you’d like to learn more about them click here. You can purchase them here.

See you soon!

Classroom Management in the virtual World

I could write a long list of classroom management tips that I have used successfully but not in the virtual world. This week I spent time lounging on the beach near my home. We found this little beach hidden less than a mile away. We also visited our old favorite beaches up and down the coast. I sat in the warm sand, wondering what it will be like creating a classroom virtually. There is so much unknown. Being a planner makes the unknown unsettling.

My school postponed our start date by almost a month. In a way, it’s just like having another month to wonder what school will be like. On the other hand, I am glad to have more time to prepare.

I feel like a new teacher wondering what the virtual class will be like this year at a new school in a new grade level. On the beach, while I watched my daughter run in the waves and wade in the creek, I kept thinking.

What makes a teacher successful?

How do we help our students learn when we aren’t with them?

It is possible to teach without being with my students to gauge their understanding of the lesson objective?

My mind went back and forth like the waves on the beach.


Then I remembered what one of my teacher besties told me last week. Her school already started virtually. She said: “I am just going to be prepared for what is happening next.”

My friend is right! I don’t have to worry about the whole year, just about right now. That is all we can do. Be prepared for what is happening next!

I know what is happening next so I can be prepared for that! Here are some ideas to help you be prepared too!

  1. As soon as I get my student list, I am going to write postcards! Each child in my class will get a handwritten note welcoming them to my virtual classroom.
  2. Make sure you teach your students exactly how you want them to behave during online learning. If you are looking for online teaching expectation cards, you can find them here. Each card shares a clear expectation with a fun science-based story about a bird.
  3. You can read about my favorite classroom management tip here! It’s all about attitude!

Thanks for joining me today! If you have any tips to add to my list leave them in the comments below.

See you next time!

My Favorite Classroom Management tip

I am about to share with you my favorite classroom management tip. I still struggle with this. It’s a good struggle because I think I get better at it every single day.

This tip works for any teacher in any classroom. It works for the school janitor and the superintendent.
When we wake up each morning, we have a choice. We can decide to have a good attitude each day or not. There I said it!

Attitude is a choice.

Personally, I don’t like a lot of things that happen at school. I know you know what I am talking about. Your coworker/boss might drive you crazy, or your favorite mug may have fallen and shattered on the floor. The cute kid in your class may not be acting so cute anymore. Or there is a deadly pandemic that changes the way we teach FOREVER!


But, how do I have a good attitude in the middle of all of this!?!

Sometimes my attitude feels like this old daisy…


I could make a list of all the ways to have a good attitude, but I am not. You can look that up on a self-help blog or call your mother/bestie and ask them.
I am going to tell you why we, as teachers, need to have a good attitude and why this is my best classroom management tip!


As teachers, we set the tone for our students. If I hate the math curriculum, my students will hate it too! If I complain just a little about the old carpet, my students will begin to complain also. If I am continuously annoyed at the technology I am using to teach, my students will be too! I think you get the picture.


Our students mirror our attitudes.


Don’t worry, I am not saying that we have to be perfect. Because we all know that I am not. What I am saying is that our good attitude gives our students hope.


So our attitude could be something like this:
This pandemic is hard, but we can make it through!
Our technology is difficult to understand, but together we will figure it out.
My coworker is annoying, but maybe she is having a bad day or season.
The student who turned off his video during the lesson might be struggling today.
My boss may have to make some hard decisions that she can’t explain and, that’s why she made that new policy.

Make your classroom, whether it is online or in-person a place of hope. Make it a place where good attitudes are welcomed and shared. Providing that for your students will make them feel that there is still goodness in this crazy world of 2020.


Be the hope by having a good attitude! Do it for your students!
Classroom management has so many components that teachers need to have, but a positive classroom starts with a teacher who has a good attitude.

Flowers remind me of hope. I love to find flowers and fill my social media feed with them. My house is filled with photographs and paintings of flowers. What reminds you to have a good attitude?


I encourage you to find a picture of a flower and post it by your desk to remind you to have the best attitude you can!

Find me all over the internet and follow me for many ways to sneak science into the everyday parts of your classroom!

Follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers and instagram!

If you would like to teach your students to have a good attitude check out my Online Classroom Expectation Cards here! Petey the Parrot has a good attitude and makes the best of things even when things are hard! There are 7 expectation cards, each with a story about a bird!

See you soon! Thanks for stopping by!

Five Classroom Management Tips for Online Teaching

I was suddenly thrown into online teaching last spring, just like every other teacher in America. After 20 years in the classroom, I felt like a brand new teacher! Except as a new teacher, there were master teachers, books, colleagues, and resources to support my endeavors in the classroom. Not so for online teaching! Administrators and teachers were learning and scrambling to make the online classroom work smoothly.

In hindsight, I did my best, but I could have done better! Although most of us won’t be in the actual classroom this fall, we can do even better than we did in the spring. We owe it to our students and their parents to give them the best education possible.

When we go back to school this fall, I want to be more prepared. I’ve spent the last few months researching, contemplating and talking with other teachers about online teaching and learning strategies.

I came up with five tips to share with you! Let me know in the comments below what you think.

Five Classroom Management Tips for Online Teaching:

1.) Give your students and their families a chance to get to know you. Perhaps you could host a get to know the teacher evening! Play games that build community in your online classroom. Maybe make a bitmoji teacher to send home. Give the students a chance to make the online classroom a place of their own. I am new at this and am still collecting ideas! If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments below.

2.) Explicitly teach your online classroom expectations, just like you would during the first few weeks of regular school. I usually spend the first week of school teaching routines, expectations, and creating a classroom community. Throughout the rest of the year, I am continually reviewing these as my class needs a refresher. Online teaching shouldn’t be any different! 

This week, I created Online Learning Expectation Cards for online teaching. I used vibrant drawings of birds and fun facts to reinforce how I want my students to behave! More information about the artist behind my clipart is available here. If you are interested in teaching your students using these cards, you can purchase them here.

3.) Don’t be afraid to try new technology. Sometimes technology can be scary because it’s new or different. Take advantage of all the online resources and trainings that you can find. Find a buddy who you can learn with. Learning and trying new technology is always better with good friends.

4.) Post your daily schedule for your students and their families. I cannot stress this enough! Posting your schedule makes it easy for everyone to know exactly what you are going to do next! This is just as important online as it is in the regular classroom. 

5.) Love your students just like you would if they were in your real classroom. Many years ago, I was supposed to have only twenty students in my class. The room was set up for them. I had twenty chairs, desks, and sets of school supplies. My principal walked in late one morning with number twenty-one! I was so frustrated because I had no warning and I only had 20 chairs! I didn’t welcome that precious child or their family warmly. So I made a decision: any child who walks over the threshold of my room is welcome and loved no matter how I feel at the moment! The same ‘rule’ will be true for my online students too!

I hope these five classroom management tips help you as we navigate this crazy year of online teaching!

If you have any thoughts or ideas about online teaching start a conversation in the comments below.

Please follow my blog for more helpful classroom management tips during the month of August. If you are interested in additional products that bring nature into your classroom shop here!

See you next Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy getting ready for online learning!

Who draws Dr. Coyote and his friends?

Art supplies have been a central theme in my life. I cannot remember when I didn’t have them in my purse, stuffed in my cupboards, and all over my desk. When my baby daughter could finally sit up in her highchair, I put a marker in her chubby hand. I was thrilled when she made her first mark. It was just as amazing to me as her first step.


My mother is an artist deep in her heart. She looks for interesting things in the world and draws them. Over the years, her artistic ability has blossomed, becoming a reflection of the beauty and kindness in her soul.


A few years ago, I started teaching first grade at a small school that stands on thirty-two acres of hikes, creeks, and nature. Somehow I wanted to bring all of those things into my classroom and teach my students about them. I began looking for lessons about oxalis, redwood trees, chickens, banana slugs, and bunnies but came up short!


One day I started telling my mother what I was looking for. I told her that I wanted to bring nature into my classroom in a meaningful way. Her eyes lit up, and we started to brainstorm tons of ideas. My mom offered to draw an alphabet strip that depicted nature. It took her a year to perfect all 26 drawings, but she did it!

You can purchase the alphabet cards here!


I took those detailed nature drawings and turned them into the final product. My mom included my daughter (who is mother Mary in the Christian school version), my principal who loves to drive the tractor, and even me (I am holding an umbrella)! It was such a treat to look up at my nature alphabet hanging above my whiteboard every day. You can see it in my store here.


Then my mom drew Dr. Coyote and his friends. That is another story that you can read about here and here. Plus, more stories to come!


Lovingly, she has drawn almost all of the clipart that I use in my store. She does that sitting at a messy table surrounded by lots of art supplies or outside in nature itself!


Join me next month as I share classroom management tips and tricks for the fall with Dr. Coyote and his friends and illustrated and inspired by my mother!

Do you like art supplies? What goodies do you have sitting on your kitchen table? You should see mine now!

For the best art supplies and advice in the world visit Ron at California Art Supply! If you aren’t local you can call him and order online. Tell him my mother sent you!

Another Look at Classroom Management

At the beginning of my teaching career, I thought I knew everything about teaching. I spent hours decorating my classroom with lots of student work. My lessons were well crafted and standards-based. I dressed like a teacher with cute shoes. My job was to teach, and my students’ task was to behave while learning. 

Then one day, my principal said I had poor classroom management! WHAT! She must be wrong because I worked so hard!

But she wasn’t wrong. She even sent me to a special class so could learn how to run my classroom. My head was spinning because I thought that I was doing all the right things.

Sure I could get my students to line up quietly most of the time. All of them except that one kid the one that nobody could ever get in line. That really wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault that my class came in loudly from recess, either! It’s’ just what kids do after they come in from playing! And that ‘mean’ kid – I put him in the corner away from everyone. It served him right! Nobody wanted to sit by him anyway! If he learned to behave, I would move him.

I even had a beautiful clip chart because all great teachers had one! Moving clips up and down would get those naughty students who didn’t listen to behave! It would show the whole class that they needed to do! And the prizes that I gave to all the wonderful “good” kids. They deserved them. I loved every single one of my students! I loved them even more if they listened to me.

It wasn’t until I was bragging to my great-aunt that I had a moment. You know those life moments when you realize that you are totally flawed, and it is time to change. I explained my classroom management system to her. I was waiting for her to praise me and say that my teaching was amazing. But she didn’t. She just stared at me and said quietly: “that’s not positive.”

I mulled those words over and over in my brain for two years! I felt like a caterpillar spinning its cocoon slowly and waiting for something beautiful to happen.  

That’s when I started to ask my questions to experts. I asked master teachers what they did in their classrooms. I watched and learned from the best and the worst. I read every book I could get my hands on and watched YouTube videos about classroom management, teaching, children, classroom organization and procedures. I asked all sorts of questions to anyone that would listen. I wanted to learn to be better than I was.

And then the answer hit me like a ton of bricks. Good teachers love their students for who they are right now with all their imperfections. They plan for every little routine, and they carefully teach their students what is expected from them. In other words, good teachers are proactively teaching their students what it means to be an active participant in a learning community.

I threw away my clip chart because I realized it shamed students. It made them feel unloved because of their behavior.

I stopped blaming students for their bad behavior. I began thinking of ways to encourage students to make better choices and decisions.

I started asking parents for support as we worked to solve classroom struggles together.

Discipline became private, more thoughtful, and restorative. My expectations were shared clearly with students. 

I slowly began creating a classroom culture that celebrated good behavior with systems that encouraged students to be better than they were yesterday. 

We can ask our students and ourselves to be better than we were yesterday: better students, learners, friends, and helpers.

Each Sunday, during August, I will share classroom management tips that help me as I create a more positive learning community. I hope they also encourage you on your journey. If you have any ideas, share them in the comments below.

For more ideas and resources check out my store.

Dr. Coyote!

You can usually find Dr. Coyote wandering around the beaches and open space near his home every morning and evening. He is searching for lost or hurt animals. Most coyotes would rather eat them for quick snacks but not Dr. Coyote. When he carefully picks up animals he takes them to his lab.
His lab is a mess. He has papers and tools piled everywhere! Mrs. Coyote gently reminds him EVERY DAY that he should clean up, but he often forgets. If the mess trickles into the house, it finds its way back to the lab.
The lab table is the only clean spot. It sparkles! Nobody knows exactly where it came from or how it works. All we know is that when hurt or sick animals are laid on that table by Dr. Coyote, they get better physically. Plus their minds open up, and they can share their thoughts, so humans understand them!
Have you ever heard a seagull talk non-stop? Or a quail insist her name is queenie? Perhaps you’ve seen a coyote walking upright wearing a lab coat.
If you are lucky enough to meet them or other talking animals, let me know in the comments below.


For more stories and classroom ideas with Dr. Coyote and his friends, visit my store.

Classroom Management Tips from Sammy the Seagull

If I told you that Sammy isn’t grouchy, you wouldn’t believe me because of his sour face. It’s almost as if he is glaring at you. He is one of the most curious yet friendly birds around.
One day Sammy was minding his own business. Like always, he was flying around Montara Beach watching for yummy snacks. Swooping down, he ripped open a large lunch bag. It held a bunch of trash and some old sourdough bread. Sammy loves fresh bread, so he started pulling out the garbage with his beak. Half drunk soda cans, wet sandwich bags, and a dirty diaper. At last, he almost reached the soft bread. Right as he was about to take a bite of it, he got his head stuck in plastic soda packaging. Sammy couldn’t get loose. The more he tried to get out, the more stuck he became. Poor Sammy.
He started to make strange moaning sounds loudly at first. Slowly they became softer and less pronounced. Sammy was running out of energy. The soda packaging was choking him. Sammy thought he was going to die. He wanted someone to rescue him.
Queenie the Quail, likes to run around the beach and look for exciting things. When she heard the noises, she followed them right to Sammy the Seagull! Queenie signaled for Dr. Coyote, who showed up shortly with his rescue kit. He carefully freed Sammy from the soda packaging. He knew that Sammy would need more care, so he took him to his lab and laid him on his table. There he worked for several hours stitching up Sammy and nursing him back to health.
Something magical happened to Sammy on that lab table. When Dr.Coyote was done treating him, he could talk! He started talking non-stop to Queenie, who listened patiently at first. He chatted all evening and the next morning too! He talked and talked and talked!
Queenie and Dr. Coyote realized that Sammy needed to attend school to learn how to read and behave with the other little boys and girls. They sent him as soon as he was strong enough!
Sammy had to learn how to behave in the classroom and listen to his teacher! He likes to blurt, and he wants to help! Talking is also new to him, and he loves doing it A LOT!
If you have trouble with your students blurting, check our Sammy’s lesson here. His story and poster teach your students that blurts hurt!

Queenie the Quail: How she met Dr. Coyote!

Dr. Coyote is a good friend of mine. He lives on the edge of the open space near my home. Many people see him and run away because he is, after all, a coyote. He could eat your dog or cat in the middle of the night while you are asleep. Sometimes he is lonely because nobody says hi to him when he is walking around town. It’s sad everyone judges him when they don’t even know him.

My mom, Cindy from Cynthia Ogden Illustrations, draws Queenie and Dr. Coyote.
Gracie Lu, my niece, drawing quails. Her imagination and drawings helped spark the stories of Dr. Coyote and his friends.


One day, many years ago, Dr. Coyote was walking through a meadow. It was a foggy day. You know – the wet drippy fog that only small coastal towns get during the summer. He stumbled across a tiny quail that was being attacked by a vicious mountain lion. Quickly Dr. Coyote made himself large by spreading out his limbs to look ominous. Once they made eye contact, the mountain lion looked down and sheepishly and ran away. Dr. Coyote gently picked the quail up. Her feathers were matted with blood! She was in shock, but she had a spark in her eye. Most coyotes would have gobbled her up! Not Dr. Coyote. He carefully carried her to his laboratory.


He laid her on his lab table and nursed her back to health. It took two weeks of constant care. Dr. Coyote had to take her everywhere he went so he could keep an eye on her. During that time, they became the best of friends. Now when you see Dr. Coyote walking around town, he wears a white lab coat, and Queenie the Quail is perched on his shoulder. They are inseparable!


Something magical happened on that lab table. Something that stirred the imagination of Queenie! She can talk just like Dr. Coyote, but that is another story.


I wish you could visit his lab that is hidden near my home. Maybe you’ll see Dr. Coyote and Queenie the Quail rescuing another hurt or scared animal. Or perhaps you’ll see them walking around town quietly chatting with each other.


For more information on my animal friends you can follow me on social media!

My mom, Cindy, shares her special art supplies with anyone interested in creating – especially children. There is usually a child or two sitting at my mother’s kitchen table using them up! Our favorite art supplies come from our friend Ron at California Art Supply.

Osteospermum in the classroom!?! (A.K.A. African Daisies)

A few months ago, I was introduced to these intricate flowers. My class was on a hike around our school’s acreage, studying eucalyptus trees, when one of my students disappeared for a second behind some trees. She emerged with a striking purple daisy-like flower.

Baby osteospermum hiding underneath the adult plants.

My class clustered around her, and she ended up picking one for each student. They put the purple beauties in their hair or on their clothes. My principal saw the flowers and wrote the Latin word osteospermum on our whiteboard.

Notice the shape around the leaves has tiny points. I thought they’d be hard like thorns but they are soft.

Using our momentum, we started a unit on osteospermums. First, I began studying them and learning about their structure, color, and how they grow. The following week my students and I began studying them together.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I am always taking pictures on my Nikon. This time was no different. The pictures gradually turned into a non-fiction book, a gallery walk, points of conversation, references to draw in our science journals, and more.

My students holding flowers to dissect back in the classroom.
We dissected the flowers, collected data and wrote it down. My student felt like real scientists.

Do these flowers grow near you? Maybe you’re as lucky as I was, and they thrive on your campus. Could you collect them for your students to study? You can use this nonfiction reader to bring nature into your classroom even if you don’t have osteospermum nearby. Open the world of botany to your students with these complex, yet prolific, flowers. 

How many flowers are in this picture? Read my printable book or ask my students to find the answer! More osteospermum products coming soon!

Introducing Dr. Coyote

My niece, Gracie Lu, has a wild imagination, and she is obsessed with birds. Most kids read children’s books while she devours piles of bird books. She quickly memorizes every fact about these winged creatures. She is a walking bird dictionary. Not only can she tell you all these things, but she can also draw detailed pictures of her favorite birds. One day she is drawing California quails. The next, she’s creating a crazy scientist to go with them. She named him Dr. Coyote. My brain instantly was on fire! I could visualize a tame coyote wearing a white lab coat. After talking to my mom, who is a talented illustrator, Dr. Coyote began to take on more of a personality and fascinating story! Dr. Coyote is now my mascot. He helps me teach my students with a science twist! You may be thinking: how could a coyote be tame? Or what is his back story. If you stick around, you’ll learn about Dr. Coyote, his friends, and how he can bring science to all aspects of your classroom too!

The Armadillidium Family

This is a slightly humorous take on Covid family life. The Armadillidiums are also known as roly polies and we have a lot of them crawling around our yard in Montara. My daughter is constantly finding them. She carefully picks them up and makes little homes for them in old jars and cups. My mother, inspired by my daughter’s creations, drew this cartoon featuring these fascinating creatures.

Enjoy. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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