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I love this “Mystery Learner” classroom management hack because it really keeps kiddos on their toes trying to figure out who the mystery learner might be.
At the beginning of the day, secretly choose a student who is the "Mystery Learner" for the day. Throughout the day, say things like, "Oh, I see our Mystery Learner is ready/ not ready for science." Or, "Wow, I love how our Mystery Learner is so focused on their work".
Let the Mystery Learner earn Dojo points/marbles in a jar, or any other reward for your class throughout the day. Then, reveal who it was at the end so the class can thank him or her! If they haven't made good choices throughout the day, their identity is kept a secret.
However, just a quick pro tip: if you decide to use this hack inside your classroom, make sure that you also keep a first name checklist of the students who have already been your mystery learner so that you can ensure that everybody gets a chance and so that nobody gets left out.
For any of you who are substitute teaching right now, this can also be a great way to get the kids on your side from the start.
Have the students put each of their names into a paper bag at the beginning of the lesson and then draw one name to be your secret student. If that secret student stays focused on their work and is being kind and respectful throughout the day, that student can earn a surprise reward for the entire class to enjoy in the last 15 minutes of the day.
I've realized, as I've started recording these hacks for you each week, that I can make it even easier for you to implement many of these ideas if you have access to simple, downloadable templates for many of the hacks. So when you check out my Dr. Lori's Dollar Store, you're going to see that I'm creating very simple templates for you to grab and go with for only a dollar each. Then you can implement these hacks quickly and easily inside your classroom (as soon as tomorrow!).
I would love to know what you think about these classroom management hack mini episodes. It would mean so much to me if you would take a screenshot of this episode and tag me on Instagram @beginningteachertalk because I’d love to know – have you tried this hack in your classroom? How did it work for you?
Finally, if you need help with streamlining your classroom management right away, you also might want to check out my Chaos to Confidence Classroom Management System because classroom management isn’t just about tips and tricks or the latest trend. Instead, it’s about learning from someone who’s been where you are and figured it out.
I tested all my methods on MYSELF in my own classroom first over 10 years – because I’m not about to recommend ANYTHING that I haven’t personally seen work with kids firsthand. It's never too late to make the changes you need to in order to get your classroom running the way that you want it to, and I'll show you how inside Chaos to Confidence and give you the resources you’ll need to make it happen.
I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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