Classroom Community

When I moved into 5th grade, I wanted to create a unique experience for our students who are the oldest in the school while preparing them for middle school.  I developed the Alexander 5th grade academy and collaborated with the other 5th grade teachers to create an exceptional program for our students.  We hold our students to the highest of standards, promote professionalism and uplift each other. 
The Alexander Essential 55 are our academy’s rules and guidelines for behavior (modeled after Ron Clark’s Essential 55).  The students are held accountable for these rules from every adult that they work with in school.  This consistency is the key to our success.  Not only are students held to high academic expectations, but many of the rules focus on respect.  When there are clear guidelines for respect, we are able to practice them regularly and help students to carry over these manners to their lives outside of the classroom.

In order to be successful in their future educational and career endeavors, students must be able to present themselves in a mature and professional manner.  We use Adam Dovico’s SPECIAL acronym to practice the art of conversation.  S – Shake Hands, P – Posture, E – Eye Contact, C – Charm, I – Introduce Yourself, A – Ask a Question, L – Lean In and Listen. Students are given multiple opportunities to interact with adults from a variety of backgrounds to practice their professional speaking skills.  Before guests come into our classroom, we research as much information as we can about the person.  The students learn about the guest and develop questions that they might be able to ask in conversation that relate to the person’s background, accomplishments, or hobbies.  We have had many guests in our classroom including a professional artist, pre-teachers from Niagara County Community College, the Alexander Board of Education, news anchors from channel 2 and 4, the 6th grade teachers, and the superintendent of the district.

Our class is a family and we celebrate each other like one.  In my classroom, students are expected to care for one another and celebrate each other’s successes and accomplishments, rather than harbor jealousy.  If you walk into my classroom, it won’t be long before you hear loud cheering for a student who persisted through a word problem until it was solved correctly, a student who just gave a great speech or a student who conquered a fear.

At our weekly 5th grade family meetings, we celebrate these successes each and every week.  Star Students are chosen each month from every science, social studies and writing class.  Extracurricular accomplishments, academic successes and instances of personal growth are widely applauded, and we uplift those whose hard work has paid off.  We encourage parents to email the teachers to notify us of accomplishments outside of school that we can recognize.

The Alexander 5th Grade Academy T-Shirt is the highest honor that any 5th grader can earn.  When a student earns the shirt, it means that he is working to his highest potential in the areas of academics, behavior and character.  In order to earn a shirt, the student must receive a unanimous vote of “yes” from all adults that work with the student including special area teachers, sports coaches and club advisors.  This prestigious award is only given out to those who truly deserve it.  When a t-shirt is earned, we hold a t-shirt ceremony during our family meetings to recognize this extraordinary feat.  
What is the secret to a successful classroom?  Strong relationships between the students and teacher.  When a teacher takes the time to build a real relationship with her students, she can connect with them on another level and design instruction around their interests, hobbies and passions.  When students feel loved and cared for, they are more likely to want to learn from the teacher.  To build relationships, I strategically create opportunities to connect with students on a personal level.  Whether it be hosting a BBQ with my students’ families, taking my chess club members to the movies, cheering on my students at their championship football game, having a Saturday morning study session, or hosting an overnight girls sleepover at the school, I love spending time with them.