Problem Solving Form

Problem Solving Form

When individual students make a behavior mistake in my classroom, I have them complete a problem solving form. This process not only gently reminds the student of the expected behavior, it also directs them to find their own workable solution.

When a student is asked by the teacher to “…please fill out a problem solving form,” he or she will walk back to the “problem solving desk,” complete the form including drawing pictures of the problem and solution at the bottom of the form, place it in a specific paper tray, and then appropriately rejoin the class or activity. At the teacher’s convenience (usually the next recess), the teacher uses the completed form to discuss the problem and solution with the student.



Student Complaint Form

Student Complaint Form

When a student has a complaint about another student it frequently comes from a relatively minor (from the teacher’s perspective) incident. Instead of having them air their complaint publicly or to the teacher, I have them complete a complaint form. In addition to helping them to get their complaint heard in an appropriate way, it directs them to finding their own solution. The use of this form has cut down on “tattling” tremendously and often by the time the teacher has read the form and gotten back to the student, the problem has been solved. It is important to monitor the children and to address the complaint quickly however, otherwise you may miss an opportunity to help a child truly in need of adult intervention.


Classroom Management & Behavior

Information for Substitutes on Management & Behavior

In my Guest Teacher Notebook I include a page on management and behavior. I have found this to be pretty important information for guest teachers who are not familiar with teaching in such an environment. Below is a copy of that page.

 Management & Behavior

Classroom Rules

I have 3 rules that students must abide by.

  1. Be Responsible
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Curious

Most if not all student behavior can be categorized under these three headings.

In my classroom I teach the following Learner Characteristics that I strive to have all the students exhibit:

  • Thoughtful and Knowledgeable
  • Self-Confident (risk-taker)
  • Creative
  • Resourceful and Organized
  • Industrious and Persistent
  • Collaborative
  • Independent (the capacity to manage one’s own affairs, make one’s own judgments, and provide for oneself)

In addition, I have broken the Independent Learner Characteristic into the following traits:

  • Work quietly so that others will not be distracted.
  • Take care of materials in the room. Put them away when you are finished.
  • Know when and where to get help and materials.
  • Respond to the signal to stop, look, and listen.
  • Work in the proper place.
  • Follow directions for the area where you are working.
  • Keep your records and portfolios up to date.
  • When you finish one activity go directly to your next activity.
  • Focus on your work.
  • Turn your homework in consistently.

Depending on which time of the year you are substituting for me, some or all of these Learner Characteristics and Independent Traits have been taught. I have spent considerable time during the first weeks of school on the”3 Be’s,” or rules listed at the top and you should expect students to act accordingly.

Consequences for Misbehavior

If students choose to misbehave my consequences have been as follows (depending on the misbehavior):

  • Student fills out a Problem-solving form. These are found near the hallway door.
  • The student looses part or all of their recess and spends the time quietly seated with their head down on the table.
  • The student is given a sort of mini time-out in which they put their head down for a short period of time and are not allowed to participate in the current activity (this is intended primarily as a time for the child to reflect).
  • The student is given an assigned seat for a certain portion of the day.
  • The student is given time-out in another classroom (currently we use Ms. X’s and Mrs. Y’s classrooms for this)

The consequence given depends on the infraction and should be considered appropriate. I usually also give a student a reminder as a warning if they begin to act inappropriately. Feel free to modify this system, change it, or use your own system if you find mine doesn’t work for you. Just be sure to spell out the changes to the students first.

Positive Consequences

Feel free to write out Cheetah Pride awards for individual students you see doing an exceptional job during any part of the day. If you’re not sure of the procedure, ask a student, they’ll be more than happy to help. In addition, if you wish to use some of the time after the last recess for a whole class reward, feel free to do so. It could be a class game, a special story you would like to read to them, or something of your own invention.

Stop, Look, & Listen Signal

Hanging from the middle of the whiteboard is a small brass bell. Ring this when you need to get the whole class’s attention. They should all stop what they are doing, look at you, and listen to what you are saying quietly. If not, give them one more chance and if there is still a problem have the few individuals with the problem, or entire class if necessary, put their heads down for a few quiet minutes. After that you should have no more problems.

Student Noise Levels

Use the “Noise Meter” at the front of the class to indicate at what level students are permitted to talk. A “3”, or “Classroom Voice,” is one in which students can hear each other between tables but not necessarily across the room. A “2”, or “Table Voice,” is one in which students can hear each other at the same table but not necessarily between tables. A “1,” or “Buddy Voice,” is one in which students may whisper to one another. A “0,” or “No Voice,” is exactly that, no talking. When you have the class at “Zero Voices” you may want to play some quiet music, it is  your choice.


Unless given an assigned seat (as with math), students may sit at any table or desk (except the teacher’s desk or the computer desks). Of course sometimes students will need to change places in the room in order for certain work groups to meet.


Information for Substitute Teachers on Classroom Procedures

My Guest Teacher Notebook included a page that summarized some of the more common procedures at the one of the schools I taught at. Below is a copy of that page.

Procedures, Etc.


One student per side at a time. They must sign their name and the time they leave the room on the small white board near the hall door. This lets you know who is using the bathroom and how long they have been there.


Near the outside door is a rack that holds clothespins. When the students enter in the morning they are to move their “attendance pin” to either cold lunch or hot lunch. It is rare when they all remember
to do this so you will need to check those clothespins that are left in the absent column to see if they really are absent.
Use the white sheet on the clipboard to record the following:

  • absences – mark A
  • tardies – mark T
  • hot lunches – mark the number of students taking hot lunch at the bottom of the column on the first page.

I keep the white attendance sheet on a clipboard in the upper right corner of the bookshelf nearest to the attendance rack (on the north wall). If you can’t find it, the office can help you (it might still be in my mailbox).

Entering the Classroom

Students are not to enter the classroom before 8:45 in the morning. If they get here prior to 8:40 they are to wait in the Library, otherwise they may line up just outside the classroom.
When they come in from recesses they are to wait outside the door until you open the door to let them enter. Students should also enter walking and with a reasonably quiet voice.


If you wish to purchase a lunch it is $2.50. You may eat in the cafeteria with the students, in the faculty room, or in the classroom.
You need to lead the class from the classroom into the multipurpose room, having those students taking hot lunch line up at the counter nearest the entrance to get their trays of food. After walking the students over to lunch, teachers need to stay with their class until the students getting hot lunch have made it through the line and are seated at their assigned tables. Our tables are the four that are closest to the door.

Exiting the Classroom

I usually dismiss students in small groups. This keeps things more orderly. Students are to walk and use a relatively quiet voice.

Dismissal at the End of the Day

After homework (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday) and handouts have been distributed to the students:

  1. students get their papers, jackets, etc. ready to take home.
  2. students clean up on top of and under the tables and they stack the chairs.
  3. students line up at the outside door.

No earlier than about 3:13 and no later than about 3:16, you need to walk the students in a line to the busses. Teachers are to walk their students past all of the busses beginning with 102 and continuing through 109 until all the students have either walked onto a bus or have been picked up along the way by their parent.

Dear Sub…,

Introductory Letter for Substitute Teachers

I have found that my Substitute Teacher Notebook has been valuable to most subs and it was absolutely indispensable when I was team teaching and both of us were absent. Below is a copy of the first page of my Substitute Teacher Notebook that I kept on my desk at all times.


Dear Sub…

I’m glad you’re here! You are about to work with a GREAT bunch of students! They are usually excited about learning, they want to be good, and they will do almost anything you ask of them!

Read through the information in this “Guest Teacher Notebook” and use the blank checklist for recording appropriate and inappropriate behavior if you need to. If you need help don’t be shy about asking for it. The students, neighboring teachers, and the principal will be glad to help you in whatever way they can.

As to academics, if you don’t get through everything, don’t worry about it. We can most likely make it up later. On the other hand, if you get through with things too soon, feel free to play an educational game or do something from your own “bag-o-tricks.” You’ll also find in this folder a logic worksheet that the kids haven’t done but should have fun with. In addition, if there is anything you are passionate about teaching or sharing with the students, feel free to do so, I only ask that you check with me first.

I hope everything goes well and that you will have an enjoyable time with the kids!

Preparing for Substitutes as Guest Teachers

Although we would all prefer being with our students, there are times when we are absent due either to illness, workshops, or meetings. When this happens it shouldn’t be that meaningful learning stops or that students are placed into age-level groupings. To help insure that this doesn’t happen and that the guest teacher is supported in the best way possible, I have developed a packet of materials that are organized in a 3-ring binder. Inside I have an introductory letter to the substitute, lesson plans, suggestions for procedures and management, school procedures for fire drills and the like, and sponge activities that may be used if a lesson is finished early or doesn’t seem to be working.

Some substitute teachers are a bit nervous about teaching in a multiage classroom, that is until they have experienced it. Once they have subbed in a multiage classroom I have observed that they enjoy how independent the students are and how, as one guest teacher of mine wrote, the students seem to “…get right to work without having to be cajoled into it.”

Guest Teacher Notebook