Prats' Coaching Corner

It's All About Instruction!!!

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Carroll Peak Elementary School

Vol. 2

Week Topics

  • Building Relationships Using Circles
  • Effective Use of Instructional Time
  • The Importance of a Print-Rich Classroom
  • Shout-Outs!!!
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Building Relationships Using Circles

As we start to rethink our behavior management techniques and practices, we need to start incorporating restorative principles to our daily routines. Most of you have posted a Respect Agreement in your classroom, but, are we connecting to it during our lessons? Are we keeping it alive by setting a weekly goal? These questions will be answered in my next newsletter, as I would like to introduce you the use of CIRCLES as a mean to develop relationships.

CIRCLES can be used for:

  • Establishing Norms
  • Building Community
  • Repairing Harm
  • Decision-Making
  • Teaching Content
  • Reintegrating Someone Who’s Been Gone
  • Checking In With One Another

Why we CIRCLE?


  • Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. Circle is a designated platform that serves as the platform to proactively build, and reaffirm relationships.
  • Circle Time is an investment, designed to cultivate relationships, and build a strong sense of community in the classroom.
  • Circle allows the teacher to become an active listener, while also increasing vulnerability, and genuine empathetic moments.
  • Circle can be used to teach the soft skills. Listening, Reflecting, and Understanding are natural bi-products of circle when done correctly, regularly, and with fidelity.  Circle can be used as a creative way to teach content.
  • Using Circle to Check-in, Check-up, and Check out, allows the teacher to have an in depth understanding of the student perspective.
  • Relationships built during circle, and engaging lessons can potentially result in better classroom management.
  • Circle time creates a safe, nonjudgmental space, for teachers to value student perspective and create a sense of belonging.
  • Circle can be used to connect quickly using the Two-minute connection.
  • Circle can be used to talk with student not to students.


  • VOICE - Circle gives every student the opportunity to share and have a voice.
  • Circle allows students to build relationships with one another
  • Circle increases awareness, of circumstances and appreciation.
  • Circle is fun! Circle is a safe place for students to share their perspective and learn from each other.
  • Circle allows students to know more about their teachers and administrators.
  • Circle builds strong bonds and trust.
  • Circle can be a segway to friendships.
  • Circle can be used to help solve conflict.
  • Circle can be used to reintegrate a student who is coming back to campus for a variety of reasons
  • Circle helps students talk with adults.

What a Circle is NOT


  • Circle does not substitute classroom management. If anything circle will either confirm or expose whether a teacher can suitably manage their classes.
  • Circle is not therapy. Although at times it can be therapeutic, it is not designed to get to a student’s deep dark secrets.
  • Circle is not counseling. Circle only becomes counseling when the teacher wears the hat of counselor rather than facilitator.
  • Circle is not a time to evaluate a student’s response to an answer, or coach a student through a question.
  • Circle is not conducted to make students cry. The success of a circle cannot be determined by its depth or brevity.
  • A circle is not a quick fix. Circle is a process, that may require more time in certain situations
  • Circle is not a substitute for being unprepared. Teachers must treat circle like a lesson and have a plan when facilitating a circle.
  • Circles should not be solely used as a reaction.
  • Circle does not have a formulated outcome; each circle is unique and takes its own shape.
  • Circle is not an expenditure of time, it is an investment.


  • Circle is not a time to be on stage or be silly.
  • Circle is not mandatory; a student can opt out and not want to participate.
  • Circle may not be a time to share things that are confidential or serious in nature.
  • Circle is not all about solving problems.
  • Circle is not a time to judge other students’ responses.
  • Circle is not an excuse to miss classes.
  • Circle is not always teacher led.

I invite you to start thinking about CIRCLES and how you can incorporate them in your morning routines, as I will go in-depth in the elements, norms and expectations, openings and closings, the format and planning guide, and different types of CIRCLES in my next issue.

If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to let me know.

Obtained from Restorative Discipline Coordinators Training IRJRD (2017)

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Effective Use of Instructional Time

Wong & Wong (1998) define four types of school-day times that are important for all teachers:
  1. Allocated time: the total time for teacher instruction and student learning
  2. Instructional time: the time teachers are actively teaching
  3. Engaged time: the time students are involved in a task
  4. Academic learning time: the time teachers can prove that students learned the content or mastered the skill

As we strive to help our students achieve their learning goals in a pleasant and safe environment, one of the variables that we can control, within the boundaries of what the state or the district mandates, is the efficient use of time. In a research published by Wong & Wong (1998), it was noted that a typical teacher consumes 90% of the allocated time. Therefore, time management is crucial to student achievement and their attitudes toward learning.

What can you do maximize your instructional time?

  1. Pace your curriculum
  2. Use effectively the blocks of time within your daily schedules
  3. Plan learning experiences
  4. Do not waste time getting materials and supplies at the beginning of a lesson
  5. Establish a procedure for organizing and distributing materials
  6. Use a system to collect completed student work, such as locating a basket in an accessible place upon completion of work, or collecting papers in the seating order. Do not have students collect other students' work, as this can be an opportunity for misbehavior and you want to maintain the confidentiality of your students' work.
  7. Organize group work and learning centers work beforehand
  8. Monitor the time you spend on instructional strategies, especially in small-group activities that involve cooperation and collaboration

Effective time management is one of the skills necessary for success in school as well as in everyday life and in the work world. Students need time to practice, rehearse, review, apply, and connect new learning and relate it to their everyday lives. Teachers who effectively manage time give their students the best opportunity to learn and to develop personal habits that lead to wise use of time.

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The Importance of a Print-Rich Classroom

As we all know, environment plays a central role in learning and behavior — especially among young children in preschool, kindergarten, and school classrooms. Moreover, research has found that positive learning environments support our students' learning.

Print-rich classrooms have been described as print laboratories (Searfoss & Readence, 1983), or “filled” (Pressley, Rankin, & Yokoi, 1996) and “flooded” with print (Cambourne, 2000). Moreover, research has established that print-rich classrooms provide for scaffolded literacy development. It is well documented that our young students, including early childhood, who are immersed in print-rich classrooms, and with teachers that know how to use the print, will outperform their peers that do not have the same print-rich environments.

A print-rich environment is comprised of a variety of text types:

  • Text inventory in the classroom library
  • Computers/electronic texts, (such as access to Smarty Ants, Achieve 3000, AR)
  • Games/puzzles/manipulatives
  • Instructional aids - concept oriented (labels, vocabulary list, DOL)
  • Student journals
  • Leveled books
  • Limited text process charts - process oriented (strategies charts, word walls, alphabet charts)
  • Portfolios
  • Reference materials, (dictionaries, globes, maps, thesaurus)
  • Serials (Scholastic newspapers, classroom newspaper)
  • Social/personal/inspirational text displays (student of the week, current events bulletin board)
  • Social/personal/inspirational text displays
  • Textbooks
  • Word product displays (writing samples, drawings)
  • Writing on paper - workbooks

I encourage you to reflect on the following questions, and nurture a print-rich classroom:

  • Is my classroom a print-rich environment for the students?
  • Can my students write and recognize the items in my classroom?
  • How am I helping my students grow their literacy skills?
  • Am I providing ample time for building new vocabulary?
  • Do I have an inviting classroom?
  • What should be my next steps to provide a print-rich classroom environment?
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Shout-Outs to:

  • Ms. Lynch: print-rich classroom!!!
  • Ms. Talley: STAAR strategies posted and used by students!!!
  • Ms. Peaton: happiest classroom in the school!
  • Ms. C. Brown: effective use of space!
  • Ms. Morao: teaching and keeping all students engaged, without the use of technology. Old school teaching!!!
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  • Hoffman, J.V., Sailors, M., Duffy, G.R., Beretvas, S.n. (2004). The effective elementary classroom literacy environment: examining the validity of the TEX-IN3 observation system. 36(3). Journal of Literary Research.
  • Johnston, P.H., (2004). Choice Words. Portland, Maine. Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Marzano, R. (2010).Teaching Basic and Advanced Vocabulary. Boston, MA. Heinle.
  • McLeod, J., Fisher, J., Hoover, G. (2003). The Key Elements of Classroom Management. Alexandria, VA. ASCD.
  • Restorative Discipline Coordinators Training IRJRD (2017).
  • Taylor, B.M., Duke, N.K. (2013). Handbook of Effective Literacy Instruction. Research-Based Practice K-8. New York. NY. The Guilford Press.
  • Thorsborne, M., Vinegrad, D., (2009). Restorative Justice Pocketbook. Hampshire, UK. Teachers' Pocketbooks.
  • Wolfersberger, M.E., Reutzel, D.R., Sudweeks, R., Fawson, P.C. (2004). Developing and validating the classroom literacy environmental profile (CLEP): A tool for examining the “print richness” of early childhood and elementary classrooms. 36(2) Journal of Literary Research.