Passport to Success
Building Relationships & Mindsets
First week of school activities are designed to get to know students and for students to get to know each other. Building relationships early will form a strong positive classroom environment where students will feel safe and ready to explore new ways to learn. Don't doubt the commitment to these first moments of establishing a sense of belonging.
The first day in my class has become not only a tradition, but a moment that I know begins the new trajectory for reading achievements. I have a single tile on our carpeted floor and I make sure we all understand the purpose. The one and only tile lies upon the carpet in front of a wall mirror. We stand on the tile individually, look into the wall mirror, and state what we HOPE, DREAM, BELIEVE and want to ACHIEVE. I want my students to think about what they want out of life, how they will accomplish it, and to take ownership of it. I have found that once they state these affirmations, they are in the space. We not only know how to hold our individual selves accountable, but how to support each other's goals. It's the perfect foundation for building a proactive mindset.
Students are encouraged to keep their hopes, dreams, and goals in the forefront of their mind to correlate with mindset matters and a growth mindset, as taught, in the first part of the ReaL Book.
Get to Know Me
Our first week focuses on our Hopes, Dreams, What We Believe and Want to Achieve in life. The first day of school we make individual name plates to help learn each other’s names and a little bit about one another. After each student folds their cardstock paper in half, they write their first and last name on one side. Next, I ask the students to write a goal for the week or school year on the inside of the card. On the back of the card students will complete the following statements:
I hope...
I dream...
I believe...
I will achieve...
After the first week of school students place the name plate in their Hope & Dream box which I introduce next. During the year, we will check to see if everyone is working toward his or her goals.
For example, my four goals for the first day of school will be:
1. I hope all of my READ 180 students improve their Lexile scores.
2. I dream to have a wall book shelf and ladder at home in my library room.
3. I believe this school year will be one of my favorites.
4. I will achieve trying to live each day to the fullest!
Anchoring Affirmations

On the third day of school students will be given a box. (Students can bring a box from home if they prefer) I have collected boxes throughout the summer from many different stores to give to the students on the third day of school. Vineyard Vines and LuLu Lemon’s boxes are usually my students’ favorites because of the magnetic closures. Talbots also has pretty red boxes, and the Tiffany blue box is iconic. These boxes are decorated by students and will be filled with students’ hopes, dreams, and what they want to accomplish throughout school and life. My classroom is filled with souvenirs, pictures, brochures, and maps from my travels, and students are encouraged to add these items to their treasure box of Hopes and Dreams. Some items in the past have been too big for students’ Hope & Dream boxes, so they have taken them home as a reminder of what they want to accomplish in life.

Students are encouraged to decorate their rooms with dreams of going to France or China. They are welcome to use some of my  pictures of Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, paper lanterns from China, terra cotta warrior miniature statues from the First Emperor’s tomb in Xian, or any of my flags from around the world, and so much more.

These boxes have not only given inspiration for the year, but I have learned that it sticks for many as they move on from my classroom. Years later, students have written to me that they are still going after their hopes and dreams. In fact, some dreams have been reported to be accomplished and new goals have been established. Here’s an example, “Hey Ms. Barnes long time no speak. This is Jacob your old Read 180 student at Aragon. I've been really busy with high school. Now I'm a freshman in college.” I taught Jacob as a seventh grader many years ago, and his goal was to go to college!

Students’ Hope & Dream boxes will be placed throughout the classroom during the school year, including my box, as reminders to everyone that we are striving to accomplish all we want out of life. Students continually add to their box. The Hope & Dream boxes are an encouragement to everyone to have a growth mindset.

Start your year off on a positive note, and let it grow in your students all year long. It will make for a happy day for you and your students not just in week one, but in a random week in the future when you get a message from a former student.

Have a wonderful Back to School and share your ideas with us.

Stage C READ 180 Educator

Philosophy of Teaching All of my life, I have enjoyed working with children and have always desired to teach. It is my belief that no matter what socio-economic background, everyone deserves to achieve his/her educational goals. It is my ambition to facilitate this process.Growing up in the Houston area, I have always been aware of the Cypress-Fairbanks School District. The district's reputation of excellence is well known, not only in the Houston metroplex, but throughout the state of Texas. As a professional educator, it is important to be associated with a school district whose goals for its students are aligned with my philosophy of teaching.