7 Strategies for the Ultimate Innovative Classroom

Are you looking for ways to spice up your classroom routine? Are you ready to try something new? Then this post is sure to give you the inspiration to make your classroom a more innovative, student-centered space.
Are you looking for ways to spice up your classroom routine? Are you ready to try something new? Then this post is sure to give you the inspiration to make your classroom a more innovative, student-centered space.

More than likely you are already doing one or more of these strategies to a certain extent. I would venture to say you have at least heard of all of them, but if you are looking to expand your classroom horizons give this list a scan. At the bottom of the post, you can find your own free brainstorming sheet for ways to include these strategies in your classroom.

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset has become very popular in classrooms. The essentials of growth mindset are showing students the power of yet. This encourages them to continue to strive to be better each and every time they work at something.

Are you looking for ways to spice up your classroom routine? Are you ready to try something new? Then this post is sure to give you the inspiration to make your classroom a more innovative, student-centered space. Growth mindset is in direct contradiction to a fixed mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset believes intelligence and ability are stagnant, while someone with a growth mindset believes they can continue to reach for goals and accomplishments they have not mastered yet.

Can you see why growth mindset is so popular with teachers?

To encourage a growth mindset in your students, show them how to work towards small attainable goals. This allows them to feel success and continue working towards larger goals. While they are working towards these goals focus your praise on their effort and hard work, not the outcome. Students need to know failure happens, and is only one step along the way to success. Work with students to understand how learning works. This metacognition is a powerful tool for students to find how they learn best and set themselves up for success.


Gamification works. As humans, we are automatically built with the drive to compete against others. Why not harness the energy in the classroom to promote learning?

Gamification in the classroom works best when students are working to solve a problem, but gamifying your classroom does not have to be complicated. In fact, in many cases, gamification makes prep easier.

An easy way to gamify an assignment would be to assign points to different categories and have students work to earn a certain number of points to complete the assignment. This allows for students choice and ups the engagement ante.

I would caution against any gamification which pits the students against their teacher like me v. the class tally charts which pop up in classrooms. You want students on your team, not working against you.

For more ideas on gamification, check out this post for how I use it during test prep.

Are you looking for ways to spice up your classroom routine? Are you ready to try something new? Then this post is sure to give you the inspiration to make your classroom a more innovative, student-centered space. STEAM

STEAM is another popular movement in classrooms that is definitely worth it. You may be more familiar with STEM which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEAM has all of these components but also introduces Arts into the mix too. In a time when so many schools are saying goodbye to arts programs, it is more and more important for us to include them in daily lessons within the general ed classroom.

There are abundant resources out there for following a STEAM framework. My personal favorite is Steam Powered Classroom.


Learning stations have been in classrooms for many, many, many years. This is not a new strategy, but it is a tried and true one with a history of student-centered learning, so I included it in this list.

What has changed about stations is how content rich they are. I remember being in second grade and playing file folder math matching games. When I started teaching, the room I took over had the same file folder stations I had used as a student more than a decade before.

Station work is great for using during small group remediation and enrichment time because they allow a student driven pace and focus. Stations are easy to differentiate among your students and allow partners to scaffold learning for one another acting as another teacher.

Stations can be found for every subject and every level, and because of this, they have lasting power. To check out my math stations which are built to support practicing individual standards in multiple ways click here.

Cooperative Learning

Are you looking for ways to spice up your classroom routine? Are you ready to try something new? Then this post is sure to give you the inspiration to make your classroom a more innovative, student-centered space.Cooperative learning is a style of teaching taking the teacher off the stage and allows students to learn from one another. Students work together in collaborative groups through different strategies to reach a common goal. This positive interdependence allows students to hold one another accountable for sharing the work load and learning. The group nature of cooperative learning strategies allows many student-to-student interactions to occur at the same time instead of one interaction at a time which happens when teachers call on a student. To see cooperative learning activities in action is every teacher's dream!

Cooperative learning is better than competitive learning at increasing student engagement and building relationships in the classroom. It is this positive interdependence that makes cooperative learning strategies so unbelievably powerful.

For more on cooperative learning check out this post.

Integrated Technology

Integrating technology into lessons is a big buzz phrase right now within education, and with good reason.

Careers that have been around for decades are changing rapidly due to the influx of technology in the workforce. In order for our students to be career and college ready they need to be immersed in technology.

This comes with a few caveats though. The first being our students are digital natives. They likely know way more about the apps and tech in our classrooms than we do, and they aren't afraid to let us know. Another is even the careers we have today won't be around by the time our students graduate, so instead of asking them what they want to be, it is more apt to ask them what kinds of problems they want to solve. Finally, because you can include technology in a lesson doesn't mean you should.

I see so many teachers struggling to integrate technology into EVERY lesson, and why? Why not take a more traditional approach to some things and then include technology where it fits and students can expand their experience?

The SAMR model is a great place to start is you are struggling to decide how to integrate technology in your classroom. While substitution is a great place to start, we should all be striving to use technology to redefine how we are learning. 

Genius Hour

Genius Hour is a learning trend also known as passion projects because this strategy is completely dependent on the student's interests. Genius Hour allows a student or group of students to determine a topic they are interested in and explore that topic through inquiry based self-paced learning.

Students decide what they want to learn about as well as what their learning goal is. For one student this might mean creating their own line of greeting cards for kids who became an older brother or sister recently. Another student may have an interest in how different materials affect the environment. Both of these passion projects are ripe with learning opportunities students follow through with while the teacher acts as a facilitator and consultant.
Are you looking for ways to spice up your classroom routine? Are you ready to try something new? Then this post is sure to give you the inspiration to make your classroom a more innovative, student-centered space.
Genius Hour has its roots at Google where they provide time for each of their employees to follow their own passion projects for about 20% of their time at work. The guiding principle is those allowed to follow their passions will be more invested and happier in their work environment. The same goes for our classrooms.

Read on at Teach Thought for the 6 Principles of Genius Hour and to get started in your classroom.

What Now?

If you are anything like me the ideas for how to create a more innovative classroom are swirling through your head right now. 

A little advice:
Start small. Take some time to brainstorm how each of these strategies could be included in your classroom (the freebie below can help) and take stock of what you are most passionate about. 

Choose one strategy you are ready to try, make a plan, and do it! Make sure to get your growth mindset going, because there will inevitably be some hiccups along the way, but you can do it! 

Once you have a strategy mastered, and you will, you can choose the next one to give a try!  

Get Your FREE Brainstorming Page Here!

Get ready to harness your passions and brainstorm ways to innovate in your classroom!

We won't send you spam. We promise! Powered by ConvertKit

How to Include More Movement in the Classroom

Are you looking for ways to include more movement in your classroom? Try these easy to manage, but totally worth it tips!
When we know movement is important for kids, why do classrooms often look the same way they did a hundred years ago with desks in lines or groups? As teachers, we know our students are not meant to sit at a desk all day. I don't think anyone is. 

There is sometimes a disconnect between what we know is best for kids and what happens in our classrooms. Our school days are full to the brim with content, and it feels as though there isn't enough time to fit in movement, but it is vital we do. 

By being strategic about including movement into our lessons and everyday routines we can up student movement and engagement will follow. For your own FREE checklist scroll down to the bottom. 

This post includes affiliate links to Amazon. If you click a link and choose to buy I get a small payment in return, however, it does not affect the price of your item.

Are you looking for ways to include more movement in your classroom? Try these easy to manage, but totally worth it tips!  Includes a FREE idea list!
Ways to Include More Movement in the Classroom

  • Make it part of the daily routine-
    • Start the day strong and wake up student brains with a little movement. For example, you might have a movement of the week, say jumping jacks. When students first enter the room in the morning they get ready for their day, but right before sitting down they do ten jumping jacks. This wakes up their brains and gets the blood flowing. Even I, who am NOT a morning person, feel a bit better after ten jumping jacks.
    • If you want to get your whole school involved add a structured stretch or exercise to the morning announcements. Twenty to thirty seconds of movement is a GREAT way to start the day together. Some exercises to consider are jumping jacks, push-ups, planks, sit-ups, squats, high-knees...
    • Another way to include movement is to do an exercise right before a part of the day. For example, our school participated in a program which involved each class getting 30 seconds of exercise right before lunch. We would walk as a class to lunch and then outside the cafeteria the "Move of the Day" was posted. As a class, we completed this exercise for thirty seconds and then headed on in to have lunch.
      Note: we made sure to not include any exercises where students put their hands on the ground since we had washed them.
  • Cross the Midline
    • There is a ton of research out there explaining when you perform movements which cross the midline of your body it engages more areas of your brain. To cross the midline you can do something like morning stretches or simply have students praise themselves with a pat on the back using their right hand to pat their left side or vice versa.

      Other ideas for crossing the midline are touching your foot with the opposite hand or doing high-knees and tapping your knee with the opposite hand.
  • Brain Breaks
    • Never underestimate the power of a good brain break. There are lots of YouTube videos with great brain break ideas, but my absolute favorites still come from Go Noodle and Silly Sports and Goofy Games.
  • Make Learning Physical
    • Using kinesthetic movements to reinforce learning is the perfect way for students to move all while being immersed in content. Science is an ideal area to do this. Have students create their own movements to help them remember parts of the water cycles, the rock cycle, or how weathering, erosion, and deposition occur and then teach them to the class. This practice allows students to cement their knowledge and move their bodies. Win-win!
  • Scavenger Hunts or Scoot
    • Are you working to solve multiple problems with task cards or a worksheet? Instead of having students stay seated while working "hide" the problems or cards around the room or simply place them on different desks and have students rotate through them while standing. If you want some extra movement, include cards or spots for exercise movements like jumping jacks or toe touches.
  • Flexible Seating Options
    • Are you looking for ways to include more movement in your classroom? Try these easy to manage, but totally worth it tips!
    • Flexible seating has become fashionable, and with it comes the chance to provide opportunities for movement while students are working. Some ideas might be Hokki stools, under the table bicycle pedals, or balance balls. Students could choose these options to complete a task, all while getting a little energy out.
  • Dance Party!
    • My students always loved when we took the time for a one song dance party! We would stop what we were doing, take a song request from a student, and dance our hearts out for one song. This is an awesome way to build community as well and inject a little humor into the day because our dance moves were always hilarious.
  • Relocate
    • Sometimes we need a break in routine and a little walk to clear our minds and focus on the tasks at hand. Why not take a walk outside and have a lesson there. This might mean using chalk on the blacktop to work out math problems, a nature walk to observe the local ecosystem or time to read in the grass or under a tree.
  • Get You PE Teacher Involved
    • Our wonderful physical education teachers are overflowing with ideas on how to get students moving and most would LOVE to share with you. Pop on by their office for a little chat on how you can include more movement with your students. 
While there are infinite numbers of ways movement can be included in the classroom, I hope this list will help you get started. The important thing is to do it because no one wants to sit all day, and our students shouldn't have to. 

FREE Checklist

Subscribe to get this FREE Movement in the Classroom Checklist straight to your inbox!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

How to be Unhelpful When Speaking to a Student

Are there wrong ways to talk to students? There just might be!
I couldn't handle it. My class had been a complete disaster for our guest teacher. We are talking all out insanity. I knew my students knew better. They knew it too. But somehow things had gotten out of control. I kept my cool, until they started blaming the guest teacher for what had ensued. Then---I completely lost it. 

I did what you never do as a teacher. I completely lost my cool on a classroom full of nine and ten-year-olds. 

As teachers, we have the best of intentions when speaking to students. We do. Sometimes though they know exactly how to push our buttons, and push they do. I mean, pushing boundaries is a kid thing. 

As the adult, the responsibility to respond in a fair, but firm manner lies squarely on our shoulders. Because they are kids, and we are not. Nothing more to it. When our students are out of control, losing their minds, or pushing to find their own way we must remain the calm, responsible adult. 

The truth is kids want to hear from you, but there are a few lines of communication that should NEVER be opened. 


Screaming is NOT an effective means of communication. It isn't. When you scream or yell at a student you are letting them know you are no longer in control of the situation. You gave away all of your authority by raising your voice.

If you are anything like me, screaming leads to your voice cracking, and that is not endearing or authoritative in any way. Don't do it.

Instead, drop your voice. By lowering your voice either by an octave or in level students have to work to hear you. Their brains automatically switch into listening mode, and you get a little piece of their attention.

The strategy of lowering your voice works with multiple age levels and allows you to remain calm, at least on the outside.

Are there wrong ways to talk to students? There just might be!One possible caveat to not screaming or yelling is when safety is concerned. If little Johnny is about to do something dangerous, by all means, bellow out a quick and sharp warning. 


Sarcasm has no place in the classroom, plain and simple. This leads to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and general disaster.

The temptation to break out a little sarcastic humor to try and lighten a situation or respond to a student's choices but resist at all costs.

Instead of using sarcasm when moments get tense lean on I statements. They center the emotion around you and how a student's choices can change the trajectory of the classroom.

When a student uses sarcasm with you, it is not an open invitation to respond with sarcasm. Again, you are the adult and should lead by example. Sarcastic conversations with students can take ugly turns at the drop of a hat and are not worth it.  

Under Your Breath

Anything you are willing to say about or to a student should be something you are willing to say in front of them, their parents, and your administration. Easy.

Under your breath remarks are not helpful, but instead, work against you. At least one student is bound to hear your comment, at least in part, and then the game of telephone begins. Your remark, however tame will likely become much more.

When you are feeling upset, riled up, or frustrated hold in those under the breath remarks. While they may be bubbling up inside you, there is no need to spread them through the classroom.

Instead write your thoughts down, with a quick scribble, to revisit later. By doing this you are able to collect yourself and respond in a more appropriate manner. 
Are there wrong ways to talk to students? There just might be!


I would like to say I have never taunted a student, but that wouldn't be true. I don't think I thought of it as taunting at the time, but in hindsight it was.

When you tell a student, especially in front of their peers, they are missing out on something it is taunting. Some view this as peer pressure, but I would beg to differ.

Telling a student you wish you were able to give them a reward for completing their homework when they didn't--that's taunting.

Pointing out to a student they are the only one who hasn't turned in a permission slip in front of the class--that's taunting.

Often we forget most of these actions are out of the control of our students. They cannot help their parent got home after their bedtime and wasn't able to help them or sign a form. This should not be used against them.

Instead, take the time to have private conversations with your students. Ask them if they need another permission slip or help with their homework. This gets to the root of the problem without taunting and shaming.

Wrapping Up

When speaking to students:
  • If you feel yourself getting ready to yell, drop your voice instead.
  • Avoid sarcasm at all costs, even when you think it is funny. 
  • Use I statements instead of speaking under your breath. 
  • Hold private conversations to get to the root of a challenge instead of taunting students in front of their peers. 
The next time a situation occurs you are prepared to handle it with authority and respect--and won't totally lose it. 

Want More Quick Management Tips?

Subscribe to get our latest blog posts by email.

Powered by ConvertKit

You Might Also Like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...