Tag: Silver Bullet Classroom Management

Gimme Five: How To Thrive in Your First Five Years of Teaching

Gimme Five: How To Thrive in Your First Five Years of Teaching


“It takes over five years to be a good teacher.”

I spent all day on my first classroom putting up posters and collages. A life size Michael Jordan cut out stood over 30 desks. I wanted students to walk in and feel like they were going to love my class. I had just finished a summer in an alternative certification program to get a teaching certificate. I had never been more psyched. I was going to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. I dreamt of being everyone’s favorite teacher set to change lives. Every teacher does even if they don’t say it.

After spending all day at the school, we had an open house for kids to see where their classes were. 8:00 AM-9:00 PM plus a 90-minute commute home. I was fried before the year began.

My first day teaching was one of the worst days of my life. I didn’t think I would make it the next day let alone May.

No matter how many classes you take. No matter what your intentions are. No matter what, you will not be ready. Favorite teacher? Changing lives? How about just making it through first period.

After struggling that first day through the first year, I remembered an email from a teacher that summer.

“It takes over five years to be a good teacher.”

I didn’t want to hear those words no matter how true they rang. How does five years help me as I battle everything inside the classroom? If you’re a teacher, odds are you were a good student. Maybe you’ve never struck out at anything in your life. Teaching will strike you out. You have to keep stepping up to the plate because teaching will challenge you more than you can imagine.

Who will my students be? You won’t know that the first day. You won’t know that for months. Kids that are great in the beginning you will have tensions with later. Kids that start out difficult settle down.

There was a world out there I knew nothing about and I wasn’t prepared for any of it. That’s why I wrote a book for teachers. “Silver Bullet Classroom Management” is full of every bit of wisdom I’ve picked up on in the last ten years. My hope is everyone can be a better teacher before that five-year mark. We lose too many teachers waiting for them to get their five.

I’m pulling a Radiohead and giving my book away for free for the first five days in August on Amazon. Get it for yourself or that special someone in your life that is about to start working on their classroom. New teachers will love it and veteran teachers can pick up some ideas to make their year better.

It might take five years to be a good teacher but these tips will help you thrive while you wait.


Get your free copy of “Silver Bullet Classroom Management” by clicking the link below.

Silver Bullet Classroom Management







My Gradebook is The Terminator and I’m Sarah Connor

By Walter S. Coppage



A few years ago our district was given a new gradebook that promised to enhance our teaching and make grading easier.  It had the ability to make seating charts and had all the bells and whistles that people who buy gradebooks loved.  God bless them for they know not what they do.  Skynet was supposed to solve all our problems too.  For the last few years I’ve been fighting a battle against the machines. I have been fighting a battle against my gradebook.

“It doesn’t feel remorse or fear and will not stop until you are dead.” (That’s being a little dramatic but you know what I mean.)

First off, the gradebook robs time.  After 15 minutes it automatically logs out causing me to have to take time away from class to login yet again.  I can’t take on a rowdy class and keep the gradebook online.  While I handle the rowdy class, the gradebook escapes and logs out.

I’ll Be Back

The gradebook is the Terminator because its mission is to change the past to affect the future.  When I’m putting in grades, if it logs out on its own, all the grades I just put in are lost.  This leaves me to be on guard and continuously hit the save button which takes another 30 seconds for me to go back into the assignment I was just scoring.  Sometimes the gradebook will lose grades for no reason whatsoever leaving parents emailing and kids griping about missing grades.

“Come with me if you want to live.”-Kyle Reese

Five Star Folder

A relic of an earlier age, a Five Star folder, my Kyle Reese, has been my protector for all these years against the Terminator.  Each class will get a Five Star folder where I keep all their work.  This way when the Terminator strikes and wreaks havoc on my grades, I have the papers and grades being protected by the Five Star folder.

For years, I taught Speech aka Communication Applications aka Professional Communications which was a semester class.  Their speech grades, tests and daily work all resided in the Five Star folder. By the end of the semester, most of the Five Star folders were at capacity but I made due.

Last year I started teaching English 3 and Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) could not keep up. English 3 was locked and loaded with vocab tests, essays, interactive reader assignments and a million other papers.The past was fighting alongside the future against me.

A more organized teacher than myself might say, “Why are you keeping all those papers? You’re hoarding classwork.”

If I give students back a lot of papers, they end up in the trash or on my floor for me to pick up. Then when the Terminator strikes and I have no idea what 150 kids made on each assignment, that’s on me.  Parents will not blame their child and tell them to redo the assignment.  It’s not on the kid for not being able to keep track of it. It’s on me for not keeping track of it, all because The Terminator lurks.

“What about giving the students their own folder and having them keep stuff for a portfolio grade?”

I tried that a few years ago and even with a test grade at stake, they didn’t keep up with their papers and handouts.  The Terminator would probably erase all the portfolio grades anyway.

I will be teaching three classes of English 3 this year and I don’t know what to do. Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) can’t do it anymore. I’m on my own in this fight. What do I use? I saw one teacher using hanging folders in her class.  I could file their papers in an already packed file cabinet.

How do I win the war against the machines? How do I defeat The Terminator?