Back to the Basics: Foundations Every Elementary Teacher Needs to Thrive

classroom management classroom routines elementary classroom elementary teacher
Back to the Basics: Foundations Every Elementary Teacher Needs to Thrive

Just like we teach our students, sometimes we need to revisit the basics of a subject or topic to make sure we have a strong foundation.

When it comes to teaching, it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day routine tasks– paperwork, grading, assessments, field trip forms, and homework folders – it all piles up and requires most of our attention.

But what if you hit the pause button and took a few minutes to recenter on the foundations of your teaching practice?

Let’s walk through the foundational elements of an elementary classroom together.

Is it possible for elementary teachers to thrive?

This is a fair question! 

Teaching can feel overwhelming, challenging, and downright impossible some days. But with a strong foundation and a heart-centered focus, teachers can overcome the challenges and create warm, welcoming classrooms where everyone (yes, even the teacher) is thriving. 

I have seen hundreds of burned out, despairing teachers come into the Heart-Centered Teacher Community only to find their joy and passion for their students and teaching reignited once again.

I’ve watched so many teachers find true balance, improve their own self-care, and build a sustainable, thriving teaching career.

It’s absolutely possible to thrive as a teacher – but it’s not always easy. And sadly, many teachers don’t have the support they need. But if you’re here reading this, it’s because you care deeply about your students, your classroom, and your career. 

I know you can find success, fulfillment, and joy in teaching (even if you’re feeling hopeless right now), and I’m excited to show you the way. 

Foundation #1: Positive relationships

Are you surprised we aren’t starting with academic skills or assessments?

The number one key to thriving as a teacher is prioritizing positive relationships in the classroom with your students. 

It’s hard to be motivated to learn if you feel like your teacher doesn’t like you or care about you. 

Students who feel seen, heard, and appreciated will enjoy being at school. And when students enjoy being at school, they are more likely to participate, meet your expectations, and contribute positively to the classroom.

You will enjoy being in your classroom more when you look forward to spending time with your students – focusing on getting to know their unique personalities, understanding their challenges, and building emotional connections. 

Prioritizing positive relationships can extend outside your classroom as well. Connecting with your grade-level teachers, support staff, leadership, and the rest of the faculty helps you feel like your students – seen, heard, and appreciated!

Foundation #2: Clear expectations

I have worked with so many teachers who share some version of this statement: “My students just won’t do what I say!”

You have likely uttered a similar complaint at some point in your teaching career, too. 

But here’s what I want you to understand – even the most well-meaning students can’t meet unclear expectations.

More often than not, the problem isn’t with your students… it’s with your expectations, instructions, and directions.

Setting clear expectations for your students from day one, and consistently following through on those expectations every single day, will help everyone in the classroom.

Elementary-aged students crave predictability. They need to know what’s going to happen and what is expected of them. Clear expectations and consequences are like a security blanket for your students! 

Expectations must be easy to understand, continuously taught and revisited, and consistently enforced. Get super clear and consistent on your expectations for behavior and academic performance and watch your class magically transform before your eyes!

Foundation #3: Effective classroom management

Would you want to go to a job where you got yelled at every day? Most of us would quit after a few weeks of being treated poorly by our boss.

Your students can’t quit your classroom, but if you don’t have a handle on your classroom management… they might want to. 

A positive learning environment is absolutely at the heart of a thriving teacher and a successful classroom. Not only do students feel more secure in a calm, well-managed classroom, everyone is also able to focus on learning, building relationships, and developing the skills they need to be successful. 

Relationships, connections, and social-emotional learning are at the center of a heart-centered classroom. Your classroom management should also be rooted in these priorities. 

Your goal isn’t to make your students listen to you. Your goal is to create a clear set of expectations, teach your students how to be successful in your classroom, and then follow through on holding the boundaries and expectations you’ve set. 

When you embrace a heart-centered approach to classroom management, you’ll find your students respond better and you get to enjoy being with your students more. 

Building a strong foundation for your classroom

When you put these foundations in place, everyone will benefit. 

The key to building a strong foundation is to consistently reflect on these elements and make adjustments as you go.

How are your relationships with your students? Is there a particular student or two you need to develop more empathy or patience with?

Are you upholding your expectations each day? Have you revisited them since you introduced them? Can your students clearly explain your classroom expectations? How can you conduct a reset each day that sets everyone up for success?

How would you rate your classroom management on the whole? Are there areas that need to be improved or changed?

Teaching isn’t an easy job, but it is possible to do it well and thrive. You just need to establish an intentional foundation that you can continue to build on throughout the year. You’ll find that the actual teaching part of your job gets so much easier (and more effective!) when you take the time to ensure your foundational elements are in place first. 

If you’re struggling, it’s never too late to revisit the basics!

Need to work on your foundations?

You’re not in this alone! In fact, I’ve created a number of resources to help teachers build stronger, heart-centered foundations for their classroom and their teaching practice.

Start with the FREE 10 Ways to Build a Positive Classroom Community Guide when you’re ready to make a few improvements that will benefit your students and help you thrive!

Click here to download the Positive Classroom Community Guide!

What’s next? Join the Heart-Centered Toolkit Waitlist now!

I created my Heart-Centered Toolkits to walk you through exactly how to have a heart-centered classroom because so many teachers (including myself at one point!) need support and direction when creating a safe and supportive heart-centered classroom. 

Click here to join the waitlist so you don’t miss out when doors open!

Lead your class with confidence and joy, showing up as the teacher you were meant to be each and every day. The Heart-Centered Method gives you all the strategies, language, tools, and support you need to create the classroom environment you’ve always dreamed of.

Adopting a heart-centered approach completely transformed my classroom behaviors, and I’m confident it will do the same for you. 

>>>Join the waitlist here!

Join the Waitlist: The Heart-Centered Classroom Instructional Toolkit Programs

Are you ready to show up as the teacher you were meant to be each and every day? The Heart-Centered Method gives you all the strategies, language, tools, and support you need to create a calm, joyful classroom environment.