Getting Back in the Back to School Spirit: Policies, Procedures, and Teach Like a Champion

After a few weeks of summer poolside relaxing, I’m ready to get moving with the upcoming school year’s unit planning, curriculum development, and intense refinement of what I did the previous year. This year, I’m aiming to work chronologically, and I spent the day sifting through my past policies and procedures.

Kids with raised hands

A first-year teacher learns many lessons in the face of massive mistakes. My biggest lesson learned was in classroom management. My first year, I taught at a charter school that relied on the Teach Like a Champion Taxonomy and an intensive merit/demerit policy to uphold the taxonomy. Teach Like a Champion, or TLAC for short, used a few dozen strategies to ensure 100% of students are following your directives 100% of the time. If the students aren’t there, you wait for them to get there by starting with least invasive tactics like a whole group correction (ex: “I need my whole team with their pencils up.”) to most invasive like a private correction (ex: “John pick up your pencil.”)


The strategies themselves aim to make content clear and rigorous, up the joy factor in your classroom, and ensure that all students are engaged and learning. TLAC can be used in any classroom, but is heavily utilized in No Excuse Charter Schools, like the one I taught in as a first-year teacher.

I struggled with the idea of 100%, and I didn’t wait to get every student where I asked on day one. In reflecting back on this year of teaching, there are myriad reasons why I think I wasn’t as successful as I could’ve been. First, two of my classes were co-taught with a veteran teacher who was the disciplinarian in the school. The students both revered and feared him. The dynamic didn’t always paint me as an authoritarian, and I wasn’t proactive to change this dynamic; my first big mistake.

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Common Core Info Text: Titanic Voices from the Disaster


Last year, I read Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson with my 7th Grade Book Club. I chose the book because it is a work of narrative non-fiction, perfect for easing students into Common Core aligned texts. The book is 304 pages/ 1040 Lexile Level and includes an abundance of primary sources from the era of the ship’s sinking. This is particularly useful when teaching Common Core Informational Texts standards. The book includes a seamless balance of narratives from passengers and historical information about the ship.

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