A New Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Classroom Culture

new teacher's guide to build classroom culture
It is so important to build classroom culture the first week of school.

New Teachers Guide to Building a Classroom Culture

 Are you a new teacher and need an ultimate guide to build classroom culture? Well, I have a step by step guide to help you with that. I remember how overwhelmed I felt as a new teacher. There was so much to do and I wanted my classroom to be perfect in every way! Are you feeling that way right about now as you start the school year?  I imagine you are dreaming up ways to make this year great! One way I can help is to share my proven strategies on creating the perfect classroom culture from the start!

Start Building a Classroom Culture with a Classroom Mascot

The first thing I do to establish classroom culture is introduce Quality Quentin, our class mascot. I tell my students that he is here to help us with quality behavior.  My students take turns bringing Quentin home each day. They know that they need to act like a quality student in order to take him home.  He also has a journal that the students write in when they take him home. They love writing about what they do with Quentin! They also enjoy sharing his adventures with their classmates every morning. The children love to add books and other trinkets to Quentin’s bag. They love seeing what new treasure shows up because they know that they will be able to interact with these items when it is their turn to take Quentin home.

A friend of mine made the stuffed penguin, and I bought the hat, vest and shoes from Build A Bear.

This child enjoys reading about what he did with Quentin.

first grade boy with class mascot as part of classroom culture
My students love reading about our class mascot Quentin the Quality Penguin!

  When Quentin goes home with a quality student, they write about him in his journal.  They get excited about their interactions with the class mascot and want to write about them, or at least draw them.

Better Lesson has an activity on how to involve the students in creating a class mascot.  This involves creativity and critical thinking.  It would be an awesome way to make the experience more fun for the older students.

My students love giving Quality Quentin presents!

picture of our classroom mascot
Our classroom mascot is a fun part of our classroom culture.

Start Creating Your Classroom Culture on the First Day of School

On the first day of school, I read this book that Brittany and I wrote about being a quality student.  It tells the story of Quentin, a penguin who is nervous for his first day of school. His mother teaches him the “Quality Student” song in order to calm his nerves about going back to school, and he in turn teaches it to a friend who is also nervous about going back to school.

Students love coloring this book and making the puppets.

This resource also includes these fun penguin puppets. They are characters in the book. Students love acting out the story using the puppets! There is also a comprehension sheet included.

a picture of penguin puppets
Students like making these penguin puppet characters from the book.

A Quality Student Song Helps to Build Classroom Culture

After I read the book, we listen to this Quality Student song that teaches all about good behavior.  It is the song that MaMa Penguin teaches Quentin in the book. I do an anchor chart about what they heard in the song about good behavior. This is an excellent time to discuss expectations of how students should act in the classroom as well as clear up any questions they may have.  It is included in the resource above. You can also get it in our First Week of School resources.

our classroom culture song
This song is fun and engaging while kids learn about social skills.

Next, I show them motions that go to the song. They spell ”Quality” with their bodies when they sing and dance to the song.

I will do my best to explain the motions that I use:  You can also check out the video here where we show the motions.

Q-“Quiet when we need to be” -Put your finger to your mouth like you were saying SHH!

U-“Understanding towards others” -Students pat each other on the back, gently

A-“Awesome in every way” – Hands come down like an A

L-“We love to learn.”  Make an L and then point to your brain.

I-“We are all important parts” -Point thumbs to themselves

T-“Team working together” -Make a T with your arms straight out and then bend them back and forth on the part that says “working together.”

Y-“You can be a quality Student too!”  Point to each other.

My students love singing and dancing to this song! It is fun and has an upbeat tune, and they learn what a quality student is. My students will actually point out parts of the song throughout the day. For instance, a group of boys were building with legos, and they proudly came up to me and said, “Look, Mrs. Beckner! We are a “T” Team working together.” This was a verse right from the song. Another example was when two of my students were arguing with each other, and I asked them, “Are you being “U” understanding towards others?” They both said, “no” and actually apologized. I have to admit that I was surprised that they apologized without being asked.

A Morning Meeting Helps Students to Verbalize Classroom Culture

We form a circle

Have each student sit in a circle while you discuss the rules of the morning meeting.
I explain that the only person allowed to talk is the one holding Quentin. Each child introduces him or herself. They say “My name is_________ and a quality student__________________. I was so pleased to see so many of them remember things from the song! You may even want to write down the expectations your students share as a reminder for the class. Post it up somewhere in your classroom.

Now I know y’all don’t have a Quentin. I had Quentin made. You can pick up a penguin and do what I did, get the hat, shoes and jacket at Build a Bear. You can also use this process with any other mascot that suits your classroom.

My students love Quentin and work hard to be quality students so they can take him home!

Well, that’s it for Day 1!

Check out Day 2!

Do you have more ideas to share from your own classroom? Maybe you have a suggestion that would improve on our ideas? Whatever it is, we want to hear it! Comment below. We would love to hear about your class mascots.

I would appreciate you sharing this post with other new teachers!

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


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