Teach By Design
Dec 11, 2018

Our Favorite Things 2018

We have 23 new things you’re just going to LOVE! From highlighters that erase, to easy classroom strategies, here are the little things that will bring big joy to your day. It’s our Favorite Things for 2018!

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Morning Greetings

Saying hello to each student as they come into your class is an easy way to set a positive tone for the period from the moment they walk in the door. Mr. Barry White, Jr., a 5th grade teacher from North Carolina, took these greetings one step further and created a secret hand shake for every student in his classes. That’s 60+ handshakes! If your memory isn’t quite like Mr. White’s, use one of these free templates and let your students choose a greeting every day.

Breathing Ball

Sometimes a few deep breaths is all a student needs to calm down. A breathing ball gives them a nice visual cue as they inhale and exhale. To use these balls for a whole class, ask students to hold up 3-10 fingers letting you know how many breaths they’d like to take. Then, lead them through the exercise. If you do this most days, and you notice a student who normally asks for three breaths all of a sudden needs 10, that’s a good cue to check in and see how they’re feeling.

Wireless Doorbell

Whether it's clapping, light switches, or a good old fashioned teacher voice, there are lots of tricks to getting a room full of students to stop what they’re doing and focus on you. This wireless doorbell is another great idea. The doorbell plugs in to any outlet in your room and comes with a remote. Press the button on the remote and one of 50 chimes plays letting students know it’s time to transition to another activity or they need to quiet down and listen to your next set of instructions.

Letters for a Year of Gratitude

We love Oprah around here. This year, her list of favorite things includes this booklet of 52 letters for a year of gratitude. Each letter has a prompt to get you thinking about what to write. Simply write your letter, tear it out of the book, seal it with a sticker provided in the back, and send it on its way. We think it’s a clever reminder and a unique way to send those positive sentiments home with each student.

Self-Care Sundays

The school year gets long. Taking the time to recharge your batteries so you can keep your enthusiasm up in class is important. Self-Care Sunday started as a hashtag and has grown into a movement. Search for it on Instagram and you’ll find photos of serene beach walks, hot coffee, and mud masks…so many mud masks. Whenever you start to feel run down from the daily grind of the school year, take some time on Sunday and do one thing that makes you feel relaxed. If you can’t think of something, explore IG for some inspo!

Teacher’s Encyclopedia of Behavior Management

“Comprehensive and insightful, the Teacher’s Encyclopedia offers more than 500 easy-to-implement intervention plans, covering over 100 common classroom problems…The new second edition incorporates a more streamlined, easy-to-reference design and 14 new problem behaviors including misuse of electronics, cyberbullying, and skipping class.”


Frixion Pens/Highlighters

These are not the erasable pens from your childhood? You know the ones. The blue ones with a rubber eraser on the cap that never really erased the marks on your college-rule paper. THESE are Frixion pens. The ink in these pens disappears with heat. The friction you create on the paper using the rubber tip at the end of the pen generates the heat to erase the ink. No marks left behind.

Teacher Discounts

In May, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported teachers spend an average of $450 of their own money, every year on classroom supplies. We know you’re on the lookout for a bargain…especially if it means getting books or craft supplies on sale. Michael’s offers a 15% discount off your entire purchase, every day, even on sale items. Barnes & Noble gives educators a 20% discount every day AND a 25% discount during their teacher appreciation days!

Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares

Can you believe these little squares have been around almost 20 years now? A favorite on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, every anniversary there is, and every tough day you have, these squares are always a good idea.

Glade Plugins Holiday Limited Edition Collection

Can we get real? A classroom, when left to its own devices, will generate a certain…musk. Glade Plugins are a repeat favorite thing this year for all the right reasons, but did you know they come in seasonal scents? Yup.

Ink Indicator Dry Erase Markers

You’re in the middle of a lesson with students writing their answers on their mini white boards, when you hear those dreaded six tiny words: “My pen is out of ink.” EXPO has you covered. These dry erase markers come with a clear end showing you exactly how close that marker is to running out of ink. Take the guess work out of buying new markers and let the markers tell you before it’s too late.


A repeat Favorite Thing, a forever part of our working lives. Coffee has earned its place on the list this year, and every year, until the end of time. Every season has its own set of special flavors and the wintery flavors are nothing but the coziest. The answer to the question “Should I go get coffee today?” is always a resounding “YES!”

Mini Whiteboards

When we asked our teacher friends for a list of their favorite things, literally every single one listed mini white boards at the top. It doesn’t matter where you get them, just get them…a lot of them. Which brand is your favorite?


Teachers Pay Teachers

Ever have a severe case of creative block? Everyone gets stuck sometimes. Teachers Pay Teachers is an online place for teachers to share their best resources, lessons, and materials with each other. There are loads of free things on the website, and some you can buy. Use them in your own classroom, or as a way to get those creative juices flowing.


Sometimes, you don’t want to watch a full-length documentary feature on a subject. Sometimes, you just a short presentation about one part of a topic to give you a new perspective. That’s where TED comes in. TEDEd is “an invitation to educators to submit their best lessons.” Each lesson is under 10 minutes long, brought to life through animation, and shared online with others interested in teaching similar topics in their classroom. Submit your own lesson, or search from the hundreds available on TED Ed.


Need a brain break? We’ve lost many minutes to playing GeoGuessr. The game drops you in the middle of Google street view somewhere in the world. It’s up to you to guess where you are. You can play by yourself or challenge a friend. There might even be a creative way to get your students engaged…

#MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere)

Twitter can be a polarizing place, but it can also be an incredible space for sharing information among other people invested in the same things that matter to you. There’s a hashtag for just about everyone these days, and math teachers are no different. #MTBoS stands for Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere. It brings together a community of math teachers sharing how they teach math to their students. The lessons they share are so creative and fresh and they make math feel cool.


Research tells us, when families get involved in their student’s education, everyone benefits. Finding ways to get families really engaged in a natural way is a trick. Twitter has you covered. Parents and teachers share the ways they’ve been involved at school under the hashtag #PTChat. If you’re feeling a little stuck, give the hashtag a follow and let the twittersphere fill you in on its strategies.

Basic FBA Online Training Module

Getting a teacher’s best guess for why students behave the way they do is good. Getting an educated best guess is even better. Drs Chris Borgeier, Sheldon Loman, and Kathleen Strickland-Cohen created a training focused on bringing school teams up to speed on the basic concepts of functional behavioral assessments and behavior support plans. Then, they turned it into a free, online training. The full training is seven modules; the school-wide training is two. Even the most experienced school psychologists will get something out of this training.

School Climate Transformation Grant Webinars

In October 2014, the Office of Save and Healthy Students funded 12 states and 71 districts to implement multi-tiered systems of behavior support. The grant is called the School Climate Transformation grant, and the Technical Assistance Center for PBIS provides a heap of resources for these awardees online. All of these resources are available to you, too. The ones we love to go back to are the recorded webinars. Each webinar is hosted by an expert in the field who gives an hour-long presentation about a topic related to multi-tiered systems.

Crash Course on YouTube

These videos serve as good introductions to the topics you’re looking to cover. John Green and his brother, Hank, teach courses in quick 10-15 minute episodes. Their primary hope is to simply create educational content that’s useful. Use them in your classroom, assign them as required watching, or mention the channel as a resource for your students just looking to study.

Target Teacher

These are women after our own hearts. They’ve combined their love of Target and teaching into this perfect Instagram account. Michelle and Hadar can turn just about any knickknack found in the dollar spot into something useful for the classroom. You’re sure to be the first to know when they discover clever hacks like how a hand sanitizer pouch perfectly fits a wireless doorbell remote, or the way thin adhesive pockets can hold a pencil on a student’s folder. Make Target work-appropriate and give them a follow.



Every Tuesday, PBIS practitioners log in to Twitter to talk. Moderators ask a series of questions related to that Tuesday’s topic. The answers start coming in from all over. Follow along or join the conversation every Tuesday at 9:00 PM EST.

PBIS Assessment

PBIS Assessment is a free application to help schools keep up with their PBIS implementation. Schools complete surveys like the Tiered Fidelity Inventory, the School Climate Survey, and the Self-Assessment Survey online with reports available immediately after they click submit. More than 20,000 schools are already using PBIS Assessment to improve their PBIS systems; make sure your school is one of them.

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Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.

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