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Keep Calm And Starbucks Your Classroom

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I want to thank everyone who decided to join the “Starbucks My Classroom” Project and everyone who supports the idea. I am grateful for all the tips, words of encouragement, pictures, retweets, shares, and questions on Twitter and LinkedIn! You Rock!

If this is the first time you’re hearing about this project, check out my 2 previous posts: I’mma Starbucks My Classroom: My 21st Century Manifesto and “Starbucks My Classroom” Project: The Master Plan and join!

In this post, I hope provide encouragement of my own and answer some questions about the project. Some were direct, others posted to #StarbucksMyRoom I’m diving right in.

Q: In our #StarbucksMyRoom quest, is it fine to model our rooms after already made rooms? Until we know more of what works?

A: Why not? “Beg, borrow, and steal” is what we’re taught in teacher prep. As long as it benefits the students and no one loses an eye - do it! It’s all up to you.

Q: What are some regulations to pay attention to?

A: Great question. I know that I have to pay attention to fire code. My school district employs a safety officer, so I’ll be in touch with him. Having said that, if I get a donation from a student’s family I’ll take it, store it in my room, and worry about it later. If you want to adopt a similar temporary policy make sure you talk to your custodians so they know what’s happening and that you might need help disposing of stuff later.

Q: I will have no problem collecting furniture, but I need help designing the room for my high school students.

A: Relax English teachers. I know it’s not theoretically a question, but it is a valid concern one teacher expressed and others may have. What can I say? My wife keeps telling me that I have no sense of style. She’s probably right. Will that stop me? Hell No! But, I will ask for help. My wife really does have an eye for these things so I’ll ask her for suggestions. I’ll ask colleagues. I’ll ask students. I’ll go to swanky cafes, look at pictures online, YouTube it, ask tweeps, Kayla Delzer, Google, maybe even the Nate guy from Oprah. And, i will be flexible to changing it up during the school year if better options come up. If I’m building a flexible seating classroom it only makes sense that I keep my mind flexible as well.

Q: I dreamed my parents were looking for friends on Craigslist. Thanks to @focus2achieve, I'm now trying to Starbucks my parents, too!

A: That is called commitment. Dude, that is weird. And that’s why it’s awesome! You know what’s up @Mister_Mathis! ‘Nuff said.

Q: I teach in a 1:1 school and minute they sit somewhere else some of them are on games because I can't see their screens.

A: What can I say? The struggle is real brother! I have 20 chromebooks so more like a 2:3 than 1:1 but still - students becoming distracted and playing slither.io (click the link at your own peril!) is always a possibility. One way to alleviate this concern is to “be with them” - walk around the room and engage students by asking questions about the project they’re working on and to give situational feedback. Another way is to build in deliberate breaks during which you allow students 5 minutes of gaming, social media, or whatever. The benefit in that is that students get to have a little “goof-off” time while their prefrontal cortexes gets a much needed break as those things get tired super fast.

Q: I'm excited to try this. First year teacher though, so I'm pretty nervous! May start small with just my "library?"

A: Yes! Please do. Small steps forward keep you moving forward. I don’t know if I’d have the courage my first year, so you’re way ahead of me. Not sure if your principal has a “walk-in” policy or not, but this might be something to run by your teacher induction mentor. And, if a suitable furniture piece happens to come along you decide :).

Q: I’m in! Can’t Wait! Great Idea!  

A: Those kinds of responses dominated, Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you want to but are still hesitating lean on us, check out the #StarbucksMyRoom hashtag for ideas and inspiration, and remember that it will benefit your students and yourself. They will love it and so will you. The game will change for everyone involved. But you have to take the leap. Then a teeny tiny step toward your goal. Maybe tell your significant other and ask for support. Call someone you trust and tell them. They will be there for you. Build on it. Gain momentum. Ride it.

I have doubts too. Sometimes, a thought creeps in. What if I won’t be able? It’s real. It’s valid. It’s scary at times. Many things worth doing push us out of our comfort zone. But that’s how we grow. That’s how we level up. That’s how we change the world.

Remember the Excitement, the Curiosity, the Faith, and the Trust.

They Will Guide You.

They Will Help You.

They Are In You.

So Keep Calm And Starbucks Your Classroom.

Thanks for reading! Check me out on BAm! Sign Up for my Newsletter on the science of learning, teaching and learning strategies, and finding inspiration in the little things. And, you can always count on me to encourage others to ask questions, look for answers, and gulp (not sip) life.

Remember: You Have the Power to Change the World (and Starbucks Your Room). Use It Often!

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I founded Focus 2 Achieve to provide innovative classroom tools that empower teachers and help students achieve more success. In my first life, I am a husband, a father, and a teacher. In my second life, I spend time discovering what "really works" aka "best practices" in education, problem-solving, and creating products for teachers and students. I recently wrote a book titled "Crush School: Every Student's Guide To Killing It In The Classroom." It is a book designed for Students that uses brain research and brain based learning strategies to help student become better learners. The book can be used by Teachers to help students learn more effectively, and Parents to help their children become more aware of how they learn. 


I have a BS in Earth and Environmental Sciences and an MA in Teaching. I teach high school Chemistry and Principles of Engineering and my professional interests focus on discovering and learning how the human mind learns and acquires lasting knowledge and skills, so that I can help my (and other) students learn more effectively and achieve greater academic success.


I am also a fan of the Jedi order (and use DA FORCE frequently), ninjas (both masked and unmasked), and the superhero in all of us. Oh, and I am on a Quest to Change the World, because I can. I believe we all can.

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Guest Friday, 21 October 2016