9 WAYS TO START THE YEAR OFF RIGHT
It’s back-to-school time. Are you ready for it? Here are nine tips for your first couple days of school that will get your year off to a good start. My favorite is the last one. It’s an important one!
Very slow. So slow, it’s almost painful. Slower than you think you should. Okay, maybe not that slow. But, seriously, I spend the first hour going over classroom rules (in a fun and interactive way) and establishing procedures for pair sharing. Then we establish Daily 5 procedures. Slowly.
Go slow so that your students don’t miss anything. I want my students to know the expectations and exactly what to do in our class.
MODEL, MODEL, MODEL
Model the right way to do things. Model the wrong way to do things. Then, model the right way to do things.
This is established with Daily 5, but can be transferred to anything you want students to do. Walk in a line, put papers away, etc.
Model it. Have students model it. Have students model doing it incorrectly. Then have the same students do it correctly.
Stop and redirect when you see incorrect behavior (or when something annoys you). Then model some more. Call out the behavior. Don’t embarrass the students or make them feel bad, but do address inappropriate behavior. If you don’t, students will think they can get away with it!
KEEP IT POSITIVE
I’ve decided this year to focus on positive behavior management. I’ve realized (don’t know how it took me 16 years!) that negative feedback doesn’t really work for those students that I really need to reign in. My most difficult students don’t respond to negative consequences.
For most of my students, just establishing good practices and routines is enough to keep them in line with gentle reminders.
My most challenging students don’t need more negative feedback. They get enough of it at home and have had it in previous years. I’ve got one kiddo this year that is pushing all the buttons. It’s been a challenge to catch myself and try to redirect the behavior rather than become negative and turn toward a punishment mentality. I’m trying though!
ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES AND YOUR FEARS
Show students that you are a real person, too. There was a time this week when I couldn’t find a set of papers. There were times when I said something wrong (learning new processes is hard).
Admit that you don’t know it all.
It will ease their fears. We read Wemberly Worried (affiliate link) on the second day of school this week. I admitted that I worry that I won’t teach them well. I also admitted that I was afraid that they wouldn’t like me.
Just trying to make it real, people.
PLAN MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED
Over plan for the first couple days or even weeks, until you figure out the rhythm of your classroom. It’s better to have more in your back pocket than you think you need.
After a couple of weeks, your classroom will develop a natural ebb and flow. Things will fall into place and you’ll get a feel for how each day should work. Until then, over plan.
COME UP WITH SOME SPONGE ACTIVITIES OR FILLERS
For those extra 10 minutes that you can’t do a full lesson, but you can’t do the next activity, have some quick activities in your back pocket to use when you have a couple extra minutes. This post has 80 Sponge Activities you can use.
DON’T FORGET TO SIT DOWN
While your students are engaged in an activity, sit down.
Really take a seat.
See how they interact with one another.
Observe the choices they make.
Look at their personalities and see how they work together to make your classroom unique.
As teachers, we hardly ever get a chance to sit down and observe the way our students interact with one another. We’re so busy teaching that we’re not spending time learning about our students. Plan some lessons that give them some down time, so that you can sit and observe how they’re working together.
Take some time for yourself. Treat yourself to a coffee, a massage, a pedicure, a cup of tea. Anything that allows you to breathe and reflect. I keep going and going and going, and I often forget about myself during the first few weeks at school. It’s important to take time for yourself.
I hope your first few days of school go smoothly with few stressors and that your students are amazing little learners!