Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Establishing Routines & Expectations

Here's my post about the first two weeks... a week late!  :)

We're currently in our third week of school and things are running smoothly! I'm so happy with how my kiddos are doing with math rotations and our general classroom procedures. I wanted to share some of the things I do the first two weeks to have everything running like a well oiled machine (ok it's still a little squeaky but we're getting there!)

The first big thing I push is class building. Before you can expect these kids to listen to you and respect eachother you need to build those relationships. I know there's a lot out there about being stricter the first few months and then letting off  a bit but I really feel like if you build a trusting relationship with your students they will listen to you because they WANT to, not because you scare the bejesus out of them.

Some fun things I like to do for class building are get to know you games. One we do is called a snowball fight. I found this fun idea on pinterest and the students LOVED it! You write a couple facts about yourself on a piece of paper with your name, crumple it up, and then let the kids have at it. After a few minutes of snowball fights, or until a snowball falls in the fishtank for us, the students each grab a snow ball and have to find the person who wrote it. They then read the facts about the person and get to know them a bit. After a couple of rounds I had the kids write the same facts but with no name, so they had to try and guess who it matched. Here's the link I found on pinterest if you want to check it out:

Another fun class building thing I do is ask silly questions. I have them either pair up,  or work with teams of 4. I then ask a silly question like "If you were a vending machine that could sell anything, what would you sell?" and each of the kids share. Then I'll share a few with the whole class and they get a good giggle out of it. Some other good questions are "what's the craziest dream you've ever had?" or "If you could be any sound, what would you sound like?"

I like to have one class building activity per day for the first full week. After that, I really like to do one a week if I can, to keep everyone working together and feeling like a trusting family.

After we knock out some class building I then go into the classroom rules and some procedures we use every day to learn. I'm a big fan of Whole Brain Teaching. If you're looking to learn more about it I highly suggest you check out the book by Chris Biffle OR you can check out a site I made for some district PD last year:

I start with how I plan to get their attention. When I say class, they say yes. The trick is, they have to match the way I say it... no matter how goofy I do it! so if I say WHATS UP CLASSY CLASS?! They say "WHATS UP YESSY YES!!" or "hey hey class" they say " hey hey yes". You can switch it up however you'd like so they don't get bored and neither do you! You'll get some laughs out of it, so whats neat is you have kids following rules and enjoying themselves as they do it. THAT IS KEY!

I then go over my 5 classroom rules. These rules have NO LOOPHOLES. So if you have a kiddo thats really tough to crack and likes to find a special way to get under your skin, they still have to follow your rules!

1. Follow directions quickly
2. Raise your hand for permission to speak
3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat
4. Make smart choices (no loophole here-a kid that likes to find loopholes does not want their intelligence questioned!)
5. Keep your dear teacher happy (by doing the right thing!)

I teach these rules by using "Mirrors Up" which is another WBT technique. They repeat after me with actions and words, so we match movements and words to the classroom rules (the brain is getting a workout!). I go over the rules several times a day the first week. I want the rules to be memorized- there's only 5 and if the kids learn movement with it then they can have it memorized by day 2 no joke. After the first week I go down to just doing the rules once a day, and after week 2 we try to do it once a week if we can, just to keep it fresh and on their mind.

After we've grown together as a family and set out our behavior expectations, it's time to show them that I actually will be looking for those behaviors and rewarding them. I like to use class dojo to give my students points for good behavior and for doing their work. What I like about class dojo is its online, so I can add it from my classroom computer during class, or take my phone to lunch and even give points as we're walking in line or outside of our classroom. Also, parents can log in and check their child's points. Class dojo allows you to also take away points. There's lots of different philosophies on this, but I'm ok with them losing points for excessive breaking of rules, and they lose that point privately. Students all have different totals of points so usually it's not noticed by other students. I think that's important. You as the teacher can leave a comment with the points they earn or lose, or can send a message to the parent so they are clear as to what happened. I of course like to send messages about the positive behaviors to open up dialogue with parents and have them know that I love their child and appreciate their positive qualities :)

I would like to add that students then use these points for rewards- and I do not have a prize box. Instead I do coupons for privileges, such as lunch with teacher or feeding a mealworm to our class pet Stubs. This way, the positive behavior is linked to a good feeling, rather than a material thing. It's been pretty motivating so far :)

So these are the big things we've had in place the past two weeks! The students show great compassion towards eachother and they want to do good, because it feels good :) I'm so excited to have this great bunch of kiddos.

I hope everyone is off to a great start to the school year!

No comments:

Post a Comment