I’m linking up with Blog Hoppin’ again for the last linky party of the week.
Today’s topic is tips and tricks that teachers use to help get us through those first few weeks of school. Some of these things last all year, of course, but others are implemented at the beginning of the year for the most part.
1. Social Contracts: On the first day of school, I always create a social contract with each group of students. I don’t like to give rules to my students. Instead, I let them set the rules, and social contracts make this go much smoother. I’ve found that the students are actually harder on themselves than I ever would be, and they always come up with the same rules that I would give them, but just worded in their own words. For more information on how to manage this activity and some of the thinking behind it, click here –> Social Contracts.
2. Build the Climate: I like to have several class building and team building activities for the first few weeks. Even though these students have been in school together for awhile, there are always new students that move in and others that are very shy and need help getting to know the other students in the room. Kagan is a WONDERFUL resource for these activities. My favorites are inside/outside circle, 4 corners, and think-pair-share. I try to sprinkle these throughout the day.
3. Hand Shakes: Many teachers (and the school nurse) think I am absolutely crazy for shaking my students’ hands when they walk into my room every day, but I don’t care. Teaching in a school with 78% of students coming from a low socioeconomic background means teaching things that aren’t on “the list.” Shaking hands is a lifelong skill that these kids need to learn. I think it also helps build that positive climate that we are all wanting. For more information about this and the workshop where the idea was presented, click here –> Capturing Kids’ Hearts.
4. The Safe Place: In the back of my room is a special place where students can always go if they are angry, sad, or upset. It’s nothing fancy, but a place for students to be away from all other students when they need it the most. There are several ways to go about setting this up in your own classroom, and you just have to do what works for you. I choose to put a bed pillow on the floor with a seat cushion and lots of stuffed animals to hug. For more information on how to manage and implement your own “Safe Place,” click here –> The Safe Place.
5. Organization: One of the BEST ways to waste less time and get more bang for your buck is by staying organized. This is where I have the most trouble. I don’t have a problem starting the year organized, it’s keeping it that way! I’m getting better and better at it, and this year I WILL stay organized all year.
Oh, and one more thing: KEEP SMILING!! The best medicine for any situation is a smile. Breathe, relax, and remember: “This, too, shall pass!”
Do you have any additional thoughts? I would love to hear from you!
I wish all of you the best of luck beginning a new school year!
Head over to Blog Hoppin‘ for additional tips and tricks!