Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Classroom Management: January Review

It's January and the first week back after winter break.  The kids have been at home for over 2 weeks with lots going on and lots of unstructured activities.  Transitioning back to school can be challenging for our little ones, which is why I am a firm believer in doing a mid-year re-set.  Reminding our students of our expectations and procedures is a MUST for any elementary classroom!  It's easy to jump right back into things that first day back, but taking a step back to focus on classroom management will pay off in the long run and make the last 5 months of school much easier.  Today's post is dedicated to some ideas to get things off to a great start that first week back in January!

First up: TALK to your kids when they get back!  They are going to be so excited to see you and you should be excited to see them as well.  Find out how their winter break went.  It can be hard to find time to talk to everyone individually, but try.  As kids are working, float around and ask them how they are doing, how their break was, and if they are excited to be back to school.  Let the kids know that you are excited to have them back!  If you do a Morning Meeting, allow some additional time for the sharing portion.  Have your students share about something they did during winter break.  *I like to do a circle share for this, that way everyone gets to share that first day back.  If you want, incorporate a writing activity to go with it!  Click below to grab a free writing paper that I have used in the past!

Next, start practicing all of those routines that you taught your kids this year.  Think back to that first month of school...lining up, turning in work, arrival, dismissal, sitting on the rug, etc, etc, etc!  Select a few to focus on each day that first week or two back.  Call kids up and have them SHOW their classmates what to do.  Congratulate them on remembering what to do!  I print another copy of my "Routines to Teach" list and make sure I hit all areas on it!  Click HERE for the *freebie.*

Don't be afraid to go back and review (or even re-create) prior anchor charts you've made.  During the first month of school, I use everything from my "Back to School Activities" pack.  It includes the activities shown below and MUCH MORE.  In January, I have been known to go back and reference the activities and anchor charts we'e done/made.  A refresher is a wonderful thing!

This anchor chart was one I created to go with our PBIS program at school.  You can make the middle bubble say what you want to match your program or management system.  The kids come up with the words in the four corners.  Letting them do so makes them think and creates ownership.

This was something I found on Pinterest years ago and created (I am sorry I can't remember who it belonged to!).  Giving kids sentence stems for talking gives them the opportunity to form complete sentences and provides scaffolding without the pressure of thinking about formulating a response.

Praise, praise, praise!  Point out the good that you see.  Notice someone following your directions the first time, point it out to the rest of the class!  Have a reward system?  Use it!  Pass out tickets, bucks, have kids clip up on the clip chart.  Send positive notes home.  Aim to send 2 notes home per day.  I like to copy a stack of these and keep them on my desk so I can quickly grab them to give out at the end of the day.  Make a BIG deal out of everything.  When kids see their friends acting appropriately, they will follow suit!

Set a new, whole-group, classroom reward!  Have kids help you select the new reward.  Choose ONE area of focus for this...an area you see your kids "forgetting" or struggling with.  For example, maybe your class has trouble lining up without talking/running.  Make lining up the goal for the reward.  Let the kids know that each time you see them line up as you expect them to, they will earn a letter towards the class reward.  Once the reward has been spelled, the reward is earned.  Let them earn letters towards the reward quickly at first so they see success.  Have the reward as soon as possible after the kids earn it.

Work movement into your day!  Think brain breaks.  Lots of them.  We aren't exactly sure what our kids did during break, but I'm guessing many of them did not sit all day for 6-8 hours as we are now expecting them to do once back at school.  If you don't have a Go Noodle account, I highly recommend you sign up for one!  Go Noodle is a Free website that contains quick (2-5 minute) videos that get kids MOVING!  The videos are super silly and engaging and improve behavior and attention.  They help kids get their wiggles out before attending to a task.  The videos also help build classroom cohesion.  Everyone has fun when singing and dancing together, right?!

With movement comes sound!  One of my greatest classroom management tips is the use of sounds for transition in the classroom.  I began using sound for transition very early on in my teaching career.  It has proved to be very effective and the kids respond very well.  I use sound in the classroom for the following transitions: lining up, coming to the carpet, cleaning up, and coming to the front of the room.  I've linked what I use below in case you want to try using sounds in your room!  *Note, I receive a small percentage of comission if you choose to purchase what I've recommended using my link.

Clean-up bell:  This little bell was a gift to me when I graduated from college in 2003.  I have used in my classroom since!  I can't believe it's held up all these years.  This is the bell I ring (or ask a student to ring) when I want the class to clean up.

Carpet Chimes: I have had these chimes for so long, as well!  They have a soothing sound and can be used a variety of ways in the classroom.  However, I prefer to use them as our signal to come to the carpet.  I just use the mallet to ding each chime once, for a total of 3 sounds, and that lets kids know to come to the rug.  I don't have to use words to say it or yell over top of a loud class.  

Wireless doorbell: This is a recent addition to my classroom sounds; I got the wireless doorbell about 3 years ago.  It's been an effective tool to use to have my kids line up.  I don't have to get them all quiet or raise my voice.  I simply ring the bell and they all march to the door and wait.  This doorbell can be plugged into an outlet.  It comes in a variety of colors and comes with many sounds to choose from.  The push button has a sticky dot on the back so you can attach it near your desk or door.

Speaking of movement, give your kids some "free time!"  Your first few days back will go much more smoothly if you provide your kids some free play time.  Think inside recess toys/activities, particularly those that are very hands on and involve building...LEGOS, PLAY-DOH, blocks, Lincoln Logs, markers/paper, puzzles, games, etc...

Sidebar:  Tenzi is one of my favorite games to put out for breaks/inside recess!  It's a fast-paced dice game that your kids will FLIP for!  Affiliate link below in case you want to grab a set for your class.  You will be SO happy you did!!!!

Incorporate some art projects into your schedule those first few weeks back.  Getting up early and leaving family members can be very overwhelming for some students.  They don't need the added pressure of rigorous curriculum the minute the arrive back in a school setting.  The curriculum can wait.  There will be plenty of time for that.  Fitting in an art project helps students ease back into school.  Below are a few fun winter art projects that I plan on doing with my kids in January.

Doily Snowman---
Click HERE to see directions for this
Winter Mittens--

Click HERE to see directions for this
Craft stick Snowflakes (magnets or door hangers)--

Click HERE to see directions for this

Snowy Owl--
Click HERE for directions

Aspen Tree--
We did this craft last winter and I am 100% doing it again this year! (and SOON!)  I loved it because it incorporated many different mediums.  The kids had a blast creating this, as well.  We also received tons of compliments about it from passersby in the hallway!

For more classroom management ideas, see the images below.  Click HERE to be re-directed to TpT where you can download or purchase those items.

Have a great week back!


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