Samantha Whaley, MPA - Boys Town National Training
The holiday season is full of excitement. Students and teachers are excited for a well-deserved break. The excitement, however, comes with distractions and disruptions in learning, which make it difficult for teachers to manage the classroom environment. This time of year also brings lots of talk about resolutions and making positive changes. It’s a time to start new and set new goals.
The idea of resolutions and goal setting is a great way not only to introduce the concept of goal setting and self-determination to your students but to also start the New Year with strong classroom management. Classroom management is largely centered around three concepts: positive relationships, predictability, and consistency.
All teachers strive for positive relationships. Unfortunately building these relationships is sometimes pushed aside by pressure to meet academic standards, the time needed to create lesson plans, and the effort required to keep 30+ children safe. When a positive relationship exists with a student, praising him becomes more frequent and corrections require less time and effort. Fostering these types of relationships can start with meeting students at the door each day with a smile, hand shake, high
five, or fist bump, and saying, "Good morning," as you welcome them into class. The simple addition of using a student’s name and a short personalized comment, question, or encouragement will show her you are happy she is there. “Good morning, Katie, I love your new sparkly shoes!” is short and simple but personal to the student. This type of behavior fosters relationships and models positive pro-social behavior for students.
In addition to knowing that you care for them, students want to know what they can expect when they walk into your classroom. Establishing expectations goes beyond posting schedules and class rules. Students need to be taught expectations and reminded of them frequently. The return from break is a perfect time for these reminders or to implement new procedures that may be needed. The key to establishing good classroom procedures is to teach them at a neutral time. Don’t wait to remind students of the “line-up” procedure until everyone is already running and pushing to get in line for recess. Instead, incorporate your reminder into a lesson early in the day, maybe during a math lesson about shapes or a science lesson about motion. Then when it is time to line up give students a quick prompt, “It’s time to line up for recess. Remember to walk quietly, and be sure to be in a straight line like the sides of a rectangle.” This prompt will not only remind students of their math lesson but will remind them of your expectations. Without teaching expectations we cannot hold children accountable for their behavior.
Along with relationships and expectations, make sure the environment remains as consistent as possible. Consistency is key to ensuring that good behavior continues and inappropriate behaviors decrease. Classroom rules and procedures are not effective if students aren’t held accountable to them. If today you let students run and push to get in line for recess but tomorrow they receive consequences for the same behavior, they no longer know what to expect and which rules they need to follow. This
inconsistency can make kids feel unsafe and damage the relationships you have worked hard to create.
Get students involved with your “New Year, New Classroom Resolutions,” by sharing personal resolutions and working together on classroom resolutions. Use the attached printable activity to help your students write their New Year resolutions. Give them time to decorate the “2015” at the top and then share with their goals with the class.