Happy New School Year! As we think about the goals and resolutions we’d like to accomplish in the new year, such as: cleaning out clutter and starting fresh, educators start thinking about getting students back in the classroom.
We all know that it is hard to get back into the swing of things after a break or vacation, but it is especially hard for students. So, it is a good idea to plan for a little backsliding in behavior and academics after a long break. At Boys Town, we always remind ourselves, “If you can predict it, you can plan for it!”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asking educators how they plan for the new school year and tackle behavioral challenges after summer break.
The overall answer was clear – you have to set your expectations at the beginning of the year and make sure your kids learn how to meet those expectations. Being proactive is so important – it is so much easier to remind kids of your expectations in a positive, neutral environment rather than trying to correct it after the fact.
One activity to use with your students is to our FREE classroom motto activity. As a class develop your motto for the classroom in 2019. This is a great way to combine a review of expectations with setting goals for a new year. This process will reinforce the idea that it is important to remember and use what we have already learned, but we also need to use that information as we continue to develop and move forward.
One teacher, who has been teaching kindergarten for over 20 years, shared the teaching strategies she and her colleagues use with their kids. They start the year introducing their students to Gulp. He is a puppet character that comes to school looking for help on how to behave. There are stories and lesson plans featuring Gulp. One of the keys to the success in this activity is involving students in teaching Gulp lessons on behavior. If you want to learn more about Gulp, click here and check out the items they have available on Teachers Pay Teachers! They have even created a puppet you can purchase!
This story about Gulp highlights how important it is to be proactive and teach kids from day one, but you can find fun ways to involve students in the lesson. It is often said that retention goes up to almost 90% when we personally teach others the information.
Another common idea that these educators shared was the use of positive reinforcement. When kids come back to class after a break, be sure to reinforce the positive behavior choices they are making. This helps to reinforce their behavior, as well as model to other kids who may need a little more support.
One teacher I talked to about using positive behavior reinforcement systems said she is changing hers up this school year. This will keep the consistency of using external motivators for positive behavior choices, but will also keep it fresh and new for her students. Last year she used tickets and this year she is going to use ClassDojo.
For more resources, lesson plans, and tools you can use with your students to review and reinforce rules, expectations, procedures and skills visit our website here! If you have specific questions click here to talk to one of our trainers.