Everything has changed in the year of COVID! Our normal routines are all askew!, but one thing has not changed! We still need to get our kids off to a good start, feeling confident and capable under the new COVID guidelines that have been established.
"How do you see your role in the classroom in terms of the first month of school?" That was a pivotal question on my job interview many years ago. Sometimes the more things change, the more the stay the same. Whether it was asked during your interview or not, the answer can make or break your classroom management plan. If you don't accomplish anything else during the first weeks of school but to have control of your class, then you have done a good job! It was my answer and the school superintendent interviewing me agreed!
Whether you are totally back, doing distance teaching, or a hybrid version it is still critical that clear, concise rules and procedures are established during the first few weeks of school. Nothing can be accomplished until the class knows that you, the teacher, are in charge. Just as teachers have high expectations of students, students have high expectations of teachers. If you send the message that you don't always mean what you say and are quite lax about enforcing established rules, don't be surprised when your students do whatever they please in your classroom. This doesn't mean there are no exceptions, but there needs to be a valid reason for an exception and the student should understand that he is getting a special privilege.
So what rules are important and how do you establish them? Here are a few helpful hints.
1. Greet your students warmly. After giving seat assignments, taking attendance, putting away all their school supplies, etc., begin discussions about the wonderful school year you are about to share. Discuss how important it is for the teacher and classmates to respect each other. Discuss how people feel when they and/or their property are not respected. It is as important to give respect as it is to receive it.
2. Together with the kids write a list of the classroom rules. Keep it short. Too many rules can become overwhelming for kids. Write rules that encompass many things. Here are a few examples. You can verbally expand on these rules but they do not need to be written out. It is always nice to say to kids, "We only have 3 or 4 rules to follow. So I expect everyone to follow them." It makes the requirements seem much more doable!
- Respect the teacher and your classmates. It is wrong and rude to use inappropriate or insulting language.
- Respect the property of others. Materials are expensive and cannot always be easily replaced.
- Listen when others are speaking. It is rude to interrupt lessons or the conversations of others.
- Keep hands, feet and objects to yourself. It is not okay to risk the safety of someone else.
3. After discussing rules and receiving student input, give students the opportunity to write the rules they feel are most important. You will have an opportunity to view what your students think and kids have the opportunity to assess what they learned in the discussion.
After reviewing the activities to get your year started on a positive note, download FREE achievement/behavior awards created especially for you, my followers! The free awards are not the same ones offered in this resource. The free awards can be downloaded below.
Of course you know what to do, but time is often a factor at this time of year. If you are short on time you might want to try my resource highlighting three areas of school rules. My principal always wanted all of them addressed the first week of school. After a long vacation kids need reminders! Throughout the year too!
Important areas to discuss:
- classroom rules
- school bus safety and
- fire safety
includes boy and girl clip art
includes boy and girl clip art
After a class discussion kids can list the highlights of what they see as the most important. When you have completed each section, there is an achievement award for you to reward your students.
Happy teachers said:
- Rules are something I spend all year on with my students, thanks for sharing another way to cover rules.
- Thank you! I especially love the awards that go along with each topic!
- I am glad I found this item. This is just what I needed for back to school. Thank you!
Getting to Know You Activities
Get off to a good start! Plan to do an activity that you know they can complete with success. Getting to know you activities are especially appropriate and fun this time of year! We want kids to be happy and comfortable. Kids love to share information about themselves and learn what their classmates have been doing. To make the most of these activities be sure to take notes documenting what you see when the kids are working.
Teacher tip: Keep a year long log. I always started the year with a large index card for each student. (Before meeting the kids, I wrote their name and any services they are mandated to receive, OT, PT, Speech, etc. This helps to have important information at your fingertips) Be sure to date every comment. Your notes may include observations such as: works well with a partner, work is neat, poor organizational skills, able to stay on task, poor spelling, unable to write a sentence. The list is endless! After a few days, you will have a wealth of information about each child. What last year's teacher saw may not be what you see. As the year progresses add information regarding academics and behavior. Also write dated notes whenever you have a parent conference--in person or on the phone. These notes are invaluable when writing report cards and to prepare for another parent conferences.
Classmates, so alike, so different
Find the Classmate who. . .
Two Truths and a Lie
Be sure to tell kids to make each statement believable. Who could guess the lie this fourth grader told?
- I love to dance on stage.
- I've never been on a plane.
- I have four pet chickens.
Before you go, be sure to download the FREE awards I made especially for you. I hope you and your kids enjoy them.
However you start off the school year I hope you and your students have fun! The beginning of the year is such an important time as well as a very exciting time! I wish you a great school year!
If you have any comments about this post, I would love to hear from you! What's the most important thing for you to accomplish in those first few days?
Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to learn about more freebies coming your way!