Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Setting Students Up for a Successful Year - part 1

IT ALL STARTS from the moment you say HI!

How do you greet your students?
What are they doing those first few minutes of the first day?
How do you handle what they are doing?

My students come into our building all at one time.  I direct them to their lockers.  Then with the classroom door closed behind me, we sit on the floor.  RIGHT THERE IN THE HALL!
    I believe that the hallway is where we can start a successful day of school.  So on that very first day, we sit there.  We talk about how to start a successful day.  We discuss why it starts here.
    **Routine of putting backpacks away....getting what they need out before coming in ... attitude makes a different to our brains readiness to accept new learning...etc.
   Then I open the door.  I show them two icons on the door.  The first is a smiley face.😊 I explan how they are going to give me a high five ✋ in the morning, touch the smile and say, "I have a great attitude for school."  The second is clipart of a backpack. Again they are to touch it and say, "I have everything out of my backpack."  Sounds silly. I know. But it has been a reminder for many students who just drop everything in the locker and start to walk in the door. "OOPS...didn't bring in my waterbottle!"  If the attitude is not quite there, I can take note, and follow up.  This instruction time includes explaing why we do this in the mornings.
   Then we practice entering the room and head to the front of the room where we sit in an oval for our first class meeting of the year.  They have noticed by now that there are no names on desks.  That is the first order of business.  We play a game, "Find the best seat for me."  Basically, I talk to them about choice in our room. First choice they have is to find their best fit seat.  Discussion revolves around issues like, sitting by friends, sitting by the door or windows. The sizes of chairs and desks.  If I had different types of seating that would be another part of the discussion.  It is a discussion. I ask them to give me pros and cons of the various options. Then I play music and they walk the room, sitting and moving until they find where they feel they are most comfortable.  I ask them to not just find a spot and sit.  I want them to ask themselves, "Can I sit here all day?  Is the height good for working? Does the light bother me? Will noise from the hall bother me?" etc.
   Lastly, out come the sharpies.  They claim the desk as their own. This is the 5th graders FAVORITE part.  "We get to write on our desks?!?!" YES!
    (SIDE NOTE: I will never go back to name tags in the upper elementary.  Love the simplicity of the names being written on the desks instead.)
   I have only had a couple times where two students wanted the same spot.  I allowed them to talk it out and only asked questions to help them figure out the best solution.
These two excersises set up a few components of our classroom from the get go.
    *Come into class prepared both mentally and with supplies
    *During each day, we will have choice but it is most important that is the best fit for their individual growth. 
    * Routines and procedures have reasoning behind them. 

I hope this inspires you to think about routines you have set up and how do you introduce them from the very moment students walk into your building that first day.