January Classroom Management {coming back after winter break}

Vacation has been lovely {Hamilton, family, food...} but my brain has started thinking about going back to school. This year we go back on a Wednesday so we only have a three day week which I think is the perfect way to transition back after eleven days off! 

I use the week after break as a time to reteach behavior expectations and almost do a mini version of the first 6 weeks. We focus on routines and procedures (reviewing bathroom, hand signals, how we come to the carpet, how we act on the carpet, how we walk in the hallway....the whole nine yards). 

We also focus on our 5 core values, reteaching them. I spend about a half a day on each, reading a book, brainstorming ways to show that attribute in real life and then students complete a mini book, with each page focusing on a different attribute. It’s super simple. But it’s a review of what we spent about a week and a half on back in September so the purpose is more to reframe their mindset coming back from break and setting expectations. 

I also introduce table points when we come back. I use a fuzzy heart jar the first 4 months of school, where we focus on a different core value until the jar is filled then we trade it in for something fun and we focus on a new core value. I keep using the jar but add in table points. Table points focuses less on the whole class and focuses (as it sounds) on each table. I look to see which tables are showing the core values {and cleaning up quickly, working quietly} and then they get a point. Whichever table gets the most points is the VIP table the next day which means the VIP sign hangs above their table and they get first play choice, I call them to line up first, they get to get their snacks first....I’m all about FREE and EASY rewards. 

Last year I had a pretty great class (I do this year too...I’m grateful to those cherubs!). So I thought “Oh I don’t need to do VIP table THIS year! They already know what to do!” Uh no. After a month of struggling after break, I realized VIP Table Points eliminates the need for the constant reminders...instead the reminders come in the form of highlighting the positives you notice and awarding points. Believe me, it’s a lot less draining to give positive feedback then corrective feedback! It’s also specific enough that each table feels proud to earn the point. They feel motivated. 

The last big thing we do is we revisit our classroom rules and our hopes and dreams. Students get back their hopes and dreams from September and then create a new hope and dream for the year looking at it through the lens of New Years Reaolutions. We also take down the four rules we created in the fall and decide if these rules are still serving us or if we need to create new ones.

 Okay: here’s my honest problem I have with both of these activities. I think it’s super important to create hopes and dreams and classroom rules. It helps set a purpose, it helps set the tone for the classroom and it helps build classroom community. BUT that said, after one week of focusing on hopes and dreams and classroom rules, I pretty much just ignore them. I do NOTHING to make their hopes and dreams come true. I literally NEVER focus on the classroom rules. I focus A LOT on our 5 core values and being a role model classmate but less on these two. And I hate doing things that have no purpose. So I’m wondering how you all make these living, breathing parts of your classroom instead of just a one and done activity.

I’m off to continue to enjoy the rest of vacation! I hope this gives some teachers with back to school blues some ideas! 


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Anyone Out There...?

Hi Everyone!

I am pretty excited to be blogging again. Yes, I know. I pretty much get excited, then I get busy. I'm currently on winter break (and that's why I'm typing this...vacation = time, time = blogging). And also on a completely random side note I'm currently staring at my blog wondering WHY I still have Periscope in my toolbar. {Insert eye roll}. I need to update my blog ... but that terrifies me! I recently bought my own domain (as in literally 10 minutes ago) and I changed it over so I no longer have the little {.blogspot.com} in my url! It's just www.teachingvoraciouslearners.com now! I've only had this blog for, oh, about 7 years now. Took me long enough. So if anyone has any ideas/tips/recommendations for a blog rehaul, please let me know. I want it to be timeless, I want it to look more like a website vs. a blog, I want to not hate it in three years. 

One thing I've really struggled with having a blog is the style of my blog...do I want it to be orderly posts that teach? More narrative, scheduled posts that have tidbits on goodness? Or rambling posts that talk about whatever, whenever (pretty much how this blog entry is becoming). I really intended this blog post to be about a specific topic but instead I just started rambling. 

Also, super important question: Do people even read blogs anymore? I know I do, but I feel like most people just post things on Instagram, on their vlog or in a podcast. But, speaking of podcasts, I was recently listening to a podcast that predicted blogs will make a comeback in 2019 because people miss the long form that you can't really do on Instagram. 

You know what I hated about blogging though? How each post had to have a perfectly artistic and award winning layout with stellar images. What if I just want to write lots of words with no pictures at all? I mean that seems fun to me. I get that people need visuals and I get that having a single theme for a post = more eyes on your post, but I don't know. Sometimes I just miss words! The real question is: am I actually going to post this? I guess if you're reading it, you know the answer. 

Here's to blogging!


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