Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Beginning of the End

 The first week of school is closer than I'd like to admit. In fact, next week is my last week of vacation. And so with reality staring me in the face, I am getting motivated to get more stuff done around here to make my transition back to school even easier. This book, is the book I have used for several years to help me plan a successful first few weeks. Our school uses the Responsive Classroom model and this book has been a sanity-saving resource in setting up my classroom each fall. For those of you that may not have heard of Responsive Classroom, it is a management tool that uses lots of procedure building, explicit teaching and modeling, and logical consequences. It helps students learn to make good choices and monitor their behavior. I'm going to walk you through a small portion so you can see why I love this book so much.
 The first six weeks are literally mapped out for you. It gives a week-by-week, day-by-day, and even minute-by-minute schedule of what you can do in your classroom. This view gives examples for the very first week in a K-2 classroom. The book also has sections for grades 3-4 and 5-6, so it really covers a wide range of age groups. 
 This next section is called Flow of the Day and it is definitely my go-to. It goes step by step and has different sections that tell you about the different parts of the day and specifically what to do. You start day one with the morning meeting, which you will continue throughout the school year. The purpose of morning meeting is to build community within the classroom and each morning meeting begins with a greeting, sharing time, a group activity, and a morning message. Kids seriously look forward to this and when I skip (gasp) a day, I do hear about it! 
 Another important aspect of responsive classroom is changing your language. You want your language to be reinforcing. We should use our language to reinforce positive things we see within the classroom. Focusing more on the positives will help to change negative behaviors because let's face it, those students are dying for attention and when they see that they earn it from positive interactions, they are much more likely to display behavior that gets them noticed and puts a smile on your face too. I call that a win-win!
 There are even examples of morning messages. A lot of times it will include the question that you choose for sharing time to help get the students thinking about the question as they come to circle.
 A section about which routines to teach is particularly helpful to me. There are so many routines that students must learn from classroom to classroom. we cannot assume that because they have been in school for one year or three years or even six years that they already know exactly what we expect of them. So with this model, you use interactive modeling. We also teach students to use their school supplies appropriately by having moments of guided discovery.
We all know that there are students that will bring the crazy in pretty early...or at least try. ::
Well, there are ways to set up our year to help students learn quickly that that behavior is going to be a thing of the past. We can learn to use language that redirects quickly. 

Needless to say, there is a ton more within the nearly 300 pages of this book, but you'll have to check it out for yourself to see what a gem it is for every teacher. 

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