To celebrate, I am going to share 5 EASY tips to help your students love to be at school! Every year my #1 goal is to make sure all my students are all happy, loving school, and growing as a person. I truly believe that has to come first!
Here are 5 simple rituals will help you do just that and will be easy for you to sustain! They aren't behavior tricks but instead rituals that help your students grow in character.
Tip #1: Friday Messages - Teacher to Student
Every Friday, write a message to your students! This message could include praise about what they did well, build excitement for learning experiences to come, or any other positive news you wish to share. The students get so excited to read the note each Friday morning, and this little tradition contributes to the overall positivity of the classroom environment! (If you forget, a student will be sure to remind you!)
Tip #2: Bucket-Filling
Read How Full is Your Bucket? and introduce the concept of "Bucket-Filling" to your students. Brainstorm ideas for how they can fill their peers' buckets each day. Then, nominate a student who stood out as a role model to be the "Bucket-Filler of the Week." This student will try his/her hardest to be a role model all week and look for a student to nominate for the next week. I display this child's picture in the classroom. For a free classroom visual, click here.
Tip #3: #You Matter Board - Student to Student
Students use a sticky note to write a meaningful compliment or comment to a classmate and end the note with #youmatter. Then, when you get a free moment, read them aloud and have the student take it home to share with his/her family.
We often take time at the beginning of the year to read social-emotional books but then get so busy with curriculum, we don't continue to carve out the time. Reading social-emotional ALL year long is SO key. Don't be afraid to take time away from other subjects to have these discussions. Social-Emotional books will help you bring up issues in class meetings that will acknowledge feelings students often have. It will give you an opportunity to have growth mindset discussions that you can refer back to when they are persevering through challenges. It will give you the opportunity to discuss coping strategies to help students become more resilient. It will help you teach your students to take on the perspective of others and think how they feel. And much MORE! Classroom read-alouds and discussions add so much heart to the community.
I used to write weekly newsletters... Then, when I made a class website, I started updating the website each week and emailing the update to the parents. All of this became VERY time-consuming, rarely involved the students, and I'm not sure how many parents read all this information. So, while this sounds overwhelming, it's such an EASY switch... I now send a DAILY email to the parents. However, I write it with the students at the last 5 minutes of the school day. We call it our "Happy Email." A student calls on 5 classmates to share a highlight from our day. I type it on the board. Then, I add anything I wish to the email and send it off. The students leave each school day with excitement for their parents to read the email. The parents LOVE this connection because it gives them talking points with their child each night. It helps bring the love of learning home each day and increase students' excitement for school the next day!
I wish you a wonderful 2016 teaching and learning!