Notice in the title I didn’t say “rules.” I think that “rules” tend to have a negative connotation and are often the things that get “broken” and this leads to a “consequence” (Enough “quotes” for you there?). Over the years I have tried to start focusing on the positive and look for what we should be doing, not what we don’t want to do.
Now, with that said, I probably used the word “rules” 50 times these past 4 days. Along with “No”, “Please stop”, and “You can NOT always be on top of each other.” Turning to the positive is an excellent idea, but hard to put into practice, especially for the teacher. I appreciate a good bulleted list, so here are some tips to keeping it about expectations and focusing on the positive.
–Create a concise list of expectations. Here are ours. I came up with them last year, although I added “Positive Attitude” this year. The students brainstormed a list of rules as part of our Social Studies unit and then we made sure they were all covered by these 6 expectations. The posters and badges mentioned below can be found here.
–Post them where they can be seen. Mine are hanging right below the Smart Board where we typically meet as a group. Lower is better for younger learners! I also have them posted in the back of the room up high for all to see!
–Explicitly teach all your expectations. They are obvious to us, but they may not be to your students. Today we acted them out and also acted out what it looks like when you don’t follow the rules (Everybody wants to try that). Typically, that is all I do and next week I would be on to something else!
This year I am taking the time to go over each of these for a couple days up to a whole week! I have been collecting books that will help students understand the concept better. Find more books by searching Pinterest or just using Google. Then send your list to your friendly Media Specialist/Librarian and be amazed! Mine is wonderful and used our inter-library loan system to get me all the books I requested!
Another great “hook” can be YouTube videos. Don’t forget to collect your favorites in a playlist! See my post for more on this. Here is a book my students LOVED this week. Everyone loves watching someone else be naughty!
–Find ways to help them remember. I use songs because I LOVE to sing. We also do lots of chanting. Check out my songs! Next week our chant will go like this:
We start (clap) with a positive attitude (point to head)
Quiet mouths (point to mouth)
Listening bodies (point to ears)
Helping hands (jazz hands)
Walking feet (point to feet)
and a caring heart (hands on heart).
I also have songs for lining up, sitting on the carpet, and cleaning up that we learned this week. I think I have a music loving class (We are Pop-se-ko fans already! Check out GoNoodle!). I have more songs, but I will try not to overwhelm them. The poster pictured can be found with more here.
–Hold them accountable. This is clearly the most important and the one I think most teachers struggle with at some point. Once you set those expectations, you have to hold them to it. We sang our carpet song 3 times in a row today, until everyone could get themselves ready. We stop in the hall when people are talking. We try things again and work on making the best choice each time. My goal going into next week is telling them what I am expecting, NOT what they are doing wrong.
–Focus on the positive. It shouldn’t be about the consequence. Please note that I am not saying consequences don’t exist. I am just saying it is not about giving out a consequence for every infraction.
My students this year will be earning badges for each of our expectations and adding them to their “License”. They will get tallies when we see them exhibiting the expected behavior and then they will receive a badge to show that they can demonstrate that behavior. When all badges are earned, students will become a member of the “Positive Police” and will help us catch others demonstrating out expectations. This is my first year trying this and I am excited. I feel like this system is not about the reward, as much as a way to demonstrate understanding.
–Take the time. Just give yourself permission to take the time. I promise it will pay off. Think of the time you will save later when all students are actually listening while you teach letters, sounds, words, and more! Now is the time to set your class on the right track.
SIDE NOTE: Please keep in mind that all students are different. Some of these expectations are very difficult for some students that are impulsive, busy, or just regular 5-year-olds. Expectations are wonderful, but make sure you understand your students developmentally and as individuals. Just like in reading and math, just expect a little more than the day before and that is different for each child.
SIDE NOTE 2: I am exhausted and excited at the same time! I LOVE my class and KNOW we are going to have an amazing year (and I am not just saying that). Four days down, lots more to go!