Now that a new year has rolled around once again, it’s the perfect time of year to think about making resolutions in your classroom. Here is my list of the top ten habits to develop so that your classroom runs smoothly, there are fewer problem behaviors, the children learn more, and you find more joy in teaching:
1. Teach and review procedures: Think about the times during the day when things are not as smooth as you’d like. What procedures do you want the children to be doing? What habits do you want them to adopt? Reteach the steps and behaviors you expect and give positive feedback when the children do it correctly.
2. Build Community: Plan activities that help the children develop a sense of community and caring for each other. Play games in which they learn about each other, have class celebrations, adopt a class song.
3. Build More Relationships with Children: Identify the children in your classroom that you still don’t know very well or would like to have a better relationship with. Ask these children about their favorite activities, how their weekend went, and spend some one-on-one time with them.
4. Use Positive Feedback: Notice what the children are doing well – both academically and in terms of good behaviors. Point these out and tell the children specifically what they are doing well.
5. Teach Social & Emotional Skills: Young children will be more successful in school if they have academic survival skills. Pick one skill this week and teach it in depth until you notice the children doing it on their own. Some suggestions are: calming down with deep breaths; saying kind words; taking quick breaks and getting back to work; asking for attention in appropriate ways.
6. Consider Children’s Culture: Spend some time learning more about the culture of your students and consider how this might affect their behavior. A good place to start is looking at the difference between high-context cultures and low-context cultures.
7. Engage the Children in Learning: Consider alternatives to hand raising. Use small whiteboards, choral responses, turn and talk, or calling children randomly.
8. Teach Conflict Resolution: Even very young children can learn to identify the problem when children are arguing or fighting and offer alternatives. Help empower children to practice this important skill.
9. Learn What to Ignore: Every little infraction of your behavioral expectations does not need to be addressed. Sometimes the best teachers know when to let the small things go in order to create a calm and flexible environment.
10. Connect to Families: Think about ways that you can send messages home which share positive comments about the children’s activities and behaviors. Invite parents to visit your classroom and share some ideas about their family holidays. Send home a newsletter. Have a poetry reading and invite family members.
Please share in the comments what your New Year’s resolutions are for your classroom. I’d love to hear your ideas!