Beginning the School Year and Creating Great Classroom Climate
1. Start the Year on a positive note
· Get the students involved right away.
· What statement does your first activity make?
· You are setting off in some direction, it is easier to get going in a direction that you like off the bat than have to work to pull them back in shape later.
· Make getting to know names a priority.
· Let the students know where the ship is heading early.
2. Creating positive expectations
· Use the walls to help convey your messages.
· Display student work early. Let them know it is their space.
· Use bulletin boards to make a statement or provide information.
· Put up your favorite sayings/quotes/messages.
· Use language effectively
· Use your mantras, “in this class we . . .”
· Make a rule that language needs to be “life giving” and not destructive. So no put downs, no rudeness, no disrespect or self or other.
· Use class time for put ups and recognition.
· Make class expectations as explicit (behavioral/operational/practical) as possible. Practice them. Use concrete specifics when discussing them. Make them a personal part of the social contract.
3. Creating Community
· It has to feel safe and that starts with you first (elementary expect this to take about 1-2 weeks, secondary twice as long at least).
· Model appropriate personal sharing. Be real yet professional.
· Avoid sarcasm or negativity
· Maintain dignity in the way you deal with students’ egos and persons.
· Make some personal contact with each student.
· Next, students have to feel safe around one another (this can take over a month in the elementary level and 2+ months for secondary).
· Accept only “life giving language.”
· Student need to practice taking risks (little ones at first and then progressively larger).
· There needs to be a sense of “We”/Tribe in the class.
· Ask yourself, what makes them a unit? Why do they need each other?
· Help them move beyond just societal bonds to communal bonds.
· Societal bonds = what I agree to do or not do by contract
· Communal bonds = what we do to make the collective better
· A tribe needs to have collective successes
· A tribe defends its identity, its members, and its rituals.