We are headed back to school very soon and each year we start off building a positive classroom community where all the little learners feel a part of my classroom. Here are some ways that I use to make a positive classroom environment.
1. Share a First Day of School Story
One of my favorite stories to read with my students is the "Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn Read . It is hard sometimes for me to get through it but somehow I muster up the courage to read it without crying myself. :) For my students who might be a little worried about their first day I also share Wemberly Worried.
2. Discuss Classroom Rules
Usually my youngest students are so surprised when I tell them we are going to create rules for our classroom together. Before I begin our rules discussion I share a book called "Back to School Rules" with them so we can direct our thoughts on appropriate rules for school.
3. Participate in a get to know you activity
This is my favorite part of my back to school activities. It gives me as a teacher a glimpse into who my students are and what they like. It is also provides me a picture of how this new group of students will work together in the classroom. I usually start my lesson with a chart of get to know your teacher. I have a chart prepared about myself usually with prompts ready like (pets, husband, kids, books I like, etc.) so my interview questions stay focused.
Some of the activities I use with my students are fun and interactive. For my little learners who aren't able to read yet I use a cupcake activity with pictures so they can learn about one another.
For my older students when I taught 3rd grade we would use something a little more geared for their age. Emoji's are a hit with older kids. This get to know you activity allows students to be broken up into small groups and then work together as a group to spin a spinner and find someone in the classroom that fits the spin they made. They are working together to fill their recording sheet to learn more about their classmates. After a certain time they can switch the spinners to gather more students names. I would have the groups go to marked tables with the spinners and then switch after a certain amount of time.
Another important thing I feel is necessary to do with my kindergartners is to teach them about the school they are in. How do you do this? Well I try and make it fun by giving them a little scavenger hunt . Later in the week I buy some fun gingerbread man cookies and then tell my students we had a special visitor come to our classroom to teach us where the office, gym, nurses office, etc. are in our school. Part of making my students feel a part of the school community is allowing them feel comfortable with their surroundings. This activity is perfect for that. A little bit of easy prep work by placing the cards in the spots prior to the school day and then placing our gingerbread man on the board...this activity is a hit with my students.
5. Establish Routine
One of the most crucial things I feel will build a positive school year is establishing a routine in the classroom. We are creatures of habit with routine. Establishing a routine in the classroom is important for students to know what is expected from them each day they enter the classroom. Less stress and chaos is the key part of establishing routine.
Wishing you all a happy and positive classroom school year!