Going back to school after a holiday break (or even a four day weekend!) requires a lot of reteaching, especially for the younger kiddos. Set yourself up for success by having some back to school routines and flows prepared ahead of time to skip out on all of the back to school craziness!
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The second semester is a race to the finish line. By finish line, I mean the stinkin’ test we are all so worried about! Teachers are ready to hit the ground running when they return to school. There is a lot of pressure in the coming months.
If you are a teacher who wants to set their kids up for success in the second semester, then you want to make sure you have an organized classroom to help you do just that. An organized classroom is more than just boxes with labels- it’s your physical space + routines and procedures all blended together to create an organized space.
You can totally change your classroom mid-year (in fact, it’s the best time to do it). Learn how you can rid the clutter, refresh your classroom, and revamp your management for 2020 with the Mid-Year Classroom Tune-Up course.
Back to School Routines
The first day back after a break should be held with such care as the first day of school- for both the young kids and the older kids. If you, like many teachers, revamped some things over the break then you need to make sure you have a plan for how you are going to implement that.
Before you rush back into content, you should prioritize building community, reviewing procedures, and discussing any new changes since the previous semester.
Building Community with Class Meetings
Even if you didn’t do this in the first semester, the second semester is a great time to implement class meetings into your daily or weekly schedule.
Start the first day back from break discussing how to and forming a circle (or if you already do meetings consistently, just get in a circle). This is a great time for students to share a high and low of their holiday break. Be prepared for some students to share a lot and some students to share none. It’s all okay. (Also, have a talking object to ensure kids only talk one at a time!)
You can also read some kind of fun picture book to get back into the swing of things. Class meetings are supposed to be a “no pressure” kind of thing so I don’t generally like to recommend having any kind of academic lessons during our meetings.
After your class meeting, transition into a fun activity that gets the kids up and moving. Cause…HELLO! Everyone has been sleeping in till 9:00 am the past two weeks and now everyone has to be functioning AND learning by 8:00.
Treat the first days back to school after Christmas break just like the first day of school. Because your students are already used to your procedures, you only need to spend a day or two on review. Here is a list of 10 of the top management tips you need in your classroom.
At the beginning of each school year, I did a classroom scavenger hunt around our room to learn where key places are. After the students completed the scavenger hunt, we would talk about the various places in the classroom.
A classroom scavenger hunt is a fun way to review the procedures and expectations in your classroom. If you did this at the beginning of the year, you can include places/areas of the room that weren’t on there the first time.
You can get this fun little scavenger hunt printable when you join The Organizer’s Bin.
The scavenger hunt is also a great resource to use if you did any classroom tune-up and want to introduce your new management plans or organization routines. You can read here about the steps to implementing your management plans.
Even if you just want to explain to your students that you are going to hold them more accountable to the expectations than in the previous semester, the scavenger hunt will be a fun resource to engage your students in that discussion.
I have never been a big fan of the word “rules.” I feel like teachers can get carried away with rules and next thing you know, you have 15 rules listed on your wall. It can be overwhelming to kids and a lot to keep up with.
I prefer to use the term expectations. This way kids know what I expect of them and it also gives me more flexibility in holding kids accountable for their actions.
For example, I might forget to include “No kicking another student in the privates” (yes, this has happened) on my list of rules. But it does fall under my expectation of “keep your body parts away from others.” More generic, you see?
Review expectations for specific things as you encounter them throughout the day. When it is time to line up to go to specials, review how to get into a line and what the expectations are for students standing in line. This can be as simple as reviewing the chart you made at the beginning of the year.
When it is time for Literacy Stations, call students to the carpet to review expectations for one to three of the stations (depending on your students’ needs). Then practice just those. After practicing them for a few minutes, call students back to the carpet to evaluate how they think they did at the stations.
Repeat this process for as long as you need to. Some classes will only need a quick ten-minute review. Other classes may need a slower-paced review over the course of a few days.
You must reward HEAVILY these first few days back. Whether it is with verbal praise, classroom money, dojo points, or even school-wide coupons. It’s kind of like training a dog (am I terrible for saying this?!?). But when you want a dog to repeat a behavior, you treat them every time they do it correctly.
This translates to your kiddos by positively reinforcing them when you see them making positive choices. Verbal praise is enough! Just be sure to continuously do it.
Whatever you do, review expectations intensely this first week back. My mom always said “It’s easier to start out hard and then ease up than to start out easy and then try to put the hammer down.” #TRUTH!
In my experience, I have been a tough love kind of teacher and I don’t go easy on my kids. I can be very strict but I have found that my students usually value the tough love because they know who is in charge but that I love them dearly and want what’s best for them.
Be prepared when you walk back into your classroom at the start of a new semester. The Mid-Year Classroom Tune-Up course is a great resource to help teachers rid the clutter, refresh the classroom, and revamp their management for the new semester.
Until next time,
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