If you are a teacher in Australia, this is usually about the time you are getting back into school mode and begin to think about your new class! It's such as exciting time of year! A fresh set of new students to teach and little minds to shape :) However, it takes time to get these children into routine and to adjust to your personal teaching expectations and classroom procedures.
It is so important to establish your expectations early on in the term. Actually, from Day 1! Especially if you are teaching Grade Prep/Kindergarten/Foundation. These children have no idea what its like to be in school and NEED you to show/tell them. They will follow your lead. If you are blasé about things, your chances of creating an organised and smooth running classroom will be slim.
I have put together some tips and resources that I use when setting up classroom protocols at the beginning of the year and I hope they can be of use to you!
1. Create some classroom rules/expectations.
The most important thing about creating classroom rules is that it MUST come from the children. You can encourage them to come up with certain rules, but ultimately, the children need to take ownership of the rules and must feel as though they created them.
Here is an example of my CLASSROOM LIBRARY RULES. My students came up with these with me and I created the poster afterwards. They NEVER forgot the rules because they were responsible for creating them and someone would always advise me if another student broke them!
I cannot stress how important this is in the early years. We repeat ourselves over and over again, all day, every day! Save yourself the stress (and your voice) and encourage the children to use their own initiative to find the answers themselves!
'What are we doing next Miss Jacobs?' 'When do we have Sport Miss Jacobs?' 'Do we have Library today Miss Jacobs?' AAARRRGGGHHHH It's enough to make you want to scream!
So... I created some DAILY VISUAL DISPLAY CARDS to eliminate these draining, annoying, eye rolling important questions from the kids and to give them an idea as to what was happening throughout the day. It gives them an overview of the day as soon as they walk in so they know what to expect. It also works a treat for children with Autism or special needs - children who need structure!
These are Aussie Friendly, and have been created with the Australian teacher in mind. They also come with a set of editable spares to allow you to create your own task cards to suit your classroom. I place them on my whiteboard so they are on display and in eye shot all day.
These are my original task cards, however I have since created some new rounded ones either with polka dots or bright colours.
3. Use a Prop for Assessment Time! AKA 'Do not interrupt me!'
This is me. I look ridiculous, I know, BUT... whenever I put my ladybug headband on, the children know they are not allowed to approach me. I introduced this very early on for times when I am involved in Guided Reading sessions, Reading Conferences, Running Records (or other forms of assessment). Now the kids know, whenever I have these on, it means I am busy working with another student and they will need to wait or ask someone else for assistance.
This has been a life saver! It really works!
4. Positive Reinforcement
A while ago, I blogged about my Behaviour Management System, Ticks and Traffic Lights. It encourages positive reinforcement and focuses on the good things the students have done, rather than the bad. This has worked for me for years and I introduce it on Day 1 of school every year.