In the previous post (Click here if you missed it) I shared the first step in having an amazing classroom where things run smoothly, you don’t have to worry about behavior problems, and the children are really learning! As a Professor of Education, I frequently work with new teachers who have used my 5-step Positive Classroom Method to create positive learning environments. In this 3-part series, I am sharing the basics of the 5 steps from my book,The Positive Classroom Method.
Step 2: Build Community & Meet Children’s Needs for Attention
Imagine that you are a first-grade boy who doesn’t get a lot of attention at home. You are, in fact, starved for attention. If you come to school and do everything you should – sit quietly, line up properly, pay attention, etc., what are the chances that you will get some EXTRA attention from your teacher? Probably 0%.
But, if you are starved for attention and you poke another child, call out, roll on the floor, or push and shove, what is the chance that you will get EXTRA attention? Probably 100%!
Kids know this. So when you are building community in your classroom, you are making sure that all the children, especially those starved for attention, have a strong, positive relationship to you. You are also making sure that the children have a strong, positive relationship with each other. (This is the most powerful anti-bullying!)
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How to Build Community
Morning Meet and Greet
Everyday, schedule a time in which all the children gather together. They should learn to greet each other (Practicing good manners) and share some news about themselves. This is an important way to make children comfortable, and feel like a part of the classroom family.
Community Building Activities
In the first six weeks of school, do aclassroom community-building activity every week. After that, do one at least every month. Some ideas include name games, class BINGO, All About Me Posters, Classroom Spirit Activities, Class Books, Collaborative Games, and so on.
Special Tips: Positive Language
The best way to teach children how to behave appropriately is to use positivelanguage. Point out who is behaving well frequently. We call this “Narrating thePositive.” This way, children will learn they will get attention for behaving well, rather than acting out. They will also learn what you value!
“Jason, you are sitting so quietly today! That will really help you become a better reader.”
Create Classroom Rules
There are only 3 rules you need in your classroom:
1. We Respect Each Other
2. We respect Ourselves
3. We Respect Our Things
These three rules cover the basics of living in a community.
Before sharing these rules, have the children brainstorm what rules they think are necessary so that they can have a peaceful classroom where children can learn. Write down their ideas, then put them into the categories above. Make a nice poster and have the children sign it as a recognition of their commitment. Refer to the rules frequently and teach children what behaviors go with the rules – such as saying kind words.
STEP 3: Teach School Success Skills
Being successful in school takes more than being smart.
Children need to learn social and emotional skills that help them self-regulate so they can be successful in sitting still, getting along with others, listening to directions, and staying on task. The good news is that we can teach these skills.
Teaching Social/Emotional Skills
For the first few weeks of school, teach a social or emotional skill every week. The rest of the year, focus on other skills each month. You can embed these lessons in your language arts curriculum through children’s literature, or simple teach them during your Meet & Greet in the morning. The time spent will be more than worth it!! Here’s a suggested calendar: