Breaks are great for getting much needed rest and recharging your batteries! This is true whether you are on break for a holiday, because you needed to take a few days off for your mental health, or you are stuck at home due to an illness. However, getting back to “normal” in your classroom can be a challenge. How do we combat this without having to start back at square one? By taking the time to review classroom procedures after break.
Revisit Your Classroom Procedures After Break
This is more than just saying, “Hey, don’t forget we have rules in this classroom!” No, students need more than just a verbal reminder. A fun way to review your classroom management procedures after break is to play “Right Way, Wrong Way.”
One of my favorite ways to play this is to have one of my most challenging students come up and demonstrate the wrong way to follow a classroom procedure. Then, I would have the same student show me the right way to follow a specific procedure. I am going to praise my student for both actions because they did both well. Why does this work? It shows you they know what the expectation is supposed to look like. Plus, it gives the rest of the students an easy visual to follow.
Set New Classroom Procedures Goals After Break
The “new year, new me” mentality is fantastic for this time of the year. At the beginning of the year, your students probably set some goals for themselves and hopefully you have some classroom goals as well. Instead of sticking with the same ones, try to amp up the ones you have or make new ones that will challenge your students. New goals can be about how often someone doesn’t raise his/her hand to ask a question or how long students wait before “blurting out” an answer.
Spice Up Your Routines
We do a lot of the “same thing” day in and day out because we know that routines work. However, after a long break like winter break, it’s sometimes nice to come back and shake things up a little bit. Now this doesn’t mean you need to go reinvent any wheels. When I say spice things up, I am referring to things like call and response or introducing a new classroom management game to your room.
If you’re looking at call and response options, you could say something like “Jelly” and your students can respond with “Peanut butter jelly time.” Another way to use call and response effectively in your classroom is to incorporate some content. For example, I might call out a math fact, math problem, or a vocabulary term. Then my students would respond with the answer. Using a different call and response to get something different out of your students can spice things up without reinventing the wheel. You can also incorporate fun days like talk like a pirate day to have interesting call and response phrases.
With games, I like to introduce a new game with my students or using a game we used earlier but that is more of a special treat. For example, I might use connect four or a different game I don’t usually use. You can also shake up your regular classroom management game. I love using Scoreboard in my classroom. To shake that up, I would sometimes change who was against who on the Scoreboard. So instead of teacher vs. student it might be boys vs. girls.
Refresh Their Minds
There are so many classroom procedures we have if you think about. You probably have a procedure for centers, turning things in, walking in the hallway, and on and on. That’s a lot for one student to remember. Now some things we do all the time and it’s so ingrained, we don’t have to spend any time reviewing. For example, when I said, “Get out your pencil,” my students would respond with “pencil, pencil, pencil.”
However, I always needed to review classroom procedures that were harder to follow because it wasn’t popular or there was an extra step. I use the “threepeat” in my classroom quite a bit and then add a little flair to it. For example, when students had to turn to a page, I would tell them the page number, they would say it three times, and once they got there, they were supposed to put their hands in the air. The repeating my students did fine with, but sometimes it was hard for them to remember to put their hands up. What I needed to do to fix that was to take the time to review the classroom procedure in depth. In a way, I went back to practicing what needed to be fixed.
Revamp Your Scoreboard Rewards
I am a lover of Scoreboard and if you don’t use this, that’s fine (but you should totally check it out)! Whatever classroom management game you play, you probably have a reward for. After a break is a great time to revamp and shake up those prizes. Now, I don’t like giving my students junk. When I say junk, I mean those little toys like they have at arcades. I also believe if you give them junk, they just want more junk later on. Plus, you’re not a millionaire and you don’t have to buy anything! Instead, use non-tangible things to reward your classrooms.
I always start small with the rewards that I give my students. If you give your students popcorn at the beginning of the year, they’re going to want tickets to Disney World at the end of the year. So while at the beginning of the year I might have given my students a minute of talk time or an extra minute of recess as a reward. Starting the second half of the year, I might up that to two minutes or maybe even three. For more ideas on rewards, check out this blog!
Whenever you go back to your classroom after a break, you’re going to want to do at least a little refresher or a fun round of “Right Way, Wrong Way”. However, these other tips are fun ways to shake up the rewards and review classroom procedures after break. In addition, you’ll get your students excited to be back in school learning again! If you want more tips, strategies and simple systems to take back into your classroom to make your teacher life easier, make sure you check out our Facebook page, blog, and join the VIP Group for exclusive tips and freebies!
Until Next Time…
Keep Being Educational Rock Stars