Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Five Minutes A Day To Change Classroom Culture

If you're feeling especially challenged or overwhelmed by your new school year, then this post is really for you!  If you would like to build stronger relationships with your students, then this blog is for you.  If your a curious teacher who like to think about new things, then this blog is for you.

What I'm about to share is not new.  In fact it's probably as old as education itself.  It's just one of those things we've lost sight of.  One of those things that seems way too easy to lead to any sort of real change.

This is a game change!

At the beginning of the day as your students arrive, have only one job.  And hold the time sacred so nothing like last minute tasks can interfere.

Greet each and every one of your students at the door.  
Shake their hand.  
Let your eyes meet. 
Greet them by name.

Unless this is already part of your class or school culture, it's going to make an amazing difference.

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.  Some days you will be the only person who says that child's name in a kind and loving way.  You may be the only person who looks directly into a child's eyes and silently expresses, "I see you.  I really see you."  You will be training your students to behave is socially appropriate ways for their future job interviews.

At first it will be a challenge.  It may feel awkward.  Do it anyway.  For students who I have hard time meeting your eyes, ask them to look at your nose.

Do not let the greeting become superficial--ie Don't you look pretty today.  I try to avoid physical appearance comments unless something really changed--glasses, braces, etc.

Good morning, William. That's all it needs to be.  If you want to make it more:  How are you today?  {Listening to response, too.}  You look like you're ready to learn.  I know we're going to have a great day together.

Overtime you are instilling the belief that you care about that student.  This makes a huge difference when discipline issues arise.

If something happens and I'm not at my door then I walk around the classroom greeting students at their seats.  If you do coteaching or have a student teacher you can both do this. Or take turns while one is prepping and fielding questions.

As the teacher you will also be able to gauge so much about your students' morning.  I found it especially useful with students who had mental/emotional health concerns.

Best wishes to you.  Let me know how it works for you.

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