Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mystery First Grader {Classroom Management} *Freebie*

Close your eyes...

Picture the end of the school day....

What does it sound like?

What does it look like?

Did you break into a cold sweat just thinking about it?

It doesn't have to be that way!  You can find calm at the end of an otherwise chaotic part of the day if you choose a MYSTERY FIRST GRADER!

I know this simple idea is nothing new...or maybe it is?  I don't know, but it's one that I've used for years and it works like a charm.

Some might call it bribery - I call it genius.

Here's how it works:

*You announce that you'll be picking your mystery first grader

*You eyeball the room dramatically

*You mention that you'll be locking this person's face and name in your mind and they will never know who it is - until the very end of the day

*Pause for dramatic effect

*Eyeball the room one last time and then emphatically nod your head saying "Yup, they're in my brain and there they'll stay while I watch your every last move as you pack up for the end of the day".

*More pausing, nodding, smirking

And then they get ready...

Every minute or so you say something like...

"Oh my, my Mystery First Grader is _________________{doing a great job, having a hard time but I know they'll do better now, remembering to do everything they need to do, has it goin' on, etc. etc.}"

Mostly it's magical.  Mostly they are putty in your hands.  

Disclaimer:  Unless you were completely caught up in a science experiment, looked up and noticed the bell was going to ring in two minutes.  Then all bets are off.  You're outta luck.  It's the mad dash and Mystery First Grader can't slow down the hands of time - it's going to be frantic no matter what you do.  Some days are like that.

Keep a checklist handy so that you give everyone a fair shake at being your MFG.

I have a treasure basket filled with small items donated by my kids, parents, friends & neighbors. 
Or you could just give them a "Wowie Zowie".  Or both.  Or nothing but a bravo and a class cheer.  It's up to you!

Click the picture to download.
May the end of your days be full of peace and smiles!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brain Breaks {Not the GoNoodle Kind}

Hey!!  There is life on the other side of this computer - I AM here!

I got a lovely message from my dear friend Patty over at 2nd In Line telling me that a teacher in her district had sent out an email referring them to my blog to read about how GREAT they are!  If you read that post you'll see that it has been quite a while since I last blogged. 

No excuses.  Just life.

That little bit of happy, from Patty,  motivated me to get back to it...

So, here I am!

Well, I hope with this new school year, you've been able to hold on to those good feelings you gathered over the summer months - relaxing, pinning, blogging, Periscoping {don't know what that is - check it out here}, and all those other things us teachers do during those glorious long summer days.

I know it can take one staff meeting and you feel like the weight of the world is back on your shoulders.  I CANNOT urge you enough to hop on social media.  Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, {outside of Instagram, that's my personal favorite - google it!} to help you focus on the POSITIVES in our profession.  I swear to you, I don't know if I would still be teaching if it weren't for the positive energy I glean from all my online teacher friends/colleagues.

But, that's not why I'm here...

I wanted to share a magical part of our day.  Magical in the quiet, non-academic sort of way.

I pride myself on classroom management. It is one area that I can say, with a smile on my face and 100 percent confidence, that I rock the house.

Think about right after recess.  What does your classroom sound like?  Do tattles abound {even though it has already been handled on the playground by an adult}?  Do the acceptable noise levels of a school playground follow your students into your classroom?  Do you hear yourself saying "quiet down boys and girls, QUIET DOWN - you are NOT outside anymore, you are in a classroom", over and over?  Does it take, what seems like forever, for them to calm themselves down and get ready for the rest of the day?

I don't have that problem.  EVER.
{disclaimer: full moons, party days, random "what on earth" days excluded}

Okay, at first I do.  Like, say, for the first few days of school - but with lots of practice and training, I don't; and here's why:

That's one of our schedule cards that hangs on our agenda each day.  You can pick my schedule cards up {here}for free. It's almost just that simple.

Name it.

That's what I did, I named it.  I gave that time of day an official name - like math, science, social studies {all have clear expectations} we have "brain break" with lots of expectations that we practice over and over and over.

I tell my first graders that the minute their first foot walks through the door, their voices turn off, and they sit down, drink from their water bottles, take their turn to use the restroom, and focus on their breathing.  Some put their heads down, some stare off into space, some find an object to focus on and "smell the soup, cool it down" {how we slow our breathing down}.  

And the lights?  Make sure they are all off! {I spray some cinnamon air freshener right before they come into the classroom.  I'm not sure if cinnamon is an official calming smell - but I like it - it calms me I like to think "happy teacher, happy classroom".}

The whole first part of the brain break I speak calmly and quietly - reminding them of what they should be doing.  I sound so calm...I want to fall asleep. All the while, I'm reminding them that their engines were running really fast outside but now that they are inside they want to slow them down by slowing down their breathing, drinking water, etc.  First graders need to be taught HOW to calm themselves down.  Every single day I go over some techniques for how to go about doing that.

It's magical.

I still have little ones who try to come up to me about a recess problem and I'll quickly {and ever so quietly} say "Did you tell a noon-aide" and if they did - I quietly motion them back to their seats.  Soon, they realize they can't come into the classroom with a tattle/recess problem.  I am always sure to ask if they told an adult outside - because I don't want to dismiss something serious that is happening outside that may deserve some attention.

Naming this time, setting the expectations for this time, practicing the right way and stopping them when it's the wrong way has made a world of difference.

Our afternoons aren't perfect...but after taking the time to calm ourselves and get our bodies ready for an afternoon of serious learning - they are better.

And then there's always GoNoodle...

...for after science

...and math

...and social studies


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