As most schools head back to in-person learning soon, I want to share several essentials for how I start my school year. We all know how very important it is to build strong relationships, routines, and procedures, which in turn set high expectations in the classroom. Here are three quick ways I start to accomplish that over the first few days of school.
My One Rule: Respect
I only have ONE rule in my classroom… RESPECT. Of course, I don't just tell my students this is our only rule. There is a short, student-centered process that we go through to end up at this one rule. I've talked about this before, and you can learn all about it HERE. I can't tell you what a game-changer it is for classroom management and setting high expectations!
Several years ago, the school where I taught implemented RULER for social and emotional support of students. One aspect that I LOVED about RULER was creating a classroom charter with students. It was a multi-day process, but the end result is so important. Spelling it all out may seem tedious and unnecessary, but it was refreshing and the process challenged students!
First, ask your students to brainstorm words or phrases to describe HOW they want to feel in the classroom. Make a HUGE list of those words. As a class, narrow it down to the most important words. For each word, brainstorm what you will do as a class to help make sure everyone feels that way. Finally, discuss with students what they can do if they find they need support in any of these areas. It is a bit longer of a process (I do it over the course of several days), but it's beautiful to see students discuss all of these aspects of the classroom community! I’d highly recommend it.
Growth Mindset has truly become a staple in my classroom. I have had a growth mindset display for years, and below is a picture of my most recent one. This year, I finally finished creating a resource that had been on my to-do list for YEARS, and I am so pleased with it!
The first four pages introduce students to the concept of growth mindset, including ways to change their mindset, why it's important, and the brain research supporting it. HERE IS THE BEST PART! The next five pages include paired passages focusing on characters (fictional and real) who have overcome obstacles by using a growth mindset. There are annotation questions and reflection questions included for each set of growth mindset questions. I am using this resource with my own kids, and so far, it has been a wonderful, eye-opening success! You can learn more about it HERE.
Best of luck to you, your students and to setting high expectations in the classroom.