I try to make sure that my back to school routine involves helping everyone to feel comfortable, happy and safe. The way I look at it is that we will all be together for a full year and as Maslow said many years ago in his heirarchy of needs: people need to feel like they belong to be happy and to learn. So, with that being said, I always try to integrate the "getting to know you" activities with the "classroom learning environment" activities.
1. Start with getting to know you activities: games, discussions and writing are three different ways that can help students get to know each other (and themselves) and have fun while doing it. Here is a way to show each individual that they are special. There are writing activities that outline their friends too. You can grab it for FREE at my TPT shop by clicking here.
3. I start my Mindful Journals right away in September. Here students write on a variety of topics including Back to School. It helps them to reflect on their feelings. Of course, the teacher is important in this whole process. Once we have been in school about 3-4 weeks, I have students write about their teacher. I think it's important that they think about what makes a teacher a good teacher so that they appreciate the things that their teacher does for them. It's also a great way to see what you are doing that is effective with your students.
4. Classroom meetings help students to feel that they have a voice. I try to have meetings regularly on Friday afternoons before they go home on the weekend. We reflect on the week and set goals for the next week. For a Bright Ideas post on this topic, click here. You can also find more about meetings in my new BTS set at the end of this post.
5. I try to get busy right away with Art activities that will form a part of our classroom decor so that students get to feel that the classroom is made up of things they have made. Here, we did tissue paper apples for our Art Center bulletin board.
I'd love to hear your back to school tips. What makes your life easier and a student's life happier during those first few important weeks back to school?
I have compiled many of these ideas and tips that I have talked about into a new set called: Second Grade Success. Many of these activities can be used in grades 1-3. Check it out by clicking here.