Kid Quote of the Week:
The students were making family trees and adding apples for each family member. One student asked for one more apple to add me. I told her that I was not apart of her family and she looked at me and said, "But Miss Germano, you're apart of my school family."
Throughout the school year, I spend countless hours focusing on creating a family atmosphere in my classroom. I always begin by explaining to the class that they have a home family and a school family. I emphasize that we treat our school family the same as we treat our home family. After hearing my student tell me I was apart of her school family my heart melted.
I have always ran my classroom like a family. My mom emphasized when I volunteered in her classroom to create a warm, loving classroom where the students feel safe. The following activities are from Dr. Becky Bailey.
Each student has a meaningful job that contributes to the classroom. As the students are doing their morning journals, they are signing in and our Morning Greeter is doing their job. Our Morning Greeter wears an apron that contains four symbols that represent a welcome. The symbols are a hand (a hand shake), the number 5 (a high five), a happy face (a smile), and a heart (a hug). The morning greeter visits each student and the student picks what greeting they would like. As the Morning Greeter is offering a greeting they always say "Good Morning". Every adult is always surprised when I tell them that the heart is picked the most.
Another morning ritual is our "Wish You Well" moment during our morning meeting. At this time, I bring out baking sheet that contains a magnetic picture of each student circling the outside of the baking sheet. When a student is absent, we take their picture, place it in the center and say the following chant "We wish you well, we hope you feel better." The students like to add a swishing noise like they are sending the chant to the student at home. As the year goes on, students who are absent, return to school and check to make sure we "wished them well".
A way I like to reinforce proper behavior is asking if the behavior was Helpful or Hurtful. I begin this as soon as the students walk through my door on the first day of school. For any situation, helpful and hurtful can be the answer. If the students answer hurtful, I follow up asking how they could be helpful instead of hurtful. By doing this, the students begin to understand what is accepted behavior and not accepted behavior. My students now are becoming used to accepted behavior. I rarely have to stop what I'm doing and talk about accepted behavior. Instead I can focus on lessons.
I suggest exploring Dr. Becky Bailey's website. She has great ideas and I was lucky to be introduced to her early on in my teaching career.