This week has been one of my most draining in the classroom thus far. My students have, over the past month or so, been regressing tremendously in terms of their behavior and conduct in the classroom. Things that I haven’t seen for months have been cropping up again. I am hopeful that it’s just the continued presence of this cold, cruel winter and a strong case of “cabin fever,” but this week I decided that I couldn’t wait until spring arrived and hopefully brought back the bubbliness of my students — I had to hit reset.
I framed my “reset” with a somewhat-fabricated challenge — that with respect and responsibility on the decline throughout our school, our principal was seeking a classroom that would step up as a model for the rest of the school. My students, as I expected, eagerly declared that our classroom was the ideal one to serve as this exemplar.
So, on Friday, we spent the day brainstorming a list of problems that we are having in our classroom, revising our classroom guidelines to make them more reflective of the issues that the students identified, and creating a new wall that shows our new ideas about how we should act in our classroom. The students seemed to enjoy the ownership that they had in this process, which I hope will carry over into increased desire to adhere to their peer-created expectations for our classroom.
This week we will be continuing our work on transforming our classroom interactions by creating and signing “job requirements” for both students and teachers in our classroom, designing a class flag, determining what it means to be a “Curious Questioner,” and designing a campaign of posters and other items relating to respect to display throughout our school.
I believe that character and social skills are some of the most important things that students can, should, and must learn in school, so it is my hope that the class time that I am devoting to these activities will pay off.
Fellow educators, what do you do to combat mid-year regressions like the one my students are having?