The strategy lessons housed within this unit provide ideas and resources for lesson planning and managing a classroom. They include resources such as websites I’ve found useful over the years, activities that have improved my classroom environment, and tools that engage students while assisting with planning. It is my hope that you will find them to be just as helpful in your own classroom!
A few years ago, I found myself stuck in a rut. I had one of those groups of students who tried your patience in every way imaginable. Being off task, bullying, always tattling on one another, anything they shouldn’t be doing - they were doing. I was giving a ridiculous number of tallies each day and had gotten in the habit of noticing only what was going wrong in my room. There were several students, of course, who were wonderful and were my saving graces many days. I can’t count the number of days I left the building feeling a bit depressed as I realized I hadn’t once pointed out what they were doing well.
I didn’t get to that place over night and it was a rude awakening once I realized I had arrived there. But when I did, I knew that I needed a change and one that would be immediate.
I created a sheet for students to fill out whenever they spotted something positive happening in the room. I wanted to involve students in creating a positive classroom and didn’t want to be the only person in the room who noticed what others did well. My initial hope was that if students were looking for the positive, they’d be less inclined to tattle on the negative. Not only did I get the tattling to almost completely end, but also saw the amount of bullying and off task behavior drastically reduce. All by using a simple form!
I leave a stack of these forms in my book nook with a bucket of pushpins for students to complete whenever they spot something positive in the room. The top part asks for their name and the date. I added the date line after I was completely inundated with sheets on my board and needed space for more! After a few weeks of being on the board, I take down the oldest forms and then have plenty of room for more.
The bottom section is where students report their positive news. I always complete a few of these and post them initially to model complete answers. I show students that “She was nice” or “He was quiet” isn’t really a great positive news report. (In the beginning, I got a lot of these!). I want students to be specific about their reports and to spend time writing a detailed account of what they saw. This always takes practice, but they get there eventually.
At the end of the day, or at least at the end of every week, I have students share their reports. This is the part I just love! Most of the time, the person being complimented doesn’t even know it’s coming! They are completely surprised and filled with such joy that someone noticed their hard work and that it was recognized by the class. This typically encourages that child to write a positive news report of his own.
After I take down the old reports, I give each to the student about whom it was written. I often see them hold on to the form for weeks or stick it to their journal and keep for the rest of the year!