Let’s be honest. This time of year is CRAZY. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes wonder why we even return to school between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And those first few days (or weeks) after winter break? Without good behavior management tactics and a WHOLE lotta patience, these weeks can easily feel like wasted time in a classroom, dragging your caffeine-infused body along until the New Year and beyond. But you’re in luck, because I’ve got you covered.
Here’s my down and dirty, quick and easy Teaching Texan’s Top 7 Tips for you:
- Focus on Others – I have my kids write ways to be kind/bring joy/help others on light bulbs (Because these actions LIGHT up any situation!) and display them on a chart to keep kindness at the front of our minds this time of year. I also have students “shout out” others who they see doing kind things by creating a light bulb for them and adding it to the chart. Get your FREE Light Bulb Bulletin Board below.
- Mr./Mrs. Potato Head – I use this as a whole group behavior incentive. Each time we get a shout out from another teacher (think specials) we get to add a piece. Once he/she is put together we decide on a class activity as our reward. Some past examples are decorating cookies, a dance party, extra recess, etc. You can grab your own potato head using the Amazon affiliated links below:
- Morning Meeting – I use this crucial time at the beginning of the day to build community and a safe learning environment. When kids feel safe FIRST they are more likely to engage and participate correctly. We also use this time to talk about our core value of the month and listen to read alouds promoting great behavior, teamwork, etc.
- Free Choice Friday – Every Friday, I reserve about 20 minutes for students who have had great behavior all week (or whatever your individual students can handle – my students also have to turn in their homework all week to participate). This is a time at the end of the day, I let students pick what they’d like to do – play a game, draw, etc. They can work together or individually, as they decide.
- Visual Timers – I like to display a visual timer to help students manage their time. I’ll put it in a central place where all can see it counting down. I also will give spoken reminders at key time marks: “Five minutes left.” “Keep an eye on your time.” “Make sure to leave time to clean up.” etc.
- Practice, Practice, PRACTICE Routines – Don’t leave your routines behind this time of year, but remember to keep it fun! Kids act out the “expected” behavior and this is a great time of year to remind students what is expected. Keep it fun for students by allowing them to show examples of how NOT to act that allow them to get out the giggles. You can even have students create a skit/song/picture/etc about how they should and shouldn’t behave. This allows them to demonstrate “bad” behavior and reinforce expected behavior in a way that’s safe, controlled, and fun.
- Give in to the Chaos (a little) – Don’t forget that this is a special time for your students (and you). You’re allowed to give into a little fun and enjoy the moment! Have parents visit for holiday traditions, plan extra holiday-themed brain breaks, break out the glitter! (ALL THE GLITTER!)
Don’t forget to have fun. Seriously y’all. The crazy excitement of students is one of the greatest joys of teaching, right? Hope these tips have helped. Stay sane this holiday season and beyond everyone!