The first week of school can be the starting point for a positive school year if you prioritize the right things – relationships, routines, and classroom expectations. As you and your students settle in during the first week of school, you have a unique opportunity to chart a course for a successful year. Establishing classroom expectations will allow you and your students to begin the school year on a positive note!
Let’s take a look at how relationships, routines, and expectations form the foundation for a successful school year:
Perhaps the most powerful way to impact the lives of your students is by developing positive relationships with them. Every student can benefit from a positive relationship with their teacher. For some, this may be one of the few positive interactions they have with an adult at any level.
Knowing what to expect each day in the classroom can have a profound effect on student success. Even though students are brimming with energy, they still want the security that comes from consistency in daily routines. Daily activities benefit from structure, from the time your students enter your classroom until they go home at the end of the day.
Your students want to know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Developing classroom expectations that mirror the larger schoolwide goals of your PBIS initiative will help promote positive behaviors in and out of the classroom. Establishing expectations over rules can help your students to develop the tools they need to be successful everywhere they go.
Great Ideas for the First Week of School… and Beyond
What are some ways to create a positive classroom environment? The first week of school is critical for setting the tone for the entire year.
A Clean Slate Every Day
When you get the first glimpse of your class roster, you may recognize a few names already. You may have had an older sibling in your class, or you may know them by reputation only. There may be students from different cultural backgrounds or those with IEPs. Whatever challenges lie ahead, commit to resetting every day with your class. Anyone can have an “off” day and knowing they can start fresh every day will help your students move forward with positivity.
Let Them Get to Know You
Some students come into the classroom hungry for connection. Others may not have had positive interactions with teachers in the past. Encourage connection and positive interactions by letting your students get to know you. While you’re doing icebreaker activities at the beginning of the year, add your answers into the mix. You may find common ground with a student over a sports team, favorite food, TV show, or animal. Put up photos of your family and pets, so that they can see who you are outside of the classroom. Sharing this kind of information can help make you feel more approachable.
Get to Know Them
Don’t let familiarity get in the way of really getting to know your students. Making connections can boost positive relationships. Find out what they are passionate about. Learn what makes them tick. Discover their strengths and encourage them in developing those strengths. Students want to feel seen and accepted, both by their teacher and by their peers. Lead the way by acknowledging the aspects that make them unique and celebrating those characteristics.
Plan for Fun
Always make room for fun in your classroom. A positive classroom environment allows students to feel more comfortable engaging with their classmates, trying new things, and connecting with you. Even lesson reviews can be made fun if you engage students in interesting ways. You can incorporate fun into your classroom during transitions or whenever you have a short window of time for a brain break.
The Most Important Thing to Remember
You’ve heard it a thousand different times in a thousand different ways – relationships make all the difference. Taking the time to begin building those relationships during the first week of school will impact the entire school year. Getting to know your students and recognizing positive behaviors allows this very important work to begin on the first day. That’s where a PBIS initiative can be incredibly helpful.
Behavior expectations in a PBIS initiative set the foundation for relationships by encouraging positive behaviors. Schoolwide, expectations give students achievable positive behavior goals, providing you with specific actions to recognize. Developing a classroom matrix that mirrors your schoolwide expectations allows you to scale down to classroom-specific behaviors that earn praise and recognition. As your students meet these expectations, don’t forget to acknowledge their progress.
Most PBIS initiatives include a token economy, which can be a challenge to manage. Let PBIS Rewards help you recognize students for meeting expectations, track points, and manage your school and classroom stores. PBIS Rewards lets you track the ways your students meet classroom expectations as well as positive behaviors schoolwide. We’d love to show you how it works – contact us or request a demo!