Building a classroom culture will help set the tone and create a great learning environment. The time you spend building a strong classroom culture during those first few weeks of school will pay off in return throughout the school year. Team building activities gets all the students involved and each student feels important as they all share a role in a common goal. My kindergarten students worked on creating a classroom web. Each student introduced themselves and told about something they like to do. Once they introduced themselves, they were asked to hold on tight to the string and choose a friend's name to go next. I let the students know that they were all an important part of our class and they all need to work together as a team. Students were asked to hold on to their piece of string and not pull on it or let it go. Students were also asked to stay in their same circle space during this entire activity. We were all relying on each other to make our web happen. It was a fun way to get to know one another while at the same time we were able to work together as a class in creating our beautiful web. I did have a couple of students who were a little antsy and needed reminders to hold on tight because we need your help. This is to be expected with this young age. We did manage to get all 22 students involved in this activity and take a quick picture before dropping the string. Students were really excited with the way the web looked when it was complete. I was very proud of them and I let them know that this is the kind of teamwork we will need in order to have a fun, exciting year of learning together in our classroom.
This week we also worked on creating classroom rules together. However, I chose to not use the term "rules." Instead I created a chart entitled "Expectations for a Peaceful Classroom." We began by having a discussion about the word "Peace." As we brainstormed the word peace together, we described it as meaning relaxing, calm and getting along with one another. Next, I asked the students to think about an expectation that they would like in order to have a peaceful classroom. I let the students share their ideas with a thinking partner and then they were asked to go to the tables and draw themselves doing one expectation that they would like for our peaceful classroom. As the students were busy drawing their pictures, I went around and asked each student to tell me about their picture. I wrote what they said next to each of their illustrations. We gathered back in circle and students shared their pictures and ideas with their classmates. We then worked on writing expectations on our chart to hang in our classroom. Students ideas fell into four main categories that we all agreed upon. For example, a couple of students said "keep hands to self," while others said for us not to kick or punch. A few students drew themselves using walking feet. We discussed how all these are ideas to help us keep safe. We added "Keep Safe," to the top of our expectations. Here is the four main categories on our chart.
Expectations for a Peaceful Classroom
Be Kind to Others
Having students work on rules/ expectations together rather than just posting rules and expectations is more meaningful to the students as they feel empowered. I feel that it is best to have just a few expectations rather than too many rules in which youngsters may not respond favorably to.
I had all the students sign the bottom of our chart. We all agreed together to work towards having a peaceful classroom. We proudly displayed our chart for Open House.
I just completed our first ten days of school and we have been super busy with several classroom building culture activities, Open House and lots of initial bench mark testing. The first couple of weeks sure can be exhausting, but all this hard work will help set the tone for the rest of the year. I hope your school year is off to a great start!