Are you struggling with a difficult classroom? Check out this blog post for tips on how to use New Year's resolutions to help improve your students' behavior in the classroom.
Even the best teachers struggle with classroom behavior. The fact is, students have a natural tendency to push boundaries. On top of that, the winter is a particularly challenging time, as kids get antsy waiting for their favorite holidays. How do you approach improving overall behavior in your class this winter? Easy: make New Year's resolutions as a class. Here's how.
Introduce the Concept
Start small. Instead of immediately announcing that your class is going to band together to completely transform into a group of perfectly-behaved angels, just put on some nice holiday music and ask your students if they've ever heard of New Year's resolutions. Let them discuss their opinions on the topic. What sorts of resolutions have they heard family and friends make? What resolutions might they make in their own lives? Do they think that resolving for self-improvement in the New Year is a good idea? Let your students arrive to the conclusion themselves: it's worthwhile to make New Year's resolutions.
Make Resolutions Together
Now that everybody is on the same page, it's time to suggest that your class make a few resolutions. The most important part of this step is that you hand the control over to the students. Rather than insisting on the behaviors you want them to change or - even worse - accusing them of misbehavior, let them approach it from a positive place. How could classroom behavior be better? Wouldn't it be nice if everybody were quieter during silent reading time? How would everybody feel if we all made an effort to be more respectful toward one another? Let one of your students jot down all of the ideas on the whiteboard.
Once you've brainstormed some options for resolutions, let your students narrow the list down to two or three choices. It might be tempting to commit to an entire laundry list of improvements, but we've got to be realistic here. After you've chosen your resolutions, make sure you phrase them in as specific and concrete a way as possible. For example, it's better to resolve that everybody tidies the area around their desk at the end of the day rather than just saying 'we're all going to be cleaner.'
As everybody who has ever resolved to a healthier lifestyle knows, it's not enough just to make a resolution. You also have to really commit to it. To hold your classroom accountable, we suggest three things:
- Visibility - Write your resolutions in a clear, noticeable format. Use loud colors and big letters. Post it up somewhere in the classroom where everybody can see. Make sure it isn't easy to forget what your class resolved to.
- Check-Ins - Agree as a class to a check-in schedule. For example, you could decide that once every two weeks, everybody will take a few minutes to write a reflection on how they have personally been doing with regards to completing the resolution, as well as how they think the class has been doing. Then you can have a quick discussion to make sure everybody is on the same page and to make any decisions that need to be made about the future.
- Reward - Most of the time, succeeding at a New Year's resolution is a reward in and of itself. But children need positive reinforcement, so consider offering them a nice treat, like a pizza party or an extra-long recess, if they knock the resolution thing out of the park.
If your class is in a brainstorm rut and can't quite decide what New Year's resolutions to make, here are a few ideas:
- We resolve to use a talking stick to make sure that nobody is ever talking during another person's turn.
- Our teacher will play a song every morning as the students walk in. We resolve to be in our seats, quiet, and ready to learn by the time the song is over.
- We resolve to hand in assignments on time and talk to our teacher if there is ever a special situation that will make us late.
Each classroom is unique and yours will surely have its own behavior needs to meet, but we hope this is a good jumping off point for your own New Year's resolution discussion. Good luck and let the good behavior begin!
For an online teaching resource with lesson plans, videos, discussion questions, and more, check out Study.com's Teacher Edition.