Are you ready to start a new adventure this school year ?

Are you looking for a new kind of behavior plan that doesn’t sound like a plan? It didn’t start out to be a behavior plan, but a way to welcome back my new students after our school resumed face-to-face teaching with everyone wearing masks.

The word “ADVENTURE” become a part of my classroom that year. It began as a part of helping my students cope with the craziness of COVID-19 as my school made the decision to bring students back to the classroom. I wanted my students to see being back in school as an opportunity to do wonderful things, in other words, an adventure for the year. Let me tell you about it!

I explained to my students that they would be earning the letters that spelled ADVENTURE by their actions at school. Once a letter was earned, it could not be taken away. Letters could NOT be earned by only one or two students; it had to be a group effort. If students asked for a letter reward, the answer would be, “No.” I wanted their actions to happen naturally, not driven by rewards.

So what kinds of actions were students rewarded for? The first time our Science teacher shared with me, in front of the class, how the class had worked so diligently, using their time wisely, the letter A was earned. I watched as my class welcomed a new student and made her feel a part of the class, another letter was earned. I was late to class, coming from a meeting, and everyone was seated at their desk working on the math warm-up, a letter was earned.

So what happens when the class spells “ADVENTURE”? The reward was decided by the class. We had extra recess, no shoes in class for the day, a movie watched over the course of a week were just of the few the rewards that my students chose. I do reserve the right to veto an idea and the students know that right from the front.

It worked so well that year that I have continued to use “ADVENTURE” ever since! If you are struggling with what kind of behavior plan to use this year, why not give it a shot!! Let me know if it works for you!

Have a great year!

Sue Mescall

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Here’s My Secret to Building Student Relationships!!

As teachers, we are encouraged to build relationships with our students. Great idea, but how do you do that on a daily basis? How do you make sure you connect to all your students? Good questions AND I may have the answer for you!!

A few years ago, my schedule had an open 30 minute block between two specials. What to do? Not really enough time to start a new activity and I make sure students have plenty of time to work and practice during scheduled lessons.

Most of my students have busy schedules when they leave school each day; sports, piano lessons, dance lessons, to name only a few. There is rarely time for them to read outside of school. I decided to use the 30 minutes for independent reading!!

As the students began their first day of independent reading, I was left sitting at my desk. That’s when I hit on the ideas to meet with 4 or 5 students daily, one-on-one! I called my first student and with their chair they came to my desk. I simply asked, “What’s going on and it doesn’t have to be about school?” To my surprise and delight, my student began to tell me about the soccer tournament he was going to be playing in on Saturday! My next students told me about her hip-hop dance class and it just went from there!

Such information made it easy for me to talk to my students about “stuff” that had nothing to do with school. That was my one rule for talking to my students; no school talk. These conversations take place each day with different students and the conversations don’t take more than about 4-5 minutes, so I am able to talk to 5 or 6 students each day.

I have done this for the past two years and it has had a really positive affect with the each class. Some of my students were a bit shy at first, but soon were telling me about such things as their passion for dinosaurs, their remote control cars, their judo class. I also have had students send me picture of their successes: earning a black belt, riding their dirt bike for the first time, and even a dance rehearsal video. The students love sharing their experiences with the class too!

If you can find find a block of time each day, give each student 4-5 minutes of your complete attention and you’ll be surprised at how students will WANT to talk to you.

Let me know how you build relationships with your students! I love hearing from other teachers!!

Sue