Sunday, July 29, 2012

Creating a Caring Classroom

Every teacher knows the importance of the first day of school, because what happens on this day shows us how the rest of the year is likely to unfold. Thankfully, it only takes a little effort to ensure that your class gets off to a great start! I've found that if I take time to create a warm, caring classroom climate during those critical first days,  the rest of the year is a breeze!

How can you create a caring classroom? I've found three strategies that do the trick:
  • Engage your students teambuilding and classbuilding activities to help them get to know each other.
  • Establish clear limits and expectations for behavior by developing class rules and teaching procedures.
  • Plan hands-on activities that challenge your students and let them know that learning is fun!  
I've found that it's sort of like walking a tightrope at first. You want your new students to know that your classroom is a fun place to be, but they also need to understand and respect the rights of others. 

Back-to-School Bingo
When it comes to creating class spirit, one of the best things we can do is to make sure that our students learn each other's names quickly. One of my favorite ways to do that is by having them play Back-to-School Bingo. Click this link to download the free Bingo board and Bingo calling cards from Teaching Resources.

Materials: 
1 Bingo Board for each student, 1 index card or Bingo Calling Card for each student, at least 20 Bingo chips or markers per person

Directions:
  1. Give each student a Back-to-School Bingo Calling Card or a 4 x 5 index card. Ask them to write their names at the top and add three facts about themselves, such as favorite hobbies, where they were born, what they love to read, favorite songs, etc. Tell them not to show their cards to anyone because the Bingo game will involve guessing who the facts describe. Collect the cards and store them in an envelope.
  2. Give each student a blank Bingo board. Post all the student names on the board in front of the class or distribute pre-printed class lists that have student names on them. Ask students to write one name in each block in random order. If there are more than 25 names, they should leave out their own and a few others as needed. If there are fewer than 25 students, they can add your name and a free spot or two. 
  3. To play the game, give each person a handful of Bingo chips. Draw out one calling card and don't reveal whose name you've drawn. Begin to read the facts aloud, one at a time, and call on students to guess who the facts describe. When someone guesses correctly, have the person whose card you drew stand up and take a bow. Everyone in the class may cover the person's name on the card. 
  4. Continue playing until someone has 5 chips in a row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) and calls out, "Bingo!"
  5. Variation: The second time you play the game, don't call out the facts. Instead, walk over to the person whose name you drew and tap him or her on the shoulder, indicating that the student should stand up. Do not call the student's name until after everyone has had a chance to try to think of it and cover up that spot on the board. Playing the game this way will help them learn and remember everyone's names. 
This is just one of the ways that I help my new students feel welcomed and accepted. Of course we discuss rules and procedures, and we get involved in lots of hands-on lessons, right from the start. You can find more strategies for creating a caring classroom on my Teaching Resources website. Be sure to check out the Link Up below to find out how other teachers are creating caring classrooms!
 




10 comments:

  1. What a fantastic idea! I love spending the first few days building a caring and positive classroom environment! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. This is great, Laura! I'm too late for the link up, but I did add this resource to my Character Education page along with other ideas for creating a culture of caring in the classroom:

    http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/free-resources/behavior-management/character-ed

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    1. Angela, I didn't realize that this had closed. I opened it back up for awhile. Feel free to add your link now.

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  5. Thanks for the great insight!

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  6. My daughter's teacher did this, so I started doing it right after I saw how excited she was with the outcome! Each child writes his/her name in the middle of a white (copy) paper and circles it. (Circle map style) All students come together to sit in a circle with a pen for writing. Then on my signal, the students pass the papers around clockwise until all students have written on everyone else's paper. When the owner receives his/her paper, it is now filled with other positive words to read! I call it "What Comes Around Goes Around" and they see that GOOD attitudes are just as contagious as bad ones!!

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    1. I love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing it!

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  7. I like this Bingo game. I'm thinking about letting students filling out the student cards as if they were book characters...hmm

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