A Fresh Start in 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! We headed back to school on Monday, although none of us were ready for our winter break to end! Coming back from winter break always symbolizes a fresh start for me. I usually stop into school for a day or two to re-organize, rearrange furniture, and create some things that have been on my to-do list since September! As much as I enjoy a freshly organized and clean classroom, I need to remember that for some of my students, it's a really fresh start. Like, mirroring the beginning of the year, fresh! This year, I took a few days to re-establish our classroom community and reinforce rules and expectations.  Here's a peek into what our first few days looked like.
We started Monday morning by reading The Day a Monster Came to School. I like saving this book for after winter break because my kinders seem more ready to understand it and make connections. {You could always just read it again though!!} I got this copy from Kindergarten Smiles and LOVE it because it has pictures to go along with the story. Not having to create it saved me a lot of time! 

We talked about how the monster was misbehaving because he didn't know the classroom rules, and how he made good choices once he knew and understood them.  In the past, I've used the Whole Brain Teaching rules with great success. However, this year, my group of kiddos seem to need more concrete rules. {ex. Make smart choices wasn't clear enough for them, they needed to know that they must keep their hands and feet to themselves}. So, I decided this was a great time of year to scrap our old rules and create new ones! I gave each of my students a post-it note and asked them to use pictures or words to tell us one rule that they think should be on our classroom rules list.
(You can't really see it well, but his said "no hitting")
When they were finished, each student presented their classroom rule and stuck their post-it to our anchor chart. I took sloppy notes on our Promethean board so that I had a gist of the rules everyone created. I'll spare you from that picture.
We counted up our rules and found that we thought of 13 classroom rules. Boy, is that too many to remember! So, I told the class that I would take the 13 rules home with me and change them into the rules that I wanted diligently try to find a way to narrow it down to 5 or 6. Thank goodness I was able to do that! Here are the 5 classroom rules we decided on.

The next day, I presented the rules to the class, and we voted to make sure they were all a good fit for us. We then thought of motions to put with each rule so that we fit a little bit of that WBT in. Here's what we thought of (the motion for rule 2 is the same as in WBT):

Follow directions quickly.

Raise your hand to talk.

Listen when someone is talking.

Be the boss of you.

Keep your hands and feet to yourself.

We are spending the rest of the week creating our own "Monster School Rules" book inspired by Kindergarten Smiles. I used her idea and book cover, but changed the inside pages to fit our classroom rules. I am excited to have this book to reinforce our rules AND for the kids to take home and show their parents.

We will review our rules each morning just like we did with the WBT rules, and each time we are having trouble following one. Even just today, I was able to hold up 3 fingers and point to my ear when a few of my students were talking over someone, and they knew exactly what I meant! I can already tell 2016 will be off to a great start!
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