Now that I have been in school for several weeks, the honeymoon is over. Everyone is comfortable and the newness has worn off. This is when the real challenges of teaching begins. Students are talking more, not as engaged or hanging on every word I say, etc. Here are some things to remember as this transition occurs.
I know, easier said than done. I am right there with you, but the truth is you have to be consistent. Demand students follow your directions. It isn’t April yet, so your not that beat down. Take the moments you need to get everyone’s attention. By enforcing your rules and requirements daily, students learn what is acceptable and what is not. I know we have a lot of curriculum to get through but you have to have the engagement and students following rules to deliver it.
One of my areas of consistency is getting everyone’s attention on me. I wait until all are looking and listening. Does it take a few call and responses, several reminders? It sure does. But my students realize I won’t begin without their full attention. They are trying to push the boundaries, but I am steadfast with my consistency.
At no time in the year, should you feel like you shouldn’t reteach your expectations? Of course, you should. There is not an experienced teacher out there who will tell you that he has never retaught his expectations since day one. Students are children. They need to hear it more than once. It also goes back to consistency. Your rules haven’t changed, they are still the same.
I always revisit my rules and expectations after winter and spring breaks. I don’t have to do the whole spiel I did at the beginning of the year, but I do go over it. It helps remind the students before we begin again.
Now while you are being consistent and reteaching, you should change it up too. I like to add motivators like small contests or challenges, incorporate new systems, and/or bring in new rewards. I usually don’t start the school year with table points. I like to bring those in later when I need a different motivator. In the first eight weeks of school, I don’t really need them. I pull them out when I can benefit from using them.
Another thing I like to do during the year is to bring in a new routine for how we pass out work or collect certain items. It changes things up and adds interest. Students seem to like new things until they have worn out their welcome.
Finally, I like to give new rewards. For example, mid-year I will allow students to get their work done outside on my picnic table. They have to earn it. It is always a great reward for them and it costs me nothing.
Whatever you decide to do to motivate your students now that the honeymoon is over: be consistent, reteach when necessary, and add motivators to keep engaging and teaching your students.