Friday, 31 August 2018

13 Effective Behaviour Management Strategies

Throughout my years of teaching I have learnt many effective behaviour management strategies. Having worked in a range of schools, including some incredibly challenging settings, I have now got a good grip on behaviour management. Behaviour management is tough though, but oh so essential to have an effective classroom. Today, I'm sharing some of the most effective behaviour management strategies that will have a huge impact in your classroom.

Clear Expectations - This is an obvious one, but have clear rules and expectations that are understood by all is essential to ensure students know what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. The consequences for bad choices should also be clear.

Positive Relationships - Children want to make you happy. By building positive relationships with all students, they are much more likely to make better choices. Often, you learn to read a child and can anticipate negative behaviour and intervene before it happens.

Consistency - Consistency can be exhausting but it's one of the most important factors in managing behaviour. You need to address 'bad choices' EVERY SINGLE TIME! The moment you let one pass by, you begin to pass over that power. For example, if you want a child to walk in the classroom, you need to make them go back and walk every time they run, until eventually they do this automatically. It's exhausting, but so worthwhile in the long run.

Fairness - Children will never trust you if they feel that you don't like them or you are not treating them fairly. Always treat each and every child with fairness and equality.

Reward Positivity - Reward children for making good choices and strategically ignore the negative behaviour (sometimes) Children love to be praised and recognised and as children see others being rewarded for good choices, they are more likely to behave appropriately too. It's important to 'spot them being good' when this happens.

Understanding - Children all have different needs and what works for one child, may not for another. You need to be the kind of teacher who listens, knows their students well and adapts to meet their needs. Sometimes a whole class system doesn't work for individuals and they may require their own incentive. Give them this, it is your job to meet all of the students needs.

Use of Voice - Voice is so incredibly important. Children detect so much from your voice and I highly recommend you prioritise developing your use of voice as is it one of the most effective behaviour management strategies. If you use a quiet voice, children will often get quieter too, if you use a sad voice, the children will understand how they've made you feel. A good use of voice is one of your best teacher tools.

The Teacher Look - All teachers know about the magic 'teacher look' that comes with a huge amount of power. The look is the best way to put a stop to negative behaviour without interrupting your lesson or drawing attention to the behaviours. Get working on that look if you haven't already mastered it, it will serve you well!

Choices - It's nice to have choices and where possible we should give children choices, but there are times when they don't have a choice and they need to complete a request. The phrasing of the request is important in these situations. If the child has no choice, make sure you tell them what to do, rather than ask them. Asking implies that they can say no, when in actual fact, they can't. That said, politeness is always well received. Equally, if you are having a hard time getting a student to do something you have asked, you could provide them with 2 choices, one being the thing you want them to do and the other something they definitely don't want to do. They almost always choose to do the task requested.

Countdown - Counting down from 5 or 10 is. extremely effectively in getting children to do what they need to do. I'm not sure what they think happens when you get to 1, but most children never want to find out.

Visuals - Providing visuals for behaviour management is such a great aid for children. There are so many options out there, but I recommend keeping it simple. I use a simple traffic light system which is really effective. I always make children move their own name on the traffic lights as this has much more impact than me doing it for them. Class Dojo is another great visual resource.

Follow-Through - Always follow through with the things you say. This stands for positive things as well as consequences. If you say you will inform parents, you then need to do it. If you say you will give a child a sticker, make sure you remember to do so. Never threaten things that you aren't prepared to carry out. The moment you don't follow-through with something you say, your children lose trust in you and you lose your power of behaviour management. Consequences for negative behaviour should be immediate where possible, particularly for younger children.

Come-Back - Children need to know that one bad choice does not mean they are a write-off. Sure, they need to receive a consequence for a bad choice, however, once they have received their consequence they need to know that they can come back from it, otherwise what is the point of trying? Once my children have had their consequence they move their name back to the green traffic light so they get to start over and make better choices.

Parents - It's essential to have parents on board when managing consistent bad choices. I always try to manage situations at school first, particularly at the start of the year as children settle into new routines. However, for consistent bad choices, it's important that parents are well informed and there is a consistent approach to behaviour management at home and school. Parents can sometimes feel threatened when you approach them with bad news about their child so it's important to plan your approach, be understanding and recognise the positives as much as possible.

Are there any effective behaviour management strategies that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Writing Targets to Raise Progress in Writing

Literacy has always been one of my favourite subjects to teach, I find you can be so creative and build the most exciting lessons. Sometimes though, lessons are less exciting, such as weekly writing. Along with excitement, I'm also a big fan of routine with children and although out weekly writing may not be the most exciting time of day, they enjoy it because they know exactly what to expect and they always ask about it if we miss a week.

I'm a big fan of the use of images and actions to enhance children's understanding and when I created this writing system for our young learners, that is exactly what I had in mind. This writing poster is so incredibly simple but has proved to be very successful for our kids. Seeing how our Reception children can write leaves me gobsmacked every single time, and so very very proud of them!

How Does It Work?

Part 1 - Before Writing
❤  Recap the meaning of each image.
❤  Do the actions and build up excitement and challenge using the images.
❤  Model writing to the children using images.

Part 2 - During Writing
❤  Look back at previous targets to identify the image to work on. 
❤  Support and extend learning as they write. 
❤  Draw attention to the images regularly as reminders.

Part 3 - After Writing
❤  Look at each image and identify whether the child has achieved it.
❤  Colour symbol one colour if achieved and a different colour if not (we use Tickled Pink and Green for Growth)
❤  Set target for next writing session based on colours.

❤  All kids love stickers. We have a sticker system that allows children to wear a sticker for each of the images they have achieved. This means as they walk around school people comment on the work they have achieved. We often hear them telling adults what each sticker means or passing adults make comments like "I can see you have used an adjective and a full stop in your writing today." This really helps to reinforce what they have achieved. 

This poster was originally created for a Year 1 class which was a little more complex and included more targets, but I simplified it for our EYFS students.

It's insane to me that Reception children are writing at the level they are and it is largely down to the introduction of this writing poster and them having a clear understanding of the expectations for their writing. As you can see from the images, many of our kids are achieving way beyond expectations in their writing. 

Of course, we do still have those who struggle as well, but at the end of each session, all children will achieve some of the targets on the writing poster so they all get to come away with a feeling of success (and a sticker). 

You can get this resource  on my TPT store and TES store.

What strategies do you use to raise attainment in writing with your kids?

Friday, 24 August 2018

A-Z First Week of School Activities

The first week of school is exciting, but also a little unsettling. Routines are not yet outlined, expectations are not clear and there are many first week of school activities that need to be completed. To help fill in the first week and make is as productive and fun as possible, these first week of school activities will be a lifesaver!

All About Me - It's great to do a 'get to know' you type of activity at the start of the year where children share some facts about themselves. I love this book and it's much more fun that a simple worksheet. Children first completed the book section of their activity by responding to the questions at the top of each page. They then got to decorate themselves using a range of craft materials which they absolutely loved. This makes for a great display too!

Beach Ball Share - Stick a 'get to know you' question onto each colour of the beach ball and sit students in a circle. Toss the ball to a friend and whichever colour is facing them, children answer the question. It's a great way to get children to open up and share as well as get to know their peers.

Classroom Tour - It's always a good idea to do a little tour of the classroom in the first week. This encourages independence as the children know where everything is kept. It's also a nice idea to take a walk around the key areas of the school. There are many fun ways to do this, but one of my favourites is a scavenger hunt where children need to find all of the items from a list.

Displays - I talked a little about child-centred displays in my recent post about setting up a classroom, and the first week of school is a great time to get children involved in the displays in the classroom. You could talk to them about the things that would benefit their learning and they can create artwork or displays themselves to encourage them to use the displays to support their learning.

Elmer's Friends - I like to take a little bit of time to talk about how we are all different and remind children about the importance of valuing others. Make some sort of patchwork, this could be by sticking paper together or a mini sewing project for children. Allow children to use one square to draw or write something special and unique about them. This can be displayed in the classroom as a reminder about respecting others. It's a great project to use along with the Elmer story series.

Figure Me Out Maths - This is such a fun maths activity. Provide children with various facts about them involving numbers, such as the number of people in their house, their age, their shoe size, etc. Children then need to come up with different maths problems that equal the answer. For example, if they were 7 years old, they could write 4+3, 8-1, etc. You could also flip this and give children facts about you with the problems pre-written and children need to solve them.

Golden Rules - It's essential to come up with a set of Golden Rules that will create boundaries and set the classroom expectations. I love to get my children involved in deciding what our rules should be as it helps them to consider the difference between right and wrong. Involving your students also makes them more invested in the rules. You could create a class poster or children could individually create a poster. I work in an international school so I love to add actions to each rule to support EAL learners and children love to make up the actions. Once the rules are set, I usually turn them into a display format.

Holiday Recounts - I always like to get children to write a recount of their holiday in the first week of school and I usually get them to do this independently. I then add this to my assessment folder so I have evidence of the children's writing abilities on entry to my class. It's also nice to find out what they all did during the summer too.

I Can Do & I Want to Learn - I love to give the children a chart which is split in half and children identify the things they are good at or can now do on one side and the things they still want to learn on the other. As a teacher, I value supporting and developing the whole child, so knowing the things that children want to achieve, both academically and personally, will allow me to support them to do this.

Jitterglitter  - Jitterglitter is a great way to get children talking about their nerves at moving to a new class or starting a new school. Children could make up their own batch of jitter glitter, including anything they want in their mixture. They can then share their worries and the class can support them to get rid of their jitters. This could even be developed into a a series of lessons by writing recipes for their jitter glitter mixture.

Lie to Me - Children give three facts about themselves, 2 being true and 1 being a lie. They need to keep a straight face while they say each of them. The rest of the class then needs to guess which of the three facts is a lie.

Memory Box - Give children a special box that they can decorate. They can then store their favourite memories of the year in their memory box. This could be prizes they win, notes from friends or teachers, work they are proud of, etc. It's nice to take a photo of them on their first day and let them put it into their memory box.

Name Labels - Give children simple name labels and let them put their own stamp on them and decorate them in any way they want to. Once complete, they can be laminated and stuck to their lockers or pegs.

Puzzle Me - Puzzles are a great way of connecting children together. Give each child a puzzle piece and let them decorate it with all of their favourite things and unique qualities. Once complete, join the puzzle pieces to create a giant puzzle, demonstrating that the children are all part of a team and the importance of supporting each other and working together.

Quiz Time - Children can make up a true or false quiz about themselves. They can then take turns to ask their questions and the class can decide whether each statement is true or false. They could also do this in pairs to speed up the process or take the pressure off less confident children. It's a really fun way to get to know each other.

Rainbow Fish - Similar to the Elmer activity mentioned above, Rainbow Fish is another great story to start with. It provides a conversation starter about uniqueness and how we're all different. Children can then decorate their own fish, creating a display about individuality.

Spider Web Facts - This is such a fun activity! Give a child a ball of string and they give one fact about themselves. They then pass the ball to another friend who gives a fact about themselves. This continues, creating a giant web between them and showing how they are all connected. Kids love this activitiy!

Time Capsule - As somebody who is big on memories and finding ways to store them, creating a time capsule is one of my favourite first week of school activities. It's up to you what you ask the children to put inside their time capsule; it could be their goals or a writing sample, self portrait, a piece of string that matches their height. At the end of the year they call open their time capsule and see how much progress they have made and whether they have achieved their goals.

Ugly Words - Ugly words are a huge annoyance throughout the year if you don't outline the words children shouldn't use early. Create an ugly words list that children can add to. It's a great way for children to identify those hurtful words that they don't like without the pressure. This list forms the words that are forbidden from your classroom to ensure children have a happy year. You can then keep the list as a reminder or destroy it, demonstrating to children that those words have been destroyed.

Would You Rather... - I like to read the book Would You Rather by John Burningham which is a great book filled with funny choices. The children have lots of fun making choices and it's a great ice-breaker. They can then come up with their own would you rather scenarios to ask the class.

You're Special Mail - For children that already know each other, ask children to write a reason why each child in the class is special. The notes can then be put into children's mail boxes and the children get to read lots of lovely notes on their first day of school.

Zoom to the Sky - Give children a shooting star template which they can decorate. They then write their goals for the year on the star and they are added together to create a class display. They make a lovely display and it's great to have them to refer to throughout the year.

What activities do you like to do during the first week of school?

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

2018-19 Classroom Tour

This week has been spent setting up my Year 1 classroom in-between lots of meetings and training sessions. The classroom is initially set up as a play-based environment and will become more formalised as the year progresses. There are still some bits I want to do to finish off my room, but this is how it will be looking on the first day of school.
As you enter the classroom I have a shelf for the kids to put all of their things - water bottles, folders, hats and sunscreen. I also keep my whiteboards and pens on this shelf so that they are easily accessible during carpet-time sessions.
I've just got a brand new carpet which I'm in love with. I love how bright and colourful it is. Around my carpet area I have all of the key things I will use for teaching every day - number and letter formation rhymes, writing goals poster, our WALT puppet and my flipchart.
My reading area is still a work in progress but it's not looking too bad. I have my comfy sofa which the kids love and some donut cushions for the children to sit on. I also have a range of fiction and non-fiction books as well as some levelled books that the children can read independently. I also have some phonics games and clipboards to enhance writing opportunities. I'm looking forward to developing this area more.
My writing area is also a work in progress but the basics are already set. I like to have as many resources as possible in this area to enhance children's desire to write and I use pots of keep it organised and looking attractive. I'm planning to develop this area much more and will do a whole post on my writing area once it is fully developed, but for now I'm pretty happy with it. 
I'm so happy that I got to have the creative area in my classroom as it's always one of my favourite areas. I think you can get so much learning and find out so many interests from this area of the classroom. I set it up similarly to my writing area, with lots of pots to organise resources. I also have a junk modelling area which is always popular. I also have a post about my creative area coming soon.

Next is my construction and maths area. I try to limit the resources in this area and change them up regularly as this is always the area of the classroom that gets the messiest. I have some key maths resources that we will use everyday in maths and a few games that the children can access independently. I also have a maths wall which I display key learning information to support the children on their learning journey. The tuff spot has a maths activitiy in that will change each week depending on our maths focus.

The final area in my classroom is the malleable area. I found we were very limited in the resources we had for this which is disappointing but I am planning to order more. I love having play dough in the classroom, the kids just love it!

I still have a lot of work to do to make my classroom look how I want it, but this is a pretty good start. I'll post more about my classroom set-up as I develop each area. Follow along to see how my classroom changes throughout the year.

What is the favourite area of your classroom? Let me know and share your pics, I love getting inspiration from other teachers!

Friday, 17 August 2018

Tips for Setting up a Classroom

When you walk into your classroom at the start of the year to see all of your furniture piled up, the task of setting up your classroom can feel very overwhelming. It doesn't need to though and following these tips for setting up a classroom will help you to break down the task and make it manageable.

Sketch it out - I'm a very visual person and need to see what something looks like before making a decision. I usually sketch out the shape of the room on some paper and draw in where I want things to be placed. This helps me to visualise what the room will look like. Once I'm happy with the sketch, it's easy to put everything in place.

Utilise Time - You need to quickly accept that your classroom isn't going to look exactly how you want it when the children arrive. Often you don't have a huge amount of time to set up your classroom so you need to prioritise the important things and ensure your classroom is presentable for students. You have a whole year to fine tune your classroom, and it is much better to involve students in this process anyway. Make a to do list and stick to it. Don't allow yourself to get distracted doing other jobs and don't waste time cutting and laminating the small things before doing the bigger things, like organising your furniture.

Create learning areas - I love to have areas within my classroom where all resources for a specific subject are placed. I usually also use a nearby display board to display work related to that subject. Once you have the learning area you want outlined, it's much easier to plan where they will go and which areas will work best for your students.

Place student desks - This is one of the key things to do early in the set up as it's important that they are placed well. Children need to be able to see the board and have enough space to work. It's always beneficial to have chairs facing forward so students don't have to crane their necks to see. When doing this you will need to consider how you want your students to be grouped. I prefer group tables of 4-6 children (usually 6 for the high and middle abilities and groups of 4 for the children who will need a lot of extra support), however, there are so many different ways to do this.

Place your teacher desk - I'm not a fan of the teacher desk, although I do accept that they are needed. I barely use mine other than to dump things on and it takes up so much space. If you're like me and don't use your desk often, place it out of the way in an area where it doesn't intrude of learning space. Keep in mind that there may be times when you have confidential information on your screen so it should be placed somewhere where passing parents or colleagues can't glance into your classroom and see the screen.

Label and template - Labels and templating are so important in ensuring everything has a clear place. If they are ready for the first day of school, it allows students to independently select resources and put them away. It will allow you to be clear from day 1 about your expectations in the classroom and will set you up well for the next year. I can't emphasise enough how important it is to have labelled and organised resources.

Child-centred displays - Don't stress about getting printed, laminated resources up on the wall. Sure, it looks pretty but it is likely to be a waste of time. How often do children look at the displays you have created before they arrive? However, if you create your classroom displays WITH children, using their work and their input, they are much more likely to refer to them to support their learning. Not creating these printed and laminated displays will save you so much time too.

Labels for children - Preparing locker labels is always helpful on the first day. The first day can be crazy, with nervous children, parents asking questions and the many other things going on. having locker labels ready means children can put their things away independently and it saves so much added stress when they arrive. I like children to create their own locker labels, so on the first day I simple put a piece of paper with their name on each locker, then children create their own labels on the first day of school. If you have carpet spots, it's also a good idea to have them placed on the carpet ready for the first day.

Organise your key resources - There are certain things you are going to need to use immediately, such as post-it notes, pins for noticeboards, pens, pencils, etc. Take some time to organise the key resources in your desk drawer to make sure you have everything to hand to make your first day of school as stress-free as possible.

And that's it! Setting up your classroom is a huge job, but following these tips will be a big help. As long as you ensure these steps are done in time for children starting, you have plenty of time to fine-tune your room and make it home.

Happy setting up your classroom!

What things do you prioritise when setting up your classroom? Let me know your top tip!

Friday, 10 August 2018

The Start of a New School Year

I can't believe that it is the start of a new school year already! Time goes so fast sometimes doesn't it? It seems insane to me that we are about to begin the 2018-19 academic year but after a restful and productive summer, I'm feeling ready for the challenges that this year will bring.

Last year was one of the toughest in my career and led me to making big decisions and to change the path of my career. After three years in a leadership role in an international school, I chose to step back down to classroom teacher. I was never really sure whether the leadership thing was for me and I sort of fell into it. I worked hard and got good results during my time in leadership, but I wasn't feeling happy in the role.

I chose to step down for 2 reasons. The first and most important was to focus on some personal goals that I wanted to achieve and needed all of my attention. If you're interested in reading more about my personal life, you can head to my lifestyle blog, Those Little Moments. The other reason I chose to step down was because I found myself no longer loving my job. I didn't have that buzz at the thought of going into school knowing the day would be great, that feeling after teaching a great lesson or the connection I'd had with previous classes. I stepped down in the hope that I would rediscover that passion.

This year I will move out of EYFS and teach in KS1, taking up many of the children from my class last year. I'm looking forward to going back to what I love and hopefully feeling happier, both personally and professionally. I'm working on lots of goals that are more related to what I originally trained to do and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go.

What are you most looking forward to this year? 
Are you taking on any new challenges or changing roles?

Friday, 3 August 2018

Goals for 2018-19

One of the many great things about the start of the new school year is setting goals. The new school year gives you a chance for a second shot at those goals you set in January, or for a completely fresh start. This year will be filled with changes for me but I still have many goals for the year and I'm hoping this year will be a great one.
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