Reviewing Rules After a Long Break | Mentoring in the Middle

Reviewing Rules After a Long Break

In a perfect world, your students would come back from Christmas break fully rested and ready to tackle the second half of the year.
But we don't live in a perfect world.  Instead:

  • some of your students come back to school happy to see their friends and share their experiences.  
  • Some come back happy to be in school because there's more structure there than at home. 
  • Some come back unhappy because the adults in their lives didn't "adult" the way their children hoped for.  
  • Some come back sleep-deprived
  • Some come back food-deprived
So it's important to re-establish that you're there for them.  That they're in a safe space. That you have their back.  That you missed them.  And that you love them, no matter what.

It's also important to reestablish some ground rules.  With sixth graders, I don't find it necessary to spend hours reviewing expectations, but it IS important to spend some time on it.  If you don't, you'll wish you had.

Here are the big ones I went over on Thursday and Friday.
Talking:  At home, children can usually talk whenever they want.  It's easy for them to forget when they return to school!   I reminded my students about that, around the third or fourth time I had to stop because someone else was talking.  No raised voice, just an observation.  They heard it, owned it, and we moved on.

That's not to say we didn't revisit it again, but that one felt like an easier fix.

Supplies: Put your students into small groups of 2 - 3 students and have them create a list of what's absolutely necessary to bring to class.  Have the first group write their list in a common place (a large sheet of paper, or your board); the second group comes up and only writes things the first group didn't have.  Then, they add a hashtag or a checkmark to the ones they had in common.  Each group does that, and there you have it.  A great reminder - by students for themselves - about what they need.

The cute thing is that they marvel about how many they had in common, as though they haven't had to bring these things in since kindergarten!
Hallways:  Have you ever walked down a hallway full of hormonal pre-teens?  

We spent a little more time on this one.  Our principal met with our students, and I liked his approach.  He reminded them that they're considered role models by the younger kids in our building, and encouraged them to live into that responsibility.    

Discussing it that way, instead of scolding them, felt like they heard the message better.  

You could have students discuss what it means to be a leader in this way.  What would that look like?  Sound like?  Create a T-chart as a visual reminder.

Technology:  This one is more of a challenge  Our students all have iPads.  And the kids are savvy!  I think some of them spend a lot of time trying to find ways around the rules.  

For this one, I just had an honest discussion with them.  We talked about the classroom management app that I can use to check in on what they're doing.  They know I'd prefer to be teaching and working with them than monitoring them on their iPads.  They also know that I'll take away any iPads for the day if they're somewhere they shouldn't be.

I didn't want to turn this into a discussion, although you could.  I just laid down the law, and we moved on.

What do you do to review expectations when your students come back to school?

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