How long does it take to tackle classroom management?

When I was first starting teaching I would hear from older teachers to just spend the first two weeks of school working on procedures and expectations. The assumption was that at the end of those two weeks you had sufficiently drilled your students with those procedures and expectations and that everything would fall into place.

It used to be common knowledge that it took 21 days to form a habit but that was based on a surgeons observations from the 1950s and further research shows that to be incorrect.

New research shows that it actually takes about 66 days to form a new habit. Some people take a little longer and others are able to form those habits a bit sooner but for most the average is 66 days. That comes out to 13 weeks in school before those new habits are formed. All those expectations you were hoping your students would grasp in those first few weeks will take much longer. 

Change your mindset
I put into my mind every year that it would take the first nine weeks of school to really get my students into the groove. I also decided I don't want my kids to just behave. My goal is for them to be able to run the classroom on their own. If my students know the expectations and the schedule for the day then there is less anxiety. If my students know exactly what they should be doing and working on next then I don't have to worry either. Even your youngest students will love taking ownership of their day.

I spend those first nine weeks getting to know my students and letting them get to know me. We learn to respect each other. Every morning I greet them at the door. I tell them every afternoon that I can't wait to see them again- and it's true! I found that after nine weeks of working hard as a TEAM and using gentle reminders for what activity comes next, what happens later in the day, etc. that my classroom had very few behavioral issues. If a problem arose I would ASK my students what we could do to solve the problem. When they were able to be part of finding the solution it made all the difference!

The rest of the school year we were able to focus on learning and doing fun things because we'd already put in the work to create a well-oiled machine in our classroom. Substitutes loved subbing in my classroom because my students knew exactly what the expectations were regardless of whether I was there or not.

It's just mid-September so you're only a few weeks into your school year! Take the time to get to know you sweet kiddos, let them know you too. Put in the time to make this year your best year yet!

Join me Thursday!

It's late Wednesday and I'm sitting here a little nervous for tomorrow morning.

My dear friend Lindsay from Primary Polka Dots and I are hosting three Facebook Live Hops to share reading and writing strategies for your upcoming school year! I'm so excited about this collaboration. Lindsay is pretty amazing when it comes to close reading and you'll want to hear what she has to say!

All three sessions will have different information and since they are videos if you aren't able to watch them live you can watch them later in the day!

See you tomorrow!

A New Blog Name

Hello teacher friends!

Many of you know that two years ago my husband got a job in Seattle and we moved from Texas to Washington. I've been staying at home with my daughter since then and while I'm very attached to the Rowdy in First Grade name, it just doesn't accurately describe my current situation.

Years ago when I started my blog I started it because I wanted to share my ideas and things that worked for me in my first grade classroom. First grade is still my absolute favorite grade, but when I go back into the classroom I want my blog to reflect ideas I have for several grades and not just first grade. 

I have gone back and forth about changing my name for months and months. I searched and searched for clever names and anything I came up with just wasn't me or was already taken. I finally settled on Teaching with Jennifer. 

I hope you will continue to follow me. I have many great ideas and I'm ready to share! Over the next couple of weeks I will continue to make some minor changes to my blog design to help you navigate the information I have. Until then...

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Why NOW is the most important time to be a teacher

Oh teacher friends, my heart is heavy with worry. I know your is too. Regardless of who you may have voted for you likely have students of different religions, race, or students whose parents may be part of our LGBT community. They fear they may have to leave the country, even though their parents are here legally. They fear too many people hate them because of their skin color. They fear people will attack them or their families because of their religion. They fear their parents legal marriage will somehow be dissolved and they will no longer be a family according to the law. These fears are real. I cannot imagine what they feel like. I cannot understand the hate I have seen either. It makes my heart ache.

I tell you, teacher friends, NOW is the most important time to be a teacher. Our job is already incredibly difficult, I know. It's especially hard when we hear politicians and legislators, who know nothing about what we ACTUALLY do,  belittle our hardwork and efforts. This stings more when already we are making up for extreme budget cuts with our small salaries by spending big parts of our paychecks on our kids. But, I feel, in this uncertain time one of the best things we can do is model kindness and understanding. That happens to be a skill that teachers specialize in! It comes easily to us! It's part of why we followed the calling to become a teacher (because that's what it is- a calling!). We LOVE our kids. We invest in our students success with our whole heart. We want them to succeed and we want them to be leaders. We want them to treat others well and with kindness. We want them to be team players and we want them to include those students who may be different from them in some way.

On Monday, if you don't already do it, greet every student at your door. Every single one. Smile, "I'm SO glad you are here today!" Give hugs freely. Hug your former students as they make their way to class. When you see a colleague do something you know was outside their comfort zone give them praise in front of their class and yours! Smile at your staff members as you pass them in the hallway. At the end of the day hug or high five your students as they leave your classroom and head for the bus. Tell them they are IMPORTANT. Find more activities that require your students to work as a team. Thank them for their hard work. Tell them on Monday how much you missed them. Because not only are they our future...but among them are future leaders of this country.

We have the opportunity and privilege to be a person that makes a profound impact on how they feel about others and especially how they feel about themselves! XO