Monday, February 4, 2008

Suffering from the Winter Blues

Christmas vacation has come and gone and kids are pretty much settled in without any big holiday in sight other than an occasional three day holiday. By this time my students are always climbing the walls, having the winter blues, and just basically getting on each other’s nerves (as well as mine). I noticed that they acted like they had never heard of the class rules and this was a whole new class to them. When I would review the rules, they would have this blank look on their face, like they had never seen them before.

After whining to other teachers, and feeling just plain miserable, I knew that I had to take action. I knew that I shouldn’t have to do this but I have learned over the years that this is inevitable. It happens every year. So, instead of wallowing in self pity, I came up with a plan of action.

During this time each year, I had to take a step back and “re-train” them. I would focus on one major rule at a time. If most of them were out of their seats without permission, that is the one I focused on and I announced this to the class. I told them that they were still expected to follow all of the rules but I was “showcasing” a major rule each week. Students were given one reminder (warning) when their initials went on the board. The next time, I would put a check by their name which would mean a detention. The next check meant a phone call home. The third check meant a referral to the administration. Before I started this, I would talk to my administrator about my problems and what I planned to do about it because I felt that one of the students would push the limits and need to be used as an example. Usually when the students saw that I was consistent and would follow through, they would usually become compliant. The next week I would tackle another rule. This didn’t take too long to get them back under control and once I did, I found them almost back the way they were before the holidays.

I would also praise the students who followed the rules because I didn’t want them to start acting bad in order to get my attention. I would also call their parents to brag about them which helped them continue the appropriate behavior during class. In fact, they would brag about my phone call home to the ones who didn’t get it which made the others start to follow the rules just so I would call home about them. This was great especially if the students wanted to do something special on the weekend because sometimes this call would help them get what they wanted.

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