The week seemed super long (and it was only a 4 day week) but it was a really great first week with my new students! It's crazy how much more prepared I feel this second year. Don't get me wrong, I'm still super flustered throughout the day (We have first prep which means after that, I have 2 1/2 solid hours without a break... not to mention this past week we ate lunch with our class so I then only had about 10 minutes to get ready for our afternoon.), but I knew what I was doing for the most part and got a lot more completed this first week than last year.
I'm linking up with Tara's Monday Made It on a little behavior management tool I've added to my Take a Break chair this year.
We are an RC school (Responsive Classroom). I agree with a lot of the RC practices and believe in it's success (which I didn't always when I was in some of my practicums). RC believes in taking the first 6 weeks to establish classroom routines, community, and rules. And while that sounds amazing- it's just not realistic with the academic demands now. So we push 6 weeks into about 2 which means it's a lot of teacher modeling, practicing routines, creating goals (hopes and dreams) for the school year, establishing classroom rules together as a class and getting our 'safety nets' into place for behaviors. I'm really against clip charts (not knocking anyone who uses them- some find they bring great success!), and luckily RC uses other management systems to help students manage and reflect on their behavior as oppose to tracking it. One of those practices is the 'Take a Break' chair.
No- it's not a time out chair. Here's how it's different.
Time-out: Adult typically sends child to it with a 'forceful' tone and tells the child when they can get up.
Take a Break: Adult sends child to it with a firm voice, but the child determines when they can return to the group.
Time-out: Adult is the only one who puts child in it.
Take a Break: A child can send themselves there when they need some space.
We practice taking a break the first couple of weeks- meaning, I try to send each child there at least once so that they can practice the strategy of reflecting and correcting the behavior themselves. I model for them, their classmates model for them, and we even created these little signs to help them use when they are at Take a Break.
We brainstormed different ways to regain self-control when we are feeling hyper, upset, tired, etc. I then took pictures of students doing these things (blurred out their faces) and made them accessible for them to use when they go to Take a Break if they need an idea. One is hung on our curtain while the other was is in an envelope that I duct-taped. I've already seen a few kids use them since I hung them up on Friday!
I even Take a Break somedays when I am feeling frustrated or tired and need to refocus. It's nice for the kids to see that sometimes adults need also need to be redirected.
The key is to not use it as a punishment. Sometimes your emotions can get the best of you, but you need to keep a caring, but firm voice so that it doesn't turn into a shameful feeling. I even discuss at the beginning of the year that it's not a punishment and I'll try my very best to say it in a caring way. We also discuss that we don't argue if we are sent to take a break, but that after we calm down, we can raise our hand while we are still there and I will come over for a social conference to share ideas.
The Take a Break method really helps the child reflect (with my help) on the fact that their behavior is disrupting their learning or others learning. It helps them gain self- control again and correct the behavior. It allows me to problem solve with them if they can't find ways to fix their behavior. It really has saved face for many students and is effective for about 95% of my kiddos.
I'll be sharing our rule making process later on which includes our hopes and dreams work and our rule creating process. I hope you all are feeling well about the beginning of your year!