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Every school year I work hard to make my classroom community a strong and safe place. Put aside all the rules, routines, and procedures. Students like to feel valued, noticed and important. It doesn’t matter how many rules you have, or how awesome your classroom management is. If your students do not buy-in to what you are selling them (figuratively, of course) then it might make for a pretty tough year.
Wondering what you can do to start creating student buy in this year? I'm providing some of my top tips that I use to get my students to want to buy in to our classroom and community.
Give your Students a Voice
I like to let my students have a voice (within reason) whenever it is possible. An easy way to do this right off the bat is with classroom rules. Students want their voices to be heard. When they create the rules of the classroom, we had more student buy in and they actually wanted to follow the rules because they were the ones who helped create them as opposed to just being told what to do.
Have Open Discussions
After there is a success or a misstep in the classroom, I love having open discussions with my students. I often refer to this as the “debriefing” time, but it’s a chance to talk about what went well or not so well. For example, after being out sick for a day, the substitute left a note that students were talkative. The next morning when I returned, we headed straight to the carpet to discuss.
Instead of giving the students a “lecture,” I posed the question: How do you think yesterday went with the substitute? Students were open, honest, and shared freely. It wasn’t a name-calling, placing blame conversation. It was a chance to review our rules and the expectations that the students made in the beginning of the year and how we can improve for the next time.
Anytime you give students the option to choose, regardless of what the options are, they will be way more inclined to participate and join in. My secret is that the choices are always options that I am okay with. Don’t let students choose between reading a book or watching a movie if you really don’t want them to watch the movie (you know what they will pick!!)
Praise and Reward Students for Positive Choices
When students are told about the positive choices they are making in the classroom, they will want to continue to be praised. It's completely okay to have high expectations in your classroom, but don't forget to reward your students for achieving those expectations. Reward them with some GoNoodle or extra recess time. Or even let them pick a reward to work towards (again, choices!).
These small shifts in your classroom can empower your students and will cultivate a positive classroom environment.