I am a fan of routines and procedures. If you were to walk by my classroom early on in the year, you would inevitably hear us going through them day after day on the road to independence. Once I begin to gently let go of the reins, the classroom hums with little ones going on about the business of learning. Of course, we have a few hiccups along the way, but we get into the groove pretty early, and we keep on going and learning.
The end of the year is another beast altogether. Once spring arrives, it’s tough to hold their attention and keep them in check! At this point, I have to take a closer look to see where it’s all gone awry!
1. What Am I Doing Differently?
It’s the end of the year, and let’s face it, not only are the kids antsy, but the adults in the building are tired. Especially this year. So I start to look for areas where I have slacked off, and I’ve found that while our routines are rocking and a-rolling, my expectations have started to slip. Does this mean I let them act any way that they want to? No! It does mean that I start to give too many warnings before consequences and as we all know, that’s a slippery slope! I look around and realize I need to tighten up on my expectations.
2. What Does the Slippery Slope Look Like?
It’s called the slippery slope for a reason! Sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re sliding until you’re on your way down. For example, if my center time is falling apart, and I’m spending too much time interrupting my small group to direct, re-direct and correct what’s happening out there, then we’ve got a problem. If I keep stopping to address the problem, then they will keep interrupting me, my group at the table gets short-changed and we accomplish nothing.
I’ve noticed that once you start stopping to address problems, then little ones will keep interrupting you because they know that they can get your attention. This can apply to any area of your day, such as morning routines, lining up routines, transitions, and more. As we near the end of the year, this happens more and more often. If there’s a part of your day, and you think it’s starting to feel a bit slippery, you can correct it!
3. What Can I Do To Fix It?
Stop and regroup.
When I realize that what we have is broken, we take a bit of a break. Instead of doing centers and small groups, we’re talking through it all like it’s the beginning of the school year. What I’m doing at this time, what the group at the table are doing, and what students in centers are doing. We also discuss expectations and consequences. When it’s time to get started again, I hold the line when it comes to what I expect of them.
Unfortunately, someone will be the first to not follow the rules. I stop everyone, and we discuss what went wrong and what the expectation is and what the consequence will be. That person has to then sit the center out as previously discussed.
I know that by this point, there are only a few weeks left but trust me, that’s entirely too long for the train to run off of the rails. Believe it or not, things can definitely go from bad to worse. By stopping and taking the time to correct it now and get things back on track, the last few weeks of school can go smoothly!