Create a Positive Classroom Culture Before the Bell Even Rings

Simple ways to create a positive classroom culture before the bell even rings.
Before beginning my teaching career, I had an idea what my classroom and teaching style would be like. This idea was more than likely created by movies and television shows produced for wholesome family consumption. I had this naive thought that my students would always listen, be on time, come to class prepared, participate, and, on the rare occasion that there ever would be a discrepancy, quickly sail off to detention without one defiant utterance or movement. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and this is where my privilege really led me astray. I had the privilege of growing up in a middle-class, two-parent, household. I never had to worry about where my next meal would come from, when (if ever) I would see a parent again, or my safety.

Teaching in a high-poverty school completely changed the way in which I world, and it has made me a better, and more away teacher. After several years of working with the “rough” kids, I’ve developed a soft part in my heart for that student, and I’ve learned that creating a warm and positive classroom culture goes a long way. The two ways that I create a classroom culture in my own classroom are by saying hello to my students with a smile and by forming genuine connections with as many students as I can.

Simple ways to create a positive classroom culture before the bell even rings.
1. Say hello to your students with a smile
It is so important to begin each and every single class period by smiling and saying hello to your students as they walk into class. For some students, this might be their first positive interaction all day. This also provides time to chit chat with a student, and as a teacher, you become more approachable. This is something you can easily do before the bell even rings.
2. Form Connections with your Students
It is so critical to get to know and connect with students on a level other than classwork. This will make connections more real and genuine. Perhaps you and several of your students enjoy a shared hobby, sports team, author, musical artist, or television show. These conversations emerge in the hallways during passing period and help form trust. During baseball season, I can’t even tell you how many times I talk about the Dodgers or the Angels with my students. And usually my juniors know that on Monday mornings, if they want to break down and analyze every event, symbol, and possibly foreshadowing event from the last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, they are more than welcome in my classroom in the morning. Even something as simple as saying, “Hey, Sara and Lucy! Good luck at your match today,” goes a long way if you can’t make some of the athletic events and performances.

Teaching high schoolers is difficult. But if you think about it, being a teenager in today’s society is also much more difficult than it was 20+ years ago. Our students are human, too, and they are trying to navigate a world that sends out many messages, provides many distractions, and causes many hardships. Their assigned seat in our classrooms should be the last place they feel unwanted, unsafe, and insecure. Creating a positive classroom culture that is inclusive of everyone might just be the one thing that it takes to make difference in one student’s life.
Simple ways to create a positive classroom culture before the bell even rings.

TpT Bonus Sale - The Daring English Teacher

Get those wish lists ready and submit feedback on all of your previously purchased resources, because it is time for the Teachers Pay Teachers Best Year Ever Bonus Sale. My entire TpT store will be on sale on Monday, August 22. Everything from money-saving bundles to SMARTePlans digital resources, and growth mindset resources to common core writing resources will be 28% off when you use the code: OneDay.

Classroom Routines to Establish in the Beginning of the Year

Effectively manage your new middle school or high school classroom by establishing these five classroom routines in the beginning of the year. First week classroom routines for effective classroom management.

By the end of the school year, we have our classrooms running like well-oiled machines. The students know what to do, when to do it, and what to expect from us. The beginning of the year is an entirely different story though. On the first day of school, a fresh batch of newbies enter our classroom with wide eyes. They are excited to see their friends, and they are a little anxious about their new classes. However, if they don’t have guidance and structure in the first week of school, they will call the shots and run the show. That is why it is so important to establish these five routines as quickly as possible. By the end of the first full week of school, students should know how you run you class and what you expect from them.

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Effectively manage your new middle school or high school classroom by establishing these five classroom routines in the beginning of the year. First week classroom routines for effective classroom management.
1.Establish a bell ringer routine
I love bell ringers because they are a proven way to get students on-task quickly. Once a bell ringer routine is established, students will know that once the bell rings, the need to be in their seat working on the task. Bell ringers also are great because you can use those first five minutes in class to introduce a new topic, review an old concept, practice grammar, or make a student really think. I have a free bell ringer and do now log and many bell ringers available in my store. You can read more about how I hold students accountable for their bell work here.

2. Establish how students will enter class
If it were up to middle school and high school students, they would congregate outside of your classroom with their friends until the very last moment. Then just as the bell is almost done ringing, they would push through the door and meander through the room until eventually finding their seat. If you don’t establish your expectations and policies for how students will enter your classroom early on, this can be a difficult habit to break. It’s helpful to enforce your tardy policy early on and to have an activity during the first couple minutes of class.

3. Establish how students will leave class
At the end of the year, my students know not to pack up early. They just don’t do it because I make the students who pack up early, even two minutes early unpack everything and write at least one word on whatever it was were were working on. The beginning of the year is an entirely different scene; I has students packing up almost six minutes early the first week of school. Unacceptable. To combat this, I give students the very last one minute of class to pack up. However, in order to be dismissed at the bell, every student needs to be in their seat, sitting down, with phones put away.

4. Establish how students will turn in work
Usually you will have some sort of turn in bin or basket in which students turn in their completed assignments. However, in the beginning of the year, students won’t know this. You will want to show and explain to them how, when, and where students will turn in their work.

5. Establish when and how often students will be able to use the restroom
Without a clearly defined class restroom policy in place, your class will be the one class in their schedule that students designate as their time to use their restroom. And by use the restroom, I mean slowly walk to the restroom while simultaneously sending out some snapchats and taking a few selfies. As middle school and high schoolers, students need to know when it and is not an appropriate time to use the restroom. I like to assign a limited-use restroom pass to my students in the beginning of each semester. This pass is available for free here.

Once these five routines are established in your classroom, your room will begin to work more like a well-oiled machine. What is the one routine you feel is most important to establish in the beginning of the year?

Back to School: Classroom Management and Resorces

Build classroom culture the first week back to school by creating a classroom quilt. Each student receives a square. The outcome is beautiful!
Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year!
Happy Back to School Season! I’m Christina, The Daring English Teacher, and this is my seventh year teaching high school English. Teaching high school English wasn’t always my dream career. Even though I spent countless hours as a child playing school with my kid brother –walking him up and down our hallway with his arms crossed, hand-drawing worksheets for him to complete, attempting to teach a seven-year-old how to create an outline about tigers and write a five paragraph essay, and writing questions to go along with a movie, being a teacher was never on my radar until after college and my first career. After graduating with a BA in journalism and political science, I began working in public relations. I loved the traveling, writing, and collaboration that came with that job, but I loathed many aspects of it as well. After some soul searching, I went back to school, earned my teaching credential in English and my Master of Education, and started my first year as a teacher shortly thereafter.

First Month Classroom Management  
I’ve had the privilege of working in a low-socioeconomic school for six years. So many of my former students have experienced situations and hardships in which no child should ever be subjected to. I think about many of my former students on a daily basis and just hope that they are okay –that they are fed, sheltered, and alive. Working with these students was challenging, but it was also a tremendous privilege because they taught me so much. One thing they taught me is that the first day of school is so critical when it comes to establishing your classroom culture. If you are too strict and cold, students won’t warm up to you. If you are too easy-going and relaxed, they won’t take your seriously. That is why I stress sincerity and mutual respect from day one.

High school students, well, teenagers in general, are fickle beings. They want the responsibility, maturity, and respect that come with being viewed as and treated as an adult, but deep down they are still holding onto their childhood. I make it a point to show my students that I respect each and every single one of them for who they are, where they’ve come from, and where they want to go. My best piece of classroom management advice is to respect each and every single one of your students, and they will see it. They will buy into you. They will buy into your class. They will buy into their potential in your class.

Back to School Class Quilt
Build classroom culture the first week back to school by creating a classroom quilt. Each student receives a square. The outcome is beautiful!
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One of the ways that I get to know each and every single one of my students the first week of school is by creating a classroom quilt with my students. Each student is given a square with four different quadrants. I instruct my students to make their square a true representation of who they are. Each quadrant represents a different category that will help me get to know these students. Once my students are done, I laminate the squares and assemble my quilt on the wall. I keep it up all year to show my students that we are all members of this community in the classroom. If you are looking for a great Back to School Activity, check out my Back to School Classroom Quilt!

This activity is included in my Back to School Activities for Secondary Students resource.