Okay – you’ve made it to the downward slope.
There’s only about six weeks standing between you and the long summer holiday. The sun is started to make an appearance and the days are getting longer…
The only problem is that the kids can sense it too.
The looming holiday and warmer temperatures are a reminder that their relationship with you is about to come to an end. What we don’t want to happen is for their behaviour to deteriorate and for the end of term to become a moan-athon.
So – how do you keep things positive right until the 3.30pm on the last day of term?
Here are five ideas.
1. Don’t throw away the routine.
Okay, routine can be crushingly dull, but it is still essential to help your students maintain their behaviour. Throwing away your classroom routine and sitting your class in front of endless DVDs sends the message that school is over and your expectations are at rock bottom.
Holding on to your routines in the weeks that follow will help the children feel happier and more secure.
Continue to give your class meaningful work until the last few days – this will make your students feel like coming to school still has a purpose.
2. Remind students of their impact on the group.
Remind your pupils how behaving well until the end of term has an impact both on themselves, their teacher and the entire class.
Paul Dix of Pivotal Education recommends writing a short, simple note home to each student, describing a good piece of behaviour they have exhibited and the effect of the behaviour on the class. For instance, ‘Thank you for still putting up your hand to answer a question; it means everyone in our class takes turns and has an opportunity to be heard.”
This is easy to implement. Print off a copy of your class list and aim to send home four notes each week, crossing off each name to make sure no one gets left out.
Remember – the notes don’t need to be long winded or elaborate to have an impact – they should be written in a matter of seconds.
For more information, read this article on The Guardian’s website.
3. Provide a little… motivation
Research shows that showering children with rewards is not the best way to improve behaviour; however, they can have an impact in the short term.
As your relationship with the class is now based on the short term, why not mix things up and generate a new reward system – maybe even one that has been designed by the students?
Getting your students to engage in a system that leads up to a pay-off near the end of term will give them something to work towards until the last minute.
If possible, include an element of randomness in your reward system – research also shows that randomness makes such systems more ‘sticky’, maintaining participants interest for longer.
Want a ready made solution? Check out this idea for classroom coupons at proudtobeprimary.com.
4. Use team building activities
Your class are about to go their own way for the summer – so we want to send the message that this group still matters, right until the very end of term.
Students that have well-developed social skills, and still feel like part of a group, are less likely to engage in petty arguments and disagreements.
Encourage this by planning team-building games as an integral part of your curriculum.
teachthought.com have produced a list of ten team-building games for the first day of class – but we think these can be used just as powerfully at the end of the year as well.
5. Use activities that encourage positivity
Students that feel positive are more likely to behave well. The following activity, entitled ‘pocketful of sunshine’, is a great game for encouraging a classroom positive vibe (for a full description, see this page on teachhub.com).
Every pupil is given a paper bag. They write their name on the bag and add their own designs and decorations. This bag will act as each child’s post box.
Now each pupil is given a 30 squares of paper. The student writes an achievement or something positive from the school year for each child in the class (this can be done anonymously).
When everyone has finished writing, every student posts the correct comment card in the appropriate bag.
Each student in the class now has a bag with thirty positive comments or compliments about themselves to open and read, written by the rest of the group.
(Obviously, it may be best to quickly scan the comments to check they are positive and appropriate before they are posted.)