At the beginning of the academic year, I struggled to get my class to engage. This was partly as a result of the fact that some children came in carrying the weight of home-life problems.
As teachers, it is our job to make every child feel comfortable, so I set out on a journey to ensure that, when in my care, my class felt settled and ready to learn.
Here are the three things that worked best
1. The high-five entrance
Call me old fashioned, but getting my class to line up in a straight (quiet) line before they enter the class is key. I then set them a question to answer using "The Entry High-Five".
This simple task means their brains kick into learning mode.
I stick an A4 sheet above the door with a question that they have to answer. As they come through and answer it, they high-five a paper hand I have pinned so it hangs from the door frame.
The high five is for novelty – it makes it fun – but it also gets the heart rate up on the jump (blood flow for the brain, even if it’s just a little extra).
Most importantly, though, it tells the kids that they are entering into a high-five environment of support and care.
Side note: I also have an exit high five – see it in action here.
2. Balloons and other games
Bombarding my class with three morning tasks just didn’t work.
So now, the first thing we do is a #TeamworkTask, where I set a simple challenge – for example, keep the balloon off the ground, over-under game, shape formation – and the children have to complete it.
To make it clear, the children aren’t in small groups – we are doing this as one big team.
These tasks take one minute, yet the benefits last the whole day. My class’ collaboration and communication skills have improved tenfold since introducing this, too.
3. 3, 2, 1 and (rainbow) breathe
I always talk about goal setting in my class. Not just "What do you want to be when you’re older?" but "What do you want to have achieved by the end of the day?"
After our #TeamworkTask, we find a space in the classroom and do yoga.
Now, I’m not a yoga teacher, so I found some useful videos on GoNoodle; my class love the "Rainbow Breath" video, which is about raising energy and facing the day.
Jodi Komitor, a kids’ yoga specialist, talks about all the benefits of kids’ yoga such as enhancing concentration and increasing self-esteem. (Read her full blog here)
All of this happens in the first 10 minutes of the school day. On entry to class, the children are now engaged and eager to crack on with their learning.
Try one of these tips and let me know how you get on.