Building classroom culture…

My first week as a primary school teacher has come to an end and I am feeling pretty good about the whole thing.  It is a lot harder then I expected and there is a lot more preparation work then I am used to, but it is a good hard that means I am learning and growing, not a bad hard which equals stress and anxiety.

I recently heard a definition of stress as:

Being under pressure without the capacity to respond.

Pressure is a fact of life and we all experience it, but stress is something different.  Beginning a new career with new ways of being and doing comes with a lot of pressure.  I have a whole class of children expecting me to teach them how to read and I am very aware of this.  I am drawing upon all my learning techniques and support networks to ensure I don’t allow pressure to tip over into stress.  We shall see how successful I am with this as the term progresses.  The best part of this is realising how generous teachers are with their time and with their knowledge.   I went to visit my neighbour yesterday (a retired teacher) and she loaded me up with lots of fantastic resources and promised to talk me through the different assessments I will be doing this year.

All that aside here are some of the bit and bobs I have tried this week and how it has turned out…

I started out the year by asking the children:

“What kind of teacher would you like me to be?”

I question that I completely stole from the Building Learning Power (BLP) blog.  After a bit of group brain storming we came up with just three criteria:

Happy, Kind and Helpful

I think I can do that.  The next question I asked (also from the BLP blog) was:

“What kind of classroom would you like?”

and after a bit more brainstorming we came up with…

Glittery, pompoms, fun, comfortable.

In order to fulfill this request I need to visit the craft store and stock up on pompoms.  I really enjoyed this as an icebreaker as I hope it sent the message to the children that I care about their thoughts and feelings and that in our classroom their voices will be heard, listened to, and acted upon.  This is a conversation that I intend to re-visit because as we gain more knowledge and experience about what it actually means to be in a year one classroom maybe our ideas about what we want in a teacher and in a classroom will become more refined and sophisticated.

Another cool thing (in my opinion) that I started this week was morning meditation.  I use the Headspace app to guide the children through a one minute kindness meditation.  In the meditation we needed to think about a person who we like or love and then visualise doing something nice for them and the look on their face.  Then we notice how that makes us feel and the meditation is over.  Afterwards I invite the children to tell me who they thought about, what they did and how it made them feel.  In this exercise we are using the theater of our mind which is going to be a super useful skill to develop as a learning tool.  I hope that this meditation is setting my class up to have kindness at the forefront of their mind as they go through their day and fingers crossed contributing to a positive classroom culture.

I would love to hear about how you set up a positive classroom culture at your school/ early childhood centre, or even how you create a positive family culture.  🙂  Maybe I can steal some of your ideas to try out next week?  Thanks in advance!



2 thoughts on “Building classroom culture…

  1. Jessica, Congratulations on surviving the first week and maintaining a positive attitude. I always loved year one. It was my favourite year. I love the questions you asked the children, and the answers they gave, especially their guidance in what sort of a teacher they wanted. How wise are little children. And they want a classroom that is theirs and fun. I always made sure from the very start that the children felt as if they belonged and had some sense of ownership of the classroom. I have written about that quite extensively on my blog and in my readilearn collection of early childhood teaching resources. I love the sound of the kindness meditation you do each morning. Hopefully it will carry over in their attitudes to each other during the day. I used to sing an affirmation song from Anne Infante’s “Special as I can be” CD each morning. It was good for me as well as the children, and anyone else who happened to be in the room! I loved it when the children would spontaneously start singing the songs as they worked during the day. That’s joy!
    Have a wonderful year. I look forward to hearing about your progress.

  2. Wow Jess its great to see you are expanding your horizons more and venturing out to be a primary school teacher. Ive been reading all your blog and its really fantastic. I love how you put the words like a learning story. Well done

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