Friday, May 16, 2008

Rituals and Routines (Toni Chant)

Toni Chant - You’re a dynamic teacher! When I had the pleasure of working in your classroom, I was so amazed by the sense of classroom community. The rituals and routines that you’ve established with your students are so unique. Please share with me some of your favorite classroom routines and rituals and how I can adapt them to a 4th grade classroom. (Shea Beaudreau)

Dear Shea,

Thank you, first of all, for gracing us with your amazing gifts and tender heart. I was delighted to have such a talented and passionate teacher share in our classroom life. Here are some of my personal beliefs that facilitate learning in and out of our classroom.
Create opportunities to build relationships. Why? Relationships build trust.
Trust leads to risk. The rest is history.

My most favorite things:
Daily: Greet each student at the door with a smile, and a hug or pat on the back. This brief exchange helps set the tone for the day and provides insight on the mood of the students. Personally, I love the feeling of coming home and being welcomed at the door by my husband with a hug and a smile.

Beginning of each week: We all come together as a class to share in one happy or sad experience we each might have had over the weekend. We all sit in a circle and take turns speaking and listening. I love, love, love doing this! We get to know each other and everyone has a chance to work on listening and speaking skills. This strategy is an off shoot of the
seminar dialogue.

Whenever we gather together on the carpet, if possible, we all sit in a circle facing each other. This is a great strategy to use during the closing session of the workshop model. Students feel less crowded, are able to work on listening skills while keeping their eyes on the speaker. This has worked very well for us this year. The best part about this is that I can sit in between students who might need extra support academically or behaviorally. It's like sitting at the dinner table sharing our experiences.

The Hitching Post: I have a place available for the students to leave me notes about anything that's on their mind such as questions, comments, concerns, request for student/teacher conference or information. Sometimes students might be reluctant to ask questions in front of their peers. This is a 'sneaky' way to encourage students to write. I read and address the notes daily. This ritual has reduced unusual conversation during instruction, as well.

The last thing that I would like to share is our goodbye dance at the end of each week. We dance and sing our way out the door as we celebrate each other, from YMCA to the Handjive. Stop by any Friday afternoon, jump up on a table, and celebrate the week with us. The students always leave with a smile.

I wish you the very best next year!

With love,

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