So...I literally have chills. I will admit, I was slightly hesitant to actually put some of these strategies in place. More than once I asked myself, will this REALLY work in middle school? Will 6th graders REALLY buy into this? And of course, the self doubt crept into my head too, and I wondered if I could actually implement these strategies in the proper way after only a few webcasts and ebooks.
But let me start at the beginning.
The kids started on Wednesday with a half day devoted to PBIS and the expectations of our school. They went through station rotations to learn about the matrix, were acknowledged using our PRIDE Points, and used those points to choose different games to play during an all school assembly. The kids had a blast, and it was a really fun day.
Thursday was our first full day. I used that day (in each of my 42 minute class periods) to introduce myself to the kids, collect supplies, and do other housekeeping things that need to be done on the first day. That day went SO fast. I was really exhausted by the time the last bell rang. After 5 months off from summer vacation and maternity leave, it was a shock to my system to be back at work!
Friday was the first day I really got to do anything with my classes, so I used today to teach the Class-Yes and the Scoreboard. That's when I got chills! After the class got done with their first journal, I had them share one thing that they wrote with their table group, then I called their attention back to me. Here's basically how it went...
Me: You've probably noticed that you get a lot of opportunities to talk with your group. You will do a lot of group work in here this year. Sometimes when you are working I will need to get your attention really quickly to give you more directions, answer some questions, or just to tell you how awesome you are.
Class: laughter, eye rolling, etc
Me: How many of you have ever been annoyed because you had to wait for a couple of kids to quiet down so that the teacher could give directions?
Class: Raised hands, more head nodding, more eye rolling - remember this IS middle school!
Me: Well I don't want you to be annoyed, or have to wait on other kids. I like to move fast! In order to get your attention snap that fast, so that I can tell you something fast and get you back to work, we're going to do something called the class-yes. Anyone ever heard of it? It's really tricky. It's going to take you a while to learn how to do it. When I say class you say long expectant pause yes! Let's practice. Class...
Class: Reluctantly Yes.
Me: Good! But you know there's always a catch, right? Well the catch here, is that however I say class is how you have to say yes. So if I say in a super deep voice Class... then you say...
Class: In a super deep voice followed by lots of giggles Yes!
Me: Great! And if I say Classity class...then you say...
Class: Yessity Yes!
Me: Exactly right! So let's practice. I want you to tell the people in your table group one fun thing that you did this summer, and be listening for me to say "Class". Go ahead and share. Wait a minute or so, then say in a silly sing-songy voice Class...
Class: In a silly sing-songy voice Yes!
Me: You guys are so awesome!
I used this technique several more times during the remainder of the class period, and it worked every time. I would say that 99% of my kids bought into it right from the start. they were smiling, laughing, and ON TASK! Usually on the first day you are battling against three months of summer vacation; the kids have forgotten what it means to listen to directions, to sit in their seats, to focus on an activity, etc. I am so excited to have a new strategy in my "bag of tricks" to help grab students' attention while being positive and FUN.
During this lesson I also introduced the scoreboard, which I will talk more about later!