I feel like my two days with students last week were really just a warm-up to what comes next. Monday will start our first real week of the new term, and that's when I'm planning to implement some new strategies and policies in the classroom. I'm thinking about revamping a lot of what I do in my reading and writing block (more on that later), but I'm also going to be cracking down more on students who abuse privileges. For example, we have several scheduled bathroom breaks throughout the day: before school (we start at 7:45), between reading & math at 9:30, before recess at 11:40, after lunch at 12:30, and if needed, right before dismissal at 2:30. Despite these opportunities, I still have students who ask to go multiple times throughout the day. They always insist that it's an "emergency," and while I'm highly skeptical that we share the same definition of that term, I've seen too many accidents among fourth graders over the last couple years to question it. Surely, though, the students are taking advantage of my relaxed policy, and some of them are missing out on valuable instructional time because of it.
I recently saw Stephanie's post over at Teaching in Room 6 about Managing the Bathroom, and it was a real flash of genius. I, too, have a classroom economy in place, and the idea of selling the students additional bathroom passes seemed like a brilliant idea. I know many of my students will buy them just in case, and it will definitely curtail some of my frequent bathroom/water fountain visitors. (If students have a genuine medical issue, this policy won't apply to them.)
I introduced the item before opening my class store yesterday, and not surprisingly, it was met with some controversy. My frequent bathroom-goers were outraged that I would make them buy a pass, but many of my other students spoke up in defense of the policy. In the end, the nay-sayers gave in, and several orders for bathroom passes were placed once the students started shopping.
I wasn't quite on my game enough to make and order the bathroom passes through VistaPrint like Stephanie did, so I made my own this morning, and I'm sharing them as a freebie. Click the image below (or click here) to get the passes from my Google Drive.
In other developments, I think the rest of this weekend is going to be spent getting organized for this term. I'm starting several new units, and I really want to map it all out and plan as much as I can so that I'm not rushing around doing everything at the last minute. I also have lots of thank you cards to write because my class spoiled me tremendously before the break.
What new policies or routines are you excited about implementing this year?