Tips to Start the School Year Peacefully

Well, it’s getting closer to that time we teachers both dread and look forward to. The beginning of a new school year. Along with the mad rush to get everything ready, I try to also think of how I’ll promote peace this year. Here are a few things I do that you might find helpful.

1. Create a Peace Zone. Here I have a small table for both peace and discipline cards below inspirational posters.

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2. Plan your reward system. What rewards will you use?  Personally I have two reward systems: cooperative and individual. My students sit in cooperative groups and get points for on-task behavior. That group with the most points receives a prize at the end of the day. For individual behaviors, each student has the opportunity to get two tickets weekly: one for completing all homework and another if they did pull their card. They can use these ticket to purchase toys from the treasure box.

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3. Think about your rules and your assertive discipline plan. I find that a few  general rules are easier to manage than a long list of specific ones. Examples include: Treat others, property, and self with respect. Follow directions. Wait to be called upon to speak.

For discipline, my students make their own cards. On one side, they color their name and a positive scene doing something they like. This affirms their uniqueness and what privileges can be lost when rules are broken.On the opposite side are three columns: Date, Problem, Next Time. These are filled in when students get to the “pulled card” level of misbehavior. I believe writing the problem down and then writing what would have been a good choice helps children reflect on their behavior. I do have this caveat: Next time must be stated as a POSITIVE. If the problem is pushing in line, then he/she should write, “Keep hands to self.”

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4. Write Discipline into your lesson plans for the first weeks of school. Give yourself plenty of time to train students. This is not the time to rush into the standards but to establish procedures.Believe me, it’ll pay off. Whenever I’ve rushed because I’ve felt under the gun, discipline got a heck of a lot tougher. And you don’t want to start the year like that.

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5. Plan an art project that will make every child  feel successful. Need ideas? Pinterest has tons.

 

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles. She also cowrote Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Five Tips to Start the School Year Peacefully

Well, it’s getting closer to that time we teachers both dread and look forward to. The beginning of a new school year. Along with the mad rush to get everything ready, I try to also think of how I’ll promote peace this year. Here are a few things I do that you might find helpful.

1. Create a Peace Zone. Here I have a small table for both peace and discipline cards below inspirational posters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Plan your reward system. What rewards will you use?  Personally I have two reward systems: cooperative and individual. My students sit in cooperative groups and get points for on-task behavior. That group with the most points receives a prize at the end of the day. For individual behaviors, each student has the opportunity to get two tickets weekly: one for completing all homework and another if they did pull their card. They can use these ticket to purchase toys from the treasure box.

8182147

3. Think about your rules and your assertive discipline plan. I find that a few  general rules are easier to manage than a long list of specific ones. Examples include: Treat others, property, and self with respect. Follow directions. Wait to be called upon to speak.

For discipline, my students make their own cards. On one side, they color their name and a positive scene doing something they like. This affirms their uniqueness and what privileges can be lost when rules are broken.On the opposite side are three columns: Date, Problem, Next Time. These are filled in when students get to the “pulled card” level of misbehavior. I believe writing the problem down and then writing what would have been a good choice helps children reflect on their behavior. I do have this caveat: Next time must be stated as a POSITIVE. If the problem is pushing in line, then he/she should write, “Keep hands to self.”

4. Write Discipline into your lesson plans for the first weeks of school. Give yourself plenty of time to train students. This is not the time to rush into the standards but to establish procedures.Believe me, it’ll pay off. Whenever I’ve rushed because I’ve felt under the gun, discipline got a heck of a lot tougher. And you don’t want to start the year like that.

keep-calm-and-go-slow-4

5. Plan an art project that will make every child  feel successful. Need ideas? Pinterest has tons.

Helping Kids Define Friends and Bullies

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If you find that your students are having trouble distinguishing between friend and bully behavior, this lesson might help. Here they will explore the difference by creating webs of each and comparing them.

Materials: Blank sheet of paper for each child, pencils, chart paper, white board or electronic whiteboard.

Procedure: 1. Make two evenly spaced bubbles on chart paper or electronic whiteboard. Write Friends inside of one and Bullies inside of the other.

2. Ask students for ideas of what either a friend or a bully does. Fill in a bubble or two on board.

3. Pass out blank paper. Ask students to copy what is on the board then fill in more ideas. Monitor their progress.

4. When most of them are finished ask students to share responses. Fill in more bubbles on class chart.

5. Once done you can display the chart as a reminder and  tell children to add any new bubbles they  come up with to their own charts.

Follow up: Whenever there are conflicts the teacher can simply point to the chart to remind students what it means to be a friend.

 

 

 

Creating Peace Zones

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As I read over articles about key thinkers who advocated peace in the classroom I immediately began to examine my own practices. When was I modeling peace for my students? How could I go further? Where could I implement new strategies that kept a balance between learning, calm, and honoring the child? I still am processing all of these ideas but have found inspiration in Dewey, Freire, and Montessori.

Montessori advocated a learning environment that followed the interests of the child. In Montessori classrooms children are given choices to develop their intellect, moral sense, and fine motor skills. As a former Montessori teacher, I found that facilitating good choices is a healthy way to help children learn to self-correct behaviors. Not only is it peaceful, but it is empowering for the child. I use Montessori language in a traditional setting to help children make positive choices with phrases such as, “You may walk,” or “I’d like to remind you all to use gentle voices.” 

To take this further I created a zone for peace. It contains a bulletin board with a small display beneath. At the top of the bulletin board is a poster of Dean Bernal swimming with JoJo the dolphin. In the center are three posters. One says, “What do friends do?” The second says, “What do bullies do?” The third, and most important asks, “What have I done to resolve conflicts peacefully today?” Below these posters is a small table with the Peace Cards I designed and discipline cards. Peace cards are index cards where children write and draw positive choices for conflicts. After creating the card the child has the choice of keeping it as a reminder of good choices, adding it to the class box, or sharing it with the child he/she has had a problem with.  

My discipline cards also have a positive component. During the first week of school, my students write their names on the back of a 5″ by 7″ cards with drawings of those things that bring them joy. That way, whenever a child needs redirection he/she is reminded of those parts of him/her that are unique. If a child does need disciplining they fill in three columns on the opposite side: date, problem, and what to do positively  next time.

I have found having Peace Cards next to discipline cards creates a place for children to feel calm. It is here that they know they are safe, respected for their individuality, and empowered to make good choices.