Resetting High Standards and Routines in the New Year
At the beginning of the new year, Daniel Robertson helps us get back into routines and encourages us to maintain our high classroom standards.
The new year often brings about renewed motivations, ambitions and fresh personal targets that will enable us to succeed and achieve even more than we did the year before.
With the Christmas break very much over, and children returning to classrooms this month, it is time to hit the refresh button. To get the Spring Term underway effectively, it is so important that we re-establish those high standards of behaviour and the classroom culture you have worked so hard to implement throughout the academic year so far.
Here we take a look at how you can re-establish your expectations and standards to get the new year started and, therefore, maximise the outcomes for your children and classes.
Clearly define the reasons behind your expectations – Defining expectations will form the foundations for what your learning culture will look like, while making all students aware of how they should be conducting themselves in a positive learning environment. When running through the expectations from last year, make sure that information is clear, concise and easy to follow. This way, you can make the classroom all the more inclusive, and there is a unified understanding of how students should conduct themselves to achieve their very best.
Do not rush the process – You may be wanting to get started quickly and gain good ground on the topics you have planned for your students in your first lessons of the term. However, do not rush the setting of standards and expectations, as these will form an integral part of how your students develop and achieve throughout the term. Dedicate your first lesson to standards, and take these positive steps into your teaching thereafter. Your students will not learn what you need them to if the standards aren’t there.
Make classroom expectations positive – Sometimes, classroom expectations can be delivered in a way that spotlights the negative consequences that will be administered if standards are not met. However, if you want to get everyone on board and build a positive relationship between your students and what is expected of them, you should take an approach that celebrates the amazing things that they do. Praise your students for the work they have done so far, and zoom in on the positive things they can achieve through meeting your standards and expectations.
Make standards and expectations inclusive – For best results, involve each member of the class in the setting of standards and expectations. When running through your plans, it is important to ask your students what they think high standards look like, and how they feel a positive attitude towards learning can be obtained. By doing this, students feel much more involved in the process and therefore feel a greater sense of value and belonging.
Establish fairness – Disciplinary actions within the classroom should always align themselves with pastoral procedures and policy. However, where possible you should generate a discussion with your students when re-establishing the norms, especially regarding the consequences when expectations and standards are, unfortunately, not met. By focusing also upon what your students deem to be acceptable consequences when norms and expectations are broken within lesson time, enables you to have an agreement with your students on what classroom behaviour should look like. Additionally, it will generate a mutual understanding that makes meeting expectations and standards easier for your students, too.
Be assertive and consistent – Once you have your expectations and standards reset, it is important that you demonstrate consistency, and are clear and assertive when acting upon them. This way, fairness is established and everyone knows where they stand.
Treat the setting of standards and expectations as a continuous process – It is essential that we see standards and expectations as a continuous process rather than a singular session. Remember to revisit these standards consistently, so your students have a fresh understanding of what is expected of them. Things can quickly change throughout the school term, so it is vital that every student remains on the same page when it comes to their classroom conduct. Dedicate a small part of a lesson, where necessary, to provide positive reminders throughout the term and school year.
Encourage reflective practise – Reflection is a key skill that enables us all to develop. So, why not encourage your students to consider how they have performed at the end of the term through a feedback session on the standards and expectations you have set so far? Feedback should focus on the positive aspects of what, how and why they have achieved the great things that they have throughout the Spring term. You can also use this time for personal target setting, so your students can round off the term positively, and return after the holidays with the aspirations to achieve even more.
Daniel Robertson is a Content Executive for the education publisher Twinkl UK. Prior to this role, he has worked in a wide variety of school settings acting as both a curriculum lead in English Literature and Language working closely with KS3 and KS4 children, as well as mentoring trainee teachers and NQTs to obtain their teaching qualification. He has worked closely with early career teachers to improve teaching and learning and has since been writing for Twinkl UK. He graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with an English Literature and Creative Writing degree, whilst working with inclusion in higher education.