Even though it's summer, my brain doesn't seem to understand...I've been thinking about things from years past that I know I want to do again next year. One of the things I tried this year was my "Our Family" unit that I started the first day of school.
I posted the blank board instead of the ones with pictures for privacy reasons.
It's so important to set an atmosphere of safety and family in your classroom. The way you make your class feel is how they will respond while in your classroom. Think about it, you don't act the same way dressed up at church as you do eating at a restaurant. Your expectations in every place you go are different.
I've always said that when my students walk through my classroom door, first and foremost, they know it's a safe place where they are loved. They also know that I expect their best and nothing less. Building this environment is not easy especially when we all come from such diverse backgrounds. One thing that helped build our classroom family from the first day of school was my "Our Family" board at our carpet area. At our school open house, I sent a note asking for a family picture with as many family members in it as possible. Students brought in their family pictures for the first 2-3 weeks of school and we added them one by one to our board. Each student was given the chance to stand in front of the class and explain who was in the photo and answer questions about their family. Not only did they enjoy sharing about their family, it gave everyone a common ground to start from. It became a type of ice breaker for students to talk to one another and ask questions. As an added bonus, I was able to learn about their families quickly too. It's hard sometimes to piece together family dynamics of students and sometimes this is the key to understanding a students needs. If they spend most of their time at grandmas house, that's something that I need to know. If they share a bedroom with 4 other siblings, that is also something I need to know. This was also a great way to incorporate information about myself which is always so exciting for the kiddos. I think they love it so much because it lets them see that you are human.
I would love to hear the things you do to build your classroom family!