Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recess Academy

Yes, I am alive.  This year has been really hard.  With a new grade level, a challenging group of kiddos, and a new math program (not to mention trying to have a life outside of school!) I have felt like I am barely keeping my head above water all year.  I am just now starting to feel on top of things even thought I have a million things I want to start with my kids.  My goal is to really think about what my kids can and cannot handle so I do not get frustrated.  For example, I really really really wanted to carve pumpkins with my kids but I know my kids just can't handle it so I am putting it off until next year.
   Anyways, this post is about Recess Academy.  I wish I could take credit for this idea but sadly I can't.  Those of you that have read my posts before know that I am a big fan of Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. McKenzie and Lisa Stanzione. (Buy here).  This book is about how to eliminate power struggles, give students logical choices, and respectfully manage your classroom.  I read it after my first year of teaching and let me tell you- I went home a lot less frustrated every day.  When I led the committee to write out new school wide discipline plan, this is the book we based it on.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  Ok back to recess academy.  The idea is simple.  You take kids out of recess or specials for five to ten minutes and practice behaviors they are struggling to master.  I had my first recess academy two weeks ago and it was great.  I had several students that continual blurted out and I realized how frustrated that made me and how it was have a negative impact on our day.  So I pulled these four kids out of music (we do not get recess) to practice raising their hands.  We sat on the carpet and I read them a really fun picture book.  Whenever they had something to say or wanted to answer a question, they had to raise their hand.  Sometimes I called on them and sometimes I did not.   I have seen a real improvement in hand raising the past two weeks.  This was a positive experience for both me and the students instead of making them move their clip and everyone getting upset.  When we were finished, they went back to music class.  There are a lot of other situations you can use recess academy such as standing in line correctly, walking in the hall correctly, following classroom routines, and lots more!
  I would love to hear back from you if you decide to try this strategy!