Have you ever seen some of the things teachers do when they’re hoping for a snow day? They suddenly change from rational human beings to superstition machines. One of my friends sleeps with her pajamas inside-out and a spoon under her pillow. My principal wears special snowflake earrings.
We all know that snow dances don’t affect the weather, but there is still a powerful something about rituals that can’t be denied.
Rituals Are Everywhere
You see it everywhere-in the bowler who does the high-five-low-jive with his team members after a strike; in the way you line up your colored pencils in ROYGBIV order before working on your art project; in the special extra words your kids add to the Happy Birthday song.
I believe it’s important to use rituals in the classroom to encourage positive actions, build community, and celebrate achievements.
Classroom Rituals That Build Community
Here are a few examples:
- Fist pump for every correct answer when correcting a math facts test
- Positive and/or funny good-bye call-and-response protocol to end class each day
- Students sit in the teacher’s chair when sharing their writing with the class
- Joke of the day to start class
- Special music for cleanup and other transitions
- Hand jive or secret handshake as the students leave
- Secret word that means it’s time to pack up
Increase Academic Achievement With Rituals
Inside jokes and shared routines tell your students they belong. When students feel they belong, they are less likely to skip school. When their achievements are recognized and celebrated (even with a silly fist pump) they try harder. And of course, attendance and trying harder are directly related to academic achievement. Plus – the more they feel they belong, the less they will challenge your authority!
Rituals do not have to be complicated, long, or even funny. They just need to add a little touch of meaning to the everyday happenings in your classroom.
Give it a try! You may be surprised at the difference it makes.
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!
Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies
Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources
- Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
- 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
- The Take-Charge Teacher
- All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
- The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
- The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2
- Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
- Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
- 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
- What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?
- Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
- Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
- A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
- The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide