2/4 Tiny Tricks to Make Life Easier
You can never have enough tricks up your sleeve when you work with kids. It’s bad enough for classroom teachers who see the same 20-30 kids day in and day out. At least they have time to teach kids procedures that help to alleviate some of the crazy behaviors. They have time to work through different tricks to see what works. You need about 500 more tricks when you work with the whole school and have to deal with all the shenanigans from kinder darlings to 5th grade terrors.
Here are just a few of my favorite little tricks and tidbits to get kids on track and thinking about music (instead of the millions of other things that they think about during any given day). If you have some tricks of your own to share, please take a moment and add them in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I’d love to hear what you have to share!
#1 Tooth Fairy Troubles
I hate it when kids play with their loose teeth and (God forbid) pull them out in my room. Gross! I knew early on in my teaching career that I needed to come up with a strategy to keep kids from playing with their teeth when they’re in my classroom. So, when the first little first grader comes up to me each year proudly declaring that they have a loose tooth I tell ALL of them this story…
“You have a loose tooth! Oh good! Everyone have a seat and listen! I love when kids have loose teeth because any time that a kid looses their tooth in my room… I get to KEEP IT! The tooth fairy and I have a deal. She loves when I bring kid teeth home because then she doesn’t have to fly around to all of your houses and only has to come to mine. It makes her job easier. So, if you lose your tooth in this room, I’ll keep it and give it to the tooth fairy and then I’ll get all the money! In fact, I get double the money! So everyone with loose teeth go right ahead and wiggle them in here.”
The kids laugh and scream that I can’t have their teeth. They’re mostly sure that I won’t keep their teeth, but not sure enough to test it out. Any time I see a kid wiggling a tooth I say “Oh good! Keep working on that one and lose it in my classroom!” I swear that I haven’t had any lost teeth since I started with this story.
#2 Where is that darned door holder?
It seems like every teacher in my building has a different way of choosing kids to do jobs in their room. Some teachers have “door holders” for the class, some have line monitors, some have mail carriers, and I even have one teacher who has “security” (which is really just a door holder). I try and teach “bell to bell,” so at the end of a lesson I have very little time to get them lined up and out of the room. I hate wasting time messing with the line at the door.
Instead of asking for a door holder to come forward (because that kid inevitably forgets until it’s too late) I choose my own kid. At the beginning of the year kids squawk at me about who their door holder is and how I’m doing it wrong (mostly I hear this from Kindergarten kiddos) but I answer by telling them this. “I’m glad that you have a responsible door holder and that that person helps you out around the school, but in my room I get to choose the door holder. I’m going to choose the person who is standing quietly, following directions, and listening. Only the best students are allowed to hold my door because it’s a big job and I’ve got to choose someone I trust.”
I also make door holding a big deal especially with my younger folks. “Door holding is a very special and important job,” I tell them. “You’ve got to be responsible if you’re going to hold my big, heavy door. No one should talk to or touch the door holder. They’re doing an important job for me and I don’t want them to get distracted. Make sure you don’t ever talk to or touch a door holder. They’re busy!”
I make a big deal about it once, and then things run pretty smoothly after that.
#3 Everyone in their own square!
One last thing about lines! I am lucky to have flooring made of lots of squares of carpet. The squares are big enough that a kid can fit comfortably and not be so close to someone else that they’re touching. When students are getting ready to get in line I preface with “Don’t forget that every person in line gets their own square. Make sure that you’re not in anyone else’s square when you find your spot.” This usually works. I’ve got to explain it more with kindergarten at the beginning of the year. I might have to throw out a “Check your square!” and as soon as I do they straighten up and check their spaces.
And at my school some teachers do two lines (boy and girl) and some just do one. Last year all Kinder and 1st grade did two lines, but now some K, 1, and 2 do two and some K, 1, and 2 do one. It’s a huge pain in the butt to remember. So, I tell the K and 1 that we line up with two lines in my room, one for boys and one for girls, and after that we do only one line. If their teacher wants to switch them into a different formation in the hallway then he or she can, but in my room, this is how we line up. They don’t fight that.
Thanks to Steph at “Stay Tuned” for making this linky party happen!