As most teachers know, March Madness is not just a basketball tournament. It’s also what happens in classrooms across the country as the weather warms up and students start thinking about Spring Break and summer vacation. Behavior management at this stage of the school year can be tricky, so we’ve gathered some slam dunk strategies from really good teachers who know how to keep March Madness out of the classroom and on the court.
Strategies to Tame March Madness in the Classroom
Secret Message Activity Builds Great Behavior and Literacy Skills
Idea by Rebecca, 2nd Grade Teacher, Lebanon, Maine
To encourage positive behavior while also fostering spelling skills, I plan a secret message, count the letters in my message, then jot that many blank lines on the board hangman style. Whenever I “catch” my students behaving well, I award them one or more letters to place in the message. For example, when my children receive a positive report when they attend a special class or assembly, they earn five letters. I also allow individual children to earn letters for the class.
When all the blanks in the message have been filled in, my students discover I’ve embedded a surprise in the message. It might be a free recess, a fun art project, a special snack, etc. This is a great literacy activity because the children are constantly predicting what the message will be.
Classic and Innovative Attention-Getters that Work
Idea by Carolyn, 1st Grade Teacher, San Jose, California
I clap a rhythmic pattern for my students to repeat; I then clap the same pattern back to them. I sometimes catch them off-guard by responding with a different clapping pattern. This usually gets their attention and they feel good about being sharp enough to respond correctly.
If I sense they’ve been sitting too long, I have them do a quick set of stretching exercises, or we play a quick game of Simon Says. I end the game by declaring, “Simon Says, ‘Let’s get back to work!’”
Help Kids Focus by Tapping into the Powers of the Mind
Idea by Judith, Special Education Teacher, Burlington, Connecticut
Here’s a little idea that really helps students refocus. First, tie a small washer to the end of a 12″ long piece of string. Then, after inhaling and exhaling three times, demonstrate how, by holding the string to your forehead, and by using the power of the mind, you can concentrate in an attempt to make the washer spin or swing to the right or left, and then concentrate even more deeply to make the washer hold still.
The very act of sitting quietly and concentrating actually does help children feel calm. No matter which way the washer moves, the kids begin to connect with their powers of concentration, and they return to the task at hand feeling serene and focused.
How do you rebound from March Madness in your classroom?
Share your strategies with us below or on the Really Good Teachers forums!