Student behavior in the Spring always seems to get worse. It happens every year!
I have a few theories:
- Winter was way too long!
- They have gotten really comfortable with their classmates and they feel they can be themselves more.
- They know what to expect each day.
- Classroom management has gotten too laxed.
- Teachers are starting to expect more out of students because it is well into the school year.
- Teachers have more work to give out because the end of the year is coming soon.
- Teachers are busy testing students individually and the other students are getting busy work.
Whether, one of these apply or all of them, it is annoying and draining on all teachers across the board. It is what causes teachers to drink or take prescription pills. Just being honest.
Have you ever stood at pick up or chatted with a teacher friend at recess, “I don’t know what has gotten into my students today. Their behavior is so bad.”?
The patterns that I have noticed is that behavior is the worst on Mondays, the students have been home all weekend and have forgotten the classroom rules.
After a break, they are excited to see their classmates and again have forgotten the rules over break.
Weather changes. Rainy days. Windy Days (I don’t know what it is about the wind, but it always makes them CRAZY) and it puts me in a grumpy mood.
Holidays (no explanation needed).
So what do we do about it?
Just deal with it? Absolutely not.
One day, that is fine, but once it is more than one day in a row, then action needs to be taken. I personally begin using our Listening Lessons again and I tighten up ship on classroom management. CLICK HERE for the Classroom Management System I use. I remind students of my behavior clipboard and start taking away Behavior Points immediately. I don’t let anything slide. Lets just say, I am not the fun, nice teacher that they had last week.
We go over classroom rules again. If the behavior involves a majority of the class, then fun activities are taken away (art, math games, sight word games, etc.) All fun is out the window til their behavior straightens up. I can be a very fun teacher, but they have to “put the fun back in” by earning it with cooperation.
It always works. Some years it takes longer than others.
Students Start Being Mean
Another area of concern is that students start to be really mean come Spring time. I believe that they have gotten used to each other and it becomes a more of a bickering, like a sibling relationship.
Many Spring times ago, I had a group of students who were downright mean to each other. These issues were coming up daily. Tattling, drawing on each other’s papers, saying mean things to each other, making fun of each other, purposely excluding from games at recess, forming clubs that other students couldn’t be in, hitting, kicking, mean comments, dis inviting others to their birthday … oh we had it all!
“You can’t come to my birthday party!” The worst put down to hear by kids 7 and under!
I have my own kids, and so much of it seemed like sibling fighting. One recess they were best friends and the next recess, they were saying mean words to each other. Not to mention all the parent emails, phone calls and interactions that had to be made on the result of these students. It was exhausting. By the end of the day I wanted to bury my head in my pillow and scream.
Teaching Character Education
That summer, I did some research and discovered how most students are not taught at home to be respectful. Parents don’t teach it! I kept telling my students they were being disrespectful and they didn’t know what I meant. I hadn’t taught them what respect or disrespect meant. When I asked them to be good, they didn’t know what “being good” looks like. Unfortunately, we can’t depend on parents to teach character, social skills, social cues, kindness and problem solving at home.
6 Reasons To Teach Character Education
- Parents are not teaching it at home any more. They sadly expect the school and teachers to do so.
- Your students will respect you and each other.
- Improves student performance. You will get more teaching done since the students will be better behaved and your dealing with less drama. Plus less phone calls and emails from parents. Which means more time with your family.
- These skills affect students for a life time and their future friends, family and their career. You are setting them up for success.
- Putting in more work at the beginning will pay off significantly for you later.
- Substitutes love subbing for your class. Feel free to take a day off knowing that your students will put those skills they have learned into action.
The Next School Year
I started the next school year and each one there after, teaching character education and social skills right from day 1. I taught them all as my own children. We met everyday in a family meeting and discussed a new skill or built on the one from the day before. Sometimes we did team building, partner work and problem solving. We did role-playing, social stories, and I taught them what it means to respect others.
The results were amazing. I could not believe the night and day difference with these students. I really noticed come Springtime when these other issues never really came up. There was very little bickering, girl drama, kids excluding others and they looked out for each other like a team. We felt more like family than classmates. We continued to meet a few times a week to learn more social skills and to address any issues that came up.
Since I started this character education with my students, it is interesting to go into other classrooms and see that disruptive behavior I once I had in my room showing up in these other classes. I see these students being mean to each other, lots of tears, crying, feelings hurt and students feeling unsafe.
The school I was at didn’t have a specific curriculum to follow, they gave us concepts but not the actual lessons. As teachers we are told to spend most of our time on ELA and Math, not creating a character education curriculum. Hence the reasons I hadn’t done it before.
I created my own resource binder to use with my students. It is chocked full of discussion questions, worksheets, interactive activities, team building ideas, accepting others and ways to implement it fully.
If your school has a character education program, I challenge you to put full effort into using it. If you don’t like it or need one, then check out mine that I have created.
It is broken up into categories (More Units are coming)
Self Control & Listening
Accepting Others with Kindness
Conflict Resolution & Negotiating Differences
Make it a goal to have character education be just as important as ELA and Math.
Teaching students to be respectful, honest, and kind will get them farther than you know.
For more information on other Classroom Management Strategies, check out our article on Classroom Management.