The start of a new school year breeds opportunity for both teacher and student growth.  Teachers always strive to become better seasoned at what they do, while students will ideally make strides in their academic and personal lives as they inch closer to adulthood.  So it’s vital for teachers to have a productive atmosphere in place from day one — establishing positive rapport with students while encouraging the class to do the same with each other. Give these exercises a try in setting the tone.

REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY:  Pose a question to your students on the first day of school: “What could you do to ruin a good classroom?” Don’t worry about tapping into their destructive energy because it’s just part of the exercise. Write the various student ideas on the board and discuss the negative effects each would have on the learning environment. For example — if a student suggested using squirt guns in class, a discussion about water damage, slick floors and mold growth could aid in students understanding the code of conduct.

COMPLIMENT CHAIN: Reinforce the value of compliments to students by starting a “chain” — one that gains a link each time a visiting adult pays the class a collective compliment. This is an amazing system to get students on their best behavior for visitors.  Set an attainable number of links as the target goal, and then reward the class with a celebration once they reach it!

HAPPY CAMPERS:  Speaking of celebrations — a classroom campout party is always a favorite! Ask each student to bring in his or her own sleeping bag and pillow to rest on.  Then turn on a family outdoor-themed movie while distributing cold s’mores. And don’t forget to sing a few campfire classics while you’re at it!