The year has started. Things are starting to settle and it’s time to count your blessings in the classroom. We call the start of year through Thanksgiving (well, Canadian Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October) the beta period. It’s the time of year to try things out, get to know the students, build relationships and set up the year for success.
The beta period is not the time of year we spend getting deep into content. We review. We read. We talk about what is coming next. We check out our skills and show what we can or can’t do.
It’s the perfect time to take a look at what’s working, what’s starting to work and what needs to be scrapped. It’s time to count our blessings and make a list of all the things we are thankful for in our classroom. So, here is a little checklist we use to decide how are things working so far.
- What new friendships are being formed? Who could still use a friend or buddy?
- What relationships are being strained? Are there some students who need a break from each other?
- How is the seating plan working?
- How is the physical flow of the classroom working? What needs to change?
- How are the routines working? What is working well? What needs tweaking?
- Which students need intervention? In reading? In writing? In math?
- Which students need support with organization?
- What are the interests of the class? How can we use this to our advantage?
And then we count the blessings. We look for all the things that are going well and communicate this to our students. We talk about how we’re coming together as a community and share what we are thankful for. Our students are included in this conversation.
Now, being that we’re teachers, we turn this into an activity we can use for reading, writing and math. Students write poems and stories about everything they for which they are thankful. We originally decided to create a tree of thankfulness until one of our students suggested making turkeys instead. Each feather listed something they were thankful for.
And that’s how we ended up creating our Canadian Thanksgiving book. Our students wanted to know how Canadian Thanksgiving started, so we did some research. We are so thankful for the curiosity and creativity of our students. They inspire us everyday.
Here is our most recent list of things to be thankful for:
-our class is hilarious
-they keep us on our toes
-they can take a joke and still get their work done
-they like to come to school
-they understand our special brand of crazy
Have you held a beta period in your classroom? Which things are you the most thankful for in your classroom right now? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.