March Madness

We're not sure what it's like where you are, or when your spring break is, but if you were in the classroom this past week, chances are some of your students showed signs of March Madness!

No, we don't mean all of the fun college hoops happening now—this is more like the squirrelly behavior of students who have only had a handful of outdoor recesses this month!  We're talking about impulsive behavior that would have officials calling a foul.  These are behaviors that have us teachers checking the calendar to make sure it's NOT a full moon.

Why is this happening??  Is this caused by the time change?  Is it because we had our second round of state testing in three weeks?  Is it due to predictably unpredictable March weather (snow for many, storms for others, rain for many) that has us wearing short sleeves one day, rain gear the next, and snow gear the next?

How can we get back on track?  How do you deal with behavior issues when all you really want to do is teach?  You've worked hard to plan and prepare for engaging lessons, and you know the value of each minute of class time.  Here are three ideas for getting your class back on track.

It's easy to get frustrated; however, we have to remember that sometimes taking class time to talk it out is valuable, too.  This isn't learning as it pertains to your standards and curriculum, but it's definitely life-lesson-learning.

When you call a class meeting, keep these things in mind:
  • keep your discussion focused on positive ways to improve behavior
  • this is not the time for rehashing old behavior issues, finger-pointing, calling out specific kids or behaviors, or getting into he said/she said debates
  • steer the conversation to what students CAN do as opposed to what they shouldn't do
  • guide students to help brainstorm and list specific tools for curbing their impulsivity
  • keep this list visible and refer to it when students DO make strong choices—accentuate the positive behaviors as often as you can
  • role-play scenarios to give students practice disengaging from distractions
  • give that "distracting voice" in their brains a name, and practice reminding it that it's not in charge

Another strategy to combat March Madness is to build in frequent brain breaks.

  • GoNoodle is a great site to get them up, singing, and moving.  In our classroom, much hilarity ensues when their teacher joins in with her own (cue embarrassed blushing emoji) dance moves.
  • Our friend Rachel Lynette has some super ideas to get kids up and moving over on Minds in Bloom!  We like Trading Places and Keep It Up.
  • Bevin over on Teach. Train. Love has quite a fun list, too!  Our favorites are the Sid Shuffle, Dancing Pandas, and Cha Cha Slide.
Honestly, there has NEVER been a time when we've taken a brain or movement break and thought, "Gee, that was a waste of time.  I sure wish we had done _______ (insert learning activity) instead."


Every single time we've been bombarded with thoughts more along this line:  "Wow, why don't we do this more often!?"

Finally, consider building in a practice of mindfulness to help kids build the stamina to pay attention while also developing their ability to regulate their emotions and impulses.  Sounds like a WIN-WIN, doesn't it!? And you can do this in as little as 2-3 minutes a day.  Here are three places to start:

Obviously, for serious behavior challenges, always document, document, document; and be sure to communicate with parents what is going on.  We've found it very effective to use a Behavior Reflection Form for the student to write what action they took that wasn't making a strong choice.  We also have them write why they made that choice (frustration, confusion over what to do, trying to be silly, etc.), and they write what they should do in the future in that situation.  Grab your free form if this is something you think would be useful for your classroom.

We hope this gives you some ideas for dealing with March Madness and Spring Fever in your classroom!  We'd love to hear some ways you handle periods of squirrelly behavior, too.  Please feel free to comment below!

Thank you!! Happy (almost) spring!

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