After Recess & A Family Project

Recess!  That fantastic time when your students get the opportunity to take a break, play, and recharge.  And you as the teacher maybe, just maybe, get a chance to have a sip of that coffee that's been sitting there for over two hours.  Recess is wonderful and necessary but what about after recess?  Have you ever found yourself pulling your hair out because little Johnny is crying louder than ever before, Stacy and Kala are rushing up to you ready to tell you about everything the other one did wrong, Max  is still doing jumping jacks in the back of the line, and Lisa is passionately singing out the lyrics to Frozen yet once again?  If you have every found yourself in this situation, trust me, you are not alone.

So what do you do?  Well, for me it is a combination of a few great strategies that I plan to share with you today.  The teaching of these strategies starts on day 1 and are used everyday thereafter.  I break up the strategies into what I'd call three sections: Prep - Outdoor - Indoor.

- Before opening the door to let my students in from recess I prep the room by dimming the lights, turning on soft music, and placing a hat on my head that says " Focus."  

- As soon as I open the door I place a finger over my mouth signaling the quiet sign and I walk from the front of the line to the back.  I softly tap students who are not facing forward as a gentle reminder to turn around.  I then walk back to the front of the line.
- At the front of the line I begin moving my arms up and down in a reach - pull movement.   I do this until all students are following along. At that point I say Inside Ready and they respond "focus." They  place their hands in pretzel position and quietly walk into the room.

- Once students are seated they know to begin what I call "minute fingers."  This is where students touch each finger to their thumb while counting quietly to 10.  
-  Students perform this activity until I signal the stop sign.  At that time I turn on the lights and say "ready set" and they say "you bet."

Why this works for me?  This strategy works for me because it allows students to re-focus and calmly enter the classroom.  It also give me the opportunity to deal with any situations that must be handled right away.  Now I should note that in my classroom I'd also have a "talk box" where students can draw a picture, write their name, or write a message if something bothered them during recess and place it in the box.  We have many discussions about what I "need" to know right away, what needs to be handled during recess by a yard duty when it happens, and what things can wait.  The process for how this works takes time to teach but once they understand how to use it, it is very helpful.  It allows for upset students to quietly "write" what's wrong and then I can look at it and talk with them once our activity has started.  * Please note that there are some incidents that must be discussed right away but by doing the above strategies, if there is an incident my students are quiet and calm allowing me to more easily address the incident.  

Do you have any transition strategies that you use to move from high energy activities to quieter activities?

Side Note:  It's September and that means it's time for another Family Project!  Here's a look at my September Project!

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