Imagine your students walking into class each day, eagerly anticipating the start of the period. Imagine launching into your lesson with a smile on every student’s face. And finally, imagine carrying that sense of joy and community all the way to the next bell. Does that sound too good to be true? While I can’t promise you that a calendar will transform your students into cheerful and angelic learners, it can be a powerful tool for building joy and community in your classroom.
I’ve done this in several different ways. My first year, I bought a daily tear-off joke calendar. When our 3-minute timer went off, indicating the end of “do now” or “bell work” time, students knew they needed to be settled in their seats. Then, before reviewing our do-now, either I or a student volunteer would read the joke from the calendar.
Students LOVED to be the ones chosen to read the joke, so much so that I had to start an official rotation! For your students who might be prone to engaging in disruptive or attention-seeking behaviors, this is a great way to give them a moment in the spotlight. They get to entertain and get a laugh out of their peers in an appropriate way, as well as feel like an important part of the class routine. As a bonus, I also saw that this small moment of connection reduced conflict later in the lesson. Classroom community building and a management strategy for the price of less than 60 seconds at the beginning of the period? Yes, please!
I have a coworker who has a trivia calendar displayed at the front of her room as students walk in. It could be fun to have every student take a guess at the trivia question during warm-up time, and then have a student announcer reveal the answer.
For an uplifting twist, start each class with a quote instead of a joke. This will help your students distance themselves from stressors outside of class and transition them into “I can do it!” mode.
This day in history
This could be such a fun variation for a social studies classroom. You or your student presenter could share a significant event that took place on this day in history. Bonus points if you can find a calendar that matches the region or culture your class focuses on.
National holiday of the day
I have another co-worker who starts each class by sharing with her students the national holiday of the day, and giving them a chance to share their experiences and connections. The national holiday could also become inspiration for a daily attendance question (check out this article for more on attendance questions!).
How fun would it be to start each class acknowledging a famous birthday? Just promise me you won’t be too upset when your students don’t recognize your favorite pop star from high school.
I hope this article sparks some ideas for you about how to bring a calendar routine into your secondary classroom. Take some time this summer to test out your newfound daily humor on your partner or children—the cheesier the better!
What’s your favorite way to build classroom community? Tell us in the comments!
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