Teaching students to gain independence is a year-long focus for fifth-grade. We do this in many ways, but primarily through teaching routines and expected behaviors and asking students to practice them over and over at the beginning of the year so that they know WHAT they are being asked throughout the day and HOW their behavior should look, sound and feel. As such, the first several weeks of school (especially in fifth grade) are filled with team building activities and lots of practice with routines. Though students will be working on curriculum, that is not the major focus for the first month of school. The REAL focus is getting them to understand their new responsibilities and have them feel comfortable about their new school.
Our team is based on the Developmental Designs philosophy of developing students' INTRINSIC motivation. Having them learn strategies for being a successful classroom student and using restorative practice when our classroom community has been broken. For example, we recently made a list of actions that students could take to demonstrate that they are sorry for an action they took that hurt someone (ex: if you break someone's materials, they could fix or replace the materials). This restorative practice focuses on how to return trust to our community and ensure that it runs smoothly.
Obviously there will be times when actions that occur go beyond what can be fixed within the classroom. In that case, students will be asked to complete a reflection sheet in the office and discuss this with an administrator before returning to class. Reflection sheets ask students to think about the virtues we work on in every class and throughout the school.
If you are interested in learning about the virtues and how they can change the way you interact with your students at home, please click on one of the following links: