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Welcome to the very first-ever round of the Caring, Sharing, and Preparing linky party! Here is my contribution...
I have made several changes to our dismissal routine this school year. During those first weeks of school, dismissal was the most stressful part of our day, so I have been tweaking it ever since. I am getting closer to being in a "happy place." I wanted to share these changes with you in hopes that you can pick up a tip or two that will make your dismissal less stressful. Here is what our daily end-of-day routine looks and sounds like.
The first thing we do to get our dismissal routine started is that I pass out our dismissal clips. I bought ours at the Dollar Tree. We use the ladybug, frog, and bumblebee ones, but I have seen the alligator clips in the store, too, and they seem durable as well.
Each student gets a clip. I write their names on the back with permanent marker. They attach the clip to themselves right away (usually on their shirt / jacket collar or sleeve) so they do not lose it. When we eventually get outside and they see the adult who is responsible for picking them up, they know to hand me (in my hand...not in my basket) their clip. The purpose is accountability and safety. I want to know, to the best of my ability, that my students are safe and leaving school with the correct person. For the most part, my students are great about remembering to give their clips back to me. This is one strategy I used in the past as a Kindergarten teacher and even those young kiddos remembered.
During those first weeks of school, I was passing out my students' homework folders, homework (sometimes multiple papers), notes from the office, classroom newsletters, etc. with the assistance of a few student helpers. But most of our class was just sitting at their tables chit-chatting, which is okay for a few minutes, I guess, except they would get louder... and louder... and LOUDER! Mrs. Unger was going bonkers! I needed to figure something else out.
Enter these magical "mailboxes" (or at least that is what we call these hanging pocket charts). I got this idea from one of my first grade teammates.
I bought them at a local teacher store, but you can order them online (example - Really Good Stuff). They certainly were not cheap, in my opinion, especially when I had to buy four of them. However, they have saved time and my sanity! SO.WORTH.THE.MONEY. I was lucky to have that pocket chart stand in my classroom already and it was not yet being used for anything, so it worked out. But you could hang them anywhere within student reach really.
The most recent change to our dismissal routine is this song: "Bye Bye Goodbye" by Super Simple Songs.
The song itself is about two minutes long, so when there are only two minutes left on the clock before the end-of-day bell rings, I play this song. Not only do my students know they have two minutes left to empty their mailboxes, zip their coats, put on their hats, and so on... a calm also comes over the room. The students quiet down and sing this tune. They have even started making up their own gestures! #totalcuteness
The last thing we do is say a see-saw chant. In other words, I say a line, my students say the next line, etc. There are many versions of this chant out there, but I have this one hanging in our classroom:
This freebie comes from Shannon at Technology Rocks - Seriously. My students know there must be silence at the end of the chant. This is my gentle way of saying, "Zip it! We are entering the hallway."
If you are stressing out at the end of the day, try asking yourself, "What are we doing during dismissal that could instead be done during some other part of the day?"
I asked myself this question and then I decided to move the time in which we check out take-home books. We were doing it at the end of the day and some days, my students would not get to check out books because we ran out of time. Not cool. Now we check out take-home books during quiet time. Our quiet time used to be only about 5 minutes, which was enough time for me to take afternoon attendance, address issues that may have come up during recess and/or lunch, etc. So unfortunately, yes, checking out books during this block of time lengthened our quiet time, but it is a much better option than the end of the day.
Okay, I have one more tip for you. If your students go into a coat room or out in the hallway to retrieve their backpacks and such (like my kids do), I suggest having them bring everything into the classroom, instead of getting dressed out there. Now this is coming from a Wisconsin teacher, so when I say "get dressed," I am referring to the jackets, hats, gloves, snow pants, and snow boots that my students put on. This takes some time, especially if I am not keeping an eye on them, they start to dawdle and chit-chat too much. Some of them struggle to carry everything back into the classroom, but they help each other and work it out.
Do you have any other dismissal tips to share that work in your classroom? I would love to hear your ideas! Please comment below.
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