We spent from 8:00 this morning till about 11:30 doing nothing but tribes activities. We started by talking about what a tribe was and how a tribe has to work together. Then we did the "Five Tribals" activity, and went around (using a talking stick...totally didn't work today, but I told them that every day I'll pick someone who I feel is "respecting" the talking stick, and they get to add some sort of decoration to it) talking about how we felt about our classroom. After that, they all went to their seats and wrote about a time that they were upset and/or heard a put-down in our classroom. Then, we had a "funeral for put-downs"...after I'd read all of their letters, I talked about the similarities between all of them. Almost everyone of them put "name-calling". I then ripped the letters up in front of them and put them on the ground in front of me. We went around the circle again (using the talking stick). One person would stand up, and everyone in the circle said something nice about them. Then that person got to stomp on the "put-downs" that were ripped up. Afterwards, we all picked some up and threw them in the garbage. Finally, I got a big jar and lots of beads. We already have a "be a buddy, not a bully" poster where I add a sticker whenever someone's being a buddy, and whenever we fill it up (100 stickers) we're going to have a pizza party. However, it hasn't been going well, because all I see are the bullies. So, whenever someone says something or does something that makes them feel good about themselves, they can put a bead in the jar and a sticker on the chart. BUT, if I hear any put-downs, I take 5 beads out. Our goal is to have 50 beads still in the jar when we fill up our chart (we have 88 more stickers to go to fill it up, so I explained to them that if I never heard any put-downs, we'd have 88 beads in the jar also, so we'd be way ahead of our goal of 50. But, if people are just filling up the chart and the jar to get a pizza party, but still being mean, then we'll have less than 50 beads when we fill up the chart so we still won't get a pizza party).
Hopefully all of this will work. I feel like we got NOTHING academic-wise accomplished today, but if it leads to a better learning environment in our classroom, then I'm fine with it. My goal is to have a morning meeting each morning, hopefully not more than 20 minutes or so, and to continue using the jar/buddy chart.
Thank you all so much for your encouragement and support! I didn't feel like ripping my hair out today!!!