by Arlene Birt

Photo by Simon Hattinga Verschure on Unsplash

Hmmmm…why won’t this DVD play? I remove the disk, insert it again, and try again. It still won’t play. This is annoying! My class is getting restless, waiting on me, so I try to fill in with some conversation while I try the disk for the third time. No, it still won’t play. Maybe restarting the computer will help. After the computer has restarted, I insert the disk, and it immediately plays! The restart was the answer.

I think of “Restart” in other areas. Sometimes this teacher needs a Restart; I may need to give myself a Restart. We have had a long stretch from Christmas break until spring break with no days off, no snow days this year! I may need to take a weekend break for a Restart, or put aside that grading and just go home earlier some days and go for a walk or plant some pansies.

I often think of teachers having a Restart at the beginning of each school year. We get to start over. We may redo some lessons that weren’t the best last year. We may develop new lessons or add to existing lessons based on our teaching of them the previous year. Perhaps we revamp our classroom management system and have a Restart on that.

Returning to school after Christmas break may be a Restart. This is our chance to start over on classroom management and be more consistent. We may start a new behavior plan in the new year.

We may need a Restart in the spring. I have a saying, “Lights off, voices off!” When I turn off the lights, it’s supposed to be quiet. I introduced this at the beginning of the year, we practiced, and I implemented it. I noticed after a few days that some children were not being quiet when the lights were off, so we practiced again. Recently, I realized that many children are not being quiet when the lights were turned off. I have let this slide and have not been consistent in this policy. We need a Restart. It is easy to let things slip now. We are familiar with each other and feel at home in the classroom. We tend to forget and not take the effort to enforce or reinforce policies. I may feel like there aren’t that many days left in this year, so I won’t bother following through on those classroom management plans. I don’t think this is the right attitude. Let’s hit “Restart,” practice “Lights off, voices off” again, and see if we can keep going strong.

We may need a new initiative for a week or two to revive us and help us to restart so we can finish the year well. Some of my students were getting lax with their handwriting. I made a chart and when I find neatly written pages of work, I punch a star at the top of the page. The children put a sticker on the chart for each punched star that they have. This gave us a fun Restart on writing. I see most of the children now writing diligently and sometimes erasing things that don’t look so nice. I don’t usually tell them which pages I will punch, so they need to try to be neat on all their work.

One day started in a challenging manner, with loud talking, restlessness, and some attitudes that needed improving. We had an actual Restart to that day as we went outside, lined up at the front door, and came in again. This time as we restarted we came in calmly and cheerfully. It worked! The day went much more smoothly after that.

Sometimes a relationship needs a Restart. I may need to apologize or clarify something to my students. Maybe I need to Restart and just sit down with a child and listen for a while.

Communication is another area that may need a Restart. I communicate with monthly newsletters, reminder emails, and progress monitoring scores. One day I was troubled by the attitude and lack of effort that “Kenny” had about reading, so I communicated more with his mom. I was pleased with the improvement in his reading and his attitude after I had made that Restart with his mother. Kenny read the book I had required, then asked if he could read another book! I said, “Sure!” Later Kenny was so absorbed in his reading that he was tuned out to other events in the class.

Restarting the computer resulted in successful playing of my disk. Restarting my day, relationships, communication, classroom management, or my personal life can revive my students and myself and give us enjoyable school days.

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