I'm not here to just to mark papers. I'm not here to leave a mark in a negative way. I'm in this classroom to forever make a mark on the lives of the students within my care and trust. But to get to the learning, I need to create a positive classroom environment. I have just a few rules but have quite a few established procedures so we can flow, learn, and level up together.
Sure there are lots of things not central to this theme of making a mark: grading, procedures, classroom management. All of these things may seem unimportant. However, as I'm a better classroom manager, we can move issues like people asking for computers, people wanting to go to the bathroom, etc. out of the way and get on to teaching. The way I see it, the less time we have to talk about side issues like going to the bathroom or saying “Mrs. Vicki, I need help” the more time we have for the real stuff.
So the routines and procedures I have in place are set up to use as few spoken words as possible.
As you start school some of the most essential routines are:
- How do you enter the room?
- How do you leave the room?
- How do we conduct class conversations?
- How do I quickly, quietly get the attention of the class? (I use give me 5 – it works!)
- How do students request to leave the room without disrupting things? (My students flip their cards to away, grab the hall log and write where they go and wordlessly hand me the log for sign off or clarification – they grab a pass and go and sign in when they return. Nothing said and business is handled. Plus I have a log seeing how long they are out and if the frequency is too much.)
- How do I keep track of disciplinary issues so I don't interrupt teaching but can handle and improve the behavior later?
- How will paperwork and grading flow between me and the students so it is current and provides proper feedback for ongoing improvement?
- How will I encourage students to help one another?
- How will we quickly transition?
- How can students ask for help without a word? (My students flip their computer station cards from green to red – I can see at a glance who needs help and constantly rotate the room and work to help people.)
These are simple but important things to consider and they can be overwhelming. This summer I took hours to plan out my classroom procedures, talk them over with teachers and advisors, and determine how I'd help students know how to use these.
My classroom is a cleaner (See the pic taken last Friday seconds after my last class), more pleasant, more focused place because of it. We're getting more done and I'm spending more one on one time helping students who really need me. Part of this, of course, is also the LMS I'm using (Haiku Learning) and the in-flip method of teaching (hear the Every Classroom Matters show I recorded with Jon Bergmann on that.)
Any Day Can Be The First Day
And remember this – you may have already started school but if your classroom flow is not what you like. If you're frustrated and not getting their attention… If students aren't coming in the room and getting down to business – don't wallow in it. Learn and get things together. Start over.
Any day can be the first day. If something isn't working, reboot (as fellow teacher Tom Bennett from the UK says.)
I love Harry Wong's book, The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 4th Edition as my guidebook in this process but Fred Jones Tools for Teaching also has some great info on behavior management. As you get your classroom going, think through these things and tackle the problems you had last year with procedures so you can actually do something about them!
Plus I can tell you that this doesn't make your job harder – it actually makes it easier and will help you be less stressed! I didn't believe it either but yes, better procedures works.
Make every single year a better year! Level up! You can do this!
If you're interested in knowing my procedures, let me know which ones in the comments. They took quite some time to develop but are working so well! Share your problems and then work to create procedures. You can also give tips to other teachers! We can do this together. Let's help each other!
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