Do you want your students to behave or do you want more than that? If you spend all day managing behaviors, you are EXHAUSTED by 3:00. I know!!! I’ve been there. It takes so much mental energy, so much executive functioning to anticipate every fire that might start- and to put out all of the ones that do. So, take that after school nap today. You need it. But, after that- how about committing to change? Let’s reset your classroom!
Instead of focusing on the behaviors you want to change or eliminate, let’s build up those that make your classroom amazing. Let’s teach, explicitly teach those behaviors, to every single student. When you teach students to produce the behaviors you want, you live in the classroom of your dreams. And, you can live there forever if you want. Let’s face it: you spend SO MUCH TIME in your classroom. You should be happy- not stressed. So take this opportunity to reset your classroom and design you future. Do you want to leave exhausted, dreading tomorrow? Or do you want to leave dreaming up lesson ideas, and planning to help Josie grow one more level in her math fluency?
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the classroom of your dreams. Start now- wherever you are in your school year, and let’s make your dreams a reality. Let’s reset your classroom in three steps!
Which procedures are stressing you out? Are your students interrupting you constantly when you are trying to work with a small group? Is instructional time wasted with administrative issues like restroom and supply requests? Map out a better way right now. You are a teacher. What you have to offer your students is too valuable for discussions about the restroom or a missing pencil. Ask a teacher who is doing it well how s/he handles those issues- and set up some version that will work for you. Be clear with your students when you introduce the new procedure. Don’t introduce more than one in a class period. Explain the new procedure. Model the new procedure. Seriously. Ask a student volunteer (who you trust) to model the new procedure. Get a few students to do it. Go slow to go fast. If someone uses the new procedure incorrectly, stop and reteach. Think of it as you would any other lesson. It’s your job to teach it. That includes modeling, rehearsing or practicing and giving feedback. Do all of those things. Keep the goal in mind. The classroom of your dreams.
How quickly do students get to work in your class? If you answered anything other than, “right away,” then that’s an area to rework. Having a “warm up” or “do now” accessible to all students as soon as they walk in the door, sets a tone of focus and academic rigor. If you don’t have something like this going on, again- ask the teacher down the hall who does, for suggestions. Starting strong at the start of class, sets you up for success.
How engaged are your students during class? Do you feel like they are hard to motivate? Do you have some students that seem like they just don’t care? I know those kids!! I’ve had them too. And I promise, most of them do care. You just might have to reach them a little differently. There are a few reasons that almost always explain this type of behavior. If you try at least one of these suggestions, I promise you will see change. And then, come back for the other! First, how many different activities are you doing in a class period? For example, are you going over homework for the first half of class and then explaining a new topic for the second half? Are you assigning 10 comprehension problems for students to complete independently? Try doing three different activities, with three different types of engagement. For example, a class warm up to be completed independently and discussed as a class, next partnership work (that really encourages talking and thinking together), and last a reflection on the same skill. If you are already actively engaging your learners every class period, then consider that the level of the tasks might be too challenging or not challenging enough for some students. I would suggest starting your quest for differentiation with something like a choice board. A choice board is an assignment that offers students choices between learning tasks that target the same skill, but offer a variety of entry points.