This summer, a few of us attended some professional development titled “The Well-Managed Classroom”.
I won’t lie, I was not impressed by the title or by the fact that I was going to this class. My classroom is well managed, right? I have kids who work hard when they have to, they aren’t too disrespectful, so why do I need this?
Well, I went begrudgingly, and took a few things away, the biggest being the idea of teaching expectation explicitly. Now, some of you are thinking “well, ya big goofball, why wouldn’t you do this?” True enough. And I truly thought I was doing this, but as I reflected on my first year of 8th grade last year, not a chance. I lost a lot of classroom time with the way students entered and exited the classroom, my own fault for not teaching them “how” do this!
So, after seeing a couple of video clips and talking during this PD, we decided to really focus on the beginning and ending of classroom time. We taught explicitly how to enter the classroom, how you sit down, what you do when you enter, all of it. We taught expectations on how you leave the classroom (push in your chair, pick up your things, leave in an orderly fashion). Then, we practiced. More than once. And the 8th graders rolled their eyes and sighed, and did all the things you’d expect those with teenaged angst to do. But still, in one word:
Our students, 90% of them, come in, sit, and read for the beginning part of class, no questions asked. They get up to leave, take their things, push in their chairs, and leave in an orderly fashion.
They are 8th graders. They are obnoxious, hormonal, temperamental, and sometimes a bit rude. Hard to imagine I know! 🙂 However, by teaching and practicing the expectations, simple expectations, they have made our school year start out in a way that none of us expected.
And that is worth a blog of celebration! 🙂
September 16, 2016 at 7:35 am
It’s so very true, a small thing we take for granted. Once I learned to teach my expectations of transition, learning, group activity behavior, etc. my classroom and day seemed to flow more smoothly.
September 21, 2016 at 10:41 pm
These routines seem like they should come automatically to our students, but they don’t. Teaching them explicitly, practicing and then noticing and naming what they’re doing is a huge help. Kudos to you for slowing things down long enough to do this, even in 8th grade.
September 27, 2016 at 11:43 am
We’ve gained so much time just doing those few simple things. And it’s transferred to hallway behavior, a little bit in the lunchroom (not as much as we’d hoped), and on the bus too. Slowly but surely, we figure this group out! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!