As I return from maternity leave I am reflecting on one item: classroom management. The first week or two of the school year is vital that classroom norms are set. At least for me. How is that done? ROUTINES.
I could end the blog there. Period. However, I will spend a little more time on this topic. My day is spent with high school students. I had a GREAT long term guests teacher. I was actually lucky enough to have the retired former teacher who is my predecessor. However… we have different teaching styles and expectations. He taught them so much, and the experience was great for the students because he was able to offer knowledge and experiences in the shop that I cannot. Now they have a different teacher (myself) who can bring in another set of skills to the shop and classroom environment. With that, I also am bringing a new set of rules to the situation.
I had intended to treat the first day I was back like the first day of school. Just start fresh. Two problems: I started on a Wednesday, and it was not the students first day. They were excited to see me, which was nice. Until I took their phones away, made them take off their hats, and do a little more reading.
Now I am realizing how important it is to set those norms on day one. I am working on organizing my whiteboard accomodating sections for each class to include an intro task and when there is time, a bell ringer. The freshman are so chatty, the intro task should help with that. They are not a discipline problem, just chatty, which takes away from valuable class time.
The science teacher has been working with the freshman and they are used to Google Classroom. I will start using that to provide supplemental documents such as lab report templates, and reference material. This will help them keep work organized better, and cut down the time it takes to move from one activity to another.
This was discovered just by watching the student’s habits. I asked them to log on to a computer, and most of the class automatically started logging into Google. When I asked them what they were doing, they told me that the other teacher uses Google Classroom and they assumed I did too.
In a previous post Walk the Talk, I discussed school mission statements. I did get two posters of our building mission statement printed this week and will put them up in the class.
I suspect the next three weeks will be touch and go with the holidays. My goal is to introduce my expectations and set up classroom norms and routines in that time period. When we come back from Christmas, it will be a new and refreshing environment for myself and my students.
The next task is to figure out how to get them to buy into their own rules. The freshman had made up their own list of lab rules. On almost everyone “no horsing around” was included. Yet, it is a zoo at times.
My mantra is “keep them busy!” Not with busy work, but with lab work. The entry’s task will help with this zoo. My monkeys and I will make it through.
As I was spending time reflecting I took a look back at my posts for Corelaborate. My very first post in February was focused on setting routines. The same steps used today are the same goals I had then. The difference is trying start in November vs the first day of school in September. The comments were great to read also. Some readers and Corelaborate contributors have great ideas for daily routines. My focus is setting routines and norms to help manage classroom behavior and efficiency.
Many schools are just past the first quarter. Now is a good time to reassess your routines and norm expectations. I have always been gung-ho at the start of the year, and let some routines slip. Now, that I am starting two months in, I can compare setting expectations then versus now. It is much harder now. Even if you let routines slip, at least you started them, the foundation was set, and repairs can be made.
Good luck during the holiday season.