Good, we think to ourselves, having just assigned a task we spent hours putting together. A collaborative activity with a check for understanding planned for when they’re finished.
No sooner does this thought pass through our heads than we realize one of two things: 1. It’s very quiet in here; they’re not working together at all. OR 2. There’s tons of conversation, but hardly anyone is on task.
What happened? Well, despite our good intentions and perhaps even our high level activity, there are several issues here that have sabotaged our efforts.
The December push has begun!
In the midst of all the joy and excitement, do you find this time of year a little extra challenging? With the energy levels (positive and negative) increasing a few ticks each day, things can sometimes come off the rails in terms of classroom policies, student behavior, and our patience levels. Caution: This is a perfect recipe for an, “I wish I hadn’t said/done that” situation.
At the heart of being a teacher is being a messenger. Our days are filled with communication—-verbal, written, and electronic—and this brings countless opportunities to share our hearts and minds with students and families. Unfortunately, it also carries with it plenty of chances to make mistakes.
How can we frame our communication in a way that helps students not only understand what we say but also receive our messages in a way that increases buy-in and decreases resistance?
Known by a variety of names: Bell Ringer, Do Now, Warm Up, or Daily Work, this management tool can serve a variety of important functions in your classroom. When done correctly, it is purposeful. And it should continue.
So if its usefulness is not in question, what’s the problem? Well, to speak plainly, it’s very possible that the bell ringer—or more specifically, the way it’s being implemented—is threatening all the work you’ve done to establish a positive classroom culture.
Has the novelty of the new school year started to fade? Have you found yourself wondering what happened to the enthusiastic and friendly students who were in your class just a few short days ago? If so, don’t worry. You are not alone, and things can get better.
By offering principles, rather than strategies, I hope to give you a framework with which specific techniques can be developed. Checking your classroom management approach against these principles will help you create a culture where you and your students can flourish.
We want our students to have a meaningful experience in our classrooms, to thrive during their “visit,” to want to come back. Certainly, then, we should do all we can to help them understand our customs and norms, to help them fit in as members of the community and not to feel like outsiders. When we don’t show them explicitly how to make the most of their time with us, or when we neglect to warn them of potential pitfalls, we make it less likely that they will enjoy their time or fully experience the sweet rhythm of belonging.
So how do we do this well? And how can we fight against the tendency to accept the idea that we shouldn’t bother?