She had a plan. She focused on Classroom Organization—managing students’ time, attention, and behavior so that they could get the most out of their time at school.
She started out by being very clear and consistent about how she expected the classroom to run. It took a few weeks, but eventually students began meeting those expectations. Prepared with lessons and activities that were engaging and creative (a graffiti poetry wall, for instance), her class was able to accomplish more than some of us with a supposedly “easier” group. They made great strides in their reading and writing, and had fun doing so.
She made a smart choice to focus on Classroom Organization. As the CLASS manual says, “Classrooms function best and provide the most opportunities for learning when students are well-behaved, consistently have things to do, and are interested and engaged in learning tasks.” Her classroom really did “function best”—and all the worms stayed in the can.
The beginning of the school year is such a crucial time to setting up success for your students—and yourself. It’s when you establish routines—including behavioral expectations—that will carry you through the rest of the year. How do you go about setting up your classroom to run smoothly?
Editor's Note: This post was originally written in September 2014, but has been tweaked by the author to make sure that content is fresh and relevant.
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
The majority of early childhood classrooms have at least one child who is a dual language learner (DLL) and this population is growing. One in three children from birth to age six speak a language besides English at home. Consequently, the majority of teachers need strategies on how to best support this group of students. We reached out to Veronica Fernandez, Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Miami for strategies she’s found most successful.
As part of our Teacher Spotlight series, we recently asked the CLASS Community to nominate a teacher whose high-quality classroom interactions are making a difference for their dual language learners. Our winner, Kim Schoell, has been teaching for 20 years and is currently a Pre-K teacher in Frederick County, VA. 67% of her students are Hispanic and many of the children are dual language learners.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But with the pandemic surging and some schools opening up - only to shut down again, it’s clear that COVID is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.