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.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
As a CDA with CLASS facilitator, I now recognize that CLASS also helps us think about how we can be present and responsive in supporting the curiosity, engagement, and persistence of adult learners.
I am blessed to be able to support CDA learners, many of whom are returning to formal education for the first time in many years. Some of these learners come from previous educational experiences that were not supportive, that left them feeling that they weren’t good at school or weren’t competent students. But with the right support, these learners can grow their persistence as well as their sense of competence and confidence.
Data from the National Survey of Students’ Health (NSCH) indicates that almost half of the students in the United States have experienced one or more forms of serious trauma, such as poverty, homelessness, or abuse and neglect. This means that an estimated 35,000,00 students, from infancy through age 17 are at risk for not only school failure, but for a number of social-emotional and physical complications (e.g., PTSD, heart disease, etc.) that may have life-long consequences to their health and well-being. The effect of COVID-19 has surely increased the percentage of young people who are experiencing trauma. And while people of all races and socioeconomic statuses have been affected by COVID-19, poor communities of color have been disproportionately impacted, adding an additional level of trauma to a population already traumatized by systemic racism.
Calvary City Academy & Preschool closed on March 13, along with most programs in Florida. While closed, we had much to prepare for reopening. While children were home, we prepared packets to send home, met with children virtually, and even hosted things like field day, spirit week, and graduation virtually! Even with those successes, we were so happy to be able to return to being in-person when we reopened in June. Since June, we’ve learned a lot. Here’s what’s working for us: