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.
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.