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.
So, it’s June and you have just wrapped up the year with your students. They have made tremendous progress over the course of the year. The routine of the day flows naturally, the expectations about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior is fairly clear to all of them (and to you), and you leave the school year feeling confident that they are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead. You go into the summer months looking forward to a much needed break, but also looking forward to your new group of students in the fall.
As a Certified CLASS Affiliate Trainer, I enjoy reading the discussion posts and responses in the CLASS Learning Community. It gives me further insight into the areas that teachers have questions about, and the responses and techniques that members of the community are sharing with others. Usually I just sit back, read along, and take it all in.
Then recently someone posted, “I'd love some great examples of what Quality of Feedback looks like when you're working with less verbal children. For instance... creating an effective feedback loop off of what a child does more so than what he or she says.”
Many teachers will agree that their first year of teaching can be one of the most grueling, challenging, and stressful experiences for them as they take on the task of educating our youth. In my first year of teaching, I was not familiar with the CLASS tool and its impact in the classroom. I was not aware of the dimensions, indicators, and the tremendous power of interactions. Looking back, I recognize the many ways the CLASS tool was reflected in my classroom, but I also see the value in how familiarity with the CLASS tool could have benefitted my classroom. Although many external forces impacted my role as a high school Spanish teacher, the CLASS tool’s invaluable purpose could have made a profound impact on my first year teaching.