It’s such a delicate balance: you want to support children’s independence and show genuine regard for their perspectives, but you’re afraid that if you do, your class will get out of control. It’s happened to me—I’m following one child’s lead and suddenly the rest of the group is completely off track, or a child is leading a lesson and the rest of the class ignores him! So how do teachers give children genuine leadership opportunities, and still complete activities and maintain an organized classroom? The CLASS tool summarizes ways to do both—and our Video Library shows real teachers with strong Classroom Organization skills being flexible and student-focused, and supporting children’s leadership and independence.
Start with clear behavioral expectations so that children know what to do, and be proactive
- Do you want them to listen quietly to each other? Are there times when it’s okay for them to call out and talk over each other? Will they be trying out each other’s ideas? Be sure to let them know before each activity how you expect them to behave!
- Think ahead! What activities and times of days are easier for you to be more flexible in your planning and scheduling? What about the more challenging times—how might you be flexible in small ways, such as giving children genuine choices, during these times?
Think about Productivity
- What routines do you have in place or can you create so that children know what to do, even when the activity moves in an unexpected direction as you encourage children to take the lead?
- How can you be prepared with materials, activities, and a plan—and still encourage children to be genuine partners in deciding throughout the day how the day goes?
Focus on following children’s ideas and providing genuine leadership opportunities
- Are you facilitating lessons to expand children’s involvement in activities? This is a natural place to incorporate more regard for children’s perspectives!
- Are your learning objectives clear to children? How can you reorient them to these objectives when you’re following their leads?
Try it out—and post about how it goes!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October, 2014, but has since been updated to incorporate more accurate data and to keep content fresh and engaging.