I started this year off pretty well. I had some activities for students to work on such as the Marshmallow Challenge on the first week of school so I wouldn’t be talking too much or going over our rules and procedures right from the start.
For the last few years I’ve tried to talk less and have students get right to learning and working. I did that after getting feedback from students that I talked too much at the beginning of the year. I found that a lot of students floundered without more direct instruction so I tried to balance that this year with more direct instruction. I think I’ve done too much because for the last couple of weeks I’ve been talking a lot. I’ve already heard that from a few students.
Part of the reason I’ve been giving so much direct instruction, besides to provide more guidance and support for all the new things students are learning in my classes, is that this 6th grade group has been very well behaved. They have a pretty strong work ethic and a strong sense of how to behave in a classroom full of people. Sure they have times when they talk while I’m instructing, where they are off task, and where they are less than kind to each other like any group of students. But overall they feel remorseful and work to do better the next time more so than other groups of students. It’s aÂ phenomenon that exists when there is a majority of kids that kow how to behave in a classroom versus groups where the majority of students tend to misbehave. The class climate is determined by this majority and when more students pay attention to instruction and value helpful classroom behavior then the overall effect is quite positive. This group has so far made it easy for me to talk at them so I’ve tried to be really engaging and use visuals when I present and instruct.
My plan is to front load a lot of what I expect of them and as we move on with our school year I’ll talk less and less. My goal is for students to know my expectations clearly so they know how to be successful and have a positive learning environment. I also want to show them how to use the technology to learn and how to show me what they’re learning in different ways so they all have an opportunity to thrive.
There’s so much I want to do with them and I tend to be impatient by jumping in before kids are ready. This year I don’t want to make that mistake again so I am forcing myself to go slow. Having 80 minute periods instead of 50 minute periods has helped a lot.
We do have our four day camping trip to Camp Cispus next week and that might set up back in terms of all we’ve done in class so far, but our trip is also a great way for kids to bond together and practice teamwork while doing some fantastic outdoor learning.
When we return from our trip I will do some talking again to remind students of our expectations and what we need to be successful. In order to create an environment where students can learn at their own pace and share their learning in exciting ways we did an activity to develop Class Promises by Bill Ferriter. I really enjoyed that activity (thanks, Bill!) because the idea was to generate three promises for me and for students to have a safe, happy and fun classroom!
I am excited with our class promises and I start every class by reminding students to practice keeping their promises so we can have a safe, happy and fun classroom. Here’s what each class came up with:
I’m so excited about this school year and after my experience last year I really needed this. 🙂