Monday, November 23, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #2 : Implementing Structure & Routine


Last week, I talked about how important it is to build relationships with your students for proper classroom management. You can read more about it here.

This week, I want to talk about implementing structure and routine in your day.

Think about it for a second. Imagine your students walking into your classroom. Johnny walks over to Alex, Nicky and Ron and starts chit chatting about their hockey game last night. Jennifer, Jill and Joanne start moaning about the latest TV show. Roxy starts reading her book. You want to begin your day, but you must first wait for them to be quietly in their seats. So you make a noise to get their attention. Joanne notices but she's too enthralled into what Jill is saying to shush the rest of her group. You make another noise and Joanne starts going back to her seat, but all while she's still talking. Johnny's group starts to dissipate as well but they're having issues stopping their conversation right at that point. Roxy is still blissfully reading. Finally, you get them at their seats and quiet but now you have to get Roxy's attention, since she had been in the zone and not paying attention to anything. By the time you get to start your lesson, 3 minutes has gone by (and that's quick!)

3 minutes x 3 times a day x 5 days a week = 30 minutes a week wasted on waiting for students.

Not only is this precious classtime wasted, but it's also showing students that they can continue chatting and/or reading for those 3 minutes before they really have to listen to you. Not a good combination.

So how can we change this?

By doing the same thing all the time. This is the power of structure and routine.

Now picture this : The bell rings and Johnny walks in your classroom. He says hi to Alex and might make a comment about the hockey game last night but walks over to his desk and immediately starts working. Roxy never even opens her book and Joanne, Jill and Jennifer talk in the hallway and when they enter your classroom, they promise to keep the conversation going at recess. Within a minute, everyone is at work. Because they know what to do and they know what's expected of them.

Now this isn't as easy as simply giving them work to do and then thinking they'll do it.  Nope, sorry, not that easy.

That first month of school, you will be continuously practicing. Practicing how to enter your classroom and getting to work. Showing them what needs to be done. Showing them how NOT to do it (students always love this) and then practicing again and again and again.

I always scheduled my class the same way :

First thing when they walked in, they worked on their Weekly Paragraph. Every. Single. Day. They simply knew what we were going to do and they did it.

After morning recess, we worked on our Number of the Day. Again, same thing, every day. After lunch, we did silent reading & literature circles and after last recess, I read to the students.

Every time my students walked in my classroom, they simply knew what we were going to do and that routine simply made things work smoothly.

There's so much more I can write on this subject, so I promise more blog posts are coming! But for now, think of all those transition times and how you can make them smoother for your students by doing the same thing over and over again. You'll be amazed at the results!