When students aren’t listening, it’s usually because of one main thing: they are not engaged with the setup of the classroom and how the lesson is structured. As you may have already realized, when students don’t understand the rules and procedures in your classroom, they then begin to take control in the classroom. And you know what that means, right?
As a new teacher, you’ll want to set up three simple systems in your classroom that effectively engage your students. Simple systems help students become more self-directed. They know how your classroom is run and feel safe with a sense of a routine. Simply put, your students know they can succeed and won’t challenge your authority because they WON’T need to.
Here are three basic systems which you should implement from the first day of school:
* Set up your expectations for success in the classroom so students always know exactly what to do. This goes for every task, rule and procedure.
* Set up a system of rules, procedures and consequences. Teach and reinforce those rules and procedures using consequences that are most crucial for running your lesson effectively. Ideally, you should have three or four rules and a variety of procedures for running your classroom effectively.
* Cater to a variety of learning styles and abilities. Using differentiated instruction, teachers cater to a wide variety of varied interests, cultural backgrounds and world knowledge which results in more dynamic classroom interaction. In a differentiated learning environment, students feel safe because they know they will learn something in your lesson.
Tips for Establishing Procedures
1. Set up the classroom with procedures that aim to establish self-directed behavior that engages students right away so you can start content teaching rather than managing a class. Use time saving management strategies such as a timer or a “Do Now” activity so students know exactly what to do and what not to do the minute the lesson begins. I begin my lesson by writing on the board in big letters “To Do Now” and then say to the class: “let’s see how many vocabulary words you recognize in five minutes.”
2. Many discipline problems occur when students feel that the lesson isn’t organized properly with appropriate activities for the beginning, middle and end parts of a lesson. Write down the activities and what students will do for each one. Write the number of minutes for each activity
and then check off when that activity is completed.
Examples of self-directed procedures
o Have a box for turning in work.
o Have students do something else while you are dealing with administrative matters.
o Have routines for concluding each day: turning in folders, completing a check-off sheet or behavior chart
o Have a cue or signal when noise level is unacceptable
o Procedures for students coming to and going from the bathroom. (i.e. students can go to the bathroom only once during a given lesson)
It is important always to invoke a consequence for any violation of a rule. Therefore, teachers should develop a range of alternative consequences, beginning with one that is a warning. Having a range of consequences enables teachers to be consistent yet not be trapped into applying a consequence that exceeds the offense.
o State the consequences in clear and specific terms so that the students will know exactly what will happen if they break a rule.
o Determine a range of alternatives (maximum of five) so that you can always implement a consequence.
o Relate the consequences to the rule as directly as possible.
o Make the consequences logical to help emphasize a cuase-and-effect relationship.
o Severe behavior clause
o Sending discipline plan to parents/caregivers
o Cooperative plan with administration
Tips for Setting up Systems for Success
It is our goal as educators to communicate success in an attempt to enhance student motivation and engage students. When teachers communicate their expectations for success, they will also enhance student motivation. Teachers can employ certain strategies to increase the motivation factor:
Strategies teachers can use to increase the expectancy component of success
o Teachers provide success oriented activities (there is an appropriate level of challenge that will bring success.
o Teachers establish a positive learning environment
o Teachers introduce cooperative learning using group and pair work.
o Teachers can cater to different individual interests
o Teachers can provide choice leading to more student autonomy.
o Teachers can provide a variety of positive reinforcement
o Teachers can personalize the learning tasks.
Using easy to engage lesson beginnings
Activities: Easy to engage lesson beginnings
* A review of previously learned words
* An activity with a personal element
* A light activity such as a game
* Write the plan of the lesson on the side of the board and go over.
* Go over class behavior and rules
* Write new vocabulary words on the board and try to elicit from them the meaning.
* Write a short story or several sentences and have them copy.
* Start with something surprising like a strange object or question or picture. Ask the students why you have brought it.
* Write the goals of the lesson on the board and discuss them.
* Have short conversations with them like: “Good Morning, How are you?”
* DO NOW – write a few exercises on the board for them to do as soon as they enter the class.
Procedures for Transitioning from one lesson part to the next
It’s important to communicate success by using transitions to glue one lesson part with the next such as “Good! You did that very well. Now let’s see how you can apply your knowledge of vocabulary with the reading comprehension.” Think of 1 personal and 1 transitional statement you can use to “glue” each part of the lesson with the next.
As a post part of your lesson, you can ask the class what you did in the class in order to give a sense of closure.
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