With summer coming to a close, the joys and jitters of back-to-school are continuing to build up within the hearts of all teachers. Whether you are a veteran in the classroom or a novice to the educational field, the first day back into the arena of the classroom will always be an exciting time. Because of this, it is absolutely imperative that you refine and perfect all of the classroom logistics so that your students are ready to learn right out of the gate.
Now, the overall success of a teacher depends on the arrangement and organization of their classroom. To establish particular procedures that allot for a more conducive learning environment, you will need to put in the necessary grunt work before the first day of class. This will require to you have a stronger internal understanding of your overall classroom management and classroom design from the get-go.
Classroom management is the overall heart and soul of a classroom. In order for teachers to be effective in their trades and students to be passionate about their learning, it is imperative that an educator irons out the necessary logistics in dealing with particular classroom disruptions. Believe it or not, the overall success really comes down to the first six-weeks of your class. Because of this, you want to ensure that any questions or concerns about the operations of your class are learned and understood so that your lessons can run smoothly throughout the day. For this to happen, make sure you understand the following factors:
Vision and Goals
As much as we can preach 80% or higher, having strong, challenging, and tangible goals for your classroom will play a crucial part in the overall investment piece for your students. In many ways, your students will be relatively new to your style, even after the six-weeks. To ensure academic success, it will be your job to develop a class vision and student goals for your students to strive to each and every day. By establishing that process, especially on the first day, you are allowing your students to choose where they want to go in school and what they want to achieve when they leave your classroom. By having a greater understanding of what they want to achieve, you will be able to concentrate and strategize on particular areas of improvement, especially when it comes down to your lesson plans. To do this effectively, make sure you review the student data from the year before. Understand the level of students that are walking into your class and establish specific benchmarks that they can hit on a quarterly basis.
The secret to warding off unfavorable behavioral problems is simply done by establishing positive classroom procedures for the daily tasks and activities. When it comes to the more operational side of your class, you want to make sure your students truly understand the day-to-day routines of your classroom. Refining the overall logistics will provide a level of consistency so that you can deliver your lessons in a more smooth and beneficial manner. As for classroom procedures, think of all of the little things you want your students to do the minute the walk into your classroom. By thinking in that holistic manner, you will be able to devise a strategic plan that can benefit the behavior and respect of the class. The things to consider are the following: entering the room, leaving the room, handing in homework, taking out / putting away classroom supplies, cleanliness of desk, when to use the bathroom/drinking fountain, classroom jobs and task, how to act in groups, procedures for fire drills, signaling for attention, and copying notes.
One thing to keep in mind is that your classroom procedures will always be different from your classroom rules. Your rules will tell how students are expected to behave on a daily basis. A quick rule of thumbs, make sure you establish only three to six umbrella rules. Anything more or less can lead to various misunderstandings or complications with your students. In addition, make sure these rules are accompanied by negative consequences. Allowing students to understand the consequence system of your rules will play greatly in how much they will abide by them. Now for this to truly be effective, it will be your job for the next six-weeks to remain consistent with your rules and consequences. Oftentimes, students will try and test you on your rules. Any sense of leniency can be incredibly disruptive to your flow as a teacher. Be consistent.
The classroom environment will play a very important role in complementing your classroom procedures and expectations for your students. To ensure academic success, make sure that every part of your classroom serves a role. With different factors to consider such as student desk, tables, shelves, computers, learning centers, etc., your job will be to figure out not just where they go, but also their overall purpose for your students. To do this effectively, start by arranging the desk strategically. Many teachers make the mistakes of creating convoluted groups for their students to work in. What they should be thinking of is how to best optimize the space given that can ensure easy flow of traffic and congestion. Once you have unraveled that puzzle, begin determining the placement for additional tables, shelves, computers, and learning centers within your room. This is especially important for homework bins and group sessions. Once you do that, the rest is left to the overall aesthetics of your classroom theme.
While there is no real statistical evidence that an aesthetically beautified classroom will lead to student success, a strong and vibrant classroom theme does create an atmosphere for inspiration and motivation. In the grand scheme of things, your theme will develop that rich and inviting learning culture that will be vital for your students, especially during the dog days of October/November and March/April. As you design your theme, think of particular posters, objects, and quotes that embody your vision and your personality. In addition, make sure your theme and design complement the idea of ‘student success’ with student trackers and class makers.