Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to School

It's the start of a new school year very soon here and so now that the Christmas season has ended and the New Year resolutions have already been made, I figured I should begin planning for the new year. I was given a handout at the beginning of last year by our school Counsellor about how to prepare for that first day. I do not have the source, so if anyone recognises it, please let me know. 

The main aim of the handout is to stress the importance of setting a positive learning environment from that first day, and they believe this will happen if you are more prepared in the lead up. This preparation, I feel is more important when this year will be your first teaching position. Most teachers do prepare before the year begins, however we sometimes forget about those little things because we have done it so often.

1. ESTABLISHING GOALS
This refers to setting goals for your class as a whole. The handout focuses on goals for desired behaviour. Below are a list of their suggestions
  • I want my students to work independently
  • I want my classroom to be a calm environment
  • I want my students to be helpful to me and to each other
  • I want each student to continually strive for improvements in all areas
  • I want each student to learn as much as they are able to learn
2. DEVELOPING CLASS RULES
You can read my post about classroom rules here.

One of the most important aspects that I found when reading was that rules that begin with "Don't" imply that you expect your students to misbehave. They gave the following examples for students when working at their tables
1. Don't talk
2. Don't get out of your seat
3. Don't bother your neighbour 
4. Don't be late handing in your work
*Keep in mind not all students will understand what neighbour means when we use this to refer to their peers.

They used these examples to reword into one rule that was worded in a much more positive way
"Work quietly and independently at your seat until you have completed your work."

We also have the tendancy to make these long lists of rules. It is better to keep your list to 5-6 rules. Creating these rules can be difficult when we have so many expectations. The handout explains that you can brainstorm a list of rules that you desire, and try to combine some to reflect your general expectations as shown above. Each rule requires a consequence and this needs to be decided before these rules are implemented in the classroom. It is also important to decide how you will enforce these rules e.g. will you give students consequences for breaking rules or reward those students who do follow the rules or both?

Check back soon for some more ideas.

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