In the midst of the confusion, drama, and social pressures of the teenage world, students crave routine and procedure. One great piece of advice from Harry and Rosemary Wong’s The First Days of School is that shaping class culture by stating and practicing procedures is worth the time.
Do your students know what the first five minutes of class will look like as soon as they walk in the room? Do your students know where to find their assignment and how it relates to their success? Do your students know exactly what their options are when they finish a quiz or a test? Do they know how to ask or answer a question in your class? This week, take a look at your classroom routine and find three (or more) ways you can eliminate the guess-work for your students.
Here are some areas for scrutiny suggested by Harry Wong:
-Entering the classroom
-Getting to work immediately
-End-of-period class dismissal
-Listening to and responding to questions
-Checking out classroom materials
-When a student needs pencil or paper
-Indicating whether a student understands
-Coming to attention
-Getting caught up after a tardy or absence
-Passing in papers
-Returning student work
-Asking a question
Isn’t it too late to be introducing a new procedure now that we are more than half-way through the semester? Instituting a routine during the first week of school is ideal, but I have been amazed at how quickly students adopt a new procedure when I introduce and practice it with them- even in the middle of the year.
Take a few minutes to do some of the dreaming you always do at the beginning of the year. What part of the period can be more efficient? In what small ways can you add structure to your students’ lives? It’s worth the time and it’s never too late. Try something new this week and see what you can learn.