- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
Education is personal and teachers work with an ever-moving target of standards and expectations. Throw children into the mix and there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Each student comes into the classroom with their own history, experiences, needs and circumstances. We have students who "fit the mold" of a learner. These students learn in many situations, transfer knowledge and are successful and learn in most any environment. We also have students who do not fit this role. They have a list of needs that are often hidden. They do not respond to the standard "fixes" teachers use. I believe that each child is different and unique and those traits are celebrated in my classroom. I cannot, however, teach each child independently, but there are some simple things teachers can do to encourage, support and help "other" students in the classroom.
There are a few groups of students we see in our elementary classrooms that stop the learning process for others. This is not an all-inclusive list, but an observation of students I have taught and interacted with over my 19 years of teaching. Non-Workers: Students who sit and accomplish nothing or do not complete work create lag in the classroom. It is hard to move forward with a lesson if they have not even started the page. Chatters: Students who are engaged in conversation with peers or others instead of focusing on the objective at hand. They stop learning by pulling others into their conversation and thoughts. Topsy-Turveys: Students who have their supplies scatters, mixed up, and anywhere but on their desk and out for learning. Their disorganization causes them to start projects and assignments behind others. Refusers: Students who will not work. They actively and opening refuse to participate in learning, oftentimes while being rude or disrespectful to others. Below are a few things I have found to be successful with students fitting into these groups. With all students you want to have a conversation and make observations to figure out the root of the situation. What is stopping them from learning? The important thing is to be flexible, creative and respectful to the student while helping them mold their learning to become engaged in the classroom.
- Provide a list of steps or directions on their desk. Sticky notes or a piece of packing tape you can use a dry erase marker on work well.
- Fold their paper into half or quarters so they only focus on accomplishing a small amount.
- Allow them to set somewhere else or move their desk.
- Provide old head phones or noise quieting headphones to decrease sound.
- Give them specific instructions.
- Listen to a short story or allow them to share one thing with you before they get started working.
- Set up a system where they can share something with you or a peer after completing a predetermined amount of work.
- Set a timer to help them see their work on task.
- Plan cooperative lessons.
- Provide a milk crate for folders and books to be stored. This way they can see them and quickly locate items.
- Limit supplies on their desk.
- Have a neighbor hold their pencil (or highlighter or tools being used) during instructions.
- Make sure they are organized at the end of the day for success the next day.
- Color coordinate their notebooks, journals and books.
- Place folders and journals inside the desk backwards (for front load desk) so the title can be seen by slightly pulling items out.
- State your expectation calmly and quietly.
- Walk away after stating your expectations once.
- Reward small positive steps.
- Give them a time (recess, gym, technology) you have available to work with them one-on-one. Let them decide if they want to work now or then.
Teaching is a science and an art based in behavior. We have the skills to teach, but our students are ever-moving clients. Behavior is as much a part of the job as educating. As the school year starts, get to know your students. Respect them. Provide opportunities for brain-breaks, movement, fun and laughter. Set your expectations and teach your expectations. Being creative, flexible and respectful when it comes to students is the key.