Tag Archives: classroom environment

Planning Procedures for the New School Year

As the new school year approaches, I have been thinking about establishing procedures in the classroom that will keep things running smoothly and will limit the interruptions to learning.

Things to think about:

  • passing out papers
  • collecting assignments
  • bathroom/drink breaks
  • sharpening pencils
  • distributing lab materials/supplies
  • missing assignments/incomplete work
  • items forgotten in locker
  • determining partners/groups
  • absent students
  • iPad/laptop use
  • behavior concerns
  • switching classes
  • hand-raising/student needing assistance

Each moment spent handling one of these tasks can mean time taken away from my students.  I would love to hear your suggestions.  Please share any procedures that work well in your classroom.

Good Things #5: Paper, Pencils, and Plants

I’ve been busy working in my classroom to prepare for students arriving next week.  There is so much to have ready and get done, but I always make sure that I have healthy green plants around my classroom by that first day.  Since I started teaching, I have had plants in my room.  I love the look of the bright, green leaves and feel that plants are an instant sign of life in the classroom!


Classroom Expectations for the Students and the Teacher

One of my goals as a teacher is to create a classroom environment where students understand that learning will be taking place and meaningful work will be completed. These are my four classroom expectations:

1. Be respectful.

2. Be prepared.

3. Follow instructions.

4. Do your best!

One important thing to mention: I always tell my students that these expectations apply to the teacher, too.  I will be respectful towards my students, coworkers, administrators, and school families.  I will be prepared when the students arrive for class.  I will follow school policies and instructions from my principal.  And I will do my best!

I think it means so much to students when they hear that teachers set expectations for themselves, as well. It demonstrates to them that it is important for students and teachers to treat others well and work hard.

What expectations do you have for yourself as the teacher in the classroom?


Starting the Year with Lab Safety

I know most junior high students would like to begin the year with explosive lab experiments, but teaching lab safety is a top priority for me.  I have developed a list of lab safety rules that I use in my classroom.  (I posted them here.)

Each year, I discuss and review lab safety rules with students.  Students are then given a copy of my lab expectations to sign and must also get a parent signature.  I keep these signed Lab Safety Contracts in a file throughout the year.

I then provide students with scenarios in which they must identify lab safety rules that are not being followed.  Students explain how the situation should be handled and ways to prevent the problem from occurring in the lab in the first place.

Teaching lab safety is essential for a successful school year.  How do you teach lab safety procedures in your classroom?  I’d love to hear what expectations you have and ways that you teach your students how to be safe in the lab.

We’re Not Done Yet

Spring break is over.  The temperature has warmed up.  There is more daylight time after school to be outdoors.  These are all signs that the school year is coming to an end – but we’re not done yet.

I am always looking for ways to keep students engaged.  It is especially hard during this time of the year when they look out the classroom windows and imagine all of the other things they could be doing.  It’s not surprising that they don’t feel like doing another worksheet or that they struggle to keep their concentration while reading.  I remember being a student and feeling like summer break would never come.  As a teacher, I still get excited about summer and the extra time to enjoy my family and some free time.

Even though there is so much to look forward to, I try to let the students know that there are still good things to be done this school year and we will all benefit if we are focused and productive in the classroom.  My goal is to incorporate activities that will challenge the students and encourage them to use their time and energy in productive ways as they count down the days until summer.

What suggestions do you have for the last few weeks of school?  How do you remind your students that we’re not done yet?


When I’m Not Sure What To Do

There are times as a teacher that I simply am not sure how to handle a situation.   What is the best way to help a student struggling to understand a new concept?  How do I reach that student that doesn’t complete assignments?  What solutions do I have for a student disrupting the class?  These challenges are never easy to handle and what works for one student doesn’t always work for another.  In situations like these, I try to think about what the student needs and what I am able to do to help.

Does a struggling student need me to explain the material in a new way?  Is there a website or resource that I could use to give the student a different perspective?

Does the student with missing work need a quiet place to complete homework after school?  Would it be beneficial to do more questions together to help the student get a better grasp on the homework?

Does the student disrupting the class need some positive attention from me at other times of the day?  Is there a way I can catch that student doing something good so I can praise the behavior instead of redirecting him/her again?

All of our students have needs.  The next time I am trying to change a student by wanting him/her to understand more quickly, complete work independently, or behave better, it might be best to ask myself what I can do.  Sometimes, a little help from a teacher can go a long way.

Move on Mondays

On many Monday mornings, students return to classrooms sluggish, unmotivated, and tired from a busy weekend.  One way to help students become more alert and engaged is by having them move around.

Allowing students to be up and out of their seats in a productive way often wakes them up and encourages them to become more involved in the class on a slow Monday morning.

Some options to try in your classes:

1.  Instruct students to do a few exercises next to their desk.  Students can run in place or do a set of jumping jacks.

2.   Incorporate movement by having students participate in a quick review activity.  Activities, such as Beach Ball Bones or Vocabulary Relays, help students to become more engaged while reviewing subject material.

3.  Plan stations or centers that allow students to move throughout the classroom.  This is a productive way to let students move while introducing new content or giving students the opportunity to practice skills.

A few quick exercises or a structured activity that allows for movement in the classroom may be a great solution for those sluggish students on Monday mornings.

Smile at Your Door

One idea for starting each class in a positive way is greeting the students outside of the classroom door with a smile.  That short moment lets the students know that their presence in your class is  noticed and appreciated.  It shows the students that the teacher is ready for class and expecting the students to arrive.

Greeting the students at the door is also a reminder to the students.  It helps them remember that they are entering your classroom and there are expectations for their work and behavior while they are in that classroom.

Those moments between classes can be filled with responsibilities, such as setting out materials for the next class or quickly meeting with a struggling student before he/she leaves your classroom.  However, this simple act can set the tone for a positive classroom environment.