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.
I tried something different this summer. I decided during the month of July that I would spend 15 minutes each weekday working on my yearly and unit plans for the coming school year. In the past, I have not made this type of commitment during the summer. I would occasionally work on planning or check out ideas online that I could use in my classroom, but this was not done consistently. However, as I continue to read about setting goals and establishing good habits, I thought spending time each day on this was an approach worth trying.
I set my phone timer for 15 minutes and started planning. I listed the units I wanted to cover for each class during the year and started adding ideas and activities. When the timer went off, I was done for the day.
I am surprised at the amount of planning that I have been able to do in just 15 minutes. I think I am even more surprised by the total amount of work I have been able to do. My hope was that these small bits of work time would lead to a good chunk of planning for the new school year. It has been painless, but I have to admit that I struggled to get back into this habit after being gone on a vacation for a few days. I am getting back to my daily planning time. I know I will be happy when school starts that I have made some progress, but have still been able to have an enjoyable and relaxing summer.
Every teacher has seen a situation like this: The students are supposed to pass papers behind them, but “accidentally” drop all the papers and need to get up from their desks to pick papers up. Or while turning around in their seats to pass papers, students decide to begin conversations with classmates seated behind them. These brief moments add up to lots of wasted time during the day.
This seems like such a small idea, but it makes so much sense in the classroom. Pass papers across the rows, instead of asking students to pass papers to the classmates seated behind them.
I first became aware of this technique in Doug Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion. As I read about it, I could easily see how this small change in the classroom could make a noticeable difference in the time needed to distribute materials and could limit disruptions during class. I have implemented this simple procedure in my classes and believe it is a valuable technique for teachers to try.