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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Assessing Routines

The final weeks of school are a good time to assess routines--what worked and what did not?  The routines that worked are still in place, and those less successful are wearing away at this time of year. Establishing good routines at the start of the school year serves the entire team well.

Below are a number of routines that make up our classroom community and an assessment of each.

Daily Schedule
The schedule is posted for all to see every morning--this serves all well.

Sign-In/Lunch Count
Mid-year we started using a laminated list. One student managed this effort well for most of the year. Yet towards the end of the year, this system eroded. I need to make more time and space for this system so that it's ingrained in every child's start-of-the day routine.

Clean-Up
Students have done a fairly good job cleaning up every day. The room organization changed frequently to accommodate the teaching/learning goals and that caused some confusion. I'll think a lot about room organization this summer and spend some time in late August preparing. I'll also set aside some time during the week that is dedicated to clean-up and give individuals or small groups the following areas to clean-up: coat rack, STEAM center, book area, supply caddy, cleaning desk tops, table area, outdoor toys, organization shelf, paper area, and more.

Indoor/Outdoor Recess
Many of my students liked to stay in during recess rather than go out. I didn't anticipate this desire so I've been quite wishy washy about whether students can be in or out during recess. This isn't so terrible when I am on duty as I'm situated next to the playground, but it can be confusing to others on recess duty so I have to come up with some protocols for this situation.

Lines
Fifth graders resist lines. I'm not a big fan of lines for older children either, yet I understand how lines create quiet, efficient transitions and lines are part of our school protocols. I want to think this through during the summer too.

Students' Organization Materials
I want to think this through with my teaching team. I was new to the team last year and didn't know what to expect. Next year I'll be able to anticipate what they'll need if they are transitioning from class to class. Prior to move-up day, I'll work with colleagues to design a good student organization/transition system we can rely on. Then over the summer teachers and students can collect the supplies they'll need.

STEAM Lab
Once we hear about our grade-level teaching/learning model, I'll decide how I'll organize and clean-up this area.

Books
Again, once I hear about our model, I'll re-sort the books to support my teaching/learning responsibilities.

Desks, Chairs, and Tables
Our system facilities department chose new desks and chairs for classrooms and each year some teachers have been able to order those supplies. It may be my turn this year.

Tech Equipment/Protocols
I want to think this through carefully in September when we hear what we're getting and the latest protocols with regard to tech use and share.

Learning/Teaching Routine
We had a terrific learning/teaching routine thanks to careful planning by most teachers related to our classroom efforts. We planned prior to the start of school and were able to mostly keep up with that routine throughout the year. I hope we can employ the same type of efforts at the start of the next school year since the learning routine and schedule greatly impact student success.

Teacher Corner
I want to simplify this corner even more in the days to come, but overall it's simple and meets the need I have for materials organization.

Weekly Newsletter
Families are always informed of upcoming teaching/learning events ahead of time with our weekly newsletter. We also highlight classroom events. This has been a successful communication routine.

PLC
Our PLC was well attended and we did a lot of great work together.

Special Educator-Regular Educator Meeting
It was difficult to add this to our already full schedule, but we managed to have some meetings. It will be important to rethink this next year. Perhaps this could be added to our PLC time.

Specialist Scheduling
Scheduling that was complete prior to the start of the year, worked well. Scheduling that was set well into the year was not as successful due to the fact that the times weren't ideal. That's why it's important to schedule as much as possible prior to the start of the teaching/learning year.

Supplies
We had plenty of teaching/learning supplies with regard to the typical day-to-day work. When it came to specific units, we were sometimes lacking needed supplies. Lead time with teaching assignments and focus helps in this regard.

Professional Learning
Professional learning was well matched to this year's efforts. It's best to set the professional learning course in spring or summer to best match to teaching/learning needs and efforts.

Evaluation
Setting up the evaluation record over the summer serves this process well. I like to use an online document where I can add information as it occurs. Then when I have to create my evaluation portfolio I simply can cull the information from that chart.

Social Media
Using social media to share and stay up to date serves the teaching/learning year well. Identifying chats, blogs, and threads that you'll attend to regularly informs your practice with wonderful ideas and information.

Assessment and Data Collection
Early organization of assessment tests and the creation of a data collection chart/document supports this process and gives educators the ability to access students' learning profiles efficiently to best serve students' needs.

TEAM
Early efforts to introduce students to learning-to-learn mindsets/behaviors supports a strong team. Also regular team meetings keep the team strong.

As I assess the year's details, I can see that most of the established systems served the class well this year. When I hear of next year's model, I'll use this list to firm up the plans and prep for the year ahead.