Sunday, April 28, 2019

Teaching well; a positive routine

Every teacher knows that a positive routine saves time, supports students, and makes time for the deep learning possible. The challenge in a good routine is that what we teach, the way we teach, and our expectations change from year to year therefore that routine needs to be updated regularly too.

The end of the school year is a good time to think about next year's routines because it's a good time to think about what worked and what did not work during the current school year. As I think about this, I want to promote the following school routines next year.

Extra help sessions
This morning extra help sessions were very positive this year, and although our school day will be starting earlier, I will offer a coupe of mornings next year from 7:15-7:45 from October to April vacation. I also hope to offer one extra help session next year on Monday afternoons for selected students, and I hope to have the help of seniors for this event. I hope to begin this extra help session in October too.

Morning routine
Most teachers know that establishing, practicing, and sticking with a good morning routine builds leads to a positive start for all students every morning. The morning routine this year worked well so next year's routine will be mostly the same.
  • Hang up your coat and bag
  • Read the schedule
  • Sign in
  • Pass in needed paperwork. I would like to order some magnetic paper holders for students to pass in important papers. 
  • Get your supplies
  • Read quietly at your desk
  • The Pledge and mindful moment (attendance during mindful moment)
  • Lesson starts
To support this routine, I want to order magnetic book holders to position around the room so students can quickly access their books, and I can quickly see what everyone is reading each day. The morning routine is a good time to catch up with students too. 

Math Lesson Routine
  • Get your supply bag/materials
  • Focus lesson
  • Active learning time
  • Learning share
  • Put away your supplies
  • Final thoughts
Science Lesson Routine
  • Bring your science notebook
  • Lesson focus
  • Gather supplies, engage in exploration, activity, and/or experiment
  • Clean up/share
  • Final thoughts
These are simple to use supply caddies that
help with class clean up and organization.
As I think about bot math and science lessons, I want to build in better routines for student share at the end of lessons. That's an area of teaching/learning I'll share next year.

Lit Mix
During September we will practice Lit Mix which is a time that most students read on their own. The challenge with Lit Mix is that teachers are typically meeting with small groups in a corner of the classroom while others read. Students will choose reading spaces and then be expected to read quietly in those spaces. At the start of the year we'll discuss what makes a good place to read without interruption. I'll also set up a corner of the room to meet with a reading group and make sure I have the needed materials there and that I can see the rest of the class too.

Clean up
As I often write about, the more that the classroom can have a place for everything, the better students can utilize the classroom and the materials to their advantage. I'll work with students to do a good clean up in June creating areas for typical supplies, math materials, science materials, and paperwork.

A good lunch cart makes collecting and bringing the lunches to the lunch room easy. I metal basket with wheels works best since little things fall out and don't collect at the bottom of the bin. 

These are sturdy comfy chairs that have been a nice
addition tot he classroom.
Class Meetings
We have a cozy area in the class with comfy chairs and rugs that makes a good class meeting space--that's worked well this year, and that will continue. Students also share a comfy chair so they take turns sitting in that chair or sitting on another classroom seat or the rug. The comfy chairs tend to hug the students which relaxes them and makes the classroom more welcoming and comfortable. 

End of day routines
At the end of the day, students clean up, stack chairs, pack their bags, and if they do that in good time, they typically have about five to ten minutes to play outside before they board their busses. The "carrot" of play typically supports a quick clean-up.

Personal professional routine
It's helpful for educators to create a good home-school routine prior to the start of school making sure that you have an afternoon or two for meetings and special events and the time needed for personal activities too.

I don't have a lot of jobs for the students because everyone helps out with all jobs. But one job that worked well was "Leader of the Week" and I will continue that next year.

Weekly Routine
Creating a solid weekly routine helps students and teachers to accomplish all that they hope to accomplish in a week's time. Our weekly routine includes the following:
  • Daily reading/organization time (tier three reading is connected to this)
  • Daily math, reading, writing times
  • Science one to two times a week
  • Social studies one to two times a week
  • Class meeting and social-emotional learning time - about once a week
  • Math mix - twice a week for 30 minutes each
  • Lit mix - twice a week for 45 minutes each 
  • Student service meetings - once a week
  • Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting - once a week
  • Grade-level team meeting - about once a week and additional times as needed
Monthly Routine
  • Faculty meeting once a month, eight months out of the year
  • Review of field trip books, finances
Yearly Routine
  • September: Team building, introductions, practice routines, goal setting, assessments, surveys, portfolio set-up, fall parent conferences begin at the end of the month
  • October- December: Learning routines put in place, revised as needed
  • January - April: Assessments, portfolios, progress reports, parent conferences, learning routines continue
  • April - June: academic review, MCAS, fifth grade play, biography project, STEAM projects, and other special events. Prep for the next year of learning.
Putting good routines in place helps you to achieve the goals you set for the teaching/learning year. My overarching goals include the following:
  • Meeting systemwide expectations 
  • Developing and carrying out a dynamic teaching/learning program for and with students
  • Standards-based, engaging, successful math, science, and reading teaching/learning
  • A warm and welcoming classroom environment that puts students at the center of all we do
  • Optimal grade-level and school-wide collegiality and collaboration
  • Participation and support of local union efforts
  • Ongoing professional reading, research, study, and updating of teaching/learning program and events on my own and with collegial, parent, and student teams.