Get set, Go!

August 17, 2012 at 1:45 PM Leave a comment

So much out there for how to get ready for the upcoming year, including this post from last year:

But each time, I get new insights for what is so far, the most relaxed and pleasant start to the school year – start-up nightmares (kids running out of the room, jumping out of the windows, me with no idea what to do with them for an endless lesson with 90 kids in a room, you get the picture.)

1. Start with the kid’s experience, and lead out from there. So get the desks and chairs organized and the layout of the classroom. Have music playing while you think about how the layout will support the activities and atmosphere you want to create.

I want to keep kids spread out so they don’t get on each other’s nerves, and so they can all easily see the board. Tested out every seat and moved away from the standard lab layout. Here’s a pic:

Desks so everyone can see the front and talk to each other. Cupboards accessible.

2. Know that whatever you start with can be changed and SHOULD be mixed up and modified for different activities, atmosphere and for a refreshing difference. So it’s not that important – I tend to agonize over this so I’m just trying to keep calm about it all.

3. Materials should not be on the freeway-on ramp to out the room aka keep supplies handy but not too easy to take. I have this set up:

Coffee table for gathering round whiteboard or class discussion. Stationary supplies in boxes on shelves. A table separates them from the back door 🙂

4. If nothing else, the SMART board ceiling mounted projector just installed lets me come out from behind the desk and demo table and be more part of the class, in a more friendly way – literally from sage on the stage to coach by their sides. (I’ll be blogging as a beginner SMART board user – feeling mildly inadequate/overwhelmed about it right now.) But whatever your SMART board status, try to arrange your room so you are not behind a fortress of desks, file folders etc., away from your students. Be lower down, have open access to your work areas from theirs, be part of your team.

5. Label your cupboards with sharpie – it comes off with alcohol. Easy location of materials is a genuine stress reducer during busy lab times.

6. Set up your music system and play it while you work – I love that plus invites in people passing by and feels welcoming all round.

7. Get an electric tea kettle/coffee maker, the supplies and a bowl of apples – seriously, a cup of something hot during the day makes a huge difference to how nice I am to kids – looking after myself just a bit is a powerful good thing. Plus fewer headaches, sore throats and a moment of breathing the warm minty steam to feel grateful for a job with meaning, hope, humor and often joy too.

8. Policies and procedures reflect the hidden curriculum of your classroom. Plan for interruptions, homework and effective discipline. Here’s the sheet I came up with and tweaked over many years: Policies_12-13 skb

Main idea – keep your classroom focused on learning. Deal with interruptions efficiently and keep it respectful and safe for all. You included btw.

I don’t have ‘punishments’. Instead, there are natural consequences and flexibility for consequences in discussion with the student to change problem behaviors. Here’s the blog that inspired me to move on from the ranked list of consequences/punishments by Richard Curwin of Edutopia

The redo policy is central to nurturing Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mind set’. It’s slowly changing the culture of the classroom. It’s a powerful good thing.

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Entry filed under: Class Management, Starting the School Year. Tags: , , , , , , .

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