Classroom Routines

Article by Kathleen Jones

Imagine a classroom environment that has clearly established routines. What words come to mind? Peaceful? Safe? Fun? Productive? Now, imagine a classroom environment that has little to no evidence of classroom routines. What words come to mind? Chaotic? Unsafe? Stressful? Dysfunctional? Without routines and structure, opportunities for students to learn are minimized.
[Read more…]

Communication Strategy: ClassDojo!

Article by Dora Daniels

Who wants to spend a lot of time on the phone or sending tons of parent emails during their plan time or after school? Is there a way to get around this and still have open communication with parents? The answer is yes. It is ClassDojo!
[Read more…]

Starting the Year: Remember to Establish Habits!

Article by Dora Daniels

When thinking about the beginning of the school year, it’s important to plan for classroom transitions and how things are going to flow. Here are some good prompts for opening the year:

  • How are students going to enter the classroom? What are they going to do when they walk in?
  • How are students going to be prepared for the class?
  • How are students going to know where they are sitting?
  • How are students going to transition and turn in papers?
  • How are students going to transition at the end of class?

All of these items need to be practiced for the first two or three weeks of school. While we might want to introduce such ideas once, many students need multiple exposures before these behaviors become habit.
[Read more…]

Writing is not punishment

As a former English teacher, I get a bit territorial when I hear people using my content area as a punishment. Why do we think writing sentences is a way to discipline children? What if I suggested we assign math problems to students who misbehave? I don’t think we should turn math into punishment, and I don’t think we should do that to writing, either. Still, I frequently run into teachers and students who participate in this outdated system.
[Read more…]

Behavior: Interventions v. Punishment

I remember, during a conversation about discipline, I reminded one teacher that we were working with children, with an emphasis on the fact that we might consider treating children differently from adults. “They sure don’t talk like they’re kids,” he replied, referring to the foul language and disrespectful comments too many of our students spoke daily. I do not wish to defend disrespect and foul language, but I think it’s important to remember, when dealing with children, the circumstances that may have led some students to behave in such a manner. Are these moments of misbehavior calls for intervention or for punishment?
[Read more…]

Celebrate Success

When I taught high school English, I spent countless nights waking up at 2am, feverishly thinking about everything I had to do the next day – from making copies to designing lessons to grading papers. I would lie awake, with my mind leaping from topic to topic until I finally gave up on sleep and started my day. I’d even get to work at 5am sometimes. A friend of mine, who suffered the same malady, called this “Monkey Mind” – how we’d just leap from thought to thought, like a monkey swinging on tree branches in the jungle. I learned later this same phrase is also a Buddhist one for “anxiety” or “restlessness.”
[Read more…]

Recasting the “At-Risk” Student

When I first read this item from Education Week, I immediately thought of a former colleague, an urban principal, who had the same idea a few years earlier: he identified the most “at-risk” boys and girls in our high school, and then invited them to monthly meetings (the “Boys Leadership Team” and the “Girls Leadership Team”). The idea was to see if imagining students in a different context (and if getting them to see themselves in a different context) could lead to a transformation.
[Read more…]

De-escalate situations before they become discipline referrals

It can be easy, as a teacher, to blame students for their misbehavior – specifically when we are talking about broadly defined offenses like “defiance,” or “disrespect.” While students certainly must learn to be accountable for how they act and react, it’s not a bad idea for teachers to consider what role they play in molding student reactions. How can we build a more positive school culture?
[Read more…]