On Wednesday I and several other teachers from my school participated in a webinar by Rick Smith about Classroom Management techniques. It was a great webinar with a lot of useful information. I am going to share a few of the ideas that were discussed as well as how I am using those techniques in my classroom over the next week.
The first one that I implemented this week was the use of visual rubrics and visual reminders. For me, this started on Thursday morning when I put up my bell work and homework on my SMART Board for my students. Normally I write out a quick note, write their homework and remind them of what they should do first thing in the morning. Normally a few of my students will check the board and get straight to it while I deal with administrative things like collecting permission slips and having those first thing in the morning conversations with my students as they enter the classroom, but many students ignore the board and have to be reminded of what they’re supposed to be doing.
Thursday, my board looked something like this.
Good morning grade 5!
Reading logs due tomorrow.
Pizza orders due Wednesday.
After your outdoor things are all put away, please find your group, get out your materials and find a spot in the room to work quietly on your Social Studies project.
And amazingly enough, more students noticed the board and more students were talking about making sure they had all the correct materials, just like in the picture.
This worked very well for having them get out their Social Studies work and getting to work on their projects. Did it help with remembering to bring in their reading logs? Not so much. I only had 5 students out of 26 pass them in on time on Friday! So I’m going to need to think up something else for that.
The other visual reminders that I put in place on Friday were about keeping our classroom clean. In the webinar, Rick Smith talked about how students can use visual cues to help them remember what the space is meant to look like. He gave many examples of ways these visual cues are used in classrooms as well as at home. The idea being that the child can match the space to the way it looks in the picture.
I would like to show some of the pictures I used on Friday but my memory card seems to be having some issues. I’ll try to upload them later.
Again, the pictures worked pretty well. The book baskets were all lined up nicely at the end of the day and the shoe racks were fairly neat. We needed to talk a little more about the closet space. That’s a tricky one though because there are so many of them, the closet does get over crowded with jackets and ski pants and hats and mittens and things do get knocked down, but we also had a good talk about how it is all of our responsibility to make sure our classroom is clean so even if it isn’t our jacket or our paper, we still should pick it up so we can all have a nice space to work in and so that no one’s jacket gets stepped on and wet on the floor.
The last visual reminder is in the form of a rubric. I haven’t fully implemented this one yet, but we talked about it with our students and we took some pictures to create it. A rubric is a sort of assessment tool. It shows a scale from what the highest expectations are, down to a complete lack of effort. Before the webinar, I had never thought of using a rubric in terms of classroom management but it makes a lot of sense. The idea is to take a picture or just have the class practice over and over, showing what it looks like to be listening with attention or to be lining up to go somewhere or to be doing any number of routines. We focused on listening with attention on Friday. I had them go on a scale from 1-5 showing what not listening with attention at all looks like (they loved practicing this!) up to everyone in the class showing me what it looks like to be listening with attention. They enjoyed practicing this. It’s like a game. At each stage, 1-5, I took some pictures of the class and I’m going to put them together in a presentation to show them and talk about it again on Monday.
Throughout the day, when I needed their attention I would hold up my fingers and say “I think we’re at a 3 right now, can you show me what a 5 looks like?” And for the most part they did it. Their stamina for holding that attention isn’t always where it should be (they should be able to keep that attention for 10 minutes at this age) but we’re working on it. Just like building their stamina for reading. (Which, side note, is going extremely well)
Later in the week I’ll share a few other tips that we learned at this webinar. Have you ever used visual reminders? How did you use them?