- Practice new processes with old content first. The more complicated a routine or procedure is, the more difficult it is to learn. Add in new content and the difficulty of learning skyrockets. When a new routine or procedure is practiced with previously known content, the brain can focus on learning the process. Later, when the new content is introduced, the brain will be able to focus on the content.
- Make time to redo new routines. Just about every teacher has a signal for when the students should stop whatever they are doing and give their full attention to the teacher. Some use a hand signal, some a verbal, and still others a sound. If it takes the students too long to respond, practice again immediately! Tell them to go back to being noisy (even if they have to do fake talking) then give the signal again. The point is to reinforce your expectations.
- Incorporate time for students to reflect. Five minutes at the end of class for students to compare their performance that day to the class expectations goes a long way towards maintaining classroom culture. Exit slips, personal tracking charts, class charts, partner talk, holding up fingers, there are a myriad of ways to do this quickly. Including regular class or team meetings that allow for longer discussion will keep the culture growing as well.
- Include problem solving and group challenge activities. Not only will these types of activities help students get to know one another and build a team connection, they are good practice for the group work and higher level thinking you will do in class with regular academic content. With your facilitation your students can see how the creative thinking and communication skills they used in the challenge tasks can help them with their academics.
Best wishes for an excellent second week of school! I look forward to meeting more of you, and starting to spend time in the schools and your classes learning about the amazing learning communities here in RSU 2. I’ll be reaching out to people, and please do reach out to me if you are already curious about how we can work together.