February 17, 2021

Refocusing With “Call And Response”


I try to make use of strategies to refocus my students. “Refocusing with Call and Response” is a chant-style strategy that works with Pre-K up through adults and can be customized to meet your expectations.

Resource

I was reminded of this strategy (and will draw upon an example) from our friends from BetterLesson. Check out this resource! I highly recommend this site if you are a developing educator. BetterLesson has a great library of resources.

The Challenge

No matter what age your students are, gaining their attention can be a challenge. One of my goals as an educator is to be able to transition from one learning activity to the next. My goal is to do this as a smooth transition. Consequently, meeting additional learning and behavioral reinforcement goals is also possible with this strategy.

I find that if I do not rehearse transitional strategies with students, you will tend to lose precious class time. I also use this “call and response” strategy to mirror the range of objectives I have for my students. As a result of this classroom management technique I am reinforcing core school values and, as a result, more learning is taking place.

The General Idea

The general idea of this strategy is that you, as the teacher, create a variety of chants. Students will have a have a specified response to this chant. Most importantly, this will occur anytime you want to signal a change in the instructional direction.

This “call and response” strategy should be positive and provide students a few seconds to reorient themselves. This allows the students to be prepared to receive new instructions. As a result, this process should be swift and engaging.

Personally, I have many types of learners. They take part in a variety of activities in which this strategy allows for opportunities to regularly rehearse student conformity. As a behavioral observer, this strategy also provides me immediate insight into who may lack effective listening skills. Consequently, this observation provides me the information I need to make adjustments to properly use the “Call and Response” strategy.

Creating Your Chants

Creating your “call and response” should be related to the classroom values and objectives you have for your students. You can make them fun, serious or content related. I personally, keep my chants short and do them 2 – 3 times. One example I use is – TeacherBreathe; StudentsDeep. Above all, I want my students to focus on me. I make it a point to pause to make sure this occurs. If it doesn’t happen, I stand there with the “expectation eyes” for an additional moment or two.


Conclusion

In conclusion, using the “Call and Response” attention grabbing strategy can be an effective way to reinforce content knowledge. This is done quickly by using well rehearsed classroom chants. Simplicity in this strategy can provide your students the means for improving their focus to meet their learning goals. Consequently, you will find your classroom transition into a much smoother and culturally appropriate environment.

February 15, 2021

What is a Gallery Walk?

 


Engage your students and reap the benefits of a gallery walk. You may ask, what is a gallery walk. Put simply, a gallery walk is a way to kinesthetically engage students in learning opportunities where they see, think and wonder.


Teaching Strategy

The basic idea behind a gallery walk is a scenario in which students get up out of their seats and move around the room. Students may then look at other classmate’s work consisting of images, text or other sources of creativity. The teaching strategy stresses the importance that students are actively engaging in the activity of seeing, thinking and wondering.

Consider a gallery walk like going into one of the Smithsonian museums. When you walk in it can be done silently or you may get excited and want to share what you are learning with your friends. In a gallery walk, this is much the same thing however, based upon what you saw and discuss students will create a product such as poster of those conversations. This can be in physical or in digital form.

Students have the time to reflect as they walk around the room prior to writing down their thoughts. Your gallery walk should be structured so that it is strategically timed so that students have time to think about their responses, can converse with their peers and have the opportunity to build on each others thoughts.

My recommendation is that you, as the teacher, establish specific rules or protocals prior to this activity. This establishes the structure many students need when you are trying to cultivate creativity, critical thinking in their writing, asking clarifying questions, and respectfully agreeing and disagreeing. If students can provide meaningful and actionable feedback, then the lesson has resulted in measurable success. Once, students have completed their posters, then digitaly take a photo of the activity product so it can be saved as a classroom artifact.

Operational Steps (20 minutes)

  • Decide upon the student work or content you want to be displayed during the Gallery Walk.
  • Attach these pieces of student work or content on the walls so they can be easily accessed by your students.
  • Determine and communicate what the purpose of viewing the content is to the students. Include student instructions with each content-based station.
  • Choose whether students will move in groups or as individuals. If moving in groups, consider managing who will be in which group.
  • Engage the students as they move around the room. Give them each some sort of graphic or visual organizer.
  • Finally, reflect. Discuss, with students, their experience and provide them the opportunity to share their thoughts.

Gallery Walk Graphic Organizer

Credit to betterlessons.com, modified for post.

Downloadable Graphic Organizer

February 14, 2021

A Teacher’s Tip For Holding Your Ground

 

When you teach, you should expect to provide positive feedback and consequences. Our profession requires an appropriate balance of task and relationship. Sometimes it is not apparent why some students don’t cause an uproar due to an underlying quality that some teachers have by holding their ground.

Holding one’s ground is a skill that takes practice and determination. Consequently, this is the act of being firm without being mean or hurtful. Most importantly, this quality a careful balance influences our students through the way we reinforce procedures, consequences, communicate with our students.

Teachers make many decisions each day, and the idea of holding one’s ground is rooted in a vast number of these calls.

Say No

Being able to say “No” is one of the most effective ways teachers can hold their ground without completely discouraging student engagement. To make yourself clear, say, “No, I understand, and the answer is no.” This statement implies a level of listening and consideration of the student’s request; however, it outlines a definitive answer to their request.

Avoid Over-Explanations

Often students won’t argue with a teacher about a decision made by a teacher. In the event, the student has an argumentative predisposition, and the teacher starts to over-explain their reasoning, an unneeded argument may result. Consequently, once we start trying to justify our reasons for the decision, the student will come up with a reason that they feel is more important.

Once an argument occurs, you now have a classroom full of eyes and ears that feel they should have to say in the decision poised. Avoid having an engaged class in a debate that seemingly has taken the full classroom control away from the teacher.

The solution is to delay any answers. Get the student to reengage the conversation at the end of class. Ultimately you want the discussion not to be the focal point of the class. As a result, this allows the student some ownership in the conversation to explain. Even delaying the discussion ten minutes will de-escalate the emotional draw toward the conversation.

If the student insists on continuing the debate, you have a few options. You can repeat the answer, stand silent, or point or look towards what the student should be doing.

The Effective “No”

What makes an effective “no?” A compelling “no” places no blame on the student but instead communicates to the student what needs to happen. There is no complaining with an effective “no.” There is no “under the breath remarks” or disrespectful body language. Instead, communicate what the students need to work on in a “matter-of-a-fact” way.

Also, effective “no’s” do not try to accommodate or make adjustments for the student. Most importantly, this is a quality-based skill that must be practiced by teachers. The idea is that saying “no” is simple, clear, kind, and to the point.

Anger in the Classroom

At one point or another, we have all felt anger and frustration when in the classroom. It is essential not to let these feelings get the best of us, so they cause additional problems.

Rather than having a reactionary response to a student, find a balance and the right solution. Often when a student misbehaves, we hold in the sense of frustration with our internal monologue reminding us that good teachers don’t get angry. As a result of continued pint up frustration, the ill effects eventually spill out into our teaching.

As a solution, take a deep breathe and count to ten. Allow quality oxygen to flow to the brain. Reassure yourself that blame should not be on the student. Instead, interpret the situation as the student is communicating that he or she does not know what the appropriate behavior in class is. Calmly and professionally remind the student of the expectations.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, when dealing with students that require you to hold your ground. Be sure to follow the RRR technique. Recognize, Re-orient, and Respond. Understand students often want to be heard and need to know you care. Respond to requests contrary to class policy in a kind and firm way to maintain a level of respect within the educational environment.

Resource

Are you looking for a balance in the classroom? Want to build up your teacher toolkit? Check out Conscious Classroom Management by Rick Smith and Grace Dearborn.

Sources

Ascd. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/sept15/vol57/num09/Rules-and-Relationships@-Which-Comes-First¢.aspx.

Howcast. (2014, March 17). How to Hold Your Ground in the Classroom – Howcast: The best how-to videos. Retrieved from https://www.howcast.com/videos/517351-holding-your-ground-in-the-classroom-classroom-management.

Smith, R., & Dearborn, G. (2016). Conscious classroom management: unlocking the secrets of great teaching. San Rafael, CA: Conscious Teaching Publications.

February 12, 2021

5 Adjustments in Child Misbehavior to Change the Learning Cycle

 

Knowing why a child is misbehaving doesn’t always help in the classroom setting. Other times, we don’t always have the information to diagnose what the problem is. Consequently, this struggle only gets easier with lots of conscious practice, support and model repetition. In this post, we will discuss the five critical adjustments needed to change child misbehavior.

Change the Cycle of Child Misbehavior

To make permanent changes in child misbehavior, you must get students to change their routines. Often these misbehaviors include the use of profanity, getting out of seats, arriving to class late and interrupting others. To get students to break these cycles, they must:

  • want to change
  • know how to change
  • have opportunities to practice change
  • be conscious of choices being made as they make them
  • receive consistent modeling and support from the teacher

#1 Want to Change

Sometimes students act out as a result of frustration. Even if teachers provide rewards for completing tasks promptly. There could be a variety of reasons for this.

Firstly, you need the student to want to change consciously. Providing incentives can be helpful but should be done thoughtfully. In some cases, children cannot handle complex tasks. Communicate and model your expectations. Explain the benefits of meeting these expectations. Encourage student buy-in by making tasks smaller in scope.

#2 Know-How to Change

If a student doesn’t know how to change, the modified behavior will not occur. In general, students need to be given the tools and knowledge to do what is requested. You can provide a list of steps for the student to take or literally model the behavior you expect. A student’s know-how is subject to what you have taught him or her.

#3 Opportunities to Practice-Changing

Sometimes your expectations are not realistic if they have not had practice performing the desired skill. Improving any skill must be practiced. Create a drawn-out procedure for a behavioral skill. For example, this includes how to enter the classroom.

Modification of child misbehavior can be practiced by using correct procedures. Do this often at first with a nurturing mindset. Positively reinforce conscious student “relearned behavior.”

#4 Being Conscious of Choices

Having the right attitude and thinking pattern directly relates to meeting teacher expectations. One of the most significant issues with student choices is that they don’t think out their decisions. Often students don’t make a conscious effort to think how their choice affect others and themselves.

Help the child self realize the impact their choices have. Once the child understands the domino effect, individual decisions have, help them pace their thinking process. This conscious effort enables the student to reflect on possible future outcomes or recent actions. As a result, this act helps moderates a child’s level of misbehavior.

#5 Receive Continuous Teacher Role Model Attention and Support

When a child misbehaves, they are still a child. A child needs a role model, attention, support, and a feeling of being wanted. A parent and teacher have a truly influential role to play in the life of a student. In these roles, you model skills that you hope they will be able to emulate and take with them as they move on in life. Provide continuous support for a child, and their behavior will eventually conform to your expectations.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, children have particular basic needs. If these needs are not met children often misbehave. Provide your students with safety, structure, and care, and they will listen to you. The road to behavior management is not easy but is key to a child’s “long-term game.” Care for a child and provide the support they need, and they will pass the good-will on.

Source

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.consciousteaching.com/

February 10, 2021

9 Practical Steps to Make Changes in Classroom Policies

As you go through the school year, you may change your classroom management situation. 9 Practical Steps to Make Changes in Classroom Policies identifies a practical progression. Moreover, these steps can be used to make changes to classroom management practices. To clarify, follow this roadmap to effective change in classroom culture.

1. Introducing the Policy Change


Whenever initiating a new classroom policy, it is essential to communicate your intention. Firstly, talk to your students about a new system. Likewise, you can decide on the specifics of the new policy by involving your students. Do not blame your students if the procedure does not go to plan. In short, let them know that the policy will help make things better.

2. Practical Nonverbal Reinforcement

Reinforcing learned behavior is critical if a new policy is to become a classroom management norm. Now that you have told students what needs to happen, try using nonverbal cues to reinforce these actions. That is to say, nonverbal cues include visuals, hand signals, sound signals, and music. Certainly, be sure to pay attention to the practical nonverbal notions and focus on these signals.

3. Classroom Modeling

Modeling desired behavior is an effective technique to help students understand what is expected of them. Therefore, do this by demonstrating this new practice step by step. In addition, you can select a small group of students to model this procedure.

Firstly, add entertainment value by having students demonstrate how not to implement the new practice. Then have them show how to do it properly. Regardless, the humor should be a great way to get students to buy into the policy.

4. Practice the Process

Have students practice the procedure. Practice procedures to attain mastery. For instance, the following examples of procedures that require practice include:

  • lining up
  • preparing for dismissal
  • realigning the room
  • transitioning from one activity to another
  • entering the classroom quietly

Hold students accountable for your procedures. Point out examples of success amongst students. Above all, don’t be afraid to enforce rules and consequences.

5. Classroom Management Accountability

Be clear about individual and group expectations. Reflect, with the class, about the attempts and progress made. You may choose to reward those a group of students who successfully modeled behavior. Alternatively, you can issue your consequences as well. Reevaluate and communicate that students may need more practice to get it right.

6. Check for Understanding

Be sure that students understand your new policy. The policy needs to be practical and simple to understand. Since the introduction of the new policy, you should continue to hold students accountable. Try to use a variety of techniques to check for understanding.

For example, techniques to check for understanding could include:

  • Use a timer for smooth transitions
  • Utilize soft music for if students during quiet tasks
  • Use a journal to access prior student knowledge
  • Ask specific students to describe the procedure and see if there is anything they want to add to the description.

7. The First 10 Days

The first ten days should be used to reinforce the procedures and consequences. Modify the procedure as deemed appropriate and practice to the point of mastery. Above all, positively reinforce those students that have grasped the concept. To clarify, to adequately create change in the culture of the classroom management system, the first ten days must include purposeful and meaningful practice.

8. Reflect

Moreover, reflect on whether the procedure has created significant change. Therefore, can you identify the specific tactics to create this change? Did you make changes that affected the bottom line? Can you replicate this change? Remember sharing is caring.

9. A New Culture

Once your procedure is consistently working well, be sure to use it in all of your classes. Doing this establishes the new policy as a classroom management norm. As a result, by using a step by step process to create this norm results in new classroom culture.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, change is not always easy. Having a process that is simple to understand and implement is vital. Consequently, Having a calm decision-making process allows you to make practical choices by using reward systems. As a result, by following the practical steps, classroom policy is an attainable feat.

Sources

Retrieved from https://www.consciousteaching.com/

Briggs, S. (2018, May 25). 10 ways to create a positive culture in your classroom. Retrieved from https://www.canva.com/learn/how-to-create-a-positive-and-valuable-classroom-culture/

Gibson, T. H. (2016, April 14). 5 Innovative Ways To Create Positive Classroom Culture. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/5-innovative-ways-create-positive-classroom-culture

Mulvahill, E. (2017, August 13). Change the Way You Talk to Kids to Change Classroom Culture. Retrieved from https://www.weareteachers.com/how-changing-the-way-you-talk-to-kids-can-change-your-classroom-culture/

February 08, 2021

4 Healthy Steps to Make Movement Part of Your Classroom Culture

 

Use movement as part of your classroom culture in order to improve student focus and behavior to accomplish more throughout the day. Move and engage in more cross-curricular activities to improve student achievement. This article is an analysis of Lynn Pantuosco-Hensch’s article Make Movement Part of Your Classroom Culture, from NEA Today (August 2019.)

Lynn Pantuosco-Hensch is a professor in the Movement Science, Sport, and Leisure Studies Department at Westfield State University. In her studies, she has found that most students now take less than 5,000 steps per a non-P.E. school day.

Benefits of Physical Activity

It should be safe to assume that movement is good for students. Research suggests that more physical education, recess, and other structured activities can positively improve student academic achievement (CDC, 2015.) Classroom physical activity data has shown to increase cognition, memory, and recall.

Encouraging student to move around during classroom activities are also associated with social-emotional components of learning. These include mood, behavior, and stress levels. As a result, your classroom may also be easier to manage when introducing challenging concepts.

Making Movement Part of the Classroom Culture

Lynn Pantuosco-Hensch establishes that most teachers already incorporate sensory activities in which students move around the classroom. By doing these activities on a daily basis, they can be integrated into the daily routine. Additional recommended movement activities can be found at www.GoNoodle.com and www.brainbreaks.com.

Activities that require students and teachers to move around will feel the positive effects of physical activity. This energy should be recognized and led by the teacher. Be sure to celebrate and enjoy the observable experiences students are having.

Simple Strategies to Move More

Lynn Pantuosco-Hensch recommends that students should not just sit around. Rather, consider strategies such as standing upwalk and talkkeep count and take it outside.

Stand Up

When the instructional flow is right, have students stand up. In fact, allow students to use standing desks or move to different stations. This will increase student blood flow, oxygen intake, and muscular usage. As a result, students will use up more energy and burn calories.

Walk and Talk

When it is time for instructional activities that involve working in collaborative pairs, Lynn Pantuosco-Hensch recommends a walk and talk approach. Encouraging students to move from location to another in the classroom is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

Keep Count

One way to gauge activity and improve movement within the culture of the class is to keep count. This can be done by providing students inexpensive pedometers, or cell phones with older students (when and if deemed appropriate.)

By tracking student steps they may be motivated and dare I say competitive. By keeping count of how much students move it will help them set goals and chart progress.

Take it Outside (If You are Able)

Finally, take students outside to learn. Students love a change of scenery and enjoy the fresh air. When students are outside you are able to engage them in activities that require gross motor skills. This opportunity allows for extra space to move around.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, ultimately it should be an expectation that students receive some sort of physical activity on a daily basis at school. What is your moving checklist? With greater awareness of the importance of physical activity, teachers will be able to make movement part of their classroom culture and improve the overall educational experience of their students.

Sources

Pantuosco-Hensch, L. (2019, August). Make Movement Part of Your Classroom Culture. Nea Today38(1), 22.

February 07, 2021

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

 


What are S.M.A.R.T. goals? Smart goals are an acronym for truly delivering attainable goals for educators, business owners, or anyone seeking to achieve a goal. SMART stands for SpecificMeasurableAttainableRealistic, and Timely. Many times people try to set goals with little to no success in meeting the desired outcome. I am certainly not exempt to this trend as well.

Smart goals have been a conceptualized strategy for implementation for years. This strategy-based concept has lasted this long because it works.

Why Use S.M.A.R.T. Goals

My theory is that the adoption of S.M.A.R.T goals is a direct result of people not meeting goals. People need to know the “how” and “why” of their goals. In contrast, if people don’t know the “how’s” and “why’s” they will continue to make costly mistakes. Let’s begin by identifying what the acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for.

S.M.A.R.T.

Specific

To meet a goal, you must identify what the objective is. Do this by being specific about the goal. The following are some examples:

Rather than saying…

Students will learn vocabulary appropriate to the class.

Be specific by stating…

Students will learn the following biology 101 vocabulary terms: cell, membrane, chlorophyll, and absorption.

Measurable

Next, goals need to be measurable. By providing quantifiable components to your S.M.A.R.T. goals, you can know when you have met your objectives and track your results. Numerical values work well when assessing measurable results. Ask yourself how many, how much, how long, and many other measurable strategies.

Rather than saying…

Students will learn their multiplication tables.

Be measurable by stating…

By March 23, 2021, all 3rd-grade students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the multiplication table with multiples of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to 10.

Attainable

The next step is to make sure your goals are attainable. Consider the student’s ability and the possibility of achieving your goal. Consider if the students have the background knowledge or skill to meet the goal. Is there motivation to learn? Also, is there enough time to accomplish everything?

Rather than saying…

Students will be able to play a chromatic scale by Monday, December 5.

Make the goal attainable by

Once students have finished learning all chromatic notes, they will be able to perform the one-octave chromatic scale successfully. Complete this within two weeks. The goal should be in whole notes where the quarter note equals 60 beats per minute.

Realistic

Steps to being attainable relate to being realistic. Consider what type of struggles will be involved in meeting the goal. Remember, the challenge is not a bad thing if it is just out of reach when setting the objective. As a result, student learning will occur. Being realistic is a natural consideration when setting up your goals.

If goals are not realistic, then break your goals down into smaller objectives. Create a foundation of strong lesser skills that that can be part of the larger goal. Remember, realistic challenges help you grow as a learner.

Timely

Finally, make your goals timely. Create the pressure needed to take the objective seriously. If you don’t meet the scheduled goal, that is okay. Make a secondary scheduled goal. Some goals take minutes. Others take hours, days, months, and years. Accept it. We all meet goals on our terms.

Final Thoughts

S.M.A.R.T. goals will help you meet objectives that you might have previously failed to achieve. It is an excellent approach to self and classroom improvement. In conclusion, if your smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, you will have the educational scaffolding to meet any objective.