Saturday, April 23, 2011

Could Your Classroom Run Itself?

Mine can. Not only can it run without me, but  yesterday for about 40 minutes it did! Picture the scene: I had previously (or so I thought) arranged for an aide to monitor my students while I work on our school's inventory. I'm in the office working. A colleague comes in and comments, "Your kids are amazing! I walked in there and they were all busy doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing!" Confused at first, I ask about the aide. "No, she wasn't in there...No one was in there, but they were quiet and working hard!" After a brief moment of panic passed, I must say I was overcome with pride. (Side note: Readers, please do not worry. There was a miscommunication with the aide, and the class was covered for the rest of the day).

When I walked down to my room and stepped in, I saw a student leading the Morning Meeting. She proudly exclaimed that they had completed their morning routines, finished (and checked) grammar, worked on writing, and were well into Morning Meeting. Seriously??!! It was 8:40 by this time, and they were right on schedule, about to begin math. Keep in mind that I teach elementary school (4th grade). 

In college we're taught that we should teach students routines and procedures to help them be more independent, but how many classes actually manage to get there? HOW do you get your kids there? What works for me is a combination of the advice and tools from the 4 following websites:

 When I stumbled upon this gem early in my career, it was known as Ms. Powell's Management Ideas for Teachers. She has since changed her site to The Cornerstone for Teachers. Much of the same amazing content, plus blog postings and more!

 Although I've had no formal training in the Responsive Classroom approach, I've read many of their books and whole-heartedly agree with this way of interacting with children. RC encourages careful, respectful interactions that focus on developing students' awareness of appropriate behaviors and social interactions. My journey down the RC road began about 4 1/2 years ago when I first implemented Morning Meeting.

 The 2 Sisters have a wonderful literacy model that they call "The Daily Five." It is highly adaptable across grade levels, and fosters independence, choice, and responsibility. I have used this system for 5 years now in both 3rd and 4th grade. I LOVE their 10 steps to independence!

 What a life saver this was! I found these FREE PDF books the year I had "that" class. (You all know the one I'm referring to). Whole Brain Teaching is a super common sense approach to classroom management. It encourages community, teamwork, active engagement, and accountability---all in a fun, up-beat manner. And if the documents aren't enough, Chris Biffle even has a Youtube Channel!

How about you? Have you used any of these resources? What do you think?


  1. I was searching for a quote that reminded me of this post...a google search pointed me to my own post that I wrote a couple of years ago--the quote is at the end:

    Also, your comments are set to blogspot default, which does not allow folks blogging on something other than google accounts to leave comments with their blogs url.

  2. Paul, Thanks for the link and the heads up on the comment issue. I think I may have it fixed now...had no idea until you brought it up! I loved your "Whose Room is it?" post, especially the quote you used at the end about making ourselves useless. I couldn't agree more.

  3. Thanks for the great resources. I am curious, how much of the Whole Brain Teaching do you do? What do you like about it?

  4. The ones I use religiously are the Class/Yes, Hands and Eyes, Class Rules (although we don't do rule 3, and hardly ever rule 2), and the smiley/frownie game. For the smile/frown game I don't give extra homework as a punishment like the book suggests. We tally up the marks at the end of the day and they earn or lose minutes from break. The main things I like about WBT are that students are constantly actively engaged, and the structure offers a positive way to address misbehavior. Plus, its fun...the kids really get into it.

  5. Thanks! I will give it a try. This is a good time of year to try things out. Spring fever has hit Connecticut!



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