Classroom Management Reflections
As to classroom management, I generally work ten-hour workdays, at school, plus another forty-five to sixty minutes, at home each day. I have found that my arriving at 6:42 AM, each morning is the most effective way to make final preparations for the school day. I am usually around to greet my teammates each day. This early arrival is a profound shift from my normal routine but it is a habit I look to continue as I grow as a professional. Simply put, I get the majority of my day’s work done before 7:30 AM. I am then free to perform other tasks.
My management habits are many. I time my students’ transitions at the beginning of each year, using an online timer. I quickly group my students using magnets adhered to student profile photos. This particular practice allows me to provide a quick visual that is easy to understand. Distributing class papers takes less than thirty seconds due to my “go-getter and mailbox” system. The students use a system of various hand signals to communicate student trips to the bathroom and library. I use the no frills Photo Booth (rather than I-movie) computer application for the students to reflect on their academic progress. I keep accurate and easily accessible data using Excel, Pages, and Stickies, version 7.0. I download my documents such as Literature Response Journals “Think/Plan Sheets” into pdf documents. I then routinely attach the documents onto my classroom website for easier access.
My students each have specific roles to play in cleaning up the class at the end of the day and it generally takes less than two minutes to write down their nightly homework assignments and then three minutes to get ready for the end of each day. I defy any elementary school teacher that claims to have a more efficient end of the day routine.
I number and post my writing teaching points for future reference throughout each unit of study. Each morning, I develop literacy presentations that are visually striking and “brain-friendly.” Both my presentations and teaching point documents have been roundly applauded by my teammates.
My students are responsible for getting their homework journals and temperature logs signed each day. I save each summative assessment after they are reviewed and signed by a parent. I send family letters to all fourth grade parents at the beginning of each Maths unit of study. I create Maths Words To Know as well as Essential Questions posters for each successive math unit. I share these documents with my teammates.
As I begin each lesson, I habitually have the students sit in the exact same spots for each class. My students are never looking for a learning buddy. The students have the same partners for each lesson throughout the year. Pairing up each student with a similar-ability learning buddy is one of my more important sets of decisions that I make each year. I find that the time I put in arranging my groups save me time in the long haul for my students do not, generally, fool around during transition time. I run a very tight ship, while not being dictatorial.
This somewhat maniacal dedication to punctuality, routine, and consistency is appreciated. My students have reflected to me that they are relieved that they do not have to worry about friendships and discipline in my classroom. This year’s class in particular, demands structure. My students do not respond kindly when I alter the schedule for any reason.
My students run class meetings each Day 5, from 11:30 to 12:15. The students create the agenda and each follow a specific set of guidelines to voice any issues or concerns. The students then develop solutions to solving problems. These class meetings are highly effective in creating a positive learning community and I am quite proud of my students’ ability to work cooperatively to solve problems. Each class meeting ends with specific and meaningful compliments for an individual child. During this time, I routinely play my ukulele quietly in the background.
I shake hands and make eye contact with each student at the beginning and end of each day. Each day my students say “Top of the Mornin'” to me and each afternoon they say,” Thank You, Mr. Mernin for a great day.”
This too is a habit that helps create a safe learning environment.