Thursday, January 1, 2015

Classroom Differentiation in Small Bites: Management in Jan.


Welcome to this Differentiation 101 series.
If this is the first of the series you are reading, check out the first two as well.  They are the foundation.

Is this your room?
Students return from winter break and everything looks and feels like August!
Welcome BACK!
           Are you ready to head right back out the door?
    Okay, so we all love teaching and know the first days back may be a bit chaotic or the extreme opposite, heads on table, no movement, no brain function! After all, they have been staying up late and eating pounds of goodies.  Oh, maybe that was just me! It is all of us, teachers, administration and the students.  We now have to deal with reality.

Be Prepared

First and foremost, walk into your day prepared.  Be ready...lessons plans complete, copies made, strategic plans thought through for the behaviors that may occur,  AND hold a class meeting. This meeting I have found is best suited for the very first period (or minutes if departmentalized) of the first day back.  Don't wait to see if they are going to remember how to behave.  BE PROACTIVE!!


Class Meeting

 Hold a class meeting as a proactive approach.

Step 1 ~
  Find a way to sit together.  Yes, even middle school, high school and college classrooms can do this.  Turn the tables to make a circle; find a spot to sit on the floor; live in a warm climate (not me) then go outside and sit together.  Whatever you do, it should feel like everyone has a part, not the teacher up front handing out rules.
Step 2 ~
   Since this is Jan. the students can tell each other the expectations, consequences, and appropriate examples.  Give a scenario or ask for an expectation.  Then allow students to pair share the details.  Finally, share out thoughts.  I usually hit the areas needing reminders not everything. 
Step 3 ~
    Finish the meeting with a cheer, high fives, "We can do this!" chant or some other celebration you normally do.  Idea here is to leave the meeting with a positive thought that we can and are able to be successful in this structured environment after our non structured vacation. 
Step 4 ~
    Gentle reminders as you are transitioning and mini celebrations throughout the day and week. 

Let me hear about your way to re-enter the new semester. Have you ever had a class meeting?  When or why do you hold them? Why is it important for differentiation to come prepared?