Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reminders and Routines

Brick by Brick: Quiet Powder

I wasn't worried about handling a group of kids in my first grade classroom. Turns out, I should have been. It's been a struggle to keep kids on task and engaged. It's the most challenging part of what I've had to do. It's the area I most need to improve based upon my observations/evaluations.

I know it's an's frustrating to me...we've been working on it...things are better...but not quite there...well, you know the rest. My principal assures me that all new classroom teachers struggle with it.  But I'm determined that things will improve and they have.

We've had to refine some procedures and adjust a few others. I'm still finding out the best ways to do some things. And we must continue to practice what to do over and over. I still - just this week in fact - have students who will bring their completed work and thrust it in my face (no matter what else I'm doing or who I'm talking to at the time). "Is this what you do when you're finished?" I'll ask. "No," she/he will reply. "Well?" I say. And they will take things to where they should go. Often this is after I have told/reminded the class what to do with work when completed.

Sometimes I'm amazed that I need to keep reminding the kids what they need to do. After all, expectations are the same every day. Walking in the hall quietly is the expectation every time we do it (and we do it several times a day). Everyone talking at once means that we cannot hear what's said by anyone. But we still do it. I'm often reminding them to write names on papers or work quietly or raised a hand to ask a question instead of repeatedly calling my name. I know they are only 6 but shouldn't they be able to remember some of this stuff?

Then I saw this in the mall the other day.

Brick by Brick: Stroller

If adults must be reminded not to put a child in the bag on the back of a stroller, then I guess first graders need reminders of their voices and their hands.

Things will be better next year. My wife and my first grade colleagues agree. As one said, "You will know all those little things that need to be taken care of from the first day." And, of course, I'll be there in charge and ready to go on the first day. Right now, I'm making a list of some procedures to adjust and new ways of handling some things. I'll be ready.


  1. Don't worry, it's not just new teachers who struggle with this. Sometimes it's the class. This is my 12th year teaching and I haven't ever had a whole classroom management issue {you always have some students each year that you struggle with} until this year. This year I get pity looks from other teachers along with comments like 'I feel so sorry for you', 'They stacked your class didn't they?' & the ever so famous 'I don't know how you do it all day....your class is uncontrollable!!' You just take it day by day {and sometimes minute by minute} and continue to look new ideas/strategies whilst dreaming of next year's class who you PRAY will be able to show a fraction of self control and procedure following skills!!

    Oh and don't forget......

    Just keep swimming!!

  2. Love the honesty of this post & any teacher know exactly what you talking about but that picture makes it pretty stark doesn't it. Sometimes we need to remember that they have only been on the earth for 4-6 years not the xx number of years we have!! The fact you can admit this feeling in a post says it all baout what a great teacher you are.

  3. Thanks for this post...I've been teaching for 15 years and I'm starting to wonder if the non-attentiveness is a generational thing, or a result of the swiftness we all expect in our gadjets and fast-food lifestyle. Which is scary. I'm also still reminding students to write names on papers, to not talk in line. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! :-)


  4. I am sorry, Scott, I have no advice for you. I went for my elementary teaching license back in the day, but dropped it because the methods classes wore me down. They were telling me to teach children in a way that was counter to how I thought young children learned. What I mean was there was too much prescription and not enough time and trust in the children to pursue learning using their own strengths. Imagine how you would feel if someone was telling you what you needed to do all the time. Teacher Tom has a recent post I think touches on this:

    1. I agree, Tom, that kids need to learn in ways that use their strengths. But I think all classrooms have procedures and routines that help things run more smoothly. I'm definitely not a teacher who wants to tell kids what they need to do all the time. But no classroom is a free-for-all either. That's where I'm struggling in my new class. Balancing the freedom to explore, the "structure" to have a class that works well, and the need to make sure we're staying on task. Thanks for the comment and the link back to Teacher Tom. He's someone I respect greatly.