Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Easy Things You Can Change in Your Classroom Today

Let's be honest, most teachers at the halfway point in the year are feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the great ideas they want to implement.  Our students are grooving, perhaps even getting a little too rambunctious, the routines are in place and yet it seems like there are so many things on our plate.  So I present to you 10 simple things to change to make your life a little easier....
  1. Assign jobs.  I have jobs for everything and they change weekly.  My students take attendance, pass back papers, run messages and help pick up the classroom.  They love to help, they know it is expected, and together we take care of our room.  I don't have to hound people to do their jobs, at most I give them a reminder but it is a lot easier for me to say "Do your job" than remind 23 students to sign in every day.
  2. Be on a need to know basis.  My students don't need to ask for permission to go to the bathroom or get a drink, just let me know either through a raised hand, a look or a gesture.  Class keeps going, students take care of themselves, everybody is happy.
  3. Have extras.  This year has been the needy year for markers and calculators.  Instead of asking whether they can borrow something students just grab whatever they need, put it back when they are done.  If they accidentally take it home, so be it.  I will have to find more then.
  4. If you can, plan right away.  After my morning math class my students leave for recess.  I take that opportunity to finish correcting fact tests and plan the next day's lessons.  This works much better for me since what they are secure in or not is fresh in my mind.  The next morning the lesson is ready to go and we are picking up right where we left off, reveiwing, securing and deepening our knowledge.
  5. Keep a Google Calendar.  On our classroom blog we have a Google calendar where I put everything related to the classroom as soon as I know.  If I am gone from the classroom, it's on there, if we have a large project due it is on there.  Parents know I update it faithfully and go there to answer their questions regarding upcoming events.  This has cut back on a lot of confusion and questions from everyone, plus I refer to it in later years.
  6. In fact, have a classroom blog.  Our blog is our hub of activity; upcoming events, extra project information, pictures, videos - all have a home on our classroom blog.  The students post there sometimes, I post often, and parents have a place where they can go for the information they need.  I showcase it on orientation and encourage them to add it to an RSS feed or get the email updates, this has cut back paper copies by a huge amount.
  7. Ask your students.  This has to be my mantra for our classroom.  Winter is here, colds are all around us and I am pregnant - all reasons that lead to less creativity in lesson planning.  Yet my students are still amzingly creative and have no problem sharing their ideas.  The problem lies in that we forget to ask.  So take 10 minutes at the beginning of a lesson and ask them what they would like to explore, what would they like to create and then actually listen to their ideas.  I promise you, you will not be dissapointed.  (And yes it can fit into your standards and goals no problem - those don't dictate the path you take).
  8. Dance a little.  This time of year can be rather depressing, particularly with winter in Wisconsin, so to bring in a little bit of fun and a little bit of sun, we take 4 minutes to dance.  The students pick the song (I usually check the lyrics) and then we crank it up.  We get back to work right after with a smile on our face and tensions gone.
  9. Ask your papers where they want to go.  I used to have a very strict organizational system that required me to do a lot of thinking of where I put things.  I cannot tell you how much time I spent trying to remember where I had organized something to.  So one summer I decided to let my papers tell me where they wanted to go.  Those places now have trays in them for said papers and everything is in its place.  By letting your subconscious mind create your organizational system, things seems to stay organized.
  10. Follow the one minute rule.  I am a procrastinator when it comes to filing or dropping things off.  It seems like I always have something more urgent to do than to take care of whatever I have in my hand.  So now I live by the 1 minute rule; if it can be done in 1 minute, do it right away!  My room is cleaner, my emails are more quickly answered, and I feel on top of things.  I even do this at home, what a difference it makes in a home with a toddler!
So there you are; 10 easy things you can do right now to, indeed, make your life easier.  Do you have mroe to add, please do share.


Anonymous said...

Good advice, Pernille, rethinking a few routines and activities to shake up things a little at midyear - both the students and I need it :-)


Heidi B. Madsen said...

I like your list of 10 easy things you can change ... And I am already thinking of which to use in my classroom and which to add. Some are already on my list (wasn√łt thinking of them as a list though). Thanks for sharing.

I have on question thoug about the papers deciding where to go. Could you give some examples?

Mrs Ripp aka @pernilleripp said...

So when the papers tell me where to go I have a stack of papers in my hand and feel where I want to lay them down. Now of course, they cannot go just anywhere but there are certain places that my body tells me to put them. So even though I may have a basket clear across the room, that doesn't work for me. I therefore put baskets where I tend to pile the papers. Does that make more sense?


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