Monday, April 12, 2021

Classroom Management with a "Consistent" Impact

In Scholastic’s Teacher Magazine, Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong, explain that, “A well-managed classroom is perhaps even more important to students than to teachers because it gives them a sense of security.” Consistent expectations and procedures give children opportunities to develop habits, self-awareness, and to take ownership for their own decisions; they develop a routine for living. In 2018, the University of Georgia reported that adolescents with predictable routines showed lower levels of stress hormones, were more likely to continue positive habits into adulthood, and also were less likely to develop negative habits like alcohol and drugs.

While the postive impacts of classroom predictability and consistency on children is not news to most educators, trying to maintain those elements in a remote or partially remote setting can be very challenging. When the classroom structure was flipped on its head due to Covid, many Northwest ISD educators knew the foundational importance of consistency and found creative ways to establish new norms in a mostly digital classroom environment. These practices have been carried through emergency remote learning and are being implemented as an ongoing practice that allows students to develop habits and empowers them to take charge of their own learning.

Chisholm Trail Middle School’s Yari Kemp implemented a functional Bitmoji classroom in her Pre-Algebra classes early in the school year. She provided links to the frequently needed resources and course information. Mrs. Kemp evolved this concept into a week-at-a-glance agenda for her students that she now embeds weekly into her Moodle page. This regularly updated Google Slide deck contains descriptions and links to everything done in class and allows students the opportunity to use that resource to plan their schedules, review concepts and assignments, and to take responsibility for the lessons by accessing the resource independently in the digital classroom environment.

Lashaumbe Jernigan, an Algebraic Reasoning teacher at V. R. Eaton High School, uses a week-at-a-glance calendar as well but in addition, she provides an easy to read Google document for her remote students where she records everything done each day. A parent of one of Mrs. Jernigan’s students said, “Mrs. Jernigan is fabulous! She posts everything my son needs right at the top of her Moodle page so that it’s the first thing you see. My student and I can easily see what he needs to do throughout the week and how he should prepare for his quizzes, scheduled on Fridays. Students can use the Daily Lessons chart to go back and look at work they are missing in order to help them stay on top of their own work.”

Many NISD teachers have adopted methods for helping to empower students to have more independence in managing their learning. Teachers frequently put their own twists on these strategies and they use everything from Google Slides to newsletters to automatic emails as a means to help put the responsibility of learning in the hands of their students.

 Amanda DeSimone, a Spanish teacher at V.R. Eaton High School said, “I know they are looking at it because one day I forgot to post it and that was the first thing they asked for so that they could plan ahead for the week...They’re becoming better time managers and these resources help to answer the frequent question of ‘What are we doing today?’” These strategies will carry over with students outside of their digital classroom environment and help them to be successful long after they finish these courses. The time management and organization skills students are developing as a result of these methods impact students in ways that students, parents, and teachers all appreciate. They help to build a rhythm and “routine for living” that can be applied in many aspects life.

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