Your Expectations Become Your Reality
We can create the classroom we want by setting high expectations!
When we EXPECT that our students can learn, then they CAN.....
When we EXPECT that our students are smart, then they ARE....
When we EXPECT our students to achieve, then they DO!!!
I have students who struggle and need extra help...ALL of my students are English language learners....
...but I BELIEVE that they can do it and they do not let me down!
I expect. I teach. I encourage. I support.
Introduce the "Class Family"
Years ago I overheard another teacher use the phrase "class family" and I fell in love with it! As teachers we spend so much time with our students (and they spend a lot of time with each other!) that we become like a family!
I teach my students to trust in and behave with each other the way they would with their own family. We speak kindly to one another, we treat one another with respect and watch out for one another. I introduce this concept on the first day of school. I want my students to be friends and I give them many opportunities to learn about one another. This creates a bond between students and a bond between the students and the teacher.
High Expectations and Accountability!
I believe that my students can be successful and I tell them this often. In our classroom, the expectation is that we are here to learn and we each have a responsibility to behave in a way that allows learning to happen. By working together, as a community, we can help one another meet our goals.
Each child has strengths and weaknesses so the expectations are different for each child. I like setting mini goals (some whole group and some individual) that are attainable for each student, so while students may be in different levels of their development, they can each be held accountable for their own learning. Then my role is to support and instruct as needed. I set the expectations and the environment for the students, but then they must do the work and the follow through.
Motivate and Celebrate!
Motivation gives us a reason to keep going! When we are motivated, we can do amazing things!!
Students need motivation. They need to understand WHY we are learning this and HOW we will use that, and my job as the teacher is to provide that motivation. I want to get my students excited about learning...and not just the learning needed to pass a test. Students need to be energized and ready to attack the knowledge because it is meaningful and there is a purpose for knowing the information.
And once we get them motivated, we celebrate successes--big and small! I find lots of different ways to celebrate my students. Sometimes it is academic, sometimes behavior, sometimes I celebrate good character. No matter what the celebration is about though, it is authentic and specific. By calling out specific behaviors or traits, students learn EXACTLY what is being praised. If it is too vague or insincere, students will see right through it and it is meaningless.
When I was a first year teacher, I did all the work! I wanted the room, the desks and the bulletin boards to look a certain way and, when they didn't, I came after-hours to fix it. It was tiresome and frustrating. I found that I was resentful towards my students because they "didn't appreciate" what I did for them!
Well, fast-forward to present day and my room looks a lot different. Instead of ME doing all the work for the walls, I create things WITH my students or let THEM create things to decorate the walls. Instead of striving for perfection, I admit to and laugh about my own mistakes, making it easier and safer for students to do the same. I allow space for them to work, addressing the needs of students who work alone or in small groups. I think about the daily schedule--what will work best for my students to maximize their learning? Then I adjust it to fit THEIR needs, not my own.
A student-centered classroom means that the learning environment supports what is best for kids, not the teacher.
My Behavior Plan
Good classroom management is as important to a child's success as good instruction. If a teacher does not have control of her students or there is not a positive working environment for children, then students will have a hard time being successful.
In my classroom, I use "The 3 Rs" which stands for Respectful, Responsible and Reliable. I teach my students how to treat oneself and others with Respect. When they are a positive force in the classroom and are able to respond to what I say, they are being Responsible. By building trust among each other in the classroom, we become Reliable.
These three "rules" are the foundation for all activities in our classroom. I teach and re-teach all aspects of the 3 Rs daily and throughout the year. For my students to behave in a certain way, I must teach them what I want to see, model examples and non-examples of those behaviors and then PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! Over time, these become the character traits that I hope they will carry with them throughout their lives.
At school I am known for my high energy and enthusiasm! People have told me that they don't know where I "get all that energy."
There is no magic behind my energy or enthusiasm. Everyday I CHOOSE to come to school like that! Just like everyone, some mornings I wake up feeling groggy or lazy, maybe even grumpy...but I know that I have students who NEED me to be energetic about the topics of the day. They NEED their teacher to be excited about learning so that THEY can be excited about learning! I put on my happy face and CHOOSE to come to school with a great attitude. It makes my day run smoothly and it lets the kids have a great day too.