Sunday, November 29, 2015

Teacher Voice

It doesn't take long before a teacher develops the "teacher voice." The teacher voice is absolutely a necessary item to have in the teacher tool kit. You can tell who is/has been a teacher just by having a conversation with one. Every now and then in the conversation, you'll hear it come out. It's the voice that means business.

Managing a group of children at any age is challenging. I manage a group of six year olds. Having this voice lets those six year olds know so much about me as an educator. But I want my kids to get the right message about me as an educator. I want them to know I care about their safety, happiness, and learning. My voice does not portray disrespect or a sense of meanness.

When that teacher voice pops out, it's to show my kids that I do mean business, and that my job is here to make sure they are safe, happy, and learning.  The voice is not a yell, it's firm and to the point. The message of my words count, not the octave. I use it when necessary, not all the time. When the kids do hear it, they know something has changed, and it's imperative they listen to my message.

"That is not okay. That is not safe. You need to _____."
"That is not a choice. You may choose this or this."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kids and Schedules and Routine

Kids need schedules! There is research out there that supports this. Kids are more balanced and grounded when they know what to expect. As an adult, I also prefer to know what the itinerary is for a meeting or training. Imagine all the times you would like to know the order of an activity. For example, a plan of attack for the grocery store..."What do I need to buy and where do I start?"

Kids have crazy lives. When I started teaching, I thought that most kids, if not all, were ready to learn when they walked through the school doors. It turns out...they're not! Kids have dynamic home lives. Some, if not all, do better with the use of a schedule and routine to help focus their attention on the day's learning instead of thinking about what happened before they even reached the classroom.

My Tips for Schedules

  • Try to make the school day schedule the same every day of the week. Yes there are special areas students go to throughout the day that change from day to day, and sometimes those are not at the same time, but do your best to keep consistent. 
  • Let your students know the general plan of attack for the day when the school day starts. In math we will be learning_____. In social studies we will_______...
  • Refer back to the schedule almost every time you switch to a new subject. Yes you do this over and over again at the beginning of the school year, but kids need this even in December and beyond. "Okay, we are now are moving on to ________. If you look at the schedule, we are now here."

My Tips for Routine

  • We always line up here. We sign in for lunch right away. We get our name tags when we are sitting at carpet. etc. This of course is different for every teacher...and should be! But the routine of the classroom needs to be consistent. 
  • Lessons throughout the day should have a general rhythm to them. This helps students to focus on what they need to, instead of something different unrelated to the learning. For example, based on my grade level, curriculum, and district, I base my class on a workshop model. First we complete a mini-lesson at carpet for 15ish minutes, students explore/work for an amount of time, students come back to carpet to discuss. This is for every subject with the same flow. This routine helps my kids succeed. 
Schedules and routines help students to focus on learning. Yes you should be flexible
(change occurs throughout each and every day), but try set your students up for success as much as you can.