And...just like that...we're back! When kiddos enter your classroom for the first time in 2022. Embrace that fact. They are entering their classroom for the first time since last year. This is a time of renewal. It is the time to begin...again. So let's do just that. Let's begin...again.
So, how does one begin...again?? That's a great question! Here's how.
Step 1: Reflect on the Past.
Think about your classroom climate and culture. What routines, procedures, celebrations have you intentionally built into your classroom structure and environment that cultivates collaboration, team work, resilience, grit, integrity, determination, and loyalty. What routines, procedures, or celebrations worked well for you? Which routines or procedures didn't serve you quite as well? Which routines do you need to tweak just a bit? Take a moment to jot down your reflections.
Step 2: Start with One.
Now that you have identified several routines, procedures, and / or celebrations that you you would like to tweak or modify. Choose ONE. The one that you choose should be the one that will have the biggest impact on your classroom culture. For example, in my ELA classroom, kindness counts. If students do not learn anything else in my English Language Arts classroom, I want them to learn the importance of being kind to one another. Being kind to one another is not a state standard. However, creating a classroom of kindness does go a long way to cultivate a classroom culture mentally and socially safe for students.
Step 3: Create the Vision.
Now that you have identified the routine or procedure that will be most impactful for your classroom, it's time to create the vision. Close your eyes. Visualize what your classroom will look with that routine or procedure in place. What will the classroom physically look like? Colors, structure, organization? What will students be doing? When the routine or procedure is in place, how will students interact with you, their classroom environment, with one another? What is your role in this routine or procedure? Will you be a manager, facilitator, or cheerleader? Create your vision. Now, open your eyes and jot down your thoughts.
Step 4: Make a Plan.
"A vision without action is merely a dream." (Joel A Barker). What does it take to bring your vision into reality? Maybe, each Monday you have a class meeting where kiddos are able to connect with one another. If so, that means, each week, your lesson plans should reflect just that. Monday's lesson plans should have morning meeting. Maybe your class needs to begin the day with positive affirmations? Okay, great! That means right before the morning announcements, your students should recite affirming statements. The point is...there is no point in creating a vision IF you don't also create an action plan for the vision.
Step 4: Explicitly Teach The Plan.
Now that you have your plan. The next step is tell somebody! Rather...tell all the little people in the classroom about your plan. Explain to them how the procedure will go. Express to them the reasoning behind the change and give them time to practice, practice, practice. They might practice by acting out the routine or procedure. You might consider letting them sketch out their role in the routine or procedure. Or maybe, they can write about it. Your job in this step is to ensure all the students in your classroom understands the routine, the reason why it's important, and their role in it.
Step 5: Monitor the Progress and Revise as Needed.
Finally, set the plan in motion. Live with your new routine or procedure for a few weeks. Faithfully engage in your routine for a few weeks. Give it time to work. Then reevaluate the procedure to see if there are any tweaks that needs to be made. If so, make them. Don't forget to teach the changes to the kiddos!
That's it! It's that simple.
Remember: The best classroom cultures don't just happen. They are intentionally cultivated.
Until Next Time,
Your ELA Coach