Keep your students engaged in distance learning from the beginning. Create a solid, 4 part classroom management strategy.
As the 2020/2021 school year approaches, teachers have a lot of questions about what it will look like. When we ask this question, it seems like all we hear is “We don’t know yet.” Since governors, district leaders and administrators don’t know what schools will look like next year, teachers are struggling to figure out how to prepare. In this blog series, we are looking at 10 ways that we can prepare this summer without wasting our time. Each way will prove beneficial to you, whether your district ends up using distance learning, traditional classrooms, or a hybrid education approach. Included in each blog post in this series will be tech tool suggestions, free resources, and a giveaway entry form.
We have already talked about setting up your digital classroom, exploring technology tools, exploring both digital and paper formats for teaching resources, building up a communication system for parents, digging deep into your standards and making prerecorded teaching videos. Today we will discuss something else all teachers should do to prepare for next school year:
You can create a classroom management system that will work with in class learning AND digital learning.
One of the most challenging things about distance learning for me personally was that I could not longer pass out dragon tickets (our school's PBIS rewards), which were the backbone of my positive behavior system. However, because I had built strong relationships with my kiddos, I was able to do very low key rewards like shout outs that helped keep my kiddos on track.
Now as we look at going into a school year that MAY begin with distance learning OR hybrid learning, we need to think long and hard about what kind of classroom management system we will need to develop in order to teach children that we may NEVER see in person. Two years ago, I wrote the blog post: Classroom Management Strategies to Get Your Class to Do Their Best. In this blog post, I said that in order to build up your classroom management system, you need to:
1.) Have clear expectations.
2.) Have good procedures and routines.
3.) Get to know your students well.
4.) Offer a variety of rewards.
All of these steps are still true if we are doing distance learning OR hybrid learning, so it is worth thinking about how each of these would need to be tweaked for a distance learning situation or a hybrid learning situation.
What will classroom management look like in digital or hybrid learning?
Having clear expectations in an online environment means knowing what to expect. Although this is slightly more challenging, it's also all the more reason to play with those technology tools BEFORE you need to use them to teach. By playing with them, you know what to tell your students that you expect. Additionally, explaining clear expectations in a distance learning environment, especially with younger students, might mean explaining those expectations to the parents as well. Since parents control the home environment, it will be important to communicate these clear expectations of how students should act in class with both parents AND students.
Having good procedures and routines will be important in digital and in person environments, but it will be MOST important in a hybrid situation where students may be moving between distance and in person environments. One of the procedures that will be extremely important will be having a clearly organized digital classroom (like Google Classroom or Edmodo) that students understand how to use. Be very clear with directions. And most importantly, keep these directions consistent with in class routines when students are working from a distance. If the distance learning looks completely different than the in class learning, you are asking students to learn double the procedures and routines.
Getting to know a student that you aren't in a classroom with for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, seems challenging. However, when I reread the blog post: Get to Know Your Students Better: Top 10 Strategies that Go Beyond the Beginning of the Year Ice Breakers that I wrote a few years ago, I came up with ways to make almost every strategy work within a distance learning environment. The one big challenge for me personally with be monitoring group work, as I use Google Meet, which does not allow breakout sessions. Those of you using Zoom should have less challenges with this one. But honestly, if you are having any kind of group interactions with your with your students, you can learn a lot about your students by who is and who isn't speaking up when.
Finally, rewards. In the past few years I had been encouraged to move away from digital behavior tracking systems like Class Dojo, and this meant that I had no way of rewarding my students during our live Google Meet lessons. Because I don't know what next year is going to look like, I know that next year I WILL have a digital behavior tracking system that can work WITH a paper system. This may be something like Class Dojo, Bloomz, or Class Craft, or something as simple as recording "points" with a Google Form. Additionally, I will provide rewards to kiddos that can be done in a digital system OR a physical system. I always allow students to pick a reward after they have collected a set number of tickets. (For 3rd grade it was 20 tickets.)
Some of the rewards I plan to include next year are: wearing a hat or sunglasses to class, show and tell passes, telling the class a joke, the student getting to choose MY hairstyle for the day, positive phone calls home, getting to sing a song to the class, getting to do a directed drawing, or getting to choose the GoNoodle video we watch. Of course in addition to these large rewards, I need to be more intentional about doing verbal shout outs and virtual high fives for my kiddos. It's easy to lose track of the need for these when you are not sitting right next to the kiddos. Since all of these rewards can be done in person OR digitally, having this set up will help me regardless of what the Fall looks like.
FREE Resources for Your Classroom
As you take some time to think about your classroom management system, here are some free resources which may help you out:
Student Book Review Bookmarks - Kiddos can rate the books they read so that others know if it is a good or bad book to read.
Math Fact Reward System - Students get to color in symbols to show they have mastered different levels of math fact fluency.
Memory Card Game Template - Create a game for your students for any topic. Or let them make the game! Makes a great "learning" reward.
June Digital Learning Resource Bundle Giveaway
Now time for our giveaway!!! With today's giveaway entry form, you will be entering to win my 3rd Grade Internet Scavenger Hunt Bundle. This bundle includes: 8 different internet scavenger hunts. Each scavenger hunt comes with 4 different formats: .doc format that allows students to type on them, a .pdf that allows students to click the links, a QR code version that allows students to scan QR codes and a Google Classroom version that includes a Google Doc and a Google Form. Enter to win this Internet Scavenger Hunt Bundle, Enter to win this Math Projects Bundle, by completing the the June Giveaway Entry Form #7.
All winners will be chosen on July 1st. Winners will receive the bundle directly to the provided email. All those who enter will also receive my monthly Raki's Rad Resources News Releases.
Interested in more tips on how to prepare for the unpreparable 2020/2021 school year? Come back tomorrow for tip #8!
Missed a day? This blog post contains the entire list of 10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Next School Year.
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