Sunday, November 20, 2016

What is your BEST teaching secret?

Yesterday I met another kindergarten teacher and she asked me:

What is your BEST teaching secret?

I've never thought about that before! It was an awesome question, and I have to say, it was really fun to share "secrets" with her!

On the spot, I told her my best teaching secret is: 

Regardless of whatever classroom management system you use, boundaries are fitting in every classroom, and from my experience, 
kids actually NEED and THRIVE when there are boundaries in place!

So, what do boundaries look like in my classroom?

1. I am quick to praise!
--Students NEED praise.  They need to know their teacher is looking for and acknowledging their efforts on a very regular basis.  
Anywhere from "Wow! I really love how ___ is following directions quickly!" to "Wow! Watch how ____ is coming quietly to the carpet!" or one of my favorites, "___ is it okay for me to share with the class how you were problem solving?"
The children LOVE being praised and especially love being an example to their peers.  I try to look for different children every day and cycle through the class

2. Children get many opportunities to show correct behaviors.
 --Piggybacking on praise, I have the students who are doing a great job in class model for the other students what the behavior is.  Depending on how much practice we need at that particular time, I may call on students one at a time to show the correct behavior - like lining up quietly at the door - or a whole group - like coming to the carpet quietly from their table groups. 

3. I am consistent.
--I try to be as consistent as possible so that students know exactly what is expected and how our classroom runs.  They can be most successful when they are set up for success! One example of this is during centers time, I use a timer or a bell to get children's attention.  Typically at this time it is time for students to get ready to rotate centers.  When the bell goes off, they freeze with their hands on their shoulders.  I say "Our hands are here, our voices off, our eyes are on me." and I wait for ALL the students to follow through with these directions. 
--Next, I use hand motions for our directions.  We all say these together: First, we clean up. Second we stand up. Third, we do it quickly and quietly!  For the past few weeks, we've been doing these directions with JUST the hand motions.  I mouth the words along with the directions, but this sets the students up to go into these routines quietly.  Since we've been doing the directions with just hand motions, my parent helpers have watched in amazement! 

4. The first month to two months, are "BOOT CAMP"
--That sounds more extreme than it is! I just go over rules and routines CONSTANTLY! I have students demonstrate correct behavior over and over again.  Students practice, practice, practice.   It is grueling. By the time the month or two months is over, I find myself thinking "WOW! They have become SO independent!" And all of that painful struggle of "boot camp" pays off!  Looking back over last year, I gave my littles a month to get into the groove.  The remainder of the year was smooth sailing!! So worth it in the end!! 

5. Children get one warning
--I give one warning.  This is one of the biggest components to boundaries in my classroom.  When students are off task, I give them one warning related to the classroom rule they aren't followingI offer a suggestion as to how they can better fulfill that direction, and let them know if I need to remind them again, they will be moving their clip down.  Because I do so much in the first two months of school to practice routines and behaviors, as well as praising the students so frequently, I find that this one warning generally eliminates poor behaviors pretty quickly!  If the behavior continues, I follow through with my discipline procedures.  

So, what is your BEST teaching secret??  I'd love to hear your secrets!!


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