Today, we revisit fundamentals to go over successful learning and how great teachers prepare their classrooms for success.
Teaching can be tough; from commanding the respect and attention of a classroom full of children, to adhering to the constant changes of shifting curriculum that alter the way in which complex subjects and concepts must be approached, teachers are constantly looking for ways to simplify their lives, all the while improving at their craft. The CK-12 Foundation continues to support students, teachers, and districts with online textbooks and interactive resources, we know it’s equally important to revisit how to implement resources in a classroom environment. While we can’t offer any particular advice for how to adjust your lesson plans or the precise guidelines for your next rubric, we look instead to how classroom management fundamentals can alter the way in which your students adapt to any lesson plan.
There are certain classroom management techniques which should never stray far from the mind of a teacher, and can continually govern the way in which they approach their class — from kindergarten all the way through high school. From creating a safe and predictable learning environment, engaging with students to reward good behavior and softly, quickly, and effectively correct bad behavior, to leveraging how students engage with material, we look at strategies for teachers to approach their class.
Routines: Creating a Safe and Predictable Learning Environment
This is a critically important step to classroom management and teaching that should never be overlooked. In fact, this is so conditioned into the way in which many of us operate, that these types of rituals and expectations are interpolated into other areas: The office, job site, or workplace typically rely on routine, to the point that situations that feel unpredictable or disrupt routine are often seen as unwelcome.
Not much is different in the learning environment.
As a whole host of students enter each new school year, anticipation and curiosity is often buoyed and accompanied by fear. It’s important for teachers to realize and mitigate this fear by establishing some clear routines and creating a welcome and safe place for students to explore that natural curiosity. Dr. Bruce Perry discusses the value of routines on Scholastic, citing that “Safety is created by predictability, and predictability is created by consistent behaviors.” Perry suggests that establishing a formula for a successful learning environment and a predictable routine to initiate that learning experience are critical to the students’ ability to relax, absorb information, and engage with the material.
Teachers need to find ways in which to establish succinct routines that initiate the learning process, mitigate fear, and spark the curiosity required for valuable learning. One way that many teachers can do this is by controlling the way in which students enter the classroom and prepare for instruction. Perhaps one routine that could naturally inspire an environment conducive to learning is to set an established regimen for how students are meant to physically enter the classroom and prepare themselves to learn. Have students enter silently, take their seats, take out only the materials that they will need to do that specific lesson, and then have them review the instructions that are already on the board. This sets the tone for the class, and allows the students to understand what’s expected of them each and every day.
Model Successful Behavior
One of the most consistent things to do to instill the willingness to work hard and to prepare student to succeed is to ensure that they know what success looks like! Why this may seem intuitive for teachers or for students with more experience in a particular field, it never hurts to explicitly outline what a well-done assignment might look like. More than just showing the rubric, and what will make the grade, modeling successful behavior helps to illustrate what makes the work good, and also helps instructors to identify potential pitfalls for students as they navigate their assignment.
By having a teacher share model assignments with the classroom, students are prepared to better understand how to complete their work while working independently. Again, while this sounds intuitive, many teachers fail to provide good models for their students, encouraging confusion to develop and seep into misbehavior. Modeling has been previously reserved for special populations or students with Individualized Education Plans or disabilities; however, providing the same types of examples to students in math and science and the humanities can drastically improve performance.
Many encourage this approach, as one educator shared: “A math instructor teaching quadratic equations, for example, might provide 4 models in which all steps in solving the equation are solved. Students could refer to these models as needed when completing their own worksheets of similar algebra problems. Or an English/Language Arts teacher who assigns his class to compose a letter to their U.S. Senator might allow them to refer to three ‘model’ letters while they write.”
Immediate Rewards for Good Behavior
Regardless of the safety of routine or the predictability of how to be successful even with a modeled assignment, confusion, and especially, insecurity can be a big detractor to prevent students to performing at their optimum level. In order to encourage getting the most out of student performance, it’s critical that the teacher also becomes the coach.
Students are often stymied by fear in their quest for knowledge and inherent curiosity, and good educators know how to leverage that to work for the whole. Be sure to encourage positive student behavior by giving comments and immediate feedback in public. When a student does something right, positive reinforcement for their behavior, especially in front of the group, can go a long way to help the others!
Engage and Teach Toward All Learning Styles
While everyone has different learning styles, and this is no surprise, it should come as a surprise that many educators fail to leverage these learning styles be reinforcing complex concepts with interactive and engaging lesson plans that stimulate different cognitive learning principles.
CK-12 has been a long leader in the provision of online textbooks, but now we are also coupling that with interactive games, activities, and playful interactive learning modules to better explain complex concepts. Our PLIX product is the first in a long line that will help better disseminate information by providing platforms for educators to lean on a more hand-on, interactive curriculum–something that educators must aspire to do more and more as things lean more heavily on technology.
Education.com suggests that there are many ways in which educators can better illustrate complex concepts for students, including long-term projects, group activities and hands-on involvement. It is up to teachers to creatively interpolate ways for their students to engage, and offer pathways to interaction for their students.
For more tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your classroom, keep checking our blog for more!