Sunday, February 22, 2009

It Is Amazing What Expectations Can Do

So if you have been reading lately this blog lately you may have noticed that I have been having some classroom management issues with my ninth grade students.  Well I am here to say that the issues have not been resolved, but instead things are much better after a week of trying new things, reflection, and learning. 

On Wednesday I had gone through my material for the day and was about ready to give time to work when I stopped, paused, and set-up the expectation for work time.  I asked the students to respond to what they thought the purpose of work time was and really pulled out of them the expectations of the next thirty minutes.  Then I amended their suggestions with a few of my own and did it in a bit stronger voice than normal, but still not my mad teacher voice.  Finally, I made sure they understood what the expectation for work time was.  They did, and so I released them to go and work.  It was incredible what they did for the next thirty minutes – they sat, worked, and the room was quiet.  I thought that I had inherited a different class almost. 

After class was over Anne and I sat down to debrief over the day, like we usually do, and I brought up how they had worked really well that day.  Anne asked me why, which of course made me think a little more about my teaching.  I responded with the thought that I had the conversation with the students before I released them.  To which Anne agreed.  She even said that she was really proud of me because I was starting to get it.  I gave the expectation before they started to work and then I did not have to correct the whole class behavior thirteen times while they were working.  She was happy, I was happy with myself, and a new skill had been learned, applied, and that was good.  I tried something new, succeeded, reflected on my practice, and I am excited to implement it into more lessons and classes in the future.