Beginning and Ending Class Like a Pro

Discussion in 'General Education' started by adeeb, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2016

    I listened to a podcast today that discussed how the first four minutes and the last four minutes are the most valuable times of class. The teacher who was on the podcast explained that students will become occupied with something else if you don't capture their attention in the first four minutes. He also offered some activities and exercises you can use for those first few minutes. I found it insightful and thought I would share. My favorite part was when he stated that he stands outside his classroom before class and greets every single student that enters! You can check out the podcast at the following link; it's only 10 minutes long: Beginning and Ending Class Like a Pro

    Do you agree?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jan 18, 2016

    I can't listen to anything now, but as an elementary teacher, I absolutely agree that the first four minutes of a lesson are the most important. In most cases, it could even be narrowed down to the first minute. If you don't get them hooked onto whatever you're doing for that lesson, you're going to struggle like you-know-what to get them to care for the rest of the day.
     
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  4. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I think even more important than the first 4/last 4 minutes is having a routine for the students. I always stand at my door and greet the kids as they come in. When they enter the room they know where to get their worksheets for the day, then to go to their seats, update their notebooks and start the warm-up which is always on the board. This never changes so they know exactly what to expect, and what I expect, every day.
     
  5. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    That's a very good point. If they know exactly what to do upon entering the classroom, you will get them engaged right from the beginning. Does your entire class period follow this structure, or is it only the beginning of the class?
     
  6. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Jan 18, 2016

    I absolutely agree with this comment (I teach HS fwiw).Routine and consistency throughout the class period are vital for students at my school.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 18, 2016

    I agree with Lucybelle. I also greet them at the door, they come in, grab one sheet from every pile take a seat, write down their homework, and get started silently on their kick-off which is on the board. I like having the first few minutes being just silent independent work for many reasons. One is that it gives students a few moments to come down from the excitement of friends and social issues outside of class, which calms them down and makes them much more receptive to instruction. Another is that it gives me a few more moments to get things sorted out if I need to, such as passing back papers, last-minute prep of labs, etc. I've since learned that the easiest way to manage volume and off task talking is to simply have two volumes: either talking or not talking. It's easy to hear if someone is talking when the entire class is silent, rather than allowing them to talk about the question and then having to listen to who is on task and who isn't. In some parts of the day, I might allow talking, but only when I'm freed up enough to be able to walk around and closely monitor discussions.

    My ending is just as structured. Students know to keep working until I tell them to pack up, and to ignore the warning bells (they ring five minutes before the end of class, but I like to use up every minute and allow them to pack up only in the last one or two minutes). They pick up any trash off of the floors (my floors this year are spotless, I don't even have to sweep) and if they're my last period of the day in that classroom, they put up chairs. On lab days we start clean-up a little earlier because of more things to do.

    Some people may think routine is boring and doesn't engage students, but it lets them know the expectations of the classroom, and makes them feel comfortable when they know what to do. All the excitement takes place in the middle during my lessons, discussions, or labs.
     
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  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 18, 2016

    Also known as the primacy and recency effect. I do believe that a good connecting hook to past learning and lesson closure with a takeaway 'forever invitation' are effective in facilitating understanding and remembering.
     
  9. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Jan 18, 2016

    It's really just the beginning of class. My classes vary between days of notes and days of activities and days of labs and days of group work and days of computer work... They know my expectations for all those lessons, for clean up, etc, but they really only know what's going to happen during the first few minutes of class.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 18, 2016

    As others mentioned about the routine, I totally agree. A routine gives students structure, they know what to do, and get right to work.
    As I was going over my expectations and our procedures one student asked me why I have these specific things at the beginning: take a warm up from the tray by the door, go to your assigned seat and start work. I told him, because there are a lot of things happening at the beginning of the class, I have to take attendance, give out pencils (we provide pencils to our students), one student might need to go up to the office, another two hands me their house arrest papers to sign, and we have a new student... This way they don't have to wait for my instructions, they're independent learners.

    Now, I'm not quite as good with the last 4 minutes. I often teach until the bell actually rings, just giving them enough time to put their papers in their folders, give me back my pencil and put their folders away; but a lot of times we finish a couple of maybe even 5 minutes early and I just let them talk. Some might say it's a waste of time, but this is a great motivator, when the kids have so much to say, I just tell them: let's get our lesson done, and we should finish early, then you can talk. Especially after 2nd period I know how everything went, I can tell them, in 2nd, we had 5 minutes left over, we should be able to do the same. This works for me and is perfectly ok with my P, but I know it wouldn't be acceptable everywhere.

    But exit tickets, a reflective written prompt (few sentences) or even a 5 question quiz is a great way to finish the lesson. I should start having those on hand just in case finish early.
     
  11. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 18, 2016

    Exactly. Most management problems escalate when students have nothing to do. Some teachers have accepted the traditional entering room routine - taking roll, announcements, collecting work, taking out materials etc. - as a way of life in school; a sort of price for doing business. It (entering and exiting room) is another one of those nuts and bolts things rarely covered in teacher training. Losing 50 minutes or a whole class period of instructional time per week "settling in" seems to have gone unnoticed and unattended as a problem at all. In addition, students' first impression of a teacher on the first day will be formed within ten seconds of entering the room. They will know how good you are at management and whether this is a work class before they reach their desk.
     
  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Jan 19, 2016

    I have a routine that I use from day one in all my classes: enter quietly, take out your HW, and begin working on the Journal assignment which is projected on the board. My language classes this year are great about following this procedure. By the time the bell rings, they are all on task and if there is talking, they are actually helping each other on the assignment.

    My senior English classes, on the other hand, are more of a struggle. They are very social (they are in career clusters and share most classes for two years) and since Day One, they have come in on "chat mode" and it is hard to get them focused on the journal assignment. I think a lot of the talking is also talking about the prompt, but it's hard to tell. I had sophomores last year and didn't have this problem, so I don't know if it's just a senior thing? I feel like there has to be a way to fix it, maybe if not for this year, for next year, at least.

    Here is what I've tried so far:
    • simplifying the instructions / prompt (it is a simple journal entry paragraph)
    • making the prompt more interesting/engaging (this seems to cause them to want to discuss the prompt more, not write more)
    • reminding students that they lose participation points by talking
    • limiting the amount of time given for the assignment
    • reminding individuals to get on task by name
    It's hard to give individual consequences since it is 50-75% of the class talking, but I hate to give full-class consequences, as well. Any suggestions for chatty seniors are welcome!
     
  13. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2016

    I'm not sure if this would work at your school, but my solution for classes who have a hard time getting started is keeping them after the bell. I start a count down from 5 or 10 at the bell to give them a bit of time to get started, then start counting upwards. That's how many seconds they have to stay after the bell. I usually only have to keep them for 10-20 seconds for 1-2 days, but it works. I have a class this year and once a week I have to count down from 10 to remind them to get started quickly.
     
  14. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2016

    Thanks so much for sharing this. We have a new emphasis on teaching bell to bell, and I've always been really strong starting class productively, but I tend to forget to gather them back together to wrap things up well. Thanks!
     
  15. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Thanks for the suggestion, Koriemo...I have done this in the past and it backfired because it caused frustration on the part of the kids who *were* working, understandably. I'm going to try positive reinforcement today (naming kids who are on task = participation points) and see if that works first, and then I'll try negative reinforcement / counting down.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I purchased a set of markers that have stamps on the end. It was about $4 for a set of 12 (sun, footprint, palm tree, cute things like that). I do that so when they do their warm up, they must be done before we go over it, otherwise they're just filling in answers as go along. Which means they're not learning. They have to try.
    Each warm up is worth 3 points with the stamp, 2 points without it, but it must be complete (at least they still caught up), 1 pt for partial and 0 for nothing.
    So when they talk, all I have to say is "who wants a stamp?" "who's ready for the stamp?" I only give a limited time to get it all done. I didn't think these tough kids were going to be so competitive over a silly little stamp but it works like a charm.
    Maybe you could limit the time for the journal and if they don't get any points? It's still the same thing, but maybe somehow the visual could help them.
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Linguist, I like that idea a lot, but we just went to doing the journal on iPads, and now I don't know what the equivalent would be on an iPad!

    I did try the positive reinforcement today p. 5 and it worked like a charm (for today, anyway!). I just stood there with my clipboard and said "I am looking to see who is earning participation points" and within seconds, they were all working! I think a big part of the puzzle is my own presence. Smart Classroom Management sent out a great article on having a calm, gentle presence that I've been channeling today. My seniors are like lightning rods for anxiety or nervousness, and the calmer I am, the calmer they are (for the most part!).
     
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  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 19, 2016

    If you read SCM you might know that Michael Linsin places a lot of emphasis on following up your rules with consequences if they are broken.

    For me, I greet kids at the door, and I've taught them that the doorway is the boundary between the outside world and my classroom, and as soon as they cross that boundary, it's silent time and time to work and respect the right to work of everyone around them. If they talk anywhere past that boundary, I make them get up, and leave and come back in again quietly. I do this with an attitude of "let's practice it the right way". This is just for that particular student who is talking. Usually after asking one or two people to come out to practice coming in, it quiets down quite a bit.

    I only do this for about a minute long grace period while all of my kids are coming in. Past that, once the door is closed, if they are talking during the warm-up, it's consequence time.

    Usually, since I had individual students leave and practice coming in quietly, there are few to no students talking. If they are though, I can easily give out individual warnings and consequences. Even if there are a lot of students talking, if I focus on one student at a time, things quiet down pretty quick. I refuse to get into discussions about 'he or she was talking too' so that doesn't often happen.

    For any student, if it seems they are having repeated trouble coming in quietly or following any procedure (me getting attention, packing up at the appropriate time, etc.) they are 'invited' to lunch academy where they painstakingly practice every aspect of that procedure with me again and again until they get it perfect, and then a few more times just to make sure it's embedded into their memory. It's the worst way for them to spend lunch, so I rarely have repeat offenders after that, though I do repeat as necessary.
     
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  19. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 19, 2016

    Excellent self observation. Kids don't read what you say or announce. They read what you do. When Peregrin5 and others state they stand at the door to greet students as they enter it is their physical presence (proximity) that signals classroom rules and procedures have begun. The discipline system IS the teacher. In this case students are grading the teacher. They are grading in terms of whether this teacher is someone we can have our way with or someone to take seriously. The fact Peregrin5 makes every student who breaks a rule do it again signals his rules are for real. Although this takes extra time up front he is saving time in the long run as students stop testing to find out where he stands.
     
  20. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I'm also a big fan of making kids line up outside my door silently before they are even allowed in the classroom.
     
  21. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Thank you for sharing that article from SCM; it is excellent! It's true that emotions are contagious. If you come off as calm and gentle, it will reflect on your students. If you get excited and show it enough, your students will start to feel the same way. This is true not only for teaching but for any situation in which you're influencing others in some way.

    I remember back in college, I took an elective course on Oceanography. I didn't particularly care about the class, but that changed for me and other students as the year progressed. Our professor was extremely passionate about the subject. He would always show us recent news about ocean life at the beginning of each class. I think it's safe to say that his enthusiasm for the subject rubbed off on much of the class. It also helped that the way he laughed was hilarious. When he laughed on the first day of class, everyone was trying so hard to hold in their laughter, including me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  22. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I have done this in the past when teaching middle school, but I just don't know that it would fly with high school seniors. I have sent individual kids (HS seniors) out who enter too noisily/rowdily, but I think having a class of 17-18 year olds stand silently in the hall (actually outdoors on our campus) would be a bit much and would possibly create greater resistance. I do agree with you, Peregrin, that I need to be more proactive about enforcing consequences. I know I give too many warnings!
     
  23. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    That's probably true. Since I also teach Middle Schoolers, I have them line up but I can see how that would be a problem with HS Seniors. Honestly, it would be tough to do much with seniors, since it's their last year and they've probably been accepted into their colleges already and they don't really care about HS anymore. They're basically at the age where they should be treated like adults and expected to behave as adults. Not having ever been a HS teacher, I don't really know what kinds of consequences are effective to them.
     
  24. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    This is my first year teaching senior classes...I have far more experience with younger secondary students (8th-10th) and I am finding that what I already do works well for the younger students (my French classes are mostly freshmen and sophomores) but I am really having to adapt for the seniors. You are so right about them wanting and needing to be treated like adults, within limits. So thinking about it as an adult with a job -- if their job is to be working at the bell, and they're not doing what they need to do, then they don't get "paid" with participation points. I think I just need to be more explicit and obvious about what this means and looks like.
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Yeah. I just remember in my senior year, I was a pretty okay student for much of High School, but I totally just didn't care about my grades in senior year. I was going to community college and their lower limit GPA was like nothing, so I could fail all my classes and still get accepted in. Also most of my friends didn't care because they already had acceptance agreements from their colleges and as long as they didn't dip below a certain GPA the colleges didn't really care what grade they got on their last few classes. So grades may or may not be a motivating factor for them anymore (even for the 'good' students). I don't really know the solution. Sorry.
     
  26. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    That is a really good point, and in fact the majority of my students are also JC-bound, or even going straight into the workforce/skilled trades. It did seem to have an effect yesterday, though, when I reminded them about the participation grade. I think I had honestly kind of forgotten about it myself! I'll be interested to see how long this effect lasts.

    The last "card" I really have is their seating. I let them choose their seats as long as they can work without being distracted; maybe it's time to move some seats around? I'll see them again tomorrow and will see if the positive approach works, and if not, revisit.
     
  27. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    It depends on which high school it is. At the high school that I taught at several years ago, seniors didn't even have any desire to go on to college. Grades never mattered to them in the past either. At other high schools, by contrast seniors acted as though grades were highly important to them and wanted to graduate with honors. Then there were schools where the seniors wanted to learn as much as possible because they knew that after graduation, they would have to pay money for higher education classes. Even if they qualified for financial aid, they still had to pay a certain amount out of their own pockets. Therefore, they took learning seriously and cared about grades during their last semester of high school.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  28. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I have a complete mix in my senior classes, from kids applying to Ivy League Schools, to kids who are going directly into the workforce. It's a truly mixed bag! What works for some kids doesn't work for others. It's a challenge, but fun (for the most part!).
     
  29. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    When I taught a 12th grade class, it was a writing enrichment elective so only seniors with an interest in enhancing this skill would enroll. This teaching experience was a complete joy partly because of the students' maturity. The other element was that it was a school with high student motivation and parental support.
     
  30. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Good news! Today went well again with my seniors at the start of class. I also listened to the podcast from the OP at lunch and I really liked some of the ideas. I sometimes meet my students at the door, but not always, and will make more of a point to do this. I also am going to try to incorporate more attention grabbers at the start of class -- I liked a lot of his suggestions. Building class culture and rapport is another thing the speaker mentioned that I feel gets overlooked in lesson planning because it doesn't seem "academic" enough, but it truly is essential, especially in a class that is heavy on writing and self expression where students need to feel included and accepted in order to flourish, and in such a mixed group where students might not think they have as much in common with their classmates as they really do.
     
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