Establishing classroom culture (tips for next year)

Discussion in 'High School' started by 1889, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. 1889

    1889 Guest

    Aug 25, 2020

    Hello all,

    I begin student teaching this fall...somehow. I've been told the first week of class is so important for establishing classroom culture and I was looking forward to observing that process but I will no experience in a live classroom by the time I start next year.

    Does anyone care to reminisce about how they used to establish classroom rules and a sense of community so I can have some ideas for next year? I'll be teaching high school math.

    Thank you
     
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  3. Camel13

    Camel13 Companion

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    Aug 25, 2020

    It is so easy to want to start with rules and syllabus the first day. Imagine how students are getting that from every teacher all day! They totally tune out...know I would! I save that for at least the end of the first week. Instead, take them outside, sit in a big circle (even bigger with Covid) and literally just talk. Get down to earth and establish a positive relationship with all students, and encourage that in each other. I am planning to do some “empathy training” also the first week to get students thinking about how their words and actions impact others with some hypothetical scenarios.
     
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  4. S P

    S P New Member

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    Aug 29, 2020

    I agree with the post above. Develop a positive relationship with the students where they feel safe and comfortable coming to you for help. Especially this year with covid, students mental health is also a priority. Things are going to be different and although the education aspect of school is important, safety is going to be a priority. Reassuring students and building good relationships makes it easier when you have issues with the student. As for classroom rules that you mentioned, work on those together as a class. If the students help come up with the rules, they will be more inclined to follow them. The number one rule in my opinion, is mutual respect. Students and teachers all need to respect one another and foster a positive environment.
     
  5. 1889

    1889 Guest

    Aug 30, 2020

    About working together to establish classroom rules. I don't mean to sound cynical but aren't they all pretty much the same?
    1. Please don't talk while I'm giving instructions.
    2. Keep your hands to yourself.
    3. Speak to each other respectfully.
    4. If I make a math error please say something right away.
    I'll be teaching high school so most of them have been socialized by this point. Should I just say "Here are the basics, what do you think, do we need more or can we agree on these?" Or should I really start with a blank slate and ask "What rules do we need?" because that seems sort of disingenuous. I mean I need to get them to "come up" with these four rules in some form anyway.
     
  6. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 31, 2020

    Be wary of turning over classroom management to students on the first day especially if you haven’t, first, answered for students, “Who are you?” It may be better to establish your rules and procedures then sometime down the road when students know they are, indeed, dealing with a real teacher open things up for discussion. In simple terms, effective classroom management hinges on students’ belief the adult in the room is someone to take seriously.

    Think of your rules as hopes and wishes for a successful school year. However, they do not generate perfect behavior. They are posted speed limits that some will obey while others keep their foot on the accelerator. On the other hand, if they see a cop every time they try to speed up then soon they won’t try any more. It’s about what you “do” not what you say.

    Be prepared. As soon as you make a rule about students raising their hand and waiting to be recognized before speaking, guess what? A student will call-out. Why? They have to know if you mean what you say. If you ignore it because the student has a good idea or think it will go away on its own you teach the class your rules are nothing but hot air. Don’t be surprised if students start calling out over and over. And if this rule doesn’t apply students will start testing other rules. Rules have been described as stage props. Students will push on them to see if they stand up or fall over.
     
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  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sep 1, 2020

    Honestly, I never really cared about the whole "let's have the kids come up with the rules so they have buy-in". I mean in the end it's going to be the rules you're ok with, so it's just a waste of time.
    I always started with going over the rules and I made it interactive - explain, kids fill in blanks on a worksheet. Then I had them sign it as an agreement. As most of my kids were with me for years (only English teacher at a small school, taught all grades 9-12), I wouldn't even explain much, I would let the kids do it.
    I focused on procedures and then the next day we went right into the content, practicing everything as it came up.

    I don't think you can establish a class culture in 1 day. You can tell them that you don't tolerate mocking or bullying or meanness, etc., but it will really happen over time.
    I also feel that class culture kinda happens on its own, of course I have to make sure it doesn't go in the wrong direction, but not every class will be the same and I also feel that you can't make it be one thing. It's the personality of the class and it depends on the students in it and just how everything works out.

    I had classes where one was super awesome, great attitudes, we had a lot of discussions, we could have some fun and never had problems. Others where I had to rule with an iron fist (lost of immature and behavior problem kids) and I had to be super strict and it worked. But I wasn't worried about class culture, I was worried about being able to teach. Another class that was similar to this one but super challenging, it was horrible.
    I had a class that was also a more mature class, they were similar to the first one, but we could have more fun as they were livelier but sometimes they had trouble bringing their energy down. Still it was a great atmosphere.

    So I would just focus on establishing rules and procedures and let them know how things will be from my end, but then time will tell.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
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  8. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Sep 1, 2020

    Let them make the rules what other things will they want to control or have say over - what makes an A?
     
  9. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Sep 4, 2020

    Agree students should not “make the rules”. On the other hand, something can be said for including students’ input regarding the teacher’s standards of time on task and cooperation which are already in place. In this case the art of shaping the discussion in the direction of general rules, “Okay class, what kinds of behaviors define ‘respect others’ and ‘completing work?’” is different than a carte blanche lesson, “Okay class, what kinds of rules do you want?”
     

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