Now I’m not saying all the squirrely behavior is our fault, but for those of us who believe that the teacher sets the tone for the classroom and that leadership sets the tone for the school, there’s a lot we can do to help make sure our students keep focused and on track. Here are some areas to keep an eye on and strategies for keeping everyone moving in the right direction:
Try a new instructional strategy. Trying something new keeps you on your toes, so if the kids pick up on how enthusiastic, focused, and alert you are in class, they’re likely to respond in kind. Click here for a recent post with ideas for new things to try.
Keep the first 5 minutes tight. The very beginning of class really sets the tone, so make sure it’s just as tight as ever. Changes to your entrance procedures will definitely be noticed by the kids, so be especially attentive here.
Do a quick reset. If you have been guilty of counting down to summer or letting your class get a little more relaxed, take a few minutes tomorrow to reset your expectations. State the problem, commit to how you’re going to change moving forward, tell them what you expect from them, explain why it’s important, and then get on with the learning!
Be a presence on campus. Before school, between classes, lunch, and after dismissal are prime times for restless kiddos to get up to no good. Especially if some of the staff are restless, too, and not always showing up for lunch duty or bus duty, rally yourself and your colleagues to be a positive presence in the hallways and parking lot during those key times to deter possible problems.
Narrow your focus. Identify the 1-2 students who may have the most to lose by losing their focus – the ones who are at-risk of failing your class or who have already been suspended numerous times – and give them some extra attention. Whether they need someone to hand-deliver them to their next class, make them finish an assignment during lunch, or just give them a pep talk during lunch, try to be that supportive force that keeps them on track these last few weeks.
Previously published May 8, 2014.