There is nothing like the gift of time. I so look forward to long weekends, not just because I can spend extra time with my family, or catch up on sleep, but also because it gives me time to reflect. I made a few changes in my classroom after March Break and it seemed like the right time to consider what’s working and perhaps not working, and how to make it work. That’s the beauty of teaching…change can happen at any time!
1) The desk arrangement in my classroom seemed to offer less space for movement, so I moved groups of desks together on an angle.
It still somehow feels like too many students at one table grouping…and sometimes group work can be challenging. This one I will have to re-think, perhaps making smaller groups and varying the sizes based on my students.
2) The table basket materials at each grouping often seemed disorganized, and I realized I had assumed that because my last set of Grade 4 students had been relatively organized and independent, this year would be similar. An unfair assumption on my part, given how unique each group can be! Therefore, I tried to add a list to these baskets so students could put materials back in the appropriate spot, thereby allowing them to access what they need.
This idea seems to work when the student assigned to table monitor checks the baskets throughout the day. I’m noticing my students are spending less time getting prepared and more time on actual tasks.
3) Many years ago, I noticed that the amount of unfinished work in different places made it difficult for me to know when my class needed “finish up” time. So, I hung hoops over each table grouping and when students were not finished, they would hang it on the hoop and return to it when they had time. It also helped me to see who might be struggling to complete work and when accommodations might be helpful.
This year, I’ve asked students to put their work on one particular hoop, so that they do not need to search several locations for their unfinished work. I find this method also more helpful for me, so I can support students who have unfinished work at each table grouping.
4) Many of my students seem to have self-esteem issues and it’s hard for them to reflect on what they are doing well. I’ve tried a variety of ideas over the year and most recently, we’ve added this “go-to people” list so that they can feel they have expertise and the ability to help others.
This idea is one I have to followup on and possibly add to, given that some students will not be able to share their expertise in a classroom setting (e.g., swimming)!
5) The last idea I wanted to revisit was reducing anchor charts to frames that can be used at the tables as a reference. This idea has been helpful for some of my students and I hope to continue using it for art activities as well.
The best part is, I have to spend less time trying to find places to hang chart paper! Next, I want to take the papers out of these frames and put them in a book that students can continue to refer to later, if they wish.
Now that I have completed my long weekend reflections, it’s time to head back to eating chocolates…