January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Are You Treating Your August Students Like June Students?

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

I enjoy my job. When someone mentions that summer is almost over, I imagine the well-behaved, cooperative students that will be joining my class, just like the ones that I said goodbye to in June. Except…the students who will enter my classroom in August are not the students from this past June. It’s easy to forget that those students were well-behaved and cooperative because I taught them to be that way.

More than one classroom management book emphasizes that the first moments with new students are crucial. The first greeting, assignment, and seating arrangement all set the tone for the rest of the year. Explicitly teaching new students classroom routines and required behaviors is just as important. Putting in the time and effort during the first week of school will pay off in time saved for learning and in less aggravation for the teacher and students.

While teaching students desired routines and behaviors the first few weeks of school are essential, the key to maintaining them lies in revisiting them frequently. Never assume that students remember what you expect. It is easier and more effective to review expectations regularly while students are still conducting themselves in the manner you have asked, than trying to re-teach those classroom structures after they have fallen apart. This is true regardless of what they look like in your individual classroom. Every day of the first week of school, I provide all the expectations to my students verbally as well as in written form on the front board. (While we all need our front boards for academics, the academic outcomes cannot be achieved until students are clear on what we want from them. This is not to minimize the power of well-planned, engaging lessons on student behavior.) After the first few weeks of daily reviewing, I provide intermittent reminders for the remainder of the school year. I always make a point of revisiting procedures and expected behaviors after holidays and the first day of each new grading period. The short amount of time this takes is rewarded in students who are friendly, cooperative, and efficient. Additionally, it creates an environment where the maximum amount of time can be spent on learning.

Just as it is easy for students to forget teacher expectations, it is just as easy for teachers to forget the amount of effort they need to put in at the beginning of the school year in order for their classroom to run smoothly. Pulling out your favorite classroom management books now and quickly reviewing the main concepts can be just the reminder you need to be sure you designate enough time to this critical component of any classroom. My favorite classroom management books are:

My best wishes to all of you for a successful and fulfilling school year!

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. Great article Lisa! I’ll be sure to share this with my pre-service teachers.

  2. Very true words, and ideas that I try to instill in all my student teachers. Thanks for sharing!

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