My Plan for Managing the Classroom
1. When will you take attendance? What will the students be doing while you take attendance?
Every day to begin class, students will write in their journals, responding to that day’s central question; while students are working on their journal entries (which will take approximately 5-10 minutes), I will take attendance.
2. How will you respond to students who come in late?
Students with passes will hand the pass to me as they come in. Students without passes will come in and sit down, and I will address them later in class when students are working. I plan to have a stack of sticky notes at the front of the room where I will jot down the names of late students, so later, I can go back and change the attendance.
3. What will you do with students who are absent? Who miss class time? A test? Class notes?
I will have a folder with extra handouts for students who miss class. If I have older students, it will be their responsibility to go to the folder and pick up what they missed; for younger students, I am considering writing the absent students’ names on each handout to ensure that they receive all of the necessary materials.
When the student returns to class after being absent, I will briefly talk to them before or after class to catch them up on what they missed. If they missed a lecture, it will be their responsibility to copy the notes from a classmate; if they missed a test, it will be their responsibility to plan a time to meet with me where they can make up the test (if I am teaching at a school like Novi, this would be during seminar, but in most cases, this will be before/after school. I don’t believe that students should miss more class time to make up a test).
4. How will you distribute papers?
While this may vary by assignment or class size, I plan on utilizing the “take-one-pass-it-on” technique. However, as my rotation group figured out last semester with Mr. Franchi’s class, this technique does not quite work with younger students or if you send too many papers around at the same time; this confuses the students and sometimes not all of the papers make it to each student.
5. How will you get students’ attention when you want it?
This is probably the thing I am most concerned about; I’m a pretty quiet person and tend to not be able to speak loudly enough to catch people’s attention. As Ms. Bryen told me last semester, practice makes perfect, and hopefully with time and experience, I will be able to adopt a “teacher voice” that will command the attention in my classroom. Also, this semester in Mr. Hudock’s classroom, I was really impressed with how quickly students stopped talking whenever he rang a bell; while I feel that this is too structured for a high school classroom, it would be very effective if I was teaching a middle school class.
6. How will you arrange the seating in the classroom?
For sure, I want my classroom to be arranged in a U shape (or a double U shape if I have a small classroom). I feel that this setup allows for better student engagement and prompts more interactive class discussions.
7. How will you determine where each student sits? (Will you ever alter this? If so, why and when?)
If I have younger students, I will create a seating chart; I feel that younger students (such as middle school students and freshmen in high school) need this structure and this allows me to prevent any class distractions or issues. I will change the seating chart every marking period to mix things up.
If I have older students, I really don’t care where they sit. I might have students pick their permanent seats on the first couple of days of class, just so I can have a seating chart to give to a sub.
8. How will you call on students? (Only if hands are raised? Accept responses at any time? Directly call on students?)
I feel that different types of activities and discussions call for different kinds on approaches. For the most part, I would want my students to respond only if their hands are raised; however, for some activities, like when I am writing down ideas on the board, it would be beneficial for students to simply call out their answers.
For me, I was (and still am) uncomfortable participating in class discussions. I understand that some students are terrified by the possibility of being called on in class; however, at the same time, it is important for all of my students to talk in class. To overcome this problem, I might go around the room and have each of my students share an idea; this relieves some of the pressure of talking in class, while still making sure that everyone talks. Or, I might call on some of the quieter students if it looks like they know the answer; I would call on this student first (so all of the more obvious answers haven’t already been said), and ask the student questions that I am confident that he or she knows.
In our Ed. Psych. class, we watched a video that suggested talking to some of the quieter students and making “deals” with them about being called on in class. In this video, the teacher promised he would only call on a specific student when he was standing in front of the student’s desk; if the teacher wasn’t standing by the student, the student did not need to worry about being called on. This was a good way to relieve the nervousness of the student, while still having the student talk in class.
9. How will you transition between activities? (for example: from whole group to small group and back to whole group?)
Hopefully, my activities will have some coherence between them on a given day, which will help make transitions easier. Before each transition, I would clearly explain the next activity and give explicit directions, before expecting the students to move. I like how Mr. Hudock structures these transitions: he has students clear their desks, he gives directions, he has students move their desks, he tells the students where to go, and once they are there, he hands out the materials for the next activity.
10. How will you handle classroom interruptions? (phone ringing, messages over the loud speaker, fire drills, etc)
These interruptions are just the natural part of classrooms. I feel that to be prepared, teachers need to plan a little bit of wiggle room in their lesson plans that ensures the class doesn’t fall behind. The biggest challenge of these interruptions will be to keep students focused; I think the best way to do this is to not show your frustration or concern over these interruptions. Students will recognize it if you are calm and will be more likely to go with the flow.
11. What will be your norms for classroom discussions? And how will you teach these to the students?
Class discussions still need to be structured and focused. While I would like to give my students the freedom to challenge each other’s ideas, it is still important that they respect one another. Students need to raise their hands before speaking and they need to listen to what each person is saying. To make sure that students understand this, I will remind students of this before a big class discussion.
12. What do you expect students to bring with them to the classroom every day? What will you do with students who do not have these items or school supplies (paper, pencils, books)?
I will have extra supplies for students who need it, such as pencils, papers, and books. However, if a student borrows a pencil, he or she will be expected to leave something with me so I make sure my pencil gets back. However, if a student repeatedly “forgets” his materials, I will need to talk to him about it after class.
13. What will be your policy on food, gum, drinks, cell phones, ipods, backpacks, jackets, etc. in the classroom? What will you do with students who bring items you have told them not to bring?
I strongly believe that students shouldn’t have any of these items in my classroom. Food, gum, and drinks (besides water) are messy, cell phones and ipods are distracting, and backpacks and jackets get in the way.
However, these kinds of policies are sometimes difficult to enforce. Basically, my policy will be that if I notice a student with any of these items, I will do something about it; this way, students won’t get angry with me for potentially being inconsistent: for example, if I notice a student with gum or food, I will ask him to throw it away; and if I notice a student with an ipod or cell phone, I will confiscate it and the student can come pick it up at the end of the day. With jackets and backpacks, I don’t mind if students bring them to class; however, as they get in the way, I would prefer students who need to bring them (because their locker is too far away) to make arrangements with me and leave them in the back of the room during class.
14. How will you manage the classroom books and computers in your classroom? When can students use them?
As an English minor, I want to have a shelf filled with books in the back of the classroom for students to read when they finish an assignment. For both books and computers (if my classroom has any), students who finish their assignments early can use them.
Student work and grading
15. How will you collect homework and other assignments?
I really liked how Ms. Bryen collected homework. At the beginning of the class period, she would go around and initial the students’ work to check who did it; then during class, she’d prompt students to make additions to their responses based on our class discussions. This was a good way to check for student understanding and make class discussions a useful tool to learn from. At the end of class, I will have students pass forward their work.
16. How will you pass back graded work?
When students are working on an assignment, I will go around and individually pass back students’ graded work. I’m not a big fan of having students pass back graded work, but in some cases (such as if the work is just a completion grade), then I might consider it.
17. How will you keep evidence of student work? (Where will you keep it? How will you keep it organized? How long will you keep it?)
I will post students’ projects (such as posters) around the room as evidence of student work. For the most part, I will return all tests, quizzes, and essays back to the students, so I will not keep much evidence of students’ work. However, I am considering following Ms. Bryen’s example with regards to tests; Ms. Bryen kept a filing cabinet with all of the students’ tests. This way, she ensured that the tests didn’t leave the classroom, but were available for students to go back and study from them for later tests. I will keep these tests at hand through the end of the year, and then pack them away until next year (just in case someone returns with a grade question/concern.
18. What will you do when students have not completed their assignments?
I believe that it is very important that students turn their work in on time. For each day that an assignment is late, it will be docked 10% of the points; after a few days, it’s a 0. If a student repeatedly doesn’t turn in his or her assignments, then I will have to contact the parents.
19. What will you do if students want extra credit? Particular, what will you do if they ask for extra credit work at the end of the semester?
I will provide small extra credit opportunities throughout the year, such as having an extra credit question on the test or having students complete an extra research assignment. Then, for the most part, there is no excuse for a student to come to me at the end of the semester asking for extra credit. In some cases, I may allow students to complete a lengthy assignment at the end of the semester; however, this assignment would be challenging and, as a result, would prompt the student to learn the material. In my opinion, extra credit opportunities that are simple or irrelevant (such as bringing in a box of Kleenex for extra credit) are not appropriate.
20. Will you have students grade each other’s work in class? If so, how will you deal with confidentiality issues?
In a math or science class where there are objective, concrete answers, I can see the value of having students grade each other’s work. However, in a class like history or social studies, I do not see the purpose; for essays, tests, and assignments, I will grade all of the students’ work.
However, in some cases, I may have students peer edit each other’s essays; I feel that this is very beneficial because it provides feedback to the student and provides the peer editor with ideas and examples. I feel that confidentiality issues are irrelevant in this kind of assignment, because students are only seeing the work of their classmates and not the grade.
Entering and Leaving the Classroom
21. What do you want students to do when they enter your classroom?
In a perfect world, students will enter the classroom, sit down, and quietly begin their journal entries; however, I understand that this will, most definitely, not be the case. I don’t mind if students chat with their friends before the bell rings, but when I begin class, I expect them to be in their seats.
22. What do you want students to do before they leave your classroom?
Students need to clean up the area around them and push in their chairs before they leave my classroom. However, if a student forgets to push in his or her chair, it’s not that big of a deal; I just don’t want to be stuck with a mess at the end of the day.
I am also considering having the students complete exit slips at the end of the class.
23. How will you dismiss the students from you classroom? (let them leave as soon as the bell rings? Have them stay in their seats until you say they may leave? Etc.)
When I was in school, I was a big proponent of working on any assignments right until the bell rang; I couldn’t understand why students were lining up at the door. When I am a teacher, I would prefer students to work until the bell rings, but I recognize that many students will not agree with this procedure.
If I have younger students, I will expect them to stay in their seats until the bell rings; but if I have older, more responsible students, I don’t mind if they line up at the door a minute before the bell rings (unless, of course, they start lining up with 5 minutes left of class).
24. When can a student… use the restroom? Go to his/her locker? Get a drink of water? Call a parent? Visit another teacher?
A student can leave the classroom (with my permission), when the class is working on an assignment. I will not sign a locker pass if I am in the front of the room lecturing or if the students are in the middle of an activity, like a class debate. I don’t mind if students leave the class (within reason); they just need to pick appropriate times.
25. What will you do if you give a student permission to leave the classroom, but they have not yet returned in ten minutes?
Most schools have hall monitors that roam the halls and deliver passes. If I notice that a student has been missing for over 10 minutes, I will call the office and have a hall monitor find the student. While the student may just be skipping class, it is also possible that there was a situation, like that the student got sick.
26. How will you establish general classroom guidelines/rules?
General classroom guidelines will be posted on the wall and will be in the “syllabus” handed out to the students on the first day of class; this will ensure that there are no questions about my expectations, from the students or the parents.
With older students, I feel that classroom guidelines are common procedure; while I will go over the guidelines at the beginning of the school year (and set up new guidelines during new activities, such as being respectful during class discussions), I don’t feel that the rules will be that foreign or different for students.
With younger students, it may be necessary to go over the rules in detail and perhaps even have the students help me create the rules. This would be a good way to get the students involved with the procedures.
27. What will your general classroom guidelines/rules be? Will students have a role to play in creating these?
I will post the rules on the wall and in the “syllabus” handed out on the first day of class; this way, there will be no questions about my expectations, from the students or the parents. As said in #26, I am considering having younger students help create the rules; this would help students feel a part of the classroom and have a greater interest/stake in following the rules.
28. How will you encourage students to follow these guidelines?
The guidelines in my class will (hopefully) be common sense things that help make a class run smoothly, such as being respectful during class discussions and raising your hand to talk. As I want to teach 11th and 12th graders, I hope that little encouragement will actually be needs to have students follow the guidelines.
29. What will be the positive consequences for following the guidelines?
I’m not really sure if rewards are necessary for following the guidelines. However, in certain cases (like if there’s a sub or we have a really successful class debate), I might “reward” good behavior by assigning less homework or “treating” them to a fun activity.
30. What will be the negative consequences for not following the guidelines? (include levels of consequences)
If a student breaks a minor rule (such as bringing food to class), then I will simply ask the student to throw the food away. If a student breaks a larger rule (like not being respectful during class discussions), I will talk to the student after class. For serious rule-breaking, I will contact the parents and/or the administration.
31. How will you handle students “telling” on each other?
I plan on teaching 11th and 12th grade students and will (hopefully) not have to deal as much with students telling on each other. I will always welcome students coming to me with issues or concerns (such as a student who is not doing his part of the assignment or a student who was seen cheating on a test). In cases that are petty and immature, I will tell the “tattler” to focus on his own behavior and I will take care of the other student.
32. What will you be willing to tolerate in terms of student behavior, noise, student freedom?
When I give students time in class to work on an assignment, I expect them to actually be working. I don’t mind if they occasionally talk to a friend or get off-topic, but for the majority of time, they need to be on-task. When students are working on assignments, I will go around helping them and keeping them on-task. I will tolerate noise and student behavior until its distracting to me or other students.
33. What do you consider as minor student disciplinary infractions? Major? How will you deal with each?
Minor disciplinary infractions include not turning in assignments, disrupting class, being disrespectful, etc. For this, I would talk to the student after class, and if the student continues, I would talk to the parents. Major disciplinary infractions include cheating on a test, threatening another student, etc. For this, I would talk to the administration and set up an appointment with the parents.
34. What will you do with blatantly disruptive students? At what point will you seek assistance from your colleagues? The administration? From parents?
First, I would talk to the student; I would try to figure out why the student was acting out and try to work with the student to fix the situation. For example, if the student is simply talking out of turn, I would try to find a way to channel the student’s talkative nature during class discussions.
If the student continues to disrupt the class (after several times talking to the student), I would ask my colleagues for advice; it is very likely that some of my colleagues have had this student before, and might have gone through the same situation.
If this still doesn’t work, I would talk to the parents, and keep sending notifications on the student’s progress. And if the student still refuses to obey, I would turn to the administration for help.
35. How will you deal with school policy infractions? (such as not dressing in school uniforms, listening to music, or talking on a cell phone when it is not allowed, etc)
This depends solely on the protocol of the school’s policy. While I may not agree with some of the school policies, during my first few years of teaching, I think it is important to properly deal with infractions.
Communicating with Families
36. When will you contact families? (for good and bad behavior, for good and bad academic performance)
For the most part, I would only contact parents for bad academic performance or bad behavior. Only in special circumstances (such as a struggling student doing extremely well on a test), would I contact a parent for good performance.
37. How will you contact families? (through a letter given to the student, phone call, email, visit to the home)
I like the idea of communicating with parents via email. Especially with younger students, I plan on sending a class newsletter every unit updating the parents on test dates and special events. At the beginning of the year, I would ask parents how they’d rather be contacted (email or phone), so if a situation came up, I would know how to best reach them. And, under no circumstances, would I visit their home.
38. How will you keep track of your contact with families?
During the first few days of school, students will bring home a form for their parents to fill out (with email address, phone number, etc. listed on it). I will periodically email the parents with general overviews and updates of the class, and when necessary, I will contact a parent with an issue. Doing it by email ensures that I can keep track of contact with families.