Building Classroom Community-Classroom Culture

II. Classroom Culture:  Making your classroom a place where students work hard, respect one another and themselves, and do their best.  Make sure you systems and routines are age appropriate taking into account attention span, students with specific challenges, and culture of the school. 

 Systems and Routines

1. Entry Routine

Make a habit out of an efficient start to the class.  Set up and practice your routine so that you are available to greet students as they come in rather than having to give them instructions or get yourself settled.

If there is a packet, have students pick it up from a table as they come in, or have it on their desks already.

Students should know where to sit- they should not spend time deciding.  Assign seats or have them sign up for regular seats.

Have instructions on the board if there are specific ones for that day (sit with your 2 o’clock chevruta).

Whatever they do with homework should be the same everyday.  Take it out and leave it on their desk, or your desk, or in a basket.

A Do Now should follow.

Homework assignment for the next day should already be on the board.

***This technique allows you to be at the door and present as each student walks in.  It is a good time to say hello, smile, check in on a student’s materials, check in on a student’s emotional state, and generally build relationships.***

 2. Do Now

Students should not have to ask- what should I do now when they enter the class. 

There should be a short activity on the board waiting for them, one that they can complete without teacher assistance. 

It should either reflect on a previous lesson, or preview an upcoming one.

 3. Transitions

We often waste a lot of time on transitions.  It is useful to set up routines for transitions and practice with your students.  Time them, see if they can beat their time, etc.  Give clear and exact instructions as to their steps.  Keep the instructions the same as much as possible.

 4. Organization

Give students time to take out and put away materials properly.  Give them time to write down homework assignments and put them in the proper place.

Take the time to make sure binders are set up as you want them to be.

If they can live in the classroom, keep them there. 

Keep an eye on which students need more support to stay organized. 

If you show that it is a value, and that you are giving the time to make it happen, they will respond.

 5. On Your Mark

Body language often corresponds to level of engagement.  Set a standard for how you expect students to sit to optimize learning.  Sitting up straight, listening, looking at the speaker, etc.

Students should know what they need to do to be ready to learn- to be on their mark.

Have a pencil out, desk clear, homework ready, etc.

Set a time limit.

Give students the opportunity to be successful- have pencils that they can take if they forgot one.  In order to help build a sense of personal responsibility- allow them to take a pencil, without consequence, only if it is during entry routine time. 

Homework always gets handed in at the beginning of class.

 6. Seat Signals

Create a signal or system for bathroom requests. However you decide to do it, make it clear to the students and hold them to that standard. 

If you only want students to make the request at appropriate times (not in the middle of a lesson), make sure to instruct them on when are appropriate times.