It's safe to say that I thrive on having a "game plan". Scratch that, it's the way of life that I prefer. I like to know what's happening, when it's happening, how early I need to be there, and what to pack. Every family vacation I've been on has come packaged with a daily itinerary. Now, it's perfectly acceptable to veer from the plan, but as long as we've got one - I'm a happy camper.
Which brings me to my classroom... I started my career in 2nd grade. Throughout my undergraduate courses, it was stressed that little ones NEED routines and procedures. We must post them and practice these if we want order and structure. As a naive college student I thought to myself, "I will have the calmest classroom EVER. Everyone will listen to every word I say." Umm.. not exactly. Anyway, in my year as as second grade teacher we had procedures and routines that we followed and that worked for us. It worked and the kids knew what to do (most of the time).
Fast forward to my first year in 5th grade, a.k.a. last year. I thought that since my students were older and wiser, they wouldn't need a fancy poster telling them what to do every morning. I was sure that if we went over sometime a few times, it would be set in stone. They would remember it always and forever. Then, I could sit back and relax... I wouldn't need to remind them of anything. Umm... not exactly. What I found was that, yes they were much older and wiser - but in order for me to maintain my sanity we were going to need some clear cut routines. Last year, the end of the day was a constant battle of "do this!", "do that NOW!" I would get so stressed out in the last few minutes of school that my brain would literally fall out of my head (okay, figuratively).
Since I'm one that adores structure and a solid plan, I knew that things had to be different this year. To me, that's one of the best parts about teaching - constantly changing to adapt to your classroom and personal needs. It's a beautiful thing.
This year, we're starting off 2nd grade style - with anchor charts and written procedures. I have a sneaky feeling that this type of management at the beginning of the year is more of a personal preference. I'm not saying that YOU MUST have anchor charts to be successful by any means. I'm saying that I MUST have some kind of structure or my brain might implode before Labor Day.
I've figured out the three "troublesome" times in my classroom. They are the following: morning procedure, transition time, and afternoon procedure.
Let's look at our mornings:
Instead of saying, "Write your assignments!" "Turn in that homework, Bobby!" I can refer to our procedure that has been practiced and memorized.
Moving onto transition time:
Side bar, the 5th grade in my building participates in a modified departmentalized set up. My students travel to another teacher for Math each day for 50 minutes. During that time, I teach an additional section of Science.
Before my students ask, "Can I use the restroom on the way to Mrs. Ford's room?" I will say, "Oh little one, refer to the transition routine poster."
Lastly, the end of the day:
Does anyone else experience pure chaos at this time?
Just me? Thought so.
Not anymore, folks. Well, at least I hope so.
Now, let's cross our fingers that my 2nd grade approach will hit home with these new 5th graders. We wouldn't want any brains imploding, would we?