The return to the classroom, Part II
Creative ways to reteach classroom behaviors
After a year of distance learning, K-12 students have returned to a once familiar yet slightly strange environment: in-class learning. While back-to-school always presents an enduring set of re-orientation tasks, this year requires a bit more effort and creativity in three vital areas: developing a trusting relationship with students, reteaching classroom behaviors, and helping students reforge social connections. Of the three, reteaching classroom behaviors is a task as old as school itself.
Teaching, modeling, and practicing classroom behaviors will require more emphasis, more patience, more time, more flexibility, and more creativity this year, even in advanced high school grades. Remote learning has given students more than a year to practice problem behaviors such as not staying in their seats, chasing distractions, making noise, coming and going as they please, or simply not showing up. In addition to well-established practices in reteaching and remodeling K-12 classroom behaviors, it may help to consider adding something new to the mix.
Some effective classroom management techniques use class-wide incentives such as token economies. Based on the principle that rewards are more effective than punishments at changing behaviors, class-wide incentives are systems of rewards set up to reward either individual students or groups of students. Some systems use teams so that group problem-solving, collaboration, and peer influences can help students having difficulty with classroom norms or rules.
These incentive programs could be as simple as a punch card system that rewards classroom etiquette or tied to specific assignments for in-person learners. For those that learn virtually, a points system could be implemented to encourage digital citizenship and rewarded with virtual field trips or the opportunity for students to share a favorite video with the class.
Co-construction of norms
There are alternatives to simply teaching and modeling classroom behaviors, including generating classroom rules and norms together with the students. In a nutshell, co-construction allows students to participate in establishing and justifying their own classroom rules. By building classroom norms and rules with the students rather than imposing them on the students, the process gives students a better understanding of expectations and a stake in the success of the classroom. Co-construction also provides teachers with valuable insights into what students feel they need and what they expect from the classroom.
Habits of Work grades
To teach successful learning behaviors, some schools and teachers have adopted Habits of Work grading (HoW). On each assignment, students receive one grade for the quality of their academic work and a separate grade for their behaviors in completing the work. The goal is for students to understand behaviors as a distinct area for growth. HoW grading is typically instituted at the school or district level, but there are ways teachers can develop their own systems to help students grow in their classroom and work behaviors. For example, each assignment could include a summary analysis of the student’s work behaviors. In a digital classroom, tools that allow teachers to closely monitor student progress, like those in LanSchool, can give teachers usable information for assessing and grading the work habits of students (both in-person and remote).
Involving the student
In many ways, productive classroom behavior involves an agreement between teachers and students. Many of the more creative and effective strategies in establishing classroom behavior norms focus on strengthening this agreement: involving students in the decisions rather than imposing them, evaluating behavior rather than enforcing it, and rewarding students rather than punishing them. All these emphasize that classroom behavior, like learning, is a two-way street rather than a set of arbitrary marching orders.
In our next post, we will cover innovative ways to help children re-establish their friendships and forge vital connections with each other. Reconnecting with students and reteaching classroom behaviors are both daunting tasks, but social connections are a magic ingredient to making school genuinely seem like home again.
Critical to every back-to-school transition is reteaching and remodeling classroom behaviors. Find out how the features in LanSchool helped Washington Elementary manage classroom behaviors more effectively, allowing teachers to spend more time teaching.
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