Level 1 - Creating a Caring Community
1. The first thing I will do everyday is tell them a story about myself. This puts me in a vulnerable position and shows the students that. even though I am the teacher, I am also human, having my own flaws. In my experience, this allows the students to open up and take risks more easily and shows that the classroom is a safe space in which they can feel free to open up. I may mix it up some days, either asking a "social question of the day," to get them into discussion with their elbow-partner, or possibly a joke (clean, and most definitely a bad joke or pun).
2. Another strategy I will employ to demonstrate that the class is a caring community, is that every last day of the week, the class will take some time to just sit down, take some time, and talk. This can be anything from celebrations, pressing class issues, discussions, or even the students asking others for advice. I have noticed that one day of the week, my co-teacher takes time out from the day to address these things. The class has become a tighter community and more like a family than I have ever seen. They love that they are able to be real and talk about problems they might be having and having this free open time to talk about it.
3. Although the first part of this next strategy will not likely be all year long, it is still important for the second part to be a year+ long thing. I will have out construction paper and all different types of pens and markers and their first assignment will be to simply make a nameplate, or placard. On the front, they will have their name (or nickname/what they go by), first and last, and then on the back (facing them), three interests they have (summed up in 1-3 words). Over the next two weeks, it will be my assignment to learn all of their names and at least one of their interests, and on the third week, I will be tested.
4. Norms and expectations for the class and the teacher will be agreed upon by both the teacher and the students. These norms and expectations will be posted clearly in the classroom. This sort of social contracting shows a shared responsibility and common interest in how the class is to be managed. (Kohn, 1996)
5. For this strategy, I think it would be conducive to both the class and the students to establish predictable procedures, routines, and signals. The students feel more organized and prepared when the teacher has made the classroom organized and prepared. So it is important to set up procedures and routines that are done every day like clockwork so that when the students come into class they know exactly what to do and how to get started. Certain signals are made to convey non-verbal commands to the class. I have grown partial to the 3-finger countdown and rely on "leaders in the class" (students that take on responsibility of informing their neighbors of the non-verbal command) to make sure everybody notices and follows. Once they are all quiet AND tracking me... I will begin. (Villa, Thousand, & Nevin, 2010)
6. Since I am teaching history, it would make the most sense to arrange the seats in a fashion that would be conducive to discussion, respectful argumentation, and finally, focus on the task at hand. For this reason, I would put the desks in a U-shaped arrangement. This way they are facing each other and not just straight to the front of the room. Not only does this encourage discussion and getting to know each other, but it also puts everyone on equal footing. There is no stigma attached to "the kids in the back" or "the kids in the front" because this arrangement does not offer for such positions. They can all track the teacher as he walks around as well during lessons. But you need to know your endgame first though, because as Wong states, "The teacher must know what the students are to accomplish before arranging the seating." (Wong, Wong, & Seroyer, 2009)