Monday, January 28, 2013

While You Were Out: Make a Classroom Expectation Chart With Your Students

One of my most popular posts of all-time has been a compilation of a series I wrote about How to Plan for an Emergency Sub Situation (you know, for those moments when your child gets sick and can't go to daycare or you wake up in the middle of the night with food poisoning). If you haven't read it before, you may want to check it out and grab the related freebies that are included in the post.

Tomorrow I'll be posting about how to set up for a planned extended absence (which thanks to my gallbladder...or as it stands now my lack of a gallbladder...I am all too familiar with now).  Today I wanted to show you something I did with my class in an attempt to make life easier for any sub that is placed into my room.

Because, let's be honest, no matter how well you plan for your absence and no matter how many "pep talks" you have with your little cherubs, they are going to try to get away with things when you are not around.  When you return to the classroom you want to just roll up your sleeves and get busy making up for lost time and not fielding reports on who did what while you were home sniffling and sneezing. 

But it happens.

When the cats away...the mice shall play...unless you have them put the classroom expectations into their own words in their own handwriting and post it on the wall as evidence that they know what's what. :)

Over the years I found that each time I was away from the classroom, the same items were "up for debate." As I've written about many times before I feel very strongly that having concrete and consistent procedures and routines within the classroom is the key to excellent classroom management. It is important to communicate those in your sub plans. However, kids will be kids.

And that means that kids are going to try to get away with stuff when you aren't there. That was why I targeted the items that seemed to cause the most issues when I would be out and put together a quick, but effective activity with my students.

Here's What I Did:
  • I already had my own mental list of those pesky things that I would get reports on (both from the sub and other students) upon return.  But I solicited input from the kiddos. And they hit the nail on the head. They know the deal as much as we do. We made a list of each of the typical areas that needed to be addressed.
  • Next I took that list and divided my class up into that many teams to work collaboratively at working on explaining the expectations in writing for the area they were assigned.
  • Then I had each group present what they came up with. The read what they wrote to the class and added in anything that classmates suggested for further elaboration.
  • Finally I glued them onto the chart. I typically will make my anchor charts fancier, but felt that this one was important to leave as is so they really had ownership for it.
I added to the top of all my sub plans (both emergency and planned absence plans), "Start the day by reading the chart out loud to the class.  Ask them to elaborate and clarify if needed."

This way the sub and the class are all on the same page. The kids know that the sub knows the deal. The day runs much smoother.

{Be sure to check out my procedure and routines workbook and related video for more ideas on how to better manner your classroom}

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