A Strategy for Classroom Management + Literacy
So I think this is brilliant brilliant brilliant and I wanted to share it. I love it when one classroom procedure cleverly solves several problems at once. A colleague of mine just shared an idea with me which solves issues of classroom management and literacy/vocab acquisition.
Problem 1: Teachers need a way to regain students’ focus during transition / after activities / etc. My standard signal is to say ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention please?’
Problem 2: Curriculum, at times, requires explicit vocabulary instruction. Trying to work in creative ways to introduce and reinforce new words can be tricky.
Solution: Instead of having a definite phrase for the whole year (such as ‘Ladies and gentlemen…’), choose a specific word that is not a part of the covered curriculum for that (week? month? unit?) and have that word be the ‘refocus’ word. Tell students explicitly that whenever I say this specific word, this is the signal to regroup. I also get to define this word and keep it in the forefront of their minds as the unit continues. For example – while I’m teaching about constructions, ‘Transversal’ could be the word that I use to regroup students which will show up in more depth later in the year. Or I could do the same strategy but with a review word as a way to refresh their memory on a certain topic. I think this idea has some potential – maybe a new word (or a few words) every unit? or month?
Credit where credit is due: I’m currently teaching a computer science course at a summer camp for gifted youth. One of my colleagues who teaches a Paleobiology course (which is awesome) told me that she uses this strategy for classroom management. There’s a different word every day (which she can pull off because there are only 15 days of class) and they’re usually scientific (such as Cephalopod). Whenever she says this word, students have to meet their eyes with her eyes. Awesome.