Tuesday, May 18

Do Not Sit Stil in My Classroom

I keep my classroom door closed.  I have a big secret. 

Shhhh…. Don’t tell!  I do not allow students to sit still. 

It doesn’t matter who you are or what label has been tagged to your file, no one is allowed to stay seated too long. 

Read on, but remember, we don’t tell anyone the rule.

From the first day of school, the kids learn the “don’t sit still rule.”   One of the weekly jobs in my classroom is the teacher’s helper.  Along with other responsibilities like answering the phone, which I hate, one of the tasks is to use sticky notes and write down times for me.  For example, “Joe, tell me when 30 or 45 or whatever number of minutes has passed.”  I get so busy with what I’m teaching or with working with someone one–on–one that I lose track of the time.  (We get an extra bonus – we master the skill of elapsed time!)

When the teacher’s helper says time is up, we move.  We stretch, we do a quick round of “buzz,” we re-organize, we go for a walk, we take a break.  I also make sure the kids drink lots of water.  

Now, it is very important to stress here that this only works if you put the time in during the first few weeks of school.  We spent a great deal of time learning how to transition.  They know my cues and they also know that the way we do things is very special!  The students feel that they are so lucky and they do NOT want to lose their break times. 

Another way we build the “do not sit still” rule into our day is by creating an “in-basket.”  In the old days, I had forms that were called “contracts.” Over time, I learned that no one needed the extra paper work.  The kids were more than capable of following a posted list, setting themselves up to work, and getting busy. 

My students love that they have the freedom of choice.  After I teach a lesson and independent work time begins. They know where everything is located: papers, workbooks, book boxes, their readers’ notebooks, etc.  Some kids like to pile everything up before they begin.  They use the floor, some use an extra chair, some use a shelf, etc.  It isn’t always neat and pretty, but it works for us.

On the other hand, some kids like to keep getting up and turning things in, returning materials, etc.  It may seem as if it is chaotic, but most days it is done silently.  Those that are working together, for example on a book share, find a private and quiet place away from others.   I have my list of kids I must see and usually get to everyone.  Classroom management is never an issue. 

My students are responsible for the work they do and the way in which they approach it.  Some like to do the hardest thing first and others like to do the easiest.  There is an abundance of trust in my room.  Students know that hard work is valued and I trust them to do their job.  More importantly, I want them to be aware of the way in which they work.  When I meet with them I discuss the way in which they approach their work, how they make decisions and work ethic.  

We stress process, metacognition, personal responsibility and most of all, learning.  My room is a busy, busy place! 

And, we do not sit still.


Suzanne Whitlow said...

I love this post. As a former PE teacher at the elementary level I love a busy classroom. Engagement does not have to mean sitting at the desk. Wonder how many teachers move through their classrooms like this? I see a lot of teachers sitting at their desk grading papers instead of monitoring/helping/ evaluating progress. I like your way better.

Sarah said...

I love it! Not only do they feel super special for these freedoms you allow them, they probably have no idea all the important life skills they're learning :)

Hen Jen said...

your class does sound like a special place! Wonderful, specially for some of those very "busy" boys!