Friday, December 7, 2007

Simple Systems

A critical part of teaching is developing your systems. These are simple elements of your day that, if not managed correctly, can ruin your day. They include things like: how students turn in their homework, when pencils get sharpened, how students get from their seat to the door, where you keep your sub plans, how you pick who gets to be a helper… Overlooking these simple systems is like planning a wedding and forgetting to prepare for the marriage.

I’ll periodically share my systems. You’re more than welcome to use them, but that’s not my intention in posting them. My intention is to give you ideas. You’ve got to find what works for you, your students, and your building.

When you do develop a system, don’t just try it for a week. Even if you don’t love it, stick with it for a couple of months. It’s important for you and your kids to be able to develop a sense of routine. When I finally recognized that I needed some systems, it was incredibly difficult for me to stick to them. It often seemed easier just to change and do something else. It took me a long time to just commit. Now that I have systems that work for me, I teach them to my students until they become second nature. My students seem to find comfort in the regularity of my classroom.

I know what you’re thinking… what about the spontaneous teachable moments. Don’t worry about those until after you’ve got the basics down. Once your kids are strongly grounded with their behavior and classroom systems, then you can occasionally have wonderfully adventuresome moments. Until then, teachable moments are often avoidance in disguise.

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