Thanks to what I learned while taking a great class from Michael Grinder mid-career, I have dedicated different parts of my classroom to a unique purpose. I find this gives students a nonverbal clue that helps them make sense of our environment.
|When anyone is standing or sitting in the front of the room,
we are sharing information or instructions for an activity.
We’re focused on the presenter. We might be discussing,
clarifying, or sharing with each other.
When I’m sitting at the small table by my desk,
I’m working with a small group of students.
The rest of the group is working on an activity
I’ve already explained, perhaps finishing,
assignments, or reading a book quietly.
|When I sit at my desk, I’m working, writing, or reading
and need to be alone in the space. (This doesn’t
happen often in a day!) I can write notes to students or
parents, grade papers without worrying students will see
private information, or gather my thoughts and resources to
get ready for the next part of the day. It’s not many minutes
in a day but it’s an important space for me.
If I’m standing near the window, under our class rules
(BE SAFE, BE KIND, BE RESPONSIBLE), with my arms
crossed looking quietly at the group, it’s time to recall what’s
been happening in the classroom. Someone in the class has
not been following our class expectations and we need to
reset what we’re doing. It might lead to a clarification from
me or a conversation with the group. I stand in this
same spot only if rules have been bent or broken.
What’s going on here? I’ve set aside areas of our classroom so that each has a purpose that makes sense to our group. The purpose can be fluid. I can choose to talk quietly to a student at my desk. I can work with a larger group at the table.
One area that’s not fluid is standing under the rules looking at the class. This small space has a large significance in helping our class to be successful. The location and my posture are important. Students learn that when I stand in this spot and assume this posture we need to have a serious discussion of expectations, maybe a review of why we have the three rules for our classroom. I do my best to avoid explaining rules or negatively reacting to student behavior from my desk, my small table, or the front of the room. To do this would contaminate those spaces. Students could become unsure if when I stand in one of those spots I’m presenting information or disciplining students for poor choices.
Do you other ways of helping students understand expected behavior in the different areas in your classroom?
The illustrations for my blog were made by my good friend Donna who just opened her own store, Educational Graphics Group at TPT. If you’re interested in resources for the alphabet, numbers, shapes, or opposites, she has great products for you to consider. She has amazing ideas and great skill at illustration so check back often to see the new products she’s added to her store!