This article is great Back to School advice from the always helpful Shelly Terrell. I particularly like tip 4, Encourage learners to take part in creating their own learning environments. By letting students have control of their space in some ways, you’re turning into their space as well. Also, when students walk into a picture-perfect, everything ready classroom, they can feel as if they have no right to touch anything. It’s like the formal living room in someone’s house. You feel terrified to move, lest you crinkle the ironed sofa cushions. You use a napkin to protect the coasters from your drink. Letting students be involved in the process gives them ownership and it also shows that you trust them.
Another great tip is #5 Be preventative and proactive when it comes to managing your classroom. Preventing a fire is easier than putting out a fire. That doesn’t mean jumping on every little thing.It means thinking about how your class is going to flow and looking for problem areas. For me, cutting off dead time in the class is a critical preventative measure. If students are always busy, then they won’t be distracted or disruptive.
I also try to curb patterns of behavior before they turn into serious problems. That might mean checking in with the class clown while they are still making the smart aleck remarks, but haven’t moved on to pranks. I remember a period when I couldn’t stay awake in my college classroom. I was grateful to a professor who took me aside in the first week and told me if I felt drowsy, I could go get some water and take a walk. He’d rather I miss a few minutes of class than disrupt everyone by sleeping or, God forbid, snoring.
There’s also a handout for teachers and a link to a recording of her talk on the subject.
What’s your Back to School Advice?