Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting (& Keeping) Students on Task (Student Teaching Summary Post 4)

Here's a post detailing the thoughts I had as a student teacher concerning getting and keeping students on task. 

- Do it again If students don't get a classroom behavior or expectation right the first time, show them what they did wrong, model how to do it write and have them do it again, until they get it right. This is a technique from Teach Like a Champion. I don't love everything in that book but this one I can get behind. 

- Everyday: Remind students of upcoming homework and assessments, state the day's date, provide students with a daily agenda I think this is pretty important for keeping students focused on the task at hand. 

- Employing group work: 

The idea behind this graphic is that each student's desk (represented by rectangles) is positioned so that the student can have an easy to get to partner (blue elipse). Students can work mostly in partners. When needed, they can work in groups of four (red boxes). The pairs in each group may rely on each other for help during pair work, if they need to. During group work, neighboring groups can offer help to one another. The teacher is then only a support when several neighboring groups are stumped (or moving at very different speeds). 

- Establish the purpose for the course early on (why should students care about what's happening in this course?) This is another important point for helping students find and keep their focus in class. 

- Find out, at the beginning of the year/semester, what working algorithms (e.g. individual work time, group work, guided practice) work best for each class Some classes may work better with an emphasis on different types of work. It's good to have a little bit of all of these elements but maybe you have a little more of one then another if you know your class will work better that way. 

- Provide specific, daily learning targets as well as unit-long learning targets Another focusing point. 

There you have it. Some thoughts I had about time on task while student teaching. 


  1. Here's a small idea that I've found very helpful. For the kind of things that students ask all the time (such as what the date is) have a sign/poster on the wall that you can just point to (e.g. "Math = Pencil") or write it on the board. For example, I have the date written on the same place on my front board every day. This reduces the frequency of requests for the date to *almost* zero. When they ask, I can just point without stopping whatever else I was doing (unless perhaps it involved pointing elsewhere). Also, other students will usually answer the question for them, using sarcasm, peer pressure, etc., and you can stay out of it altogether.

    1. These are good pointers, thank you! I have something like that set up in my room at the moment, actually. It's just a matter of sticking to it.


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