Welcome to a profession that is extremely difficult but also extremely rewarding. You may think you had a bad day in class but your students see everything you do & reflect your expectations - so put your game face on! Planning is essential so when something happens you can re-direct the class back, keep your cool, and keep the students focused. It is crucial to be light-hearted, decide which battles are worth fighting, and to remain calm so instruction for all students can continue. Even on the worse days you are the best example of how students should be as an adult. You may not realize it but when students tell you later that they are learning or really enjoy having you as a teacher - that you're tough but they have learned so much - that's the rewarding part that comes from the stress in planning and teaching.
1. Rules & Expectations
Set the standard from DAY ONE!
Your class is a room where all students are expected to behave as college students or adults and give 100% to reach the highest expectations. You expect that they will always do their best even when it is hard and you will do your best helping them learn to reach the goal.
-Establish what your entry rules are for each day. Example: Students should grab materials and any handouts as they enter & be started on their Do Now/Warmup by the time the bell rings or they are marked tardy.
-Set your bathroom rules (one at a time with the pass).
-Technology rules (no headphones, cell phones, or laptops open when you are speaking). Remind students every day & multiple times a day what to do with their technology in a polite manner, "alright I need everyone to take out their earbuds and put laptops at half, I need everyone to focus up here we are going to talk about...."
-Late work & HW rules (how many points off per day if work is late?)
-Quizzing & retakes (how often will you quiz and what are your re-take policies)
-Tutoring/ detention (if students are missing work or need help when and where can they get extra attention?)
Do the students know what they are learning today? Do you know what they are learning today? How will they know they know it? How will you know they know it?
The Student Friendly Learning Objective/Target:
Don't post the state standard on the board as the objective. What is today's learning target? Make this a student friendly statement from the standard and post it on the board so when someone ask your students what they are learning today the student can read the board and say, "today we are ....." . The students should know what they are expected to know by the end of class and they should know how they will show that they know it.
Performance of mastering the learning target/objective:
Most importantly, after the teaching and student activities, how will students show they mastered this objective through their own individual writing and presentation of what they've learned? Does their display of mastery line up with the objective of what they are suppose to have learned?
How can you outline a lesson cycle that scaffolds and differentiates learning for your students?
Have a well planned lesson cycle
Some students learn better hands-on, some students learn better alone. How do you learn best? Most of us need scaffolding, differentiation, and time to work with others before we fully understand a concept. Every lesson should have a lesson cycle with multiple scaffolds in each segment: learning with direct instruction (I Do), to modeling (we do together/guided practice), time to explore/expand/discuss further with others (they do/collaborative learning), and then time for students to display mastery and develop deeper understanding or arguments individually (you do) .
All of these segments (I do, we do, collaborative learning, and independent practice) need to be in every lesson. The order of where to place each segment is up to you but research shows modeling and collaboration helps scaffold and differentiate for students.
Check For Understanding early on & frequently before moving forward
At each component of the lesson cycle prompt students to check to see if they understand before moving into the next component.
- After direct instruction ask some check for understanding questions to see if they got what you just instructed.
-After modeling check to see if they can do it on their own or have check for understanding questions before moving them into collaborating with others.
-As they collaborate ask them deeper learning questions (analytical/evaluative) they have to discuss with one another .
Lesson Cycle Template
For the rest of this segment use this daily lesson plan template to help draft your thoughts. (This template is based on Dr. Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey's Gradual Release of Responsibility, Dr. Susan Brookhart's targeted learning objectives, & Wiggins & McTighe's backwards planning concept from their work in developing units in Understanding by Design [UbD].)
An engaging lesson keeps students personally invested in the lesson, the lesson matters to them rather than seeming like a waste of time.
If we plan engaging lessons students will be interested and behavior will be less of a problem as students find value and are invested in what they are learning.
Go beyond lecture, memorization, & regurgitation of facts. In your lesson cycle chunk the lesson cycle elements so you won't be lecturing for more than 15 min. at a time (who is truly paying attention after 10 min of a lecture unless it's a comedy skit?) Embed instructional and classroom management/engagement strategies as you chunk with the lesson cycle segments: (I Do, We Do, They Do, You Do).Have students collaborate with others, show a short video clip or provide a short reading that is related and ask questions for peer/group/class discussion. Have students form their own opinion and write/debate/ share out/present their ideas. No idea is ever wrong, facts can be wrong but we are here to help students think not make them feel wrong if they are sharing out and thinking aloud. Remember to make your classroom a safe space so students can feel comfortable sharing and other students can add on to what a student shared before. Continually prompt until students "get there" to sometimes not the right answer but the best answer or idea. You will be surprised at some of the innovative ideas students have when they feel comfortable sharing and thinking out loud with others.
Keeping students engaged in discussion with one another and helping them learn to make their own judgements about what they've learned helps students make the learning relevant to their own lives.
With performance of mastery try student choice projects where students have to argue their own understanding of a concept or perhaps they get to choose their own topic related to the concept and present their findings in their own way (skits, multimedia presentations, art & writing, etc.) .
Are students learning? If not what needs to be retaught a different way? Who needs extra small group or individual attention?
A quick 10-15 question quiz every week or two weeks can really tell you if students are retaining what they've learned or not. Quiz regularly to see what students are missing and what needs to be re-taught a different way before moving forward. Looking at frequent assessment data can help you identify who may need additional special attention. Tracking and responding to data is called data driven instruction and backs up that you are tracking your student's individual needs, re-teaching, and working to not leave anyone behind.
Multiple choice quizzing is a great way to quickly see if students remember things, short- answer responses, essay writing, & project creation are great ways to see if students can apply what they've learned. Writing or project based assessment aims to push students to analyze & synthesize concepts or create new knowledge/ideas/judgements from the concepts they've learned.