Summer break is here! Enjoy a little time away from the classroom. But… as you mentally prepare for the coming year, the most sound advice I can give is to spend ample time in behavior management and organization. The more effectively this is done at the beginning of the year, the more time that can be spent on teaching the content later.
To help with organization, consider a classroom mobile communication station! This can be described as a rolling desktop including storage spaces and a whiteboard/blackboard for visual communication. The nice thing about having a mobile communication station is the ease with which it can be moved from one place to the next. Plus, it allows you to share information with students without verbalizing it. It also provides a means for students to communicate with you if the whiteboard is utilized for student work.
Along with a handy moveable work area for you, start the year off by establishing behavior management strategies, particularly for movement activities in the classroom! Use these tips for managing children in small spaces: (1) starting/stopping and (2) grouping.
- Teaching the students signals for starting and stopping any activity is important for classroom management. Use something as simple as the word, “Go!” or turn on music to direct students to start the activity or begin moving. Then, use something different for them to understand when to stop. This may be another word such as, “Freeze!” or turn the music off, or turn off lights. Give students something to do when they stop, like put their hands on their knees or hips. Practice starting and stopping frequently, and have the expectation that they will all stop within five seconds. If they get caught up in the activity or have difficulty following instructions, have them walk around and practice until they get it right. Provide positive feedback to those students who follow directions, which may pull other students back on track.
- In the classroom, you will most likely group students into partners or two teams. When teaching students about partner selection, emphasize that they should pair up with the person closest to them or who they first make eye contact. Designate a space near the middle of the classroom. If a student cannot find a partner immediately, have them move to that space. Once there, you can decide whether that student can select a group of three or if you would be better off deciding for them. Don’t partner up with a student yourself because this requires you to be anchored down while the activities are going on. We want you to be free to monitor and supervise all students. The students can figure out how to do the activity with three instead of two. For two teams, have the students find partners first. Then have one partner sit or kneel. The standing partner then walks to one side of the room. The sitting/kneeling partner walks to the other side of the room. Now, you have two groups/teams.
Focusing on organization and behavior management to begin the year is crucial to establishing procedures and the environment of your class. Harry Wong, a well-known educator and expert on teaching effectiveness, once said, “The most successful classes are those where the teacher has a clear idea of what is expected from the students, and the students know what the teacher expects from them”. Establish your expectations early and have a great year!
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.