I think we can all agree that it is so important to explicitly think through and teach expectations and procedures in our schools and classrooms in order to set ourselves up for a successful school year, yet we often don’t take the time to do so (or take the time to do so well – by reteaching and practicing with students) for fear of falling behind on the ever-increasing curriculum requirements.
I believe that if we would really take the time within the first few weeks of school – more than we have in years past – to teach not only school and classroom rules, but also each detail of our expectations (like your procedure for sharpening a pencil), to practice those expectations, to stop and reteach when students don’t meet those expectations… I believe if we really spend time on the details of our expectations, we would actually end up saving ourselves time (and headaches) in the long run throughout the rest of the school year because we won’t have to stop and retrain (as often) or be frustrated that students aren’t meeting our expectations (as often).
I believe this is true for your everyday paper and pencil tasks (like how to turn in your paper), but it is also true for online and blended learning.
We hear all too often that students already know how to use technology, we just need to let them – but the truth is students already know how to use paper and pencil, too! Just because you know how to use a tool, does not mean you know how to use it for learning or how to meet expectations using the tool.
We have to teach our students how to use the tools at their disposal – both technology tools and non-digital tools – in a way that grows their learning and meets our expectations.
The best teachers plan for how they will teach their students to make the biggest impact possible – so I challenge you to take the time to plan for how you will teach procedures in your classroom – both online and offline. Here is a planning document to get you started in thinking through each of your procedures and how you will explicitly teach them.
Once you type them all up, one idea I’ve heard from a teacher in the past is to keep all of your taught expectations and procedures in a binder (or in your google classroom or LMS). This enables you to have a headache-free procedure for when students don’t follow one of your explicitly taught and practiced procedures – you can have students re-read and practice on their own – and even fill out a “Procedure Re-Training” document where they write out the procedure or answer questions about it to show they’ve completed their retraining.
Remember, as you add technology or any other new tool or procedure into your classroom, start by teaching your expectations for the use of the tool in your classroom before having students use it for learning.
For example, if you are going to have students use Adobe Spark as an exit ticket, first show students the tool, then set a timer, but instead of asking a curriculum based question, give them all the same text to use or ask them to write their favorite food. This allows students to explore with the tool without fear of getting the question wrong. It also allows you to walk around the room and monitor if students are meeting your expectations and compliment and redirect, as needed. You are also setting the expectations for the exit ticket being timed and how students will submit their work.
The next time you do the exit ticket with Adobe Spark, you would establish your expectations again, set a timer (with a little extra time) and assign a real question.
Finally, the 3rd time you assign students to use Adobe spark as an exit ticket, you would ask students to state the expectations, set a timer (for the ideal time limit), and assign the question.
Following this process gives students the chance to:
- Learn expectations and practice with the tool without fear of failure,
- Review expectations, practice with the tool again with extra time and a real question, and finally
- Describe the expectations to each other in their own words and use the tool effectively within the time limits.
Taking the time to plan out and teach expectations for any new procedure (whether technology or not) will guarantee more students meeting those expectations!
So don’t delay!!! Plan for success!!! You won’t regret it!!!