The Most Important Five Minutes of the Day
Feb 25, 2012 Classroom Management 2356 Views
What is the most critical part of the day? What sets the tone for the day? For many teachers the classroom management strategy that is most critical for their success each day is the one that controls the first five minutes of the day. The five minutes that begin with the bell ringing to bring the students to class and ending with them in their seats and ready to begin work.
In many schools the day's classroom problems begin even before the students make it to class, so it only makes sense that those problems be dealt with before class begins. That doesn't mean that you need to wander the school looking for problems, but it does mean that you have to be able to see them and deal with them as the students enter the classroom.
Highly effective teachers know that it is critical that your students be actively engaged in the class routine and community right from the moment that they pass through the doorway. Students who don't have anything to do or are bored waiting for you to come in and take control will be more likely to act out.
The best place to begin is before the students enter the class. It is critical that we greet our students individually as they enter the class and get an update on what has happened since we last spoke. This is a ten second exchange. This classroom management strategy allows you to spot a problem about to happen, take the student aside and ask the student what is troubling him or her. You can then decide to deal with the problem now or make arrangements to deal with it at an agreeable time. Then you move on to whoever may be left in line.
This exchange at the door helps to settle down each student before they enter the room. But I'm sure you will be quick to point out that the students are gathering in the classroom in ever greater numbers and you are standing in the doorway. This is where part two of the strategy comes in.
On the first day of classes you need to tell the students what your expectations are for them when they come to your class; the "rules of the game". It is important to let them know that your expectations will be different from other teachers so they will need to remember what the expectations are for each class. Take the first few days to review and practice the "coming to class" strategy. In the hall remind them of the routine before you start to greet them and let them into the room. It won't take long for them to learn what they need to do and after that you will only need to remind a student of the expectations as the need arises. If you have put the expectations on a poster prominently displayed in the class you may only need to say "Remember point number 3".
If this classroom management strategy is to work you must have a set routine that you and the students can follow automatically each day. After the students pass through the door they go to their seats (perhaps they have to store their coats somewhere in the class first). You should have a schedule for the day/class posted on the board for the students to consult so they will know which books to have out and ready and what to expect. The other equally important item for the board is puzzle/problem of the day; something for them to work on independently while you take attendance and make final preparations to begin the lesson. Make sure this is a challenging yet fun activity. If you can get it to relate to the lesson being taught that is even better.
If you have these suggestions in place you won't have to devote time to getting the class settled. You won't need a lot of negative classroom management strategies that only get everyone off to a confrontational start. Your students won't be bored waiting for you; they will be anxiously waiting for the lesson to begin.