If you are anything like me at the beginning of the year you try to make your classroom as Pinterest-worthy as possible. By Christmas, you are stressed, tired, and cranky from holiday stress that you revert back to your less than Pinterest-worthy ways.
I made a commitment to myself to try new things this year AND stick to them. This has been quite the challenge, but having a brand new grade team to push me out of my comfort zone has been amazing.
I was lucky this year to have two new teachers join my grade eight team. They are not new to teaching, but new to my team. They brought with them fresh ideas and energy that helped improve my classroom planning and practice.
One idea I got from one of my teaching partners is to have students use their name cards to self select the level of help they need after a new lesson. I think of this system as reusable exit passes. It also helps me plan my future instruction because I get an instant status of the class without having to mark thirty papers!
At the beginning of the year, we handed out a cue card to each student. They were to write their name on the cue card in any fancy or plain font they wanted. They could also decorate the card with doodles until I collected all the cards. After everyone had a chance to write their name on their card, and decorate it, I collected the cards and put them in a container on my whiteboard. I did this activity with all three of the classes I teach. Each class had about seven minutes to decorate their cards. This was not meant to be a long activity. I have one container for each class with their cue cards and Popsicle sticks with their names on them.
Normally, I would just leave the name cards in their containers and have supply teachers use them as name tags, however, my teacher partner tried a new idea with name cards. She hands them out at the beginning of key lessons that she knows from experience some students will need extra support after the lesson. Students listen to the lesson and try the practice classwork or homework. On their way out the door, she asks students to put their name cards in one of three pockets (pencil cases from the dollar store) as a method of students self-identifying the level of help they require to move forward after the lesson.
The three levels are STOP, SLOW DOWN and GO.
Stop means that students require immediate attention to be successful in future lessons on this topic.
Slow down means that students are unsure, but want to give it a try independently before working with the teacher.
Go means that students are confident in the lesson and they would like to continue working independently or try an extension activity.
These labels are great for middle school students, but if I was teaching younger grades, I would use something less wordy like a stoplight colour system Stop – Red, Slow Down – Yellow, Go – Green, or just the main words on the label.
Looking For More Classroom Management Ideas?
- Classroom Management Strategies For Middle School
- Flexible Seating Choice Cards
- Effective Middle School Classroom Management