Observing the Class…
An effective way that my teacher opens her class is that she literally just jumps right into the lesson. There is no wait time, students know what is expected of them, they take their seats and work begins. During the lesson itself, I noticed that the teacher will assign an activity, tell the students what to do, and then they are off doing it. This teacher never, ever sits down (the “front” of the class is actually in the middle of the room instead of up at the front and this is where she teaches from) but instead is moving around the class at all times, clarifying things for students and checking on their work. Her attention is never diverted from them until the period ends and they all run out to their next class (even then she is engaging and talking with them as they walk out the door!). The last class I was in with her, the teacher used an announcement (an upcoming field trip) to wrap up the class. It was effective, all eyes were on her as she described was expected of the students.
The bell: During one class period Ms. Forbes had her students finish up TWO activities (which was neat because I learned a lot from both!). In order to change between them she did a little ding with her bell (not harshly, she gave just three taps), and the students quieted down and were listening. Amazing I tell ya!
The prep: During once class all thirty students, Ms. Forbes, and guest speakers went outside to look at some trees. We were outside for about 20 minutes, all of us shivering slightly, and when it was time to go back to the classroom, Ms. Forbes summed everyone’s attention and told them that they had to go back to the class in a controlled manner. Worked relatively well.
When the work is done: I was not in the classroom when the official rules and expectations were established but I did notice that when students finished work at their desks they picked up other work (from other classes as well) and worked on that until the next activity was announced. She had to remind those that decide to sit there and chat (and on Fridays she doesn’t seem to mind since it is the end of the week and the students have done well with activities) to pick up work and busy themselves.
Strategy that I like:
I never really put a lot of thought into it before (until taking this class) but I really like the structure of Ms. Forbes room. She has students working in teams of four, and she talks from the middle of the classroom. I like the fact that this grouping of students allows them to work as a group, in pairs or even individually (instead of the same old rows of desks which gets monotonous and is seemingly rather isolating) and then she just disperses throughout the room and continuously interacts with her students. I also noticed that she is always looking around and doesn’t miss a beat (which is seemingly really important with big classes). One time two students came in late and she stood there and talked with them (had to go to the office to get a late pass which was seemingly also expected because they didn’t put up a fuss), but kept looking around the room. Ms. Forbes has just got the cool exterior thing going on that I aspire to maintain as a teacher one day, and she just has the innate energy. It is all about the students, she works for them, and its evident in her classes.