I observed a fellow History teacher at my school, and his class was working on a small project they had started the day before, so it was not a traditional lecture style class.
To open the class the teacher reiterated classroom rules and policies after the greeting. Something along the lines of “no cell phones please, cell phones stay in your pocket. If you didn’t bring your materials to class you may not go to your locker so don’t ask, you were told yesterday what you had to bring today.’ I instantly saw cell phones going away. These rules/procedures helped create a “work’ mentality and reduced common class disruptions that occur, especially at the start of class. During the class, teacher continually walked around room, ensuring students are staying on task and stomping out any little “fires’ before they became a class management issue. Lesson closure teacher announced class procedures to clean up after the project — put supplies away, proper way to put away the iPads that were used during class, etc. He watched them the entire time they were cleaning up making comments like “don’t throw the markers into the bin, put them into the bin’ or “plug your iPad in please”. Reiterating these procedures and keeping a watchful eye made the clean-up smooth and successful, he did not have to go picking up markers or scissors nor did he have to sit there and make sure all the iPads were plugged in.
The first transition I saw was the way he got the students from lunch mode to class mode. He greeted each student as they came in. As the class was filling up he walked around and started making small talk with students about how their project is going, what they chose to do, etc. so they are having a social conversation, but it’s about class work before class even starts. Students were able to get their talking out of the way as they shifted their mentality towards the classroom, so when class began they were ready and able to listen. Another transition I witnessed was the class going from directions/lecture to student work time. Here he reiterated the procedures from grabbing iPads and project supplies before letting the students begin their independent working time. This reduced any chaotic rush of students to the iPad cart or to the other project materials, it was all very orderly. The last major transition was the ending of independent work time/end of class. In similar fashion, and mentioned previously, teacher reiterated procedures for cleaning up the classroom and monitored the process to ensure everything was put away correctly and with care.
What I saw that was most beneficial was the establishment of rules and procedures and the continual reiteration of them. My mentor does not have rules or procedures in her classroom, and often times that can lead to some “chaos’ in class, especially on days where students are working in groups or independently on projects, or with technology. As a result, my mentor or myself will spend five minutes after class or so cleaning up materials left on desks, plugging in iPads or computers that the students did not plug in, etc. So I think having rules and procedures are very helpful in classroom management and equally important is to continually reinforce the rules and procedures as well as monitor the students as they perform them.